As Dem Candidates Position Themselves, Their Liberal Policies are Under Scrutiny…As an ex-GOP’er & my viewpoints that have typically tilted center-right, I’ve never aligned very much with their liberal policies.  To me, their proposals always cost too much & would foster an attitude of dependency.  But changing circumstances can & should cause us to shift our focus.  In recent years as the conservative mindset followed the echo out on the radical far-right, while chronic stagnant wages & income inequality have come into clearer focus, any objective evaluation could ascertain that liberal policies were better positioned to tackle these core economic problems.  But I would caution as the progressive wing is pushing their liberal policies further to the left, they’re increasingly positioning themselves out of touch with the majority (sort of like what the GOP has done to themselves).  No wonder a huge gaping gap has opened up in the middle.

Another big factor is as the GOP has become more extremist, they’ve become almost totally devoid of common sense ideas to revive those who represent roughly half the working middle class families struggling to make ends meet, which in effect the GOP has become the do-nothing party.  Their only initiatives lately are Trump’s crazy ideas.  So it seems like GOP conservatives based on their current policy ideas, or more succinctly lack of policies or ideas, are just hunky dory with letting the current rigged system & unfettered free markets keep feeding the widening wealth/wage gaps, where the benefits of economic growth keep going to the very top & workers get the shaft.

There was a time during the previous century where a rising tide did lift all boats as the capitalist system worked at peak efficiency in America.  This current new century features a modern global economy with dominant multinational corporate conglomerate monstrosities, as the rising tide is leaving far too many people drowning in this American capitalist model.  Nobody ever said fixing this distortion would be easy, but we’ve got to make the effort.  That’s why it’s become so frustrating conservatives quickly dismiss any ideas put on the table without offering cogent solutions of their own.

Just look at the pattern.  They demonstrably failed to fix healthcare coverage, dismiss background checks to reduce gun violence, overlook our crumbling infrastructure, adamantly push back on long-term & real immigration reform, plus passed a tax bill whose primary effects were giving more riches to the wealthy & raising deficits.  They yield to their large donors & corporate interests every time!  And the GOP has no interest in those liberal policies for addressing climate change, assuming scientists turn out correct the causes are largely man-made.  If the GOP wants to bash some of the expensive progressive & liberal policies like Green New Deal, I have no problem with that.  But along with throwing stones, why not come up with something better?  They’ve been living up to their reputation of being the do-nothing party: Republicans-the-party-of-zero-solutions-skewer-Democrats-fringe-ideas.

I do have real concerns the far-left side of the Dem party has a shopping list that’s too ambitious, too costly & too unrealistic, as seen in these articles inside press-needs-ask-hard-questions-green-new-deal & also democrats-social-security-plan-robs-future-pay-past.  But the focus in my commentaries has always been zeroed in on my former party, the GOP, since much like the Dems their policies/ideology have shifted way out on the extremes, but the key difference is the GOP is haplessly broken!  They’re constantly falling for lies from their alternative reality echo-world, spinelessly supporting a corrupt demagogue & have nothing worthwhile to offer middle-class Americans in the way of constructive policy solutions.  So count me as a proud ATR member: can-the-republican-party-be-saved-should-it.

 

The Modern Gilded Age

It’s an era of staggering & unbridled wealthy inequalities that are almost obscene, which are sure to keep getting worse if nothing is done, so at least the Dems & their liberal policies are trying to address the issue.  Their opponents, the do-nothing party, have no interest in even discussing.  See this interesting post taken from income-inequality-great-depression-gabriel-zucman:

U.S. wealth concentration, or income inequality, has returned to levels not seen since the 1920s, and it could actually be significantly worse.

Driving the news: New research from Gabriel Zucman, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, for the National Bureau of Economic Research was unearthed recently by Market Watch and finds that the top 1% owns about 40% of total household wealth. It reaches 40.8% when including the Forbes 400. Further, the top 1% richest U.S. families own 40 times the average family’s wealth.

  • “No country (apart from Russia) for which estimates of wealth inequality are available has similarly high recorded levels of wealth inequality,” Zucman writes.

Between the lines: Perhaps the most interesting part of Zucman’s research may be his point that the top 1% of American households likely hold much more of the nation’s and the world’s wealth than anyone realizes.

  • “It is not enough to study wealth concentration using self-reported survey data or tax return data,” Zucman says in the report, estimating that 8% of the world’s household financial wealth is held offshore.

“Because the wealthy have access to many opportunities for tax avoidance and tax evasion—and because the available evidence suggests that the tax planning industry has grown since the 1980s as it became globalized—traditional data sources are likely to under-estimate the level and rise of wealth concentration.”

Zucman also notes that data shows the share of total wealth owned by the top 1% has increased by 9 points since 1989 and by 10 points when including the Forbes 400. In capitalized income estimates, it has increased by 11 points.

  • “The share of wealth owned by the bottom 90% has collapsed in similar proportions.”  

 

Taxes

The prez may have committed conspiracy to defraud the United States in his campaign’s dealings with Russia, but he’s also committed fraud against the American people in other ways: tax-refunds-gop-law.  Trump’s tax cut was bass ackwards.  Cutting taxes on the rich & not so much for the middle class, hoping against hope trickle down may happen, was the exact opposite of how it should have been structured.  So the Trump/GOP tax bill was misguided, mistargeted & asinine, which when the Dems soon take over they should reverse this gross injustice of a tax code, as the problem is seen here from the article why-democrats-should-cut-taxes-yes-cut:

The political appeal of reducing taxes for most non-wealthy Americans should be obvious. But there’s also an important economic rationale for doing it: By any reasonable measure of how jobs and wages are performing, taxes on the poor, the working class and the middle class are too high. More to the point, they’ve been too high for decades. Here’s how the theory works: Federal spending adds to aggregate demand in the economy, while taxes take aggregate demand out. If there’s too much aggregate demand, inflation takes off and interest rates rise to choke off further growth. But if there’s too little aggregate demand, the economy is undercooked: Unemployment is chronically high, wages for most workers stagnate, and inequality rises as the wealthy gobble up whatever growth is actually occurring.

Now, there’s a good argument the U.S. hasn’t been at genuinely full capacity since World War II. At a minimum, we were much closer to full capacity in the 20 or so years immediately after the war than we have been over the last 40 years. Even now, with unemployment at multi-decade lows, wage growth remains sluggish, and inflation and interest rates are about as low as they’ve ever been. What’s remarkable is that, over the course of this long post-war decay, how much demand the federal government was adding or subtracting from the economy didn’t change all that much. Federal spending (the red line below) and tax revenue (the blue line) both stayed relatively stable and close together as a percentage of GDP from 1950 on.

What did change was the makeup of tax revenue. The corporate income tax, capital gains taxes, and the estate tax — all of which concentrate their fire on the wealthy — were dramatically reduced over the last few decades. Meanwhile, payroll taxes exploded from around 10 percent of all federal tax revenue to around 35 percent today. And since payroll taxes are applied at a flat rate (and they cut off for higher incomes) they’re regressive rather than progressive; the burden of paying them falls harder on the poor and the middle class than on the rich. The one complication here is income taxes. As a portion of overall tax receipts, they haven’t changed much. But the rich actually pay a bigger portion of income taxes today than they did a few decades ago. Partially, that’s because we’ve introduced a lot more carve-outs for lower-income Americans into the tax code. But it’s also because inequality has gotten much worse: The rich contribute more to income tax revenues because they make a lot more money than they used to.

At any rate, whatever relief less fortunate Americans got from the income tax, regressive payroll taxes have flooded into the breach. Finally, when it comes to their effect on aggregate demand, not all taxes are created equal. Giving an extra dollar to a poor or middle-class person — or taking one away from them — will have a much bigger impact on their consumption than giving a dollar to or taking one from a rich person. Thus, taxes on Americans of lesser means have a bigger impact on aggregate demand. In other words, given government spending levels, America should actually cut taxes dramatically if it wants to get back to something like the post-World War II economy. And those tax cuts should focus on the bottom two-thirds of households, and especially the bottom third. Roughly 45 percent of filers already pay no income tax, thanks to all the aforementioned carve-outs, so this will effectively mean slashing payroll taxes. The best scenario would be to just get rid of payroll taxes entirely and fold their fiscal role into the income tax.

I’m sympathetic, but they should also ask why U.S. politics became so poisonous towards taxes in the first place. From a macroeconomic perspective, most Americans really have been taxed too much for decades, even as they’ve endured sluggish growth and stagnant wages. That probably has a lot to do with it! Furthermore, consider how Americans’ attitudes towards taxes might change if full employment were a regular and reliable occurrence, as opposed to a memory from a bygone era.

Let’s Talk More on Taxes

Lots of workers don’t even pay income taxes, but that’s because lots of workers are making poverty wages: msn.com/en-us/money/taxes/more-than-44percent-of-americans-pay-no-federal-income-tax

While the wealthy who are being honest about it know they’re getting too much of a good deal, so for the betterment of society are requesting those in their tax brackets should pay more: alternet.org/2019/02/and-now-this-message-from-some-very-rich-people-please-raise-our-taxes

And how could any reasonable tax structure allow such a blatant distortion like this to ever happen?: usatoday.com/story/money/2019/02/15/amazon-pays-no-2018-federal-income-tax-report-says

 

Part of the Con

Trump made all sorts of ridiculous promises during his presidential campaign, such as he would easily bring down the national debt, which in reality as we’ve seen he had no clue.  He still has no clue.  His budget acumen as president rivals your typical drunken sailor.  As Trump has boasted in the past he’s the king of debt, we now see that’s one statement which has demonstrably turned out true.  See here the opening to trump-promises-reduce-debt-treasury-report-increase-22-trillion, where this past week the federal debt shot past $22T:

The Treasury Department released a report Tuesday evening confirming that the national debt had hit a record $22 trillion — nearly four years after then-candidate Donald Trump promised his supporters he would reduce the national debt from $18 trillion, if elected president. In its fiscal statement, the department noted the total public debt had reached $22.012 trillion, the first time it has surpassed $21 trillion in history. On the day Trump took office, it was $19.947 trillion, meaning under his administration, the debt has actually risen $2.065 trillion. Part of this is due to underlying trends in the growth of Medicare and Social Security costs, but the figure can also be attributed to the trillion-dollar deficit cost of the tax cuts Trump and congressional Republicans forced through in 2017, which predominantly benefited corporations and the wealthy.

The ballooning debt stands in stark contrast with Trump’s earlier campaign promises. At his official campaign launch address in 2015, Trump told supporters he would apply his business acumen to federal fiscal policy, right from the get-go, saying he would “reduce our $18 trillion in debt, because, believe me, we’re in a bubble.” “Sadly, the American dream is dead,” he said at the time. “But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.” In December that year, he also said he would “freeze the budget,” which has not happened. Again, in March 2016, Trump told The Washington Post that he could get rid of the debt “fairly quickly.” When pressed, he said, “Well, I would say over a period of eight years.”

 

Quick Bites

Signs of a downturn are looming: salon.com/2019/02/13/is-america-heading-into-another-recession-economic-clouds-looking-darker

Plus more signs of a slowdown: axios.com/economic-data-2018-recession-shutdown

And yet more signs: usatoday.com/story/money/2019/02/15/we-going-into-recession-do-red-flags-signal-slowing-worse

The media falsely proclaims this is a strong economy, with car loan delinquencies one of the telltale signs: esquire.com/news-politics/a26322490/auto-loan-bubble-7-million-borrowers-3-months-behind

There are some other healthcare options if our DC leaders could ever learn to work together: salon.com/2019/02/13/if-medicare-for-all-ends-up-being-politically-impossible-there-is-another-way-to-repair-our-system_partner

Students get buried in debt while loan servicers commit highway robbery: npr.org/2019/02/14/694477547/federal-watchdog-issues-scathing-report-on-ed-departments-handling-of-student-lo

Older folks need the money, social interactions & stimulating environment, so they should not be pushed out as age discrimination is unacceptable: wsj.com/experts/2019/02/13/lets-make-it-easier-for-people-to-work-later-in-life

Many areas around the country which are Trump strongholds are being left behind with Trump doing nothing for them, & as the last line says this type of place inequality is unsustainable & tearing America apart: rawstory.com/2019/02/trumps-economy-leaving-right-wing-base-stranded-poverty-getting-worse/

Trump keeps driving many away from the GOP, especially the younger generations: nytimes.com/2019/02/16/opinion/sunday/trump-youth-vote

I applaud the effort but don’t trust Trump as the dealmaker: businessinsider.com/us-china-trade-war-trump-should-be-worried-about-deal-failure-experts-say

This is how China cheats on trade: alternet.org/2019/02/trade-101-how-china-exploits-the-us-economy

Might this be a positive sign, pushing back against a corporate monopoly power in this new American Gilded Age: theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/14/amazons-retreat-from-new-york-represents-a-turning-point

The enemies to a civil American society, those who cower to the NRA & adamantly refuse to do anything at all about our gun laws & gun violence, should really read this: newsweek.com/day-my-daughter-never-came-home-school

 

Sadly, Funding the Wall Isn’t an Emergency, but a Political Stunt

Trump has declared a national emergency to build a wall to keep out foreigners.  Here’s a song by the band Foreigner singing about an emergency!  These lyrics to end the song sound just like Trump’s speech:

You say it’s urgent
Make it fast, make it urgent
Do it quick, do it urgent
Gotta rush, make it urgent
Want it quick
Urgent, urgent, emergency
Urgent, urgent, emergency
Urgent, urgent, emergency
Urgent, urgent, emergency
So urgent, emergency
Emer emer emer
It’s urgent

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNAmVGpr6Pc

Preview YouTube video Foreigner — Urgent [[ Official Live Video ]] HD

Foreigner — Urgent [[ Official Live Video ]] HD