Archive for category Economy

John Ellis (‘Jeb’) Bush: Blame the Victims For Bad Economy

What’s wrong with the American economy? If you ask presidential candidate John Ellis (“Jeb”) Bush, it has nothing to do with the Great Recession of 2008 during the most recent Bush administration — which put 8.7 million of us out of work. Nothing to do with Tea-GOP economic sabotage during the long, slow recovery that replaced many middle-class jobs with low-wage and part-time employment.

Our friend “Jeb! 2016″ says all that’s needed to fix the economy is for more people to work longer hours. Apparently he is not aware that productivity and worker compensation have been decoupled for about 40 years now. Working harder gets us nowhere, and makes CEOs and the 1 Percent richer.

The relationship between American workers’ industriousness and their economic security has eroded so severely in recent decades that the two concepts aren’t even on speaking terms these days.

Workers were a staggering 25 percent more productive in 2012 than they were in 2000. But over the same period that bosses started getting a full quarter more work out of their employees, the median wage grew exactly zero percent. Even those with college degrees saw their pay stagnate over the past decade. Over the five-year stretch encompassing the Great Recession and the first few years of the slow recovery Bush is criticizing, workers gave their bosses an 8 percent jump in productivity – and got back an outright decline in earnings.

Tea-GOP prescriptions like “work harder for less pay” don’t deserve to win any votes. Americans who work for a living are not at fault. We’re the victims of a financialized, de-unionized, 1 Percent economy that’s reaching Gilded Age levels of wealth inequality.

UPDATE:
Newsweek: Does Jeb Bush understand economics?

Bush’s full statement was: “My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4% growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families.”

This word salad mixes together different economic terms as if they mean the same thing and reaches for statistics that are, quite simply, ridiculous. Perhaps Bush was just sloppy in his language, but whatever aide is prepping him on economics needs to do a better job–maybe by working longer hours.

…When it comes to productivity, American workers have been doing a great job. Productivity, which is the economic output per worker, has grown relentlessly since 1947 in almost a straight upward line. Implying that Americans aren’t being productive enough is about the same as saying McDonald’s doesn’t sell enough hamburgers. How much is enough to Bush? If record productivity–with a cumulative growth of almost 300% since 1947–doesn’t cut it, what does?

There is no context where “we have to be more productive” means anything other than “push yourselves past record levels, workers!” That is, unless Bush doesn’t know what the word means.

But with this full statement, he has also demonstrated that he has no idea of the real problem facing American workers. No doubt, he is blaming them for their stagnant wages–all that’s needed is more hours of work, and wages will improve significantly.

As history proves, that’s hokum. America went through nearly a century where the profits generated by growth in worker productivity was shared–the more they produced, the more money everyone made. What Bush and far too many Republicans refuse to acknowledge is that wages and productivity became uncoupled around 1973: Productivity goes up, corporate profits go up, the rich get wealthier, but the financial benefits don’t trickle down to workers.

…American history’s most productive workers are not responsible for the fact that they aren’t paid enough. Do Bush and his GOP cohorts really believe that the wealthy are sitting in their offices, twiddling their thumbs, waiting for workers to demand more money that will then be handed over gladly? Wages are growing at their lowest level since World War II. In fact, income inequality is worse today than it was in 1774, even when slavery is included in the numbers, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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Democracy Triumphs in Greece

Greece wins

Today the birthplace of democracy was the scene of a triumph of the 99 Percent. Greeks voted against austerity by a 20-point margin. Paul Krugman:

[W]e have just witnessed Greece stand up to a truly vile campaign of bullying and intimidation, an attempt to scare the Greek public, not just into accepting creditor demands, but into getting rid of their government. It was a shameful moment in modern European history, and would have set a truly ugly precedent if it had succeeded.

More info:
HuffPo live updates

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Faux News: Paying people for the hours that they actually work ‘undercuts work ethic’

Dilbert unpaid overtime

Via Media Matters:

Throughout the day on June 10, Fox News and Fox Business personalities derided an expected proposal from the Labor Department that would expand guaranteed overtime pay to millions of American workers who currently work uncompensated hours.

…Under current federal guidelines, salaried employees are only guaranteed overtime pay if they earn up to $23,660 per year. Raising the threshold to $52,000 would expand overtime protections to at least 6.1 million additional American workers, and bring the policy roughly in line with federal standards last witnessed in 1975, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

On the Faux News Channel, commentators worry that paying people for the hours that they actually work “undercuts work ethic.” Seriously?

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The Middle Class Has Gotten Smaller In Every State Since 2000

Middle class shrinking

Via HuffPo:

A new analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline blog, shows that the percentage of middle-class households — defined as those earning between 67 and 200 percent of a state’s median income — dropped in every U.S. state between 2000 and 2013. Median income also fell in most states during that period.

UPDATE:
14 Reasons Why House and Senate Republicans Have Declared Economic War On Average Americans

The GOP-controlled House and Senate budgets not only drastically cut spending on education, retirement, environment, road and bridges, climate change, immigration, job creation, Obamacare, food stamps, and other social welfare programs; but it gives the Pentagon a blank check, and includes tax cuts for the rich and corporations while raising taxes for lower-income Americans.

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Rudy Giuliani: ‘I do not believe that the President loves America’

Dog whistle

Via Politico:

NEW YORK — Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”

…“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America,” Giuliani said during the dinner at the 21 Club, a former Prohibition-era speakeasy in midtown Manhattan. “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”

When you start out with, “I know this is a horrible thing to say…” maybe you should not say it?

I think it’s time to question whether the Tea-GOP “loves America.” The Bush administration failed to defend us from the single worst terrorist attack in history. They sent millions of Americans to fight unwinnable wars halfway around the world. They ruined America’s reputation as a defender of human rights, replacing it with wars of aggression and torture. They put the NSA to work spying on all of us. They abandoned New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They topped themselves by crashing our economy, causing millions of Americans to lose jobs, homes, and retirement savings. Then they waged a years-long campaign of economic sabotage in a failed attempt to stop the Obama administration from helping America recover from Bush’s Great Recession, including a government shutdown, a near-default on the National Debt, and the so-called “sequester” (aka austerity budgeting). Now they are trying to take away health insurance from 13 million Americans, and prevent millions more from getting any in the first place.

I am NOT feeling the love!

UPDATES:
Congressman Defends Outrageous Giuliani Remarks: Obama ‘Views America Differently’
Gov. Scott Walker: ‘I don’t know’ whether Obama is a Christian

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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.

UPDATE:

Media Matters: Trans-Pacific Partnership Barely Noticed By Weeknight News Over The Past 18 Months

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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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