Conservative economics has redistributed income to the already wealthy and powerful

Spring Sunset wallpaper

Spring Sunset wallpaper

 

If Companies Are People…

HERE’S an idea: why not tax corporations as if they were natural persons, in accordance with their newly discovered rights of free speech? That move would solve any impending fiscal crisis.

Indeed, we used to do just that. For most of the 1950s, corporate income at large companies was taxed at 52 percent, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The federal government, meanwhile, collected about a third of its revenues from this source. Today, thanks largely to the “reforms” ushered in by President Ronald Reagan, the ostensible tax rate on corporate income is no higher than 35 percent — and the corporate-tax share of federal revenue has fallen to about 9 percent.

….So, by slashing corporate income taxes and forcing a new reliance on payroll taxes to finance government spending, we have redistributed income to the already wealthy and powerful. Our tax system has actually fostered inequality.

James Pethokoukis writing at the far Right National Review, who is also either an idiot or skipped his arithmetic classes, writes,

The Reagan tax cuts freed the economy from that trap and contributed greatly to a generation-long boom in the U.S., one that also led to a global tax-cutting craze.

Even Saint Ronnie saw that he cut taxes too much and proceeded to sign four tax increases into law. The economy did not pick up real steam again until that tax increaser Bill Clinton was in office for a couple years. Pethokoukis continues

But conservatives need to pick their battles intelligently. It will be exceedingly difficult for the U.S. to maintain the average post–World War II tax burden given the aging of American society and the necessity of remaining a global military superpower. Rates won’t be returning to the Coolidge-era levels that the House GOP continues to push for. Instead, better to push for changes to make the code more pro-investment by reducing corporate tax rates (and eliminating crony-capitalist loopholes) and more pro-family by creating an expanded child tax credit to offset income and payroll taxes.

I really don’t know what Pethokoukis’s problem is. Would it be hard to believe that he is on wing-nut welfare at the American Enterprise Institute, where he is considered an expert on tax and economic policy. Under those pre-Reagan sky high tax years from WW II through the 1970s the U.S. had it’s greatest economic expansion.

U.S. economic growth greatest before Reagan and the far Right tax revolution

Note the sudden dip in the 1980s. That is when economic growth for most Americans really started to level off or go down.

 A Guide to Statistics on Historical Trends in Income Inequality

The years from the end of World War II into the 1970s were ones of substantial economic growth and broadly shared prosperity.

Incomes grew rapidly and at roughly the same rate up and down the income ladder, roughly doubling in inflation-adjusted terms between the late 1940s and early 1970s.

The income gap between those high up the income ladder and those on the middle and lower rungs — while substantial — did not change much during this period.

Exactly how low do taxes have to go to produce this economic growth that Main Street regular Americans get the benefits. Some of those average Americans are the ones are the ones conservatives get ginned up on cultural issues and gun safety to keep voting against their own best interests. This is a strange finding from Gallup, Fewer Americans Now View Their Income Taxes as Fair

This Tax Day, 55% of Americans regard the income taxes they have to pay as fair, the lowest percentage Gallup has measured since 2001.

One can blame the media and public officials to some degree. Both are supposed to keep the public informed about civic information such as taxes. Though the public has to takes the lion’s share of the blame for not making an effort to stay informed and let themselves be given the impression that their tax rate is unfair. This goes back to the National Review and the attempt to make people believe that if everyone paid five dollars a year in taxes we’d all be driving gold plated Cadillacs. Impressions, the general noise of the conservative media or what someone repeats around the water-cooler aside, the truth is that taxes are very low for everyone, Federal Income Taxes on Middle-Income Families Remain Near Historic Lows

Federal taxes on middle-income Americans are near historic lows,[1] according to the latest available data.  That’s true both for federal income taxes and total federal taxes.[2]

Income taxes:  A family of four in the exact middle of the income spectrum will pay only 5.3 percent of its 2013 income in federal income taxes next year, according to a new analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC).[3]  Average income tax rates for these typical families have been lower during the Bush and Obama Administrations than at any time since the 1950s (see Figure 1).  As discussed below, 2009 and 2010 were particularly low because of the temporary Making Work Pay Tax Credit.
Overall federal taxes:  Overall federal taxes — which include income, payroll, and excise taxes, and imputed corporate taxes — on middle-income households in 2009 were at their lowest levels in decades, according to the latest data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

And those corporations who the far Right keeps saying are suffering from a terrible tax burden, they have it easier than ever, Corporate Taxes As Percentage Of Profits Now Lowest In Decades.

 

Netherlands Spring wallpaper

Netherlands Spring wallpaper

Netherlands Spring wallpaper

 

Don’t Cut Social Security, Expand It

I’m always struck when people talk about Social Security as “just” an insurance program, when it’s in fact the most important retirement-saving vehicle. The chart below, adapted from a 2012 paper by Boston College Professor Alicia Munnell, shows the financial situation of a “typical” pre-retirement household. These are the mean holdings of a household in the middle net worth decile among households headed by people age 55 to 64.

Social Security is dominant: Forty-nine percent of this household’s wealth is in the form of the expectation of drawing government benefits in the future. The next largest slice, 23 percent, is accrued benefits in traditional pension plans. But that figure is skewed by a handful of workers who are lucky enough to participate in such plans; as of 2010, only 14 percent of U.S. workers were earning benefits in such a plan.

In case anyone missed it, this a a solid essay on how Social Security means the difference between surviving and dirt poor poverty for millions of Americans, it also helps the economy. Republicans and fiscally conservative Democrats would not do something to purposely tank the economy now would they.

Apparently, just as ankles are connected to the foot bone, the austerity bone is connected to the knucklehead, The English Prisoner

“If this plan is working, what would a failing one look like?” So asks Martin Wolf in response to David Cameron’s speech insisting that his austerity policy was right, is right, and is succeeding. Simon Wren-Lewis goes through Cameron’s assertions in some detail, among other things catching him more or less lying about what the Office of Budget Responsibility — roughly speaking the counterpart of the CBO here — ha actually said about the impact of austerity on growth.

I was particularly struck by the way Cameron is still claiming that Britain’s low interest rates show that his policy is successful and necessary. This is a bit like the high priest sacrificing a virgin once a month to ensure that the sun keeps rising, then claiming that the fact that the sun has risen proves that the sacrifice was indeed necessary.

Hopefully back with a regular post on Tuesday.

Philadelphia City Skyline wallpaper – The Plutocracy is Good, Fairness is Evil

USA, cites at night, cityscape

Philadelphia City Skyline wallpaper

 

Barack Obama Just Doesn’t Understand What “Fairness” Means

That President Obama has been making some pretty crazy allegations lately. Just listen to this speech he gave Tuesday, with numbers and all…

“The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her worker now earns 110 times more. And yet, over the last decade, the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about 6%.”

I know what you’re thinking. “That doesn’t sound very fair to me,” you’re probably whispering to yourself, clutching your Little Red Book as you mutter the word bourgeoisie over and over, trying to get the pronunciation right.

But there’s good news! You don’t have to worry about that pesky “fairness” stuff anymore. Like our misguided and (let’s face it) big-eared president, you just don’t know what fairness means, says this Investors Business Daily op-ed…

For Obama, fairness obviously means more taxes on the rich, more regulations heaped on private industry, and more government spending to give people “a fair shot.”

If you want to read some crazy-clown inside-out thinking, take a trip deep inside the bizarro-world of conservative economic thinking, there are quite a few places on the net that can fulfill that desire, Investors Business Daily excels at making economic justice sound evil and evil sound like mom’s apple pie.

IBD feels that the top 1 to 10 percent deserves to have 90% of the pie. being a real capitalist that would be fine with me if the top 10% created 90% of the nations’ wealth – let’s say GDP. That is not the case. America does not produce wealth based on what a few guys behind a desk on Wall Street or corporate suites do. The nations’ wealth is produced by the average Joes and Janes who lay the bricks, assemble the circuit broads, mount your tires, do the data entry on your insurance policies, put out your house fire and the millions of other jobs where someone has to actually produce a service or a product for consumption. Together these workers produce the national pie. IBD thinks the kings and queens at the top should take 90% of the pie and all the peasants should be happy as hell they get ten percent to divide up among themselves. Frequently conservatives make the argument that people should not have their money used by the government for the relatively tiny amount we spend on food stamps. Food stamps should be a program based entirely on private contributions. Yet here we are America, the wage slaves are being forced by those at the top to provide them with unearned wealth. The most unjust welfare system we have in America is the one where those at the top of this wealth pyramid scheme leech off America’s workers. Remember Elizabeth Warren’s statement about wealth – I’ll paraphrase;  if you have a business and are raking in lots of profit by all means take a nice chunk for yourself, but remember that this country’s infrastructure from roads to fire departments to public universities make your wealth possible. It is only fair that you give some of that back. That conservative find the deeply American egalitarian concept of fairness a horrifying idea is just a continuation, with small alteration, of the attitude of Antebellum plantation owners.

Corporate Tax Dodging Has Cost States More Than $42 Billion In Revenue Over The Last Three Years – These corporations are the real “takers” and leeches. American workers and consumers make their profits possible and all America gets in return is the shaft of economic injustice.

And speaking of Elizabeth Warren, Poll: Elizabeth Warren soars 7 up over Scott Brown . Warren would probably be even farther ahead if not for the Karl Rove Lie Machine called American Crossroads. The latest fundraising numbers from the conservative American Crossroads show the super-rich continue to pony up

New FEC filings show that American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-backed group that is pouring money into attack ads targeting Democrats around the country, continues to be funded virtually entirely by billionaires.

In August, American Crossroads raised $2,639,052. Fully $2.4 million of that — or 91 percent –  came in the form of gifts from just three billionaires.

We’ve previously reported that the group is getting a staggering amount of support from billionaires, several of whom made their fortune in the energy industry and live in Texas. Last month Trevor Rees-Jones, president of Dallas-based Chief Oil and Gas, contributed another $1 million to American Crossroads, on top of the $1 million he gave earlier this year. Fellow billionaire Robert Rowling, CEO of the company TRT Holdings, also gave Crossroads his second $1 million donation in August.

Instead of American Crossroads they should have called it Billionaires Against Uppity American Families Who Want Their fair Share. There are two major fronts in conservative class warfare – one is to attack any Democrat with power who is trying to shift the balance back a little toward the middle-class. The other angle of attack is Americans in general. YOU – yes you all out there – working, frequently at a dead-end job, a low paying job, a job where your boss sucks. Or maybe someone who would put up with a jerk of a boss for a decent paycheck – all of you, conservatives think you’re lazy and shiftless. They say so all the time – Obama Didn’t Call Americans Lazy — But Right-Wing Media Routinely Do

That last hyperlink is to Media Matters, who is a real thorn in the rabid Right’s side. So much so they are this desperate – Eric Boehlert of Media Matters Targeted In Bungled ‘Verizon’ Sting

It was the middle of the day on Friday, and Eric Boehlert heard a knock on the door. A senior fellow at Media Matters, a nonprofit watchdog that challenges conservative news outlets, Boehlert works from his Montclair, N.J., home.

A short, bearded man stood outside, holding a clipboard and wearing a Verizon uniform. He asked Boehlert if he’d be willing to take a customer survey. Verizon had, perhaps coincidentally, been at the house a week earlier to handle a downed wire. Boehlert quickly agreed and noted that a Verizon worker had actually failed to show up when he said he would.

It turns out it was some right-wing James O’Keefe or Andrew Breitbart wannabe.

“So there was this pause, and I said, ‘You work for Verizon?’ And he just sort of looks back at me and [says], ‘Will you answer the question? Will you answer the question?’ And I said, ‘Can I see your Verizon ID?’ And he wouldn’t produce any Verizon ID, and I think he asked me another time to answer the question. And basically I just said, ‘I’m done so you can leave now.'”

The man started to walk off.

Boehlert decided to follow him to obtain his license plate number. By now he had realized that the man was likely pulling a political stunt, and James O’Keefe’s notorious “To Catch a Journalist” project came to mind as a possibility.

“The only sort of comical part was he forget which way he was supposed to run in case I started following. He ended up sort of in the road, and he sort of turned left and then right,” said Boehlert. “The last I saw him he was in a full sprint down my street running away from my house.”

 

If Homeland Security ever comes up with a sleaze scanner, conservatives are in real trouble.

Documents: ATF used “Fast and Furious” to make the case for gun regulations.

The two sides in the gun debate have long clashed over whether gun dealers should have to report multiple rifle sales. On one side, ATF officials argue that a large number of semi-automatic, high-caliber rifles from the U.S. are being used by violent cartels in Mexico. They believe more reporting requirements would help ATF crack down. On the other side, gun rights advocates say that’s unconstitutional, and would not make a difference in Mexican cartel crimes.

Two earlier Demand Letters were initiated in 2000 and affected a relatively small number of gun shops. Demand Letter 3 was to be much more sweeping, affecting 8,500 firearms dealers in four southwest border states: Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. ATF chose those states because they “have a significant number of crime guns traced back to them from Mexico.” The reporting requirements were to apply if a gun dealer sells two or more long guns to a single person within five business days, and only if the guns are semi-automatic, greater than .22 caliber and can be fitted with a detachable magazine.

 

I would agree with the Right on this one up to a point. For the ATF to impose the requirements of Demand Letter 3 simply as a rule rather than legislation passed by Congress would be wrong. Thus such suggestions in an e-mail are shocking to some degree. On the other hand the requirements, should laws mandating the requirements in Demand Letter 3 ever be passed ( very unlikely) they seem like reasonable gun control measures. If some gun sales meet those criteria in highlights, a gun sellers instincts/experience should set off alarms that something fishy, most likely illegal is going down. If I was going to a gun seller and buying two assault style high-powered semi-automatic rifles every two days, doers that sound like I’m a serious hunter or just maybe seriously out to no good.

When Will Rep. Michele Bachmann Apologize To America

NBC apologizes to Bachmann over song

NBC has joined Jimmy Fallon in apologizing to Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, the network reported on its “TODAY” show Thursday.

Fallon had apologized on Twitter after Bachmann appeared Monday on his “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” show, walking on stage to the song “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” by Fishbone.

“I’m honored that @michelebachmann was on our show yesterday and I’m so sorry about the intro mess. I really hope she comes back,” Fallon tweeted on Tuesday.

The candidate admitted being oblivious to the slight at the time, but insisted in an interview Wednesday on Fox News that the incident amounted to “sexism.”

Of course she has milked one of the world’s subtlest little pranks for all she could. Managing to work in some bunk about media bias and topped off with Hollywood “elite”. So to summarize a notable believer in the absurd and bizarre, a font of endless lies and disinformation and under the general impression her immorality should be the shackles with which every American is chained demands and gets an apology for a prank. It probably is a deserved apology. Yet let’s pause and check some history for a moment to see if someone else should not be making apologies, like to the American people. Bachmann has advocated gay conversion therapy, has said that Medicaid is for the lazy as her husband collected Medicaid for his “counseling” centers, has promised the price of gasoline will be $2 a gallon if elected prez, said she would rather see the economy crash again rather than rise debt ceiling, compared gay marriage to Mormon polygamy and “much worse”, dumped her old church before running for prez for fear she would be associated with its radical views, once predicted the world would end in 2006, ignoring her anti-union record claimed she was not anti-union, has never drafted a major piece of legislation yet claims to be a hard-working legislator, pledges she will ban all pornography in the U.S. – she would have to violate the Constitution to usurp the Supreme Court is such matters, proud of superstitious beliefs about how life evolved, has suggested that swine flu occurred because we had a Democratic president, has warned that the movie The Lion King was gay propaganda, said abolishing minimum wage would create jobs, said that visiting Iraq was like visiting the Mall of America, has said that CO2 is harmless, on hearing Melissa Etheridge had cancer said now would be a good time for her to repent being a lesbian, advocated people break the law and refuse to answer Census questions, said not to worry America – Glenn Beck would solve all the federal budget issues, has advocated not using HPV vaccine claiming it causes brain damage, has said that even more tax giveaways to large corporations will boost jobs, urged women to be submissive to their husbands, Bachmann thanked a man for saying he would vote for a serial killer before he would vote for Obama, has praised Bill O’Reilly as someone who speaks the truth, has advocated for dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency, has said that those who cannot find work should not eat (no food stamps for the disabled among others), has said that the Congressional procedure called deem and pass is treason even though it has been used more by Republicans than Democrats. America waits for your apology Rep. Bachmann.

This is What Conservatives Think Capitalism is: The Average Bush Tax Cut For The 1 Percent This Year Will Be Greater Than The Average Income Of The Other 99 Percent

As Occupy Wall Street protestors continue to demonstrate across the country, congress’ fiscal super committee failed to craft a deficit reduction package due to Republican refusal to consider tax increases on the super wealthy. In fact, the only package that the GOP officially submitted to the committee included lowering the top tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent, even as new research shows that the optimal top tax rate is closer to 70 percent.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who co-chaired the super committee, explained that the major sticking point during negotiations with the GOP was what to do with the Bush tax cuts. With that in mind, the National Priorities Project points out that those tax cuts this year will give the richest 1 percent of Americans a bigger tax cut than the other 99 percent will receive in average income:

The average Bush tax cut in 2011 for a taxpayer in the richest one percent is greater than the average income of the other 99 percent ($66,384 compared to $58,506).

“The super committee failed to grapple with the extraordinarily costly Bush tax cuts for the richest—tax policies that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, cost more in added federal debt than they add in additional economic activity,” explained Jo Comerford, NPP’s Executive Director. Frank Knapp, vice chairman of the American Sustainable Business Council, added in a statement yesterday, “the high-end Bush tax cuts are a big part of the problem – not the solution…It’s obscene to keep slashing infrastructure and services for everybody on Main Street to keep up tax giveaways for millionaires and multinational corporations.”

Hard work and intellectual contributions to the economy should be rewarded. I’ve never heard of a mainstream Democrat or any big Democratic blog argue otherwise. Democrats regardless of the fifty years of straw man arguments to the contrary by far right-wing conservatives – believe in capitalism. Republicans, who just derailed a huge deficit deal based on not giving an inch on taxes for the extremely wealthy – proved they believe in supply-side voodoo, crony capitalism, elite plutocratic economics – not capitalism.

A lot of disinformation or willful ignorance (Fox News Viewers Uninformed, NPR Listeners Not, Poll Suggests) is likely responsible for some of this – Poll: Voters want court to kill Obama health care law – Overall, voters oppose the law by 48%-40%. I find it difficult to believe a rational person would want to repeal these changes which are already in effect –

Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions for children in all new plans;
Provide immediate access to insurance for uninsured Americans who are uninsured because of a pre-existing condition through a temporary high-risk pool;
Prohibit dropping people from coverage when they get sick in all individual plans;
Lower seniors prescription drug prices by beginning to close the donut hole;
Offer tax credits to small businesses to purchase coverage;
Eliminate lifetime limits and restrictive annual limits on benefits in all plans;
Require plans to cover an enrollee’s dependent children until age 26;
Require new plans to cover preventive services and immunizations without cost-sharing;
Ensure consumers have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal new insurance plan decisions;
Require premium rebates to enrollees from insurers with high administrative expenditures and require public disclosure of the percent of premiums applied to overhead costs.

Know Them By Their Contempt For Facts

Chris Christie(R-NJ) seems to be out of the presidential race this cycle. One poll has Romney back on top. While another has Mitt Romney and Herman Cain tied. Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News noise machine will still decide who the conservative presidential nominee will be. Give Fox a few days to let the dust settle and we should start to detect who they prefer. It could be something subtle like Romney is a nice guy and all, but maybe he’d be better as a VP candidate to Perry as president or refer to Cain as a possible VP to Romney.

I have to admit I like a certain amount of certainty in my life. While I get tired of my routine and like to change things around once in a while, a routine can feel comfortable. On the other hand conservatives seem obsessed with not just certainty for themselves but being very serious people, are super concerned that everyone else have some iron box-like certainty in their life. Other than pushing America toward the austerity that will mean a lost generation of workers, one of their highest priorities in the last two years has been certainty. They are good at it. They knew from 2000 to 2008 that cutting taxes and spending like crazy would be a major factor in crippling the economy. They acted with all the seriousness and certitude America has come to expect from the radical Right. Herman Cain shares that maniacal concern with uncertainty – Cain Claims That His Tax Plan Is ‘Not Regressive On The Poor’ — Economists Disagree

Of course, Cain took a few moments to promote his “999? economic plan, which calls for the corporate income tax and personal income tax to be set at a flat rate of 9 percent, as well as the creation of a 9 percent national sales tax. During the interview, Cain said his plan would not be regressive for low-income Americans:

The first thing you do is you throw out the current tax code which creates too much uncertainty, and this is why I have proposed my “999? plan. Very quickly, it imposes a 9 percent business flat tax, a 9 percent personal income tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax. It expands the base so that everybody has a lower rate. And it is not regressive on the poor.

Cain seems to believe that, because his plan has a flat rate, it is not regressive. But sales taxes are hugely regressive on the poor.

Cain was part of a large corporation for years, he used to be a corporate CEO and is now part of a business group with business and financial holdings. In each of these stations he had a CFO or head accountant who knew what they would pay in taxes every year. Corporate America is certain it is sitting on trillions in profits. I’m not sure that his experience means he has no excuse for not running his numbers or that since he was a CEO, that explains why he doesn’t care if his numbers don’t work. Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan

Praised by supporters for both its simplicity and its specificity, Cain’s plan drops the current 35 percent corporate tax rate to 9 percent, swaps the 6-bracket personal income tax system for a 9 percent flat tax and creates a 9 percent national sales tax.

“Our tax code is the 21st century version of slavery,” Cain said in a campaign video publicizing his 9-9-9 plan. “We will replace oppression with prosperity.”

Cain is a millionaire. he does not work per se. He is currently traveling around the country enjoying the leisure, luxury and lifestyle the vast majority of Americans will never know, no matter how hard they work. Is that the kind of slavery he is talking about. From the time he left college until now Cain has enjoyed a nice lifestyle – while I’m sure he has run into the same kind of cultural and institutionalized racism that every African-American experiences he can hardly describe his current circumstances as oppressive. His constant comparing taxes to slavery is almost as offensive and certainly untrue as Glenn Reynolds and his circle of jerks comparing taxes to rape – Humorless morons cracking rape “jokes”. Cain suffers the same malady I’ve observed in many right-wing conservatives over the years. They will have a certain skill set or talent, outside of that they’re all loony beliefs. In Cain’s case he has been surrounded for years by people whose job it was to say yes and to humor everything he said. Now he is of an age and disposition that he believes he is always right. No need to run any numbers through a real world situation. No need to make reasonable analogies between things – taxes=slavery. Sure they’re just the same.

Ezra Klein post on OccupyWallStreet – Who are the 99 percent?

“Married mother of 3. Lost my job in 2009. My family lost our health insurance, our savings, our home, and our good credit. After 16 months, I found a job — with a 90 mile commute and a 25 percent pay cut. After gas, tolls, daycare, and the cost of health insurance, i was paying so my kids had access to health care.”

Let’s be clear. This isn’t really the 99 percent. If you’re in the 85th percentile, for instance, your household is making more than $100,000, and you’re probably doing okay. If you’re in the 95th percentile, your household is making more than $150,000. But then, these protests really aren’t about Wall Street, either. There’s not a lot of evidence that these people want a class war, or even particularly punitive measures on the rich. The only thing that’s clear from their missives is that they want the economy to start working for them, too.

“I am young. I am educated and hard working. I am not able to pay my bills. I am afraid of what the future holds.”

[ ]…But this is why I’m taking Occupy Wall Street — or, perhaps more specifically, the ‘We Are The 99 Percent’ movement — seriously. There are a lot of people who are getting an unusually raw deal right now. There is a small group of people who are getting an unusually good deal right now. That doesn’t sound to me like a stable equilibrium.

The organizers of Occupy Wall Street are fighting to upend the system. But what gives their movement the potential for power and potency is the masses who just want the system to work the way they were promised it would work. It’s not that 99 percent of Americans are really struggling. It’s not that 99 percent of Americans want a revolution. It’s that 99 percent of Americans sense that the fundamental bargain of our economy — work hard, play by the rules, get ahead — has been broken, and they want to see it restored.

The Right is starting to pay attention and they’re scared of these people – 5 Reasons Occupy Wall Street Is the Real Boston Tea Party – are the spirit of the real tea party. Right-wing backlash against Occupy Wall St. begins

Out of some combination of contempt and opportunism, Fox News along with right-wing pundits and magazine writers are calling out Occupy Wall Street as stupid, juvenile, and dangerous.

The strain of deep contempt is best expressed in this column by National Review editor Rich Lowry, titled “The Left’s Pathetic Tea Party”:

Occupy Wall Street is not a real answer. It is both more self-involved and more ambitious than the Tea Party. It represents an ill-defined, free-floating radicalism. Its fuzzy endpoint is a “revolution” no one can precisely describe, but the thrust of which is overturning our system of capitalism as we know it. If elected Democrats dare associate their sagging party with this project, they need immediately to consult their nearest psychiatrist and political consultant, in that order.

Abe Greenwald at Commentary expands on the idea that the protest movement will hurt the Dems:

These leftists are so reckless that an extended, high profile “occupation” movement of national reach would bury liberalism months before November 2012. It would, in short, function for Democrats exactly as Democrats had hoped (in vain) that the Tea Party would function for Republicans in 2010. In unhinged “Occupiers,” conservatives would find an easy and clean target to run against and destroy.

 

OK than destroy Democrats in 2012 running on a ticket and message that says decent hard-working Americans did all the things they were supposed to do, among them get an education and work hard – and portray these people as shiftless lazy Marxists. Not all of course, but much of what the Right is so livid about is gasp! returning to about the same tax rate all of us “slaves” paid during the Clinton administration. Or having the tax justice Reagan spoke about – VIDEO: Reagan Called For An End To ‘Crazy’ Tax Loopholes That Let Millionaires Pay Less Than Bus Drivers. Note that Ann Coulter and the other right-wing knuckle draggers are not calling Saint Ronnie a totalitarian.

AP sources: Bush-era probe involved guns ‘walking’. The DOJ does oversee the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That does not mean in the real world we all know that they got permission from Eric Holder for Fast and Furious. In fact the DOJ was prosecuting people for the Bush era Operation Wide Receiver. CBS and the right are making a huge deal about when Holder knew about F&F. he actually does not get an opportunity to fully answer Darrel Issa questions during the hearing the Right and CBS swears is a smoking gun. Issa keeps talking over him to score points. How this all turns out is still up for debate – especially since you know, all the facts are not in. I really would like to know why a conservative website calls itself The American Thinker. This is what passes for thinking over there – ‘The Black US Attorney Has Common Cause with the Black Criminal’ by Selwyn Duke

According to Department of Justice whistleblower J. Christian Adams, AG Eric Holder has a certain something in his wallet.  It is a quotation — and he has carried it for decades.  It essentially says, to quote Adams, “Blackness is more important than anything, and the black US attorney has common cause with the black criminal.”  It’s not surprising that Holder would feel this way about black lawyers and criminals.

Because in his case they’re one and the same.

Holder, the man whose misfeasance led him to drop the infamous Black Panther voter-intimidation case, now may have done what all corrupt men, sooner or later, eventually do.

The rest is the flimsy case that A.G. Eric Holder personally knew and condoned F&F. Does the name J. Christian Adams ring a bell. he is a notorious right-wing operative. The one that tried to hang the New Black Panthers voter intimidation case around Holder’s neck. In other words he and Mr. Duke have all the veracity of a cockroach fart – Manufactured scandal: Right wing’s phony allegations against the Justice Department

J. Christian Adams’ accusations that President Obama’s Justice Department engaged in racially charged “corruption” in the New Black Panther Party case do not stand up to the evidence. Adams is a right-wing activist tied to the Bush-era politicization of the Justice Department who has admitted he lacks first-hand knowledge of the events he is discussing, and his claims fall apart given the fact that the Obama DOJ obtained judgment against one defendant, while the Bush DOJ declined to pursue similar allegations in 2006.

[   ]….Adams is a long-time right-wing activist, who is known for filing an ethics complaint against Hugh Rodham that was subsequently dismissed, served as a Bush poll watcher in Florida 2004, and reportedly volunteered for a Republican group that trains lawyers to fight “racially tinged battles over voting rights”;

Adams was hired to the Justice Department in 2005 by Bradley Schlozman, who was found by the Department of Justice Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility to have improperly considered political affiliation when hiring career attorneys — the former head of the DOJ voting rights section reportedly said that Adams was “exhibit A of the type of people hired by Schlozman”;

Adams has admitted that he does not have first-hand knowledge of the events, conversations, and decisions that he is citing to advance his accusations;

The Bush administration’s Justice Department — not the Obama administration — made the decision not to pursue criminal charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for alleged voter intimidation at a polling center in Philadelphia in 2008;
The Obama administration successfully obtained default judgment against Samir Shabazz, a member of the New Black Panther Party carrying a nightstick outside the Philadelphia polling center on Election Day 2008;

The Bush administration DOJ chose not to pursue similar charges against members of the Minutemen, one of whom allegedly carried a weapon while harassing Hispanic voters in Arizona in 2006;

No voters have come forward to claim that they were intimidated from voting on account of the New Black Panthers standing outside the polling center in 2008;

The Republican vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which is currently investigating the Justice Department’s decision, reportedly said that the other conservatives on the Civil Rights Commission were trying to use New Black Panther case “to topple” the Obama administration. Thernston has also called the case “very small potatoes” and criticized the “overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges” surrounding it, and said that rhetoric has not “served the interests of the commission”; she further said that DOJ has given a “plausible argument” for not pursuing additional charges in the case;

 

Bush’s ATF Director Rebuffs Right Wing’s Fast And Furious Theory

For months, the right-wing media has been desperately trying to tie the ATF’s failed Fast and Furious operation to the upper reaches of the Justice Department and the White House, claiming that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder must have known the flawed techniques used by the ATF despite their denials.

The right-wing media claimed that the stimulus funded the operation; that wasn’t true. They claimed that Attorney General Holder “took credit” for Fast and Furious in a speech; that wasn’t true either. They’ve even claimed, absent any evidence whatsoever, that the Obama administration deliberately set up the operation to arm Mexican drug cartels in order to justify increased gun control.

But in an appearance today on Fox News, Michael Sullivan, acting director of the ATF under President Bush, pushed back against such claims, saying that Operation Fast and Furious was “well within the rights of the director [of ATF] to approve or reject,” and that he would be “surprised” to learn that “authorities outside the ATF” would have known the details of a specific firearms trafficking operation.

Wisconsin is a Reminder. Conservatives Are to Blame for Nation’s Financial Woes, Not Unions

The Tea Bagger Conservative Yo-Yo Trick

Wisconsin Governor Mohamed Hosni Mubarak Walker’s lies have been so blatant even the Rupert Murdock rag the WSJ had to report the truth, Biggest protests yet as pro-Walker side, larger union crowd meet peacefully

The protesters descended on Madison as Walker, through a spokesman, rejected an overture from a Democratic state senator who said public employee unions had agreed to make financial sacrifices contained in the bill in return for the right to bargain collectively.

[  ]…Walker’s office reacted in response to Erpenbach, who said he had been informed that state and local public employee unions had agreed to the financial aspects of the measure.

Erpenbach’s statement was backed by a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, who confirmed the agreement, and by Marty Beil, the head of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Erpenbach said the offer was “a legitimate and serious offer on the table from local, state and school public employees that balances Gov. Walker’s budget.”

“It would appear that Gov. Walker’s only target is the destruction of collective bargaining rights and not solving the state’s budget,” Erpenbach said.

Walker’s mission is to destroy collective bargaining. His stance and that of Wisconsin’s conservative legislators is not about balancing the budget. Collective bargaining is a fundamental right. It is labor using its first amendment rights to address grievances.

Tom Rynders, a Vietnam veteran in town to support Walker, was talking to a Journal Sentinel reporter when a union protester yelled at him, “This is about losing our rights as citizens.” Replied Rynders, “I have rights, too.”

What rights does Mr. Rynders think he is losing. The right to take away the fundamental rights of others. Unions are willing to make concessions on the dollars end of the debate. Better to take home a few dollars less in hard economic times than none at all. Unions are not monoliths who are always opposed to adjusting to the reality of economics. What Rynder and Walker want is 100% of what they want even if that means they are using big gov’mint to ride over the rights of average working people. Where is the consistency when Walker and his supporters are not protesting that those bargaining rights, which have been left in place for the state police and firefighters. The Right seems to think basic rights are like fairy dust to be sprinkled where and when they want them. Hosni Mubarak is out of a job now, maybe Walker and his supporters should give him a call and start their own country. One ruled with an iron fist and a minimum amount of rights. More confirmation Walker is waging a war on unions and teachers in particulr, Day 5 Brings 70,000-Plus to Madison to Protect Workers’ Rights

Also Walker rejected an offer from the unions to accept economic concessions if the near total ban on collective bargaining was removed from the so-called “budget repair” bill.   State Sen. Jon Erpenbach told reporters

It would appear that Gov. Walker’s only target is the destruction of collective bargaining rights and not solving the state’s budget.

This is the guy the tea smokers see as their newest patron saint, Scott Walker Padded Salary Increases for Cronies During Budgetary Distress: 24% Salary Increase for Aide with 2 Public Pensions

Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin who is spearheading the GOP effort to crush collective bargaining, lavished relatively large salary increases on his staff when he was chief executive of the Milwaukee County Board. Walker surreptitiously did this in 2008 – without the approval of the county board itself and at a time that the county was facing a fiscal deficit, and Walker was about to lay off a large number of union workers. In addition, 700 county positions had already been left vacant due to budgetary pressures.

According to a 2008 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (MJS) article,which exposed Walker’s illicit personal staff raises, one aide was to achieve a 26% increase – solely initiated and approved by Walker – even though the staffer, Tom Nardelli, was to receive tax-payer funded pensions that would exceed $35,700 a year. A member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors called Nardelli’s salary increase “obscene,” according the MJS.

Walker, like many of the mid-term gubernatorial candidates ( Rick Scott in Florida – who has already lost 42,000 jobs for Florida))  promised jobs. Voters in Wisconsin should have read the fine print,

The Department of Health Services last month signed a new contract with Deloitte Consulting for more maintenance and enhancement of the information system for SeniorCare and other income maintenance programs.

According to the public inspection copy of Deloitte’s technical proposal, the new, eight-year contract (known as CARES) increases the hourly billing rate from $92 to $104 and increases the fixed facilities rate from $1,320,000 to $2,040,000 a year. When multiplied by the 300,000 billable hours that DHS estimates will be available, this contract’s total annual cost is tens of millions of dollars.

DHS could scale back this contract by hiring information technology professionals and doing much of this work in-house for less money. That’s what the Department of Workforce Development did several years ago when they took over maintenance of the portions of the CARES system which deal with the W-2 and Child Care programs.

Why is DHS preparing to spend over $30 million a year on one information system when times are so tough? It won’t create jobs for Wisconsin residents since most of Deloitte’s workforce is subcontracted from India.

Ezra Klein runs the numbers. Only right-wing conservative math could make Walker’s agenda make sense, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak Walker is to blame for Wisconsin’s budget, not unions

Let’s be clear: Whatever fiscal problems Wisconsin is — or is not — facing at the moment, they’re not caused by labor unions. That’s also true for New Jersey, for Ohio and for the other states. There was no sharp rise in collective bargaining in 2006 and 2007, no major reforms of the country’s labor laws, no dramatic change in how unions organize. And yet, state budgets collapsed. Revenues plummeted. Taxes had to go up, and spending had to go down, all across the country.

Blame the banks. Blame global capital flows. Blame lax regulation of Wall Street. Blame home buyers, or home sellers. But don’t blame the unions. Not for this recession.

Of course, the fact that public-employee pensions didn’t cause a meltdown at Lehman Brothers doesn’t mean they’re not stressing state budgets, and that the pensions they’ve been promised don’t exceed what state budgets seem able to bear. But the buildup of global capital that overheated the American housing sector and got packaged into seemingly riskless financial products that then brought down Wall Street, paralyzing the economy, throwing millions out of work, and destroying the revenues from state income and sales taxes even as state residents needed more social services? The answer to that is not to end collective bargaining for (some) public employees. A plus B plus C does not equal what Gov. Scott Walker is attempting in Wisconsin.

* The budget report is working with two-time periods simultaneously: 2010-2011, and then 2011-13. The $130 million deficit now projected for 2011 isn’t the fault of the tax breaks passed during Walker’s special session, though his special session created about $120 million in deficit spending between 2011 and 2013 — and perhaps more than that, if his policies are extended. That is to say, the deficit spending he created in his special session is about equal to the deficit Wisconsin faces this year, but it’s not technically correct to say that Walker created 2011’s deficit. Rather, he added $120 million to the 2011-2013 deficits, and perhaps more in the years after that.

And to get even more specific: Walker giveaways on entering office,

* $25 million for an economic development fund for job creation, which still holds $73 million because of anemic job growth.

* $48 million for private health savings accounts — a perennial Republican favorite.

* $67 million for a tax incentive plan that benefits employers, but at levels too low to spur hiring.

In essence, public workers are being asked to pick up the tab for this agenda.

If tax cuts and deregulation were the secret ingredient to creating jobs, where are they. Taxes are lower than ever. The Zero-Sum Game: States Cannot Stimulate Their Economies by Cutting Taxes

Though Arizona is facing a large deficit for fiscal year 2011 (equivalent to 25 percent of the budget) and is considering huge budget cuts, in January the state House approved a proposal to cut both the corporate and individual income tax rates as well as the business property tax. Similarly, governors in Delaware, Florida, South Carolina, and Rhode Island have proposed corporate income tax cuts as stimulus.

Such proposals are highly unlikely to work. When a state cuts a general tax such as the corporate or individual income tax, the impact on the state economy depends on what the business or the individual does with the money freed up by the tax cut.

* If a tax cut to a corporation increases its profits, it may distribute those profits as dividends to shareholders who live throughout the country; those funds will not necessarily create additional in-state demand.
* A corporation will not necessarily use the funds provided by the tax cut to make additional investments in the state in the short term. If there isn’t additional demand for a business’s good or service, the firm might keep the funds in reserve until demand picks up at a later time — by which time it would not need any government inducement to expand.
* If a tax cut goes to a higher-income person, that person might save most of those extra dollars — invest them in the stock market, for example — so the tax cut would create little or no additional demand within the state.

Moreover, broad-based tax cuts in these circumstances can inflict damage on public investments seen by many economists as key avenues for both short- and long-term economic development — including education, infrastructure, and other public investments. For example, Timothy Bartik, a widely respected economist at the W.E.Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, has proposed eight policies that would be especially cost-effective in promoting Michigan’s economic development. Six of them would institute or expand public spending for job training, apprenticeships, or general education. Bartik specifically cites Michigan’s budget gap as a threat to the state’s economic progress. Rather than advocating tax cuts, he recommends broadening of the state’s major tax bases and increasing the progressivity of its income tax, so that the government will be able to fund these programs

[  ]…# Many businesses wouldn’t benefit from the credit because they have no taxable profits due to the recession. Businesses that have experienced losses over the past couple of years in the recession are unlikely to have any state tax liability next year or for the next few years, because those losses can be carried forward to eliminate or reduce taxes once the company again becomes profitable. A company in that situation would not get any immediate benefit from a job-creation tax credit (unless it is refundable). While the company may be able to carry the credit forward to a future year, an unusable credit would not be much of an incentive to hire new employees now, when a stimulus is needed.
# Even for profitable firms, the value of the credit is less than it appears because state taxes are deductible for federal tax purposes. Thus, a company that pays less state tax will pay more federal tax. The state loses the total amount of the revenue, but the value of the credit is shared between the firm and the federal government. This makes a modest-sized credit even less likely to call forth additional job creation. It also increases the likelihood that most of the state revenue loss would subsidize jobs that would have been created anyway.

Conservative policies drove record deficits

As with the anti-Affordable care Act protests, the anti-worker tea baggers in Wisconsin are not acting purely out of some grassroots populist impulse, Koch Brothers Behind Wisconsin Effort To Kill Public Unions

What’s more, the plan to kill the unions is right out of the Koch Brothers play book.

Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado;

Via Mother Jones

If you are reluctant to believe that this is a coordinated attack, consider this-

This afternoon, Marty Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin Public Workers Union, sent a message to the Governor’s office agreeing to the cuts to pension & welfare benefits sought by Walker in his bill.  The governor’s response was “nothing doing.” He wants the whole kit and kaboodle – the end of the collective bargaining rights of the public unions.

Whether it is Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida or Arizona Across the it is minimum wage to middle-class Americans who have suffered the most from Wall St, the crony capitalism promoted by much of the Washington D.C. and front line Koch puppets such as Walker. Walker has a job, promoting the power of strongly centralized authoritarian state government apparently. While American workers have lost their jobs, their savings, often times their homes and dreams of a better future. While many of them are or have paid back the funds, those workers bailed out negligent bankers. The institutions that caused them so much suffering. Many of these corporations are reaping huge profits and handing out big bonuses, using tax loopholes, offshore tax shelters and are working behind the scenes to shift blame to unions, the working poor and the middle-class. Maybe because of the whole Fox News phenomenon, fake news and manufactured outrage, some of those working poor and middle-class are fighting to help corporations and politicians like Walker, make working class Americans even more powerless.

It’s Spreading – Labor in Ohio Protests Union Buster Bill

Just got a report from some of our folks on the ground in Columbus, Ohio, that more than 5,000 people—firefighters, teachers, small business leaders, community members and other public-service workers—filled the Statehouse again today to show their opposition to Senate Bill 5 that eliminates collective bargaining rights for all state workers, including faculty and staff at Ohio state colleges and universities.