Author Archives: Stephen

“Straight Talk About Trump”

Published / by Stephen

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From Robert Reich: the six most misleading media euphemisms for conduct unbecoming a president:

1. Calling Trump’s tweets “presidential “statements” or “press releases.” Wrong. Trump’s tweets are mostly rants off the top of his head – many of them wild, inconsistent, rude, crude, and bizarre.

2. Referring to Mar-A-Lago as “the Winter White House.” Rubbish. Unlike the White House and Camp David, the traditional presidential retreat, both of which are owned by taxpayers, Mar-a-Lago is a profit-making business owned by Trump.

3. Calling his lies “false claims” or “comments that have proved to be inaccurate.” Baloney. They’re lies, plain and simple.

4. Referring to Trump’s and his aide’s possible “cooperation” or “coordination” with Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign. Nothing about what we’ve seen and heard so far suggests politeness or innocence. “Collusion” is the proper word, suggesting complicity in a conspiracy. If true – if Trump or his aides did collude with the Russians to throw the election his way – they were engaged in treason, another important word that rarely appears in news reports.

5. Calling Trump’s and Paul Ryan’s next move “welfare reform.” Rubbish. They’re not going after “welfare.” Welfare – federal public assistance to the poor – was gutted in 1996. Trump and Ryan are aiming at Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

6. Describing Trump’s comments as “racially charged.” “Racially charged” sounds like Trump doesn’t intend them to be racist but some people hear them that way. Rubbish. Stop using terms like “racially charged” to describe his statements. Face it. Trump is a racist, and his comments are racist.

The Republican Party Disrobed

Published / by Stephen

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Again Trump has shown his true colors. His latest racist tirade, no immigrants from s*hole countries, demonstrated that his approach is to exclude whole groups of people, especially people of color. He is a bigot and a racist – definitions below.

His comments also reveal the true motives of the republican party. The republican reaction is telling – Paul Ryan “it is unfortunate, not helpful.” Others denying that the words were spoken. The party is mostly a racial group, old wealthy white men, protecting their power. The emperor has no clothes. They are a racist party. It is time to throw the rascals out.

Vox explains Trump’s latest racist tirade.  Also The New Your Times has put together a definitive list of Trump’s racial comments. Check it out here.

It is instructive to to examine the meanings of the words prejudice, bigotry and racism. Debby Irving a racial justice educator and writer provides the following definitions:

Are prejudice, bigotry, and racism the same thing?

No. And this is a HUGE source of misunderstanding.

Prejudice is when a person negatively pre-judges another person or group without getting to know the beliefs, thoughts, and feelings behind their words and actions. A person of any racial group can be prejudiced towards a person of any other racial group. There is no power dynamic involved.

Bigotry is stronger than prejudice, a more severe mindset and often accompanied by discriminatory behavior. It’s arrogant and mean-spirited, but requires neither systems nor power to engage in.

Racism is the system that allows the racial group that’s already in power to retain power. Since arriving on U.S. soil white people have used their power to create preferential access to survival resources (housing, education, jobs, food, health, legal protection, etc.) for white people while simultaneously impeding people of color’s access to these same resources.Though “reverse racism” is a term I sometimes hear, it has never existed in America. White people are the only racial group to have ever established and retained power in the United States.

Seriously, How Dumb is Trump?

Published / by Stephen

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Another beauty by Robert Reich:

Political conning is Trump’s genius. This genius – combined with his utter stupidity in every other dimension of his being – poses a clear and present danger to America and the world. …The 25th Amendment must be invoked before it’s too late.

Check it out.

An Update on Election Promises

Published / by Stephen

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This provides perspective for those who voted for Trump and those of us who did not.

New Year’s Update for Trump Voters

Who Elected Trump – Fake News Or The Media

Published / by Stephen

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Since the 2016 Presidential Election a narrative has emerged that Fake News, much of it produced by Russian sources and amplified on social networks, generated millions of views among segments of the electorate eager to hear stories about Hillary Clinton’s untrustworthiness, unlikeability, and possibly even criminality.

The Columbia Journalism Review recently published an in-depth analysis of the effect that Fake News had on the election outcome. The key takeaway is that while fake news played a role, the mainstream media, by focusing much more on controversy (e.g., Hillary emails, Trump taxes) than policy, played a much bigger role role.

In just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.

Read on:  Don’t blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media.

 

The Trump Mess

Published / by Stephen

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A silent video from Robert Reich: The big picture of how we got into this mess (of trump) and how we get out of it.

This is an excellent lesson in political economy: how we have been transformed from a post World War II civil society to one that is not so civil.

Trump: Crook, Bigot, Incompetent

Published / by Stephen

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Robert Reich lays it out:

Last week, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch stood on the White House lawn, opining that Donald Trump’s presidency could be “the greatest presidency that we’ve seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever.” I beg to differ.

America has had its share of crooks (Warren G. Harding, Richard Nixon), bigots (Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan), and incompetents (Andrew Johnson, George W. Bush). But never before Donald Trump have we had a president who combined all these nefarious qualities.

Read On

Republican Tax Scam

Published / by Stephen

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Over the past two weeks my favorite Keynsean has been very busy posting responses to the republican tax scam.  Here are  links to the posts followed by a lead-in paragraph:

 

Dec 7, 2017 The Republican War on Children

Let me ask you a question; take your time in answering it. Would you be willing to take health care away from a thousand children with the bad luck to have been born into low-income families so that you could give millions of extra dollars to just one wealthy heir?

Dec 8, 2016 Facts Have a Well-Known Liberal Bias

There are two central facts about 21st-century U.S. politics. First, we suffer from asymmetric polarization: the Republican Party has become an extremist institution with little respect for traditional norms of any kind. Second, mainstream media – still the source of most political information for the great majority of Americans – haven’t been able to come to grips with this reality. Even in the age of Trump, they try desperately to be “balanced”, which in practice means bending over backwards to say undeserved nice things about Republicans and take undeserved swipes at Democrats.

Dec 9, 2017 Pessimism and Paralysis in the Aftermath of the Financial Crisis

The latest job report was very good, except for one thing: wage growth is still much lower than it was before the financial crisis. And this reminds me of a controversy that raged around four or five years ago, during what now seems like a golden age – an era when it seemed as if facts and reasoned debate might actually matter for policy.

Dec 11, 2017 Steve Mnuchin Pulls a Paul Ryan

On Monday the Treasury Department released a one-page report claiming that tax cuts would pay for themselves. The document was a shameless attempt to fool the public — carefully worded to imply that economic experts at Treasury (they’re still in there somewhere, maybe locked in a closet) had actually done an analysis to that effect, without explicitly saying so. In fact, there was no economic analysis; Trump officials just made up numbers that would give them the result they wanted.

Dec 12, 2017 What Happens if the Tax Bill Is a Revenue Disaster?

Jonathan Chait raises a good point, which many of us were already thinking about: for all the debate about whether the tax bill will partially pay for itself, it’s actually more likely that it will end up worsening the deficit by far more than most estimates suggest. The reason is simple: the bill is junk, hastily drafted and full of exploitable loopholes. Once the tax lawyers and accountants get to work, they will probably find ways for their clients to avoid hundreds of billions in taxes that even the JCT estimates still assume will be paid.

Suppose this is indeed what happens. I’ve been trying to think through the next step: What effect will a ballooning deficit have on markets and the political climate?

Dec 13, 2017 Scam I Am: Why Is the G.O.P. Rushing This Tax Abomination?

So, it seems that Republicans are responding to the devastating defeat in Alabama – which is part of a sustained pattern of underperformance in special elections, demonstrating that bad polls reflect reality, not bad polling, by … doubling down on a massively unpopular tax plan, whose main focus is on cutting corporate taxes.

Dec 14, 2017 Republicans Despise the Working Class

You can always count on Republicans to do two things: try to cut taxes for the rich and try to weaken the safety net for the poor and the middle class. That was true under George W. Bush, who sharply cut tax rates on the top 1 percent and tried to privatize Social Security. It has been equally true under President Trump; G.O.P. legislative proposals show not a hint of the populism Trump espoused on the campaign trail.

Dec 15, 2017 Corporate Tax Cuts: It’s Only About the Wedge (Wonkish)

For those who weren’t reading my blog before it was folded into the column page, “wonkish” posts were written with economists or highly economics-fluent readers in mind, not the broader public. I put up the “wonkish” as a warning to normal human beings. So here’s one of those on the topic of the day; if funny diagrams and economese aren’t your thing, feel free to skip.

Dec 18, 2017 Passing Through to Corruption

The question is, why are they doing this? For this bill isn’t just a policy crime; it also seems to be a political mistake. It will, however, be good, one way or another, for the bank accounts of quite a few Republican members of Congress. Is that why it will pass?

Dec 20, 2017 Republicans Despise the Working Class, Continued

The GOP tax plan is remarkably unpopular. According to the latest NBC poll, only 24% of the public thinks it’s a good idea; 63% believe that it’s mainly for the rich and corporations [editor: it is], while only 7% think it’s aimed at the middle class. Republicans think it will become more popular over time; that’s not what happened with previous tax cuts, and as Drew Altman of Kaiser Family Foundation notes, everyone – even Republicans – hates the idea of cutting major social programs to pay for tax cuts, which is exactly what the GOP plans to do.

Dec 21, 2017 Tax-Cut Santa Is Coming to Town

It’s that time of year again. Some of us will get nice gifts, while others will get lumps of coal.

But the rules have changed a bit this time, at least as far as the federal government is concerned. The St. Nick you knew is on vacation, possibly permanently. In his place we have Republican Tax-Cut Santa, who has different priorities.

Dec 24, 2017 Trickle Down? Not Now, and Not for a While at Best (Wonkish)

“You all just got a lot richer,” Trump reportedly told guests at Mar-a-Lago. But Republicans will nonetheless keep insisting that the corporate tax cut that is the main item in the tax bill is really for the benefit of workers. They will be aided in this claim by some recent corporate announcements of bonuses or wage hikes that they attribute to the tax cut. …It’s nonsense, of course.

Thank You Sir Charles – A Wake-Up Call To Democrats

Published / by Stephen

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I’m Just So Proud’ of Alabama for Electing Doug Jones

After news outlets called the race for Doug Jones, a jubilant Barkley told CNN that Tuesday was a great night for Alabama, which he said had “been stuck in a time warp for a long time.”

“First of all, Roy Moore was an embarrassment. If any other man had eight women accusing him of sexual harassment, talking about how he really enjoyed slavery, he thinks people who are homosexuals should go to jail, they wouldn’t have even been in this election. This is more of a referendum on the state of Alabama, and I’m just so proud of my state.

I’m so proud of my state. I love my state. We got some amazing people here, Yeah, we got a bunch of rednecks and a bunch of ignorant people, but we got some amazing people here and they rose up today.”

He also called the results a “wake-up call” to Democrats who have taken the support of black and poor voters for granted:

They’ve taken the black vote and the poor vote for granted for a long time. They’ve always had our votes, and they’ve abused our votes, and this is a wake-up call. We’re in a great position now, but this is a wake-up call for Democrats to do better for black people and poor white people.”

A Side Note: Charles Barkley considered himself a Republican until he became dismayed with George W. Bush’s administration, telling World Golf in 2006, “I was a Republican – until they lost their minds.”

Tax Bill – Bad Policy Justified by Lies & Myths

Published / by Stephen

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There is a lot wrong with the republican tax bill – a gift to large corporations and the rich; punishment of blue states, unequal taxing based on how income is earned; cutting medical benefits for those who need benefits; cutting the safety net for those less fortunate. The list goes on. It is a cruel bill.

Justification is “trickle down.” This is a myth and a bold-faced lie. Robert Reich explains The True Path to Prosperity. Below are his key points:

Democrats are the party of economic growth and fairness. Republicans are the party of neither.

The only way to grow the economy is by investing in the education, healthcare, and infrastructure that average Americans need in order to be more productive. Growth doesn’t “trickle down.” It rises up.

Republicans say their tax overhaul will promote growth by increasing the profits of American corporations and investors. This is trickle-down nonsense.

Every major study (including Congress’s own Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation) finds that its benefits would go mainly to big corporations and the wealthy.

Share prices may rise for a time. They’re already at record highs in anticipation of the tax cut. But higher share prices don’t trickle down, either. The richest 1 percent owns almost 38 percent of the stock market. Eighty percent of Americans together own just 8 percent of all shares of stock.

This won’t fuel growth. Corporations expand and invest only when customers are eager to buy what they produce. And most of these customers are middle-income and below, who spend just about all they earn. The rich spend only a small fraction.

After the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, economic growth stalled and then dissolved in recession. After the 2004 corporate tax holiday for bringing foreign profits home, corporations didn’t invest or expand. The Reagan tax cut of 1981 didn’t cause wages to rise; they flattened.

What’s the real formula for growth? Better access to education, healthcare, and transportation, all of which make workers more productive.

These more productive workers command higher wages. With higher wages, they purchase more goods and services. These purchases motivate companies to expand and invest, and create more and better jobs.

The Trump-Republican tax overhaul would take us in the opposite direction. It raises taxes on the middle class, which would reduce their purchasing power. The Senate version would cut the Affordable Care Act, causing millions to lose coverage.

It also explodes the federal debt, which will stymie growth. Debt service itself would likely require cuts in other programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, education, and transportation.

For years, Republicans have been selling tax cuts by lying that they spur growth, which trickles down to average Americans.

For just as long, Democrats have been selling fairness, but without explaining why a fairer economy is also more productive and prosperous.

It’s time for Democrats to make the case. It has the virtue of being true.