Trump Claims it’s the Best Economy & that’s Pure Nonsense…As Trump & the media keep perpetrating this myth we’re in such a great economy, they must have a very distorted view of what a strong economy really looks like.  Read the various articles here in part 3 we pulled from the newsfeeds, & we can easily see why we’re way off from having the best economy.  In fact, the situation is so dire for many Americans, we need urgent action.  This first part of the article american-dream-steven-brill-inequality-poverty-tailspin posted below in advance of an interview, there’s no possible way a great economy would feature such disturbing trends as seen here.  And click on that link for the interview which analyzes the lost American Dream stolen by an elite meritocracy, boiling over in frustration with the 2016 election of a man making loads of bold promises aligning with that anger.  But that new prez never really had any viable solutions, other than working along the edges with initiatives like deregulation:

Over the past 50 years, lots of things have changed in the United States. Here are a few examples.

1) A child’s chance of earning more than his or her parents has plummeted from 90 to 50 percent.

2) Earnings by the top 1 percent of Americans nearly tripled, while middle-class wages have been basically frozen for four decades, adjusting for inflation.

3) Self-inflicted deaths — from opioid use and other drug addictions — are at record highs.

4) Nearly one in five children in the US are now at risk of going hungry.

5) Among the 35 richest countries in the world, the US now has the highest infant mortality rate and the lowest life expectancy.

These facts, and many others, are cataloged in a new book by Steven Brill about America’s gradual decline over the last half-century. Brill has been writing about class warfare in the US since 2011, and the picture he paints is as depressing as it is persuasive. The book argues the people with the most advantages in the American economy have used that privilege to catapult themselves ahead of everyone else, and then rigged the system — to cement their position at the top, and leave the less fortunate behind. I spoke to Brill about how this came to pass, why the American dream has vanished, and what it will take to undo the damage that’s been done. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

A Year Later

We’ve been commenting & posting articles on the effects of the Trump tax bill for a year now.  Among the things we can now conclusively say about those tax cuts, they not only dramatically increased deficits, but corporate stock buybacks have also shot up: America-s-number-1-Republican-tax-cuts-lead-to-a-record-1-000-000-000-000-in-stock-buybacks.  This legislative travesty of misguided & mistargeted fiscal policy which has proven to be a budgetary boondoggle is further explained here in excerpts from tax-cuts-and-jobs-act-stock-market-economy, with shareholders benefiting but not so much the workers:

In October 2017, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin forecast that “the stock market will go up higher” if Republicans passed a tax cut bill. Both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average are now down from where they were on December 22, 2017, when President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The S&P 500 closed the day Monday at its lowest level since October 2017. In September 2017, Mnuchin said  that not only would the GOP’s tax plan “pay for itself, but it will pay for the debt.” He also claimed it would “cut down the deficits by a trillion dollars.” In October 2018, Treasury said the United States’ federal budget deficit had increased to $779 billion in fiscal 2018, up 17 percent from the year before. For one thing, Mnuchin should probably stay out of the prediction business. But beyond that, given that it’s been a year since the TJCA passed, it’s probably a good time to take stock of what it has — and hasn’t — done for the US economy, markets, businesses, and workers.

The 2017 tax bill cut taxes for most Americans, including the middle class, but it heavily benefits the wealthy and corporations. It slashed the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, and its treatment of “pass-through” entities — companies organized as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, or S corporations — will translate to an estimated $17 billion in tax savings for millionaires this year. American corporations are showering their shareholders with stock buybacks, thanks in part to their tax savings. There’s a lot about the effects of the tax cuts that we still don’t know and may never — the economy doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and myriad factors affect what happens to it. But a lot of the immediate stimulus effects of the bill are probably already here, and the longer-term ones will be harder to spot. Enough time has passed to evaluate some of the bill’s impact and whether promises made about it were kept. “We are not seeing the kind of broadly shared growth overall that a lot of the proponents of the law were hoping for,” Alison Omens, the managing director at Just Capital, a nonprofit that measures and ranks American companies on social responsibility, said.

“We went out and borrowed money and used that to cut everyone a check, and much of that was spent,” Mark Zandi, the chief economist with Moody’s Analytics, said. “It was implausible on its face said Alan Auerbach, the director of the Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance at UC Berkeley. “What we would have needed for this thing to pay for itself is implausibly large growth, and that just didn’t happen.” “In terms of the big picture, what it’s doing is making current rich people better off at the expense of lower-income households and future generations,” William Gale, a senior fellow in economics studies at think tank the Brookings Institution, said. He described the tax bill as the “wrong thing” — legislation that disproportionately benefits the wealthy and corporations — at the “wrong time,” because it was an attempt to deliver fiscal stimulus when the economy was already strong and it might have been a better idea to try to address the debt. Gale quoted former President John F. Kennedy: “The time to repair a roof is when the sun is shining.”

What appears not to have happened — at least not on a broad scale — is for companies to have transferred their tax gains into a significant benefit for workers. There were a handful of high-profile bonus and wage announcements after the tax bill was passed, but it’s not clear that tax cuts have delivered some major boon to the US labor force. The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute recently estimated that bonuses gave workers 2 cents more per hour over the past year. The Wall Street Journal in October pointed to various surveys suggesting most companies aren’t passing on their tax savings to employees. A survey of 152 companies by the recruitment firm Korn Ferry International found that 14 percent of companies were using their tax cuts to increase base salaries, and a poll of 1,500 companies from the consulting firm Mercer LLC found that 4 percent are putting their tax money toward paying employees. An analysis from Just Capital of 145 publicly traded companies found that 6 percent of tax-related savings was going to workers, while 56 percent was going to shareholders. “There’s clearly not enough rent sharing despite a couple of high-profile announcements,” Kimberly Clausing, a professor of economics at Reed College, told me. “I don’t think that mechanism would have been strong, and we certainly would have seen it by now if it existed.”

Weighing it all out, it seems clear the Republican tax cuts haven’t been the winner for everyday Americans many in the GOP promised. It is true that most people have more money in their pockets, but corporations and the wealthy are carrying a much larger chunk of change than the extra $1.50 per paycheck House Speaker Paul Ryan bragged about a school worker getting to help cover her Costco membership. “We could certainly use tax reform,” Gale said. “But there’s no reason why tax reform needs to lose money or benefit the rich at the expense of the poor.”

More on those Failed Tax Cuts

Instead of producing the best economy as Trump boasts, that year-old tax bill actually created more problems than they solved, such as adding to the national debt & increasing income/wealth inequality.  The entire article is posted here from has-the-gop-tax-cut-delivered-yes–and-the-tooth-fairy-was-here-just-last-night:  

Happy first birthday, GOP tax cuts. Normally we don’t expect much of 1-year-olds. This kiddo’s parents, however, had high hopes — promises, you might say — for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: It would reduce deficits, supercharge the economy (and stocks and wages), and draw droves of grateful voters to the Republican Party. So where do those promises stand? The White House says things are working as planned. The numbers mostly suggest otherwise. Consider the budgetary impact. Republicans said the bill would pay for itself, contra every independent forecaster. Congress’s official scorekeepers, the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office, initially pegged the 10-year cost at $1.5 trillion; later they raised that to about $1.9 trillion. The actual numbers thus far don’t look so hot. Despite some initial bogus claims from the administration that the deficit was “coming down rapidly,” it’s on track to rise from $666 billion in 2017 to $970 billion this year, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. That puts it at about 4.6 percent of gross domestic product, virtually unprecedented in such strong economic conditions.

Usually, when the economy is doing well — and we’re not in a major war — tax revenue is strong, spending on programs such as food stamps and unemployment falls, and the budget gap narrows. In fact, the last time the unemployment rate hovered around 4 percent, we had a surplus. Supporters of the tax overhaul sometimes say it’s still too early to judge the fiscal impact, that the law will still pay for itself over the long term. In a call with reporters Wednesday, though, White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett ducked a question about whether this was the case. He said that the administration was still “re-running the 10-year numbers,” which will be out in February with the president’s budget. He added that “if you get the growth that we see this year, and if that continues, then the revenue feedback effects become enormous as you go out to the end of the period.”

And that brings us to the next big promise about the tax cut: that it would unleash unfathomable, sustainable economic growth. It’s true that GDP growth is up this year — to about 3 percent — after averaging 2.2 percent over the previous five years. That’s largely due, though, to the fact that the tax cuts (alongside spending hikes) provided an enormous fiscal stimulus. Again, every independent outside forecast suggests that the impact of that stimulus will fade in the next year or so, with the economy reverting to more or less the growth path we were on before this expensive legislation was passed. In fact, in its forecast released Wednesday, the Federal Reserve downgraded its growth estimate for 2019 to 2.3 percent. (It forecasts the long-term growth rate at 1.9 percent.)

Other, more specific predictions from the White House have also not come to fruition. Trump said that “at least $4 trillion” would be repatriated to the United States. So far we’ve seen just over a half-trillion dollars come back. Business investment spiked immediately after the cut but slowed last quarter. The stock market boomed initially, true. (More recently, stocks have fallen, thanks to other factors, such as the U.S.-China trade war.) This makes sense, since stocks are just claims on the after-tax profits of a firm. With lower tax rates, pretty much by definition stock prices should rise. Firms have also used their tax windfall for share buybacks, which further buoy stocks, and a record $1.1 trillion of buybacks has been announced this year.

What the typical American probably cares about more is raises, which were promised in spades. Big, above-trend raises were supposed to come in the short term because cuts would allegedly free up more money for raises (not buybacks), and in the long term because firms would invest in new capital equipment that would ultimately boost worker productivity. Inflation-adjusted wages have continued trudging upward, but so far we’ve seen no obvious break in the trend. At just a year in, not enough time has passed to judge the more optimistic forecasts for that longer-term mechanism — sometimes called “capital deepening” — but the recent slowdown in business investment is inauspicious. Which brings me to the last promise: the politics of the tax cuts. Approval ratings of the law remain underwater, perhaps because two-thirds of the benefits of the law went to the top income quintile this year. By 2027, according to the Tax Policy Center, most Americans will see a tax increase, thanks to the sunsetting of nearly all tax cuts for individuals. Unsurprisingly, the law didn’t exactly produce the “red wave” its proponents hoped for.  Sure, maybe that’ll change. Maybe. At least that’s what we normally tell those celebrating birthdays: Close your eyes, and make a wish.

A brief paragraph posted here from who-won-from-the-trump-tax-cuts shows the tax cuts were a long ways off from producing the best economy, with the spoils going to the investor class as the working class is yet again left holding the bag:

While we can only guess how the economy would have performed without the tax cut, the bill’s most obvious winners do in fact seem to be people with big stock portfolios. After-tax corporate profits and share buybacks have indeed leapt higher. And while there are some faint signs that the bill may have boosted investment and pay around the margins, you basically have to squint to see them. Meanwhile, tax collections appear to have suffered, contributing to the our widening deficit.  

But What About the Workers? 

In this not best economy we’re currently dealing with, this next link takes us to an explanation how too many workers are stuck in “bad jobs,” which is chiefly responsible why in America we’re facing such a serious retirement crisis: even-a-booming-job-market-cant-fill-retirement-shortfall-for-older-workers.  A large majority believe the U.S. economy is rigged to benefit the rich and powerful: pollster-says-most-americans-believe-the-economy-is-rigged-in.  It doesn’t look to get any better with this trend of contract workers, where companies can get out of the loop for paying benefits as these independent laborers are generally seeing their incomes shrink even more.  Check out these perspectives about this gig economy seen in excerpts pulled from tax-law-workers-contractors:

The GOP tax law passed last year could hasten a workplace trend away from direct employment and toward the use of independent contractors, an arrangement that may save businesses money but would shortchange everyday workers in unseen ways. That’s the takeaway from a new paper by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank that’s been critical of the Republican tax overhaul. Researchers there say the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which President Donald Trump signed a year ago this week, gives workers an incentive to take contractor jobs that forgo basic labor protections and drive down wages in blue-collar fields like trucking and janitorial services. Some workers might ultimately be hurt by the law’s tax break on what’s known as pass-through income ― income that tax filers report on their individual returns after they earn it through a partnership, S-corp or sole proprietorship. Such money used to be taxed at the same rate as normal wages earned through a traditional job. But now independent contractors ― who are technically business owners ― can deduct 20 percent of qualifying pass-through income, thereby cutting their effective tax rate. Those savings could make it easier for companies to sell workers on independent contractor arrangements, a possibility that concerns labor and tax experts. “As far as we can tell, lawmakers didn’t even consider this outcome,” said Chye-Ching Huang, director of federal fiscal policy at the CBPP, noting that no public hearings were held on the tax bill before it was passed. “It’s hard to get a tangible grip on it. But the fact that we’ve seen this trend [of using independent contractors] already emerging … it does make us think it’s a reasonable concern that this will add fuel to a long-burning fire.”

What most experts agree on is that contract work comes with plenty of drawbacks that workers may not recognize. According to the CBPP, more companies may be tempted to use the contractor model going forward ― and more workers may be willing to accept the arrangement ― since the tax break would allow companies to pay workers less while assuring them the same after-tax income. The paper did not estimate how many workers might move from being employees to contractors, since the tax law is still young and any projection would be speculation. So if a worker’s after-tax income is the same, then what’s the big deal if their employee status changes? Independent contractors, such as Uber drivers, technically work for themselves, not the companies that benefit from their labor. That means they don’t receive a lot of the basic workplace protections other workers take for granted, like a minimum wage, time-and-a-half for overtime or the clear right to join a union. They are less likely to receive standard benefits like health care coverage or a 401(k) plan. And unlike traditional employees, contractors are responsible for paying both sides of the payroll tax for Social Security and Medicare ― the employer’s end as well as the worker’s. They often bear other costs as well, as in the case of Uber drivers, who have to supply their own car and pay for their own gas. Many workers don’t understand all the downsides when they agree to work under contract.

But there are plenty of benefits to the arrangement for employers. By keeping formal employees off their books, they not only avoid payroll taxes but can reduce costs related to unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. Contractor agreements can also help companies looking to avoid union organizing drives, since federal collective bargaining law doesn’t cover independent contractors. Those advantages for corporations explain why many have chosen to use contractors instead of traditional workers. The author and academic David Weil, a labor official in the Barack Obama administration, coined a term for the phenomenon: the “fissured workplace.” Weil and other researchers have documented how the use of contractors to save costs has blurred the lines of corporate accountability, often leading to lower wages and higher injury rates for rank-and-file workers. Modern home delivery offers a perfect example of the trend. As a 2014 HuffPost story detailed, many of the drivers delivering Amazon packages work as independent contractors tied to little-known courier companies like Lasership. Many of the workers have to buy their own vans in order to do their deliveries, and they can lose their routes or see their take-home pay cut at the whims of the company. “It’s like they want us to be employees, but they don’t want to pay for it,” one driver explained.

And Factory Workers?

Large corporations love & tout the mammoth windfall they received from that year-old tax bill, but it doesn’t look like they’re passing it on & the promised trickle down has only dripped a few drops.  More about Trump’s bluster & how his tax cuts did not benefit manufacturing workers in any significant way are found in this intro to trump-failing-workers-general-motors-layoffs-trade-tax-cuts:

At an October 2016 campaign rally in Warren, Michigan, then-candidate Donald Trump promised that not one plant would be lost on his watch. Now, just two years later, General Motors says it plans to shutter five manufacturing plants and lay off up to 14,000 workers. The General Motors facility in Warren — where Trump made his campaign promise — is among the factories being closed. “You won’t lose one plant.” These manufacturing layoffs show two things. First, the president made promises to the American people that he has not kept. And second, his administration’s economic policies have overwhelmingly benefited the biggest corporations and the richest people, not the American worker. When Trump signed the Republican tax bill into law, he promised that businesses like General Motors would use their huge corporate tax cuts to improve the lives of American workers. Corporations got their fair share — the Republican tax plan has already saved General Motors over $150 million. The company also earned more than $50 billion in gross profits over the last three years. Nevertheless, General Motors is now shutting down U.S. manufacturing plants, moving car production and American jobs overseas.

About Those Monthly Jobs Reports

It’s time for America to recognize we are not enjoying the best economy & we must strive to fix it!  Sure, unemployment rates under 4% are great, but it’s far from telling the whole story.  Those numbers don’t tell us if those are good jobs people are taking, plus discouraged workers typically aren’t reflected in those monthly reports as 100 million adult Americans are not accounted for as working.  Also, the job gains are just going to the top 20% wealthiest areas.  Plus the economic growth is being artificially propped up by enormous deficit spending.  This next article proposes a strategy called payroll tax shifting promoted by the policy group Get America Working!, with an idea for getting more Americans back in the workforce without running up more deficits.  The excerpts we posted from rosy-jobs-reports-are-misleading-crisis-is-coming-and-fixes-are-few highlight the part of the article describing the dire realities of our economic condition not seen in those rosy jobs reports:

Two things unlikely to make the list are the job market and federal tax reform. They’re supposed to be bright spots, yet they both point to deep, interconnected threats to the economy:  surprisingly widespread joblessness, untenable economic inequality, burgeoning debt, and failure of policymakers to deal with them. Despite the 49-year low in unemployment, mass joblessness is hiding in plain sight in the latest rosy Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report. Of about 259 million non-institutionalized adults, over 100 million aren’t working (6 million officially unemployed plus 96 million “not in the workforce”). Job gains are concentrated in the 20 percent most prosperous zip codes. Across the rest of America, there are fewer jobs now than in 2007.

The labor force participation rate, unchanged in November at 62.9 percent, has been orbiting a 40-year low for years. Falling official unemployment plus persistently low labor force participation indicates job market tightness is partly due to more Americans leaving the workforce. Some retire or otherwise choose not to work, but most are sidelined by lack of opportunity. Seniors, women, people of color, people with disabilities and legal immigrants are disproportionately affected. Of 156 million Americans who do work, 34 million work part-time (5 million want more work and can’t find it). Of the prime age men 25 to 54, 19 percent don’t work full time — many more than during most recessions. Fewer than half of American adults have full-time jobs. The other half are falling further and further behind as economic inequality continues to rise, and the divide deepens between those prospering in this job market and those on the outside looking in. Yet these outsiders are the economy’s greatest untapped resource, and losing their contributions is its greatest liability.

Mass joblessness drives up national debt because it entails massive social costs — everything from crime and drugs to healthcare — which government pays for one way or another. Despite that, our economic policies are often tone-deaf to the problem, and make joblessness worse. For example, payroll taxes raise over a trillion dollars a year — about a third of federal revenue — by taxing employment. The employer portion of the tax artificially raises labor costs, a chronic drag on labor demand and job growth. The employee portion is the biggest tax most Americans pay, and the most regressive. It disproportionately affects middle- and low-income households (income beyond $132,900 is exempt), shrinking their paychecks and consumer spending, which undercuts economic growth.

When the Senate debated tax reform a year ago, Senators Rubio and Lee tried hard to cut payroll taxes for low-income families through the Child Tax Credit. But that would have meant cutting corporate taxes to 20.9 percent instead of 20 percent, and Senate leaders balked. The $1.8 trillion tax cut package passed without payroll tax relief, or offsetting revenue. This fall, Congress extended and expanded the cuts, spending another $657 billion, then agreed on a $1.3 trillion omnibus that increased spending $300 billion, all without offsetting revenue. In 2018, the federal deficit jumped 17 percent to $779 billion, and the national debt topped $21 trillion for the first time. CBO says the debt is growing “rapidly” and the deficit will top $1 trillion by 2020. Confronted with these numbers recently, President Trump shrugged, but markets tanked. Soaring deficits and debt drive up interest rates, slowing growth. Interest on the debt is projected to cost $7 trillion over the next decade. It’s a pocketbook as well as a macro issue, since high national debt forces households to pay more for credit cards and loans, and undercuts wage growth. In fact, over the next 30 years it will reduce an average family of four’s income by $16,000.

Trump the Great Divider no longer Brags about Stock Market 

This poll reveals a point of view that is factually correct, as reflected by an incredibly lopsided margin: large-majority-says-country-more-divided-since-trump-took-office-poll.  The stock market certainly is spooked amidst all the chaos in the White House, heading for the worst December market drop since the Great Depression.  Note I didn’t say the Great Recession, but the Great Depression (1931), while the selloff is expected to continue: as-fear-rises-on-wall-street-strategists-warn-the-worst-is-yet-to-come.  And this is the worst week on the Dow in 10 years.  The current signs indicate we may be heading toward this: a-recession-is-coming-trump-is-going-to-make-the-recovery-worse.  There are better ideas out there than any of the nuttiness the prez has ever proposed, we just need to put partisanship aside so we can get to work on actually solving problems & creating a more structurally sound economy: centrism-moderate-capitalism-welfare.  For more clear signs we’re a long ways away from having the best economy & are in serious need of a revamp, check out so-is-trumps-america-great-yet which has this conclusion:

It’s tough to be a megalomaniac in the most powerful job in the world who has to admit he does not have magical powers to solve all problems. At some point his followers may begin to doubt his magic, too, particularly if he proclaims America great again when life for its citizens doesn’t seem so hot.  

It’s Extremely Dangerous to let Our Country be run by the Echo & House Freedom Caucus

But Trump has no idea how to govern, so he’s deferring to these radical far-right extremists along with his buddy Putin.  His chaotic presidency may be in the process of self-destructing: trump-isnt-playing-five-dimensional-chess.  Last year the prez had a deal with Schumer & Pelosi providing plenty of funding for his wall, but it was part of a package finally offering a solution for DACA.  Trump reneged on that verbal agreement just a day or two later after getting an earful from the xenophobic echo & HFC (those crackpots in the House I’ve often called Hamburger, Fries & Coke).  That same presidential politics of whiplash played out again this week, with echo/HFC nutjobs going ballistic over the prospect of not securing wall funding while the GOP still controlled the House.  And that evil echo leads much of the GOP base around by the nose.  The prez knows he could lose the impeachment battle if he loses a big chunk of his loyal base.

The GOP reps were leaving DC a couple days ago thinking the prez agreed on a CR keeping the government funded & open till February.  Then Trump heard the blasts from the echo including Limbaugh & Coulter, so scared those criticisms about caving on the wall would tick off his base, he suddenly decided to play tough guy.  And in an extraordinary amount of chutzpah, Trump is now blaming the Dems, even though last week he told Schumer & Pelosi the shutdown would be on him & he wouldn’t blame the Dems.  The prez even said he’d be “proud” to shut down the government.  So this whole episode we’re seeing over the shutdown today & for however long it goes on, it’s all on him!  Another short-term CR is the likely result over the weekend prior to Christmas.  These are articles that shed light on this charade, while also wondering how GOP party leaders might react going forward:

What Will GOP Politicians Do?

Let’s hope we’re starting to finally see GOP leadership somewhat distancing themselves from the prez, to the point their support might soon collapse: george-conway-donald-trump-kellyanne-conway-collapse.  Not just from their midterms beatdown, but this week alone there’s plenty of grumbling over the announced troop pullout from Syria & the threatened government shutdown over the wall funding.  If many GOP leaders sense a comfortability factor with pushing back against the prez, it could set the stage to lower the boom on Trump when proof of criminality soon rocks the headlines & the nation: trump-popularity-republican-party-2020-primary.  Should that day come, every GOP member of Congress will be asked to choose between democracy or fascism.  There would be no in-between.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year’s to You & Your’s

Check back with us in a week if there is a major breaking news story next week, especially on Russiagate.  Otherwise, let’s enjoy the holidays & our next posting is likely coming in two weeks.  We have two Christmas songs in this link & the one at the bottom, so we should take the time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas:

In the picture at the bottom, is this a donkey?  Its name is Merica, who my daughter met in person on her European trip & sent me this picture postcard.  Not knowing for sure what kind of horse Merica is, I’m speculating here what Merica might best represent:

*The Dem’s animal symbol?  

*Trump being a jackass?

*Merica is missing the A in the name, since under Trump America is losing its Authority

*Trump’s description of Stormy Daniels when he called her a horseface? (he has verbally attacked all his mistresses & other women he abused)

*Hi-yo Silver, the Lone Ranger’s horse? (since Trump runs his reckless foreign policy like a lone ranger)

*The donkey in this Christmas song below? (I remember this song from when I was a kid)

I also remember Ed Ames on a TV Western when I was little.  I was thinking he was Tonto to the Lone Ranger, but instead he played a Tonto-like character on the Daniel Boone show.  He also learned to throw a tomahawk & demonstrated his technique on the Johnny Carson show, producing maybe the longest-running laugh in front of a live audience in television history:  And he could also sing.  This Christmas song is a bit corny, but it plays into our Merica donkey theme: