Nov 17 2017

A Full Frontal Thanksgiving

Look, I’m not like that, honest. My eyes are up here, ask anybody.

On Taxes

Naked Ambition

Just a friendly reminder, it’s not Trumpism, it’s Republicanism.

Nov 17 2017

The Slow Death of Neoliberalism- Collected

I’m not apologizing for it, but by now I’d hope it would be obvious to regular readers that not every post represents 100% original content. The late, great Issac Asimov would often claim anthologies of others’ work that he edited as part of his Opera (that’s the correct plural of Opus in Latin, in English the more common term is Opuses) and he was right to do that. It’s a lot of damn work reading through enough material to gain a grasp of the existing literature and then select those pieces worthy of highlighting.

I like to think I’m drawing your attention to something you might otherwise not notice.

Anyway I’ve been aware of Ed Walker’s work on topics of a mostly Economic nature since he was masaccio (only the coolest writers use all lower case) over at Firedoglake and now he’s serially published what amounts to a non-Fiction book on the decline of Neoliberalism over at emptywheel, Marcy Wheeler’s place, with a supplement at Naked Capitalism where Lambert Strether and Yves Smith hang out.

I’ve been following this series since October but I’ve obviously missed a part or two (hey, what about busy is not understood?) and it’s reached it’s conclusion, so if you’re interested in leisurely read this weekend (or over Thanksgiving) you might take a look.

The Slow Death of Neoliberalism: Part 1

The questions I started with were 1. How did neoliberalism become the dominant discourse; 2. Was there an alternative; and 3. How can we move to some other form of discourse.

I started with the premise that the neoliberal project has two prongs, a theory of the person in society and an economic theory.

The person in society is as a rational actor whose only important role is to get a job producing stuff which provides money to buy stuff based solely on a rational calculation of utility. The work part doesn’t apply to people with money. They just rationally concentrate on getting more money. People with no money and no job are subject to discipline by the carceral state. It doesn’t matter why they don’t have jobs. No work, no money, no freedom.

The economic theory is based on neoclassical economics, with its roots in 19th Century morality and the idea that everything can be stated mathematically. The morality is Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianism, with a strong dose of Calvinism evidenced by the phrase “the lash of hunger”.

The Slow Death of Neoliberalism: Part 2

Economists created a group of sayings which they put in their introductory textbooks and teach as laws and principles to their students at all levels. For example, N. Gregory Mankiw, economics professor at Harvard, starts his introductory economics textbook Principles of Macroeconomics with a list of ten Principles he claims almost all economists agree are true. Any thoughtful person reading this list will see that these ten statements are either tautological (you can’t do two things at once) or are mere rules of thumb. The idea that you could build a positivist science on this foundation is absurd. But Mankiw disagrees, and so does everyone who took Econ 101 and stopped, and especially so do the elites from our top schools.

It’s not surprising, then, that this version of economics is failing. It cannot perform the basic goal of a scientific theory, making accurate predictions. Economic models have failed and will continue to fail to predict disasters; and there isn’t much hope that they will ever be able to predict anything of interest.

I’ll stop here to note that Mankiw is an ignorant hack and sold out opportunist and if you can’t be bothered to read a seminal work like John Maynard Keynes’ General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money at least get yourself a good textbook like Nordhaus and Samuelson’s Economics.

The Slow Death of Neoliberalism: Part 3 The Phillips Curve and Critical Theory

For many economists, the Phillips Curve is structural. But why would you think so? It seems more likely that the relationship holds in a certain set of social conditions, including legislation and regulation, power conditions, and people’s attitudes. A logical use of the data is to work out the conditions that must exist to make it so. That’s how Piketty approaches his inequality data.

It’s a mistake to use a coincidence to predict the future. It seems to be a particular problem in economics. Even people who seem to know better continue to believe in the Phillips Curve.

This part is a little wonky and contains what passes for Math in Economics, equal parts of substituting symbols for assumptions and rattle shaking Shamanism fitted around a carefully curated data set designed to prove the formula instead of reflect reality, which is too noisy for our dignified academic tastes.

The next piece, designated 3A by Ed Walker, covers much of the same ground but is more accessible to non-Economists. It was published at Naked Capitalism.

The Rise and Fall of the Phillips Curve

The Phillips Curve says that there is an inverse relation between unemployment and inflation. Low unemployment is correlated with a rise in inflation. It’s an article of faith to economists of all stripes. It’s listed in the popular introductory economics textbook by N. Gregory Mankiw as one of the Ten Things All Economists agree on. It’s especially loved by the Fed, which raises or lowers interest rates depending in part on its predictions. Its critics point out that its predictions are poor.

In this post, I discuss the derivation of the Phillips Curve, its adaption by Samuleson and Solow to manage the economy, its breakdown in the 1970s, exploitation by neoliberals of that breakdown to replace Keynesian demand-based economics with monetarism and supply-side economics, its rejuvenation, and the evidence that it doesn’t make accurate predictions.

I conclude with some observations based on an important paper by Simcha Barkai that challenges the core beliefs of neoliberalism. It suggests we can raise wages substantially without causing inflation by lowering corporate profits.

Still has some of that Voodoo Math though, but it’s easier to identify as crap.

Now, all of that is what I call above “gain(ing) a grasp of the existing literature” and in academia “review of existing literature” (it’s an important part of every paper, it proves you’ve read your opponent before you rip them to shreds). Now we get to answering our three questions.

The Slow Death of Neoliberalism: Part 4A The Nature of the Person

In this post, I take up the nature of the person in neoliberal theory and neoliberal society. I begin by describing the nature of the person in theory, and then apply it to elites. In a separate post I will discuss the nature of the average person in neoliberal theory and society. Then I will try to put this in a general context, based on my initial readings on Critical Theory.

The Slow Death of Neoliberalism: Part 4B

The neoliberal theory of the person is the basis of the economics most of the elites learn as undergrads, and in business schools. Lawyers are taught neoliberal principles in anti-trust classes and in the jurisprudential aspects of other courses, through the impact of the law and economics movement. When elites get jobs in business or law or government, they are surrounded by others who are deeply enmeshed in neoliberalism, even if they can’t name it. They believe that the market, whatever that is, is a wonderful, if occasionally erratic, judge of worth. They earn what they make because the market rewards the productive, and everyone finds their level in that system of rewards, based on their personal merit and their productivity. As they rise in pay and prestige, that opinion is cemented. It’s like Calvinism, with the market substituted for the Almighty. And if the market rewards the productive and dumps on the “non-productive”, then that is right and just.

The farther elites get from the productive work of businesses, the more they come to regard employees as cogs in a machine, not fully human, merely factors of production. The ease with which they fire people is the result of their belief that elites are productive and the rest tools. Lawyers and politicians may see their employees as humans, if weak versions, but the rest of the working world vanishes, except when needed. In brief, the elites operationalize Karl Polanyi’s concept of labor as a fictitious commodity.

And how does this work out for the lesser people? They are forced to live and work in the neoliberal world.


The Slow Death of Neoliberalism: Part 4C Conclusion

It’s fairly easy to criticize neoliberalism from the inside, just based on its incoherence and its failure to deliver good outcomes to most of us. The Barkai Paper discussed in parts 3 and 3A, and the Paradise Papers and the Panama Papers make it obvious that the benefits of neoliberalism flow to the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us, whose wages are largely stagnant and have been for decades, and whose share of overall wealth has fallen.

Neoliberalism can also be criticized from the outside as a form of capitalism, and that seems to me to be more revealing. The constricted logic of capitalism leads directly to domination by the few in business and society generally.

Somehow many people think billionaires as just like the rest of us. They aren’t, and the vulgar braggart in the White House is a perfect exemplar. But far too many of us are willing to accept rule by the rich. One of the central influences that led to this sorry situation is the Law and Economics movement, with its single-minded focus on economic efficiency. Economic efficiency: who could object that? Of course we should be efficient.

Once courts decided that the most important part of justice is insuring economic efficiency, they began to eat away at the laws and theories that enabled the majority to control the rich and powerful. Ideals like the importance of fairness, or social equality, or recognizing and correcting power imbalances through legislation, withered and vanished. Gradually we lost the ability to govern by majority rule. Our Supreme Court feels no compunction in overruling the will of the majority on health care, on voting rights, even on actual elections.

That is the result of the same kind of logic that drives capitalism, the logic of economic efficiency applied to every area of life. A somewhat simple idea that might be useful in limited settings becomes the overall mindset, the formula for decision-making that jumps from the tiny number of cases in which it might be a useful to the absurd idea that it works in every area of law.

Friedrich Pollock, a member of the Frankfurt School, said that the profit motive has always been a form of the power motive. It just gets dressed up in fancy reductive logic by the likes of Posner and Bork for public consumption. Regardless of their motives, they are no different from Frank Luntz, who uses the tools of rhetoric to hide the ugly transformations sought by the rich.

All these changes start small, and require something that seems like a justification, but eventually, it’s just the whim of the elites. That’s how Trump acts, and that’s how the more effective members of his cabinet and his other appointees act. Rex Tillerson is destroying our capacity to engage in diplomacy. Scott Pruitt is destroying our ability to protect ourselves from climate change and pollution. Jeff Sessions is wrecking the Justice Department. All this was foreshadowed by the destruction of the SEC under Shad.

When government is dismantled, how does a society work? The rich take over and run things according to their fancies.

That’s the logic of capitalism. Control the capitalists or they control you.

You can see why I like him.

Nov 17 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman: Everybody Hates the Trump Tax Plan

Looking at the reactions to Republican tax plans, I found myself remembering what people used to say about former Senator Phil Gramm, whose presidential ambitions never went anywhere but who did help cause the 2008 financial crisis: “Even his friends don’t like him.”

So it is with G.O.P. tax “reform,” especially the Senate version, which would raise taxes on most individuals, especially in the middle and working classes, and add around 13 million Americans to the ranks of the uninsured, all to pay for big cuts in corporate taxes. The general public strongly disapproves — by a 2-1 majority, according to Quinnipiac, although the majority would be even bigger if people really understood what’s going on. But surely at least C.E.O.s like the plan, right?

Actually, not so much. A few days ago Gary Cohn, Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, met with a group of top executives. They were asked to raise their hands if lower taxes would lead them to raise capital expenditures; only a handful did. “Why aren’t the other hands up?” asked Cohn, plaintively.

Timothy Egan: We’re With Stupid

It would be much easier to sleep at night if you could believe that we’re in such a mess of misinformation simply because Russian agents disseminated inflammatory posts that reached 126 million people on Facebook.

The Russians also uploaded a thousand videos to YouTube and published more than 130,000 messages on Twitter about last year’s election. As recent congressional hearings showed, the arteries of our democracy were clogged with toxins from a hostile foreign power.

But the problem is not the Russians — it’s us. We’re getting played because too many Americans are ill equipped to perform the basic functions of citizenship. If the point of the Russian campaign, aided domestically by right-wing media, was to get people to think there is no such thing as knowable truth, the bad guys have won.

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Nov 17 2017

The Breakfast Club (The Patriot’s Dream)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Wright brothers conduct the first successful manned, powered flight of the airplane. U.S. test-fires the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile; Simon Bolivar dies in Colombia; television’s Tiny Tim marries his fiancee, Miss Vicky.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

All that remains is the faces and the names of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Gordon Lightfoot/blockquote>

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Nov 16 2017


Being rich doesn’t necessarily make you very bright. It’s well known in the Art community that Donald Trump’s Renoir is a forgery, and not a particularly good one.

Some one, or some institution, has just paid $450 Million for a Leonardo da Vinci that is likely just as fake.

A ‘Leonardo’ sells for $450 million. But what did the buyer actually get?
By Philip Kennicott, Washington Post
November 16, 2017

Before the sale of a painting that some scholars and a very assertive auction house believe is by Leonardo da Vinci, the debate was all about authenticity. Was this painted panel, known as “Salvator Mundi,” or “Savior of the World,” an actual Leonardo?

It had been so aggressively cleaned and over-painted that it had long been assumed to be a copy of a Leonardo by another, far lesser-known artist. But after extensive restoration it looked sufficiently like a Leonardo that the auction house Christie’s secured a $100 million bid to begin Wednesday’s auction. In the end, it went for $450.3 million, the highest price ever paid at auction for a work of art.

So now the question is, will that astonishing amount of money banish doubts about its authenticity? Logically, one should say: Of course not. Although some serious scholars believe that the painting, which depicts Jesus holding a transparent crystal orb in his left hand, can be attributed to the Renaissance master, the restoration was so thoroughgoing that it might be safer to say: There is possibly some Leonardo in there.

I don’t think it’s the real deal at all and the reason is because the image in the orb does not reflect the laws of optics and Leonardo is as well known for his genius as a scientist and engineer as he is for his art. He knew it would appear upside down and reversed as well as anyone and paid a great deal of attention to such details in works of his with unquestioned provenance and authenticity. He was also a prideful guy and it’s doubtful he would allow such a glaring error to stand uncorrected. No amount of carbon dating and pigment analysis will convince me otherwise.

But that’s not my main point. I came across this interesting piece from Ian Welsh today that also notes the sale.

The “Missing” Inflation Shows Up As Hyper-Inflation
by Ian Welsh
2017 November 16

In things that rich people buy.

$450 million is damn near half a billion, the ability to blow that amount of money on a single painting is absolutely crazy, no matter who the painting is by. It could not have happened even 20 years ago, and did not happen even ten years ago.

The rich are floating on an ocean of money, and they have nothing to spend it on that really matters, so it’s going to 3rd homes, real-estate speculation and conspicuous luxury consumption (which is what this is.)

As an aside, one of the ways to deal with off-shore tax haven money is for the major economies to not allow it back into their countries without high taxation. It’s great that you have a few billion in an offshore haven, but you can’t spend it there. If you want to bring it back or use it as collateral then just make them pay taxes on it. 90% is a good rate.

What, they won’t bring it home at that level? Then fuck’em. You can’t buy anything that matters in most tax havens, and no one wants to live there. Let it rot, uselessly, there.

Throwing $1.5 Trillion at Plutocrats and Multinational Mega-Corporations is not going to do anything except produce hyperinflation in the luxury goods market.

CEOs raise doubts about Gary Cohn’s top argument for cutting the corporate tax rate right in front of him
by Tucker Higgins, CNBC
15 Nov 2017

(A)t a gathering of chief executives hosted yesterday by the Wall Street Journal, business leaders called into question one of Cohn’s top arguments for slashing the corporate tax rate to 20 percent.

When one of the Journal’s editors asked the crowd if they planned to up their capital expenditure if the GOP’s tax plan went through, only a smattering raised their hands.

“Why aren’t the other hands up?” Cohn asked.

There’s little evidence to support the claim that tax breaks boost employment numbers.

A National Bureau of Economic Research study published in 2014 found “little evidence that corporate tax cuts boost economic activity” unless implemented in a recession.

Far from being short on cash, corporations are sitting on record amounts.

Dean Baker suggests that if one wishes to tinker with Corporate Taxes then allow the Government to accept non-voting equity stakes and participate in all the dividends, buy backs, and sell outs.

I propose instead that Tax rates be set so high on financial transactions that in order to experience meaningful returns on capital, money must be invested in production. You should have to actually make something.

Nov 16 2017

The Russian Connection: A Clear Case of a Serious CRS

On Tuesday, once again Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions faced a congressional committee hearing to reconcile his previous statements about comments he has made regarding the investigation into the Russian interference into the 2016 election. And once again, he suffered from a sever case of “I can’t recall recall” which is also known as the “Can’t Remember Syndrome” (CRS) but in not PC circles means “Can’t Remember Shit”, and then accusing his inquisitors of lying about his lies.

I lost count of the number of times that Sessions said he couldn’t recall in some form or another. But Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) did the math. Over three committee hearings that AG Sessions testified before, including today, he couldn’t recall or remember in some form over 85 times. That didn’t include the number of times that Sessions had an attack of CRS in later questioning.

This 5 minutes made my day.

Limited to five minutes, Rep. Jeffries didn’t have time to give the rest of AG Sessions October 2016 interview with Lou Dobb’s that took place just before the vice presidential debates but Think Progress has it:

SESSIONS: Lou, that’s the way you lie. That’s the way people do it in court. I’ve seen it many, many times. Well, I don’t remember, but if. And she said 35 times before the FBI interview that she couldn’t remember? If you can remember and you don’t — if you say — and you say, I can’t remember, then that’s as false a perjurious statement as if you flat-out gave a false statement

Then Rep. Jeffries asked this: “Mr. Attorney General, do you still believe that the intentional failure to remember can and constitute a criminal act?”

“If it’s an act to deceive, yes,” Sessions acknowledged.

Also this quote from 1999 that Rep. Jeffries didn’t have time to quote:

About seven years ago when I was still the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, a case came before me. My own city of Mobile had as its chief of police a strong African-American who aggressively worked to reform the office, establish community-based policing, and work to create a new level of discipline. Opposition grew and lawsuits were filed against him. A young police officer, who had been the Chief’s driver, testified in a deposition in a federal lawsuit against the Chief. He stated that the chief of police had ordered him to ‘‘bug’’ the patrol cars of other police officers and that he had a secret tape recording giving him this illegal order to commit a crime. The deposition was released quickly to the newspapers. The city council, police department, and the people were in an uproar. Under careful questioning by an experienced FBI agent, the young officer admitted that he had lied in the deposition regarding the tape recording.

As United States Attorney, it was my decision whether the officer would be prosecuted for his perjury. His counsel argued that he was young, that he did lie but had corrected his false testimony at a later time. He argued that we should decline to prosecute. After reflection and review, I concluded that a sworn police officer who had told a plain lie under oath, even a young officer, should be prosecuted in order to preserve the rule of law and the integrity of the system. Our office prosecuted that case. The officer was convicted, and that conviction was later affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. For me personally, I have concluded that I cannot hold a young police officer to a different and higher standard than the President of the United States.

Rep. Jeffries concluded his time saying this, “The attorney general of the United States of America should not be held to a different standard than the young police officer whose life you ruined by prosecuting him for perjury.”

Nailed him. I am in love with Hakeem Jeffries and proud to call him a fellow New Yorker.

Senator Al Frankin (D-MN) had it right, AG sessions either has a terrible memory or he is just not telling the truth.

Nov 16 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Charles M. Blow: Moore, Trump and the Right’s New Religion

I have lived my whole life with a Republican Party with which I disagreed, but at least understood.

The first election I can remember was the presidential election of 1980. I was 10 years old. I didn’t know much about politics or party platforms. I only knew that the former peanut-farmer president, Jimmy Carter, was running against a former actor, Ronald Reagan.

But it was in that election that Jerry Falwell and his Moral Majority reintroduced religious activism into American politics. Speaking at a Dallas convention of Christian fundamentalists, Falwell proclaimed: “During the 1980s, preachers, we have a threefold primary responsibility. No. 1: Get people saved. No. 2: Get them baptized. No. 3: Get them registered to vote.”

The religious activism was in many ways a direct response to the strides made in the 1960s and 1970s on racial equality, women’s rights and gay rights.

In a way, their driving motivation was to make religious law into American law, really not so unlike the Shariah law they so fear and despise.

Eugene Robinson: Republicans: Enrage your colleagues

The GOP bill that should be called the Cut Taxes on President Trump and Other Very Rich People Act of 2017 always had a secondary purpose: to jack up the deficit so Republicans could later cry out in horror, “Look at that awful debt!” They would then use the pools of red ink they created to justify deep cuts in social programs.

But people who call themselves conservative are shoveling out so much money so fast to corporations and the privileged that they needed some health-care cuts upfront — at the expense of coverage for millions of our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

And so on Tuesday, the Senate majority took an appalling bill and made it even more atrocious. To their ungainly concoction of tax breaks for the various interests that support them, they added the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, scrapping the mandate would reduce the number of Americans with health insurance by 13 million over a decade. To which the champions of redistributing money to the boardrooms and the yacht clubs say: Oh, goody!

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Nov 16 2017

The Breakfast Club (Don Quixote)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Dr. Sam Sheppard acquitted of murder in new trial; U.S. and U.S.S.R. form diplomatic ties; Second anthrax letter found sent to Capitol Hill; Actor William Holden dies; ‘Sound of Music’ hits Broadway.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.

Paul Valery

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Nov 15 2017

More Stupid Tax Tricks

You know, I bang my head on the desk trying to come up with an incredibly lucid explanation of some obscure point and then someone like Paul Waldman does it better in fewer words-

(T)he CBO also says that repealing the mandate will result in 13 million fewer Americans with health insurance — hence those savings, which won’t be spent on expanded coverage — and increases in premiums of an additional 10 percent a year. Some people won’t realize that they’re eligible for free or heavily subsidized insurance and, without the mandate to prod them, won’t get it, and as young and healthy people pull out of the market, the remaining pool will be older and sicker, leading to premium spikes, the exit of insurers from the market, and a potential “death spiral.”

Sigh, that’s ok, there are other important things in this piece.

The GOP tax plan will be a massive political nightmare for Republicans
By Paul Waldman, Washington Post
November 15, 2017

The Republicans’ theory about their tax-cut bill goes like this. We absolutely have to pass it, or else our base will be disgusted and our donors will abandon us. The substance doesn’t matter — we’ll get it past complex Senate rules, and even if some provisions look troubling, after it passes we can have a triumphal Rose Garden ceremony and proclaim we’ve delivered prosperity for all. In coming months and years, people won’t remember the details, as long as we keep saying “We cut taxes” over and over again.

That theory is going to be put to the test, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be proven wrong. That’s because this bill won’t just fail to deliver on its promise of riches trickling down to everyone; it’s actually going to be a disaster for millions of Americans. And there’s not going to be any doubt about who inflicted it on them.

But that’s just one element of this tax cut that is going to be incredibly unpopular. Remember that point about not being able to increase the deficit at all after 10 years? Because they want to make the corporate tax cut permanent — since it’s the real centerpiece of this whole effort.

In other words, if you happen to be one of the lucky people who come out ahead at first with all the complex changes to the tax code this bill makes, in 2026 your taxes will go up. It’s just getting better and better, isn’t it?

At this point there’s a handy review of all the ways the Cut Cut Cut Bill is going to screw taxpayers so you might want to bookmark it for future use. He continues-

If you had to sum it up simply — for instance, if you were writing a Democratic attack ad in the 2018 election — you could say that Republicans are raising taxes on millions of Americans and taking away health insurance from millions more, all to pay for a huge giveaway to corporations.

Of course, Republicans argue that giving corporations a tax cut will make us all enormously richer. This claim is laughable, since corporations are already earning near-record profits and unemployment is low; it’s not as though they’re starving for cash and once they get this tax cut they’ll rush to invest, create jobs and raise wages.

If we’re considering the politics of this bill, it’s also important to understand that very few people buy the Republican argument. In fact, most Americans think corporate taxes should be raised, not lowered. So not only are the details politically damaging, but also the core of the bill is something the public doesn’t want.

None of this means the bill won’t pass. Republicans have convinced themselves that no matter how bad the bill is, not passing anything is worse, so the chances that they’ll allow it to fail are small. But when that day comes, Democrats will know that Republicans just gave them yet another powerful issue to run on in 2018. Expect to hear them say, “Republicans have had complete control of Washington for the past two years — and all they did was raise your taxes and yank millions from health coverage so they could lard another giveaway on corporations.” Something tells me that might be a pretty effective message.

Republicans, not just racists, bigots, xenophobes, and misogynists.

Also thieves.

Nov 15 2017

About that $300 Billion “Savings” from repealing the Individual Mandate

If you’re like me you’ve heard on the Cable TV and in the newspapers that repealing the Obamacare Individual Mandate will save $300 Billion and asked yourself, how does that work exactly?

Should you find a semi-reputable source, like say The New York Times for instance, you’ll find a paragraph similar to this-

If it becomes law, the repeal would save more than $300 billion over a decade but result in 13 million fewer Americans being covered by health insurance by the end of that period, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Republicans said on Tuesday that they would use the savings — which stem from reduced government spending to subsidize health coverage — to pay for an expansion of the middle-class tax cuts that lawmakers had proposed.

Well, that is kind of ok I guess. You have the fact that it will “result in 13 million fewer Americans being covered by health insurance”, you have “which stem from reduced government spending to subsidize health coverage”, alright.

Then you also have the flat out lie (presented as neutral fact) that these are “middle-class tax cuts” (you know, Krugman publishes in your own damn paper moron and he has a Nobel Prize in Economics, try reading it sometime) which counts against but that’s not my main point.

My main point is this- what connects the two? How do you get $300 Billion in savings from simply removing the penalties for not having health insurance?

The answer is that without the mandate young, healthy, idiots invulnerables will leave the market.

That will make the pool (everybody else) sicker and older which will raise premiums (hey, insurance companies don’t do it for charity you know) and drive even more people to not have insurance because they can’t afford it. It is because less people will be insured therefore reducing the Government subsidy that money will be saved.

The solution to all of this is to raise taxes on everybody, eliminate Health Insurance Companies (filthy leeches the lot of them) and their premiums, and institute a Single Payer System that can reduce Health Care costs by negotiating directly with providers and reduce their profits to close to what the rest of the civilized world pays.

Not surprisingly-

In a letter on Tuesday, groups representing doctors, hospitals and insurers urged congressional leaders to keep the individual mandate in place. The groups, which included the American Medical Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, wrote that “eliminating the individual mandate by itself likely will result in a significant increase in premiums, which would in turn substantially increase the number of uninsured Americans.”

We have to keep our phony baloney jobs!

To be protected from a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, the tax bill can add no more than $1.5 trillion to federal budget deficits over a decade, and it cannot add to the deficit after a decade. Eliminating the mandate starting in 2019 would reduce federal budget deficits by a total of $338 billion by 2027, the Congressional Budget Office said last week.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the Republican leadership who also serves on the Finance Committee, said the savings from repealing the mandate would be “distributed in the form of middle-income tax relief.”

Mr. Thune said he was confident that the tax plan, with the mandate repeal as part of it, could pass the Senate.

But not all senators were as sanguine about its passage and Republicans will need to carefully calibrate votes, given that they hold a narrow 52-seat majority in the Senate.

“I personally think that it complicates tax reform,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine.

There’s that lie about “middle-income tax relief” again but fortunately Sue Collins does not appear to be deceived. Even if it did deliver the expected $500, how long do you think that would take to be eaten up by your 10% premium increase? Months?

This is simply a vehicle to give $1.5 Trillion to Multi-National Mega Corporations and the wealthiest 1% Plutocrats (who control a full 50% of the world’s wealth by the way) while picking your pockets to service their illusionary deficit and debt fetish.

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