Nel's New Day

August 8, 2021

Whither Infrastructure, DDT?

President Joe Biden’s first bill to repair U.S. physical infrastructure—roads, bridges, railroads, etc.—is limping on its way over the weekend as some Republican senators try to delay it and Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) lambasts Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for permitting its existence. The bill, moved forward by Democrats and 18 Republicans, would add $550 billion for the project if it passes a vote after up to 50 hours debate. The bill would then have to pass the House where several Democrats are trying to wait for a second bill for social spending to pass the Senate. Because the second bill would be through the reconciliation process, it needs only 50 votes, probably from Democrats, and cannot be filibustered which demands 60 votes. The question is whether Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WY) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) would not support the measure.

DDT’s ally Maria Bartiromo attacked Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) on her Sunday Fox show, accusing him of “betraying the Republican base” and not providing money for DDT’s wall. In defense of the bill, the far-right senator said that there were things that both parties did and didn’t like. When Cramer repeated that Democrats won’t agree to building a wall, Bartiromo said, “Why not work for the American people!” Then she repeated DDT’s comments about the bill being used against the GOP in 2022 and 2024. DDT has said he won’t endorse any Republican who supports it. Cramer pointed out that “the vast majority of Republicans are very supportive of this” and that DDT “didn’t give one reason why it’s a bad deal other than it’s Joe Biden’s.”

DDT used the infrastructure bill to again insult McConnell, first calling the bill a “disgrace” and then blaming the Senate Minority leader for it. DDT wrote:

“If Mitch McConnell was smart, which we’ve seen no evidence of, he would use the debt ceiling card to negotiate a good infrastructure package… It is a gift to the Democrat Party, compliments of Mitch McConnell and some RINOs [Republicans in name only], who have no idea what they are doing.”

DDT also stayed in the limelight when his replacement for AG Bill Barr in late December 2020, acting AG Jeffrey Rosen, testified in a closed-door hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee about DDT’s efforts to suborn the election in a conspiracy with acting deputy AG Jeffrey Clark. The testimony concerned Clark’s attempts to push top leaders to falsify the election and publicly assert that election fraud investigations went against the Electoral College results. Earlier Barr had stated that DOJ found no fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Rosen refused to follow DDT’s demands, leading DDT to consider replacing Rosen with Clark in January 2021. Clark continues to maintain his official White House communications “were consistent with law.”

Rosen described five encounters with Clark, including one in late December when Clark admitted to meeting with DDT and promised he would not do so again. Clark continued his unauthorized conversations with DDT about casting doubt on Biden’s victory, especially in close states such as Georgia, and drafted a letter for Rosen to send to the state’s legislators, wrongly demanding they should void Biden’s victory in the state because DOJ was investigating voter fraud there. These actions were followed by DDT’s fiery speech on January 6, encouraging his followers’ violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

DDT ranted about election fraud, claiming his victory for president in the 2020 election, in an interview with Fox’s Dan Bongino last night, but his lies were edited out, according to his furious spokeswoman Liz Harrington. Her tweets justifying his statements are here. DDT also claimed he was being politically persecuted by prosecutors in New York.  

While the infrastructure bill keeps chugging along, the U.S. added 943,000 jobs in July, bringing the total during President Joe Biden’s first six months to over four million, the only president with this achievement. June’s job gain was adjusted upward to 938,000 positions. Economic growth is the fastest in 40 years, and the unemployment rate of 5.4 percent is the lowest since the pandemic began. Now people wait to see the effect of COVID-19 problems from the unvaccinated affects.

Thanks to congressional action, the poverty rate in the U.S. may drop to 7.7 percent for the current year, a 45 percent decline from 2018 and the largest drop on record. The money sent to people in the past few months put food on the table and made rent payments as the pandemic forced people out of work. Without stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment insurance—which 26 states refused—the poverty rate would be at 23.1 percent. White people benefited the most: non-Hispanic White people in the U.S. have a projected 5.8 percent poverty rate compared to 11.8 percent for Hispanic people. Although the poverty rate for Blacks will still be 9.2 percent, it would have been 36.0 percent without assistance. 

After concerns that U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan abandoned Afghans helping U.S. forces including interpreting for them, Congress has passed $500 million to fund emergency transportation and housing for them and their families. Another $600 million goes to State Department funding and makes an additional 8,000 “special immigrant visas beyond the exiting 26,500 authorized while easing some eligibility requirements for those visas. Another $71 million in the $2.1 billion emergency spending package went to avert the Capitol Police funding crisis, and $42 million covered the pandemic costs on Capitol Hill, including reimbursements for overtime, protective equipment, cleaning costs, and telework equipment. More funding–$521 million—covers National Guard costs—and $300 million will harden doors and windows on the Capitol campus and install new camera systems. including reimbursements for overtime, protective equipment, cleaning costs and telework equipment. The Senate voted 98-0 and the House, 416-11 for the expenditures.

Republicans claim their objection to the second infrastructure bill is the $2.3 trillion over eight years, under $300 billion a year, to “Build Back Better.” Yet they don’t object to their expenditure of $6.4 trillion—outside the outrageously normal Pentagon budget—on destabilizing wars in the Middle East based on GOP lies. Deaths, either foreign or in the U.S., give Republicans no concern. The GOP expenditure of $6.4 trillion could give the U.S. a completely renewable energy grid. War and militarization annually take almost two-third of the U.S. discretionary spending.

Last year, the Defense Department, its leadership appointed by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), gave $422 billion in frequently non-competitive contracts, $40 billion more than the previous year and $60 billion more than the year before that. The Pentagon is also spending $1.6 million for the F-35 fighter jet so unfunctional that it recently shot itself. At ten percent of GDP, Biden’s jobs package is one-fourth of the 1930s New Deal bringing the U.S. out of the Great Depression.

The GOP 2017 tax cut for the wealthy and big business costs the U.S. $2.3 trillion over ten years, a little more than the progressive American Jobs Plan, thus the U.S. is giving trillions more in tax breaks to the wealthy and big business than helping the economy. Taxing investment income like wages and strengthening the estate tax for the wealthy would bring in $886 billion more each year, over three times what the jobs act would cost. Tax evasion by the wealthy annually costs the U.S. $175 billion, one-third of that from the top 1 percent. Collecting that money would pay for two-thirds of Biden’s jobs plan, but Republicans refuse to allow it in protection of their donors.

At a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig reported a loss of perhaps $1 trillion each year because of error, fraud, and lack of staff to get the revenue. The loss of corporate taxes in a half century is phenomenal: corporate taxes provided 23 percent of federal revenue in 1966 compared to seven percent in 2019. Treasury Secretary refers to the “30-year race to the bottom” as tax havens and globalization ease the process of escaping taxes.

From 2000 to 2016, corporate tax receipts averaged about 1.7 percent of total GDP; corporate revenues dropped almost 40 percent and will be over 25 percent less during the next decade.

In the 1950s, revenue from the federal corporate income tax averaged about 5 percent of GDP per year. Last decade, corporate tax revenue averaged just 2 percent of GDP annually. Since 2009, corporate tax revenue has averaged just 1.2 percent, the lowest three-year average in American postwar history.  

The U.S. is at the bottom of the G7 countries.

 

 

 

Biden recommended that an increase for big business would more than pay for the two infrastructure bills, but Republicans are protecting their donors. Instead people will go back to poverty when they no longer receive the benefits from the stimulus bills. Republicans in the 1950s understood the importance of living wages, unions, healthcare, and other rights bringing people out of desperation. A half century later, Republicans use people only as menial labor in order to enrich themselves. That’s the reason they don’t want the second infrastructure bill.

April 25, 2021

Biden’s Economy Disappoints GOP

With lies and no evidence, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said President Joe Biden is taking “destabilizing” actions, his foreign policy has been a “disaster,” and he has tossed a “wet blanket” on the economy. He accused Biden of “wanting to raise taxes in a large amount” although Biden’s taxes will drastically drop for anyone making under $75,000.

The U.S. economy seems to be humming along: stock markets rising, the weekly number of unemployment claims is almost half what they were a few months ago, and March saw almost one million new jobs, the largest increase in seven months. The thought of Biden’s stable economy greatly disappoints most Republicans. Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) ran his losing campaign by claiming Biden’s election would cause a huge economic crash.

“If he gets in, you will have a depression the likes of which you’ve never seen. Your 401(k)s will go to hell and it’ll be a very, very sad day for this country.”

Republicans guaranteed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) would be a disaster. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), leaving Congress next year, warned about “too much liquidity going into the system.” The checks went out last month, immediately after the GOP congressional members voted en masse against ARPA and then had to lie about supporting the law all along. Retail sales are up, and the unemployment rate is dropping. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, a DDT appointee, dismissed the GOP’s dire warnings  about runaway inflation.

Republicans trying to sabotage any Democratic success and help for people howled about Biden’s proposal of an infrastructure law paid by the corporate tax increase to seven percent lower before DDT’s tampering. They claim the tax increase will “hurt the American family and millions of struggling small businesses.” Yet reducing the corporate tax rate in 2017 didn’t lower prices, and Biden’s plan raises capital gains tax only on people earning more than $1 million a year.

The American Families Plan provides for national paid leave, reduction in childcare costs, and free prekindergarten and community college. With free childcare costs, mothers can afford to find employment. Increasing taxes for the wealthy and big businesses also provides lead-free water, transit, education, and other infrastructure as well as decent jobs. Republicans know that Biden’s success means their possible failure in the 2022 and 2024 elections.

The International Monetary Fund predicts Biden’s economy will have its best year since 1984 after the first quarter indicated an annual increase of six percent or possibly higher by the end of the year. DDT gained no new jobs during his full four years; Biden added 1.3 million jobs since the election. DDT’s sole economic metric was the stock market: the Dow Jones has gone up almost 17 percent since Biden’s presidency was announced on November 7, 2020, greater than DDT’s 10.5 percent gain in the same time period four years ago.

Republicans spread the same doom and gloom after the election of Bill Clinton in 1992. John Kasich, a former GOP congressman and Ohio governor, said about Clinton’s agenda:

“This plan will not work. If it was to work, then I’d have to become a Democrat.”

Clinton’s plan worked, but Kasich stayed a Republican. Republicans predicted George W. Bush’s tax cuts would bring historic economic gains; his second term ended with the worst recession in many decades. Republicans predicted disaster for President Obama’s Recovery Act; Indiana’s Mike Pence claimed in 2009, it “won’t work to put Americans back to work.” He continued:

“It won’t create jobs. The only thing it will stimulate is more government and more debt. It will probably do more harm than good.”

President Obama’s plan brought the U.S. out of the Great Recession, rescued jobs, and introduced a decade of sustained growth.

In 2017, Republicans and DDT lost big when their regressive tax plan failed to improve private-sector hiring, bring higher wages, and greatly increase business investments. Corporations used financial gains from tax cuts to buy stocks in their companies, purchase other companies, fire employees, and stash money overseas. Lack of revenue from less consumer spending by lower- and middle-class people couldn’t replace losses from the tax cuts, and business investment abruptly dropped.

Why Republican presidents’ economies fail:

Republican presidents are slow to respond to recessions and other crises.

Democratic presidents are more pragmatic and listen to evidence about deficit reduction and government support.

Republican presidents believe only in tax cuts for the wealthy that do nothing for economic growth.

According to Neil Barron in the conservative Hill, Biden’s ARPA reverses 30 years of failed trickle-down economics widening income and wealth inequality to trickle-up economics. It creates demand for products and services to generate economic growth by increasing spending ability for consumers who will spend money. Biden’s “jobs” (aka infrastructure) plan invests in families, education, clean water and energy, housing, healthcare, etc. The strategy follows economic success after World War II when the top tax rate was 70 to 90 percent. Funding the world’s biggest middle class, investment went not only to the GOP mandate of roads and bridges but also to education, health, and research. The 1950s brought three of the four biggest decreases in U.S. unemployment and two years of the nation’s fastest economic growth—under a Republican president.

For the last half century, the GOP trickle-down tax cuts for the wealthy brought negative or flat economic growth, higher unemployment, and stifled consumption by moving income from consumers to rich savers. In over a half century, Republicans contributed more to federal deficits: Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush raised the deficit from $70 billion to $175 billion (almost double today with inflation), but Democrat Bill Clinton cut it to zero. George W. Bush took the deficit back to $1.2 billion with tax cuts and war; Democrat Barack Obama rescued the nation from the Great Recession and halved the deficit to $600 billion before DDT ran it up to $1 trillion—before COVID-19.

Barron writes:

“Spending $100 billion [in infrastructure] would add roughly 1 million full-time American jobs. And each $100 invested in infrastructure would boost productivity and private sector output by $13 to $17, generating more wage growth and economic benefits across more income classes. Every dollar invested in infrastructure under the AJP is expected to return $1.50, which is among the highest rates of return for federal government spending. And by 2024, the AJP would grow GDP by 3.8 percent and add 13.5 million jobs, compared with just 2.2 percent GDP growth and 11.4 million jobs if it doesn’t become law.”

Graham complains about “destabilizing,” but evidence shows a different picture. In the three months since Biden’s inauguration, fewer households say they can’t pay their rent and don’t have enough to eat in the past week. In December, 1 in 7 adults reported they sometimes or often didn’t have enough to eat; now that number is 1 in 11—the lowest percentage since April 2020 when the survey began.

In Biden’s first three months, 200 million doses of vaccines were administered although a large number of Republicans, including 47 percent of white males, refuse to be vaccinated. The United States is experiencing a greater feeling of optimism although the wealthy are still doing better. The economy may largely depend on the pandemic: GOP counties and states may suffer the most if Republicans continue to refuse vaccinations. Most Southern states, like tourism-dependent North Carolina, lag behind the national average in vaccinations.

Bloomberg’s positive view of Biden’s economic dynamism comes from companies’ readiness to increase efficiency and employees ready to return to work. The pandemic changed business practices—stronger productivity with increased online marketing and automation. In the last quarter of 2020, businesses increased spending on equipment by 25.4 percent after reducing this spending for over a year. For two decades, the GDP increased at two percent average, lower than 3.3 percent than the previous two decades. A faster growth in the future will help the government’s debt because of increased revenue.

A major difference between Biden’s and DDT’s economic strategies is DDT’s reliance on the Federal Reserve. In the past decade, Congress counted on the Fed’s cheap-money policies for economic health, causing more wealth inequality: the stock market kept rising, but people couldn’t find jobs. Richer people worked from home, but poorer people couldn’t find jobs. Fifty million people in the world moved from middle- to lower-class. With GOP presidents, Republicans gave some support for the poor to be re-elected and then declared austerity with Democratic presidents.

In 2010, GOP lawmakers called for cuts before the economy healed. With interest rates almost at bottom, the Fed made large-scale bond purchases, hoping to save the economy. The slow solution finally dropping the unemployment rate after a decade to a half-century low. In 2007, the bottom half of the population had 2.1 percent of U.S. assets, and the top one percent had 29.7 percent. By 2020, the bottom half dropped to 1.8 percent while the top one percent owned 31 percent of the wealth. The pandemic made the situation worse.  

April 10, 2021

GOP Opposes Another Popular Bill

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 12:02 AM
Tags: , , ,

Republican congressional members maintain they will not vote for any infrastructure bill no matter what—even if they haven’t seen any of the provisions–and lie about it. People need to understand what the word “infrastructure” means. Politico has put together a definition from dictionary resources:

“The system of public works of a country, state or region; also the resources (such as personnel, buildings or equipment) required for an activity.”

The word is derived from “infra,” meaning “below,” and “structure” meaning “an assembling.” Structure refers to both the physical and the social abstract, including resources, organization, and personnel who do the work. The system for building is a type of structure. “Public works” includes highways, bridges, and schools as well as parks, telephone lines, water systems, broadband, and the delivery of energy. It’s anything built for public use, enjoyment, or activity.

GOP legislators are 100 percent opposed to an infrastructure bill, but 79 percent of the U.S. people want repairs to roads, bridges, ports, and railroads. Seventy-one percent want high-speed internet, 68 percent want lead pipes replaced and tax credits for renewable energy, and 64 percent want higher taxes on corporations to pay for this infrastructure. Support for President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan for the infrastructure include 57 percent from Republicans and 67 percent from independents.

Twice as many people, 54 percent, want the infrastructure paid for with people making over $400,000 than without tax hikes; by comparison, 47 percent prefer a raise on corporations with 21 percent less likely to support it with th54% said they supported infrastructure improvements with tax increases on corporations and Americans making over $400,000,  In contrast, 47% of voters polled said that they’d be more likely to support a $3 trillion funded by a corporate tax increase, while 21% said they’d be less likely to support it.

Much has been said about the $2 trillion for the proposed bill, but that amount is covered over eight years. The cost would be about 20 percent of what taxpayers shell out for defense every years.

To kill the bill before it’s even introduced, Republicans claim only 5 to 7 percent is for “real infrastructure.” They deny inclusion of not only home-care services and electric-vehicle incentives but also of water pipes, electric wires, and railways—infrastructure that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) promoted in 2018. In addition, Republicans deny any increase in corporate taxes that DDT shaved from 35 percent to 21 percent in 2017. Infrastructure would require a raise to 28 percent, a 20 percent decrease from pre-2017. Job growth in the last three Obama/Biden era with a 35-percent tax rate was stronger than the first three years of the DDT/Pence era despite the drop in tax rate to 21 percent.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg answered South Dakota’s GOP Gov. Kristi Noem’s complaint that “this isn’t infrastructure—it’s got money for pipes.” He explained people need water to live and pipes have lead poisoning. Broadband is infrastructure, according to Buttigieg, because of school and work via Zoom. Conservatives also slammed Buttigieg for biking from his office to the White House for a Cabinet meeting. They claimed he had “staged” a photo-op instead of using his bicycle for his own transportation. Videos show they’re wrong.

Mississippi’s GOP Gov. Tate Reeves told Biden cutting taxes would pay for infrastructure, the same falsehood used to push through the 2017 draconian tax cuts that gave no help to the U.S. economy. On the other hand, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports that raising taxes on corporations will make the tax code fairer and not hurt the economic recovery. The study also pointed out the severe income inequality caused by the tax cuts. A corporate tax increase would fall on the wealthiest “people who have already recovered from (or never experienced) the recession.” “Policymakers [should] prioritize still-struggling households” affected by corporate tax hikes to fund public investments. According to Biden, “Nobody making under $400,000 a year will have their taxes increased.” Note that Republicans, refusing to create jobs through the infrastructure proposal because of giving back only 50 percent of the tax cut four years ago, are trying to pass themselves off as the party of the people.

Using his familiar incoherent language, DDT ranted that Biden was using the infrastructure proposal to “build up” China. During DDT’s term, almost every week was labeled infrastructure, but he completely failed to accomplish any building, let alone the vast rebuilding of U.S. infrastructure he promised. The objection to Biden’s plan is exacerbated by a serious case of GOP sour grapes.

Republicans will need a lot of deflections to convince they are the party of the people by opposing Biden’s American Jobs Plan. When talking about his infrastructure proposal, Biden said:

“In 2019, an independent analysis found that there are 91 … Fortune 500 companies, the biggest companies in the world, including Amazon that use various loopholes so they pay not a single, solitary penny in federal income tax. I don’t want to punish them, but that’s just wrong. That’s just wrong.  A fireman and a teacher paying 22%? Amazon and 90 other major corporations paying zero in federal taxes? I’m going to put an end to that.”

GOP senators represent states desperate for infrastructure help. Mississippi, represented by Roger Wicker, has needs in every area from roads to drinking water, and Missouri, represented by Roy Blunt, said his said the “country need[s] a significant infrastructure upgrade.” They oppose the any idea of tax increases.

Yet 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies paid an average of 11 percent because of GOP loopholes, exemptions, and giveaways. Last year, 55 of the country’s biggest corporations paid zero federal income tax on over $40 billion in profits while receiving a combined federal rebate of over $3 billion which gave them a tax rate of negative 9 percent. Since the GOP tax cut in 2017, 26 corporations including FedEx and Nike, paid the same zero federal income tax on a combined income of $77 billion.

Republicans ignore the rich history of government infrastructure investment pushing economic growth. In the 1950s, the GOP president successfully promoted the entire interstate project. The Republicans of the Dwight Eisenhower era of the 1950s supported research and development to repair infrastructure as well as developing technologies for future economies. It was a time when government investment was a much higher share of GDP than now and far higher tax rates on both corporations and the wealthy. The top tax rate was 91 percent. Compare the tax rate difference between the Republican infrastructure of the 1950s and Biden’s proposal. 

Long before that, however, New York state built the Erie Canal between 1818 and 1825 for $7 million, the equivalent of a $1 trillion today as the share of GDP. Land grants were behind higher education and the railroads. The first Roosevelt, Teddy, built the Panama Canal, and the second, FDR, provided electricity to rural areas. All these would be considered “out-of-control socialist spending spree,” according to current Republicans. At the same time, DDT’s tax cuts not only didn’t help the economy, but it also gave money to the 40 percent of foreigners who own U.S. stocks. In addition, the 2017 tax cuts encouraged U.S. corporations to invest overseas. DDT and the GOP members of Congress wanted the bill only to save money on their own taxes and get more donations from grateful businesses.

The U.S. ranks 13th in the world for infrastructure quality, and public domestic investment fell over 40 percent since the 1960s as a share of the economy. History proves tax cuts don’t cause economic growth as wealth moved upward since Ronald Reagan, with U.S. billionaires acquiring an additional $1 trillion, a 38 percent increase, in a time of the worst poverty rate for over a half century. 

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has put himself in control of what bills will pass the Senate. With a 50-50 split between the two party factions, the Democrats need everyone in their own party on board. Manchin, however, has announced that he won’t support bills without GOP votes, and Republicans have announced their policy of rejecting every Democratic bill. It’s obvious that Manchin is enjoying all the attention: WaPo has published of his op-ed, and the Senate cannot move forward while he won’t take part. Manchin warned of doing away with the filibuster for a simple majority vote, calling it a “new and dangerous precedent,” but his personal control over every bill in the Senate, including those passed by the House, fits that same description.

Blocking the infrastructure bill will be equally hard on Manchin and the GOP. Although Democratically-oriented cities will benefit, rural communities desperately need broadband access, the deficiencies in those areas heightened during the pandemic when far more activities have moved to remote communication. Other rural benefits would be the huge investment in alternative energy, much of it outside cities and a big income source for Iowa and Kansas farmers. Another provision is two years of tuition-free community college, now quite expensive. The GOP “party of inaction” unanimously voted against the stimulus bill and then tried to take credit for it. If the same thing happens for an infrastructure bill, they could lose all credibility by the 2022 elections.

March 13, 2021

Biden Spends Successful Week

In a paraphrase of Charles Dickens—it was the best of speeches; it was the worse of speeches. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) wanted to appear in control. DDT had blocked testing, but the number of coronavirus case was still at 1,267. For a month, he had compared the deadly disease to the seasonal flu, claiming coronavirus  would just disappear and continued that lie for another seven-plus months as the daily number of U.S. cases rose to over 77,000. 

DDT read from his speech in a monotone when he announced a limit on some world travel, suspending travel from Europe for 30 days which added to bans on parts of Italy and South Korea as well as China and Iran. He exempted the UK, with far more cases than many EU countries, and permitted U.S. citizens to return to the U.S., crowding the airports and spreading infections. DDT said, “The virus will not have a chance against us.”

DDT’s speech misrepresented the administration’s policy in “suspending all travel from Europe” and blocking “tremendous amount of trade and cargo,” which also hadn’t been decided. His boast that the health insurance industry agreed to waive “all co-payments for coronavirus treatments” was also a lie. DDT continued his racist assertion about COVID-19 being a “foreign virus” that “started in China.”

Exactly one year later, March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden’s first prime-time speech excelled in empathy for the U.S. people and hope for the future. He announced all adults will be eligible for the COVID-19 virus by May 1, and his promise of 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days will be achieved by his first 60 days. The increase in vaccinations comes from the purchase of 100 million more doses of the one-time shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Biden also mourned the 545,000+ deaths in the past year from the virus, many of the deaths unnecessary because DDT did little or nothing about stopping the disease.

The far-right frantically searched for ways to criticize Biden’s speech. Tucker Carlson, already in trouble for attacking women in the military, came up with his need for “freedom.” About Biden’s statement that people in the U.S. can safely gather in small groups for Independence Day, Carlson ranted:  

“This is a free people. This is a free country. How dare you tell us who we can spend the Fourth of July with?”

Erik Wemple sarcastically wrote that “only a power-hungry radical would suggest that people hang out with ‘your families and friends’ on a holiday.” 

Biden made the speech on the same day he signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) after its final passage in the House with a 220 to 211 vote. Of the two House Democrats opposing the bill the first time, Jared Golden (ME) voted no the second time while Kurt Schrader (OR) changed his vote to yes.

With the signing a day early before the promised deadline, many of the $1,400 stipends were delivered this weekend. ARPA provides an average tax cut of $3,000 for the low and middle class and a $6,000 cut for families, giving people in this category almost 70 percent of the tax benefits. It will raise after-tax incomes by 3.8 percent. This step is the opposite of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which provided about half the benefits to the top five percent of the population, those who made about $308,000 that year.

Not one Republican voted for ARPA, but at least one of them took credit for it. Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi bragged about the approximately $29 billion bailout for the restaurant industry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “It’s typical that they will vote no and take the dough.” Republicans are now moving forward to repeal the estate tax for the remaining 1,900 people not exempted by the 2017 tax cut bill. The current tax covers only estates worth more than $22 million. Their action doesn’t fit Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) description of the GOP as “the party of steel workers, construction workers, pipeline workers, police officers, firefighters, waiters, and waitresses.”

The 657 wealthiest billionaires in the U.S. could pay for two-thirds of ARPA with the $1.3 trillion they acquired in the past year. Three of them—Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg—made enough to pay for the $250 billion of supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 weekly for the upcoming six months. Musk’s increase of $142 billion, a 567 percent increase in assets, could support farmers, small businesses, bars and restaurants, and other industries. Bezos’ $67 billion could fund assistance to renters, homeowners, and veterans with $8 billion left over. [visual – ARPA chart]

Because of current law, the billionaires $4.2 trillion in wealth won’t be taxed during their lifetimes less they sell the underlying assets at a gain. Other laws allow inheritors to escape taxation on the increase.

Biden and the Dems aren’t resting on their laurels after passing ARPA: their next project will be job-creating packages on climate, broadband, and transportation issues. Pelosi expressed hope a transportation system will let them address more needs such as education, housing, and water systems, some of them over 100 years old. With the Senate filibuster requiring at least ten Republicans to support any bills, Democrats ponder another budget reconciliation process for infrastructure and ways to pay for expenditures. One possibility, bringing GOP opposition, is tax increases on corporations and the wealthy, drastically lowered in the 2017 GOP tax cut bill.

More success for Biden during the week came from the Senate confirmation of three more Cabinet members:

Michael Regan: The vote for EPA Secretary, 66-34, allows him to rebuild an agency losing thousands of employees and rolling back dozens of clean air and water protections during the Trump administration. A former EPA employee, he pledged to change years of funding cuts, industry-friendly policies, and rejection of its scientists. Regan has “a special obligation to the underserved and under-represented.” Soon before he took over the agency, the EPA gave his predecessor a 23-page “letter of concern” to Regan’s predecessor reporting racial discrimination from hog-farm pollution resulting from investigation into a complaint. The EPA has “deep concern about the possibility that African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans have been subjected to discrimination as the result of [North Carolina] DEQ’s operation of the Swine Waste General Permit program.”

 Merrick Garland: The new DOJ Attorney General, confirmed with a 70-30 vote, will begin investigating whistleblower allegations about political DOJ hiring by acting AG Jeffrey Bossert Clark in the last days before Biden’s inauguration. In late December, Clark and DDT allegedly discussed a method of unseating then acting AG Jeffrey Rosen to advance DDT’s plans for overturning Georgia’s election before the congressional certification of electoral votes on January 6. Garland was greeted with a standing ovation when he took his oath and promised everyone will be treated by the same set of rules.

Marcia Fudge: HUD Secretary was confirmed with a 66-34 majority, thanks to GOP support including that of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader.  She needs to overcome the actions of her predecessor, Ben Carson, with his massive exodus of career staff, destruction of fair housing enforcement, and failure to address a nationwide crisis in affordable housing worsened by the pandemic. HUD’s aging issue includes 63 percent of employees eligible to retire, including 50 percent of supervisors and managers.

Although the confirmation of Xavier Becerra for HHS Secretary was blocked in committee, the Senate voted 51-48 to bypass the panel for the entire chamber to consider his nomination. Both Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have announced their support of Becerra.

With southern border shelters freed up from some pandemic restrictions, Biden has reactivated over 200 beds for unaccompanied immigrant children and eliminated DDT’s agreement causing the arrest of sponsors who want to take them. The former administration had given sponsors’ fingerprints and other information to DHS.

In another immigration change this week, a program reinstated permission for parents legally in the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to ask for their children to come to the U.S.

On International Women’s Day, Biden signed two executive orders. One orders the review of former Education Secretary DeVos’ regulation in handling the process of sexual assault allegations by higher education institution. New Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was directed to consider “suspending, revising, or rescinding” agency actions violating the policy of non-discrimination “on the basis of sex.”

The other order establishes the White House Gender Policy Council. The Council will help Biden “ensure that every domestic and foreign policy we pursue rests on a foundation of dignity and equity for women.” A special assistant to Biden will focus on “policies to advance equity for Black, indigenous and Latina women and girls of color.” Co-chair Julissa Reynoso, first lady Jill Biden’s chief of staff, said that the full participation of women and girls in society is “essential to the economic well-being, health and security of our nation and the world. This is a matter of human rights, justice and fairness.”

To complete Dickens’ beginning to A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us …”

And thus we have the description of life before and after January 20, 2021.

 

November 30, 2020

Dems Back; GOP Reverses to Cry Austerity

Filed under: Budget — trp2011 @ 1:07 AM
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During President Obama’s two terms, Republicans bitterly complained about the national debt, giving that as a reason to vote Republican. While bragging about his wonderful economy, Dictator Donald Trump brags about his “best ever” economy but pushes the U.S. into greater debt, especially with a massive tax cut for his wealthy friend and huge corporations before he completely mismanaged a pandemic and forcing expensive stimulus bills.

Today’s “letter” from Heather Cox Richardson explains the history of Republicans’ faulty policy of tax cuts driving the U.S. into a fiscal hole while in power and then moving to austerity the instant Democrats have any power:

 

“One story jumped out at me today. The Hill reported that as soon as a Democrat is back in the White House, Republicans intend to retrench and be careful about how the country spends money, although during Trump’s term, even before the pandemic, they spent huge sums without worrying about it.

This is a pattern. Since President Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s, Republicans have insisted that tax cuts will pay for themselves by stimulating economic growth, thus increasing tax revenues as everyone gets richer. At the same time, they have dramatically increased military spending without ever suggesting a way to pay for it. Then they complain about the debt and insist that the only way to get our finances back into whack is to cut domestic spending.

There are two important metrics involved in figuring out our national expenses. One is the deficit, which is the difference between the money the government spends every year and the money it takes in. The other is the debt, which is the total amount the government owes.

Until the late twentieth century, the government took on large debt during the Civil War, WWI, WWII and during the Great Depression, when Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt initiated a new kind of government that regulated business, provided a basic social safety net, and promoted infrastructure. But leaders of both parties believed that deficits should reflect emergencies and that debt should be held at a low percentage of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, used to estimate the growth of the economy. It was to pay down the national debt that the Republican Party created national taxation, including the income tax, during the Civil War, and that Republican Dwight Eisenhower kept the top income tax bracket at 91% during his administration. Eisenhower was the last Republican president to balance a budget.

After the Great Depression, taxes and the social welfare programs they funded created what economists call the “great compression” when economic inequality in America shrank.

But the stagflation of the 1970s drove white families into higher tax brackets without giving them more buying power at the same time that politicians eager to end business regulation and social welfare programs told them that their tax dollars were going to the civil rights protesters that featured so prominently on the evening news. In 1980, they voted for a president who promised to cut the taxes that he insisted were going to “welfare queens” and to put money back in their pockets.

Ronald Reagan promised that cutting taxes would actually produce more revenue. As business leaders—the supply side—had more money, they would invest in businesses which would hire more workers, at better wages. Rather than focusing on the demand side of the equation—the workers—as governments had done since FDR fought the Depression with the New Deal, Reagan said he could jump-start the economy by putting money into the supply side. The man who would become his own vice president, George H.W. Bush, called this idea “voodoo economics,” but who would complain about a plan that enabled Americans to have the government programs they had come to depend on, without having to pay for them?

Unfortunately, it actually was voodoo economics. In 1981, Congress cut $35 billion from the next year’s budget and cut the top income tax rates from 70% to 50%, as well as cutting capital gains and estate taxes. At Reagan’s urging, it also added $17 billion in new defense spending. In the next five years, it would increase defense spending by 40%. As that money (and more, from the deregulation of savings and loan banks, and from lower interest rates) boosted the economy, it seemed that supply-side economics worked.

An up-and-coming Republican spokesman named Grover Norquist insisted that voters did not want to be taxed to pay down deficits, and it was clear they didn’t have to be. When Democrats called for higher taxes and defense cuts to balance the deficit, Republicans accused them of being anti-business and soft on communism.

But the booming economy was paid for by extensive borrowing. During Reagan’s years in office, the federal debt tripled from $994 billion to $2.8 trillion, and America went from being a creditor nation to a debtor nation. Republican leaders insisted that the Democrats were responsible for the rising debt because they would not make sufficient cuts in domestic spending, but in fact increased defense spending meant the administration itself never submitted a balanced budget.

When he took office, George H.W. Bush tried to take on the national debt, which was costing Americans $200 billion a year in interest payments. In 1990, facing a $171 billion deficit for the next year, Bush agreed to raise taxes if Democrats agreed to steep spending cuts. Republicans led by Georgia Representative Newt Gingrich signed onto the deal in private, but in public began to force those willing to raise taxes, people they called RINOs—Republicans in Name Only—out of their party. The belief that economic growth depended on cutting taxes had become the test of Republican purity.

In 1993, to deal with budget deficits, President Bill Clinton convinced Congress to raise tax rates on incomes over $250,000—affecting about 1% of Americans—to 39.6%, increase the highest corporate tax rate by 1%, and increase the gas tax. Not a single Republican voted for the measure, but under it, the economy boomed and the annual deficits began to shrink. In 1997, Clinton expanded domestic programs and cut the capital gains tax rate, but even still, in 1998, the government was producing a budget surplus.

Even before he took office, President George W. Bush prepared a $1.6 trillion tax cut to wipe that surplus out. Norquist explained to a reporter that so long as there was money to spend, it would go to social welfare legislation, and the Republicans were determined to starve the government, not feed it. Bush did not get the full cut he wanted, but in June 2001 Congress passed a bill cutting $1.3 trillion over ten years.

Immediately after 9-11, Congress appropriated $358 billion for security before Bush dramatically increased military spending—by $48 billion—while slashing domestic spending. When the administration launched more tax cuts the following year, Bush’s Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, worried about a fiscal crisis. Vice President Dick Cheney disagreed: “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” Bush took the country into war in Afghanistan and Iraq but, for the first time in U.S. history, did not raise taxes to pay for the military actions. Instead, Congress cut taxes again. By 2009, the Congressional Research Service estimated the cost of those wars at $1 trillion.  President Barack Obama took office in early 2009 with the Great Recession in full swing. Deficit spending to restart the economy put the deficit at more than $1.4 trillion that year. As the economy recovered, deficits dropped to $585 billion.

Under Trump, though, they rose dramatically again despite the fact he inherited a growing economy. In 2017, he pushed through a tax cut which increased the 2019 deficit to $984 billion. It was projected to be $1.02 trillion in 2020—a 74% increase in four years of a strong economy—when the coronavirus hit. This meant that interest payments on the federal debt—before coronavirus—were estimated to cost $382 billion, 8.2% of total government spending. [Comparison of deficits for Obama’s last three years with DDT’s first three years. DDT’s tax cuts aren’t paying for themselves.] 

The pandemic, of course, required a huge relief package. The CARES bill appropriated $2.2 trillion, making this year’s deficit projected to be at least $3.7 trillion.

Measured against GDP, our accumulated debt is now higher than at any time except in 1946, during World War II. In June 2020, it was $20.3 trillion.

Economists are of two minds (at least!) about the economic effects of deficits and the federal debt, but there is one very clear political meaning to them. This pattern of government spending and taxation since 1981 has moved wealth upward dramatically. In 1979, the top 1% of Americans held 20.5% of the nation’s wealth. In 1989 the top 1% held 35.7%.

By 2017, the top 1% owned 40% of the country’s wealth, more than the bottom 90% combined. The top 20% in 2017 owned 90% of the wealth, leaving just 10% for the remaining 80%. The bottom 20% of Americans have no wealth; they are in debt.

When Republicans today say they are going to turn their attention back to the deficits and the debt, what they are saying is that they intend to continue to cut taxes. Then they will blame the Democrats for being fiscally irresponsible when they call for the infrastructure and social welfare spending that used to keep the American economic playing field somewhat level.

[Note: As you can see, the U.S. is moving forward on the same circular pattern. Republicans make a horrible mess, and Democrats get elected. Democrats clean up the mess. The minute the country gets in better shape, the Republicans make another mess. And so on.

September 7, 2020

Labor Day: DDT Makes Almost Everyone a ‘Loser’

Last week, an Atlantic article addressed Dictator Donald Trump (DDT in his description of captured, wounded, and killed military members as “losers” and “suckers.” Today, the fourth Labor Day since DDT was inaugurated, over 90 percent of the people in the United States are “losers.” Labor Day is meant to celebrate but under DDT:

Workplace safety has been destroyed: OSHA’s website no longer provides names of people dying in workplace accidents, and safety protections are rolled back for oil rig and coal industry workers.

The number of workers eligible for overtime pay has been cut in half, and workers are losing the ability to unionize and collective bargain.

Only half of workers for companies employing fewer than 50 people has access to 401(k)s, belying DDT’s claim that the stock market helps workers.

COVID-19 can’t be blamed for all the bad economy: the recession, defined by two quarters of negative growth, began last February before the virus’ onslaught. DDT also did nothing to stop the pandemic for months. He used the infections and deaths in blue states, hoping the problems would help him get elected. The economy was already too weak to overcome the pandemic’s effects, especially with a collapsing healthcare infrastructure. The tie of people’s health insurance to their employment devastated the economy after almost one-third of workers lost their employment or were furloughed.

The RNC attempt to “sell” the economy failed:

Employment: The stable economy in 2017 taken over by DDT in 2017 had a good record for consecutive monthly job growth, compared to Barack Obama’s assuming the presidency at the worst of the Great Recession. Almost 7 million jobs were created during Obama’s last three years in office; DDT’s first three years shrank 394,000 jobs to 6,585,000 jobs. Job growth in July, 4.7 million new jobs, shrank to 1.7 million in July and 1.4 million August, many of them temporary census takers to be laid off in a month or two. The number of permanently laid-off workers instead of temporary layoffs or furloughs increased to 3.4 million in August from 2.9 million in July. Of the 25 million jobs lost in the spring, only 10 million returned through July, a loss of 5.7 new jobs since DDT was inaugurated.  

Monthly unemployment numbers: In his ongoing attempts to pretend the economy is better than it is, DDT is “adjusting” the monthly unemployment figure by publishing the “additive” seasonal adjustment for first time unemployment claims. The change lowering numbers by about 21 percent. For example, the 881,000 claims for the last week of August, the first to use the system, would normally have been the usual over one million figure. About 29 million workers currently receive weekly unemployment out of a past workforce of approximately 154 million.

Economic growth: In Obama’s final three years, the economy (inflation-adjusted gross domestic product) grew 2.5 percent in 2014, 3.1 percent in 2015, and 1.7 percent in 2016—an average of 2.43 percent per year. DDT’s first three years showed an average of 2.5 percent per year—2.3 percent in 2017, 3.0 percent in 2018, and 2.2 percent in 2019. He had promised 4 percent or more per year.

Wage growth: Hourly earnings adjusted for inflation grew 3.3 percent during Obama’s final three years. DDT’s first three years were slightly less in the hourly earnings increase at an average of 3.2 percent. Any spike in wage growth now comes from disproportionate job losses for low-wage workers. Workers in the bottom 25 percent were half of the job losses whereas the top half of earners comprised one-third of the layoffs. Meanwhile, the ratio of CEO compensation to worker pay rose from 293 to 1 in 2018 to 320 to 1 in 2019.

The system may reverse as millions of lower-paid employees are being brought back, and the well-paid jobs, including those at tech companies, are disappearing. In the last four weeks, almost seven million people filed initial unemployment claims while the number of people on unemployment insurance dropped by four million, from 31 million to 27 million. Many of the people who got their jobs back, however, are in retail, restaurants, and lodging—the lower-paid end of services. It’s the next disaster.

Stock market: DDT’s S&P 500 climbed 51 percent from the day of his inauguration to August 25, 2020. It has gone down since then. The S&P 500 rose 182 percent during Obama’s two terms—about 52 percent during his second term.

Gains for the wealthy: The “K-shaped recovery,” a sideways “V” giving money to the rich and taking from the other 99 percent, was worsened by DDT’s 2017 tax cuts in which over half the people made less money in 2018 than in 2016. The almost 87 million taxpayers making under $50,000 lost $307 compared to President Obama’s last year. DDT’s policies benefit the top 7 percent: households with incomes over $200,000 rose by over 20 percent, and those making over $10 million skyrocketed by 37 percent to 22,112 households. Losing revenue from the tax cuts mostly for the wealthy adds at least $1.5 trillion to the national debt. During the pandemic, the combined wealth of more than 600 billionaires in the U.S. jumped by $792 billion, taking their collective net worth to $3.7 trillion.

National debt: The federal accumulated debt is projected to be larger next year than the overall economy for the first time since 1946—107 percent of the 2023 gross domestic product. This fiscal year’s debt ending this month expected to be $3.3 trillion reaches 16 percent of GDP, a level not seen since 1945. Federal spending skyrocketed to 32 percent of GDP for the current fiscal year. Tens of millions of people unemployed and countless businesses struggling or gone dropped revenues, down 16.3 percent from last year and 18 percent from 2015. The Congressional Budget Office estimates declines in both revenues and spending for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning October 1 with an expected 8.6 percent of GDP next year.

Deferred payroll taxes: If businesses defer the 6.2 percent employee portion of taxes for Social Security and Medicare, workers will see more money in their paychecks until the end of the year before they are forced to pay double that amount—12.4 percent—for over three months until the “deferment” is repaid. Ideally, people could save the overage in their paychecks for repayment, but realistically, many of them won’t. The needy unemployed won’t have any extra money from the deferred payroll tax because they have no paychecks. DDT is ordering this deferment for the 4.5 million federal employees, both civilian and military. Businesses describe DDT’s plan in his signed measure as “unworkable” and don’t plan to implement the order. Workers may also be able to opt out of the deferral program although the possibility is uncertain. More problems come from situations in which employees no longer work for the company as well as the government struggling to collect back-due tax balances next year.

DDT has said, if reelected he plans to eliminate the payroll tax entirely. If he carries through with his threat, the Social Security Trust Fund will be empty by 2023. The question is whether he can carry through with his plan without congressional approval. 

High U.S. trade deficit: On the campaign trail, DDT promised to produce a speedy decline in the U.S. trade deficit. July saw a 12-year high in this deficit after a surge in imports, the largest since July 2008. The negative trade balance in 2020’s first seven months is $340 billion. Over 300,000 U.S. jobs have been lost to outsourcing and imports since DDT’s inauguration, perhaps more because the figure reflects only job losses approved for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) retraining and other benefits. The Economic Policy Institute reported DDT’s trade agenda and handling of the pandemic “wiped out much of the last decade’s job gains in U.S. manufacturing.” Robert Scott, EPI senior economist and director of trade and manufacturing stated, “Nearly 1,800 factories have disappeared under Trump between 2016 and 2018.” He added the annual increase in the U.S. trade deficit since 2016 reduced GDP growth by about 0.25 percent annually for each of the three years.

New stimulus bill: One reason Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses help for states and cities during the pandemic comes from not “bailing out” blue states having budgetary problems from the pandemic. Deep-red Louisiana has a 46 percent decline in revenue and asked for $500 billion, $350 billion more than DDT offered. If McConnell sticks to his guns, the U.S. economy could contract by three percent and lose another four million jobs.

The Federal Reserve has decided to keep interest rates low, benefiting banks and allowing people to borrow more money while putting more people in debt and raising inflation. The higher prices and lower savings rates will hurt many people, especially elders. The delinquency rate for mortgages just hit the biggest quarterly rise in the history of surveying. More facts about the collapsing economy here and here

During his inauguration speech, DDT promised to provide for the “forgotten men and women of our country. These are some of the results. DDT now says a Biden/Harris administration would destroy the U.S. economy. It’s too late; people are already losers.  

July 12, 2020

DDT: Week 181 – Rotten Orders, Infecting Children

Today, I laughed at a headline in my email from the conservative Hill, News Alert: Trump Wears Mask …” With the new normal, a newsworthy item is Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), supposedly the leader of the free world, wearing a mask for the first time after five months in which he did nothing about a virulent disease killing almost 140,000 people just in the U.S. DDT said, “I’ve never been against wearing a mask.” Yet he refused to wear one in public any place until now, even if rules required the practice, and he opposed social distancing. The venue for his Tulsa (OK) speech could not post signs about social distancing, and mask-wearing was not recommended.  

DDT’s campaign tells its staff that wearing masks inside isn’t necessary; those who do are ridiculed in social pressure not to wear them. Staff members are also told not to tell colleagues if they are exposed to COVID-19.

After DDT’s long-time friend Roger Stone lied to protect DDT, the man who supposedly protects “law and order” used his presidential power to commute Stone’s sentence of 40 months for a unanimous conviction of seven felonies. DDT’s bag man AG Bill Barr had already dropped the sentence from seven to nine years in prison. Stone told DDT about WikiLeaks hacking Democratic campaign emails to help DDT win the 2016 election and then lied about doing it as well as being guilty of witness tampering and obstruction.

AG Bill Barr claims that he advised against the commutation; DDT said they never talked about it. White House officials are concerned about political backlash for the clemency grant. In an op-ed for WaPo, Robert Mueller, the special counsel who investigated Russia’s link to the 2016 election, explains what happened with Stone and wrote:

“The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”

Michael Flynn hasn’t been exonerated yet, but he took an oath on July 4 that ended with the oath of office recited by the conspiracy group QAnon to make themselves “digital soldiers,” “Where we go one, we go all!” Not familiar with the group? Its message: DDT is secretly warring with evil Democrats, the “deep state,” Hollywood celebrities, cannibals, and a hidden group of pedophiles. Last year, the FBI classified QAnon as a domestic-terror threat. Two months ago, DDT said he is considering re-hiring Flynn who is a “fine man,” and VP Mike Pence agreed.

Mary Trump’s tell-all book about DDT has covered up information about other new releases, but one to notice is Jacob Soboroff’s Separated: Inside an American Tragedy. His reporting on immigration led him to the background for taking children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border. Katie Miller, racist Stephen Miller’s wife and VP Mike Pence’s press secretary, related to Soboroff how she was sent to the border “to make me more compassionate” by seeing the separations, “but it didn’t work.” Asked if she is a white nationalist, Miller said, “No, but …,” finishing by complaining that people don’t “assimilate” and have “Little Havana.” A definition for sociopath, also called antisocial personality disorder, includes no “guilt or remorse for having harmed or mistreated others,” lack of empathy for others, and lack of remorse about harming others 

Once the country survived from DDT’s racist speeches to divide the United States for his July 4th celebration of independence, the media transferred to a focus on DDT’s insistence schools all reopen in a few weeks. Killing children with COVID-19 is all part of DDT’s plan to get reelected by his declaration the virus is gone and all is normal. It isn’t. The number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths has shot up so far that GOP governments desperately announced some business closures and other restrictions.

DDT justified opening the schools by citing other countries such as Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden successfully opened their schools. New coronavirus cases in these countries for the past 24 hours:

  • Germany: 224
  • Denmark: 0
  • Norway: 3
  • Sweden: 0

New COVID-19 cases in the U.S. for the same period of time: 61,719

Countries successfully opening their schools without huge new virus outbreaks have waited until they dropped new infections to low levels and allocated funding to schools for this purpose. The U.S. has neither.

Instead of providing incentives for opening schools, DDT threatens removing federal funds from schools that don’t comply with his orders. Congress approved $13.5 billion in emergency aid for K-12 schools, but the loss of local funding from the economic disaster caused by COVID-19 puts schools at great shortages. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos declared that families could take the money for other education if public schools don’t open. It’s part of her strategy to move all education funding to private schools, enriching for-profit corporations and churches.

Summer camps provide an example of problems in reopening schools at the height of the pandemic. Last week, a summer camp in Missouri shut down after at least 41 youth ages 13-18 and their staffers tested positive. The number increased to 82 when the children went to their homes in ten different states. The virus problem was not unique at that camp: others across the nation have closed because both youth and staffers have contracted coronavirus.

Like DDT’s other responses to COVID-19, he has no plans for safely reopening schools, just his decision to pressure governors and other state officials to force children back to school for the fall term. Instead, he rails about everyone objected has “political reasons, not … health reasons.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC) offered guidance about opening schools during a pandemic—distancing, physical barriers, and staggered scheduling. DDT found those these ideas to be too expensive and told CDC to change its guidelines. CDC Director Robert Redfield wants to keep DDT happy and said, “Clearly, the ability of this virus to cause significant illness in children is very, very, very, very limited.” Redfield softened guidelines by claiming that they aren’t “requirements” and shouldn’t be a barrier to reopening schools.

Pence said CDC will have new guidelines this coming week because the old ones are “too tough.” He also asserted children’s need for “nutrition” was the primary reason for forcing children back to school. His “concern” is at odds with his administration’s reduction in funding for school meals and food stamps. Internal CDC documents cautioned fully reopening K-12 school and universities would be the “highest risk” for the spread of coronavirus. 

Redfield’s boss HHS Secretary Alex Azar, works even harder to please DDT. As an excuse for opening schools, he said healthcare workers “don’t get infected … because they take appropriate precautions.” Over 94,000 healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19—almost three percent of the infections in the U.S.—and at least 500 of them have died—3.6 percent of the total U.S. deaths from the virus. As a reporter commented, “If we don’t have enough PPE for the healthcare workers on the front lines, how can we possibly have enough PPE for all of the country’s teachers to take the same precautions?”

As DDT plans to infect hundreds of thousands of children in school, he plans to return to separating children from parents. A federal judge ordered scores of children to be released from ICE facilities, but her ruling doesn’t cover adults. DDT will give migrant parents the choice of giving up their children to sponsors or stay with their children where the virus is dangerous. Two ICE detention centers in Texas already have the virus, and almost 3,000 of 17,000 detained migrants in ICE facilities have tested positive for the virus along with several dozen ICE employees.

After DDT officially dropped U.S. membership in the World Health Organization, the nation’s allies repeated DDT has given the WHO leadership to China. The U.S. has now lost both input into and knowledge about world healthcare affecting the country. Even China criticized the U.S. action.

Facebook has failed a civil rights audit in refusing to address hate speech and disinformation that permits DDT to interfere in the 2020 election. Unfortunately, the report’s recommendation won’t solve the problems of Facebook’s assistance for helping DDT’s campaign through its transmission of lies.

DDT’s new executive order for the 644,000 DACA recipients brought illegally to the U.S. when they were children won’t include amnesty.

DDT’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act, scheduled for next year before the Supreme Court, contains a tax cut for the wealthy. The top 0.1 percent of households, those making over $3 million annually, gets $198,000 each. Those making over $1 million a year get $42,000 in tax cuts. The U.S. would lose about $30 million in revenue in 2020 if the ACA is overturned—Medicaid coverage for about 4 million people. Medicare would lose because the ACA has a 0.9 percent tax on earnings of over $250,000 for couples. Other losses in taxes will cut billions of dollars from Medicare while the top one percent gets over two-thirds of the tax cuts.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, blocked from a deserved promotion because of his testimony during the House impeachment proceedings, has resigned because of DDT’s “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation.” Ukraine expert Vindman reported what he overheard on the telephone conversation between DDT and Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.  

The summer of 2020 is bringing unmitigated disasters: 20 percent of people at risk of eviction by the end of September, doubling of delinquency rates since March, 25 million people losing employer-provided health insurance, and a collapsing childcare system. And no solution for the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases—3,355,646 with 137,403 deaths on July 11.

December 25, 2019

Christmas by DDT, GOP

The purpose of Christmas, December 25, is to commemorate the birth of Christ—although he was likely born in spring. (December doesn’t have any lambs.) Those who celebrate the birth of Jesus glorify a refugee family of color fleeing fear of persecution as described in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew about the “flight into Egypt” from Bethlehem (Mt 2:12-15) to escape the infant’s slaughter by King Herod.  Later Jesus said that welcoming the stranger means welcoming Jesus (Matt. 25), a religious superseding of any laws designed to hinder, prevent, or outlaw care and compassion for refugees and migrants. He also told people to feed the hungry, sell possessions, and give the money to the poor while treating people with the love, generosity, and kindness that he modeled.

Oliver Willis with Media Matters tweeted:

“If only we had a seasonally appropriate story about middle eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless.”

[Check out Jesus and refugees on the internet to see conservatives blowing up at the very mention of this connection!]

On Christmas Day 2019, some people celebrate the refugee family, others the day’s culture of exchanging gifts and eating large meals. Yet millions of people in the United States lack the privileges of secure housing, food, and employment. Those who are safe might think of the disadvantages and misery caused by GOP lawmakers for almost two decades.

 

GOP policies have two major characteristics: give to the rich and take from anyone else because they are considered sub-human.

Adam Serwer’s 2018 essay “The Cruelty Is the Point,” published in The Atlantic, uses photographs of lynchings to illustrate shared pleasure from other people’s suffering. White men surrounding the hanging people enjoyed what they saw, just as lawmakers are pleased with their own cruelty from punitive laws toward those they view as “others.” People who don’t receive aid often resent those on programs such as food stamps, accusing them of being lazy and weak. The U.S. saves only $1.1 billion a year with the new rules taking food stamps from hungry people compared to the $1.3542 trillion expenditure for the military. has a minimal cost, compared to the wealth accruing to the top percentage of people in the U.S. from the tax cuts.

The first year that the tax cut for the wealthy and big business went into effect, businesses spent over $1 trillion in stock buybacks and dividend payment, more than one-hundred times the savings from making people go hungry. The explosive budget deficit from these tax cuts makes GOP lawmakers complicit with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to take even more from the poor with the excuse of balancing the budget.

On the southern border, the federal government tear gasses refugees and drives them back to Mexico to be raped and killed. Before the courts prevented family separation, the government separated families with no records of how to reunite them and put children in cages where they might be sexually assaulted. These are refugees like Jesus and his parents.

Because the conservatives on the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion from the Affordable Care Act optional for states, they can reject the provision that gave 90 percent of the expansion funding to states from the federal government. ACA funding allows states to reduce aid to hospitals for uncompensated costs and raises state tax revenues from a boosted economy. Yet 14 GOP-controlled states, several of them the poorest in the nation, turned down the neutral or even net positive expansion. Some of these states want to limit Medicaid even more with stringent work requirements, another action costing states money. The goal isn’t to make money; it’s to punish people by making their lives worse.

GOP lawmakers want to take Medicaid from everyone and cause others to lose health care—at least 20 million people by eliminating the ACA. People who lose health care can lose their work because of poor health and then their homes from bankruptcies through unreasonable expenses, causing less tax revenue. Without the ACA, older people will pay far more for prescriptions and health care premiums. Part of the ACA is to eliminate fraud and corruption in Medicare and Medicaid–$4 billion in its first year of 2011—but GOP lawmakers want continued corruption to benefit their big business donors.

DDT’s open hatred makes cruelty more acceptable. He doesn’t like Puerto Rico so his followers accept his refusal to send them aid appropriated by Congress. He wants the money sent instead to Texas and Florida, states that added to his electoral college total. DDT wants to support Russia, who interferes in U.S. elections on the part of Republicans so he threatens Ukraine by withholding military aid that would help Ukraine fight Russia. His followers echo DDT’s lying excuse of fighting “corruption” while accepting the massive corruption that DDT has brought to the federal government.  

DDT accepts indiscriminate killing and violence, whether in the U.S. or foreign countries. He refused to criticize Saudi Arabia for torturing and dismembering a U.S. resident and journalist and pardoned war criminals to use on his campaign trail. In his speeches and tweets, he encourages violence against his opposition, pretending surprise when his supporters carry out the violence and killing.

In its incessant worship of mammon, a greedy search for gain, DDT’s government kills people by eliminating regulations for greedy big businesses. Developed by the Nazis as a nerve gas, the pesticide chlorpyrifos causes brain damage in children, Parkinson’s disease, and forms of cancer.  Yet the EPA allows the chemical on fruits and vegetables, a chemical also dangerous for farmworkers and rural communities. Judges ordered a ban on chlorpyrifos in 2018, but chemical companies have EPA permission to keep making it—and money—as long as the case is in the courts. Actions from other agencies in favor of big business are equally destructive for humanity.

DDT not only rejects any thought of fighting climate change but also ridicules children who want to save the world for their future. He and his followers have been particularly vicious about the protests of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old leader who ignores the GOP lawmakers’ push to give to the rich at any cost to everyone else.

Well-known for ridiculing disabled people, DDT mocks them at his rallies, and his sycophants follow suit. Highly religious Sarah Huckabee Sanders, hoping to be Arkansas’ governor, made fun of Joe Biden when he tried to explain the suffering of people who stutter. A GOP proposed rule change would take disability benefits from hundreds of thousands of people through further complicating Social Security eligibility payments. Ronald Reagan’s similar benefit cut took earned benefits from 200,000 people; he reversed the attack after public outcry protesting human suffering and death. The addition of a fourth disability category affecting 4.4 million recipients, many of them children and people 50-65 with poor health and no income, requires reviews every two years although health issues worsen with age.  

Throughout his almost three years, DDT has turned on LGBTQ people, literally making them sick. A meta-analysis of 300 scientific studies in the U.S. shows overwhelming evidence that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity damages the health of LGBTQ people. Mental health problems include depression, anxiety, suicide, and PTSD while physical problems include substance use, heart disease, and high blood pressure. In states implementing “license to discriminate” laws, “the proportion of sexual minority adults reporting mental distress increased by 10.1 percentage points.” These effects are “compounded” for LGBTQ people of color, queer youth, and transgender people. Again, poor health takes from tax revenue and adds to costs for care. Poor health from discrimination will also affect immigrants, people of color, the poor, and everyone else suffering from discrimination.

Laughter at cruelty is rampant among DDT’s followers—his mocking Puerto Rican accents after thousands were killed by Hurricane Maria, women talking about sexual abuse, calls to “lock her up,” ridicule of opponents’ Christian faith—there seems to be no low bar for DDT’s abuse of humanity and his supporters admiration of his cruelty. Cruelty is the new norm for DDT’s supporters.

People who defend DDT worship him because “he tells it like it is.” On Christmas Day 2019, this is “like it is.” It’s Christmas Day: Jesus was an immigrant refugee and person of color who wouldn’t like the way that Republicans are running the United States. As DDT’s acting chief of staff would say, “Get over it.” And maybe try to do better.

In Charles Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge had an epiphany after visits from the ghost of his former business partner and three spirits—Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. On Christmas 2019, we can only hope for a similar epiphany in 2020.

 

December 22, 2019

Week 152 – World, Domestic Affairs

World and domestic affairs beyond impeachment affect the United States through decisions that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes.

DDT stayed silent during violent protests from India’s attempt to eliminate secularization. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a conservative re-elected in May, the parliament permits citizenship for undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who moved to India before 2014 and belong to one of six religious minorities, excluding Islam. Modi claims that the law protects persecuted religious groups, much like DDT said about his executive order protecting only Jewish people. India is now trying to control protests by shutting down phone and internet access in parts of the country.

Shortly before DDT was elected, Russian interference helped an anti-immigrant movement in Britain pass Brexit, a separation from the European Union. After agonizing over the process for over three years, the Brits elected Boris Johnson as prime minister to finish the process, much to the possible detriment of almost everyone in the country. Like DDT, Johnson is connected to corruption and sexual misconduct. The UK will leave the EU by the last day of 2020 no matter how disastrous, and the UK may have to pay the EU up to £39 billion. Northern Ireland stayed with the EU and will have a customs and regulatory border with Great Britain; Scotland voted to stay with the EU and may separate from the UK.

DDT, close friends with the autocratic Turkish president Recip Tayyip Erdogan, rejected the congressional votes to recognize that the Ottoman’s killing of Armenians in 1915-16 to support Germany in World War I was genocide. In retribution for the congressional resolution, Erdogan threatens to shut down Incirlik air base where the U.S. stores nuclear warheads. DDT called resolution criticizing the killing of 1.5 million Armenians “worthless” and the “biggest insult” to Turkish people. Erdogan also tried to prevent sanctions against Turkey after its military offensive in Syria by threatening to close the Kurecik radar base. Following DDT’s wishes, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to block the resolution. On December 12, the Senate unanimously passed the resolution after the House did so with only one no vote. Because resolutions do not have the weight of law, they do not require a president’s signature. 

Israel is headed for its third election in less than a year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a winning coalition but plans to stay prime minister. The national election to determine the Israeli prime minister is next March, but on December 26, 100,000 Likud party members, Netanyahu’s party, vote for their leaders. Gideon Sa’ar is challenging Netanyahu to represent Likud; the winner is in line to become prime minister.Christians in the Gaza Strip are banned from visiting holy cities such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth for Christmas. Last year, almost 700 Gazan Christians received permits to travel the holy cities.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor is investigating Israeli war crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories. Netanyahu claims that the ICC has jurisdiction only for sovereign states and denies any Palestinian state. He plans to illegally take over the Jordan Valley, composing one-fourth of the West Bank. In the ICC, Palestine is suing the U.S. for DDT’s moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two courts, one in the EU and the other in Canada, have also decided that Israel “an occupying power” and “not … a sovereign entity” in determining labeling of products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.   

The end of the year means tax preparation. Last year the 2017 tax cuts hurt a large percentage of people in the U.S., but large corporations are making out like bandits from their 40-percent tax rate cut. Approximately 400 of the largest corporations in the U.S. paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent on their profits last year, roughly half the official rate set by the tax law and half the rate that they averaged between 2008 and 2015. In 2018, corporations averaged 11.3 percent in taxes, the lowest level in over 30 years, while the deficit hit $984 billion, unusual in a supposedly strong economy. There is no evidence of the GOP claim of lower taxes’ cut causing economic growth and boosting business investment. The unemployment rate has stayed low in some areas, but higher wages are largely caused by blue states increasing the minimum wage rate.

In the Fortune 500, 91 corporations earning $101 billion paid no federal taxes last year. Amazon paid no taxes on $10.8 billion in profits and got a $129 million rebate. Firing 800 people, Activision Blizzard made $447 million and received a tax rebate of $243 million, giving them a -54.4 percent.

Overturning the Affordable Care Act would give the wealthy and pharmaceutical companies a huge tax break. The top 1,400 highest-earning taxpayers would receive $3.8 billion, and pharmaceutical companies would pay $2.8 billion less in taxes. People on Medicare would pay more for prescription drugs, and U.S. drug costs are already the highest in the developed world. Twenty million people would lose health insurance, and the poverty rate would increase. Causing a crack in the ACA, a state judge overturned the individual mandate in the ACA despite a Supreme Court ruling that accepted it.

DDT plans to reduce aid to the 39.7 million people in the United States living in poverty by allowing sports stadiums and arenas to use opportunities designed to meet the needs of middle- and low-income people. The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act requires financial institutions to meet the credit needs of all communities where they do business so that they can’t refuse to serve people based on income level and demographics rather than credit worthiness. Under DDT’s plan, investors can delay taxes or reduce tax payments on their capital gains while building stadiums that displace people of color. 

Eating pork may be dangerous under DDT’s new rules, according to Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors Jill Mauer and Anthony Vallone, who filed whistleblower disclosure forms. A pilot program for over 92 percent of U.S. pork plants will provide fewer inspectors who must stand at a distance while untrained plants’ employees check carcasses and still try to maintain line speeds. Defects can include feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders, and unwanted hair—think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Beef processing may suffer from the same MO.  

The U.S. Forest Service is permitting Canada’s Midas Gold to write the environmental report necessary to obtain approval for mining in Idaho after a “collaborative” meeting that included Midas. In that way, Midas can avoid habitat restoration work to protect the surrounding area.

In a software failure, Boeing’s Starliner, intended to fly NASA astronauts to space, didn’t get to the right orbit. A few days earlier, Boeing announced it was stopping the production of the 737 Max that killed 346 people in two crashes and demonstrated multiple other problems. The planes have been grounded since March 11, pending approval for planes being built. Almost 400 737 Max jets at the Renton (WA) facility are costing the company about $4.4 billion every three months for production, storage, and maintenance. Although Boeing may not have any work stoppage, hundreds of other U.S. manufacturers in its supply chain may be forced to lay off workers. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Boeing’s problems had taken 0.4 percent off the GDP for the year.

For years, the FAA allowed Boeing to perform its own inspections. High level Boeing officials knew about the planes’ problems and lied to the FAA. Earlier this month, the FAA fined Boeing $3.9 million for “knowingly submitted aircraft” to the agency for safety certification even after learning that crucial wing components “could not be used due to a failed strength test.”

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo not only fired Bill Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, but also told him to get out of the country early because he didn’t want to be photographed with the highly respected career diplomat. Pompeo urged Taylor to take the job, and Taylor then testified to the House Intelligence Committee about DDT’s attempts to extort Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor believes his obligation is to the country, not DDT, and Pompeo wants to be the senator from Kansas.

Another of DDT’s circle of associates is now heading for prison, but Rick Gates, associate of DDT’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, gets only 45 days after evading taxes and concealing millions of dollars representing pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine after Gates’ cooperation. Manafort, DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and DDT’s first national security adviser are in the slammer. George Papadopoulos, DDT’s former campaign adviser on foreign policy, and Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Manafort and Gates, have finished their prison sentences. Roger Stone, longtime DDT adviser and confidant, awaits sentencing. DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani faces a criminal investigation. Others connected to DDT include Richard Pinedo, who has a prison sentence for fraudulently trying to hurt Clinton’s campaign; Sam Patten and Maria Butina, who were charged with being unregistered foreign agents; and those on this long list of indicted Russian individuals and entities. 

New Jersey’s Rep. Jeff Van Drew switched from Republican to Democrat and swore “undying support” to DDT—until someone asked him about it. He said he didn’t say “undying.” Republicans don’t want him.

December 21, 2019

DDT: Week 152 – Dems Busy beyond Impeachment with GOP Obstruction

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) used tweets on Friday to attack the conservative evangelical publication Christianity Today founded by Billy Graham because it advocated his impeachment. Adding to his 15,000+ lies in less than three years, he called the publication “a far left magazine, or very ‘progressive,’ … which has been doing poorly and … knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call….” He also tweeted, “I won’t be reading ET [sic] again!” Graham’s son Franklin Graham criticized CT’s position but said he had not read the editorial about impeaching DDT. Mark Galli, editor-in-chief of the piece, retired on January 3 after 30 years involved with the magazine. 

DDT continued to threatened $250 million funding for Ukraine by blocking a $1.4 trillion spending package funding the federal government through the end of September 2020 if it contained the provision that he must release funds for the U.S. ally within 45 days. Democrats gave in to his demands to keep the U.S. from a shutdown by withdrawing the deadline for the funding release. The bill also lost a mandate that letters authorizing the release of congressional funding must be made public. In the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), DDT got his “space force,” and government employees got 12 weeks paid parental leave

The bills also raised the federal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 and a 3.1% pay increase for the troops and civilian federal employees. DDT got $1.375 billion for his wall, partly repair and less than the $8 billion he wanted. Defense spending increased by $22 billion. Elimination of three taxes to pay for the Affordable Care Act adds $373 billion to the deficit over the next decade. Forty-seven Republicans, once the party of fiscal prudence, voted for the budget that leads to more deficits. The GOP tax 2017 tax law already reduced U.S. tax revenue which fell 2.5 percent of tax-to-GDP in 2018, the most of any country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

Republicans managed to keep violent white supremacists in the military by blocking an amendment while non-violent transgender recruits are banned.

DDT’s signatures on the bills avoids a government shutdown days before the first anniversary of the last one, a rancorous event that lasted 35 days and cost the U.S. economy $11 billion.

With a vote of 385 to 41, the House passed another major bill this week, the trade deal with Mexico and Canada called NAFTA Lite. The bill looks very different from DDT’s original draft; even the AFL-CIO approves. Gone are the pharmaceutical protections for drug companies, and appearing are higher labor standards in Mexico, faster dispute resolution, higher environmental standards, and stronger enforcement of the deal. Mexico almost backed out with the requirement of five people from the U.S. to supervise its labor arrangements. While not perfect, the new trade agreement is considered better than the original NAFTA, passed 23 years ago.

These major accomplishments negate DDT’s and Republicans’ assertion that the impeachment inquiry kept the House from addressing any other issues. DDT called the opposing party “the Do-Nothing Democrats,” but “do-nothing” better fits Republicans. The House’s hard work is visualized in this photo of 275 House bills DOA (Dead on Arrival) in the Senate because (Do-Nothing) Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refuses to acknowledge them. 

Facebook removed over 600 accounts connected to the pro-DDT conspiracy website The Epoch Times for using artificial-intelligence identities to push fake stories about topics including impeachment and elections. The network, “The BL,” was operated by Vietnamese users pretending to be Americans and using fake photos created by algorithms to fake real identities. In pushing the pro-DDT conspiracy theories, The Epoch Media group spent $9.5 million on ads to spread content on the pages and groups that FB suspended. DDT’s official FB page posts their stories. A U.S.-based media company, The Epoch Media group, has now joined foreign governments to use foreign people posing as U.S. people to push pro-DDT content to its 55 million followers. Publisher of the U.S. editions of The Epoch Times, Stephen Gregory, claimed that it has no connection to BL because it’s part of Epoch Times Vietnam and that their former employees creating and working for BL doesn’t show any connection with its 89 pages, 156 groups, and 72 Instagram accounts.  The largest buyer of pro-Trump ads on Facebook until August, The Epoch Times was banned from buying FB ads after the company consistently violated FB’s political advertising rules.

One of the many lies in DDT’s Wednesday Michigan rally went viral, and Republicans, including DDT’s sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), demanded that DDT apologize. In response to Rep. Debbie Dingell’s (D-MI) vote for impeachment, DDT said that her husband, a World War II veteran and former member of Congress, had gone to Hell. DDT also falsely claimed that Rep. Dingell had called him after her husband’s service to praise DDT when he called her. Pelosi said that DDT “misunderstands … that cruelty is not wit.”

The Dingell attack is part of DDT’s five ruling hallmarks:

Governing as perpetual warfare: us against them to inflame base and create deep divisions.

Governing by exhaustion: a war losing participants from boredom.

Governing by grievance and hyperbole: victimhood and martyrdom from declaring the BIGGEST or BEST or WORST as shown by the comparison of his impeachment to the Salem witch trials and the crucifixion of Jesus.

Governing by defiance: no matter the evidence, DDT also claiming that he’s never wrong.

Governing with “alternative facts”: over 15,000 lies in less than three years along with stories with no identification of people or changing names of characters. (Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) supports this position by telling Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), “We’ve beat the facts back all the time.”)

In exhaustion, the fifth top official at the Pentagon resigned within the past week from these positions: international cooperation in weapons systems, Asia policy, personnel and readiness, advanced research, and intelligence. Acting chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney is expected to depart following the impeachment trial after being ignored in personnel, policy, and impeachment decisions. Rumor suggests his replacement is founder of the ultra-conservative Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who said he won’t run for re-election and may work for DDT, something that he’s done for the past three years.

More exhaustion at DDT’s Michigan rally appeared when his “four more years” chant died in fewer than ten seconds. At the rally, DDT also claimed, “The steel is back”: Two days later, US Steel laid off 1,545 workers in closing its Great Lakes Works mill near Detroit.  In October, 376 Louisiana steel workers lost their jobs when Bayou Steel shut down its mill in LaPlace.

Senate Republicans keeps allowing Russia to interfere in U.S. elections while DDT’s administration fights to protect Russia from sanctions, but Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who usually walks in lockstep with DDT, introduced legislation to punish Russian people and companies for its interference in the 2016 election and its targeting of Ukraine, Syria, and dissidents for attacks. Sanctions were partly because of Russia’s capture of Ukrainian sailors and ships. DDT’s State Department sent a 22-page letter to Graham in opposition to his bill. It passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday with opposition from five of the 12 Republicans. McConnell can block the bill from going to the Senate floor.

After DDT met with Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, in the Oval Office during the impeachment inquiry, Vladimir Putin-approved state TV confirmed that DDT is a Russian agent in a segment called “Puppet Master and ‘Agent’—How to Understand Lavrov’s Meeting with Trump.” And DDT isn’t the “puppet master” as this photo, requested by DDT, shows in Lavrov standing as the power behind the throne. 

Russia does expect DDT to “face a very unhappy period” after he leaves the White House. A joke was whether Russians should “get another apartment in Rostov ready.” Former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych settled in Rostov-on-Don when he fled to Russia in 2014. Valery Korovin, director of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise, said, “There are no disagreements or contradictions between Trump and Russia.” Putin-supporter and law professor Mikhail Antonov said, “Putin has expressed undisguised delight with the crusade led by Trump and Giuliani to whitewash Moscow’s interference in the U.S. elections” and pin the blame on Ukraine.

Former White House officials say that DDT passes Russia propaganda such as the false theory about Ukrainian hacking supporting Clinton because Putin told him to do it.

A federal judge allowed the lawsuit against DDT and his administration alleging violation of federal records law after DDT confiscated and destroyed his meeting notes with Putin. No detailed records of DDT’s and Putin’s communication in their multiple meetings exist.

The White House is catching crazy from DDT’s conspiracy theories: reporter Brian Karem said it’s claiming that Hillary deliberately lost the election by getting help from Russian hacking so that DDT could be impeached. Although the logic sounds wacko, that is the culture of DDT’s administration. DDT also claimed that Democrats started trying to impeach him before he declared candidacy.

After DDT pardoned military war criminals, his approval rating with service members dropped—42 percent approval. Half of them gave DDT an unfavorable rating.

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