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Donald Trump might so far have failed to do much with his presidency, but tax reform is surely one area where the US president can find common ground with his fellow Republicans to get something done. Slashing taxes is a key motivator for both Capitol Hill and the White House, but who will the proposed reforms ultimately help? The traditional middle-class Republican supporters who are likely to vote in next year’s midterm elections, or the disenfranchised folk who put Mr Trump into the White House?

Edward Luce looks at Mr Trump’s tax challenge in his column, concluding that the very inequalities that led to his election will worsen under the Republican party’s current plans. The cuts will likely benefit those who arguably are already well off but will do little to lift the economy and lessen the overall inequalities in American society. Much like the UK’s economy, stagnant productivity is an entrenched issue undermining growth — something that tax cuts will not necessarily help.

The language used here is also interesting: whereas Republicans talk of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to “reform” the tax code, Mr Trump talks mostly of “cuts”. This might be due to his lack of understanding about the need to sell the good and the bad together — cuts will have winners and losers. Do check out this report from The Atlantic about the differing priorities for tax reform and how Mr Trump is making the GOP’s job much harder.

Ultimately, though, tax cuts are the Republican party’s reason for existing, even if nothing else binds the party to its president. As Edward points out, this might be the first big reform that passes under the Trump presidency — but it may also be the last.

Further reading: Tax Cuts Are the Glue Holding a Fractured Republican Party Together

Japan’s perfect stormJohn Gapper looks at the Kobe Steel falsified data scandal, arguing that it shows the symptoms of a sealed economic system. Imperfection is a natural part of any economy and Japan must accept quality must sometimes be compromised.

North Korea’s cyber battle: Robert Hannigan, the former head of GCHQ, argues in an opinion piece that Pyongyang has become advanced in attacking its enemies online. While the world is focused on the nuclear threat, he says cyber defences must be hardened and law enforcement toughened. 

Mad men: Pilita Clark examines the rant of ad man Justin Tindall and why it shows that greater diversity is needed across the advertising industry. Although he has since apologised, she says his views recall a bygone area.

Best of the rest

Jeff Flake’s Defiant Surrender — Ross Douthat in the New York Times

Juncker is blind to the splintering of the EU — Roger Boyes in The Times

What Brings Trump and Macron Together — John Vinocur in the Wall Street Journal

Jared O’Mara won’t be the last MP brought low by growing up online — Marie Le Conte in the New Statesman

Russia is pushing to control cyberspace. We should all be worried — David Ignatius in The Washington Post

What you’ve been saying

US withdrawal from trade agreement has precedents — letter from Todd Tucker

“Sir, Shawn Donnan (“Republicans gear up to fight Trump over Nafta”, October 20) writes that the last president to withdraw from a trade agreement was Andrew Johnson in 1866, and quotes Gary Hufbauer as saying that there are no examples where a president has terminated a trade agreement [unilaterally] without congressional say-so. Both claims are false. The Franklin D Roosevelt administration unilaterally withdrew from or terminated the 1927 Convention for the Abolition of Import and Export Prohibitions and Restrictions (in 1933), an 1871 trade pact with Italy (in 1936), and the 1929 Inter American Convention for Trademark and Commercial Protection (in 1944). In each case, the otherwise famously free-trading state department of Cordell Hull argued that the deals were no longer in the US interest as the administration saw them. Sound familiar?”

Comment from just someone on Izabella Kaminska’s piece, The voice recognition revolution is a long time coming, about text’s technological supremacy over VR software

“My niece is a resident doctor at a US hospital. she longs for perfect voice recognition software so she doesn’t have to turn away from the patient, loosing eye contact, when typing and clicking her way through the computer forms about them. In Britain doctors are still much more paper oriented. But once patient data securely migrates online, why wouldn’t we want voice recognition to interact with it. Ditto for, well, almost any repetitive and form filling work and any data requests. It will be glorious. Add to that longer batteries and flexible screens and we will not be chained to the terminals as, de facto, we still are at work.”

Public sector must protect communities — letter from Benjamin H Bradlow

“The urgent question is not about what Amazon can do voluntarily to be seen as a more “socially responsible” corporate actor. The issue is whether we have the appropriate public institutions capable of mitigating a tawdry race to the bottom by local politicians for inappropriate developments.”

Today’s opinion

Pilita Clark: Outmoded ‘Mad Men’ result in ad campaign misfires A top agency executive’s rant shows why greater diversity across the industry is needed

 Instant Insight: Carlyle Group rings the changes in private equity The firms with the most potential are those that understand tech, writes Henry Sender

 Robert Hannigan: The immediate threat from North Korea is in cyber space Pyongyang has attacked bitcoin exchanges, an indication of its developing interests

 Edward Luce: Trump’s badly mis-sold tax reform plans A president uninterested in the detail has reneged on his vow to help lower earners

 Instant Insight: British GDP picks up but the economic malaise goes on A lack of investment-driven growth is still hampering productivity, writes Martin Sandbu

 Free Lunch: The ECB should not withdraw its stimulus It would be a shame if something happened to the eurozone’s recovery

 The Exchange: Xi’s chosen path to transformative leader For China’s modernisation to succeed the roles of state and market must be reconciled

 David Gardner: Trump’s flawed Middle East policy exposes US weakness Washington has no real plan for Syria or Iraq after Isis is defeated, but Iran does

 John Gapper: The Kobe Steel scandal reveals Japan’s perfect storm The country’s hermetically sealed industrial system is reaching its limits

FT View

FT View: Freedom of thought is a democratic right The Tories should reject any assault on academic independence

 FT View: China tilts back towards a cult of personality The west must be alert to Beijing exporting an authoritarian model

The Big Read

The Big Read: The great British pensions cash-in Reforms gave Britons the freedom to spend their pension how they pleased. But concerns are growing over sales tactics, scaremongering and mis-selling

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