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A Trojan Horse GOP Tax Bill Advent Calendar

A Trojan Horse GOP Tax Bill Advent Calendar

Trump’s GOP Tax Plan Isn’t What it Seems

Every day I learn something new about the Trump-led GOP tax reform bill, but today I learned a steaming pantload of really frightening things about not just the bill, but also the sneaky Trojan Horse style of politics that seem to be unfolding here.

  1. The Tax Plan is being passed under the rules of reconciliation so that it doesn’t have to reach the 60 vote majority in the Senate.
  2. The Senate has crammed this bill full of language that fundamentally changes the rules on a variety of social issues unrelated to tax reform.
  3. While we focus on the endless stream of clowns coming out of the passenger side of the car, we’re not paying attention to what’s getting in on the driver’s side.

Counting down the days

I’ll try to refrain from weeping into my keyboard long enough each day to keep this updated. And only really sneaky shit makes the list. And I really expect the world to implode some time before Christmas gets here anyway, so don’t expect a novel.

Day 1. The Chained CPI

“the chained CPI was really an attempt to reduce the deficit on the backs of senior citizens” – New Republic

This is pretty insidious. The Consumer Price Index is a measure of the cost of a list of essential items and is used to define things like poverty levels, living wage, inflation, and income disparity. The chained CPI turns it upside down, starting first with the amount of money people can live on and then averaging out which common items one can get on that budget. This calculus includes trade-offs against quality of life, such as buying processed chicken instead of steak, bundling up rather than turning on the heat, and shopping at thrift stores.

Day 2. Concealed Carry

“Anyone in Los Angeles, for example, could get a permit online from VA, without ever stepping foot there. And that would enable carrying a gun in LA every day.” – Adam Winkler (@adamwinkler)

Biggest, boldest move by the NRA since 2004.

Day 3. Religious Politics

“We’re really worried that changing the law in this way would open the floodgates for political contributions to be funneled through all 501(c)(3) organizations, fundamentally changing the nature of houses of worship and indeed our entire nonprofit sector.” – 90.9 WBUR-FM, Boston’s NPR news station

Day 4. Granting Individuality to a Fetus – 

“Nothing shall prevent an unborn child from being treated as a designated beneficiary or an individual under this section” – Brookings Institute, featuring this beauty from Politico: “The proposed tax plan is a huge leap forward for an antiquated tax code, and we hope this is the first step in expanding the child tax credit to include unborn children as well.”

Day 5. Restrict Access to Higher Education

“The ploy appears to be to destroy higher education, to shift the tax burden onto the most educated rather than the most financially successful, and to disincentivize graduate school as a viable option for the majority of people who’d choose to pursue it otherwise.” – Ethan Siegel, Forbes

Day 6. Trickle-down Taxation

“If teachers lose tax break for school supplies, will parents pick up the tab?” – (@mandy_mclaren), Louisville Courier Journal

An amazing week for losers: Charging Bulls pick fights with Fearless Girls

An amazing week for losers: Charging Bulls pick fights with Fearless Girls

Fearless Girl, Charging Bull

This story topped a week filled with Sean Spicer begging forgiveness after claiming even Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons against his own people and calling Auschwitz a “holocaust center“, United Airlines losing a nasty brawl with a 69 year old man despite breaking his nose, knocking out his teeth, and giving him a concussion as they dragged him off the plane for the crime of choosing not to volunteer to catch the next flight, and Bashar Al Assad making a somewhat reasonable claim that gassing his own people isn’t in Syria’s best interests while stepping confidently, as mass murderers step, into the argument that the whole thing was staged and the gasping, dying, and dead children were possibly faking it.

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The Dow Jones during the Bush Years and the Obama Years

The Dow Jones during the Bush Years and the Obama Years

UPDATED January 20, 2017 and moved to the top of the blog to show all of Obama’s term with all of Bush’s term:

Are you better off today than you were four eight years ago? The Dow Jones during the Bush years peaked and spiked, taking the market on a harrowing roller coaster ride. Well if you invested stayed in the market for the past eight years, I think the answer…

was YES! four years ago and the answer is YES!!! right now.

Here are two charts that illustrate how much better off your investments were under Obama’s tenure than Bush’s tenure:

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Female Tipped Workers Earning Sub-minimum Wage Twice as Likely to Experience Sexual Harassment

Female Tipped Workers Earning Sub-minimum Wage Twice as Likely to Experience Sexual Harassment

A new report on the Restaurant Opportunities Centers website has identified some disturbing realities. Unfortunately, for women working in the service industry, the report’s findings are long accepted truths. But it may still shine a light on how the sub-minimum wage set by the federal government, which sits at the same $2.13 per hour that was set in 1990, can combine with a working acceptance of sexual harassment on the job to perpetuate a system that encourages workers to engage with customers in ways that undermine the value of all women earning tips and a sub-minimum base wage.

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You can download the PDF from the ROCUnited website, read a summary of its findings here, and tell your personal story about sexual harassment in the workplace with ROC

Democratic Presidents have the Advantage over Republicans when it comes to Economic Growth

Democratic Presidents have the Advantage over Republicans when it comes to Economic Growth

You can read about it here or here, but the graphs (via Vox.com) tell you all you really need to know .

Start with this one on GDP since the second Truman Administration.

Democratic GDP Dominance

Democratic Presidents following Republican Presidents presided over stronger growth in every instance except Reagan’s second term compared to Carter’s term. But if you average Reagan’s two terms and compare it to Carter’s one, it’s close to a tie. Obama’s first term was far superior to Bush’s second and, by all current indicators, his second term will be much better than Bush’s first term in spite of Republican obstructionism.

What’s really interesting is this graph (via The Atlantic).

Democratic Economic Indicator Dominance

Democrats have led in every category for the past 70 years. Coincidence? I don’t think so. And just think how much better our economy would be doing now if Republicans hadn’t been kneecapping Obama and the Democrats every step of the way for the past six years.

Based on what the Republican’s and their phony policy wonk Paul Ryan have been peddling as their economic solution for the past six years, if a Republican were somehow to be elected in 2016, the economy would surely suffer if they were able to implement their plans to cut taxes for the rich and corporations and to drastically cut entitlement programs and repeal Obamacare.

So come this November and then again in November 2016, do the right thing: Vote for Democrats. It’s good for the economy and it’s good for you.

The Super Rich 1% are Taking More Money than Ever

The Super Rich 1% are Taking More Money than Ever

Followers of this blog already know that income inequality is high on my list of injustices in this world. Why should a tiny privileged sliver of our economy take so much?

Their slice of the pie has been increasing for the past forty years, but in 2012 they broke a record. From NBC News:

The pay gap between the richest 1 percent and the rest of America widened last year, making a record.

The top 1 percent of U.S. earners collected 19.3 percent of household income in 2012, their largest share in Internal Revenue Service figures going back a century.

U.S. income inequality has been growing for almost three decades. But until last year, the top 1 percent’s share of pre-tax income had not yet surpassed the 18.7 percent it reached in 1927, according to an analysis of IRS figures dating to 1913 by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.

But since the recession officially ended in June 2009, the top 1 percent have enjoyed the benefits of rising corporate profits and stock prices: 95 percent of the income gains reported since 2009 have gone to the top 1 percent.

That compares with a 45 percent share for the top 1 percent in the economic expansion of the 1990s and a 65 percent share from the expansion that followed the 2001 recession.

If you are like me, that makes you angry. I could go off on this like I have several times in the past, or I could just say DUH! What did you think was going to happen? Did you think that things would change under the administration of a Democratic “Progressive” president? I did when I voted for Obama in 2004, but not so much anymore. No progress on this front. Inequality has gotten worse. Worse than it was prior to the Great Depression.

So what should we do? Good question. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that the next time some ignorant Republican refers to Obama as a Socialist, I will show a silly grin and wait for them to ask about what I think is so funny.

Until then, I will listen to The Clash who, as Gorby says, have a song for every occasion.

Lyrics:

I don’t want to hear about what the rich are doing
I don’t want to go to where the rich are going
They think they’re so clever, they think they’re so right
But the truth is only known by guttersnipes

I Like my iPhone but…

I Like my iPhone but…

…I’m pissed off at Apple today.

NPR reports:

Tech giant Apple used a “complex web of offshore entities” to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes in the U.S., a congressional investigation has found.

The subcommittee’s statement detailed some of Apple’s practices:

“[Apple Operations] was incorporated in Ireland in 1980, and is owned and controlled by the U.S. parent company, Apple Inc. Ireland asserts tax jurisdiction only over companies that are managed and controlled in Ireland, but the United States bases tax residency on where a company is incorporated. Exploiting the gap between the two nations’ tax laws, Apple Operations International has not filed an income tax return in either country, or any other country, for the past five years. From 2009 to 2012, it reported income totaling $30 billion.”

and…

“A second Irish subsidiary claiming not to be a tax resident anywhere is Apple Sales International which, from 2009 to 2012, had sales revenue totaling $74 billion. The company appears to have paid taxes on only a tiny fraction of that income, resulting, for example, in an effective 2011 tax rate of only five hundreds of one percent. The third Irish subsidiary is Apple Operations Europe. In addition to creating non-tax resident affiliates, Apple Inc. has utilized U.S. tax loopholes to avoid U.S. taxes on $44 billion in otherwise taxable offshore income over the past four years, or about $10 billion in tax avoidance per year.”

That’s just wrong. They make billions of dollars setting up shop in places around the world that provide them with infrastructures that allow them to market their highly profitable products around the globe, and provide them with highly educated engineers to design their products.

Apple can certainly afford to pay taxes from the enormous pile of cash it’s been hoarding.

Apple has enough cash on hand to buy every man, woman and child in the U.S., UK, and Germany a $300 iPod Touch, and have a little left over for a case or two. Apple has enough cash to buy every person on the planet a $20 lunch. And Apple has enough cash to pay off the national debts of New Zealand, Kenya, Nigeria, Jamaica, Cuba, Egypt, Vietnam, and Singapore.

They shouldn’t have to be coerced by a Senate subcommittee to pay taxes. They should want to pay taxes into the countries that allow them to make so goddamn much money.

Wealth Inequality in America explained with animated charts and graphs

Wealth Inequality in America explained with animated charts and graphs

I’ve written about income inequality and wealth disparity many times on this blog, and I hope I’ve successfully communicated the extent of inequality in America. However, I know I’ve never written anything that comes close to describing the magnitude of the problem as well as this video.

Does anyone doubt that there’s enough wealth and income in this country to pay for our government? Our country is not any less wealthy than it was when we were running surpluses, it’s just that our wealth is much more concentrated in the hands of a tiny sliver of our population. They should be asked to pay their fair share. And by that I mean much more than they are currently paying on investment income, and much more on income of any kind over $5M and even more on income over $10M.

Bowles-Simpson and the Gang of Six both thought we should have fewer tax tiers, a broader base, and lower rates. I think they are horribly wrong. We need more tiers to capture more tax revenue from the top 1%, the top 0.1%, and especially the top 0.01%. And I have no doubt they can all afford to pay more and continue to live lavishly.

After viewing the wealth inequality video, you shouldn’t have any doubts either.

Dow Jones hits new record high – what’s that mean for the working stiffs?

Dow Jones hits new record high – what’s that mean for the working stiffs?

While watching the Today show this morning I learned, “The Dow crossed above its intraday high of $14,198.10 hit on October 9, 2007. The blue chips got a boost from upbeat economic data from Europe.”

The television reporter referred to the Dow as “a barometer of the overall economy.”

Really? Take a look at this chart from Derek Thompson’s article on The Atlantic:

Derek gets to the heart of the matter with:

When the economy crashes, we all crash together: corporate profits, employment, and growth. But when the economy recovers, we don’t recover together. Corporations rack up historic profits thanks to strong global demand, cheap global labor, and low interest rates, while American workers muddle along, their significance to these companies greatly diminished by a worldwide market for goods and people.

Europe’s Plight a Warning for US Not to Follow GOP

Europe’s Plight a Warning for US Not to Follow GOP

Europe’s current doldrums are a dire warning to this country against the federal government pursuing a policy of austerity at a time of continuing slow economic growth. It is also a vindication of a Democratic congress and President Obama in passing the 2009 stimulus bill that cushioned the American economy at a critical time when the economy was in free-fall.

In particular, America’s admittedly modest 2.2% economic growth in the first quarter stands in contrast to the United Kingdom’s slip into recession in the wake of debt-fighting austerity policies pursued by its Conservative government policies which are widely admired by Republicans in this country.

It is more than likely that our growth in employment in the US has been slowed by misguided and pernicious austerity policies by state and local authorities; and these would be replicated at the federal level if Mitt Romney and the GOP congressional leadership had their way. It never made sense to lay off hundreds of thousands of public employees including teachers, police and fire employees, thereby losing not only their vital services but the economic impact of their personal spending.

If there was anything wrong with the stimulus it lay in its relatively modest size given the magnitude of the crisis, and that too much of it was given over to tax cuts (in a vain attempt to attract GOP support) that gave far less bang for the buck than aid to states and local governments, and infrastructure spending. In an ideal world, we would have enacted a second stimulus to build on the first (with even more aid to states) but, without any GOP support whatever, that was a political impossibility. Indeed, Republicans in congress have behaved in ways that suggest they had no real interest in seeing the economy improve.

Slashing federal government spending now in a recovering economy as Romney and the GOP propose at a time when the immediate need is more short term spending to lower the unemployment rate is simply stupid. Unfortunately, that has never stopped the ideologically blinkered GOP.