Nel's New Day

November 3, 2019

DDT Owns This Economy

Once again, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) got his way with the Federal Reserve: it dropped interest rates by another quarter point at a time when the economy is supposedly strong. The reduction of the interest rate by three-fourths of a percent in just three months at a time when the country is not in an economic crisis is not only almost unheard of but also a source of more disaster. Interest rates are lowered to fight a recession, and the United States has lost the ability to do that by dropping the rates.

The good news, other than a rising stock market, is unemployment at a half-century low and inflation at its two-percent target. The bad news is the trade wars causing stock market volatility, investment insecurity, farm losses, shrinking manufacturing jobs, and rising consumer prices as well as slowing global economy. Spending on both structures and equipment was deeply negative from July through September, Commerce reported, and manufacturing is currently in a technical recession, at its lowest since the 2007-2009 recession. 

Eleven years ago, the Fed rate was .25 percent, and the cheap money promoted a borrowing frenzy. By now U.S. companies have borrowed $15.5 trillion, two thirds of the U.S. GDP, and used the money to increase stock prices, buybacks, and acquisitions. Any rise in interest rates will cause a financial crisis, similar to that 11 years ago. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), half of corporate debt outside small businesses is high risk or junk rated with a higher chance of default than investment grade debt. Even worse, $660 billion of leveraged debt is in collateralized loan obligations sold to investors and financial situations, threatening a rise in delinquencies and defaults. Selling this debt will accelerate a downward spiral.

The Fed’s meeting this past week, the second in three weeks, was to address the repo (repurchase agreement operations) market’s problems. In the repo market, banks, funds, and other large companies borrow money for a day and use short-term government bonds as collateral: Fed plan to buy $60 billion a month of these bonds through April 2020. After the last recession, the Fed bought long-term bonds and mortgage-backed bonds to prevent a worse economic collapse. The current repos are intended to make it appear that banks are complying with regulations.

Signs of the U.S. weakening economy:

U.S. business hiring has fallen to a seven-year low, and employer are not increasing wages because of slower growth of sales and profits. 

Consumer confidence in the United States has declined for three months in a row. 

Defaults on “subprime” auto loans are at the fastest pace since 2008. 

The percentage of “subprime” auto loans at least 60 days delinquent is now higher than at any time during the last recession. 

Retail vacancies at U.S. shopping malls are at the highest level since the last recession, up to almost ten percent. 

The Cass Freight Index has fallen for ten straight months

U.S. rail carload volumes are at the lowest level in three years

September orders for Class 8 heavy duty trucks were down 71 percent.  

September home sales in the United States declined by another 2.2 percent

New home prices have fallen to the lowest level in almost three years and the same median price as in 2014. 

Forty-four percent of people in the U.S. report that they don’t make enough money to cover their monthly expenses

In a recent survey, over two-thirds of all U.S. households, 69 percent, are taking steps to prepare for a recession. Recession fears can cause consumers to spend less, which can exacerbate the possibility of a recession.

September was the worst month for U.S. manufacturing in a decade as manufacturers laid off employees, and October was even worse.

 In September, 4,200 truck drivers lost their jobs after 5,100 were dropped in August while hundreds of trucking companies are going bankrupt.

Other figures from last spring that haven’t improved include continuing jobless claims at the fastest pace in ten years, retail layoffs at 92 percent higher than the year before, and economic numbers are at the worst start since 2008.  

More problems with the economy from Robert Reich:

Wages are still almost static with only $2,000 more than in 1979—even after DDT promised everyone $4,000 in tax cuts last year.

The low unemployment rate comes from people giving up searches for jobs; the labor-force participation rate is the lowest since the late 1970s.

Almost 4 million people are stuck in part-time jobs and can’t find full-time jobs. Their lack of rights and benefits adds to increased economic insecurity.  

More college graduates are overqualified for their current jobs with ten percent underemployed, much higher than 20 years ago, while college costs have skyrocketed and left students in massive debt.

Health care increases with average family premiums up 55 percent since 2008, three times more than inflation. Prescription drug prices went up 11 percent in the first half of 2019.

Almost 39 million American households pay more than they can afford on housing, and over 25 percent of the renters spend over half their income on housing.  

Consumer debt, excluding mortgages, has climbed to $4 trillion, the highest ever even after adjusting for inflation.

With the DDT-GOP tax cut, 83 percent of the gains go to the wealthiest one percent of people in the U.S.

The bottom half of all U.S. households, as measured by wealth, still have 32 percent less wealth, adjusted for inflation, than in 2003, and the top one percent has more than twice as much.

The federal government is also permitting the expansion of risky mortgages. The almost $7 trillion in mortgage-related debt by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHA is one-third more than before the housing crisis over a decade ago, and a large increase in loan defaults can cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. A growing number of homeowners face debt payments almost half their monthly income, and about 30 percent of Fannie Mae guaranteed loans last year were higher than this level, up 14 percent from 2016. At 57-percent loans over the high-risk level, FHA is up in this category by 38 percent from two years ago.  Two Freddie Mac officials said that they had been pushed into loans with a higher risk of default. DDT’s officials are trying to privatize Fannie and Freddie which can disrupt the housing market and make buying homes more expensive. At this time, most of the loans are packaged into securities and sold to investors. In 2017, FHA guaranteed 10.9 percent of all single-family mortgage debt, more than half to borrowers with extremely high levels of debt and over triple the rate ten years earlier at the beginning of the recession. 

Another sign that the U.S. is moving toward a recession is the slow growth of the nation’s economy, 1.9 percent annualized pace in the most recent quarter and over one-third less than the 3 percent that DDT promised from his 2017 tax law. Consumer spending has continued, but business investment contracted for six straight months, falling 3 percent in the third quarter, the biggest drop since 2015. Spending on both structures and equipment was deeply negative from July through September, and manufacturing is currently in a technical recession. Economic uncertainty has led to this drop in investment.

DDT promised to erase the federal debt in eight years, but the 2019 fiscal year deficit hit $984 billion—just $16 billion short of $1 trillion, a 26-percent increase from the previous year and up 50 percent since he was inaugurated. The loss comes from DDT’s massive spending increases, especially for the military and a border wall, and tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. Bush’s bad policies, wars, and tax cuts led to a ballooning of the debt which President Obama curbed before DDT’s election. DDT’s shortfall is the same as for 2012 when unemployment was twice the current rate and the economy was coming out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression over 80 years ago. 

The debt-to-GDP ratio of 105 percent for the last quarter, up from last year and the first year to be this high since 1945, the end of World War II. That figure comes from the $22.719 trillion U.S. debt as of September 30, 2019 divided by the $21.526 trillion nominal GDP. The World Bank states that any debt greater than 77 percent is past the “tipping point,” when it can’t be repaid. DDT promised to cut the debt, but instead of vastly increased it by giving trillions of dollars to the wealthy and corporations. With these disasters, DDT plans another tax cut to enhance his reelection campaign.

DDT plans to use this economy for his reelection campaigning.

September 23, 2019

Chaos from Israel, Iran

Last week, I was biting my fingernails until I heard the results of Tuesday’s Israeli election to see if the corrupt far-right, ultra-Orthodox prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu would lose his power over the country. If he does, that’s the third country moving from far-right positions.

Italy was the first to go in the past few months when it ousted far-right Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini with a coalition between the pro-European Democratic Party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. Salvini failed to take over for Giuseppe Conte, the independent prime minister who resigned. The interior ministry will be run by migration specialist Luciana Lamorgese who wants to solve the humanitarian crisis caused for the former government. The new coalition is fragile, but it’s a start.

The UK parliament turned against new far-right prime minister, Boris Johnson, who failed to get enough votes for his position to walk out on the European Union with no deal in place. A Supreme Court decision this week will help determine UK’s direction about Brexit. The background is here. 

Almost a week after Israel’s election, a leader still hasn’t been finalized, and Netanyahu failed to coalesce rival rightwing parties the second election within six months. Instead of voting for a person, Israel votes for parties that then select a prime minister. As of yesterday, Netanyahu was behind a coalition supporting Benny Gantz because most of the Arab Palestinians, one-fifth of Israel’s citizens and 13 votes in parliament, picked Gantz as the lesser of two evils. President Reuven Rivlin will select the new prime minister.

Rivlin attempted to unify the government by calling Gantz and Netanyahu to a meeting lasting almost two hours. The two opponents will meet again tomorrow. For Arabs, supporting Ganz has been difficult because he led Israeli forces to devastate large parts of the Palestinian enclave and kill 2,000 people, mostly civilians. Three Arab parliamentarians called him a “war criminal” and backed out of his support, but for the remainder Netanyahu is a worse choice. Rivlin’s choice at forming a government has 28 days plus a 14-day extension to get coalition agreements. Failure means another 28 days before the parliament members recommend a third potential candidate with a majority vote who has 14 days to form a government.

Arabs have good reason to reject Netanyahu. Last summer, he declared that they were to officially be second-class citizens when he said, “According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people—and only it.” In his reelection campaign, Netanyahu promised to illegally annex parts of the West Bank belonging to Jordan before he presents a “peace plan.”. He also posted a huge gold “Trump Heights” sign in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights that belongs to Syria. On his official FB chatbot, suspended as a “violation of hate,” Netanyahu posted that Arab politicians “want to annihilate us all.”

Netanyahu is desperate for a win; otherwise he faces prosecution in three criminal cases involving fraud, bribery and breach of trust. He conspired to curb the circulation of a daily newspaper owned by supporter Sheldon Adelson for better coverage in Yediot Ahronot, a rival paper critical of Netanyahu. In another accusation, Netanyahu, fixed the regulation of huge telecom Bezeq to get favors from Walla, a news website owned by Bezeq’s then-majority shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, who also faces charges. Elovitch told Walla to go easy on Netanyahu and his wife Sara to get a merger that raised antitrust concerns. These are details of Netanyahu’s involvement in these issues.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has provided the script for Netanyahu’s rhetoric. Corruption charges are a “witch hunt” in the “leftist media,” and Netanyahu calls himself “the most maligned person in the history of Israeli media.” On a billboard of critical journalists’ images, he posted, “They will not decide. You decide.” He has interviews only on one far-right outlet, and communicates through social media. He called for a boycott of a network and accused those involved in the network of “a terror attack against democracy.”

After Netanyahu appeared to lose the election, Israel’s stock markets rose in celebration. Netanyahu canceled his meeting with DDT and his speech at the UN this week, not appearing at its main debate for only the second time in ten years. DDT is also distancing himself from his former BFF saying, “Our relationship is with the state of Israel.”

Israel is privy to U.S. classified information through cellphone surveillance devices placed by the country’s agents near White House “sensitive locations” to spy on DDT, his top aides, and his closest associates. DDT, who called for a congressional investigation into President Obama’s non-existent surveillance of him, didn’t indicate any distress about Israel’s real surveillance.

Another country is causing ulcers as the world waits to see what will happen with Iran. Since drones from an unspecified location by an unspecified group hit Saudi Arabian oil fields on September 13, the U.S. has consistently said that Iran is responsible for the attack claimed by the Yemeni Houthis. Countries such as Japan disagree, and even Saudi Arabia has not identified the location where the attacking drones was launched. DDT claims he waits for direction from the Saudi, following orders from the country that tortured and dismembered a U.S. journalist instead of the constitutional requirement that Congress is in control of declaring war. DDT says that the U.S. doesn’t need Saudi oil but wants to “help our allies,” a turnaround from five years ago when he said that the Saudis “should fight their own wars.”

Whether DDT will talk to Iran or bomb them depends on the hour, but he increased sanctions twice since the attack, including on Iran’s central bank.  His attitude reflects how much money he can get from them for his personal business.

A basis for DDT’s decision about attacks on Iran is most likely the price of crude oil. When he made war noises, the price per barrel went up almost 40 percent, only to come back down when he calmed down. Global markets set oil prices, and an invasion in the Middle East could double prices as it did when the U.S. dived into the Iraq-Kuwait conflict. In 1973, prices quadrupled after OPEC declared an oil embargo because of U.S. support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War. DDT’s 2020 campaign could be damaged by increases in oil prices, a war that no one wants, and the fear of a recession, already on the horizon. Six of the last eight recessions came after a spike in oil prices, including the most recent one in 2007.  High oil prices cause inflation and hurt economic growth, directly affect prices for goods made with oil and indirectly affecting costs from transportation and heating for consumers. Other goods are sold because people have a finite amount of money.

Whether DDT will talk to Iran or bomb them depends on the hour, but he increased sanctions twice since the attack, including on Iran’s central bank. His attitude reflects how much money he can get from them for his personal business. He claims that the U.S. needs the Saudis to bring them job, and every time he talks about the opportunities he adds thousands to his mythical number. What he really wants, however, is money in his own pocket from the Saudis pouring cash into DDT’s U.S. hotels and Scottish resort. His big problem is that hawks and hardliners want war, and he’s already bombed Yemen to please Saudi Arabia, contributing to a horrific humanitarian crisis with 3.3 million of Yemenis displaced and another 14 million desperately needing food, medicine, etc.

DDT may find little foreign support for a war against Iran. The United Arab Emirates has already backed off the Saudis’ war in Yemen, the Egyptian president faces new protests against his faltering economy and repression, and Israel has no leader. Even the Saudis are lukewarm about a fight with the Iranians. DDT has proved himself to be an on-again-off-again follower of the last person he talks to, well demonstrated when he called off a strike against Iran last June just ten minutes—according to him—before the final order without talking to his advisers.

Iran wants new talks on the nuclear agreement, and DDT refuses to negotiate. Talks also can’t resume while the U.S. has crippling sanctions on Iran, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani wants to block DDT from sending more U.S. troops into the Gulf. DDT has isolated the U.S., and other countries such as China are moving in to take advantage of Iranian resources. Tomorrow, he plans to give a speech at the UN to get support against Iran, and leaders of three EU countries—France, Germany, and UK—now say that Iran was responsible for the attack. Yet DDT’s disregard for global involvement does not bode well in an organization where people are more interested in diplomacy and denuclearization instead of buffoonery.

September 21, 2019

Pieces from DDT’s 139th Week

The media has been consumed for the past week about a potential exchange from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) of $250 military aid to Ukraine for an investigation into DDT’s possible opponent Joe Biden and the Middle East tension from attacks by unknown enemies on the Saudi Arabian oil fields. That wasn’t all.

DDT found a white man to sit around and watch him work, his criteria for a new national security adviser. According to the NYT, Robert O’Brien is known as “an affable, ingratiating personality that has earned him allies throughout the Trump administration, notably including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, both of whom supported his appointment.” NYT also described him as a pleasant John Bolton, because O’Brien’s similar ideology to his predecessor. Like many other people who DDT hires, he has few qualifications for the job other than his lavish praise for DDT. As “hostage negotiator,” O’Brien persuaded Sweden to release rapper A$AP Rocky from jail for a street brawl to improve DDT’s ratings among blacks. The former adviser for Mitt Romney, Scott Walker, and Ted Cruz—all losing their candidacies—now has the job to solve DDT-created disasters in Iran, China, North Korea, and Afghanistan. DDT clearly said that the new adviser won’t be making any decisions because DDT is in charge. Congress is considering a law requiring confirmation for this position that DDT can freely vacate and fill. Meanwhile Bolton is now speaking out against DDT’s policies.

This spring, DHS dumped a dozen high-level officials after he fired John Mitnick, the agency’s fifth general counsel. In his job, Mitnick supervised 2,500 lawyers at the agency, pushed back against policies putting the DHS in a legally dubious position, and stopped DDT from releasing migrants in sanctuary cities in retaliation for their laws.

Two vegan Democratic presidential candidates, Cory Booker and Tulsi Gabbard, are safe from DDT’s reduction of food safety inspectors in pork plants by 40 percent. USDA will use a small number of industry employees with no training for “inspection” and eliminate line speed limits, promoting less cleanliness in both prep and inspection. Peer reviews show that studies used as justification for faulty position that faster line speeds are safer, hidden from the public, are flawed, but the USDA moves ahead because of packing house requests despite 80,000 opposing comments from the public. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, published over a century ago, describes the unsanitary conditions then and perhaps now. USDA’s IG is investigating the faulty data, lack of transparencies, and other rule irregularities.

In an effort to politically influence the U.S. Supreme Court, 53 Republican Senators signed a letter declaring that Democrats pose “a direct, immediate threat to the independence of the judiciary.” The proposed case has already been settled after New York City repealed a NRA-opposed statute almost a decade ago, proving that the lawsuit is only political. Republicans are still not happy after confirming 150 ultra-conservative judges and two Supreme Court justices, one of the positions blocked for almost a year so that a Republican president could nominate one.

Another Republican action is endangering the lives of U.S. military members, according to the Pentagon. DDT’s moved $3.6 billion to build a border fence through the National Emergencies Act from the military budget designated to solve life-threatening situations such as asbestos in living quarters for troops and their families and storage facilities for ammunition that aren’t fire-resistant or capable of handling explosions. The Pentagon reports that the loss of the funds hurts “military readiness” and damages national security. The lack of funding for a new boiler at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska could be force an evacuation and leave the base frozen and damaged. The main gate at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey is current subject to “hostile penetration … and an increased terrorist threat.” DDT unfunded plans “to deter Russian aggression,” according to an Air Force report. The National Guard training base at Camp Santiago, destroyed when Hurricane Maria went through Puerto Rico two years ago, won’t be rebuilt. Most congressional GOP members refused to stop DDT from taking the money from real military emergencies.

DDT found another black journalist to libel—this one is a woman. As one tweet commented, DDT’s vile comments just sold 50,000 of Joy Reid’s book, The Man Who Sold America: Trump and the Unraveling of the American Story, already on the NYT bestseller list, after he said she had no “talent” and no “’it’ factor.” Reid raised DDT’s fury by saying that he sounded like a “desperate man” at his Baltimore speech and he treated “the gathered Republicans to some smoking hot beauty tips” such as selecting energy inefficient lightbulbs to avoid orange-appearing skin.

Reid responded to DDT by listing a few of his impeachable actions–and that was before the revelation of his extorting Ukraine.  

Last week, highly respected Cokie Roberts died, and DDT tweeted his response:

“I never met her. She never treated me nicely.”

Daughter of prominent U.S. Louisiana representatives for over a half century, Roberts, “called one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting” by ABC, helped pave the way for women in broadcast journalism. About Roberts, noted legal affairs correspondent Nina Tottenberg wrote:

“To know Cokie was to see the personification of human decency…. She was always the voice of people with less power, and the voice of what is right.”

Showing less finesse at a reception at the recent G7 Summit, DDT looked for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi by calling out, “Where’s my favorite dictator?” DDT was greeted with silence. He has not condemned the human rights violations of el-Sisi after he took power through a 2013 military coup against former President Mohammed Morsi. DDT said that el-Sisi is “a good man, and he’s done a fantastic job in Egypt.” At least DDT is right about el-Sisi being a dictator.

In the path of hurricanes, the U.S. military court and prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have cost over $6 billion to operate for almost 18 years; taxpayers are charged over $10 million each day to house 40 prisoners. Although almost 800 people have gone through the prison, only one person was convicted. So much torture has tainted evidence that no more prisoners can be convicted with an appeals processing costing a minimum of $1.5 billion during the next 10 to 15 years. If defendants are found not guilty, the government can imprison them indefinitely. The two men who proposed cost-saving measures were fired. With plans to keep the facilities open for another 25 years, the government will need to pay for geriatric care such as joint replacements. The oldest prisoner is now 71 years old.

Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, fired hours before his pension would go into effect in April 2018, is still in limbo because the DOJ has refused to tell him for ten days whether a grand jury indicted him for inappropriate media leaks about Hillary Clinton and her foundation. Charges against him require 12 of 23 jurors to agree for probably cause that he committed a crime. In his position, he can declassify anything he wishes so a jury will have trouble finding him guilty. He is accused of lying under oath, but that’s not a problem for Brett Kavanaugh in his confirmation hearings for Supreme Court justice. It’s been said that a grand jury can “indict a ham sandwich”; McCabe may be less guilty than that sandwich.

DDT wants to dump VP Mike Pence from the 2020 ballot because he doesn’t provide enough defense for DDT. Ivanka and Jared Kushner regularly threaten Pence to force him to follow orders, according to a White House official.

Even FLOTUS Melania Trump has become toxic. When she asked ten students from the United Nations International School (UNIS) in Manhattan to join at the New York Stock Exchange to ring the opening bell, parents don’t want their children photographed with her.

DDT consistently promises that he is bringing coal back, but in Wyoming two of the biggest U.S. mines have shut down.  

Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and Republicans spent seven years trying to repeal it. Democrats took the House in 2018 partly because people were afraid to lose their health care. House Republicans met in 2019 and made plans to repeal people’s health care as the 2020 election nears. That’s all the GOP has?

Attempts by DDT’s National Labor Relations Board to erase a rule making companies more responsible for temps, fast-food-franchise workers, and those who work indirectly for companies may be confounded for a second time because of conflicts of interest by the board—this time its use of temporary staffers. The board hired temporary lawyers and paralegals to review public comments on the rollback of the rule from a company that has a vested interest in the outcome, raising questions about the accuracy of their work.

Thanks to DDT’s trade war with China, the economic OECD, comprised of 36 countries, predicts a world recession. According to the conservative Bloomberg.com, the recession may have already started in some areas such as manufacturing  and farming since DDT started imposing tariffs. In 22 state, the number of people working in factories—members of DDT’s base—fell thus far this year as has truck delivery traffic.

August 25, 2019

Recession Looms, Unconstitutional Demand

Filed under: economy — trp2011 @ 10:15 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The use of “dictator” for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be a misnomer.  He approvingly retweeted a comment from a radio host that “Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God…” He followed that by saying “I am the Chosen One” while looking meaningfully up at the sky. He was supposedly talking about tariffs on China. Earlier in the week, he accused Jews who vote for Democrats (79 percent of them in 2018) of showing “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” meaning to Israel as if U.S. citizens swear fealty to a foreign country.   

DDT panders to evangelical Christians because Jews don’t believe in the second coming. Evangelicals refer to Jews as “uncompleted Christians,” that they still need to come to Jesus.

One response:

“Matthew 24:24 – ‘For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.’”

Self-identified evangelical Jay Lowder did call equating Trump with God “blasphemous and sacrilegious.” He added that the “antagonism” toward evangelicals will increase if they support a double standard for DDT’s “actions, policies, or behaviors” and will be forced “to do the same with the next president.”

DDT’s accelerated tariff fight caused the stock market to go on a roller-coaster ride, the Dow Jones down almost 400 points last week after dropping over 600 points on Friday. The volatility came as DDT increased tariffs onto China, China increased them on the U.S., and DDT ordered private companies not to deal with China. After the stock market closed Friday, DDT again increased the tariff percentage on Chinese goods.

Earlier, DDT delayed new tariffs on Chinese goods from September 1 to December 15 but will raise tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports from 25 percent to 30 percent starting Oct. 1. In addition, tariffs on $300 billion worth of other goods would increase from 10 percent to 15 percent on the December 15 tariff. DDT decided to punish China by withdrawing from the 192-member Universal Postal Union that set international postal rates for over 150 years. If nothing changes by DDT’s deadline in October, mail service will be disrupted for U.S. voters living abroad and cost them $60 to return their ballots.

DDT excluded some tariffs as favors to his base: no bibles although books are fined; no Chinese processing of salmon and cod caught in Alaska although pollock is not protected; no chemicals used for fracking; zirconium for airplanes, even civilian ones; aluminum oxide for steel manufacturers already protected by earlier tariffs on imported steel; shipping containers for big companies like J.B Hunt and CSX. These items were exempted for “health, safety, national security and other factors (aka favoring his voter base).” Legally, DDT can put tariffs on products only for the reason of “national security,” yet his first tariffs were on washing machines to protect “national security” for Whirlpool. Meanwhile U.S. Steel is laying off hundreds of workers the week after DDT bragged about how he had made the company strong.

After 13 failed trade war talks with China, DDT’s Friday tweets were particularly vicious:

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

Trump also “ordered” the U.S. Postal Service and private companies like FedEx, Amazon, and UPS to search packages from China for fentanyl and refuse delivery. DDT claims that he has the power to force private companies to change their business practices because of the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act that targets rogue regimes, terrorists, and drug traffickers in commerce regulation. Earlier this year, he threatened tariffs on Mexico with the same law because of southern border crossings. By today, he said he had no plan to call a national emergency. (DDT’s Trump Organization has business ties with China; both he and daughter Ivanka Trump have multiple trademarks in China.)  

In its editorial, the conservative Wall Street Journal wrote: 

“Somebody should tell Chairman Trump this isn’t the People’s Republic of America.”

The tariff situation became more confusing today when DDT said that he may be second-guessing his tariff attack on China. Five hours later his press secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote he DDT “regrets not raising the tariffs higher.” G7 Summit leaders reported on DDT’s disastrous trade war, but he said, “Nobody’s told me that.”

The volatile stock market leads to fears of a recession although DDT denies the possibility. He said, “Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they’re loaded up with money.” Yet 39 percent of people in the nation don’t have enough cash to cover an unexpected $400 expense. DDT sent Larry Kuklow and Peter Navarro to Sunday talk shows with the intent of misrepresenting the current economic situation and railed about how, despite the facts, a possible recession is a conspiracy against him.  

DDT claims he has a strong, “powerful” economy, but he proposed steps for an extremely weak economy. White House officials first considered a cut in payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security to make up for the tax cut for wealthy and big business that DDT will use to eliminate Medicare and Social Security. Other ideas which might also require Congressional approval were a currency transaction tax weakening the dollar (currency manipulation), rotating Federal Reserve governors to check Powell, and lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 percent to spur more investment. DDT also went back to badgering Powell for a one-percent reduction in interest rates, calling him the same kind of enemy as China’s president Xi Jinping. DDT would save millions of dollars in lowered interest rates. He has already benefited from the decrease in July’s Fed Reserve interest change.

After the Labor Department accurately revised job gains from April 2018 to March 2019, DDT lost over 500,000 jobs. Average monthly job growth dropped to 170,000—9,000 less per month in 2017—with the biggest losses in leisure/hospitality, professional/businesses services, and retail. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the probability of a recession within a year is the highest since the last financial crisis.

Other recession indicators are the skyrocketing deficit (higher even than expected), GDP drop to 2.1 percent in the second quarter, dropping tax revenues, and consumer confidence at a seven-month low. Wealthy buyers are pulling out of expensive housing markets, and RV sales are down over 20 percent. Car sales are drastically dropping, bankruptcy filings are steadily increasing, major retailers shut down more stores, tech companies are cutting costs, and U.S. freight shipment volume has fallen during the past 8 months, threatening a negative GDP by the end of the year. Both credit card debt and late payments are on the rise. The U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 49.9 in August from 50.4 in July, the first time it was below 50 since September 2009, and exports sales fell at the fastest pace since August 2009. Falling exports cause reductions in inventories, cuts in productions, and loss of jobs. The problems ripple across the economy because manufacturing affects every part of it—business services, distribution, transportation, etc. The fall in manufacturing output during the first six months of 2019 entered a “technical recession.”

The Dow looks good, but DDT’s percentage of increase at 32.2 percent is below that of Democratic presidents at the same time of their first term—Clinton at 39.3 percent and Obama at 45.2 percent. DDT’s only accomplishment is a low unemployment rate, but it was headed there when he was inaugurated. A look at DDT’s chaotic response to the financial problems he caused, and a comparison of the DDT and the Obama economy in 15 charts. 

DDT thinks that dropping interest rates will get him re-elected, but they will damage savings and be devastating for blocking a recession. Buying a year or two with lower interest rates would create a massive credit bubble like the subprime mortgage crisis over a decade ago. The current risk comes from huge corporate debt, especially high-yield bonds. Dumping these at one time at low prices would culminate in a disaster, especially if lenders bought corporate bonds with low-interest loans, and lenders may be forced into more debt. With the weak expansion, sellers may have no buyers, and companies won’t be able to service debt.

DDT started out with a solid economy, and everything he does is designed to ruin it. He is damaging not only U.S. economy but also that in other countries with conservative leadership. UK’s Brexit vote preceded DDT’s election by a few months, but Boris Johnson is pushing the nation into disaster with half Britain’s farms poised to fail. Brazil’s new DDT-style leader, Jair Bolsonaro, has made no reforms to pension and tax systems that undercut economic growth. Italy’s enormous debt and annual deficit led to the collapse of its government and the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte after his election 14 months ago—the second election in 18 months.

Frank Rich wrote an excellent article on DDT’s panic about the economy and its destruction because of DDT’s policies. Future generations in the U.S. will have nothing, and DDT cares about nothing except getting re-elected. 

August 6, 2019

Indicators Show Slowing Economy

Stock markets finished yesterday with the worst drop this year as Asian markets also badly slipped. As investors look for places to hide, gold prices jumped, and Japanese yen and Swiss franc advanced. They retreated to the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond with a 1.725 percent return while the volatility index temporarily leaped to 30 percent. During the last two weeks, the Dow Jones, down for five consecutive points, fell over six percent since its high on July 15. All 30 Dow stocks and all 11 market sectors went down yesterday, and tech-heavy Nasdaq plummeted 3.47 percent for the fifth worst session ever.

“The losers are anybody with big exposure to China,” said Ivan Feinseth, chief investment officer at Tigress Financial Partners. After Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said he would levy more tariffs on almost all Chinese goods, China responded by allowing the yuan to slump below to its lowest exchange rate in 11 years on Monday to level the playfield. Chinese rationale is that a weakened currency will offset DDT’s new ten-percent tariffs on all the other Chinese goods already at 25 percent by making the goods more affordable to the world and U.S. exports more expensive for the Chinese. DDT is blaming China and the Federal Reserve for what he calls “currency manipulation.” Last month, DDT tried to manipulate the currency: he asked his aides to find a way to weaken the U.S. dollar to boost the economy ahead of the 2020 election. He also asked about this issue when interviewing Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller for the Federal Reserve Board in another attempt to control the supposedly independent agency.

DDT blames economic problems on the Feds’ not cutting the interest rate, but the Dow Jones dropped almost 300 points after he announced new tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports—taxing everything that people in the U.S. buy from China. New tariffs bring additional annual purchasing costs for the average U.S. family to about $1,000. His tariff announcement polished off two days of trade talks between the two countries. https://time.com/5642373/china-countermeasures-trump-tariffs/  China promised “countermeasures” because DDT violated the agreement with President Xi Jinping, and the global stock markets turned red. DDT’s trade adviser Peter Navarro, who Jared Kushner found on Amazon.com, said, “We love tariffs. Tariffs are a wonderful thing.”

Farmers, frustrated by their severe losses after DDT’s trade war are turning against him. They’ve already received $16 billion, but DDT is promising them more welfare. His growing unpopularity, however, may come from the fact that over half of DDT’s welfare to farmers after the tariff debacle went to ten percent of recipients: 82 farming operations each received over $500,000 through last April from the $8.5 billion in payments. DeLine Farm Partnership of Charleston (MO) already got $2.8 million. The top one percent of farmers received an average of $188,000 compared to the average of under $5,000 for the bottom 80 percent. Anyone can receive payments if they make “management decisions” even if they don’t live or work on a farm, and thousands of them live in the nation’s biggest cities. A searchable database covered only direct payments to farmers and not other programs, including commodity purchases and export promotion assistance, that was part of the $12 billion payoff after DDT’s tariff program.

DDT had promised farmers that China would buy more U.S. farm products, but he has now admits that agreement never existed. There never was a record of Chinese purchases of U.S. soybeans, meaning far more losses on this year’s crop as well as the ones in reserve that survived last spring’s flood. Farmers face record foreclosures, and former DDT economic adviser said that DDT’s tariffs do more harm to the U.S. than China, who now buys its soybeans from Russia.

Following DDT’s 25 percent tariff on metal imports last year, US Steel idled two furnaces and lost $5.5—70 percent—of its market value. Last March, GM closed its Lordstown (OH) car plant after union workers gave up an annual $118 million to save the plant 18 months earlier. Negative ripples through Ohio’s economy included the closure of Falcon Transport.

Today, the Dow gained back about 20 percent of the 1,500 points it lost since last Tuesday, but it’s still lower than DDT’s initiation of his trade war in early 2018. Economic problems disprove DDT’s arrogant and ignorant claim 17 months ago that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” All DDT’s advisers except China-hating Peter Navarro opposed the tariffs, and China is determined to project strength by not backing down. Late last week, DDT the bully said “it would be fine with me … and save a lot of money” if China doesn’t trade with the U.S., but he’s failing.

DDT’s goal to postpone a possible recession until after the 2020 election may not succeed. As the Treasury notes dropped to 1.7 percent, Bloomberg published its concern under the headline, “Yield Curve Blares Loudest U.S. Recession Warning Since 2007.” The temporary drop of 32 basis points less than three-month bills led to the biggest yield-curve inversion since the introduction to the 2008 crisis. In good times, the bond’s yield of interest after full term is bigger in longer terms. An inversion means that a three-month yield can be higher than a ten-year yield. This situation is not a cause of a recession; it can be a predictor of nervous investors and devastation of the economy.

The Republicans constantly tout current economy as the best it’s ever been, but DDT insists on interest rate cuts, a practice reserved for economic emergencies, and got a .25 percent reduction in the interest rate—the first one in the real 2008 emergency. Near-zero interest rates are an emergency measure, but the Federal Reserve may cut rates because they’re afraid that they’ll be a target during the 2020 campaign if the economy starts to suffer—as many economists predict. Anti-Fed sentiment could then cause its elimination. Cutting rates is a safe position for the Feds. Even so, DDT sulked about how small the cut was last Wednesday, and the Dow Jones market dropped by 333 points on the same day. Fed Chair Jerome Powell did not promise “a long series of rate cuts, and DDT blames him for not stimulating the economy after DDT caused problems with his trade war. DDT wants an artificial boost in the economy for his campaign next year. After that he doesn’t care.

Last week, DDT said he was waiting for a trade deal until after the 2020 election, but a few days later he tweeted he would be tougher with China if they waited and that he might never agree to any deal. Economists agree that DDT’s trade war is dragging down growth; it stops business investing and drives up costs, removing any advantage from tax cuts.

DDT will keep getting his prime interest cuts to benefit his personal loans. Trade wars weaken the economy, the Feds will cut the interest to help the economy, DDT will step up the trade war, and it all goes in a circle. The steep and steady decline in U.S. share of international travel from the trade war is expected to last until at least 2022.

Congress has passed a two-year budget bill that raises the debt ceiling for at least two years, which DDT claims “gets us past the Election. Go for it Republicans, there is always plenty of time to CUT.” That comes from the man who has increased the national debt by $2 trillion—20 percent—in his first two years. During President Obama’s two terms, Republicans constantly complained about expenditures, but they returned to former VP Dick Cheney’s position during GOP control that “deficits don’t matter.” In the Senate vote of 67-28 for the bill, 23 Republicans and five Democrats voted “no.” The House vote for the DDT-supported bill was 284-149 with one independent, 16 Democrats, and 132 Republicans voting against it. Now members of Congress can leave town for several weeks, knowing that they are saddling their children and grandchildren with more debt. In the new law, the gap between revenue and expenditures remains about $1 trillion a year.

People shouldn’t give a sigh of relief that a shutdown isn’t eminent. Because Congress is gone until September, it will have only two weeks to pass 12 government funding bills or a continuing resolution (CR) to extend the time limit. The House has passed 10 of these bills, but GOP senators may oppose them. The first markup is due on September 12 for the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the12 bills may have thousands of pages for argument. And DDT’s wall may come back into play.

The 164,000 extra jobs in July looked good, but revised figures for May and June came out with 41,000 fewer jobs, lowering the total number of the year. Plus industries dropped the workweek from 34.4 to 34.3, back to September 2017 which made the number of new jobs almost zero. GDP also fell to 2.1 percent in the second 2019 quarter from 3.1 percent in the first. The prediction for the third quarter is 1.9 percent annualized rate–far below DDT’s rediction of 3 percent to four percent. 

Far-right Steve Bannon falsely claimed that the large number of people to be killed in the El Paso Walmart proved how great DDT’s economy is. Connecting a mass shooting to the economy is evil, and Bannon is wrong. People were shopping back-to-school items. After this, the threat of mass shootings may move them online for purchases.

 

 

June 7, 2019

DDT: Week 124 – Didn’t Go Well

Since Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his entourage departed England, their gain is the U.S. taxpayer loss. Although he reported stayed at the home of the U.S. ambassador to the UK, VIP rooms at InterContinental hotel on Park Lane, linked to Qatari royal family, cost over $1.2 million.  Another $339,386 was spent at the Hilton and on “passenger car rental.” The Churchill Hyatt Regency reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars, including almost $50,000 for a generator, and the Grosvenor House hotel charged at least $266,882 that included special voice and data cabling in the hotel suites. The Cumberland hotel got only $96,162, but the embassy contracts for chauffeured limousines ran $353,070. Total for this tip of the iceberg expenditures ran about $2.3 million. And then there’s the food, flights, other travel, and other perks of travel. All so that DDT and his family could embarrass the United States.  

After a week of disagreement with GOP legislators who threatened veto-proof legislation against taxing Mexican imports, DDT backed down with his claim that he reached an agreement with Mexico. There’s no indication that he got his way to stop all “illegal immigrants” from coming across the southern border, but he will present a spin that he is victorious. Fox will agree, and DDT’s supporters will believe him. Summer parties can continue now that the top four imports from Mexico—beer, avocadoes, tomatoes, and tequila—won’t be taxed on entry to the U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and GOP senators agreed that DDT was bluffing.

Everyone has always known that it’s all about DDT, but now he plans to prove it again with his own celebration of himself on July 4 and giving a campaign speech at the Lincoln Memorial.  He’s moved the fireworks display which adds to problems of crowd control. Forget a nonpartisan celebration of the Fourth of July.

DDT continues to tell current and former executive branch personnel to ignore House subpoenas to testify, and the House plans to vote on a resolution that authorizes civil enforcement of subpoenas in federal court and permit the House counsel to represent the chamber in litigation. Using DDT’s orders, fixer AG Bill Barr, former White House counsel Don McGahn, and former Communications Director Hope Hicks have already ignored House subpoenas. The resolution would move the issue to court without addressing the language of “contempt.” The House Oversight Committee may also hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt after they refused to turn over information about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Congress has discovered that DDT approved the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia twice after the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. DDT put off giving Congress the information for over two months about the timing of seven transfers of nuclear expertise to Saudi Arabia. Lack of congressional notification may put DDT in violation of the Atomic Energy Act. Saudis refuse to agree that it will not develop nuclear weapons.

Thanks to DDT, the U.S. company Raytheon will start building high-tech bomb parts in Saudi Arabia, leaving the possibility that the Saudis will acquire information about formerly closely-guarded technology. These are the weapons used to target civilians, leading President Obama to stop bomb sales to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Raytheon is shipping 120,000 precision-guided bombs to the coalition, adding to the tens of thousands of bombs that Saudi Arabia and UAE have stockpiled. As with all other of DDT’s unconstitutional decisions, he declared an emergency for giving Saudis U.S. technology.  

Too few regulations can be a serious problem for big business, as 17 major auto companies pointed out in a letter to DDT protesting his rollbacks to fuel-efficiency standards for the industry that allow less efficient vehicles and greater pollution. With the exception of Chrysler, the world’s largest automakers said his plans to weaken tailpipe pollution standards could cut profits and result in “untenable” instability for them. California and 13 other states won’t tolerate the reduction in standards so manufacturers have to build different cars for different places if they want to avoid fines for violating regulations in 28 percent of the states, possibly 50 percent of the population. List of 83 EPA rollbacks in the past 869 days to increase deaths and health problems as well as destroying the planet. Alaska makes over $2 billion a year from people looking at wildlife so DDT also plans to kill the animals in an expansion of trophy hunting.

DDT told Puerto Ricans to be grateful to him for the $19.1 billion disaster relief bill after he repeatedly blocked the bill because of aid to Puerto Rico. The 7.8 percent of the bill that the U.S. territory receives is a fraction of what the U.S. government promised—and failed to deliver—to Puerto Rico. DDT still doesn’t understand how Congress works. After GOP stalling for weeks and DDT’s obstruction, Congress passed the wall-free disaster relief bill in the House by 354-58 and 85-8 in the Senate. DDT tweeted that “House just passed the 19.1 Billion Dollar Disaster Aid Bill. Great, now we will get it done in the Senate!” Nope, it’s all done with a veto-proof vote. DDT later deleted his tweet, another violation of the public records law.

George Nader, former key witness to Robert Mueller’s investigation and member of DDT’s transition team for the Middle East and Russia, was arrested on child pornography charges in New York when he returned from Dubai. He had pled guilty to the same charges 27 years ago in Northern Virginia. Nadar organized a secret meeting in Seychelles among DDT’s associates, Blackwater founder and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ brother Erik Prince, and a Russian banker linked to Vladimir Putin in January 2017. Prince had tried to convince people that the meeting was just a chance encounter with the principals although they met a month later. In April 2017 Nader, an adviser to the United Arab Emirates, wired $2.5 million to a top DDT fundraiser Elliott Broidy through a company in Canada. 

The idiocy of hiding John McCain’s name on a ship from DDT while he was in Japan didn’t stop after he came back from Japan last week. The story went like this:

  • Reaction #1: Of course, no one would tell the Navy to move the ship “out of sight” before DDT’s trip to Japan.
  • Reaction #2: “I never would have done that,” tweeted DDT. But, he added, how accommodating that someone had done it.
  • Reaction #3: The Navy said it wasn’t a “fake” story; it had been asked to hide the USS John S. McCain but didn’t comply.
  • Reaction #4: Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney believes that “probably somebody on the advance team” had given an order to hide the ship, “not an unreasonable thing to ask.”
  • Reaction #5: Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told his chief of staff to tell the White House not to put the military in political situations, to “reaffirm his mandate that the Department of Defense will not be politicized.”

My favorite reaction:   

“Hey @realDonaldTrump, we read the story about the sailors on a US warship being ordered to hide from you because you’re triggered by the name on their hats. So we turned Madame Tussaud’s into a giant USS John McCain baseball cap. Welcome to London!”

There may have been comments in between these reactions. If DDT and White House officials didn’t lie so much, they wouldn’t have to lie to try to get out of trouble. Amazon is sold out of John McCain caps.

Only 75,000 jobs were added in May, and job count numbers for March and April dropped their totals 75,000, making an average of 164,000 job increases for 2019. Wage increases were lower than expected, staying close to the amount of inflation. Construction, mining, and manufacturing are largely flat, and retail is showing a loss. Manufacturing at the lowest level since DDT’s inauguration and last month the worst in almost a decade. U.S. manufacturing dropped to its lowest level since DDT was inaugurated, and last month was the worst month in almost a decade. Business owners and economists blame the slump on DDT’s trade wars around the world. The federal reserve is so desperate that it suggested a drop in interest rates, the only reason that the stock markets began to catch up on last week’s losses. JP MorganChase predicts a 40-percent chance this year for a recession, up from a 15-percent estimate the month before. Tax studies, including one from DDT’s alma mater Wharton, report that tariff taxes on consumers will wipe out any gains from tax cuts.

The commander-in-chief is now assigning U.S. military to painting duties. Displeased about the aesthetics of his wall at Calexico (CA), DDT sent service members for 30 days to paint it. And we need more taxpayer money for the military because?

October 20, 2018

GOP, DDT Try to Pull Cons

As midterm election fever ramps up, the Republicans become more desperate with the thought of losing. Because over half the population supports the Affordable Care Act, GOP candidates and their leader Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) have decided to pretend that they support coverage of pre-existing conditions on all health insurance.

Last Thursday, DDT tweeted:

“All Republicans support people with pre-existing conditions, and if they don’t, they will after I speak to them. I am in total support. Also, Democrats will destroy your Medicare, and I will keep it healthy and well!”

These GOP candidates claiming to supported coverage of pre-existing conditions voted against the Affordable Care Act, and some of them are involved in legal challenges to the law. With his executive order to change the ACA, DDT already permitted insurance companies to not allow pre-existing conditions. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that the GOP plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act after the midterms and reduce Medicare to cover ballooning deficits from deep tax cuts for the wealthy and big business. The underlying GOP goal is to strip almost everyone in the United States of any safety net while taking all power and giving the nation’s resources to the wealthiest and big business.

In another serious problem for DDT, the horrific scandal of a reporter’s murder in Turkey won’t disappear. Saudi Arabia commonly kills dissidents, but the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is unique: he was a U.S. resident who was tortured, dismembered, and murdered in an embassy on foreign soil. DDT is also supporting Saudi Arabia in its fantasy explanation of the murder, appearing to act as a PR person for the Saudi royalty. Vali R. Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said:

“This is a drastic break from American practice. It signals a very different foreign policy that does not hold governments accountable for things that are outside normal legal or ethical parameters. In effect, the U.S. is setting a new standard for itself.”

Vladimir Putin is well aware of the new standard for the U.S. that represents a double standard—punish Russia for its killing of a Russian but reward Saudi Arabia for its killing of a U.S. resident. DDT has been very clear, however, that he won’t hold foreign countries accountable for human rights, and now that lack of concern impacts a murdered U.S. resident with three U.S. citizen children. Not addressing Khashoggi’s murder removes the U.S. from the high ground when China tells the West to stop its false regard for human rights.

In addition to taking Saudi’s assurance that Khashoggi’s death came from a “fist-fight,” DDT is accepting Putin’s guarantee that Russia didn’t interfere in U.S. elections and Kim Jong-Un’s pledge that North Korea will denuclearize. Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the U.S. policy of “trust but verify” has been changed to “trust but look away.”

Conservative commentator Max Book wrote about DDT:

“This is the president who said it’s “great” that Xi is declaring himself ruler for life, praised Duterte for the ‘unbelievable job’ he was doing ‘on the drug problem,’ congratulated Recep Tayyip Erdogan for winning a rigged referendum that spelled the death of Turkish democracy, and declared his ‘love’ for Kim Jong Un of North Korea. When confronted by Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes about Kim’s catalogue of crime — ‘repression, gulags, starvation’ — Trump was dismissive. ‘I get along with him really well,’ Trump said. ‘I have a good energy with him.’ He was equally blasé when Stahl asked him about reports that Putin is involved in ‘assassinations’ and ‘poisonings.’ He probably is, Trump conceded — but ‘it’s not in our country,’ so who cares? Britain can deal with Russian hit teams on its own.”

Boot concluded:

“This is a good time to be a dictator — and a dangerous time to be a dissident. Trump has given every despot on the planet a license to kill without worrying about the American reaction.”

Saudi Arabia has been paying for positive PR in the U.S. since 15 of 19 plane hijackers in the attack on the U.S. were Saudi nationals, but the amount of money poured into its effort escalated in 2017 to $27.3 million in lobbying alone after DDT’s inauguration to $27.3 million in lobbying alone. More money was given to universities, think tanks, and over 100 people registered as Saudi foreign agents in the U.S. who contacted media outlets over 500 times. The Saudis also had 45 contracts with FARA-registered firms. Agents contacted officials at the State Department almost 100 times in 2017 and over 200 congressional members with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) the most contacted. These congressional members received $390,496 for campaigns. In 2018, Saudi lobbyists fought to defeat a House bill that would end U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen, asking them to ignore the 10,000 civilians who were killed in Yemen.

DDT has been very upfront about how he is selling himself and the U.S. to gain money from the Saudis. And he has the blessing of fundamentalist Christians. Televangelist Pat Robertson wants people to “cool” it about the torture, dismemberment, and killing of Jamal Khashoggi because he’s just “one journalist.” What would Jesus do, according to Robertson? Profit from that probably nonexistant $100 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia so that they can kill thousands more civilians.

One reason that people voted for DDT was their belief that he is a great businessman. The New York Time researched proved that claim to be a myth, but he’s still bragging about his wonderful economy. Despite his cheerleading, cracks are appearing—the lowest housing sales in three years, retail sales down for the past two years, a volatile stock market, an increase in trade market deficits—some of the same signs that led to the deep recession of 2008, especially the falling housing prices that were the first evidence. George W. Bush failed to see the warning signs in 2006, just as DDT’s economic adviser Larry Kudlow thinks that the U.S. is booming. A few months before everyone became well aware of the 2008 recession, Kudlow said, “There is no recession coming.” Four months later, he wrote “The Therapeutic Power of Recessions.”

That recession didn’t have the problem of tariffs. A trade war with the U.S. already prompted luxury-car makers BMW AG and Daimler AG to warn about lower profits while Chinese consumers staying away from showrooms forced Jaguar Land Rover to temporarily shut a factory. Sales to Chinese dealerships fell for a third month in September. Steve Man, senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong, said that this slump may be the biggest that auto manufacturers experienced in China, the world’s largest car market. GM, VW, and Honda are also decreasing in deliveries, and carmakers may have to close factories.

DDT promised to balance the budget in one year. He didn’t. The deficit blew up to $898 billion in the 11 months through August, exceeding the Congressional Budget Office’s forecast for the first full fiscal year after DDT was inaugurated. DDT’s deficit for the 11 months was one-third higher than the $674 billion for the same time during the previous year. While revenue gained one percent to about $3 trillion, spending rose by seven percent to almost $3.9 trillion. Thanks to the new COP tax cut law, revenue from corporations dropped $71 billion from a year before to $163 billion. The annual budget for President Obama’s last three years was $500 billion. Thanks to the GOP and DDT’s law and policies, the nation’s debt is growing out of control.

DDT’s family con jobs seem to have trickled down to son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has paid almost no income tax from 2009 to 2016 while quintupling his assets to almost $324 million. For example, in 2015, he made $1.7 million but declared $8.3 million in losses from his self-identified “significant depreciation” on real estate because the law allows scams with decline values on the books as properties appreciate. DDT, however, participated in illegal fraud to hide his and his family’s fortune from taxes.

DDT is so unpopular that the Trump name has been removed from a seventh building since DDT’s election, this one a condo tower at 200 Riverside Boulevard in Manhattan. Almost 70 percent of owners voted to take down the name after they were threatened with legal action 18 months ago when they made the decision. A judge ruled that the signage could go that’s what the residents wanted.

The Trump Ocean Club Panama also ripped DDT’s name off its sign after it evicted the Trump Organization. Ivanka Trump had lied about the number of units sold although the involvement of shell companies created difficulty in identifying why buyers had backed out. DDT’s family made millions on just this one project, an example of their system to lure investors into building projects and then walk away with the money when the projects collapse.

With his gullible base, DDT treats the United States like one of his scams, but most of us have no solution when he takes the money and leaves us bankrupt. And Congress will let DDT carry out his plans unless the electorate stops the GOP from controlling Congress. During the past half centuries, all the recessions have occurred while the president was a Republican with a supportive Congress.

September 10, 2012

Congress Returns–Briefly

The conventions are history, and Congress returns from its five-week vacation to go back into session today, at least for a few days. With almost 500 federal lawmakers up for re-election in 56 days, they’ll be gone in October to campaign, but they may disappear for part of September too.

Well-known for their procrastination and lack of commitment, Republicans need to get cracking on their six-month stopgap spending bill to keep the government functioning. House plans are to start today with a vote by Thursday. They can waste more time by discussing this again in another six months.

Federal farm programs are also due to expire on September 30, 2012, unless Congress does something about renewing them. The spending bill could include this extension, but food stamps are part of farm bill which might cause another stalemate. The Senate passed a five-year agriculture program last June, but as usual the House Republicans are dragging their collective feet especially with the disagreement about how much to cut from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Republicans may also let the farm bill expire so that they can blame the Democrats—as they do for everything—hoping to get more votes from farm states like Iowa.

Everyone might be better off if Congress does nothing about the farm bill. With no formal extension, food stamp and other nutrition programs continue, and most farmers will not be affected because the current farm bill covers 2012 crops no matter when they are harvested.

At the end of the week, the House Republicans will waste more time with a promised vote on the “No More Solyndras Act” bill which eliminates loan guarantees for solar and wind energy companies. The Senate probably won’t vote on it, but the House Republicans can look as if they’re doing something.

Meanwhile, the Senate may vote tomorrow about whether to debate a bill from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) to get jobs for veterans. It includes a veterans jobs corps to employ veterans as firefighters and police officers and in fields of conservation, recreation, and resource management projects on public lands. Republicans will push for an open amendment process for this bill to add everything including tax cuts. If they don’t get to do this, they may sulk and filibuster.

Some economists have warned of a recession without any Congressional action on a combination of the expiration of all Bush tax cuts and the impending across-the-board spending cuts. Again the two parties have opposing views. Republicans say they want everyone to have tax cuts, and Democrats want to renew them only for households netting less than $250,000 a year.

Another potential amendment could be replacing automatic defense spending cuts, known as sequestration, set to begin in 2013. Both parties agreed to these cuts last summer during the debacle of the debt ceiling crisis if a committee could not come to agreement regarding how to fix the deficit. Mitt Romney said yesterday that the Republicans were wrong to vote for this and blamed it all on the president. Romney’s VP pick, Paul Ryan, was one of those “wrong” voters although he’s tried to lie his way out of the situation. In an interview, Ryan said that he voted for the bill that did the cutting, but he did not vote for the cuts.

While disturbed about the defense cuts, military leaders, unlike Republicans, understand that the budget needs revenues as well as cuts. “I hope we can find a way to address the sequestration threat of Jan. 1,” Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said in Charlotte, N.C., where Democrats held their convention last week.  “It has to be done on a bipartisan basis … [and] it has to include revenues as well as spending cuts.”

Other pressing business for the lame-duck session include averting a 30-percent cut in physicians’ Medicare fees, passing the annual Pentagon policy bill, improving cyber security for the nation’s critical infrastructure, a Russia free-trade bill, and legislation to reform the Postal Service which may have to default on a $5.5 billion payment into its pension fund to cover people retiring 75 years from now.

Congress this year has managed to pass just 61 bills, the fewest number in more than 60 years. Last year, they passed 90 bills, down from 258 during the previous year. The average worker in the country has a median household income of about $50,000 compared to lawmakers’ salaries of $174,000 or more. At the same time, the average worker has 13 days of paid vacation; lawmakers have more than four months of recesses this year.

I’m waiting for the next anti-women bill from the Republicans. They’ve tried one each week during the 112th Congress.

Asides: On Meet the Press yesterday, Ann Romney said, “Mitt and I do recognize that we have not had a financial struggle in our lives. But I want people to believe in their hearts that we know what it is like to struggle.” This is a very different struggle from her description of it just two weeks ago in her speech at the GOP convention.

According to a study by Harvard economics professor David Cutler, the increased costs for seniors in the changes of Medicare would move as much as $16 to $26 billion to profits for insurance companies. Romney tried to discredit the study by saying that Cutler was once an advisor for President Obama.

The Associated Press FactCheck failed when it evaluated Joe Biden’s statement that 4.5 private-sector jobs have been created during the past 29 months. They agreed that this information was true but gave it a half-true because it omitted the time before that and didn’t include the 500,000+ jobs lost in the public sector. If fact checkers can’t based their opinions on facts, they should quit. Also small-government advocates complaining about unemployment should realize that they are getting what they ask for. Smaller government means less employment; the loss of public sector jobs during the current president is equivalent to the jobs that George W. Bush added during his eight years.

Ideally voting should be based on information, which makes the level of ignorance throughout the country truly frightening. A prime example of this comes a question in a recent Ohio poll about whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney deserves more credit for killing Osama bin Laden. (Some people may remember that Romney sneered at President Obama for his decision to find bin Laden, indicating that it was a waste of time.) Only 63 percent of possible voters gave the credit to the president; 6 percent thought Romney did it, and 31 percent didn’t know. The women were 2 percent more knowledgeable than men, and 86 percent of African-Americans knew it was the president compared to only 60 percent of Anglo-Americans. Only 38 percent of likely voters gave the president credit for killing Osama bin Laden, and the North Carolina percentage was lower at 29 percent. Frightening!

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