Archive for category Economy

1 Percenters Celebrate Anniversary of Clinton’s ‘Welfare Reform’

Via The Intercept: 20 Years Later, Poverty Is Up, But Architects of “Welfare Reform” Have No Regrets

A gathering Monday in Washington, D.C., featured a bipartisan group of former government officials agreeing on the benefits of slashing the nation’s safety net.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of “welfare reform,” the 1996 law passed by Congress and administered by President Bill Clinton that strictly limited the amount of federal cash assistance that the poorest Americans can receive — transforming the Aid for Families with Dependent Children program into the more restrictive Temporary Aid for Needy Families.

One of the main impacts of the law was to help double the number of American households living in extreme poverty in America – defined as living on less than $2 a day.

The Capitol Hill event, hosted by the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and the Progressive Policy Institute, which has been referred to as President Bill Clinton’s “idea mill,” celebrated the 20th anniversary of the law. Its architects said they had no regrets about its passage.

Former Michigan Republican governor John Engler, who pioneered state-level welfare cutbacks and who today serves as the head of the corporate lobbying group the Business Roundtable, recounted how Bill Clinton’s support helped make national welfare reform possible.

“It was pretty stunning in 1992 to have a Democratic candidate for president, albeit a 12-year veteran in the governor’s office talking about ending ‘welfare as we know it,’” he said. “That was a pretty decisive moment.” …

…At the conclusion of the event, the speakers and audience were treated to a reception featuring alcoholic drinks, cheesecake squares, specialty meats, and gourmet cheese.

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Can We Talk?

Convince me

As Joan Rivers used to say, “Can we talk?” Because the corporate media coverage of the presidential race is barely mentioning the issues that affect you and me.

Lately all over cable TV they are vociferously debating whether Donald Trump is paying enough respect to the family of a U.S. Army captain who died heroically 12 years ago during Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq (that Hillary voted for as a senator), after the father of said fallen warrior aimed a gratuitous insult at the notoriously thin-skinned Trump in a partisan DNC speech.

Most likely, this is a picture of the 2016 presidential campaign for the next 100 days. Hillary using surrogates to get Trump to say something that dominates the news cycle, or trying to get Trump to lose his temper during a debate. Anything Trump says is automatically news. Hillary has not held a press conference since last year.

What could the candidates talk about? Well, here is one suggestion. There is another recession coming, sooner rather than later. How will Hillary and Trump deal with the consequences?

Get out your wallets, America: It might not be long before we’re bailing out “too big to fail” banks again

Instead of ending the world of banks that are “too big to fail” and preventing banks from operating in ways that could again sink the economy, we have guaranteed them that the taxpayers are ready and waiting when they make another catastrophic mistake.

The Dodd-Frank regulations are not completely written yet, and probably won’t be in effect when the Wall Street billionaires crash our financial sector again. Is the American middle class about to take another big hit? Can somebody offer a plan to help us? We haven’t even recovered from the last time.

Hillary is going to have to offer much more than her current “OMG Trump!” campaign.

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When Bad Arguments Die

Cenk Uygur debates Ed Butowski at Republican Convention

Cenk Uygur debates Ed Butowski at Republican Convention

This particular one died on a live “Young Turks” stream at the Republican Convention. It was my favorite part of the whole week.

I always respect it when pundits with right wing views debate with somebody who might ask them questions they feel uncomfortable with, rather then staying on safe ground at Fox “news”. Ed Butowski’s website lists him as an “internationally recognized expert in the wealth management and as a financial advisor”, although he doesn’t have a Wikipedia page. He is a regular on Fox “news”, so that is something I suppose. (snark)

Cenk sits down with Butowski, and tells him to pick a subject, which turns out to be Bernie Sanders’s views on the economy. I’m pretty sure he thought he would be able to throw Cenk off, but I’d say the opposite happened.

It’s a fun interview to watch and civil, unlike anything you see on Fox. Enjoy!

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Income Inequality is the Highest in American History


‘America Is NOT Broke’: Michael Moore Speaks in Madison, WI — March 5, 2011

“Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.”
— Michael Moore

According to economists Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson, the Gini coefficient in this country is now the highest it has ever been. “We went from one of the most egalitarian places in the world to one of the least,” Williamson told the Washington Post. “What happened?”

In his chronicle of the young United States in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville famously said that “nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of condition among the people.”

The Gini coefficient is a measure of inequality in which 0 is perfect equality and 100 would mean perfect inequality, or one person owning all the wealth. A recent study by the financial services corporation Allianz found that the U.S. had the most extreme wealth inequality in the world, with a score of 80.56 – the highest concentration of overall wealth in the hands of the proportionately fewest people.

Related:
Exclusive: Charles Koch and his company launch ‘end the divide’ ad campaign
The Kochs’ Biggest Joke—Billionaires Pretend to Care About Inequality in Latest Ad Blitz

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‘Hard work, and I don’t got a lot of money to show for it’

The 2016 election is different. Donald Trump is running as a Tea-GOP populist, and he has a lot of support from large numbers of Americans that elite politicians do their best to ignore in favor of the rich.

Via The Guardian:

Over the past 35 years the working class has been devalued, the result of an economic version of the Hunger Games. It has pitted everyone against each other, regardless of where they started…

…In Ohatchee, Alabama, Larry, taking a day off work to take his son fishing, is gracious but frustrated: “I have worked in foundries all my life, since I was 15. Hard work, and I don’t got a lot of money to show for it.”

The frustration isn’t just misplaced nostalgia – the economic statistics show the same thing.

Over the past 35 years, except for the very wealthy, incomes have stagnated, with more people looking for fewer jobs. Jobs for those who work with their hands, manufacturing employment, has been the hardest hit, falling from 18m in the late 1980s to 12m now.

The economic devaluation has been made more painful by the fraying of the social safety net, and more visceral by the vast increase at the top.

Earlier this month MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough (who I often disagree with) offered this simple explanation for Trump’s groundswell of support:

“The problem with the Republican Party over the past 30 years is they haven’t — and I’ll say, we haven’t — developed a message that appeals to the working class Americans economically in a way that Donald Trump’s does,” the former Republican lawmaker explained. “We talk about cutting capital gains taxes that the 10,000 people that in the crowd cheering for Donald Trump, they are never going to get a capital gains cut because it doesn’t apply.”

“We talk about getting rid of the death tax,” he continued. “The death tax is not going to impact the 10,000 people in the crowd for Donald Trump. We talk about how great free trade deals are. Those free trade deals never trickle down to those 10,000 people in Donald Trump’s rallies.”

“You sound like Bernie Sanders,” NBC’s Chuck Todd pointed out.

“But herein lies the problem with the Republican Party,” Scarborough complained. “It never trickles down! Those people in Trump’s crowds, those are all the ones that lost the jobs when they get moved to Mexico and elsewhere. The Republican donor class are the ones that got rich off of it because their capital moved overseas and they made higher profits.”

There it is. Bernie Sanders is leading a “political revolution” from the left. Trump is leading another revolution in the Tea-GOP.

More info:
Mocked and forgotten: who will speak for the American white working class?
Joe Scarborough gives up the game: After 30 years, the GOP base realized ‘it never trickles down’

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Faux News Blames The Victims – Again

Via Media Matters.

In an open letter to the Yelp CEO last week, a 25-year-old woman who identified herself as Talia Jane explained that she could not afford groceries and rent on her minimum wage pay at Yelp’s Eat24 food delivery network in San Francisco. Most of her co-workers were living with their parents, and one guy was apparently homeless. The whole thing is worth reading.

I haven’t bought groceries since I started this job. Not because I’m lazy, but because I got this ten pound bag of rice before I moved here and my meals at home (including the one I’m having as I write this) consist, by and large, of that. Because I can’t afford to buy groceries. Bread is a luxury to me, even though you’ve got a whole fridge full of it on the 8th floor. But we’re not allowed to take any of that home because it’s for at-work eating. Of which I do a lot. Because 80 percent of my income goes to paying my rent. Isn’t that ironic? Your employee for your food delivery app that you spent $300 million to buy can’t afford to buy food. That’s gotta be a little ironic, right?

…I got paid yesterday ($733.24, bi-weekly) but I have to save as much of that as possible to pay my rent ($1245) for my apartment that’s 30 miles away from work because it was the cheapest place I could find that had access to the train, which costs me $5.65 one way to get to work. That’s $11.30 a day, by the way. I make $8.15 an hour after taxes. I also have to pay my gas and electric bill. Last month it was $120. According to the infograph on PG&E’s website, that cost was because I used my heater. I’ve since stopped using my heater. Have you ever slept fully clothed under several blankets just so you don’t get a cold and have to miss work? Have you ever drank a liter of water before going to bed so you could fall asleep without waking up a few hours later with stomach pains because the last time you ate was at work? I woke up today with stomach pains. I made myself a bowl of rice.

Look, I’ll make you a deal. You don’t have to pay my phone bill. I’ll just disconnect my phone. And I’ll disconnect my home internet, too, even though it’s the only way I can do work for my freelance gig that I haven’t been able to do since I moved here because I’m constantly too stressed to focus on anything but going to sleep as soon as I’m not at work…

Let’s make sure I have the facts in order, here. When this young woman took a new job she was under the impression that she wouldn’t have to get a second job to cover basic expenses like food, rent, and utilities. We now live in a low-wage economy where entry-level employees are expected to work overtime and weekends without proper compensation. And by the way, Talia Jane’s letter concludes with an update that says she was fired the same day she wrote to the CEO.

Instead of expressing sympathy, most people commenting on the letter criticized Talia Jane for whining and feeling “entitled.” Faux News Channel just piled on, basically claiming that employees have no right to expect any kind of living wage – especially not in San Francisco. Faux News host Sandra Smith is a wealthy former hedge-funder. Stefanie Williams is just clueless.

The MM story got picked up by Raw Story, and here is a choice comment:

Wow … a 29 year old who still lives at home with her parents and works as a bartender lecturing a 25 year old college graduate who is living on her own about entitlements and bootstraps and personal responsibility…

More info:

Talia Jane: Yelp employee speaks after being ‘fired for posting open letter about living wage to CEO’

Two hours after the letter was posted online, she was fired. The company said her termination was not related to the letter, however Ms Jane claimed that she was told by Yelp’s HR department that her letter violated company terms of conduct.

Business Insider: Competent, hardworking millennials are getting shafted by older employees who feel they deserve bigger salaries

Bashing millennials and shaming those who claim to be struggling financially has grown in popularity, seemingly in response to public attention on income inequality.

UPDATE:
Tell Me More About How Much You Hate Millennials, You Old Fart

I have a shiny degree with my name on it, lots of knowledge about things I’m passionate about, and a whole lot of debt.

…When some people see things like Talia Jane’s piece about Yelp, they basically orgasm with self-righteousness. It gives them an excuse to hate on millennials and talk about what hard workers they are and how lazy everyone else is.

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Why We Must Have a Revolution This Year

Not personal its business

Today we learned of the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, which immediately prompted Tea-GOPers to threaten what amounts to a shutdown of the SCOTUS. President Obama responded by announcing his intent to nominate a new justice anyway.

Tonight there was another Tea-GOP debate, in which Donald Trump absolutely reamed John Ellis (Jeb!) Bush and Marco Roboto on the subject of George W. Bush’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq fiasco/war of aggression. If anybody’s interested, Iraq is one of several issues where Trump has positioned himself to the left of Hillary Clinton. So-called “free trade” is another. He is winning the race for the Tea-GOP presidential nomination.

Enough about the politicians! Last Wednesday something happened that’s more significant.

The past few years have been very good for United Technologies. The contractor does billions of dollars a year in business with the federal government. CEO Gregory Hayes pulled down nearly $10 million in 2014, and over $20 million the year before. On Thursday, the company reported $7.6 billion in profits, up from $6.2 billion the year before, and $5.7 billion the year before that. In October, United Technologies even expanded its stock buyback program to $12 billion. Spending the company’s money to purchase its own stock elevates the value of its share prices. United Technologies was so flush with cash that it could burn money to boost returns for its investors.

Surely this largesse would trickle down to its rank-and-file employees, right?

Not exactly.

On Wednesday, Carrier, the air conditioner manufacturing wing of United Technologies, told workers at its Indianapolis plant that it would be outsourcing their jobs to Monterrey, Mexico.

“Throughout the transition, we must remain committed to manufacturing the same high-quality products,” an executive can be heard insisting in a video of the announcement.

“Yeah, fuck you!” a member of the crowd responds.

“Please quiet down,” the official says. “This was an extremely difficult decision.”

“Was it?!”

“I want to be clear. This is strictly a business decision,” the corporate spokesman says on the video.

The only thing Americans can do is vote in unprecedented strength and elect Bernie Sanders to the presidency. It might be our last chance to save ourselves.

More info:
Watch Corporate America Turn A Room Full Of Workers Into Bernie Sanders And Donald Trump Supporters

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A Day Late And A Dollar Short

My favorite song turned 45 yesterday:

Darn Muslims!

Look here.

5 Comments

Trump: Your Wages Are Too High!

Trump

Last night’s Tea-GOP presidential debate was a miserable slog through two hours of lies, myths, and disinformation. I gave up after the first hour. But Donald Trump set the tone right away with the very first question from Neil Cavuto. And the Wisconsin audience must have been composed almost entirely of millionaires, because they applauded for every one of the deeply unpopular proposals coming from the eight candidates.

[Emphasis added]

CAVUTO:

…And so we begin. Candidates, as we gather tonight in this very august theater, just outside and across the country, picketers are gathering as well. They’re demanding an immediate hike in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Just a few hours ago, near Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed doing the same for all state workers, the first governor to do so.

Mr. Trump, as the leading presidential candidate on this stage and one whose tax plan exempts couples making up to $50,000 a year from paying any federal income taxes at all, are you sympathetic to the protesters cause since a $15 wage works out to about $31,000 a year?

TRUMP:

I can’t be Neil. And the and the reason I can’t be is that we are a country that is being beaten on every front economically, militarily. There is nothing that we do now to win. We don’t win anymore. Our taxes are too high. I’ve come up with a tax plan that many, many people like very much. It’s going to be a tremendous plan. I think it’ll make our country and our economy very dynamic.

But, taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is. People have to go out, they have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratum. But we can not do this if we are going to compete with the rest of the world. We just can’t do it.

CAVUTO:

So do not raise the minimum wage?

TRUMP:

I would not do it.

(APPLAUSE)

We all laughed when John Ellis (“Jeb!”) Bush told Americans to forget about a raise, just “work longer hours.” Last night, Trump said roughly the same thing.

Americans work an average of 47 hours a week. Our wages have stagnated since 1979. None of the Tea-GOPers on stage last night offered any help at all for the struggling middle class or entry-level workers. Nor did they address the injustice of the low-wage business model, which forces taxpayers to subsidize some of the nation’s most profitable corporations when their employees are not paid a living wage.

More info:
Unemployment keeps going down. So why aren’t wages going up?
Overworked America: 12 Charts That Will Make Your Blood Boil
Americans are spending $153 billion a year to subsidize McDonald’s and Wal-Mart’s low wage workers

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Tea-GOP Predictions of Economic Collapse Overtaken By Events

Romney promises 6% unemployment

Via Think Progress.

When he ran for President in 2012, Willard (“Mitt”) Romney claimed that by repealing Obamacare, replacing Dodd-Frank, reining in the EPA, and cutting government spending — he could reduce unemployment to 6 percent by January 2017.

The top-line unemployment rate currently stands at 5 percent, which is close to what economists call “full employment.” Wages for most Americans remain flat, however, and there is significant under-employment.

Today, the Department of Labor announced that 271,000 jobs had been created in October. Overall, there have been 68 straight months of job growth creating 13.5 million new jobs. It is the longest streak of job growth on record in American history.

In 2011, former Speaker John Boehner predicted that Obamacare “will bankrupt our nation, and it will ruin our economy” during a press conference where he used the phrase “job-killing” once every two minutes.

All the Tea-GOP wailing about the Obama administration’s supposed “job-killing” policies seems to have been an exercise in projection or wishful thinking, because it was actually the Tea-GOP committing economic sabotage at every opportunity.

More info:
4 Predictions Republicans Made About The Economy That Are Really Embarrassing Now

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The 4 Big Lies About Immigrants

Via HuffPo.

Don’t listen to the demagogues who want to blame the economic problems of the middle class and poor on new immigrants, whether here legally or illegally. The real problem is the economic game is rigged in favor of a handful at the top, who are doing the rigging.

2 Comments

VIDEO: Watch Three Former U.S. Treasury Secretaries Laugh About Income Inequality

Robert Rubin, Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner yuck it about income inequality…
Thanks to Sam Seder and AlterNet.

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