Archive for category Economy

Robert Reich: TPP is Part of the Global Race to the Bottom

Republicans in Congress want to work with the Obama administration to fast-track the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The TPP is the largest—and worst—trade deal you’ve never heard of, having been devised in secret by representatives of some of the world’s largest corporations.

It’s so big and has the potential to do so much damage, it’s been likened to “NAFTA on steroids.”

Once you’ve watched the video, please join the growing chorus of Americans who are saying no to fast track and the TPP by adding your name to this petition from Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America.

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Senator Joni Ernst Wants To Cut Wasteful Spending – Let’s Start With Farm Subsidies!

Via Media Matters:

Senator Ernst’s response to the President Obama’s State of the Union address focused on the Tea-GOP position that Congress should refuse to “pay for more government spending” and ought to “cut wasteful spending.”

Ernst’s Family Farm Benefited From Substantial Farm Subsidies. Ernst’s family farm in Red Oak, Iowa received over $460,000 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2006. Family members received conservation payments, commodity subsidies, and agricultural aid. [The District Sentinel, 1/12/15]

Federal farm subsidies amount to some $30 billion annually. The U.S. Department of Agriculture spends about $14 billion a year on crop insurance alone. Unlike direct farm aid payments, which are capped at $40,000 per farm, there is no limit on crop insurance subsidies. The names of those receiving payouts from the program are kept secret – but it’s a safe bet that nearly all of them are millionaires or corporations. Some recipients of farm subsidies are members of Congress and their families, including Tea-GOPers who voted to cut food stamps.

In 2011, the median income of commercial farm households — those deriving more than half their income from farming — was $84,649, almost 70 percent higher than that of the typical American household. Farm equity ended 2012 at $2.5 trillion, up 37 percent since the start of the recession in December 2007 — compared with a less than 1 percent gain in net worth for all U.S. households over the same period.

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Absurd and Hilarious


“We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things, and two things only — making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle age, middle class, middle income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family, and American values and character…” — President Andrew Shepherd, “The American President” (1995)

See if you can guess whose website the following statement is taken from.

“Millions of our fellow citizens across the broad middle class feel as if the American Dream is now out of their reach; that our politics are petty and broken; that opportunities are elusive; and that the playing field is no longer fair or level. Too many of the poor have lost hope that a path to a better life is within their grasp. While the last eight years have been pretty good ones for top earners, they’ve been a lost decade for the rest of America. We are not leading – at home or abroad.”

1. Elizabeth Warren
2. Robert Reich
3. John Ellis (“Jeb”) Bush

If you guessed #3, you’re right. Tea-GOPers considering a 2016 presidential run — including, incredibly, Willard (“Mitt”) Romney — are now claiming to care about fairness and equality for the struggling American middle class. Nothing could be funnier than right-wing politicians when they emerge from their country clubs and corporate boardrooms every four years, and try to pretend they’re on the side of the 99 Percent. What’s next, Guy Fawkes masks?

More info:
Steven Rosenfeld: The GOP’s Absurd, Hilarious Ploy to Pretend They Care About Poor People

UPDATE:
Matt Yglesias: Why Republicans are starting to sound like Elizabeth Warren

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Robert Reich: Low Unemployment Won’t Lead to Higher Pay

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich:Low wages

Jobs are coming back, but pay isn’t. The median wage is still below where it was before the Great Recession. Last month, average pay actually fell.

…Insecure workers don’t demand higher wages when unemployment drops. They’re grateful simply to have a job.

To make things worse, a majority of Americans have no savings to draw upon if they lose their job. Two-thirds of all workers are living paycheck to paycheck. They won’t risk losing a job by asking for higher pay.

Insecurity is now baked into every aspect of the employment relationship. Workers can be fired for any reason, or no reason. And benefits are disappearing.

…Since 1979, the nation’s productivity has risen 65 percent, but workers’ median compensation has increased by just 8 percent. Almost all the gains from growth have gone to the top.

This is not a winning corporate strategy over the long term because higher returns ultimately depend on more sales, which requires a large and growing middle class with enough purchasing power to buy what can be produced.

But from the limited viewpoint of the CEO of a single large firm, or of an investment banker or fund manager on Wall Street, it’s worked out just fine – so far.

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Keystone XL Zombie Lie

Via Media Matters.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill approving the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Virtually all the Republicans and 28 Democrats voted for this foreign-owned project, which is likely to impose significant environmental costs, cause an increase in American gasoline prices, and contribute to global warming. The proposed 1,200 mile dirty oil pipeline would carry bitumen — a tar-like substance mined from the Alberta tar sands, chemically diluted, and heated to improve flow — at high pressure across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to Gulf Coast refineries. Existing pipelines of this type spring dozens of leaks every year, and the mess is much more difficult to clean up than a crude oil spill.

Why allow this? Right-wing propagandists insist that Keystone XL will create “42,000 jobs.” This is false.

The State Department concluded that the Keystone XL project will result in just 50 jobs, including “35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors.” Further, their report stated that spending on the project would support only 3,900 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted one year and just 1,950 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted two years.

President Obama has threatened to veto the congressional attempt to force the issue, however he seems to be keeping the option open to ultimately approve this disastrous project.

UPDATE:
Senate Advances Bill To Approve Keystone Pipeline Despite Obama’s Veto Threat

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Newly-Empowered Tea-GOP Destroys the CBO’s Credibility

Jonathan Chait:

In a rapid vote yesterday, the House directed the Congressional Budget Office to use “dynamic scoring” — a Washington term of art to describe imposing conservative ideology upon the once-neutral task of measuring the budgetary impact of legislation.

…The new, “dynamic” CBO will be systematically biased to make conservative proposals appear misleadingly cheap and liberal proposals misleadingly costly to the public fisc.

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Apocalypse Not Now

Apocalypse 2015
“White House Down” (2013)

Via Think Progress.

Remember all those Tea-GOP predictions about what 2015 would be like if President Obama’s doomed Marxist regime was allowed keep running the country into the ground?

Today, the nationwide average for a gallon of gas is $2.24. The unemployment rate currently stands at 5.8% and has been under 6% since September 2014. The Dow Jones Industrial Average currently stands at 17,823 and is up over 35% since Obama was reelected. The Dow has climbed more than 10,000 points during the Obama administration. The U.S. economy grew at a robust 5% in the 3rd quarter of 2014, following 4.6% growth in the second quarter.

Why couldn’t the Tea-GOP predict declining wages? People who work for a living need a raise, badly.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren: Who Does Congress Work For?

Wall Street wants to get bailed out by taxpayers AGAIN, the next time they recklessly crash our financial sector with risky derivatives. This could cause the next Great Depression. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is trying to stop them, even though the Tea-GOP is threatening to shut down the federal government (in less than five hours) if a Dodd-Frank repeal proposal written by Citigroup lobbyists doesn’t pass.

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Americans Rank 26th in Median Wealth

Inequality cycle
Source: Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2014

Financialization of the economy is both a symptom and a major cause of inequality. Financialization is when making money from money becomes more important than providing real goods and services. It’s characterized by risky asset bubbles and periodic crashes that affect everyone in the 99 Percent because we’re not “too big to fail.” Les Leopold: “Wall Street is out of control. Once deregulation started 30 years ago, money has gushed to the top as Wall Street was free to find more and more unethical ways to fleece us.”

The result: Despite the fact we’re the richest country in the world, U.S. median wealth is just $53,352 according to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (PDF).

Les Leopold, again:

The U.S. continues to lead the world in billionaires (571 in 2014, with China a distant second at 190). But after decades of financial deregulation and attacks on employee rights, Americans rank 26th in median wealth (defined as assets owned, minus debts owed for the person on the middle rung of the wealth ladder).

The Gini index for the USA has risen to 84.6 (with 0 representing perfect equality and 100 representing perfect inequality). Very few countries can top that, and not by much.

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Here We Go Again

Shutdown 8 days

The question is, with Republican control of both houses of Congress, is our government becoming more dysfunctional or less dysfunctional? During his re-election campaign, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened a string of government shutdowns. Right-wing Republican House members think they have 30 to 40 “no” votes on a government funding bill proposed by Speaker John Boehner, which is enough to shut down the government again.

The government will run out of spending authority on December 11 unless Congress passes a continuing resolution.

Lots of observers are saying, “Last year’s government shutdown was politically disastrous for Republicans.” But was it really? It cost us $24 billion in lost economic activity, but what did the Tea-GOP lose? Economic sabotage has been a winning strategy for them.

UPDATE:
December 11, 9:30 am — A little over 12 hours to go until government shutdown. The $1.014 trillion Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (HR 83) has been dubbed “CRomnibus” as it is a combined continuing resolution (CR) and omnibus spending bill. There are so many controversial measures tucked into this legislation that it’s hard to list them all. The main point of contention is the de-regulation of Wall Street investment banks, allowing them to trade in risky derivatives using taxpayer-guaranteed deposits (what could possibly go wrong?). Page 1,599 of the bill effectively kills what’s left of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform. There’s much, much more — bad for the average American, bad for the environment, and great for the 1 Percent. Remember everything in this legislation is a surprise because none of it was debated openly and no hearings have been held.

House Dems are being told that they have to vote for this stinker, otherwise the Tea-GOP will come up with something worse after they take over the Senate next year. Some, for example Senator Elizabeth Warren, say the CRomnibus ought to be replaced by a stopgap spending bill. IMHO even a government shutdown at midnight would be preferable to passing this bill.

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WaPo/ABC Poll: 1 Percent Say U.S. Economy is ‘Excellent’

Washington Post-ABC News poll Oct. 23-26, 2014
The 1% says economy is excellent
Mr. Burns

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Hillary: ‘Trickle down should be consigned to the trash bin of history’

Hillary on trickle-down

I know Hillary Clinton would be the Wall Street candidate if she runs for President. I remember how the last President Clinton irritated progressives by embracing right-wing policies, and the last thing this country needs is another dynastic succession. Most of all, as we have seen with President Obama, progressive populist rhetoric can turn out to be meaningless.

But it’s still good news that Hillary said this at an October 24 campaign event for Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley (emphasis added):

Don’t let anybody tell you that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs. They always say that. I’ve been through this. My husband gave working families a raise in the 1990s. I voted to raise the minimum wage and guess what? Millions of jobs were created or paid better and more families were more secure. That’s what we want to see here, and that’s what we want to see across the country.

And don’t let anybody tell you, that, you know, it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know, that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried. That has failed. That has failed rather spectacularly.

One of the things my husband says, when people say, what did you bring to Washington? He says, well I brought arithmetic. And part of it was he demonstrated why trickle down should be consigned to the trash bin of history. More tax cuts for the top and for companies that ship jobs over seas while taxpayers and voters are stuck paying the freight just doesn’t add up. Now that kind of thinking might win you an award for outsourcing excellence, but Massachusetts can do better than that. Martha understands it. She knows you have to create jobs from everyone working together and taking the advantages of this great state and putting them to work.

By way of explanation, Coakley’s Tea-GOP opponent Charlie Baker won an “Outsourcing Excellence Award” for sending American jobs out of the country.

UPDATE:
Rand Paul Mocks Hillary Clinton Over Jobs Remark

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