Official report: Tax cuts won’t pay for themselves

Congressional Republicans have long argued without evidence that tax cuts for the rich and for corporations will pay for themselves.  Now they have to hope you will ignore their own experts, who have officially said no, they won’t pay for themselves.

The congressional Joint Committee on Taxation said Wednesday afternoon that the Senate tax bill would add $1 trillion to federal budget deficits over the next decade, even after accounting for additional economic growth, a major blow to Republicans’ contention that the $1.5 trillion tax cuts in the bill will pay for themselves through growth.

Trump agrees with fascists (again)

Donald Trump retweeting a right-wing nutjob is not unusual, but it should always be news.  And when he retweeted racist videos from Britain First, it seems that was going too far, even for Britain’s Conservative government.  The President is officially unwelcome in London, and his state visit to Britain has been canceled.

Trump supporters may argue that retweeting is not endorsement.  But Trump himself says they are.  Asked in 2015 whether his retweets were endorsements, Trump said yes:

I think that’s right. Do you want me to say no?  You know, I retweet, I retweet for a reason.

Stephen Doughty, member of Parliament with the Labour Party, did not mince words:

This is the President of the United States sharing with millions inflammatory and divisive content deliberately posted to sow hatred and division by — as the Home Secretary says — a convicted criminal who is facing further charges who represents a vile fascist organization seeking to spread hatred and violence in person and online.  By sharing it he is either a racist, incompetent, or unthinking, or all three.

That the President is a racist is obvious to anyone who knows what racism is, but I think Doughty actually may have understated the problem.  The President isn’t just a racist, he’s a fascist who considers fascist organizations and their criminal leaders his allies.

Duterte: “I am a fascist”

Photo: AP
A lot of bleeding heart liberals, myself included, have been using the word “fascist” to describe Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. But now Duterte openly brags of being a fascist. No, really:

I will follow America, since they say that I am an American boy.  OK, granted, I will admit that I am a fascist. I will categorize you already as a terrorist.

It’s not clear who he means by “you” in that last sentence, perhaps the journalist to whom he was speaking.  Note that he says he’s following the lead of America.  Duterte enjoys a warm relationship with Donald Trump, who the aforementioned bleeding heart liberals have also characterized as a fascist, and if you doubted those liberals were correct before, perhaps you should reconsider.

If you, or one of your parents or grandparents, was among those who fought in World War II to defeat fascism, would you please speak up in the comments, and describe your feelings as you read that the Republican Party is on the opposite side today?

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.