Listen to what they don’t say

Things Republican leaders are saying about their candidate Roy Moore:

House Speaker Paul Ryan:

Number one, these allegations are credible. Number two, if he cares about the values that he claims to care about, then he should step aside.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

I think he should step aside.

Senator Lindsey Graham:

He was barred from a mall. His behavior was so extreme in his thirties that apparently the Gadsden mall put him on the no-fly list. That tells me a lot. I don’t know anybody personally who’s been banned from a mall.

Things Republican leaders are NOT saying about their candidate Roy Moore:
Alabama Republicans have the power to say this, but won’t:

We, the Alabama Republican Party, hereby decertify Roy Moore as the candidate of our Party.

And no Republican anywhere has publicly said this:

Vote for the Democratic candidate instead.

Not all the Republicans think being a pedophile rapist is disqualifying

An Alabama Republican is standing by Roy Moore, their candidate for Senate in an upcoming special election.

Alabama state auditor Jim Ziegler, a Republican operator, gave an interviews in which he justified Moore’s assaults on children by citing scripture, noting that “Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter” and stating that Moore’s assaults on children were “nothing immoral or illegal…Maybe just a little bit unusual.”

Today’s Republican Party isn’t misogynist and utterly amoral and fascist, just maybe a little bit unusual.  And of course Steve Bannon is blaming the media, not denying the serious allegations the media are reporting.

They know Trump won’t help them, and they love him anyway.

Johnstown, Pennsylvania knows Trump won’t deliver, and they don’t care.

Johnstown voters do not intend to hold the president accountable for the nonnegotiable pledges he made to them. It’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether.

This reality ought to get the attention of anyone who thinks they will win in 2018 or 2020 by running against Trump’s record. His supporters here, it turns out, are energized by his bombast and his animus more than any actual accomplishments. For them, it’s evidently not what he’s doing so much as it is the people he’s fighting. Trump is simply and unceasingly angry on their behalf, battling the people who vex them the worst—“obstructionist” Democrats, uncooperative establishment Republicans, the media, Black Lives Matter protesters and NFL players (boy oh boy do they hate kneeling NFL players) whom they see as ungrateful, disrespectful millionaires.

And they love him for this.

This is how authoritarian followers think.

We have a monopoly problem

Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz writes about the problems caused by monopoly capitalism.  It’s worth reading the whole piece.

Chicago economists would argue—with little backing in either theory or evidence—that one shouldn’t even worry about monopoly: In an innovative economy, monopoly power would only be temporary, and the ensuing contest to become the monopolist maximized innovation and consumer welfare.

Over the past four decades, economic theory and evidence has laid waste to such claims and the belief that some variant of the competitive equilibrium model provides a good, or even adequate, description of our economy.

But if we begin with the obvious, opposite hypothesis—that what we see in our daily life is true, that our economy is marked in industry after industry by large concentrations of market power—then we can begin to simultaneously understand much of what is going on. There has been an increase in the market power and concentration of a few firms in industry after industry, leading to an increase in prices relative to costs (in mark-ups). This lowers the standard of living every bit as much as it lowers workers’ wages.

What real tax reform would look like

You’ve seen the Republican plan.  And it’s just what we knew would come out of the party of Trump:  massive tax cuts for the rich, tax increases for everyone else.  This is not new.  Here’s Paul Krugman describing the Republicans’ ideas in 2011.

[W]hen the GOP claimed that deficits don’t matter, it called for privatizing major social insurance programs while cutting taxes on the rich, and now that it claims to be deeply concerned about deficits, it calls for privatizing major social insurance programs while cutting taxes on the rich.

What would a really progressive tax plan look like, something that could properly be described as reform?  It would have to actively reverse not just income inequality, but wealth inequality.  It would have to address the fact that the recent depression wiped out a generation of wealth accumulation by Latinos and blacks.

  • The estate tax should be increased, not eliminated.
  • The federal income tax should be steeply progressive, that is, those with higher incomes should pay more than they do now.  The top rate should be north of 50%.
  • The payroll tax should be eliminated.  It’s a regressive tax that hits working people hardest.  If you want to know who is serious about cutting taxes on working people, see if they’re making a lot of noise about cutting income taxes, which the working poor don’t pay, or the payroll tax, which the working poor do pay.  The Social Security trust fund should be funded by the income tax.
  • Regressive state and local taxes should be outlawed.  I’m looking at you, sales taxes.  The difference should be made up from income taxes.
  • A wealth tax on the largest fortunes should be levied annually.  A few percent off a vast fortune, is still a vast fortune.  Trump proposed this in 1999, so let’s pretend he was serious and make it happen.

This should be the minimum set of demands by Democrats, and if Democratic candidates won’t support it, let’s get some better Democratic candidates for 2018.

What do you think?  Register on this blog and let’s discuss it.

Steve King is a liar

Remember when Steve King thought deficit spending was a bad thing?

KING HOLDS FIRM TO REDUCE DEFICIT

King: We Should Require Congress to be Fiscally Responsible Every Day

Washington, D.C.— U.S. Congressman Steve King (IA-05) today called on his colleagues to hold themselves accountable to taxpayers and agree to a plan to reduce the federal deficit by voting for the Conference Report on H.R. 4241, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005….

“Americans expect their representatives to be fiscally responsible, but it doesn’t always happen,” said King. “It shouldn’t be the first time in eight years we’re requiring Congress to look for and eliminate abuse, waste and fraud in government programs, we should require it every day. The Deficit Reduction Act is a big step toward making government accountable to the taxpayers and reducing the federal deficit.”

Today, not so much.  House Republicans have finally unveiled their tax-cut-for-the-rich proposal, which they admit will balloon the federal deficit by more than $1.5 trillion.  You don’t see any Republican deficit hawks now.  Because their deficit hawkery was always a fraud.  Republicans were all about reducing the deficit when Democrats were in power, but now that Republicans are running the government, lo! behold!  Deficits turn out to be unimportant.  When they are finally turned out of office, they will suddenly remember again that the deficit is the most critical problem facing the country and will tell you this is why we must cut social spending.

 

Lies about tax “reform”

We hear a lot that Republicans are at odds with each other.  There is one thing that unites them all:  tax cuts for the rich.  The Party of Trump is quite clear on that.  They would like to pay less, and they would like working people to pay more.  Naturally, this requires lying.  Paul Krugman has helpfully compiled a list of ten lies that Republicans keep repeating.  You should read the whole piece.  One of the collection of whoppers is the persistent and absurd claim that the inheritance tax somehow hurts working people and farmers:

Tales of struggling family farms disbanded because they can’t afford the taxes when the patriarch dies have flourished for decades, despite the absence of any examples. I don’t mean examples are rare: I mean that advocates of estate tax repeal haven’t been able to come up with a single example at least since the late 1970s, when exemption levels were raised to the equivalent of around $2 million in today’s dollars.

Lately Trump has added a new twist, portraying the estate tax as a terrible burden on hard-working truckers. For who among us doesn’t own an $11 million fleet of trucks?

 

No, the Republican Party does not think this is the time for a discussion about gun control. Why do you ask?

Unless you get every bit of your news from this blog, you’ve already heard about the mass shooting in Las Vegas.  The usual ritualized responses are being made again, with Republican after Republican insisting again that nothing can be done.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters it was premature to discuss legislative responses, “if there are any,” while House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said the focus should be on mental health.

Instead of quoting these do-nothings, let’s review what has already happened in countries that are governed by people who aren’t against government.

On April 28, 1996, a gunman opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania. By the time he was finished, he had killed 35 people and wounded 23 more. It was the worst mass murder in Australia’s history.

Twelve days later, Australia’s government did something remarkable. Led by newly elected conservative Prime Minister John Howard, it announced a bipartisan deal with state and local governments to enact sweeping gun-control measures. A decade and a half hence, the results of these policy changes are clear: They worked really, really well.

That quote is old.  Is has been 21 years since the Port Arthur massacre.  There have been no mass shootings in Australia in that time.  They went from 11 mass shootings in the decade before 1996, to none in two decades.  By contrast, in 2015 the United states averaged a mass shooting per day.

At the heart of the push was a massive buyback of more than 600,000 semi-automatic shotguns and rifles, or about one-fifth of all firearms in circulation in Australia. The country’s new gun laws prohibited private sales, required that all weapons be individually registered to their owners, and required that gun buyers present a “genuine reason” for needing each weapon at the time of the purchase. (Self-defense did not count.) In the wake of the tragedy, polls showed public support for these measures at upwards of 90 percent.

The NRA would have you believe that when citizens are unarmed, they are defenseless, and that violent criminals with guns will have their way with them.  It didn’t happen.  Homicides by firearm in Australia plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006.  The NRA would have you believe that gun control can’t work, because when criminals can’t get guns, they will use other weapons.  It didn’t happen:  there was no increase in non-firearm-related homicides during that period.  Home invasions didn’t increase either.

When someone tells you gun control can’t work, throw Australia in their faces.