Nel's New Day

August 18, 2022

News – August 18, 2022

Another day, and another news cycle largely fixated around Deposed Donald Trump.

In pleading guilty to a 15-year-long tax fraud, decades-long CFO for the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, agreed to testify against DDT’s business but not DDT. Weisselberg admitted he failed to pay taxes on $1.7, concealing it from his accountant, and pled guilty to 15 felonies. He agreed to five months in the notorious Rikers Island jail followed by five years of probation instead of 15 years in prison as well as repaying $1.9 million in back taxes, interest, and penalties to New York state and New York City.

Consider all the “good men” who DDT promised he would select to surround him in government. Those charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison: former campaign chair Paul Manafort, former campaign vice chair Rick Gates, former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, former adviser and campaign aide Roger Stone, and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos. DDT’s former National security adviser Michael Flynn was charged and convicted, his former chief strategist Steve Bannon was charged with wire fraud and money laundering before DDT pardoned him, and his former inaugural committee chair Tom Barrack was charged with illegally lobbying DDT on behalf of a foreign government. These are the criminals selected by a Republican “tough on crime” who represents the “law and order” GOP. When talking about the border wall in 2019, DDT said, “I care about crime.”

DDT’s sons aren’t bothered about crime. Trump Organization executives Donald Jr. and Eric Trump argued that it’s not a big deal because people dodge taxes all the time. The $1.76 million in taxes that Weisselberg didn’t pay to the government is “pennies on the dollar.” In another encouraging response, conservative Newsmax host Greg Kelly said that DDT could run from prison if he’s indicted. Former Donald Trump campaign attorney Joe diGenova pointed out that “Eugene Debs ran for president from a federal prison,” referring to the activist charged under the Espionage Act who competed with Warren Harding in 1920.

A federal magistrate judge appointed by DDT said he may unseal at least part of the probable cause affidavit used to obtain the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago and stated the it wouldn’t jeopardize the investigation into DDT’s alleged theft of government documents. The argument against the release also expressed concern for “the safety of the witnesses.” Conservatives have also threatened FBI agents, the judge, and his family members. DDT’s lawyer Christina Bobb was in court but said nothing.

DDT’s spokesman Taylor Budowich accused the DOJ of trying to “hide” the affidavit and said that DDT was “clear” that people “should be permitted to see the unredacted affidavit related to the raid and break-in of his home.” He criticized redacting any part of the document, possibly so that DDT could discover the informant(s). The judge asked for DOJ’s suggested redactions by August 25. DDT doesn’t realize that publicizing the affidavit may not help his cause.

In another disagreement, DDT’s aides want him to release the surveillance footage of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago that he claims to have. They don’t know if DDT has seen the footage himself and may not know what is on it. Other people close to DDT are concerned about its footage because it could be a strong visual of the quantity of documents illegally taken from the White House. DDT is also angry about news reports that he cannot find experienced legal advice and disputed the story in Washington Post. He said he’s “very happy with” his “excellent and experienced” lawyers. As the article stated:

“The former president’s current legal team includes a Florida insurance lawyer who’s never had a federal case, a past general counsel for a parking-garage company and a former host at far-right One America News.”

The government may need to take some action on whether the documents are actually classified. Two months ago, Kash Patel, once an aide for former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), now the Truth Social CEO, declared he would retrieve documents from the National Archives and publish them on his website. DDT had told the National Archives it should give Patel and conservative journalist John Solomon, fired by the conservative Hill, access to nonpublic administration records. Chief of staff for the acting defense secretary during the last months of DDT’s term, Patel claimed that DDT had declassified a large collection of “Russiagate” documents but the White House counsel blocked his getting them and sent them to the National Archives.

A federal judge ruled that DDT’s media and technology company must turn over information about Nunes’ employment after the former representative filed a $75 million defamation lawsuit against Hearst Magazine Media Inc and journalist Ryan Lizza. The suit involves a 2018 Esquire magazine article stating that the Nunes dairy cow farm had moved from California to Iowa. A district court dismissed the lawsuit a year ago, but the 8th Circuit Court resurrected it with a ruling about the single publication rule based on a tweet by Lizza. Nunes has a history of filing—and losing—multiple lawsuits, stating his right to an “unimpaired reputation” as a “sacred right.”

A federal judge blocked partial enforcement of Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act,” pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, ruling that it suppresses free speech. He compared the state to the upside-down world in Netflix’s Stranger Things, picturing “a parallel dimension containing a distorted version of our world.”The law prevents teaching race-based school curriculum and mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training in private companies.

According to the DOJ, the Florida GOP intentionally targeted Black voters with their new voting restrictions last year. In March, a U.S. District judge blocked the restrictions on absentee ballot drop boxes, regulations for third party voter registration groups, and a ban on providing food and water to people standing in line to vote. The deeply conservative 11th Circuit Court overturned the block while considering an appeal. The DOJ agreed with the court’s findings that the state’s lawmakers passed the laws to harm Black voters after their turnout surged in 2020 and violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, prohibiting racial discrimination in voting practices. The judge also said the risk of racial discrimination was so severe that the state needed to get approval from a federal court for the next decade to change its voting laws. That ruling was also blocked, pending appeal. Judicious about involvement in state voting laws, the DOJ has also filed challenges to laws in Arizona, Georgia, and Texas. 

Edging closer to Fox network conservatism with its new management, CNN has canceled the Brian Stelter show, Reliable Sources, which discusses the media. Stelter has led the show for nine of its 30 years. In a February episode, he expressed a concern about the influence of investor John Malone, a major financial stakeholder of the new Warner Discovery conglomerate. Author of Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, Stelter has been targeted by conservative critics. Corporate leaders claim they want more reporting and less opinion on CNN.

The DOJ has subpoenaed the National Archives for all the documents that it provided to the House January 6 investigative committee for the grand jury. The subpoena lists “all materials, in whatever form,” including the more than 770 pages of documents that DDT unsuccessfully tried to claim executive privilege over.

Jared Kushner’s book, Breaking History, may have received the worst possible review from the New York Times. Some bits:

“He betrays little cognizance that he was in demand [in the White House] because, as a landslide of other reporting has demonstrated, he was in over his head, unable to curb his avarice, a cocky young real estate heir who happened to unwrap a lot of Big Macs beside his father-in-law, the erratic and misinformed and similarly mercenary leader of the free world. Jared was a soft touch.”

The book is “earnest and soulless” that “almost entirely ignores the chaos, the alienation of allies, the breaking of laws and norms, the flirtations with dictators, the comprehensive loss of America’s moral leadership, and so on, ad infinitum, to speak about his boyish tinkering (the ‘mechanic’) with issues he was interested in.” [The Secret Service moniker for him was “mechanic.”]

“You finish Breaking History wondering: Who is this book for? There’s not enough red meat for the MAGA crowd, and Kushner has never appealed to them anyway. Political wonks will be interested—maybe, to a limited degree—but this material is more thoroughly and reliably covered elsewhere. He’s a pair of dimples without a demographic.”

The NYT was alone in its criticism. The Guardian called it “dispiriting,” and Goodeads reviewers averaged it at 2.2 points out of 5. Most major publications, however, just chose to review the NYT review.

Outside politics, a new study from Oxford University of over one million patient files discovered that people recovered from COVID are at higher risk of “brain fog,” dementia, and psychosis for two years after the infection. Some symptoms such as anxiety and depression can level off, in line with other respiratory diseases after two months. People between 18 and 64 suffer from brain fog at a rate 16 percent higher than patients with other respiratory diseases, and the difference is greater for those over the age of 65. Even the mild Omicron variant poses similar long-term risks. Only those in the health system with a COVID diagnosis were included in the study, undercounting those with only mild symptoms. People might want to wear their masks.

And those are pieces from August 18, 2022.

August 7, 2022

The Inflation Reduction Act Passes!

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed at 3:18 pm EST on Sunday, August 7, 2022 with the anticipated partisan 51-50 votes and VP Kamala Harris breaking the tie. Part of the all-night event was the presentation of amendments to highlight the politics of the senators. Each senator was required read their amendment aloud from the Senate floor, and each side had only one minute to argue for or against the proposal before a vote. Amendments violating the Byrd Rule, requiring a non-tangential impact on spending, revenues or the debt limit, required 60 votes to pass them.

Two amendments passed of the 35 amendments and motions regarding the bill, most of them from Republicans who said they wouldn’t vote for the bill even if their amendments passed. Samples of failing amendments:

  • Prohibiting the IRS from accessing its additional money in the bill until 90 percent of the agency’s employees were back to work in person. – Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • Prohibiting the new IRS funds from audits of taxpayer incomes under $400,000 annually. – Mike Crapo (R-ID)
  • Replacing the health and energy subsidies in the legislation with permanent, 100-percent bonus depreciation. – Pat Toomey (R-PA)   
  • Extending the $2,000 Child Tax Credit (CTC) as expanded under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) which would cause at least one Democrat to vote against the IRA. – John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Blocking the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from requiring companies to publicly disclose climate-related information. – Pat Toomey (R-PA)
  • Opening up Outer Continental Shelf areas for energy exploration.
  • Preventing migrants from entering the U.S. while awaiting asylum.
  • Expanding health care benefits to Medicare dental, vision and hearing benefits  because it would have lost too much revenue in this bill. – Bernie Sanders (I-VT)  Requiring Medicare not to pay more for prescription drugs than the Department of Veterans. – Bernie Sanders (I-VT)  

Republicans killed the cap on insulin costs for private insurance. In the U.S., insulin costs five to ten times as in other economically developed countries, and almost 80 percent with diabetes taking insulin says the cost creates financial difficulty. The GOP blocked a limit of insulin co-payments to $35 a month. Among likely voters, 61 percent strongly support the cap which still exists for those insured by Medicare insurance.

Democrats will likely use the GOP opposition to capping the cost of insulin for campaigning. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), a U.S. senator candidate, released this statement directed at his opponent, Mehmet Oz:

“Dr. Oz and his Republican friends in Washington want you to pay outrageous prices for lifesaving medications, like insulin. No one should have to ration the medication they need to survive.

“Insulin should be capped at $35 for everyone. Republicans just blocked that from becoming a reality.

“Dr. Oz won’t stand up to Big Pharma because he’s not only palled around with them and promoted their products on his shows, he’s also invested in the companies that are raking in billions while helping drive up costs and force families to ration insulin. When Oz’s Pharma CEO buddies make more cash, he makes more cash.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) caused more problems to support her big businesses donors by backing a GOP amendment to protect businesses relying on capital investment from private equity groups from the 15 percent corporate minimum tax in the IRA. Other Democrats, some of them up for reelection this year, also voted for the amendment: Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), Maggie Hassan (NH), Mark Kelly (AZ), Jon Ossoff (GA), Jacky Rosen (NV), and Raphael Warnock (GA). Revenue would have come from a one-year extension of the 2017 tax law cut on state and local tax deductions (SALT), hitting residents of high-tax blue states such as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California.

After that amendment passed, Mark Warner (D-VA) offered another amendment to replace the SALT cap extension with another tax provision raising revenue of $35 billion. Harris cast the vote to break the partisan tie. Revenue comes from companies required to declare income based on generally accepted accounting practices, stricter than required under current law allowing tax breaks and shelters shielding income from the IRS.

Even with the Democrats’ support to help big business, many will be paying more taxes. The 15 percent requirement is only for companies with annual average earnings over $1 billion or $100 million earned in the U.S. for foreign-owned businesses. Only 150 companies fit this category, i.e., Amazon, paying only six percent in federal taxes on its $35 billion in profits last year. With almost $30 billion profits last year, AT&T received $1.2 billion more in rebates than it paid in taxes. Bank of America, which didn’t benefit from accelerated depreciation, paid a three-percent federal tax from 2018 to 2019; FedEx, which accelerated depreciation for all its tax breaks, had a negative tax rate for that time period. This IRA provision may limit the extent of share repurchases to boost their stock prices and reward investors. Before the bill’s passage, Apple planned to buy back up to $90 billion in stocks this year, and Morgan Stanley and Nike announced $20 billion and $18 billion buybacks respectively.

The biggest surprise in the past week during the IRA public negotiations was the support of Joe Manchin (D-WV), who earlier said he would vote only for bipartisan bills. He tweeted his explanation of his change from his negative position:

“My R[epublican] friends have made clear they’re completely unwilling to support this bill under any condition. None of their amendments would change that. For this reason, I’ll vote to protect the integrity of the IRA regardless of the substance of their fake amendments.”

Democrats pandered to Manchin by abandoning provisions such as free prekindergarten for all and paid family and medical leave for workers nationwide while providing support for fossil fuels.

Although inflation won’t immediately drop to pre-COVID levels without the benefits of the Democrats initial Build Back Better plan, the IRA will help healthcare costs and fight the threat of climate change. It keeps insurance subsidies for the Affordable Care Act through 2025 to make this insurance more affordable for those who obtain their insurance through the healthcare marketplace. If these subsidies had sunset this year, as originally legislated, millions of people qualifying for free health insurance when Congress eliminated the income cap would have paid premiums.

According to Newsweek’s factcheck, IRA does not increase taxes for people earning less than $400,000, a common complaint from Republicans. Many economists agree the plan modestly reduces inflation in the long term and improves the federal government’s financial outlook. Jennifer Rumsey, CEO of Cummins specializing in advanced diesel and natural gas engines, said the bill would be “good for the economy and the environment.”

The only GOP criticisms of the bill seem to be their lies about increased taxes and inflation. The minute that people, who want the bill passed by almost three-fourths of the voters, benefit from its provisions, all the Republicans, who voted against it, will take credit for it—just as House Republicans did for the benefits of Biden’s and the Democrats’ massive infrastructure bill passed last November with only six GOP votes.

During the Senate marathon voting, Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) gave a 108-minute speech at the CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) summit that managed to out-fascist the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban. In DDT’s perception, his loss led the U.S. to out-of-control crime, inflation, and unemployment, which he stated at three times more than the existing 3.5 percent. He said his doctor, Ronny Jackson who was fired for his drinking on the job and other misbehaviors, “loved to look at my body. It was so strong and powerful.” Jackson is now a U.S. representative from Texas.

After introducing the QAnon trio in the House—Matt Gaetz (FL), Lauren Boebert (CO), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA)—he said they needed “to deal with the radical left socialist lunatic fascists.” Michael Hardy, senior editor at the Texas Monthly, said DDT’s criticism about Biden surrendering “our strength” had “echoes of the Nazi ‘stab in the back theory’ of losing WW1.” The lines about “blood of innocent victims” in “Democrat-run cities [sic]” compared to “literal blood-and-soil rhetoric.” DDT called for a military takeover of San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Portland. Hardy said:

“Trump’s rhetoric is significantly more extreme than even a few years ago. This might be most frightening speech I’ve ever heard. Full-on, unapologetic fascism. Trump has either been reading Mein Kampf or having someone read it to him.”

As usual, DDT dwelled on his lies of election fraud, attacked LGBTQ people, and teased a 2024 presidential return. He also joined the other speakers in defending insurrectionists while threating violence. DDT presented his policies of a police state: about the opposing  party, “we have to hit them very, very hard, it has to be a crippling defeat.” He plans to use the National Guard to gun down Black, immigrant, and left-wing workers—anyone brave enough to demonstrate for democracy—with no approval of state governors.

The next two elections will provide a path for the United States into one of two directions—fascism or democracy.

August 6, 2022

Inflation Reduction Act Heads for a Vote

A Senate vote of 51-50 has sent the climate/healthcare/tax reduction bill for debate and a final vote by Sunday morning with all Republicans opposed. During a rare Saturday vote in the Senate, Democrats want to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) before Republicans head off for over a month at home trying to explain to their constituents why they are voting against the measure. Sad to say, the chamber’s parliamentarian has nixed lower prescription prices for the reconciliation (aka budget) process, and Republicans will be able to charge their constituents much more for medications. That way, GOP politicians can get bigger donations from the pharmaceutical industry. To beat the filibuster, ten Republicans would have to agree that 180 million people deserve fairer prices, and they won’t be doing that in order to deny any win for Democrats.

The parliamentarian’s and GOP decision will mean tens of millions of dollars lost in federal savings because drug prices, some of them paid for by the government, can be increased much higher than inflation as drug companies are doing. Yet this provision of the measure was the only one to fail the “Byrd bath,” so called because of the “Bryd Act” from Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) passed in 1985. Reconciliation must be “germane to the budget” and cannot be considered an “extraneous matter,” confusing to those who see the government saving money with lowered drug prices as part of the budget. Byrd may have set the pattern for Democratic obstructionism from West Virginia.

Otherwise, the provisions in the IRA have passed the parliamentarian’s testing, including its package providing $369 for climate, much of it for tax credits to support clean energy technologies including consumer credits for “home energy efficiency improvements” and electric vehicles. The bill also retained its Medicare benefits by negotiating some prescription drug prices, capping out-of-pocket costs in Medicare drug plans at $2,000, and providing free vaccines through Medicare.

The ability to avoid the filibuster through the reconciliation process comes from the 1974 Congressional Budget Act (CBA) passed over Richard Nixon’s veto. It permits additional spending compared with additional revenue. Both parties have used the process: in 2017, Republicans used it to lose $2 trillion in revenue by cutting taxes for big business and the wealthy. With reconciliation, the CBA limits debate to 20 hours evenly divided between the two parties before the Senate holds a final simple majority vote on the bill.

Last November, the Build Better Bill was on track to pass through the reconciliation process until Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) torpedoed the bill in December. After seven months of dissension, Manchin agreed to a new bill that he renamed the Inflation Reduction Act. With the new bill on the floor, Republicans can offer challenging amendments to strip the main provisions and force Democrats into votes that can politically damage them in midterm campaigns. Even with these amendments, Democrats can erase changes with a final “substitute” known as a “wraparound” amendment if Manchin will vote for it.

Amendments must be germane to the bill and not cost the government additional money unless they strike provisions in the measure. After the 20-hour debate period, amendments can be presented but not debated. Amendments violating the Byrd Act must be approved by 60 percent of the senators. Anyone presenting an amendment must stand and read it to the Senate. The presentation of amendments after the 20-hour debate is called the “vote-a-rama.” 

When (if) the Senate passes the bill, it goes to the House which will hopefully pass it without changes that would require it to go back to the Senate. GOP senators have promised to make the process as difficult as possible, “’like hell,” according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). He added Democrats “deserve” it. Republicans have also spread lies about the bill which conservative media outlets including Fox have told their audiences such as the lie about the proposed law raising taxes on people making under $400,000.

Republicans said their 2017 tax bill, determined through reconciliation, would lower taxes for everyone in the U.S. It didn’t. Only big business and the wealthy got lower taxes. Now they say that the Inflation Reduction Act will raise taxes for everyone. It doesn’t. This disinformation comes from Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) based on the Joint Committee on Taxation which omitted several factors in its analysis, especially the way the new law changes IRS processes. The analysis also overlooks the IRA’s financial benefit to middle-income families. Yet Crapo admits that Ira doesn’t raise taxes on most people.

Graham also claimed the law would make life “more difficult” for people in the U.S., but the opposition is true. In addition to the Medicare benefits, it will:

  • Cut carbon pollution dramatically with emissions in 2030 project at 40 percent below peak levels.
  • Lower energy costs by allowing people to shift to cheaper electricity for home heating, cooking, and driving, a savings of $500 for the average household with total spending on oil down by almost 25 percent over the decade.
  • Create millions of jobs with investment in refurbishing old factories; building new factories; requiring high wages; and mandating apprenticeship training for companies using clean energy tax credits by increasing domestic production of batteries, solar panels, wind turbines, etc.
  • Invest in communities suffering the most from environmental and health hazards that cause health problems and deaths.
  • Crack down on wealthy tax cheats by more fairly enforcing the tax code that has seen income tax audits of households annually earning $5 million or more drop to only two percent in 2019 from over 16 percent in 2010.
  • Fix loopholes allowing wealthy corporations and Wall Street fund managers to avoid paying their fair share in taxes by requiring that each corporation with at least $1 billion worth of profits pay a minimum of 15 percent of their profits in taxes instead of none.
  • Cut inflation and drive down the deficit through fairer taxes; increased supply investing in manufacturing and clean energy; and decreased costs for energy, health care, and prescription drugs.

Ten Republicans were missing for the bill’s first vote, but Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said he expects they will return for the vote, perhaps hoping the Democrats will lose some votes for the required majority. In a petty attack, Republicans claim that Democrats aren’t testing for COVID to keep their vote number up. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) debunked that claim and pointed out Republicans “wouldn’t wear masks…, wouldn’t test…, tested positive and still showed up?” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) attended the bill’s early votes on Saturday although he tested positive for COVID this week.

Discharged from rehab after an emergency hip replacement, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), 82, is expected to be present in the Senate chamber. The Senate president pro tempore signed the CHIPS and Science Act at the Capitol on July 29.

Long-time holdout Democratic Manchin never does anything for free—that’s why he’s a multi-millionaire. In this case, his payment is legislation streamlining permits for his state’s 303-mile, two-state Mountain Valley Pipeline and removing jurisdiction from a court that keeps ruling against the project. Nearby residents have fought against the construction of the huge natural gas pipeline that may contaminate rural streams and cause erosion or landslides. It can impact water, endangered species, and public forests. The 4th Circuit Court has ruled against the pipeline for years because developers and permitting agencies skirted regulations during DDT’s control. Now the court may assign the case to a new three-judge panel. The outcome, however, is not actually a done deal.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-AZ) willinness to support the IRA came from an obscure tax break called the “carried interest loophole” or “the carry” that taxes private equity and venture capital income at a lower, 15 percent rate, lower than for other taxpayers. It was included in the original IRA, but Sinema’s donors want it removed. And so it was. Instead companies have to pay a new 1 percent excise tax on the amount of stock they repurchase, still reducing the federal deficit by up to $300 billion.

Republicans are working hard to spread lies about IRA’s effects, but they aren’t completely successful. Of the voters, 73 percent, including 52 percent of Republicans, support the bill. Another 64 percent of voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate supporting the bill.  

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the bill will provide at least a deficit decrease of over $100 billion in the next decade, even as much as $300 billion. The deficit could be even more because the CBO didn’t factor in all the effects of the bill. The $124 billion in revenue from building enforcement of IRS laws was considered a lowball estimate. It’s a win for the vast majority of people in the U.S.

The bill’s resolution should be available by tomorrow afternoon or evening.

April 26, 2022

The Faces of the GOP

The weekend focus on France’s election against Hitler/Russia lover Marine Le Pen for the next five-year presidential term glossed over another important European election. Melania Trump’s birthplace, Slovenia, ousted Prime Minister Janez Janša, the autocratic friend of recently elected Viktor Orbán for prime minister who wishes to remove democracy for Hungary. Robert Golob launched the Freedom Movement in January for a “referendum on democracy” and “take the country back to freedom.” Janša continually insisted that Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) won the 2020 presidential election. East of northern Italy, Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia until become independent in 1991.

In the U.S., the pretended ignorance of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) in a hearing about her part in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was followed by CNN’s revelation of 2,319 texts starting on November 3, 2020, Election Day, submitted by former chief of staff Mark Meadows before he decided not to participate in the House investigation committee. Meadows concealed at least 1,000 more texts, many of them from December 9-20, perhaps thinking these were more benign.

Molly Olmstad summarized earlier texts:

“That Trump refused to quickly condemn the violence on Jan. 6; that Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, had accused ‘Biden and the Left’ of ‘attempting the greatest Heist of our History’; that Donald Trump Jr. had developed a strategy for overturning the election even before the election was called for Biden; and that Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas Rep. Chip Roy had offered Meadows a statement supporting Trump to ‘leak’ if it was ‘helpful.’”

The new texts filled in some missing pieces, including one from Greene to Meadows to tell DDT to impose martial law to stay in the White House for another term. Under oath, Greene couldn’t “recall” or “remember” this text she sent Meadows on January 17:

“In our private chat with only Members, several are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall [sic] law. I don’t know on those things. I just wanted you to tell him. They stole this election. We all know. They will destroy our country next. Please tell him to declassify as much as possible so we can go after Biden and anyone else!”

DDT’s followers sometimes recommended sedition; other times they just tried to look important.

On January 9, 2021, when Twitter banned DDT, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) texted, “I truly hope he does create a new platform to complete with Twitter and I hope he calls it ‘Trumpet’ and then we can send out ‘notes’ to each other!”

Before the election, Fox’s Sean Hannity, a supposedly “impartial” reporter, wrote “Yes, sir” to Meadows and promised he would push the vote for DDT “everywhere.”

When Donald Trump Jr. begged Meadows to get his father “to condemn this shit” on January 6, he texted the chief of staff that “this is one you go to the mattresses on,” ala The Godfather.

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell sent a long text about the election overturn, concluding with “God has his hand in all of this and has put you on the front line.”

The day before the insurrection, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) texted, “On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all—in accordance with guidance from founding father Alexander Hamilton and judicial precedence…”

A text from DDT’s adviser Jason Miller told him to lie to the public by blaming antifa for the attack.  

Former Texas governor and energy secretary Rick Perry denied he took any part in overturning the election, but the disclosed texts were from his phone—and he signed them. He urged an “AGRESSIVE (sic) STRATEGY” for three states to deliver electoral votes for DDT although the popular vote was for Joe Biden. 

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and DDT-supporter, features in another ongoing story. First, he bought over nine percent of Twitter’s private shares and forced himself onto the board. They told him he had to own under 15 percent of shares to stay on the board and quit bad-mouthing Twitter. He didn’t like that so he dropped off. Then he offered to pay $9 over the going price for any shares but then dropped that idea. Now he may own the entire company, paying about $44 billion.

Worth about $259 billion, Musk can afford the price although he’s borrowing $23 billion because his wealth is tied up in stocks. Also, Tesla pays no federal tax on its profits. If Musk completes the deal, Twitter will no longer be a publicly-traded company and will have no board. Musk can read everyone’s tweets, even those meant to be private, and put all the MAGA hate speech back on, including that from DDT. Musk also desperately wants an edit button, allowing people to change the meaning of a tweet after it’s been shared. Facebook knows the danger of editing: its feature helped a cryptocurrency scam. 

The deal’s size requires Musk to report his purchase to the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department. Experts say that there are no clear antitrust concerns because Musk is not a social media competitor, but government regulators might slow it down to review the concentration of power. A problem could be collateralizing the payment with Tesla stock, risky for banks.

With over 217 million daily users, Twitter is not as large as Facebook and Instagram with billions, but it is popular with political leaders, companies, celebrities, and others searching for image-building. Musk has used a megaphone to announce his support for free speech, but he tried to suppress a Twitter account tracking his private jet. With uncertain advertising, Twitter’s main source of revenue, Twitter has made no profit for eight of the past ten years. Employees are also concerned about compensation and benefits: the anti-union Musk moved Tesla to Texas and dared United Autoworkers to try to form a union.

Since 2017, unfair labor practice charges have been filed against Tesla at the National Labor Relations Board. In 2018, Musk tweeted workers could lose their stock options if they unionized, and workers involved in organizing activities for organizing unionizing activities. Tesla is the only U.S. auto manufacturer without a union.

Last week, a federal judge reduced a $137 million jury ruling to a $15 million payout for a racial discrimination lawsuit against Tesla. Lawyer for Owen Diaz explained to his Black client that the $15 million is the “maximum” that can be required. Diaz said a Tesla supervisor called him the N-word over 30 times. California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing is also suing Tesla over alleged racism and harassment of Black employees in the same factory in Fremont, “saturated with racism” according to the judge.  

Former staunch Republicans are growing more and more disenchanted with the current GOP such as columnists Jennifer Rubin, Tim Miller, Charlie Sykes, and Rick Wilson. In January, an NBC News poll found 56 percent of Republicans support the party rather than DDT with only 36 percent devoted first to DDT. In October, 54 percent of Republicans put DDT above party.

Joe Scarborough, a GOP representative from Florida for six years, fought for DDT to be elected in 2016, even going to DDT’s apartment to advise him on his campaign although he had hosted an MSNBC show for almost a decade. By August 2016, however, he wrote a WaPo op-ed, “The GOP Must Dump Trump,” and by 2017, he became so disenchanted with GOP that he changed his registration to unaffiliated. In a statement on his show last Friday morning, he said, “I was proven wrong!” Liberals were right about his former Republican Party.

“Over the past six years, the two things that have disturbed me the most have been the Right’s positions on race and my own churches, the evangelical churches’ posture towards Trumpism, and some of the things we’ve seen. I spent my entire life going on shows, going on Politically Incorrect at the time, going on HARDBALL, talking about how what Kevin Phillips and other people in the media were saying about the Republican Party and race were a lie, that the Southern strategy was an oversimplification, that my family, we were conservatives. And I explained why we were conservatives, why people in my community were conservatives.

“I was proven wrong. I was shocked by what I saw over the past five, six years. Donald Trump in the Muslim registry, Donald Trump saying Hispanics are breeders. I could go down the list talking about the others, telling people to go home, members of Congress, Black members of Congress. How could it be that people like David French and myself and other Republicans grew up saying everything that liberals said about our party was wrong when Donald Trump actually seemed to validate much of what they were accusing us of?”

The party has been poisoning itself for a half decade since Bob Dole, evangelicals, and corporations but actor Ronald Reagan into the White House. DDT is a product of the continuing hypocrisy, shamelessness, and corruption overcoming good and decent people who don’t want to see the reality of their elected politicians who rule with hatred, fear, and bigotry.

March 6, 2022

MAGA Senator Wants Poor People Skinned

Filed under: Politics — trp2011 @ 10:44 PM
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People always talk about how the Democratic party is internally polarized within itself. Even with recent compromise, people accuse of left progressives at odds with moderates. Since Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) clings to GOP control, Republicans show a huge split, one big example Sen. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) decision to determine the party platform through his “11-Point Plan to Rescue Plan.”

Scott, chair of the 2022 Senate Republican campaign, is facing opposition from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who doesn’t want the public to know anything about GOP positions, officially opposes everything Democrats support.

Some of the 128 demands in Scott’s 11-point plan:  

Education: Public students will say the Pledge of Allegiance, stand for the National Theme, “honor” the U.S. flag, and “learn that American is a great country.” They will also choose the school that best fits them. The Department of Education and teacher tenure will be eliminated, and schools will be required to have “voluntary prayer.”

Race: No government form, especially the census, can require disclosure of race or ethnicity. Scott writes, “We are all created in the image of God.” The military will have “ZERO diversity training, teachings on critical race theory, or any woke ideological indoctrination that divides our troops.” Colleges and universities employing any use of affirmative action will lose federal funding and tax-exempt status.

Law enforcement: “The soft-on-crime days of coddling criminal behavior will end.” There will be zero tolerance for protests (which Scott describes as attacking police officers, looting businesses, and burning down out cities).  Penalties for theft and violent crime will be increased. Any efforts to “re-imagine” policing will be blocked. The federal government will declare “strict” mandatory minimum sentences for any seriously injured police office. Law enforcement immunity from its offences will be strengthened, and prosecutors will be forced “to prosecute.” All attempts to deny the Second Amendment will be opposed.

Border: The U.S. will “finish building the wall and name it after President Donald Trump. Immigrants cannot collect any unemployment benefits or welfare until they have lived in the U.S. for seven years. Sanctuary cities, defined by the right wing, will be stripped of all federal funding. All “comprehensive” immigration reform measures will be opposed until “we stop the lawlessness on our border.”

Economy: “We will grow America’s economy, starve Washington’s economy, and stop Socialism [which is] un-American and always leads to poverty and oppression.” The federal government work force will be reduced by 25 percent in five years, and government buildings and assets will be sold. All “essential core functions” by the government will be turned over to the private sector if it’s better and cheaper. All “non-essential government positions” will be eliminated. No one receives “government assistance” unless they are “disabled or aggressively seeking work. The federal budget must be balanced; if not, congressional members will not receive their salaries. Federal debt ceiling increases will be banned unless war is declared. So-called sanctuary cities would be stripped of all federal funding. Everyone living in the U.S. will pay some income tax “to have skin in the game.” (Currently, about half the residents don’t make enough money of the minimum threshold.) “Socialism will be treated as a foreign combatant which aims to destroy our prosperity and freedom.”

Government: All federal programs will be eliminated if they can be done locally, and federal bureaucrats and congressional members will have term limits. Government agencies will be moved out of Washington or “shuttered.” All federal legislature will sunset in five years. (Social Security and Medicare?) Citizens can sue to force government to comply with the law. All government employees are prevented from making more than five times the national median individual income, currently under $70,000. IRS funding and workforce will be cut by 50 percent. Every year, Congress must issue a report on their plans when Social Security and Medicare go bankrupt.

Voting rights: “Today’s Democrat Party is trying to rig elections and pack the courts because they have given upon Democracy. They don’t believe they can win based on their ideas, so they want to game the system and legalize voter fraud to stay in power. In true Orwellian fashion, Democrats refer to their election rigging plans as “voting rights.” (Actually what Republicans are currently doing like Rick Scott when he voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s electoral college votes on January 6, 2021.) In other words, Scott accuses Democrats of doing that the GOP is currently doing. Only the voter or the post office can take ballots to polling locations. Taxpayer money cannot be used to finance political campaigns. Same-day voter registration and “unmanned or unmonitored ballot boxes in public areas” are eliminated. “Counting of ballots must be done in full public view, expeditiously, and continue without pause until all votes have been tabulated.”

Family: “We will protect, defend, and promote the American Family at all costs. The nuclear family is crucial to civilization, it is God’s design for humanity, and it must be protected and celebrated. To say otherwise is to deny science.” Scott’s plan will “help” low-income single women planning abortions choose life and block Democrats from “efforts to discriminate against faith-based adoption agencies.” The choice of school will be made by parents, not government.  

Gender: “Men are men, women are women, and unborn babies are babies … and female He created them…. there are two genders.” “Gender identify” or “sexual preference” will not be listed on government forms. Minor children cannot receive “irreversible surgical or gender-altering procedures on any minor child.” Biological males cannot compete in women’s sports.

Religious freedom: Secular rights will be blocked, and the government will not deny any “religious freedom.” Scott added, “We will not be silenced, canceled, or told what words to use by the politically correct crowd.” Social media platforms (probably including private companies), like publishers, can be subjected to legal action if they “censor speech and cancel people.” Tax dollars cannot pay “for any diversity training or other woke indoctrination that is hostile to faith.” Churches won’t be required to hire employees disagreeing “with their tenets and convictions.” Federal retirement dollars cannot be invested “with ‘woke’ fund managers and companies that put left-wing politics ahead of profits.” And once again, “Remember—the Second Amendment was established in order to protect the freedoms guaranteed in the Second Amendment.”

Globalism: The U.S. will have no trade taking jobs of displacing U.S. workers, and countries opposing U.S. position at the UN will receive no financial aid. Only countries willing to defend themselves will receive aid. Scott promotes the Monroe Doctrine by preventing “any global enemy, such as China, Russia, or Radical Islam, to grow their presence in our hemisphere. (Scott’s plan to “adhere” to the Doctrine still allows the U.S. to interfere with any foreign countries.) International allies are required to “pay their fair share for their own defense,” and the military will be used only for “intimidating or killing our enemies.” Defense, however, is fine for Israel—mentioned twice in Scott’s 11 points. “Weather is always changing [and] we will not adopt nutty policies that harm our economy or our jobs.” All imports to Communist China will end “until a new regime honors basic human rights and freedoms.”

Scott’s demand for everyone to have “skin in the game” has received most of the publicity and worries McConnell the most. Under his plan, low-income families with children would lose $5,000 more of their after-tax income—a 20 percent increase—and the wealthy and corporations would keep their low taxes. Nothing in Scott’s plan address any skin from the wealthiest people and businesses that pay no taxes—businesses getting subsidies on top of that benefit.

The irony of Scott’s plan is that he wants to eliminate federal government while putting it in charge of take people reproductive, LGBTQ, secular, private companies, and trade rights, to name a few. He wants to legalize a lawless law enforcement and favor Israel over all other countries.  

Scott introduced his plan outside the Senate chamber and left before McConnell had time to respond. In an op-ed for Wall Street Journal, Scott continued his defense. The two differ about whether “skin in the game” will get votes for Republicans. And midterms for 34 Senators and 435 House members are eight months away. Democrat’s ads are already on the air

Every time Scott denies he wants to raise taxes on millions of Americans, people should think of this quotation from his 11-point plan:  

“All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently, over half of Americans pay no income tax.”

Scott might have been smart to skip the wall on the southern border as one of his 11 points. Declared “virtually impenetrable” by then-Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), parts of the 458-mile wall blew over in 37 mph winds. Flooding ripped off gate hinges in another part of the wall, and smugglers have used cheap, off-the-shelf power tools to saw through the barriers 3,272 times in the past three years. The breaches were then hidden with tinted putty, allowing repeated entry into the U.S.

Absent from Scott’s plan is any mention of solving inflation, increasing wages, reducing income inequality, and providing tariff relief. And there’s nothing about the Russia/Ukraine crisis. The plan largely relies on culture wars and government eradication, undesirable in states like West Virginia that heavily relies on government support. The entire support is “White grievance,” as Jennifer Rubin writes. Even the conservative review finds Scott’s plan “illogical.” 

Democrats want to help people; MAGA followers want to skin them. That’s a big difference between the two parties.

October 5, 2021

‘Pandora Papers’ Expose the Elite, South Dakota

Huge stories tend to disappear as soon as another one comes into the media; i.e., the shift from the Pandora Papers tax haven scandal morphing into the Facebook scandal. Because the latter directly affects more people in the U.S., it will dominate the media until the Senate Republicans cause a recession by blocking an increase in the debt ceiling, necessary because of their debts with Deposed Donald Trump (DDT). Therefore, Pandora first.

In Works and Days (ca. 700 BC), Hesiod wrote about the Greek mythology of Pandora, whose curiosity was so great that she opened a “box,” actually a large storage jar, left in the care of her husband, Epimetheus. Out came curses such as sickness and death. The message from the story is that opening a Pandora’s box will create many unforeseen problems. Thus the name for this last Sunday’s revelations called “Pandora’s Papers.”

Based on nearly 12 million documents, almost 3 terabytes of data from five continents, the report on hidden financial dealings of the elite and corrupt using offshore accounts to conceal trillions of dollars was prepared by over 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. They searched files from over 29,000 offshore accounts held by over 130 Forbes-identified billionaires and 330 current and former politicians in 14 offshore service providers around the world. Involved were 35 world leaders including Jordan’s King Abdullah II, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso; others are associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish construction mogul Erman Ilicak, and former CEO of software maker Reynolds & Reynolds Robert T. Brockman. Prominent athletes, models, and artists including India’s famous cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, pop music star Shakira, and supermodel Claudia Schiffer also hide their assets in these offshore accounts reported in the Pandora Papers.

Contracts, spreadsheets, memos, incorporation records, share certificates, compliance reports, emails—even complex diagrams of corporate structures—from 14 world-wide internet servers provided details of schemes to conceal assets from creditors, investigators, taxation, and people. Many of the records reveal the real owners of shell companies for the first time. Complicit in the sheltering of assets are banks, law firms, accountants, and the countries which permit the secrecy. In the U.S. alone, journalists found 206 U.S. trusts in 15 states and Washington, D.C. from 22 trustee companies.

A major location in the U.S., South Dakota, “rivals Switzerland, Panama, the Cayman Islands, and other famous tax havens as a premier venue for the international rich seeking to protect their assets from local taxes or the authorities.” The state’s low taxes and highly generous trust laws lead the world’s billionaires to that location, according to Chuck Collins, author of The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions. For example, Horst Happel, fined $88 million in 2016 for underpaying workers at his Brazilian orange juice company, moved many of his assets to South Dakota the next year. The state also became the location for trusts moved from the Bahamas and set up by Carlos Morales Troncoso, former vice president of the Dominican Republican and accused of human rights violations at his sugar company, Central Romana. Through these trusts, wealth can be hidden for generations and even centuries. 

Suzanne Garment, author of Scandal: The Culture of Mistrust in American Politics, wrote about South Dakota’s successfully abolishing limits of a trust’s lifespan by making them permanently private. Other popular states for hiding assets are Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Texas. According to Collins, these places make the United States “the weak link now in the system of global financial transparency.”

Writing about all the hidden assets, tax policy lead at Susana Ruiz at Oxfam International stated:

“This is where our missing hospitals are. This is where the pay-packets sit of all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants we need. Whenever a politician or business leader claims there is ‘no money’ to pay for climate damage and innovation, for more and better jobs, for a fair post-Covid recovery, for more overseas aid, they know where to look.

Tax havens cost governments around the world $427 billion each year. That is the equivalent of a nurse’s yearly salary every second of every hour, every day. Ordinary taxpayers have to pick up the pieces. Developing countries are being hardest hit, proportionately.”

OxFam wants world governments to end these tax havens with these steps:

  • End tax secrecy on individuals, offshores, and multinational corporations.
  • Set up a public register on the real owners of bank accounts, trusts, shell companies, and assets.
  • Require multinational corporations to publicly report their accounts where they do business, country-by-country.
  • Increase the use of automatic exchange, allowing revenue authorities access to information they need to track the money.
  • End corporate profit shifting to tax havens via new rules, and by setting a global minimum tax under the OECD’s BEPS deal, ideally of around 25%.
  • Agree on a global blacklist of tax havens and take counter measures, including sanctions, to limit their use.
  • Set a new global agenda on taxing wealth and capital fairly while addressing tax competition between countries on high-net-worth-individuals, either on income or wealth, against agreed standards.

A few findings in the Pandora Papers:

  • The largest law firm in the U.S., Baker McKenzie, helped created the modern offshore scheme with extensive financial system lobbying.
  • A Panama firm, ALCOGAL, helped banks through the world create thousands of offshore accounts for hiding money.
  • The large U.S. bank Morgan Stanley asked ALCOGAL to set up 312 companies in the British Virgin Islands.
  • Noted museums, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, contain looted Cambodian antiquities trafficked through U.S. art trader Douglas Latchford’s offshore trust.
  • Jordan’s King Abdullah II bought $106 million worth of luxury homes in the U.S. and UK including three Malibu beachfront homes as well as $10 million worth of condominiums in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood.
  • Cyprus president, Nicos Anastasiades, founded a law firm accused of hiding the assets of a controversial Russian billionaire behind fake company owners.
  • Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis used shell companies to purchase a $22 million chateau near Cannes in 2009. Babis is up for re-election this week.  

Although offshore accounts may not be illegal by themselves, tax evaders, fraudsters, and money launderers often take advantage of their secrecy. Countries are also deprived of tax revenue when money, at least $11.3 trillion in wealth, is concealed offshore. Australia, Britain, and Pakistan plan to investigate the revelations.

On Friday, Congressional members plan to introduce the ENABLERS Act, to attack global corruption, part of which denies corrupt foreign officials safe haven. The announcement came from Reps. John Curtis (R-UT) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), co-chairs of a new caucus against kleptocracy. The GOP co-lead of the bill may be Rep. Maria Salazar (R-FL), daughter of Cuban exiles familiar with autocrats in the Western Hemisphere. The main provision would require lawyers, investment advisers, art dealers, realtors, accounts, public relations firms—those identified in financial corruption—to perform “due diligence” to ensure their clients aren’t using money of suspicious origin; i.e., proceeds of crime. Banks are supposedly already bound by this requirement. Industries, however, can be expected to fight back against such mandates, and many Republicans will complain about regulations. 

According to Josh Rudolph, a corruption expert with the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund, other countries with similar regulations require these entities to “have compliance officers, trainings, audits, and controls reasonably designed to spot potential money laundering by identifying customers, scrutinizing transactions, keeping records, and reporting suspicious activity to the government.” In the U.S., some anti-corruption legislation has moved forward, for example into the House-approved version of the National Defense Authorization:

  • Require the administration to evaluate 35 people linked to Putin for potential sanctions.
  • Counter efforts by other countries to abuse tools offered by Interpol.
  • Require reporting on how other countries are battling corruption.
  • Simplify publicizing names of allegedly corrupt officials facing U.S. visa bans.
  • Regularly publicize how much money stolen from other countries is recovered by U.S. law enforcement.
  • Reauthorize the Global Magnitsky Act, permitting economic sanctions on corrupt individuals and human rights abusers.

President Joe Biden is currently writing rules for a law, passed during DDT’s term, banning the anonymous registration of shell companies, major drivers of the corruption identified in the Pandora Papers. A goal in the upcoming virtual Summit for Democracy for world leaders on December 9-10, 2021.

The current administration, however, may be too weak to help the U.S. democracy and block corruption. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has told Democrats that paying DDT’s debts from the past term is their entire responsibility and then blocks them from doing it by involking the filibuster. Current Republicans would rather destroy the country than come up with ideas that might get them elected.  

September 28, 2021

Dems Manchin, Sinema Try to Sink Biden’s Agenda

Part of President Joe Biden’s agenda for the year is a $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill that provides jobs, child care, Medicare, and other benefits for people. That amount sounds huge, but it’s over a ten-year period, meaning about $350 billion a year—less than half the military budget. Either Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is either lying or ignorant about the bill when he told reporters the cost is for one year—not a decade.

Republicans oppose anything Biden wants, and Democratic senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) are supporting them. Until this year, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) kept a fairly low profile although he was known for campaigning with a rifle, shooting a copy of the cap-and-trade bill and a climate change bill in 2010. Although he voted with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) 60 percent of the time, he sometimes supported Democratic positions such as the gun control bill after the massacre of children at Sandy Hook and the Affordable Care Act when Republicans tried to repeal it in 2018. Most of the time, he hasn’t had the clout to destroy his party’s bills because the Democrats haven’t been in the majority since he was first elected—until this year.

The 50 Democratic senators this year might have had a chance to pass a federal voting act, but Manchin and Sinema, who frequently caucuses with Republicans, seem inclined to block any legislation that Republicans oppose.  Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is ecstatic.

No longer does Manchin have a low profile. Although he can’t provide specific reasons for opposing Biden’s bills, he fights higher taxes on the wealthy and large businesses, some of which not only pay no taxes but also get welfare from the federal government. He opposes more funding for the IRS to track down deadbeats who don’t pay taxes even if the money invested would bring back huge profits for the U.S. And he opposes the infrastructure bill after he added $1 million to his personal portfolio since the beginning of the pandemic. Manchin’s most recent vague excuse to reject the infrastructure bill because it represents “entitlement mentality,” a typical excuse from the entitled white conservative male.

Some of Manchin’s personal “entitlements” for himself and his family:

Heavily invested in the fossil fuel industry, Manchin claims climate change could be much worse by eliminating fossil fuels in the U.S. During the 1980s, Manchin founded a series of oil companies, now in charge of his son, Joe Manchin IV. Since Manchin joined the Senate a decade ago, he grossed over $4.5 million and holds stock options in the larger of two firms, valued between $1 and $5 million. In northern Marion County, Manchin’s businesses degrade the environment and negatively impact the public health. With some of the state’s oldest mines, dirtiest power plants, and vast coal ash dumping grounds, the area gives Manchin hundreds of thousands of dollars from places he doesn’t even own. In 2016, Manchin sponsored legislation to deregulate the toxic coal ash; four years earlier, he opposed EPA rules limiting mercury and aerosolized acid emissions from power plants. Details of more destructive impacts from the Manchin-supported industry in his state.

Manchin protects the filibuster and blocks the voting act. “West Virginia Values,” a page on the Charles Koch network, links to a letter people to sign in opposition to “bad, partisan policies,” such as unionization and infrastructure. Koch donates to the Chamber of Commerce, which then gives donations to both Manchin and Sen. Krysten Sinema (R-AZ) for opposing  President Joe Biden’s initiatives.

Soon after Biden’s inauguration, Manchin went pheasant hunting for a political fundraiser with a ConocoPhillips executive while the Interior Department reviewed a key oil project for the fossil fuel company on Alaska’s North Slope. Manchin is the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman. The next month, Biden dropped his choice for the Interior deputy secretary because Manchin refused to meet with her because she was too hostile to fossil fuels. He got his pick for the nomination, Tommy Beaudreau, a lawyer who represents oil, gas, and mining companies.

Manchin made a PAC donation to Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-NC) legal fund after his DOJ investigation into possible violation of insider trading laws. Burr sold stocks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars worth after he attended a private briefing about the COVID threat in early 2020. A former ALEC member, founded by corporations and Republicans, Manchin also endorsed the re-elections of GOP senators Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME). At this time, ALEC lied about having nothing to do with voter suppression; it is working on suppressing the vote through its Honest Elections Project.

Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch, kept prices inflated in the health industry, including Pfizer’s high cost of its EpiPen product. She approved the system blocking customers from buying single EpiPens, vital to people suffering a life-threatening allergic reaction with an auto-injectable device injecting epinephrine into the body. In 2007, Mylan, where Bresch was COO, gained a monopoly on the EpiPen delivery system; the EpiPen cost then rose six times within five years. Pfizer, connected to the EpiPen, settled a class-action price-fixing suit for $345 million.

Bresch gained her promotion by lying about having a master’s degree in business administration from West Virginia University. Manchin was governor at the time of the discovery, and the school fabricated grades to get her the degree. Gayle Manchin, Bresch’s mother and head of the National Association of State Boards of Education, lobbied states to all stock EpiPens. Recently, Manchin blocked the lowering drug prices through direct negotiation between Medicare and pharmaceutical companies. Both the government and patients would save billions of dollars, and the bill would reveal collusion keeping high rates.

Recently Bresch received $31 million and 1,400 workers in West Virginia lost their jobs after Mylan merged with another pharmaceutical company. The plant, operating in Morgantown since 1965, is moving abroad.

Manchin had approved the $3.5 trillion package in mid-August, and the House passed it almost two weeks later. In early September, soon after Hurricane Ida hit the U.S., he wrote an op-ed, calling for a “strategic pause.” He wanted to wait for “more clarity on the trajectory of the pandemic” and discover “whether inflation is transitory or not.” In addition, he wants “complete reporting and analysis” of the bill’s implications. Despite his involvement in the bill for over six months, Manchin ignored the ability of the wealthiest and tax-dodging corporations to pay for its cost. Missing from Manchin’s complaint is that only half the $3.5 trillion would be added to the debt with tax increases and other savings offsetting the rest.

Manchin has no specifics about costs, but Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), perhaps the most fiscally savvy member of the House, said the money is available for the reconciliation bill, citing for example the generation of $40 billion with the minimum corporate tax approach. Porter called Manchin “fiscally irresponsible” for not raising revenues but “complain that we can’t pay for the things that American families desperately need.”

Will Bunch pointed out that Manchin’s austerity plans are “wildly out of step with the real-world needs of voters in poverty-plagued West Virginia, suffering from pothole-laced highways, climate-worsened floods, and opioid abuse.” Almost 80 percent of Manchin’s constituents in West Virginia want him to support the reconciliation bill for infrastructure because of the extreme poverty in the state. [Left: Protest at Manchin’s Washington, D.C. houseboat.]

DDT’s slashed tax rates for the wealthiest are also wildly out of step, dropped by 50 percent. Democrats—other than Manchin and Sinema—propose a corporate tax rate increase from 21 percent to 25 percent and individual income tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent. Billionaires could also be taxed. Under GOP President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, the highest tax rate 94 percent, and Ronald Reagan took it down to 28 percent.

Sinema is more recently “entitled,” obtaining most of her money for her votes. This week, she collect thousands of dollars from five lobbying firms and other corporations opposed to passing the infrastructure bill. She plans to protect them from any tax increases. Thus far, Sinema has received almost $1 million for opposition to the bill and another $500,000 from the Chamber of Commerce, also against the infrastructure measure.

Sinema also netted $750,000 from drug and medical device industries before voting to keep drug prices high for Medicare instead of negotiating lower costs. A former lobbyist in a firm working or pharmaceutical companies leads Sinema’s office.

Because of their anti-LGBTQ votes in the Senate, both Sinema, a bisexual woman, and Manchin have been praised by Brian Brown, head of both hate groups, National Organization for Marriage and the International Organization for the Family. Brown uses Sinema for fundraising.

Disturbed by Sinema’s GOP behavior, the Arizona Democratic Party passed a resolution by 415-99 to give her “a vote of NO CONFIDENCE” if she doesn’t vote for the budget reconciliation package with the infrastructure provisions this week. The party also called on her to end the filibuster to permit voting rights legislation and other “urgent legislation.” The Democratic party vote authorizes a possible censure of Sinema if she fails to meet the party’s conditions. Asked for a response to the resolution, her spokesperson said, “We do not.” Rough translation: who cares. After all, Sinema can always change her party to Republican when she runs again in 2024.

June 2, 2019

Catching Up on the Last Few Weeks

Looking through my files, I see information about events that has fallen through the cracks. Here’s a bit of “catch up” with links for readers who want to read more about the subject. 

Tariffs/Taxes:

Solar energy, responsible in 2016 for 43 percent of employment in electric power and twice as much as the fossil fuel industry, has lost almost 20,000 jobs since DDT’s inauguration, much of the loss from tariffs.

Increasing tariffs to 25 percent on some Chinese goods could annually tax a family of four $767 and destroy over 934,000 jobs. Tariffs on all Chinese imports, as DDT threatens, would annually tax families $2,294. The combined $72 billion for all DDT’s tariffs constitute one of the biggest tax increases since 1993, and that amount doesn’t include his new tax on all goods from Mexico. People, not companies or countries, pay for tariffs making them a tax increase, the equivalent of a ten-percent increase in Social Security tax for an average family. DDT plans to annually cost every family $100 annually and add to health problems and death rates with enhanced pollution by erasing efficiency standards for light bulbs and causing LED bulbs to be much more expensive. Since President Obama’s action, LED bulbs, which last ten years, dropped 90 percent in price to about $1.

According to DDT’s Commerce Department, the $891 billion merchandise trade deficit last year is the largest in U.S. history, and the trade deficit with China hit a record high of $419 billion after DDT’s tariffs. The 19-percent jump from November and December 2018 to $59.8 billion made the highest monthly trade deficit in 10 years.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), ready to declare war on Iran, told farmers that they’re making far less sacrifices by losing their farms from tariffs than soldiers “in Arlington” make. DDT calls farmers losing everything from his tariffs as “patriot farmers.” Did they know that they were signing up for the war by growing food? Meanwhile, GOP senators up for re-election in agricultural states are getting nervous.

DDT’s tariffs are closing down a South Carolina plant that assembles televisions using Chinese parts with a loss of 126 jobs.

Climate/Pollution:

Earth’s concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) has reached 415 parts per million ( ppm). The first 280 ppm took 5,000 years until the Industrial Revolution; the last 5 ppm took two years. Ninety percent of all global fuel emissions have been released in the past 85 years. Excess carbon dioxide is causing men’s testicles to shrink from shortage of sperm. (Chemicals are also shrinking penises.)

The U.S. is one of two nations out of 189 to control movement of its waste across national borders, leaving the U.S. no place to send contaminated and plastic waste without other countries’ consent. 

Of the world’s 425,000 electric buses, China has 421,000. The U.S. has 300.

DDT may be able to escape any climate change penalties on the federal level, but New York is levying millions of dollars against his business because of pollution from DDT’s buildings. Without making improvements, DDT will pay annual fines of $2.1 million from 2030.

Not only has DDT failed to create more coal jobs, but he’s also losing the ones that existed when he was inaugurated. One-thousand jobs are at risk as the third-largest coal company declared bankruptcy because of a weak market, and over 50 coal plants closed under DDT’s leadership. A court ruling voided union contracts for another coal company, and lack of federal funding jeopardizes pensions of $600 a month for almost 100,000 workers. Transition to other jobs is highly problematic because coal workers aren’t well enough to work after leaving the mines.

Data:

DDT’s attempts to control the census by asking about citizenship isn’t the only way that he plans to skew information: poverty and pollution in the U.S. will be less severe once he changes all the numbers. After the EPA reported that DDT’s new energy policy to replace President Obama’s Clean Power Plan kills an additional 1,400 people, DDT ordered the number to be fixed.

DDT will allow oil and gas industry to drill places not within the safe drilling margin through the draft of guidelines that weren’t included for public comment last year.

Legislation:

DDT and the GOP hate net neutrality, which keeps prices lower for internet use, but love the idea of 5G wireless phones to speed up all those tweets. The result may be a 30-percent inaccuracy of weather forecasts because of interference, taking predictions back four decades. That means fewer days to prepare for hurricanes and incorrect tracking of storms’ paths to land. NOAA reported that the proposed 5G system would lose 77 percent data from its satellite’s passive microwave sounders. The FCC continues to auction off wireless spectrum, already making almost $2 billion.

Without legislation, Congressional Republicans will cause these catastrophes: lack of disaster aid; budget caps starting on September 30; not raising the debt ceiling resulting in calamitous financial crisis by the end of summer; government shutdown without passage of 12 appropriation bills by October 1; continued disintegration of infrastructure; no funds for Violence against Women Act which expired three months ago; no defense authorization or flood insurance which depends on the disaster bill; and lack of surveillance from sunsets on gathering metadata on domestic text messages and “roving” wiretaps—which might not be too bad.

DDT doesn’t think his ideas to use public-private relationships for infrastructure improvement “will work.

When the House passed the Equality Act, 173 Republicans voted in favor of discriminating against LGBTQ people. Only 21 states and the District of Columbia explicitly prohibit discrimination in employment and house, and one of those states permits public accommodation discrimination. One Republican legislator compared LGBTQ people to Nazis.

IRS:

Every year, the IRS loses hundreds of auditing agents, so they pursue the poor rather than the wealthy. In 2018, millionaires were 80 percent less likely to be audited than in 2011, but the 43 percent of people receiving the earned income tax credit are audited at a higher rate than anyone except the richest. Highest audit rates are in poor, rural, mostly black, and Southern counties.

 Over 1.3 million college students on scholarships are taxed at higher rates than billionaires, including DDT, thanks to the new GOP “tax cut” law. High tax rates have also hit tribal funds paid to Native American youth for education or living expenses. Republicans have not only fixed the problem but seemed to have deliberately created it.

Education Department:

Republicans plan to renew investigations into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for her emails although she recorded all of them. The GOP will undoubtedly ignore Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s use of personal email accounts for government businesses and her failure to properly save the messages. The practice is common for Republicans, and DDT fails to preserve public records.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that the Education Department is blocking efforts to police the student loan industry and costing borrowers thousands of dollars for those who owe over $1 trillion in these loans by refusing to share information.

As DDT wants to increase the charter school budget, the Network for Public Education reported how charter schools have scammed the federal government for over $1 billion in nonexistent or short-lived schools. With no adverse consequences, one in three schools that have received $4 billion closed, never opened, or hadn’t yet opened. Other charter schools fall short of the charter program’s promise of “high-quality” schools for disadvantaged students.

Ignorance/Bigotry:

Fifty-six percent of people reject the idea of teaching “Arabic numerals”—like 56.

DDT:

DDT likened himself to Hungary’s far-right authoritarian leader Prime Minister Viktor Orbán because of his being “respected all over Europe” and doing a “tremendous job.” 

At this time, 138 nominees are awaiting confirmation in the Senate, and another 132 positions have no nominees. The reason comes from overwhelming turnover in the past two years.

Condo sales in Trump Tower have plummeted, some of them as much as 20 percent, compared to 0.23 percent of Manhattan homes. Occupancy rates dropped even with lower than average rents; net income is 26 percent below banks’s expectations in 2012. DDT still made $434 million last year, especially from the D.C. hotel.

DDT said that he will not use any campaign dirt on his opponents from foreign companies—if he gets the opponents he wants.

DDT’s trial balloon of getting another two years with no election because he was treated “unfairly” has failed: 77 percent of the people don’t agree. Only seven percent of respondents think that he should ignore the 2020 election if he loses, and 90 percent believe that the “peaceful handover of power after elections” and “both parties respecting the results of elections” were essential for the “healthy functioning of American democracy.” Large majorities agree that DDT “does not respect the customs or traditions of the Presidency” and “the laws of the United States.”

November 30, 2017

History Shows Disaster of Tax Bill

Over a century ago, George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This saying applies to the disastrous tax bill moving through Congress. “The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” tax raises for the poor and middle class (to paraphrase the title of Judith Viorst’s children’s classic) has passed the House, and another one, probably worse, has moved from committee to the Senate floor after GOP senators were bought off by bribes. Historian Robert S. McElvaine wrote this perspective from the past to illustrate the nation’s future: “I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.” The piece is subtitled “Republicans are again sprinting toward an economic cliff.”

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

That was more than three decades before the collapse of the economy in 1929. The crash followed a decade of Republican control of the federal government during which trickle-down policies, including massive tax cuts for the rich, produced the greatest concentration of income in the accounts of the richest 0.01 percent at any time between World War I and 2007 (when trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the hyper-rich, and deregulation again resulted in another economic collapse).

Yet the plain fact that the trickle-down approach has never worked leaves Republicans unfazed. The GOP has been singing from the Market-is-God hymnal for well over a century, telling us that deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, and the concentration of ever more wealth in the bloated accounts of the richest people will result in prosperity for the rest of us. The party is now trying to pass a scam that throws a few crumbs to the middle class (temporarily — millions of middle-class Americans will soon see a tax hike if the bill is enacted) while heaping benefits on the super-rich, multiplying the national debt and endangering the American economy.

In 1926, Calvin Coolidge’s treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, one of the world’s richest men, pushed through a massive tax cut that would substantially contribute to the causes of the Great Depression. Republican Sen. George Norris of Nebraska said that Mellon himself would reap from the tax bill “a larger personal reduction [in taxes] than the aggregate of practically all the taxpayers in the state of Nebraska.” The same is true now of Donald Trump, the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other fabulously rich people.

During the 1920s, Republicans almost literally worshiped business. “The business of America,” Coolidge proclaimed, “is business.” Coolidge also remarked that, “The man who builds a factory builds a temple,” and “the man who works there worships there.” That faith in the Market as God has been the Republican religion ever since. A few months after he became president in 1981, Ronald Reagan praised Coolidge for cutting “taxes four times” and said “we had probably the greatest growth in prosperity that we’ve ever known.” Reagan said nothing about what happened to “Coolidge Prosperity” a few months after he left office.

In 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt called for “bold, persistent experimentation” and said: “It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” The contrasting position of Republicans then and now is: Take the method and try it. If it fails, deny its failure and try it again. And again. And again.

When Bill Clinton proposed a modest increase in the top marginal tax rate in his 1993 budget, every Republican voted against it. Trickle-down economists proclaimed that it would lead to economic disaster. But the tax increase on the wealthy was followed by one of the greatest periods of prosperity in American history and resulted in a budget surplus. When the Republicans came back into power in 2001, the administration of George W. Bush pushed the opposite policies, which had invariably produced calamity in the past. Predictably, that happened again in 2008.

Just how disastrous would the proposed reincarnation of the failed Republican trickle-down policies of the past be for the American people and the future of the nation? A few ways:

  • Repealing the estate tax, or, as Republicans have dubbed it, the “death tax.” But the estate tax is not a tax on the dead; it is a tax on their heirs. Repeal would reverse an important aspect of the American Revolution and establish an American hereditary aristocracy. If your estate is not above $11 million, your benefits from this portion of the GOP’s tax cut will be a nice round number: zero.
  • Eliminating deductions for state and local taxes. The GOP has called these deductions favoritism for people who live in high-tax states. In fact, ending deductibility of state and local taxes would tax income that has already been taxed away from a taxpayer. It is, quite simply, double taxation.
  • Repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax, which assures that wealthy people who hire accountants to find all the obscure ways to avoid taxes cannot escape taxation altogether. Repealing it would save Trump millions.
  • Extending the “pass-through” provision to noncorporate businesses, including some 500 entities Trump owns. It would allow the owners of these businesses to pay taxes at 25 percent, instead of 39.9 percent. This provision would allow Wall Street fund managers, among other very wealthy people, to pay a lower tax rate than many middle-class Americans pay.
  • Ending the deductibility of large medical expenses.
  • Taxing waived tuition for college students, ending deductibility for student loan payments, and even disallowing teachers from deducting what they spend on school supplies for their students.
  • Ending the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which would cause 13 million Americans to lose health insurance and result in much higher premiums for those who do get insurance through the exchanges. The Congressional Budget Office has indicated that, if enacted, the Republican tax bill may force deep cuts in Medicare through a generally unknown budget rule that its deficits would trigger.

The analysis of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that people making less than $100,000 a year (approximately 80 percent of American households) will have their taxes increased while the millionaires and billionaires will make off like bandits.

In the 1920s, Republicans were in full control of the federal government and used that power to pursue their objective to “make the well-to-do prosperous.” It didn’t “leak through on those below.” In that decade, the mass-production American economy became dependent on mass consumption. For it to work, the masses need a sufficient share of the national income to be able to consume what is being produced.

Republican policies in the ’20s instead pushed to concentrate more of the income at the top. Nine decades later, Republicans are rushing to do it again — and they are sprinting toward an economic cliff. Another round of Government of the People, by the Republicans, for the super-rich will be catastrophic. The American people must call a halt before it’s too late.

Thank you, Mr. McElvaine

The deliberate $1.5 trillion deficit, tacked on to the massive deficits from George W. Bush’s wars and tax cuts, hobbles future generations. Instead of cutting back the deficit, the GOP is following the lead of a man who bragged that “I’m the king of debt.” DDT said, “I’m great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me. I’ve made a fortune by using debt, and if things don’t work out … you go back and you say, ‘Hey, guess what? The economy crashed. I’m going to give you back half.’” The king of debt made money cheating workers and retired people by refusing to pay them and declaring bankruptcies while he took all the cream for himself. He plans to continue the practice for all the people in the United States, for example anyone with Treasury bonds who will get only half of their investment back if he gets his way.

DDT claims he will “make America great again,” but he is turning the nation into a place where people are leaving instructions to send their ashes to Republicans who vote to literally kill them. Zoey Salsbury has created a popular website for people who may die without healthcare or Medicare. (The tax bill cuts $25 billion from that healthcare program). She provides information about how to mail cremains to the congressional member of choice, suggesting that packages be sent to legislators’ district offices because the Capitol may block them, and offers assistance in writing wills to for this process.

DDT is gaining his own vision of the United States, a place where he can take at least $1 billion for his personal gain from the bottom half of the population.

April 18, 2017

DDT’s Missing Tax Returns, More IRS Info

Filed under: Legislation — trp2011 @ 7:24 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Your federal income tax payment is due today, April 18. Technically, April 15 is the legal deadline, but not when that date is on a weekend. Then the date is pushed back because of Emancipation Day, the anniversary of freeing slaves and celebrated only in Washington, D.C. on April 16 every year. Its public employees had April 17 off because the 16th was on a weekend so taxes were then due on April 18. Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts don’t have to pay state taxes until tomorrow because of Patriots’ Day, a legal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in April, but their federal taxes are still due today.

April 15 was still a day of protest. In the past, Tea Party members led small groups to oppose payment of taxes for all the government benefits that they receive. This year, opposition came from people representing the 74 percent of the population who want Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to release his tax returns. DDT may have ignored North Korea in his weekend tweets, but he addressed the marches in 200 cities and at least 48 states with at least 120,000 people. The number was probably much higher than that because several cities undercounted its crowds. Seattle and Washington, D.C. each numbered at least 25,000. DDT’s response was that he didn’t need to release his returns because he had already won the election, trying to cover up the continuing ramifications of his massive financial connections including collusion with Russia. He called the marches “small” and accusing the protesters of being “paid.”

The myths of small crowds and paid protesters began with the National Women’s March and the airport protests over Trump’s first Muslim ban during his first two weeks in office and continued for every gathering. Last February, Breitbart started the lie that George Soros is funding the protest movement.

Even hundreds of protesters marched at Mar-a-Lago where DDT vacationed for the seventh of 13 weekends since his inauguration brought out hundreds of people. His trips have cost taxpayers more than President Obama’s trips over his entire eight years, and Palm County (FL) alone has been charged $2 million for his trips. They chanted “Pay! Your! Taxes!” and waved signs calling him “Chicken in Chief” because of DDT’s shift in 40 years by refusing to release his returns. “Chicken Don” symbols replaced the women’s march pussy hats.

Debbie Wehking, a 66-year-old a school principal from Miami, said:

 “He needs to show us his tax returns so that we can tell who’s influencing his decisions, who he owes money to, who he’s doing business with — really so we can figure out whether he needs to be impeached.”

DDT was forced to take a longer route to his golf club to avoid the crowds. In Washington, D.C. a sign stated, “My taxes pay for your golf.” His claim that he cannot release his tax returns no longer holds any water because this is a new return. Also, presidents and vice presidents are automatically audited every year but still made public. In another opaque movement, DDT will no longer release White House visitor logs.

Republicans like Oregon’s representative Greg Walden claim that DDT should have his privacy. Others say that it doesn’t matter or that no one cares contradicted by the marches. Over one million people have already signed this petition.

Last year, individuals paid 49 percent of all federal tax revenues with businesses paying only nine percent of the $3 trillion. Worker and employer payroll taxes, commonly called Social Security and Medicare, account for another 33 percent, and another 3 percent comes from excise taxes with the last five percent labeled as “other.” Business taxes were down from an average of 14 percent last year, and huge corporations like GE and PG&E may pay absolutely nothing. Up to 118 individual breaks benefit companies and the wealthy by almost $1.15 trillion, and 80 corporate breaks net them $185.2 billion.

Technically, the federal corporate income tax is 35 percent, which the GOP wants to drop by over 50 percent. Yet the average taxation for 258 profitable Fortune 500 firms over eight years was 21.2 percent, and 100 of them paid zero taxes in at least one of those years. For example, major polluter North Carolina-based Duke Energy netted $18.2 billion in those eight years and paid no taxes for seven of them while getting $482 billion rebates. That makes their tax rate a minus 2.6 percent.

At least 23 percent of income taxes go to the military, not counting veterans benefits, debt from earlier wars, etc. Yet only 22 percent for this amount is for pay and benefits; almost half of military taxes go to multinational corporations making billions in profits. Domestic needs such as education and the safety net get far less money. [visual] For example, in 2015 taxpayers gave just one corporation, Lockheed Martin, $36 billion, 80 percent of its entire revenues. That money was six times the amount for all foreign aid in 2016.

How government spends your taxes:

  • Defense: 15 percent, not counting veterans benefits and almost 50 percent higher than 20 years ago. [visual]
  • Health care: 13 percent.
  • Interest payments: 6 percent, because of the $20 trillion in national debt largely caused since the George W. Bush tax cuts and wars.
  • Income security: 13 percent, including retirement and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families at its lowest level since 1998.
  • Benefits for veterans: 5 percent for 22 million veterans.
  • Education: 3 percent.
  • Social security: 24 percent.
  • Medicare: 15 percent.
  • Foreign aid: under 1 percent.
  • Other: Under 5 percent, including crop subsidies, space travel, highway repairs, and national parks.

Republicans want to eliminate many of the programs above, but they would be hurting their own constituents. GOP-managed states, aka red states, typically get more federal money back than they send to Washington. Nine of the 11 states that get more than $2 back for every dollar sent to Washington, D.C. are red, and eight of the ten states most dependent on federal funding are red. South Carolina, the queen of federal welfare, gets the most money: for every $1 that the state pays in federal taxes, it receives $7.87. One legislator said, “If you shut down 25 percent of all the federal dollars coming into South Carolina, the economy of South Carolina would collapse.” The federal $59.4 billion sent to South Carolina in 2014 was nine times the state’s annual General Fund budget. South Carolina was ranked the eighth most dependent state in Social Security payments. The state also has the ninth highest level of poverty with almost 28 percent of its children living in poverty along with a horrible health care system, bad public schools, climate-changing coal fired plants with no regulations, lower drinking water standards and other ways to damage its residents.

Only one of the least-dependent ten states, those receiving less money from the federal government that it sends, is red. In short, the lower the financial benefit of federal government in a state, the more likely it is to vote for federal government.

The practice of sending more federal money to Southern states than the government receives is an inheritance from the 20th century when that region voted Democrat, and senior members of Congress sent federal money to their states with contracts, projects, and installations. The other part of the equation is the extreme poverty in those areas. The need for a “safety net” in red states requires hundreds of billions of dollars annually to help the neediest because their own states won’t provide aid.

GOP-controlled red states belie the fantasy that cutting taxes drives growth. Blue states accomplish growth from investments in education, infrastructure, urban quality of life, and human services. These states have nine of the 10 top-ranked universities in the country, the highest median household income in nine of ten states, the greatest generation of technological innovation, and the highest average life expectancy. Despite globalization, local conditions of education, research and development, and promotion of idea exchange and talent development are vital. North Dakota’s oil helped its economy, but it looks more like Saudi Arabia than Silicon Valley. Hubs of “blueness” like Austin (TX) can exist in red states, but are forced to fight against government repression of wage rules and public investments.

Possibilities for blue states? A Bluexit (“Bloo-ksit”) along the lines of Brexit, the British exit from the European Union. If red states want only the U.S. military, paper currency, and the national anthem determined at the federal level, blue states can keep its resources to build up its cities and states.

Happy Tax Day!

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