To the extent Workers are getting ahead, it’s only Big Business handing out some tiny morsels…But once the sugar-high wears off, we’ll be right back where we were! There is certainly some justification for the belief when government stays out of the way & leaves big business alone to their own devices, the economy grows & the rising tide lifts all boats.  Big business certainly does provide a lot of jobs.  But too many middle-class boats are sinking! There are signs all around us our modern capitalist system mainly benefits the top tier on the income scale, leaving a disproportionate number of Americans behind. It’s breeding financial distress, widening income inequality, social stratification & plenty of frustration. So with these changing circumstances, I’ve argued a certain degree of governmental engineering is required to lift up the middle-class workers being left behind, but such a policy agenda is antithetical to what the current GOP stands for.

By being in the back pockets of big-oil, big-banks, big-med, big-pharma, big-insurance, big-tech, big-multinationals & big-conglomerates in general, the GOP is stifling individual initiative to a dehumanizing degree, suppressing the already meager influence of labor & small business to compete in such a pay-to-play environment. It also has saddled Americans with a relatively high cost of living, which in combo with chronically-stagnant wage growth is why an obscenely high percentage of workers have jobs that do not pay a livable wage or support a family.  No wonder being middle class in America has become such a stress-inducing struggle!  Big business uses their enormous leverage to take advantage of their customers, employees & supply chain because they can. After all, their primary motives are profits & shareholder value.  And one big problem with GOP leadership in DC enabling this dominance by big business, is they seem way out of touch with real Americans: study-congress-overestimates-the-publics-conservatism.

The Real Trump Economy

Until recently we had a Goldilocks economy stuck in between hot & cold.  That has changed, temporarily running hot now but expected to cool off as seen inside a-hot-but-coolling-economy.  The current economy artificially overheated by Trumpian policies are presented in this conclusion from when-it-comes-short-term-economic-results-momentum-matters-more-than-presidents:

For more than eight years, the economy has been consistently adding jobs, and in Obama’s last year in office, payrolls expanded by 2.5 million. The unemployment rate came down from 10 percent in 2009 to 4.8 percent when Obama left office. In other words, and notwithstanding his incessant lies about how he saved the day, by the time Trump took office, the virtuous cycle was well underway. True, the 17 percent increase in the budget deficit last (fiscal) year is boosting growth and putting downward pressure on the jobless rate. The 49-year low in the unemployment rate is very much welcomed, especially as its benefits mostly redound to less-advantaged workers. But from the perspective of the macroeconomy, it’s a sugar high, not a lasting boost, which is expected to start fading late next year. The advocates of the tax cut promised an investment boom, which they claimed would provide long-term benefits in the form of higher productivity growth. However, there is no evidence of this boom to date, with investment up only modestly from year-ago levels. In fact, in the last quarter, business investment grew at less than a 1.0 percent rate. Nor do we see evidence of a forthcoming boom in the various measures of business intentions or orders for capital goods, i.e., measures of future investment.

 

These facts imply that the growth effects from the tax cuts are largely from wealthy people spending their tax windfalls. In that regard, it’s important to consider the opportunity costs of corporate cuts and pass-through loopholes compared with a more progressive, forward-looking agenda. Had the resources lost from the tax cuts instead gone to infrastructure, quality preschool, or wage subsidies for low-income workers, that, too, would have added to demand and created jobs, but it might have also delivered longer-term benefits to the poor and middle class. Of course, Republicans would not countenance any such spending by Obama because, back then, deficits mattered to them. There are also economic negatives to Trump’s agenda; they’re not enough to tank the tanker, but they’re problematic nevertheless. For example, stimulating an economy already closing in on full employment has led to higher interest rates (as has the Federal Reserve’s rate hike campaign that began in late 2015), and these dynamics, in tandem with his trade war, are also putting upward pressure on the trade deficit. The impact of higher rates can already be seen in housing, as residential construction has fallen in each of the last three quarters. New-home sales are down 13.2 percent from their year-ago level. This is bad news for low- and moderate-income people, for whom rent is consuming an increasing share of their income because of housing shortages in many cities.

 

Higher rates, tariffs and the fact that the United States is growing faster than many of our trading partners are also boosting the value of the dollar, which tends to increase our trade deficit. The most recent data has the trade deficit running at a $650 billion annual rate, or 3.2 percent of GDP. That is up from a deficit of $502 billion in Obama’s last year in office, an especially ironic development given the importance Trump placed on the trade balance in his campaign. The punchline is that presidents can nudge the oil tanker in the short-term with fiscal stimulus, but especially in Trump’s case, that doesn’t lastingly change its course compared with true, game-changing public investments, such as building the highways, developing the Internet, or crafting the GI bill, which helped veterans pay for college. Add in the worsening of inequality under him, the environmental degradation, a Treasury starved for revenue, and his purveying of hatred and divisiveness, and it seems glaringly clear that we’re in the midst of trading off a few quarters of juiced growth for many years of potential damage.

 

Tax Cuts aren’t the Main Driver of this Economy

The data suggests big business did not use the tax cuts to pay higher wages, but mostly went towards stock buybacks which indirectly leads to enriching themselves, the top execs & shareholders.  So it’s apparent whatever increase in wages we’re seeing now is a direct result of many years of declining unemployment rates, which at long last that trajectory has finally seen our economy closing in on full employment.  So these wage hikes, while still rather meager, would have come with or without the tax cuts.  What has actually propped up this Trump economy are the tailwinds from the Obama presidency combined with irresponsible deficit spending, since the current prez wants talking points he can use to brag about himself for the time being, the future be damned.

So what the tax cuts did succeed in doing more than anything else, was widening our already enormous wage/wealth gaps & drive even higher our enormous deficits (we do have to pay the interest on ever-increasing debt, which becomes more of a drag on our future economy).  There was hope higher business investments would create a more solid foundation for economic growth, but even that has leveled off.  So unless we see evidence to the contrary going forward, it now looks as though that Trump/GOP tax bill was poorly designed, poorly targeted & exacerbates existing problems more than helping the middle class.  And certainly Trump isn’t aware of or even looking to address the underlying problems.  Also stay tuned, since the jury is still out on any future deal with China & the ultimate effects of the trade wars.

The prez was just lucky in spite of himself the economy is reported as being strong, otherwise today’s election would really be a bloodbath!  So Trump was handed the gift of positive economic data & an uptick in wages as presented by the latest jobs report just before the midterms, giving him legitimate talking points (no matter how undeserved) to run on as his concluding message.  But rather than running with it, the prez punted on the economic theme (much to the chagrin of his party & Trump finally pivoted to the economy the final day of campaigning), preferring to stoke fears in his doting base about fantastical tales of angry marauders funded by a leftist billionaire, those gangs of disease-carrying criminals, thugs & terrorists bent on storming our borders.

So the world’s strongest military force was summonsed a month in advance to bravely repel these unarmed migrants now embarked on such a brutal journey, they may never even make it all the way through Mexico: trumps-racist-closing-argument.  And why not call out the military?  Trump is running our annual deficits up into the trillions, so what’s a few more wasted millions?: military-unhappy-trump-border-stunt.  Seriously, he’s misusing the military as a stunt to rile up the base: trump-administration-mattis-migrant-caravan-border-troops.  Trump’s confounding political strategy is examined in these cobbled together excerpts taken from donald-trump-midterms-fear-immigration-fox-news:

This game of fantasy politics is not just some alternate universe that occupies an alarmingly sizable proportion of the president’s very, very large brain. In his delusional nirvana of the future, Trump understands, nobody will ever be truly happy. His exhausted fans/lovers will beg him to stop, but he will deny them even that shallow pleasure. It’s less Morning in America than our Recurring Nightmare in America. Which helps explain the curious crisis of Trump’s closing arguments in these midterm elections. As Friday’s jobs data vividly underscored, this should be – at least economically speaking – an optimistic time in American politics. The economy is stacking up historically large numbers of new jobs, continuing a winning streak that awkwardly started under, um, Barack Obama all of 97 months ago. The unemployment rate stayed at the winningly low rate of 3.7% (a 49-year low) while wages rose 3.1% over the year. For most politicians, this would be a frabjous day of well-nigh full employment and fatter paychecks. But there are no calloohs or callays in this Trumperwocky.

 

There are just rock-wielding caravans of disease-plagued murderers invading a fragile nation at risk of imminent collapse from the enemies within: notably the media and a bunch of radical leftwing mobs in cahoots with a suspiciously Semitic man called Soros. If you haven’t already spat out your dentures, you’re not watching Fox News. However, it’s hard to keep a good crisis going when your voters are feeling pretty secure, at a time of relative peace and prosperity. You end up grasping at Halloween ghouls that make you look weak and out of touch. This kind of populism is only popular when things are truly scary. What happens when 15,000 troops arrive at the Mexican border to watch an empty horizon that will not be filled with a couple of thousand unarmed civilians until next spring? How will this TV show continue without a meaningful cliffhanger? Even if George Soros flies the entire caravan to the border on a fleet of private jets, is there any suspense in seeing how the US military uses its five-to-one advantage in manpower, never mind firepower?

 

Trump, on the other hand, rarely looks like he’s having fun. He may still appeal to older, white men. But he radiates resentment and racial fears at a time when the only people who find that aspirational are pipe-bombers and mass murderers. So we have the weird sight of a president celebrating the good economic news by expressing his shock and fears about natural disasters.  “I will say that we had tremendous jobs numbers today,” he told reporters on Friday. “That was shocking to a number of people. That was shocking by any standard and that’s despite the hurricane.” Trump thinks that “shocking” is a good thing. That sentiment echoed his tweet about the jobs numbers on Friday, which expressed his surprise at the data: “Wow! The US added 250,000 Jobs in October – and this was despite the hurricanes.” He could have said the jobs numbers were thanks to his own deficit-busting tax cuts or his environment-crushing deregulation. But no. He did tweet, two hours later, a photo of himself in a Game of Thrones design, warning darkly about sanctions against Iran. So let the good times roll! In between tweets, he continued to stoke outrage and concoct crises by blaming the media for domestic terrorism and saying it was OK for US troops to shoot migrants who might throw rocks.

 

This is a parody of the terrorist-whupping presidency of George W Bush, whose own claims to national security superiority collapsed in the civil war in Iraq and the waters that flooded New Orleans. Bush was more than just a gunslinger: he aspired to Reaganesque sunshine about America’s present and future. Trump has neither political quality; he is a one-dimensional politician. He can’t or won’t keep the nation safe against domestic terrorists whose twisted ideology he has tolerated and even endorsed. He can’t or won’t inspire the nation to optimism because he is animated by a sense of impending doom. That crisis is real for Trump, but it isn’t coming across the border. It’s arriving next week with a Congress that will no longer shield him from investigation. And it’s probably arriving soon after that with a Mueller report that needs to claim asylum outside election season. Never mind the fake constitutional debate about birthright citizenship. The real constitutional debate about an unlawful president is about to begin.

Are We Ever Going to Discuss & Tackle the Real Issues?

Rather than discussing on the campaign trail that roughly half the workforce are still being left behind by this economy, or the vital issue of health care, or job training/education, or infrastructure, or gun background checks, or the opioid crisis, or our national debt, or any of the other issues at least as important as immigration, Trump doesn’t talk to those other issues since he’s clueless & has no answers.  So he’d rather stoke fears with his racist/bigoted rally diatribes.  It’s the xenophobic, anti-Semitic, white nationalist type of language that is ratcheting up unbridled anger inside potential homegrown domestic terrorists, those who are far more dangerous than the desperate migrants in the caravan trying to head our way.  Those questionable Trumpian campaign strategy points are brought home in these spot-on excerpts from the-toxic-cycle-keeping-republicans-focused-on-culture-war:

One of the big questions that will be asked after the midterms, no matter what happens, is why Republicans didn’t focus more on economic themes, given the humming economy, as reflected in the final pre-election jobs report. Yes, we all know the president is obsessed with such culture-war staples as the alleged threat of immigration, which may help explain his focus on the phantom menace of a migrant “caravan.” But he likes to boast about the economy, too. Why aren’t he and his allies talking more about that? Well, for one thing, as Sarah Jones has observed, all those macroeconomic indicators that look so good don’t necessarily translate into good living conditions for middle-class voters. Republicans, moreover, don’t have an economic agenda that is attractive to such voters, who don’t feel they benefit from GOP tax cuts and are actively threatened by GOP health care policies.

 

And as a matter of fact, midterm elections are usually not about the economy, but about overall assessments of the president. Trump’s assessments, while generally positive in terms of his stewardship of the economy, are bad enough on other issues and characteristics that they remain underwater. It is clear, moreover, that Trump and his party are caught between the temptation to appeal to voters who love his cultural agenda or to reassure those who don’t. To the extent they play to the culture-war base, they make it very hard for the suburban upscale voters who might actually believe they are benefiting from the current economy to make that their decision-point. It’s a toxic cycle. So the culture-war mood among Republicans may become more, not less, intense after the midterms. And if, between now and 2020, the economy slows down, you can expect Trump to get downright medieval on cultural issues. He’s already broken most of the resistance of his fellow partisans to a revanchist, white nationalist message and agenda; it’s amazing to remember that as recently as 2004 comprehensive immigration reform was a bedrock principle of a Republican president. But at some point, ethno-cultural traditionalism may no longer just be Trump’s signature issue, but his only politically effective theme.

Do these Graphs show a Booming Economy?

The overall economy is doing great compared to the performance we’ve seen of this economy in this new century.  But as for the greatest economy ever as Trump likes to boast, it’s far from it!  Rather than skirting around the edges, if we truly want to make America great again, we need to start addressing these core issues, as seen in this article from Stiglitz-explains-why-The-American-Economy-is-Rigged-and-why-Trump-doesn-t-to-talk-about-it, including some disturbing graphs.  Examine these trends closely & it becomes plain to see, all’s not idyllic in Camelot!:

Trump is not talking economy much in these last days before the midterm. Could it be because he read this Scientific American article, The American Economy Is RiggedBy most accounts, the U.S. has the highest level of economic inequality among developed countries. It has the world’s greatest per capita health expenditures yet the lowest life expectancy among comparable countries. It is also one of a few developed countries jostling for the dubious distinction of having the lowest measures of equality of opportunity. It is not the laws of nature that have led to this dire situation: it is the laws of humankind. Markets do not exist in a vacuum: they are shaped by rules and regulations, which can be designed to favor one group over another. President Donald Trump was right in saying that the system is rigged—by those in the inherited plutocracy of which he himself is a member. And he is making it much, much worse. Is it that he knows his base gets it even though they can’t express it? Wealth is even less equally distributed, with just three Americans having as much as the bottom 50 percent—testimony to how much money there is at the top and how little there is at the bottom. Families in the bottom 50 percent hardly have the cash reserves to meet an emergency. Newspapers are replete with stories of those for whom the breakdown of a car or an illness starts a downward spiral from which they never recover.

 fading of the american dream in a booming economy 

Over time I have posted this image and Stiglitz highlights it;

 widening wage gap with the booming economy

Let’s recognize that the trend started during the Reagan era (I call it the Ayn Rand contamination) also continued under Clinton and Obama. Stiglitz concludes; As more of our citizens come to understand why the fruits of economic progress have been so unequally shared, there is a real danger that they will become open to a demagogue blaming the country’s problems on others and making false promises of rectifying “a rigged system.” We are already experiencing a foretaste of what might happen. It could get much worse. It was Occupy Wall Street that 1st made this meme go viral under Obama but for some reason it has not been digested by the Democratic Party either. Bottom line, the GNP is increasing, unemployment is low but the average American lives paycheck to paycheck. This is unsustainable in a democracy.  Trump is not talking about the economy because his base is “not happy” with it. But traditional Democrats do not directly address this inequality dynamics.  They should, people would understand it as well as they understand why healthcare is so messed up.

Who is Middle Class & Why are They so Insecure/in Debt? 

These excerpts below come from an excellent article inside what-does-middle-class-really-mean, trying to define the American middle class now characterized more by job & income instability.  In this new environment, big business calls the shots more than ever, with political leadership conforming to policies favoring large corporations & big donors.  It’s a crony capitalist culture which will be tough to break, but must be broken if our DC leadership is ever again going to primarily represent the American people who elect them, while finally give the working class a stronger voice:

Definitions that conflate income and class are all too common. For instance, in a well-cited 2015 article, “The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground,” the Pew Research Center used the terms middle class and middle income interchangeably; by “middle class” they meant households that take home “two-thirds to double the national median” income. The main problem with this approach is obvious: The same income buys a vastly different quality of life in different parts of the country. That is to say, $60,000 goes much further in Missoula, Montana, than in Brooklyn, New York. There’s another problem: Class has always been about more than earnings. For many decades, social scientists and historians have debated how jobs, education, politics, consumption, and, yes, income come together with values, habits, geography, and social status to create class in America. In other words, the question is not who but what  makes the middle class. Today there can be no pretending that middle-class status is anchored by a single economic reality. Instead, it is primarily an aspiration. Being middle class means striving for the stability and respectability that older generations achieved by holding down steady jobs, owning a home, and raising upright kids who could take their place. These benchmarks are no longer simple to attain. Instead, middle-class desires are marred by an insecurity historically associated with the American working class. Definitions should reflect that.

 

Today anguish over lost social standing has, in turn, been replaced by a pervasive sense of insecurity. Contingent work has changed the landscape of employment. According to the economists Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger, today 15 percent of workers are in nontraditional or alternative positions, and from 2005 to 2015, “alternative” jobs accounted for 94 percent of net job growth. Steady work can feel uncertain, too, as some jobs no longer hold the real promise of financial stability, let alone upward mobility. Across many states, for example, tax and service cuts have left teachers without raises as they grapple with outsize classes, crumbling infrastructure, and ancient textbooks. Nurses have also seen the growth of temporary work, which exposes these medical professionals to rapid-fire changes as they move from hospital to hospital for the next job.

 

Eroded work is such a cornerstone of middle-class life that middle-rung workers lean on contingent jobs to buoy their income. Uber has even built this into its business model. As the journalist Alissa Quart has reported, Uber actively recruits teachers and nurses into its ride service, especially in regions like the Bay Area where living costs are so high that even a secure income of more than $100,000 can leave a family in tough straits to pay for the housing and day care it needs to work in the first place. The rise of contingent and eroded work is the result of a corporate strategy. Reducing the number of steady, dependent employees and replacing them with temporary workers or contractors relieves business leaders from having to offer expensive benefits and boosts profits. Work might still be boring, and now it can’t be counted on. Uncertainty comes from other sources, too. Many white-collar workers, including loan officers, customer-service representatives, and paralegals, live in the sights of artificial-intelligence engineers. So do pilots, journalists, and lawyers. Researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute have estimated that 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at risk in the current wave of computerization.

 

Insecure work has been matched by insecurity in family life, as well. In mid-century, white-collar parents wanted their children to make stable lives that looked like their own, and their children were able to do it, too; today, that’s much more difficult. A college education for the kids has long been at the core of respectability, but now it comes at a historically novel social and psychological cost. Because college is so expensive, students shoulder debts that follow them through their 20s, shaping their decisions about where to work, what to buy, and when to marry. Parents, meanwhile, find that the cost of college consumes savings and redirects funds that might have been socked away for retirement. Although middle-age Americans have always carried the most debt, relying on home loans and credit-card charges to build their family, now they must also take out loans to meet their children’s tuition responsibilities. As students hit the ceiling on their federal borrowing, parents are stepping in to fill the gap. Household debt is graying, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has found. Borrowers in their later years—between the ages of 50 and 80— have propelled consumer debt to its new heights. Aspiring to stability and respectability today means not only navigating the landscape of eroded and contingent work, but managing debts. Trying to give children a shot, parents take on financial burdens that can destabilize their own future security.

 

Class has always been partly about income, but debt is now an equal component of the middle-class story, leading to a central paradox of aspirational lives: Striving for stability and respectability means inhabiting insecurity both socially and psychologically. Economic metrics alone can tell only a shallow story, but at the very least, debt should join income in any attempt at definition. The deeper story lies beyond these metrics, however. The middle class is tricky to define today because the secure jobs and stable home lives that supplied its historical definition are now gone for most Americans. Under these conditions, it may no longer even make sense to talk about the “middle class” at all. New concepts may be necessary to describe the social stratification in America’s polarized society.

 

Some of Trump’s most Loyal Supporters being Betrayed by Him

Workers are mad about the crony capitalism & rigged system, but Trump lacks the depth of understanding to know what to do, seen in excerpts inside trump-voters-inequality-racism:

Why? The new class of the superwealthy have pushed (mostly Republican) politicians to support ever more extreme policies to protect their wealth, like tax cuts, deregulation and the undermining of labor unions. The result, Pearlstein writes, is “a self-reinforcing dynamic in which concentrations of economic and political power feed off each other.” Democrats, for their part, have responded by opposing many of these pro-wealthy policies. “But,” Pearlstein explains, “it’s not just the politicians who have been affected. Rising income inequality has also changed the attitudes and behavior of American voters, sowing resentment, fanning prejudice and eroding the sense of shared values, shared purpose and shared destiny that once held the country together.” One of the groups that’s struggled the most over this period of rising inequality is the white working class. Incomes and wealth have stagnated for many workers, of all races. But while nonwhite workers have benefited from the reduction (but by no means the elimination) of racism during the past half-century, whites have not. This combination helps explain why the recent trends in health and life expectancy are worse for working-class whites than for any other major demographic group.

If anything, it would be surprising if these trends did not affect political views. Sure enough, they seem to have done so. Over the same period that working-class whites have endured stagnation, they have shifted to the right. Many have abandoned the vision that Democrats have long offered — one of “shared values, shared purpose and shared destiny” (to use Pearlstein’s phrase) for the middle class, working class and poor. Trump turbocharged this shift. He did so by running a campaign that was both more economically populist and more overtly racial than any other recent Republican had. The two themes played off each other, as Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University notes. “Those who try to distinguish between the explanatory power of stagnant wages and a declining industrial base on the one hand, and anxieties about the ascent of minority groups on the other, miss the point,” Cherlin has written. “These are not two different factors but two sides of the same coin.” The last week has again highlighted that racism is central to Trumpism. His closing campaign message is white nationalism. But his racism has found an audience partly because of the deep economic frustrations that many Americans feel. It’s one of the oldest and saddest themes in history: Frustration breeds bigotry.

College Debt Strangling Our Young People

What a lousy way to try & start a career & a family!  See these excerpts from student-loan-debt-hobbles-next-generation-of-u-s-workers:

In their 2015 song “Stressed Out,” which got an astonishing 1.5 billion views on YouTube, the band Twenty One Pilots had a line lamenting student loans. Atlantic writers Conor Friedersdorf and Megan Garber declared the song to be the anthem of the millennial generation. Many educated millennials would likely agree — since 2006, student debt has approximately doubled as a share of the economy. It’s students from poorer backgrounds, trying their best to climb up the ladder of opportunity, who get hurt the most. What’s more, afflicting educated people with huge, hard-to-repay debt burdens isn’t a good way to fight inequality. Because debt constrains borrowers’ life options, it prevents them from starting businesses that might have employed non-college-educated Americans and raised labor demand — one possible reason that business-formation rates are falling is because educated people are too indebted to take on the additional risk of founding a startup. Student debt also makes it harder to buy a home or start a family. What’s more, student lending has almost certainly contributed to the rise in college tuition, which has outpaced overall inflation by a lot. When the government lends students money, or encourages private lenders to do the same, it increases demand for college, pushing up the price. If the loans are subsidized, that represents a transfer of money from the taxpayer to the university. If the easy availability of loans nudges inexperienced 18-year-olds to spend more money on college than they otherwise would, the loans represent a transfer from the borrower to the university. Either way, the money isn’t flowing into the pockets of future workers, but to university coffers, where some of it gets used to offset reductions in state funding for higher education, and some gets spent on salaries for an ever-expanding army of administrators. All of this raises the possibility that the entire student loan system is, in the words of one Roosevelt Institute researcher, a “failed social experiment.” 

Politics of Fear badly misses the point

We may find out in just a few hours that Trump’s bigoted/racist/xenophobic closing message was a big mistake!: trump-2018-elections-midterms-republicans-immigration.  And the caravan is not filled with a bunch of brutal gang members, instead they’re escaping the brutal gangs: why-are-people-fleeing-central-america-a-new-breed-of-gangs-is-taking-over.  This next article explains America has seen someone similar to Trump back in our distant history: donald-trump-racist-midterm.  The excerpts from this next article we-already-know-who-lost-the-midterms-we-all-did show we’re all losers in this election since the attention was focused on all of Trump’s high jinks instead of the real issues:

What has been missing is any realistic engagement with the difficult issues facing the country. In democracies, elections serve not only to select the country’s leadership; they also aim to gauge public opinion on the hard issues and to see whether some sort of consensus is possible. The present campaign has featured very little of this constructive politics. This is, of course, among the hardest challenges facing democracies: to accept short-term costs for long-term gains. Under the best of circumstances, it would be difficult to achieve. Politicians want to win. By and large, they tell voters what voters want to hear, even if it is exaggerated, selective or dishonest. But the fixation on Trump and his antics turned a long shot into an impossibility. It destroyed the prospects of anything resembling rational debate. Indeed, public opinion may be worse informed at the end of this campaign than at the beginning. In this sense, the campaign may have been wasted. 

Misc

Another good reason to vote in a Dem Congress are seen from after-only-a-few-days-trumps-drug-plan-is-already-dead.  Deregulation overall has helped the economy, but dumb deregulation has hurt, giving big business & big banks license to abuse their privileges while running roughshod over their employees & consumers: trump-sec-doj-corporate-penalties.  And another housing bubble is coming?: shiller-housing-market-bubble.  Trump will probably shout from the rooftops about voter fraud/rigged election should the Dems win decisively tonight, but that is nothing but bunk!  The real problem is voter suppression: trump-issues-an-election-day-warning-all-levels-of-government-and-law-enforcement-are-watching.  If you can access WaPo, here are other articles you could search for on more realities of our political climate:

washingtonpost/republicans-should-have-stood-up-to-trump

washingtonpost/after-tuesday-republicans-will-lurch-even-further-to-the-right

washingtonpost/what-do-the-democrats-want

Now Politically Homeless

It’s a crying shame it has come to this: the-demise-of-the-moderate-republican.  Those of us moderates now without a party are still fighting that uphill battle to fix the GOP, or else we’ll need to eventually gravitate towards a new party or join the Dems.  My entire focus in all my commentaries is to bash my former party, the GOP, as a type of tough love.  Their leadership, policy agenda, messaging, integrity, honesty, empathy & connecting with the majority of Americans have all gone bonkers.  It’s become the party of Trump that principled Americans should shriek in terror & flee in horror!  And when we see Trump’s approval ratings tied or exceeded by those who say they strongly disapprove, it shows people are fleeing which bodes very well for the Dems tonight!

In trying to retrieve that elephant party back to sanity, I’ve basically ignored the Dems, other than supporting them as a way to send a strong message to the GOP.  I’ve never been particularly fond of most of the Dem’s policy positions.  But as I keep warning, if we don’t fix free-market capitalism for the typical American worker, this may be where we’re soon headed: democratic-voters-move-leftward-range-issues.  And that’s the problem I have, which is also a problem for America, is the Dem agenda has shifted further & further left: democrats-beware-we-are-leaning-left-too-far (but I would argue not nearly as much as the GOP has shifted far to the extreme right).

Here are the economic policies where both parties have failed us for decades, seen in this full article below from the-democrats-next-job-bury-supply-side-economics.  It’s not enough to speak to the struggling working class as Trump did in a way that resonated with them in 2016, we need to hear specific ideas that can actually restore that lost American Dream.  Much like 2016, the Dems still struggle finding a winning message.  If the Dems can ever figure out this dilemma they’ve never had any answers for, actually cobbling together workable solutions, I might actually become a registered Dem.  And as much as I disagree with that liberal party, my core moral values are now far more aligned with them than what has become of the new GOP:

Win, lose or draw on Tuesday, the Democratic Party will almost immediately turn its focus to the next presidential election and the fight between the establishment center and the left wing. But while the Democrats have that argument, they must also undertake the far more important task of thinking about what they agree on, and how they can construct a story about how the economy works and grows and spreads prosperity, a story that competes with — and defeats — the Republicans’ own narrative. For 40 years, with a few exceptions, Democrats have utterly failed to do so. Until they fix this, they will lose economic arguments to the Republicans — even though majorities disagree with the Republicans on many questions — because every economic debate will proceed from Republican assumptions that make it all but impossible for Democrats to argue their case forcefully. Republicans have a theory and a story about how the economy grows. You know it as supply-side economics: Cutting taxes, especially on the rich, and decreasing regulation will unleash so much innovation and economic activity that tax revenues will actually increase and the entire economy will benefit. This has been the conservative story, which the right has elevated to veritable religion, for 30 or 40 years now. And the Democrats’ alternative story is … what? If you’re not recalling it, that’s because there isn’t one.

The Democrats have impulses, they have beliefs, they even have principles. But they don’t have a story to challenge the supply-side story and tell people about how the economy grows and helps everyone. They used to, once upon a time. It was called Keynesianism, or sometimes demand-side economics (which is why conservatives named their theory supply-side). Keynesianism — in a nutshell, government investment in public goods increase demand and prosperity — held sway from the 1940s through the 1970s, the greatest period of economic growth in history. Then came stagflation, which opened the door for the supply-siders. Democrats, by and large, stopped talking about theories. Their story was discredited, so the supply-siders said. Democrats stopped defending public investment, and they stopped defending government. They still defend particular investments that poll well, like infrastructure spending. And they defend specific programs when they know they’re on safe ground, like Social Security and Medicare. And now that Obamacare, or at least the part about making insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions, is registering positive numbers, they’re happy to defend it, as they should. But none of this amounts to an answer to supply-side economics. None of it creates an alternative story about how prosperity is spread.

It seems to me that the Democrats’ story has to be built around the simple idea of investing in middle- and working-class people. Not “spending,” but “investing.” Spending sounds profligate; investing sounds prudent. This is not to be done for reasons of “fairness.” That’s an absolutely vital point. Liberals reflexively want to make economic arguments about fairness. But this persuades only liberals. People who aren’t liberals — three-quarters of the country — don’t especially care about fairness. They do, however, care about growth. So Democrats need to argue that these investments, not tax cuts for the rich, are the way to spur growth. Such an argument stands in direct contrast to the right’s story. Republicans say the rich, with millions returned to them in the form of tax cuts, know best what to do with their money and the market can make the best decisions about investments and society’s needs. It should be fairly easy for Democrats to say to Americans: Look around you. How has that worked out for you? Inequality is rampant. People fear being bankrupted by medical catastrophe (though not as much as they once did, thanks to President Barack Obama). Young people in college spend 25 years paying off debt. Young people not in college are working three jobs, none of which pays benefits or gives them steady hours. Your town is probably a shell of its former self, and some of your friends and relatives — all of them good, decent people — are in the grip of heroin or fentanyl addiction. This is what 40 years of market decision-making has done.

(By the way, the supply-siders’ big promise about revenue was a fairy tale. The Bush tax cuts cost the Treasury at least $1.7 trillion. And the Trump tax cut has blown a new hole in the deficit, which Republicans want to patch, naturally, by cutting middle-class entitlements.) So that’s the easy half of the story — criticizing supply-side’s failures. The harder half is making the affirmative case for the Democratic theory of growth. It shouldn’t be so hard. Take, again, wages. Expanding overtime pay, raising wages, even doing something about the enormous and under-discussed problem of wage theft — we don’t wish to address these problems, Democrats should say, out of fairness or compassion or some desire to punish capitalists. We want to address them because putting more money in working- and middle-class people’s pockets is a better way to spur on the economy than giving rich people more tax cuts. That’s an argument that might appeal broadly, but it’s backed up by a theory that in our time is practically seditious: that the public sector can make better decisions about where money should go than the private sector. That is a principle Democrats have been skittish about supporting. But it is one they must start defending without apology.

They should defend it because it’s what more and more economists argue and because it’s what Democrats believe. There’s a lot of ideological space between Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Representative Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, who is among the most left-leaning members of the House. But they’re both Democrats for a reason, and presumably that reason is they think government can be a force for good in people’s lives. So, if Democrats think it, they should say it. And now we have arrived at an alternate theory, a story: Giving more money to working people and investing in their needs is how an economy grows. That’s a direct counterargument to supply-side economics. If enough Democrats say it and say it and say it, they can drive a stake through supply-side’s heart. Once Democrats can make that case, they’ll be able to turn the tables on the supply-siders. Republicans will argue that government investments and wage increases are “job killers.” But Democrats, rather than merely appealing to people’s consciences, will be able to respond that government investments and wage increases are growth producers that will spread benefits well beyond the top 5 percent or 10 percent. The story could use a name. The venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu, a former Bill Clinton domestic policy adviser, coined “middle-out economics” five years ago. President Obama even used the phrase a few times. The important thing is the idea. Democrats must persuade America that there’s a better way to expand the economy than the way Republicans have been advocating for decades. Just as inflation and other ills opened the door for critiques of Keynesianism in the 1970s, so have inequality and disinvestment done the same for critiques of supply-side today. Someone just has to make them.

Don’t Lie To Us!

I normally try to select old hit songs where the message can be tied in some way to current politics &/or headlines.  But here is a current song that is entirely about today’s news & specifically our president.  The title is a statement we should all be shouting at Trump, since he’s proven to be a pathological liar who has already lied to us more than 6000 times just during his presidency!  That’s a lot of lies & it is a problem.  His supporters have learned to echo those same lies.  And the leader of our country has zero credibility with everyone, except for those gullible Trumpeters who apparently love to be lied to!  But for the rest of us, here is our strong message to Trump:

barbra-streisand-takes-on-trump-in-dont-lie-to-me-music-video