The fundamentals show economy not as strong as claimed, reflecting Trump broken promises…As we celebrated Labor Day last weekend, labor doesn’t have much to celebrate. Yes, there are lots of jobs out there, but most of them aren’t good jobs. Large corporate monoliths have gained so much leverage & become so controlling, they’ve gained the power to suppress rights & benefits to their workers: outsized-firms-
In the 1970’s & 80’s I was as anti-union as anyone (& with good reason). But I’ve done an about-face in now generally favoring labor over the administrative corporate culture, not that my basic views have shifted so much as the circumstances have. We’ve witnessed an unmistakable trend over the past few decades where profits from economic growth have gone almost exclusively to wealthy corporate interests, while the working class keeps falling further & further behind. So currently we’re in such a predicament that the pendulum has swung way, way, way too far in favor of corporate execs/shareholders & against workers, & actions like those Trump tax cuts miss the mark. Any of the minor tweaks passed or proposed in DC fall far short of the transformational changes we must aspire to in creating a more balanced economy, which could offer a lot more widespread opportunity, upward mobility & shared prosperity. The ideas now coming from governing leadership won’t really make a dent in the problem, as they’re bogged down in partisanship & not thinking big enough.
At least wages did get a bit of a boost for August in the latest jobs report, but so has inflation & it’s more of a wash. Kudos to ourfuture.org for having some excellent articles recently on the economy & the plight of labor. Good articles to look up on that site here from early September are the following: trump-has-betrayed-
Candidate Donald Trump ran on a populist platform aimed squarely at economically and racially anxious white working class voters, promising more jobs and higher wages. But President Donald Trump has routinely enriched himself and his wealthy ilk, delivering massive tax cuts to corporations and leaving middle class workers in the lurch. According to Trump, the American people are living in “the greatest economy in the HISTORY of America and the best time EVER to look for a job.” The facts reveal something quite different. While unemployment may be low, workers are experiencing historically low wage growth, forcing 40-hour-a-week workers to live paycheck to paycheck. And corporations, who were granted a significant tax cut in the GOP tax bill, are routing their profits mostly to top executives and large corporate shareholders in the form of stock buybacks. Unions are essential for maintaining income equality by giving workers bargaining power to fight for better wages and working conditions. As multiple studies have shown, the hollowing out of workers’ wages is tied to the decline of collectively bargained union contracts.
The salaries CEOs receive compared to the pay for rank-and-file workers is starkly disproportionate and upsetting. At industrial giant Honeywell, the largest company to disclose the ratio in February, the ratio was 333 to 1. At Amazon, a company plagued by strikes against long hours and harsh working conditions, billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos makes the median salary of an Amazon employee every 9 seconds. In 2017 he made 1.2 million times the median Amazon salary. On average, CEOs are paid 333 times the wages of an average employee at their company. This gap is only expected to grow as changes put into motion by the GOP tax bill take effect. Rather than delivering an “economic turnaround of historic proportions,” as Trump recently boasted, the bill will likely end up costing well over $1.4 trillion dollars, as it continues to provide handouts to the wealthiest Americans.
A recent Politico review of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings revealed that corporate executives, who often receive most of their compensation in stock, have been profiting enormously from the bill through stock buybacks. Following the passage of the measure last December, Oracle Corp. CEO Safra Catz sold $250 million worth of shares in her company, the “largest executive payday this year.” Research by Americans For Tax Fairness found that powerful Fortune 500 companies have spent a total of over $238,244,348,330 in stock buybacks since December. This is what corporations choose to do instead of raising wages. If McDonald’s, whose workers frequently strike for a living wage, had spent the money it poured into stock buybacks between 2015 and 2017 into bolstering employee pay, it could have given raises of $4,000 per year to its 1.9 million workers. The effort to make the nation’s wealthiest investors and CEOs even richer doesn’t stop with tax cuts and stock buybacks — the Trump administration is also considering a ploy to bypass Congress and implement a capital gains tax, which would mean a $100 billion tax cut for the rich.
Trump broken promises are disheartening & his bragging is pure bunk
We just can’t believe the rosy picture always painted by Trump: AP-FACT-CHECK:-Trump’s-
Trump won the White House by selling himself to voters like Elliott and vowing to deliver “more jobs and better wages” by bringing jobs back to the U.S. Trump’s pro-worker message helped him score upset victories in Democratic strongholds that have been hard-hit by outsourcing and the disappearance of good union jobs. But 18 months into his term, Trump has betrayed his promises to the working-class voters like Elliott who helped him to the Oval Office.
Despite boasting that he would punish corporate offshorers, a new research report from Good Jobs Nation – Broken Promises #2 – shows that President Trump is actually using the executive power of the presidency to incentivize corporations to ship good jobs overseas in record numbers. Our study reveals that the Trump administration has awarded more than $50 billion in new federal contracts to companies that continue to shutter U.S. factories as they seek cheaper labor abroad. As a result, top federal contractors – Carrier’s parent company United Technologies, General Motors, Honeywell and Siemens – are now offshoring jobs at the fastest rate since the Great Recession. In fact, annual offshoring by taxpayer-funded corporations under Trump is on track to be three times greater than under the Obama and Bush administrations.
Overall, more than 133,000 Americans have received pink slips since Trump took office. President Trump has the power to stop giving taxpayer dollars to companies that outsource jobs. However, even though he’s signed more than 100 executive orders and memoranda, he has yet to sign a single one that delivers on his promise to “create more jobs” by stopping offshoring. For working-class voters who supported Trump, his inaction is political hypocrisy. According to a Pew Research Panel survey of validated voters taken three times in 2016 and again in 2018, 62% of Trump voters still felt very warm views toward him. At the same time, there are a significant number of voters who hold a negative view of the president, and that number has grown since his election.
DC bubble see the economy as fine, disconnected from working Americans
Another perceptive article shows our system is out-of-whack, with leadership in a bubble detached from the struggles of the working class in this rapidly-changing, high-tech economy. The article also points out our rigged system doesn’t necessarily allow for people getting ahead through hard work, with so many trapped in dead-end jobs, since human worth is now more defined by family background/education &/or rather specific, narrowly-defined talents: america-belief-that-
Increasing income inequality may partly explain volatility in the American political climate, according to pollster Molly Murphy. Despite continued economic growth since the end of the Great Recession, Americans still appear to feel skeptical about the direction of the country, Murphy said. “Even though the economy gets better and better, even though voters will acknowledge the economy is getting better and better, they are not seeing a change in their lives and that is why they are continuing to vote for the other party,” Murphy said Friday on Hill.TV’s “What America’s Thinking.” Income inequality is on the rise in the U.S., with the top 1 percent bringing in more than 20 percent of all income in the U.S., according to a June 2016 report by the nonpartisan think tank, Economic Policy Institute.
Frogs can also be hoodwinked by Trump broken promises & false boasts
We pulled off this next article from the Daily Kos written by Lincoln green, showing more confirmation on the declining state of labor in America. Also click on the link for the frogs in a boiling pot from a LA Times editorial:
Harold Meyerson has a great Labor Day opinion piece “Like frogs in a slowly boiling pot, Americans are finally realizing how dire their labor situation is” in today’s Los Angeles Times. You have to read the whole thing, but here’s a sample quote that was news to me:
… labor’s share of the national income has dropped by 6.7% since the mid-1980s, while the share of the nation’s income going to business investment in equipment, research, new hires and the like has dropped by 7.2%. Correspondingly, the share of the nation’s income going to shareholders (the lion’s share to the very wealthy, among them the CEOs who are compensated with shares) rose by 13.5%. That shift has put American workers at a double disadvantage, as their wages and the private-sector investment that creates jobs and boosts productivity have both hit the skids.
Anybody who’s telling you that the US economy is doing great should be made aware that the wealth we’re creating is not being invested in our future or put into workers’ pockets, but is instead being siphoned off and used for financial games. If this doesn’t stop, America will no longer be great.
Lingering impact from the financial crash a decade ago
The great recession devastated many careers & net worths, from which too many will never fully recover. These excerpts from ten-years-later-wounds-
Ten years have passed since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis and the U.S. has emerged as a more prosperous but less equal nation. The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2008 set off a series of collapses that froze the global financial system and triggered a massive recession. Millions of Americans would lose their homes to foreclosure and their jobs to the contracting economy. The devastation helped fuel the election of former President Obama, who enacted sweeping new rules for banks and a massive stimulus package over the opposition of Republicans. A decade later, joblessness is close to all-time lows, corporations and banks are boasting record profits, and consumer spending has gradually risen as the economy expands. But the wounds still run deep for millions of Americans who haven’t felt the full benefits of the recovery. Inflation-adjusted wages have sunk despite the hot job market, rising housing costs have locked out many first-time homebuyers, and the working class has struggled to overcome the growing chasm between the richest and poorest Americans.
The housing market still highlights that divide. Close to 8 million Americans lost their homes to foreclosure between 2007 and 2016, according to data from business intelligence firm CoreLogic, and high property values have prevented first-time and credit-troubled buyers from finding affordable homes. “That has really far reaching equality effects when the most important source of wealth for lower for middle class families is a owning a home,” Petrou said. “If you look at average numbers, the economy is doing great,” he added. “If you differentiate the economy by who’s doing well, it stinks.”
More on Americans’ troubles in rebounding from the economic crash a decade ago are in these excerpts below from robert-reich-we-might-be-
Most Americans are still living in the shadow of the Great Recession. More have jobs, to be sure. But they haven’t seen any rise in their wages, adjusted for inflation. Many are worse off due to the escalating costs of housing, health care, and education. And the value of whatever assets they own is less than in 2007. Last year, about 40 percent of American families struggled to meet at least one basic need—food, health care, housing or utilities, according to an Urban Institute survey. All of which suggests we’re careening toward the same sort of crash we had in 2008, and possibly as bad as 1929.
Clear away the financial rubble from those two former crashes and you’d see they both followed upon widening imbalances between the capacity of most people to buy, and what they as workers could produce. Each of these imbalances finally tipped the economy over. The same imbalance has been growing again. The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home about 20 percent of total income, and own over 40 percent of the nation’s wealth. These are close to the peaks of 1928 and 2007.
The U.S. economy crashes when it becomes too top heavy because the economy depends on consumer spending to keep it going, yet the rich don’t spend nearly as much of their income as the middle class and the poor. For a time, the middle class and poor can keep the economy going nonetheless by borrowing. But, as in 1929 and 2008, debt bubbles eventually burst. We’re getting dangerously close. By the first quarter of this year, household debt was at an all-time high of $13.2 trillion. Almost 80 percent of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. In a recent Federal Reserve survey, 40 percent of Americans said they wouldn’t be able to pay their bills if faced with a $400 emergency. They’ve managed their debts because interest rates have remained low. But the days of low rates are coming to an end.
The underlying problem isn’t that Americans have been living beyond their means. It’s that their means haven’t been keeping up with the growing economy. Most gains have gone to the top. It was similar in the years leading up to the crash of 2008. Between 1983 and 2007, household debt soared while most economic gains went to the top. Had the majority of households taken home a larger share, they wouldn’t have needed to go so deeply into debt. It’s important to understand that the real root of the Great Recession wasn’t a banking crisis. It was the growing imbalance between consumer spending and total output—brought on by stagnant wages and widening inequality. That imbalance is back. Watch your wallets.
My focus on the GOP & the risk of Socialism
I almost never complain about the Dems. They are who they are. As a center-right conservative & lifelong GOP supporter, my comments are devoted to showing how my former party has gone off track & needs fixing, since it’s become abundantly clear to me how the now extremist GOP has gone waaaaaaaay off base. And I keep saying if we don’t fix capitalism, plenty of Americans are ready to try socialism. I’m hoping we can find the right balance, but as seen in excerpts from socialist-no-longer-
For years, European radicals greeted the idea of a “left” in America with a snort. After all, the Democratic party was certainly not social democratic in European terms. A figure such as Barack Obama, a symbol of progressive politics and a man whose presidential victories were transformative in American terms, would not seem too out of place on the liberal wing of the British Tory party. This lack-of-left culture explains in part the excitement that greeted the recent victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district. A woman unafraid to call herself “socialist” – until recently, and Bernie Sanders excepted, almost as toxic a term in US electoral politics as “atheist” – seems certain to win in November’s congressional midterm election. The fervour that greeted Ocasio-Cortez’s victory – and of figures such as Andrew Gillum, the new Democratic candidate for the governorship of Florida – was certainly exaggerated. Her success says as much about the arrogance and moribund character of the Democratic establishment as it does about the popularity of her political vision. Whether her approach can mark an authentic shift in politics, or help resurrect a form of working-class politics long missing in America, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the debate is welcome.
And again I say we need to have that discussion & throw different ideas out there, having the commitment/determination not to stop till we can settle on real remedies: union-labor-
Don’t look to Washington to remake American society from the top down. And don’t assume that real political change can only come through massive expansions of federal power. Yet many young progressives are falling into that trap. Beguiled by the radical ring of “democratic socialism,” they are pushing an unabashedly statist agenda—nationalized health care, “free” college tuition, federally guaranteed incomes and jobs, and heavy-handed regulation of private enterprise. Only with a “bold” program of centralizing power, they insist, can Democrats forge new majorities and return to power.
Beyond costs is the dramatic expansion of Washington’s role in the economy. If you thought the initial public backlash to Obamacare was bad, wait until 156 million Americans with job-based coverage are told they have to give it up and pay higher taxes. And even if Washington knew how to create tens of millions of public sector jobs without undermining private labor markets, those jobs will look a lot like “welfare” to the working class voters they are supposed to appeal to. This underlines the central flaw in the left’s theory of political change—concentrating more decisions and power in Washington. At a time when the federal government barely seems capable of conducting routine business, charging it with the sweeping transformation of our economy and society is a pipe dream. The problem isn’t just partisan paralysis, it’s that Washington’s governance model—hierarchical, rule-bound and controlling rather than collaborative—is obsolete in the digital age.
At a time when public confidence in Washington is at low ebb—just 18 percent of Americans trust the federal government to do the right thing—progressives should not assume that the arrow of progress always points toward centralizing power. There are plenty of reasons to think it now points the other way. Most obvious is the political impasse in Washington. The inability of our national leaders to forge consensus or compromise, especially on the most urgent challenges facing the country, has given rise to a new truism: the more dogmatic and tribalized our politics, the less productive our federal government. What’s more, Washington is dead broke. Economic growth no longer generates a fiscal dividend that can be used to launch new public initiatives. That’s because the cost of maintaining the government’s cumulative commitments exceeds expected tax revenues. Round after irresponsible round of GOP tax cuts, combined with automatic spending on entitlements, are relentlessly squeezing out room in the budget for new investments. That squeeze will only intensify as America grows older. Says Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who left Congress to go into local government, “We’ve always said there’d be a day when all the federal government does is debt service, entitlements and defense. Well, folks, that day is here.”
After four generations of centralizing resources and political power, Washington really has grown too big, too sclerotic and too remote from the everyday problems of life. Saddled with ponderous, industrial-era bureaucracies and colonized by powerful interest groups adept at extracting “rents” from the commonweal, the federal leviathan is better at protecting the status quo than sparking progressive change. Finally, and crucially, digital technology, networked organizations, and globalization have combined to blunt the effects of Washington’s traditional economic and fiscal toolkit. Economic competition now is global in scope, financed by global capital, not just our own savings, driven by rapid and disruptive innovation and organized around vibrant metro regions rather than nation-states. What these new economic units or “city states” need from Washington is not stovepiped programs, micro-prescription and standardized solutions, but more flexibility and resources to repair our economy and social fabric from the ground up.
Rather than emulate European-style statism, U.S. progressives should offer voters an indigenous and decentralized vision for effecting radical change. By driving decisions closer to the people, going local would buttress participatory democracy and help progressives remove the taint of elitism that hobbles them in middle America. This isn’t a matter of eviscerating the federal government, as conservatives would like. Washington must continue to do what it is best suited to do: set fiscal and monetary policy; defend civil rights and liberties; make rules for immigration, environmental protection, and other cross-border issues, and take the lead on diplomacy and defense. Nor does “progressive federalism” mean a preference for states over Washington. In fact, metro leaders complain that state governments often put bigger obstacles in their way than the feds. One example is a blizzard of “preemption” laws passed by hostile GOP-controlled legislatures to prevent local governments from raising taxes, or passing environmental or gun control ordinances. What’s critical for progressives today is to restore public confidence in progressive government. That means empowering local leaders—mostly Democrats—who have become our most effective instruments of economic and social progress. By aligning their theory of change with the level of government voters trust most, Democrats can offer a fresh and more democratic vision for renewing America from the ground up.
Polling & Midterms
I’m not a professional pollster, but I have a strong hunch when a president’s approval rating is lower than the rate of those who want him impeached, that is probably not such a good thing for any president. Other dire signs for Trump are polling where a majority strongly disapprove of his presidency & a majority believe the president committed obstruction, so he might be sinking in quicksand. And with a generic ballot favoring the Dems by double-digits heading into the midterms, there’s hope a new Dem majority in the House will hold the president accountable. And the GOP can’t govern or do the right thing since they’re way too worried about their bamboozled base: https://www.mcclatchydc.
I’ve decided for November, it’s best to put personal allegiances & lifelong ideologies/party support aside, since this next election is so much bigger than that. American democracy itself is at stake! The Trump cult which has consumed the party isn’t constructive conservatism, in fact, it’s barely coherent. And emboldening him by retaining a GOP Congress would make him that much more dangerous, as he could manipulate the instruments from the power of his office to justify his seemingly multiple illegal actions & pursue his Putin-esque dream of establishing American authoritarian rule. A GOP Congress is far too willing to cower to Trump & shows little courage for protecting Mueller, which in other words they’re not sufficiently loyal to protecting our constitutional rule of law. So as a body, they seem to be complicit in covering up the crimes of their leader while giving him a pass for ushering in this new form of autocratic demagoguery.
We must break the fever & defeat the cult with a blue wave for the midterms! It doesn’t really matter if our beliefs don’t align with liberals. This is all about saving our country, which voting against GOP incumbents/candidates might even in the long run help save the Republican Party. Bringing back a GOP Congress would only enable their destructive toadyism to the evil puppet-master, but a resounding defeat could spark the vital introspection the party desperately needs to break the clutches of their cult & get back on track through a monumental regrouping. Let’s show the GOP the tough love they’ve come to deserve! Obama’s speech today effectively spelled it out: obama-calls-midterm-
For now, however, those days are over — at least for the Republican Party. Rather than acting like a national party, entrusted with separate but coequal branches of government, the GOP at every level and in every state has been captured by the personality cult that has congealed around President Trump, and it is now operating like a parliamentary party, utterly submissive to its erratic but powerful prime minister. Republican elected officials, from Congress to the state houses, have chosen to become little more than enablers for an out of control executive branch. The only way to put a stop to this is to vote against the GOP in every race, at every level in 2018. It’s tough medicine. But as someone who’s voted Republican for nearly 40 years, who favors limited government and public integrity, and who believes America still needs a credible, responsible center-right party, I see no alternative.
Normally our system tolerates dissent, and such a choice wouldn’t be necessary. Voters could support politicians who would stand in opposition to their own leadership. In the 1970s, for example, President Jimmy Carter faced a rebellion among his own Democrats that led to an actual primary challenge on the left from Sen. Ted Kennedy. Carter faced none of the scandals plaguing Trump, but was seen as ineffective both domestically and abroad, and many Democrats soon had buyer’s remorse over the leader they’d chosen in 1976. In 1980, a voter could still be a Democrat and oppose Carter, because Carter did not rule the party. He was rightly seen as the temporary resident of the White House.
Likewise, as Watergate intensified, Republicans who abandoned President Richard Nixon didn’t have to abandon their party. Though they initially resisted, it was eventually the party itself that told Nixon it was time to go: In the end, legislators like Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), the 1964 GOP presidential nominee, and Rep. John Rhodes (R-Ariz.), then the House minority leader, were among those who told Nixon to resign or face impeachment and removal from office. A GOP voter in 1972 or in 1974, after Nixon’s departure, could reject Nixon’s political legacy while voting for other Republicans who felt the same way. That option doesn’t exist for Republicans today, because the GOP, nearly from top to bottom, is in thrall to Trump, and resists any deviation from this obsessive identification.
This lock-step adherence to a party leader is why it’s now illogical to say: “I’m not a Trump supporter, but I’ll still vote Republican.” Every seat Republicans keep in 2018 will be a signal to the national party, and to GOP leaders in Congress, that they should continue supporting Trump, no matter how outrageous his antics, and no matter how much they privately disagree. Every vote for any GOP candidate will be a signal from the rank and file that elected Republican officials should remain supine while Trump takes a hatchet to the American political system. By definition, a vote for any Republican candidate in 2018 is a vote for family separation, tax cuts without corresponding budget cuts, daily insult theatrics in the Oval Office and porn-star payoffs. It’s a vote to ignore Russian corruption of our elections. It’s also a vote, no matter where in the country it’s cast, for a Trump-compliant successor to Speaker Paul Ryan, who’ll preside over the continuing farce in which Trumpists like Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) remain as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, ready and willing to put party over country.
And make no mistake: It’s a vote giving Trump license to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III the day after Election Day. There are Republicans who’ll try to split the difference here, and say they’re still voting for Republicans only to maintain policies they like. But, this year, that is little more than a convenient dodge. Trump’s words and deeds — you can’t really call them “policies” — aren’t conservative. They’re statist, anti-law enforcement, anti-national security and run counter to American ideals. Conservatives who insist on voting Republican this year are, in effect, arguing that Democrats are worse than a president who has prostrated himself to Putin, started trade wars with our allies, cruelly separated families at the border, failed to deliver adequate aid to Americans in Puerto Rico and who has, as retired admiral Bill McRaven recently wrote for The Post, “embarrassed us in the eyes of our children.” They expect other conservatives to look away from all this in exchange for packing as many conservatives onto the federal bench as they can before the Trump administration implodes.
Republicans — real Republicans — must reject this deal, because conservatives — real conservatives — can’t have it both ways: Those who claim to oppose Trump and Trumpism can’t, at the last moment, back away from voting to strip power from the party enabling him. Yes, taking the road I’m proposing means that a lot of Republican projects, many of which I support, will come to a halt; that some laughable, maybe even destructive Democrats will come to Washington, possibly remaining there for a long time. So be it. When a political party loses its way, as the Republican Party has, and becomes the instrument of someone like Trump, divided government is the Constitution’s best remedy. And if the Democrats can’t live up to being a governing party, then they, too will have to face the judgment of the voters, especially when facing Trump’s GOP in 2020. If they fail to provide a working alternative to Trumpism, even with the support of rebel Republicans, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.
Unless Republican voters are willing to transfer power to another party for at least a cycle, their party will sputter out over the next few years, leaving nothing but wreckage and hoping, as a last resort, that the cause of actual conservatism will be carried forward by the one branch of government that conservatives, traditionally, do not trust: unelected judges. Republican candidates have been happy to acknowledge that they’re running in the party of Trump. A handful, at best, refuse to deny that they’re doing so. Any sensible Republicans who are left should deny them support and deliver a vote of no confidence until they run as Republicans, conservatives and most of all, as Americans, rather than as extensions of Trump’s ego and representatives of his already compromised party.
Whoops, I’ve exceeded my limit on outbound links, as I normally do, but especially in another busy news week with only one day of messages instead of the usual two. So here’s a variety of articles on the November midterms & polling, which you can do your own search to find the links to articles you find most interesting. Again the top group of titles come from the Washington Post. And at this unique time in our nation’s history, a vote for Dems may literally be a vote to save democracy!:
NY Times: opinion/trump-approval-ratings
The Hill: poll-majority-of-female-
The Hill: for-our-democracys-sake-
The Hill: impending-battle-of-the-bases-
The Guardian: john-mccain-was-complex-his-
USA Today: even-great-economic-numbers-
NY Mag: congressional-republicans-are-
The Atlantic: congressional-republicans-
The Woodward book & NY Times whistle-blower echo the same basic theme…our president is crazy! That senior official who wrote that op-ed is getting plenty of grief, but the insanity in the White House is real, so that person gave us a warning & a cry for help. If Trump is indeed crazy, that’s why our politics have gotten so crazy. It’s become dangerous since it has gotten so crazy! Here’s an old song recognizing the situation: