Saving Capitalism Requires Thinking Big & Thinking Smart…We end the week with our Part 3 section on the economy & our selected song at the bottom.  We’ve found some excellent articles from the recent newsfeeds giving us an accurate reading on the economy & ideas what we should do about it, making this section longer than usual (I hope to restrain myself & keep our posts more brief moving forward).  There are now way too many inequities built into the system & we must adapt to the times, as automation, high-tech, globalization & multinational conglomerates present unique challenges.  Saving capitalism should not mean resorting to a more socialist agenda which tends to be too costly, while many would seek to abuse the system by attempting to live off the handouts (or as Jamie Dimon just described it, socialism produces stagnation, corruption & often worse).  But saving capitalism also means not sticking with the status quo since economic growth is not being broadly shared, so we need to start thinking outside the box which neither party has shown to be very adept at.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Many of the standard economic metrics are currently looking strong, which King Trump has been quick to toot his own horn & we dedicate our song at the bottom to him.  But those stats are being skewed because the top half of the income ladder are doing well, & in particular the top 1%.  Looking deeper into the numbers, roughly half the working-class population are struggling to make ends meet, so we shouldn’t rest on our laurels thinking the economy is all hunky-dory when way too many are being left behind.  Leaving free markets to their own devices only accentuates the wide divides, so we need smart fiscal policies to help do some serious restructuring & re-engineering.  Those touting this great economy aren’t really looking at the big picture, preferring to cherry-pick selective components of the bright shiny object, but turn it over & we see lots of decay underneath.  Saving capitalism can never be accomplished when so many are in denial & refute the reality of the economic decay all around us.  We’ve posted this entire article from the-best-economy-ever-isnt-working-for-working-people, since it tells us the real truth about the current economy:
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell says that the the “growth of economic activity has slowed.” The usually optimistic International Monetary Fund projects U.S. economic growth will drop to 1.8 percent in 2020 — despite trillion-dollar annual deficits and the Fed putting off any more interest rate hikes for the rest of the year. If Powell and the projections are right, the long recovery that began after the Obama administration saved an economy that was in free fall is nearing its end. Yet President Trump trumpets the “best economy” ever, touting low unemployment . So this is what we get at the height of recovery? This is as good as it gets? It’s true that wages have begun to rise a bit, with demand for workers and minimum-wage hikes in states and localities finally giving a boost to those on the bottom. But the average weekly pay has grown less than 1 percent per year for the decade. Low-wage workers’ hourly pay in 2017 barely surpassed what they earned in 1979, while that of high-wage workers has increased nearly 50 percent. Inequality is at extremes not seen since 1928. Workers are still not capturing a fair share of the increased productivity that they help to create.


And while incomes have stagnated, key costs have soared. Health care remains remarkably expensive; millions go without insurance or are underinsured. Gallup reports that since Trump took office, the number of Americans without health insurance has increased by a stunning 7 million. Female, younger and lower-income workers have seen a greater decline than those who are male, older and/or wealthier. Life expectancy has declined for the third year in a row. The lack of health care explains part of that. The savage opioid epidemic — a disease of despair — accounts for another chunk. Student debt continues to build; 44 million Americans hold $1.5 trillion in student loans, second only to housing debt. For borrowers leaving school in 2017, the average debt was at $28,650. Not surprisingly, given the financial pressures, nearly one-third of 18-to-34-year-olds live with their parents. Delinquency and default — devastating reversals for young borrowers — are rising; 7.7 million borrowers are either in default or in forbearance, racking up higher debts. Our retirement crisis grows worse as well: 45 percent of Americans report that they have zero savings for retirement. A similar amount, not surprisingly, expects to be financially insecure when elderly. Companies continue to eliminate pension plans. Most small businesses don’t even offer 401(k) plans.

                                                                                                                                                      Nor have we used the recovery to head off real and growing challenges. The threat of climate change grows by the season. Our infrastructure remains dangerously decrepit. Trump’s top end and corporate tax cuts worsened inequality without producing a surge in investment, as corporations used the tax breaks to pay out dividends or buy back their own stocks, boosting executive bonuses. This list could go on. And, under current assumptions, these are the “good times.” Trump wants “his people” to applaud all the “winning” that he’s doing. He wants credit for the good economy. But he’s basically stayed with the traditional conservative Republican playbook — cutting taxes for the wealthiest first, slashing protections for workers and consumers, throwing money at the Pentagon while seeking to cut back domestic investments, remaining bizarrely in denial about climate change. Progressive Democrats have begun to call for bold reforms — Medicare-for-all, the Green New Deal, a $15 minimum wage, empowering workers, getting big money out of politics, and reversing growing corporate concentration — not because, as Republicans put it, Democrats have lurched into socialism. Nor is it because of Trump derangement syndrome, although that surely is widespread. It’s because the current arrangement doesn’t work for working people — even when it is as good as it gets. Americans aren’t tired of “winning;” they are tired of struggling hard merely to stay afloat. Trumpism has failed them even at the height of the recovery. It’s time for a completely new deal.


Let’s Be Honest about the Challenges Before Us
As we’ve seen for years, the monthly jobs reports keep bouncing back & forth from blah to great.  But the fundamental structural problems don’t go away.  When overall we keep seeing healthy job growth & a strong stock market, while unemployment rates remain very low, yet we still have the chronic nuisances of stagnant wages & participation rates, there’s a serious disconnect there!: blue-collar-wages-are-nothing-to-crow-about-yet.  The income gains keep going to the top, with an interesting recent quirk indicating some wage growth has kicked in at the very lowest income levels, with middle-class wages still largely stuck in the mud.  Old economic models would expect such sustained low unemployment should ignite robust wage growth across the board, which suggests plenty of negative forces are at play here.  It won’t be easy, but saving capitalism requires creating an environment where economic growth also reaches down to lift up the entire working class.
If workers keep falling behind during this economy purported to be so great, what happens to wages when the economy goes into that inevitable downturn?  More hard truths about the economy we should read from Ray Dalio are posted inside dalio-sounds-new-alarm-on-capitalist-flaws-warns-of-revolution & also check out ray-dalio-says-the-economy-poses-an-existential-threat-for-the-us.  Plus in these excerpts from what-honest-presidential-candidate-say-about-america, we’d better try recognizing reality so we can start dealing with the daunting challenges:

But those of us who aren’t angling to spend the next 19 months running for the nation’s highest office can afford a little more honesty. The United States is a nation facing problems far more daunting than any candidate for high office can admit or acknowledge. It falls to the rest of us to face that reality forthrightly and without denial. Let’s start with the obvious: Just over two years ago, a democratic election combined with institutions designed more than two centuries ago delivered the presidency to an ignoramus who leads a party utterly lacking a concept of the public good. (The GOP believes in a fantasy that the public good takes care of itself when the wealthiest private citizens and corporations pursue maximal profits for themselves.)


To cite just the latest example (there’s a new one every few days), congressional Republicans voted dozens of times during the Obama administration to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Once the party gained control of Congress and the White House, which gave them the chance to follow through, they fell short — because they could reach no consensus on an alternative. Yet that hasn’t stopped President Trump from trying again to scuttle it, this time through a transparently frivolous lawsuit. That there is nothing approaching an alternative in the works doesn’t faze the president one bit, even though it would summarily end health insurance coverage for many millions of Americans — no doubt in part because he and his chief of staff are content to lie flagrantly about the near-certain consequences of their actions. Such priorities and behavior are very good reasons to support the Democrats as an alternative. The Democratic candidates are proposing a long list of appealing policies that would begin to address some of our biggest problems — universal health coverage, free college, universal child care, massive spending to combat climate change, and much else. That sounds good, except that, if implemented, these policies would bankrupt the country.


The federal government is already running the largest peacetime deficits in American history, and it’s doing so during an economic boom, when tax revenue should be at its highest point in the business cycle. Raising upper-income taxes, imposing a wealth tax, cutting defense spending, repealing Trump’s corporate tax cut — all of it would offset some (though only some) of the spending Democrats are advocating. But those changes would likely also produce an economic slowdown that would lead to a decline in tax revenue. Even in that rosiest scenario, a daunting list of problems would remain unaddressed. The country’s infrastructure — roads, bridges, railways, levees — is collapsing. Life expectancy is falling, in large part because so many Americans are addicted to painkillers. Manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Automation is on track to eliminate many more low-skill jobs, leaving millions of Americans out of work. Communities across wide swaths of the country are cultural wastelands with few economic prospects, while restrictive zoning laws in regions with high rates of economic growth ensure that housing costs are prohibitively high, leaving people overworked and financially strapped.


The challenges are daunting, the resources to address them are limited, and our capacity to reach anything approaching a consensus about how to begin doing so is close to impossible. I suspect this is one important reason why a majority of Americans have consistently described the country as on the wrong track for the past 15 years — before the financial crisis, during its extended aftermath, and on through a period of extensive, sustained growth that’s brought unemployment down to historic lows. We sense, rightly, that we’ve neglected our problems for so long that the capacity to fix them may well exceed our grasp. The honest truth is that these days the American future often feels uncertain and sometimes downright grim. That doesn’t mean turning things around is impossible. The U.S. made it through the tumult of industrialization over a century ago to reach unprecedented heights. Perhaps several decades from now we will look back on the opening decades of the 21st century the way we now view the turn of the 20thcentury — as a moment of temporary turbulence on the way to renewed national achievement. But it’s also possible that we’ve passed our zenith and entered what will be a long period of national decline. It may be too soon to expect our politicians to acknowledge and respond productively to this possibility. But it won’t be forever. Sooner or later, we will have to give up our fantasies and confront the world as it is. Even if it fails to conform to our most fervent hopes.    


Saving Capitalism Begins by Acknowledging the Problems

This is a very enlightening article on our new economy & the reasons for it: everything-need-know-new-economy.  Being slaves to big corporations can be at least as repressive & scary as being slaves to big government.  And the more the monopolistic/oligopolistic forces dominate various industries, the more smaller competitors can’t compete & our free-market capitalist system can’t function as intended: pay-us-forever-apple-wants-you-to-rent-your-life-from-them.  There’s just so much we should be doing that we’re not, from tax policies to antitrust laws to advanced worker training to health care to child care to infrastructure to immigration reform & any number of innovative ideas we haven’t even thought of yet.  In the long run, particularly with robots displacing workers, we need to reinvent new careers so people are freed up to pursue opportunity & achieve upward mobility, rather than being pigeonholed into cookie-cutter, dead-end occupations which barely rise above poverty wages.  Perhaps I have too much of an idealistic/utopian vision, but that shouldn’t prevent us from striving, as we can never accomplish those things we don’t first seek.

As I’ve said for the umpteenth time, we either fix capitalism for the working middle class or we’re gonna to lose it.  Saving capitalism requires bold moves without resorting to a socialist agenda.  It’s going to take a paradigm shift of innovative thinking unlike anything we’ve ever done before to get us back on track: gilded-age-income-inequality-robber-baron.  I fear we’re running out of time as the natives are getting restless.  We need to at least start showing genuine progress in saving capitalism since the working class who’ve been taken advantage of are looking for real answers, which more progressive socialist policies keep becoming more tempting to them the longer we stick with the failed status quo.  Here’s a great perspective from someone who was originally a refugee as seen in excerpts from peter-georgescu-capitalism, which we’re going to need a serious buy-in from the rich & powerful to ever achieve the broader social good:
Peter Georgescu — a refugee-turned-C.E.O. who recently celebrated his 80th birthday — feels deeply grateful to his adopted country. He also feels afraid for its future. He is afraid, he says, because the American economy no longer functions well for most citizens. “For the past four decades,” Georgescu has written, “capitalism has been slowly committing suicide.” “The hero of my story,” Georgescu said to me “is America.” Over and over, he said, people who didn’t have any obvious reason to care about him helped him: the congresswoman who didn’t represent his parents’ district; the headmaster who’d never met him; the ad executives who mentored him. All of them, he believes, were influenced by a post-World War II culture that (while deeply flawed in some ways) fostered a sense of community over individuality. Corporate executives didn’t pay themselves outlandish salaries. Workers enjoyed consistently rising wages.

Things began to change after the 1970s. Stakeholder capitalism — which, Georgescu says, optimized the well-being of customers, employees, shareholders and the nation — gave way to short-term shareholder-only capitalism. Profits have soared at the expense of worker pay. The wealth of the median family today is lower than two decades ago. Life expectancy has actually fallen in the last few years. Not since 2004 has a majority of Americans said they were satisfied with the country’s direction. “Capitalism is a brilliant factory for prosperity. Brilliant,” Georgescu says. “And yet the version of capitalism we have created here works for only a minority of people.” In his retirement, when he’s not spending time with his family, Georgescu has been trying to agitate other corporate leaders. He has published a book, called “Capitalists, Arise!” He has written op-eds and given talks. He talks about the signs of frustration, in both the United States and Europe. He has seen societies fall apart, and he thinks many people are underestimating the risks it could happen again. “We’re not that far off,” he told me.


Some other business leaders are also worried about rising inequality. Warren Buffett is. So are Martin Lipton, the dean of corporate lawyers, and Laurence Fink, who runs the investment firm BlackRock. “There’s class warfare, all right,” Buffett has said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning,” Georgescu believes that business, more than government, can solve the problem. He told me that executives should resist pressure to maximize short-term profits. Companies could make even more money if they invested in their workers and became more productive and innovative, he says. Costco is a favorite example of his. I’m skeptical that corporate America will voluntarily fix the situation, because the last four decades have been very lucrative for top executives and investors. To my mind, government action — including higher taxes on the rich and more bargaining power for workers — is necessary to bring back broad-based prosperity. But I am grateful for Georgescu’s efforts, because the culture and values of corporate America have a big effect on society. Not so long ago, top executives made decisions that took into account not just their own bank accounts but also their workers, their communities and their country. Georgescu is asking them to do so again.  


Rich Get Richer

Saving capitalism means restructuring the system so most workers can earn a livable wage without barely scraping by to pay the basic bills each month.  No amount of rosy economic data can gloss over the dire reality roughly half of American families don’t have a few hundred dollars to cover an emergency.  With the tax cuts & other factors working against the middle class, income inequality is exploding!  These are stunning statistics below on how much the wealth of the top 1% have skyrocketed, the problem being as they hoard most all the benefits from economic growth, it’s the working class still being left behind.  The wealthy should have a vested interest in saving capitalism as much as anyone, before the outrage jacks up marginal tax rates on top incomes to 90% as it was after WWII.  Just look at these astounding numbers on wealth accumulation posted in excerpts along with the graph that can be seen by clicking on americas-wealthiest-households-have-record-cash-on-hand:  

America’s wealthiest households are stashing their cash at record levels. The top 1 percent have three times more in readily available cash than the bottom half, with holdings jumping from less than $15 billion shortly before the last recession to a record $303.9 billion at the end of 2018, according to Federal Reserve data released last week. By contrast, while holdings for the bottom 50 percent of households surged almost tenfold since the pre-recession low, they’ve increased at a much slower pace than the wealthiest cohort.  


Tax Bill Benefits derailed by Buybacks

 The Trump tax cuts that were huge giveaways to the super-rich, whether it was on the income tax or corporate tax rates, benefited those who needed it the least.  The strategy utterly failed to target the working class who needed the help the most.  And rather than raise wages, corporations mainly diverted the proceeds to stock buybacks, funds which could have gone to much more useful purposes.  With deficits rising due to shrinking revenue from the Trump tax cuts, we’re less capable of investing in needed projects like infrastructure, R&D, education, worker training or child care.  So we’re robbing ourselves of a better future as seen in excerpts from a-buyback-for-our-future:

These execs are currently spending incredibly vast sums buying back their own companies’ shares of stock off the open market. In 2018, researchers at Dow Jones report, 444 of America’s top 500 firms spent dollars on stock buybacks. Lots of dollars: $806.4 billion in all, up 55 percent over the year before and up 37 percent over the previous all-time buyback annual record high. These stock buybacks have no redeeming social value. Buybacks don’t make corporations more efficient or effective. They just make the rich richer. Buybacks reduce the volume of shares that trade, in the process upping earnings per share and share value. Who benefits from these upticks? Top corporate execs see an immediate boost. Over 80 percent of their pay comes from stock-based compensation.


The wealthy overall benefit, too. America’s top 1 percent, researchers at Goldman Sachs observed earlier this year, now own half of all the nation’s shares of stocks, with nearly 85 percent in the pockets of America’s wealthiest 10 percent. The dollars corporate execs put in buybacks could, if invested elsewhere, help significantly share the wealth the modern American economy creates. Imagine how much brighter our future would be now if the over $5 trillion that S&P 500 corporations have spent on buybacks since 2007 had gone instead to paying higher wages or training workers in new skills or making corporate operations more eco-friendly. And that brings us back to our original question: Where’s all the money for these buybacks coming from? Corporate America “earned” a good share of that cash the old-fashioned way — by exploiting workers, squeezing consumers, and shunting the cost of cleaning up corporate messes onto the rest of us. Corporate execs also raise multiple millions for buybacks by taking on new debt. But these execs have a plush new source of buyback cash as well: the Trump corporate tax-rate cut enacted in December 2017.


The White House promised that corporations would use their savings from this corporate tax cut to create jobs and promote prosperity. Corporations did create prosperity — via buybacks — for the people who run corporations. The rest of the economy, the latest stats seem to indicate, is sinking into a new recession. What could we do about all this? A good starting place would be undoing the Trump corporate tax cut or keeping it in place only for corporations truly helping create prosperity for all. That would be rather simple to pull off. We could, as one example, deny corporations tax-cut dollars if they pay any of their top execs over 25 times what they pay their most typical workers. Back in the middle of the 20th century the pay gap within most all U.S. corporate enterprises never exceeded that 25-to1 ratio. CEOs at major corporations today now average over 350 times their worker pay. In 2017, Bloomberg reports, some 32 major companies paid their top execs over 1,000 times the pay that went to their most typical workers.  


Debt Bubble

 The world is operating under a growing mountain of unprecedented debt, like blowing up a huge balloon until someday it’s destined to pop: extreme-debt-global-economy.  This cannot be maintained without major changes, so ideas need put on the table.  Economic growth that reaches a broad spectrum of society can help mitigate the drag & dangers of an expanding debt bubble.  If we could ever get international agreement on a livable wage plus eliminate the offshore tax havens & multiple loopholes for the wealthy, that could go a long ways towards bringing the world economy into a much better balance: a-national-living-wage-is-on-the-table-in-the-us-and-australia-now-lets-talk-about-a-global-living-wage.  

We Need Better Ideas to actually Tackle the Real Problems

Rubin offers some details on logical ways to fix our complicated, lopsided & unfair tax code in these excerpts below from we-should-finally-pass-tax-reform.  Among the many questions we should be asking, with capital already having huge profit advantages over labor, does it make sense to tax capital gains at lower rates than labor’s wages?:  

Republicans promised to pass tax reform but instead delivered tax cuts heavily tilted to the rich and to corporations. Far from simplifying the code, this added complications, including the 20 percent rate for pass-through income. The result has been massive deficits, no sign of the economic boom President Trump promised and increased income inequality. In response, some Democrats are proposing a wealth tax, which is politically attractive but would raise less revenue than other proposals. Natasha Sarin and Lawrence H. Summers argue that “base-broadening reforms — rolling back President Trump’s tax plan, increasing tax compliance by the rich, closing shelters, eliminating stepped-up basis and deductions for the wealthy, and broadening the estate tax base — together raise more revenue than the wealth tax [from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] is estimated to.” They argue, as Republicans did once upon a time, that “these measures would be desirable even if they did not raise revenue, because they would improve investment efficiency and correspond to the basic notion of fairness: If two people are similarly situated economically, one of them should not be able to pay substantially less tax because of cheating or taking advantage of quirks in the law.” 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If we want to raise more revenue and reduce income inequality, there is a much better approach. Former car czar Steven Rattner (as well as members of both parties over a decade or so) recommends narrowing the gap in rates between investment income (capital gains) and regular income (salaries): At present, a beneficiary of long-term capital gains or dividends pays 23.8 percent of the profit to Washington. That’s already a good bit less than the 37 percent top rate on so-called ordinary income. Among the justifications for taxing profits on capital at a lower rate than income from work has historically been that companies pay taxes on their profits, so taxing shareholders on their gains represents a form of double taxation. But the 2017 tax cut legislation reduced the tax rate on corporate profits to 21 percent, from 35 percent. So if taxes on capital gains and dividends were raised by those 14 percentage points, we capitalists would be no worse off — and American companies would still be more competitive globally, the theory behind reducing the corporate tax rate. Even Republicans used to understand the benefits of leveling the rates between capital gains and ordinary income: It was a central feature of the 1986 tax reform bill, which best embodied the idea of lowering rates and broadening the base.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Getting back to the wealth tax, Summers and Sarin argue that, if the problem is that wealthy people have too much political power, there are better ways to address the issue. (“Consideration should be given to limiting the deductibility of lobbying expenditures; restricting the ability of political organizations to have allied 50(c)(3) organizations that can receive tax-deductible contributions; and tightening the rules on donor-advised funds that enable the wealthy to get essentially all the benefits of foundations without any of the requirements to pay out resources or provide any public transparency.”) More important, I would argue, is passing sweeping ethics reform, including some of the measures Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has recommended. She has proposed redoing rules for lobbyists, one way in which the rich accumulate excessive power.  

Wyden Idea

Sen. Ron Wyden also has an idea how to fix our disjointed tax code as seen in excerpts from ron-wyden-tax-inequality, & I respect anyone who can wyden our perspectives by putting reasonable proposals on the table that are essentially dedicated to saving capitalism.  We should do a deep dive to explore these various proposals & their likely effects, since our tax system does need fixed to help promote shared prosperity & revive the struggling middle class, while the special treatment bestowed on the wealthy needs to end:  

The average wealth of the poorer half of American households has dropped below zero in the years since the financial crisis, according to the World Inequality Database. What does that mean? It means that fully half of Americans hold more combined debt than assets. The average wealth of the richest 1 percent of households, meanwhile, has more than recovered its losses from the crisis. They’re now richer than ever. This situation isn’t healthy. And the most obvious solution is to change the tax code — specifically, to increase taxes on wealth to undo some of the radical increases in inequality over the last few decades.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Wyden plan “would transform how the U.S. taxes the wealthiest people,” The Wall Street Journal’s Gabriel Rubin and Richard Rubin write. Under current law, investors pay taxes on the increased value of the stocks and bonds they own — known as capital gains — only when they sell them. They also pay a lower tax rate than that on most forms of income. Wyden’s plan would remove both of those advantages. Investors would have to pay the ordinary income-tax rate on their capital gains. And they would have to do so each year, based on the assets’ value at the time. In accounting terms, this practice of updating the value of an asset is known as “mark to market.” The “mark-to-market” idea is similar in principle to the reassessment of home values for property-tax calculations. As I’ve noted before, the property tax is an annual tax on the largest asset for most middle-class families. But the very rich don’t face an annual tax on their largest holdings.

                                                                                                                                                    Their largest holdings often include stocks. Which means that the lower tax rate on capital gains, combined with the deferral of taxing them, has enormous financial consequences, as Steve Wamhoff, of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, explains on “Wealthy households, who already own the most in assets, can defer paying tax and grow their wealth much more rapidly, while income most of us earn from work is taxed annually,” Wamhoff writes. “This is a massive tax break for the wealthy, and mark-to-market taxation would bring it to an end.” Lily Batchelder and David Kamin, both N.Y.U. professors and former Obama administration officials, noted that the Wyden plan would also raise significant amounts of revenue for the federal government. That money could be used to reduce the deficit or pay for programs such as preschool or middle-class tax cuts.  


In Our Economic Car Ride, Slow Down for Yield Curve Ahead

There are unmistakable signs of an economic slowdown here & around the world as revealed inside us-economy-china-japan-europe-slowdown-trump, plus also found inside u-s-services-private-payrolls-data-highlight-slowing-economy.  These excerpts from the-incredible-shrinking-trump-boom explain how badly conceived were the Trump tax cuts, which only exacerbated the problem of the wealthy getting wealthier on the backs of the working class:   

So far, Donald Trump has passed only one significant piece of legislation: the 2017 tax cut. It was, to be fair, a pretty big deal: corporations, the principal beneficiaries, have already saved more than $150 billion, and over the course of a decade the tax cut will probably increase the budget deficit by more than $2 trillion. But the tax cut was supposed to do more than just give stockholders more money — or at least that’s what its proponents claimed. It was also supposed to lead to many years of high economic growth, 3 percent or more at an annual rate. Independent observers were skeptical, to say the least. They conceded that the tax cut might lead to a brief sugar high, because that’s what big deficits do. But any favorable effects on growth, they argued, would soon fade out. And they always insisted that it would take some time to assess the tax cut’s actual effects. Nonetheless, when the economy grew pretty fast in the second quarter of last year, Trump and his supporters cried vindication, and ridiculed the critics. But a bit of time has passed since then. The chart shows the U.S. economy’s growth rate by quarter since the beginning of 2018. The last number isn’t official; but there are a number of independent observers, including both Federal Reserve banks and private financial institutions, who produce “nowcasts” that estimate growth based on early data. At this point all of these nowcasts show slowing growth, and most put the first quarter at around 1.5 percent.

                                                                                                                                                      But Donald Trump is a special kind of leader. When things don’t go his way, when events fail to turn out as he planned and promised, he always knows exactly what to do: Blame someone else. Sure enough, he’s now asserting that we’d be having a yuge economic boom, 3 percent growth, all that, if only the Federal Reserve hadn’t raised interest rates. O. K., this is where you need to be able to hold two ideas in your head at the same time. Was the Fed wrong to raise rates? Probably yes. Does this account for the failure of the Trump tax cut? No. The Fed was clearly overoptimistic about the economy’s prospects, as it has pretty consistently been for the past decade. It’s worth noting that throughout that whole period conservative critics of the Fed — the same people now backing Trump — attacked the institution for keeping interest rates too low, not too high. Still, it’s now clear that the attempt to normalize monetary policy was premature. But the Fed’s premature rate hikes aren’t why the Trump tax cut is failing. How do we know that? Because all those boasts about why the tax cut would work miracles were based on a specific story about what is holding the U.S. economy back. And that story was and is all wrong. The Trumpist theory — which was, I’m sorry to say, endorsed by conservative economists who should have known better — was that there was a huge pile of money sitting outside the U.S. that companies would bring back and invest productively if given the incentive of lower tax rates. But that pile of money was an accounting fiction. And the tax cut didn’t give corporations an incentive to build new factories and so on; all it did was induce them to shift their tax-avoidance strategies.

                                                                                                                                                      Not surprisingly, then, the investment boom Trump economists promised has never materialized. Companies didn’t use their tax breaks to invest more; mainly they used them to buy back their own stock. This in turn, put more money in the hands of investors, which gave the economy a temporary boost — although for 2018 as a whole, one of the biggest drivers of faster growth was, believe it or not, higher government spending. So the theory supposedly behind the Trump tax cut has turned out to be a complete bust. Corporate accountants got to have some fun exploring new frontiers in tax avoidance; the rest of us just ended up saddled with an extra $2 trillion or so in debt. Now, I’m not deeply worried about that debt. Given low borrowing costs, the costs and risks of federal debt are far less than the usual suspects — again, the same people who cheered on the Trump tax cut — have claimed. But think of all the other things we could have done with $2 trillion — all the infrastructure we could have built and repaired, all the people who could have been given essential health care. What a colossal, corrupt waste.  

A Party Way Past Its Prime

Canada has been successful in lifting their citizens out of poverty, but as explained inside canada-poverty-record, such transformational change rarely is possible in our current climate of distrust & polarization.  Many new progressive policy proposals are rather far left, but that doesn’t mean it’s socialism.  I don’t necessarily advocate for more socialist leaning policies, but in light of our modern-day challenges, most progressive policies would be a stark improvement over the out-of-date nonsense the GOP is peddling: bill-maher-says-socialism-should-be-rebranded-as-capitalism-plus

The party I’ve supported for a lifetime has not only failed to adjust to changing conditions, but their obsolete policies actually serve to make our economic problems worse.  So as we’re witnessing in real time, along with the GOP recently losing their moral compass, an ongoing shortcoming they also have is the way they consistently kowtow to big corporate interests.  That cozy relationship is certainly a two-way street: ceo-political-giving-republicans & also see wealthy-ceos-flooding-gop-contributions-keep-tax-cuts-coming-study.   While I agree some of their deregulation push is helpful, doing it haphazardly can come at a steep cost, revealed in the start & conclusion to corporations-endanger-american-facebook-boeing-monsanto-trump:  

Why didn’t Boeing do it right? Why isn’t Facebook protecting user passwords? Why is Phillip Morris allowed to promote vaping? Why hasn’t Wells Fargo reformed itself? Why hasn’t Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) recalled its Roundup weedkiller? Answer: corporate greed coupled with inept and corrupt regulators. These are just a few of the examples in the news these days of corporate harms inflicted on innocent people. To be sure, some began before the Trump administration. But Trump and his appointees have unambiguously signaled to corporations they can now do as they please.

                                                                                                                                                    These are just tips of a vast iceberg of regulatory neglect, frozen into place by Trump’s appointees, of which at least 187 were lobbyists before they joined the administration. This is trickle-down economics of a different sort than Trump’s corporate tax cuts. The major beneficiaries of this are the same big corporations, including their top executives and major investors. But these burdens are trickling down as unsafe products, fraudulent services, loss of privacy, even loss of life. Big money has had an inhibiting effect on regulators in several previous administrations. What’s unique under Trump is the blatancy of it all, and the shameless willingness of Trump appointees to turn a blind eye to corporate wrongdoing. Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress yell “socialism!” at proposals for better balancing private greed with the common good. Yet unless a better balance is achieved, capitalism as we know it is in deep trouble.  


Short Bits

Rural voters who Trump appealed to & has done very little for, those entrenched troubles persist & the frustration is not going away:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In the category of hope for the future, at least young people understand what a disaster Trump has been:


(Sorry the rest of these links below you’d need to find on your own.  We’ve blown way past our quota of live links, so the rest of this Part 3 section we are mostly only posting the media source & link titles for you to peruse, so any articles you’d like to read could be found in seconds by doing a copy/paste into a search engine.)

Health Care like an Anchor around GOP’s Neck

There’s a theory Trump’s self-defeating policies are done intentionally to increase turmoil, since he thrives on chaos & uses it as a weapon to blame others.  But overall on health care which America has a uniquely expensive system without outcomes demonstrably better, it’s mainly become all about the money trail with the human factor being diminished.  We have several titles on health care below from the newsfeeds:

The Lost Decade…If the GOP actually had a better plan to replace Obamacare, don’t you think we’d had seen it by now?:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But the GOP does have a skeleton of a plan…It would take away coverage for millions plus remove coverage for preexisting conditions:
The GOP plan is so bad & would do so much damage, Trump has decided to wait till after the 2020 election to unveil it (truth be known, they’re never going to have a viable plan, which is why we need to look seriously at universal coverage or at the very least fix Obamacare):







Why Trump caved on & delayed his beautiful, greatest, most wonderful healthcare plan:
Our very expensive healthcare system drives Americans into debt over major health events:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Speaking of health, in our overworked/stressed-out society, this is a big problem at the core of many health issues which doesn’t get enough attention:
More Incompetent Actions This Week
Trump spent the week making one crazy move after another.  Besides the false promises & flip-flopping on health care as is presented in the articles listed above, the foolishness also extended to withholding aid to Puerto Rico & three desperate Central American countries just when they need the help the most.  Trump even stooped so low referring to desperate families fleeing unimaginable violence & poverty in their home countries as animals.  No, they’re not animals, but we must have a subhuman in the White House.  Plus the prez threatened to close the border without considering how it would wreck the economy.  Cooler heads among GOP leadership convinced Trump to push back their healthcare plan (which is nonexistent) until after the 2020 election, plus impressed upon him closing the southern border would bring on economic & political calamity.  Trump is still making empty threats but won’t devastate the economy by closing the border for at least another year, which he then switched gears this week by raising the prospect of instead slapping auto tariffs on Mexico.
I won’t disparage the prez by calling his schizoid proposals stupid, but I will say the stuff he thinks up can best be described with a word that rhymes with hidiocy.  Let me be blunt about his continuing deficient response to Puerto Rico’s desperation, as withholding the amount of the Fed’s promised aid is the work of a lying & heartless jackass!  He already had blood on his hands for the pathetic initial response right after the major hurricane hit, & since then his administration has skimped on the relief amounts committed to & needed to rebuild the island.  Don’t ever forget, these are Americans too no matter what Trump might think.  I do believe victims of Hurricane Katrina under George W’s botched rescue effort at least wound up getting around 20 times the federal aid as Puerto Rico has received.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In other news, we’ve seen how Trump installs stooges in the DOJ, courts, Congress & state-run echo-media as an attempted coup on our government, but now he’s also targeting the Federal Reserve?  His new candidate was once famous for his 9-9-9 idea but doesn’t know much about monetary policies.  Plus if the economy was as great as Trump claims, there’d be no need for the prez to pressure the Fed to lower rates.  The numerous categories & link titles listed here that you could look up only adds to the list of blunders by Trump just this past week, which even lousy presidents would take months to achieve this much confusion & mistakes:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Puerto Rico:
Policy Whiplash:


Ridiculous presidential policies south of the border:



Defiling the Fed:

Me-Too & Media can sometimes go a Bit Too Far

I doubt there was any nefarious intent, it’s probably just Uncle Joe being Uncle Joe.  He also lived in a different time with a different culture & old habits can be hard to break.  The claims against him may be a bit creepy but don’t seem to rise to the level of sexual deviancy, so I don’t see the accusations even in the same league as Trump’s abuse of women.  Biden does the same kind of stuff with men, so it’s just his touchy-feely style of greeting some people.  And I wish the media wouldn’t so much emphasize gotcha-points & stick to the real issues!  They too often hype controversy instead of consequential news. These are titles about the Biden story you could search:


Local Guy Running

I don’t chime in much on the Dem hopefuls who’ve declared their candidacy.  We’ll let Dem registered voters sort out that large field in due time.  But I like this guy who just declared.  He’s from near here in Ohio & has a laser-focus on lifting up the forgotten working class.  And he actually has ideas to help put workers into new future industries in replacing the lost jobs from the old industrial sectors that will never be what they once were.  And we’re going to need good ideas:  Here’s a couple article titles to search:
But he faces the same problems as E. Warren & the rest of the Dem field of presidential hopefuls:   


King Toot is like Tut or Trump

The Boy King as played by Steve Martin on SNL in the video below is also a great impression of Trump!  Our prez fashions himself as the imperial king but with all the pettiness, temperament & maturity of a little boy.  His lapdog acolytes on Fox & Friends praise Trump like a king as revealed inside donald-trump/king-trump-fox-friends-host-refers-to-trumps-presidency-as-his-reign.  This next article refers to him as King Toot for his grandiose pronouncements tooting his own horn while demonizing others: the-47-minute-presidency.  Voters should have known this is what we’d get the minute he rode down that gold escalator to announce his candidacy.  Our song selected is the closest thing we could find to King Toot, which the exaggerated dance moves, shameless self-aggrandizement & accumulation of wealth seem like an ideal fit for Trump’s egomania.  Despite being a comedy skit, this song became a hit & got radio play back in the day: