Common Dreams: How Big Corporations Game Our Democracy into Their Plutocracy

The following is an excellent article written by Ralph Nader on the Common Dreams website on October 4, 2017 titled “How Big Corporations Game Our Democracy into Their Plutocracy” and I quote:

“How Big Corporations Game Our Democracy into Their Plutocracy”

When public institutions are governed by private interests.

The corporate state – the autocratic joining of business and government – exerts its influence all the way down to the state and local levels, not just in Washington. It works through boards of education and trustees of colleges and universities, drawing heavily from the business world and its professional servants in such disciplines as law, accounting and engineering.

“The corporate state – the autocratic joining of business and government – exerts its influence all the way down to the state and local levels, not just in Washington. It works through boards of education and trustees of colleges and universities, drawing heavily from the business world and its professional servants in such disciplines as law, accounting and engineering.”(Photo: Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

A major chapter in American history – rarely taught in our schools – is how ever larger corporations have moved to game, neutralize and undermine the people’s continual efforts to protect our touted democratic society. It is a fascinating story of the relentless exercise of power conceived or seized by corporations, with the strategic guidance of corporate lawyers.

Start with their birth certificate – the state charters that bring these corporate entities into existence, with limited liability for their investors. In the early 1800s, the Massachusetts legislature chartered many of the textile manufacturing companies. These charters could be renewed on good behavior, because lawmakers then viewed charters as privileges contingent on meeting the broad interests of society.

Fast forward to now. The charter can be granted online in a matter of hours; there are no renewal periods and the job is often given over to a state commission. Over the decades, corporate lobbyists have had either the legislatures or the courts grant them more privileges, immunities and concentration of power in management, rendering shareholders – their owners – increasingly powerless. The same corporate fixers work for corporations and their subsidiaries abroad to help them avoid US laws, taxes and escape disclosures.

Remarkably, the artificial creation called the “corporation” has now achieved almost all of the rights of real people under our “We the People” Constitution that never mentions the words “corporation” or “company.”

Corporations cannot vote, at least not yet; only people can. That was seen as a major lever of democratic power over corporations. So what has happened? Commercial money to politicians started weakening the influence of voters because the politicians became increasingly dependent on the corporate interests that bankrolled their campaigns. The politicians use their ever-increasing corporate cash to saturate voters with deceptive political ads, and intimidate any competitors who have far less money, but may be far better representative of the public good.

To further shatter the principle of voter sovereignty, corporations have rewarded those politicians who construct restrictive political party rules, gerrymander electoral districts and obstruct third party candidate ballot access. By concentrating political power in fewer and fewer hands, corporate influence becomes more deeply entrenched in our democratic society. Politicians quickly learn that political favors will attract more corporate campaign cash and other goodies.

Institutions that are supposed to represent democratic values, such as Congress and state legislatures are meticulously gamed with the daily presence of corporate lawyers and lobbyists to shape the granular performance of these bodies and make sure little is done to defend civic values. These pitchmen are in the daily know about the inner workings of legislative bodies long before the general public. They often know who is going to be nominated for judicial and executive branch positions that  interpret and administer the law and whether the nominee will do the bidding of the corporate bosses.

Then there is the press. Thomas Jefferson put great responsibility on the newspapers of his day to safeguard our democracy from excessive commercial power and their runaway political toadies. Certainly, our history has some great examples of the press fulfilling Jefferson’s wish. For the most part, however, any media that is heavily reliant on advertisements will clip its own wings or decide to go with light-hearted entertainment or fluff, rather than dig in the pits of corruption and wrongdoing.

What of the educational institutions that purport to convey facts, the lessons of history and not be beholden to special interests? The corporate state – the autocratic joining of business and government – exerts its influence all the way down to the state and local levels, not just in Washington. It works through boards of education and trustees of colleges and universities, drawing heavily from the business world and its professional servants in such disciplines as law, accounting and engineering.

Moreover, the most influential alumni, in terms of donations, endowments and engagements, come from the business community. They know the kind of alma mater they want to preserve. The law and business schools are of particular interest, if only because they are the recruiting grounds for their companies and firms.

Their subversion even extends to the sacrosanct notion of academic freedom – that these institutions must be independent centers of knowledge. For example, Monsanto, General Motors, Exxon and Eli Lilly are only a few of the companies that have pushed corporate, commercial science over academic, independent science through lucrative consultantships and partnerships with professors.

The unfortunate reality  is that the wealthy and powerful are driven to spend the necessary time and energy to accomplish their raison d’etre, which are profits and the relentless pursuit of self-interest. Citizens, on the other hand, have so much else on their minds, just to get through the day and raise their families.

The path forward is to learn from history how citizens, when driven by injustice, organized, raised the banners of change and concentrated on the ways and means to victory. These initiatives require civic self-respect and  an understanding that the status quo is demeaning and intolerable.

The requisite to such an awakening is the awareness that our two precious pillars of democracy – freedom of contract and freedom to use the courts – are being destroyed or seriously undermined by corporate influence. The contract servitude of fine-print contracts, signed or clicked on, is the basis of so many of the abuses and rip-offs that Americans are subjected to with such regularity. Add this modern peonage to the corporate campaign to obstruct the people’s full day in court and right of trial by jury guaranteed by our Constitution. The plutocrats have succeeded in gravely doing just that. Tight court budgets, the frequency of jury trials and the number of filed wrongful injury lawsuits keep going down to case levels well under five percent of what the needs for justice require.

Some fundamental questions are: Will we as citizens use our Constitutional authority to reclaim and redirect the power we’ve too broadly delegated to elected officials? Will we hold these officials accountable through a reformed campaign finance system that serves the people over the plutocrats? Will we realize that a better society starts with just a few people in each electoral district and never requires more than one percent of the voters, organized and reflecting public opinion, to make the corporations our servants, not our masters?

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(There is no way you can give the elitists all those tax breaks hoping it will trickle down. They have been using that excuse for years, and every time you give them more, our country just goes further in debt. I hope the Democrats get out and emphasizes this story and what is at stake.  Tell your legislators to keep the Obama income tax system with seven brackets and not three like the Republican-controlled Congress wants to do.  The GOP also wants to eliminate the exemptions and the mortgage deduction.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Politicususa.com: Trump’s OMB Director Says We Shouldn’t Believe The Words Coming Out Of Trump’s Mouth

The following is an excellent article written by Jason Easley on the Politicususa.com website on October 4, 2017 titled “Trump’s OMB Director Says We Shouldn’t Believe The Words Coming Out Of Trump’s Mouth” and I quote:

“Trump’s OMB Director Says We Shouldn’t Believe The Words Coming Out Of Trump’s Mouth”

White House OMB Director Mick Mulvaney walked back Trump’s promise to erase Puerto Rico’s debt by telling the American people that they shouldn’t believe word for word what the President says.

Trump’s OMB Director Says We Shouldn’t Believe The Words Coming Out Of Trump’s Mouth

White House OMB Director Mick Mulvaney walked back Trump’s promise to erase Puerto Rico’s debt by telling the American people that they shouldn’t believe word for word what the President says.

Video:

Mulvaney was asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo if Trump’s suggestion of erasing Puerto Rico’s debt should be taken seriously at its face. Mulvaney answered, “I wouldn’t take it word for word with that. I talked to the President at some length yesterday as we flew home on Air Force One yesterday, and what we’re focusing on right now is what you and I just talked about. The primary focus of the federal effort is to make sure that the island is safe and that we’re rebuilding the island.”

The message to the American people is clear. Trump doesn’t know what he is talking about, so when he opens his mouth, no one should take him seriously. The United States has a president whose words mean nothing. The President can’t make policy because he doesn’t understand issues or how government works. Trump says whatever will get him applause and love from any room that he is in.

The crisis of non-governance has paralyzed this country under Republican leadership didn’t begin with Trump, but this president is the epicenter of the dysfunction.”

(REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP CANNOT CONTROL PUERTO RICO’S DEBT.  HE CAN’T EVEN CONTROL THE U.S. DEBT.  JUST LOOK AT HIS FEDERAL INCOME TAX PROPOSAL HE INTRODUCED WHICH LOWERS THE INCOME TAX FOR THE WEALTHIEST IN OUR COUNTRY WHICH WILL LEAVE OUR COUNTRY WITH A HUGE DEBT.  MUCH BIGGER THAN WE HAVE TODAY.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Time: John McCain Urges Supreme Court to ‘Return Control of our Elections to the People’

The following is an excellent article written by Jennifer Calfas on the Time website on October 3, 2017 titled “John McCain Urges Supreme Court to ‘Return Control of our Elections to the People'” and I quote:

“John McCain Urges Supreme Court to ‘Return Control of Our Elections to the People'”

Oct 03, 2017

Sens. John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse doubled down on their bipartisan effort encouraging the U.S. Supreme Court to create a new standard for determining the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering.

The Republican and Democratic senators reaffirmed their efforts Tuesday as the highest court in the U.S. heard oral arguments for a key case that could determine the future of partisan gerrymandering in the U.S. Gerrymandering is the drawing of electoral district lines to favor typically the party in power.

“The Court can clean up a cause of America’s crisis in confidence in our democracy, protect our elections from wildly partisan ‘bulk’ gerrymandering, and return control of our elections to the people,” McCain and Whitehouse said in a joint statement on Tuesday. “We hope the Court will.”

The case, Gill v. Whitford, comes from Democrats in Wisconsin who believe boundaries created in the state were made to benefit Republicans, which the Democrats argue is unconstitutional. In the past, the Supreme Court created a standard to assess whether race was used too much in the remapping of districts. However, the court has not yet created a standard to assess the same issue in its relation to partisan politics.

McCain and Whitehouse filed a friend-of-the-court brief for the case last month, which said “this case implicates the effective functioning of American representative democracy.”

“The American people do not like gerrymandering. It leaves them feeling powerless and discouraged; that their votes are wasted and voices silenced,” they said Tuesday. “They see it rigging our political system to favor special interests.”

“Elections ought to belong to the people,” the senators added. “Increasingly uncompetitive and unrepresentative districts have a corrosive effect on the American democratic process.””

(THEY HAVE THE EXACT SAME PROBLEM HERE IN WISCONSIN DESCRIBED ON PUBLIC TELEVISION TITLED “PBS NEWS-HOUR: DID DISTRICT LINES RIG WISCONSIN ELECTIONS? SUPREME COURT CASE COULD RESHAPE POLITICS” ON THEIR OCTOBER 3, 2017 PROGRAM WITH LISA DESJARDINS AND MARCIA COYLE. GERRYMANDERING IS MAKING A MOCKERY OUT OF OUR ELECTION SYSTEM.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Washington Post: The Report Trump Officials Don’t Want You to See

The following is an excellent article written by Catherine Rampell on the Washington Post website on October 2, 2017 titled “The Report Trump Officials Don’t Want You to See” and I quote:

“The report Trump officials don’t want you to see”


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Opinion writer October 2 at 7:30 PM

Psst. Hey, you. Wanna read something dangerous?

It’s a government document so incendiary that the feds have tried to suppress it. They’ve purged it from their websites and disavowed its claims.

But it’s not about Roswell, or who killed JFK. It’s not even about climate change.

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It’s something far juicier: a 34-page technical paper about corporate income taxes.

And it’s a document that matters if you’re trying to game out whether (and how much) enormous corporate tax cuts will trickle down to workers.

Play Video 0:31
Trump says he hopes the corporate tax rate will fall to 15 percent
President Trump spoke about tax reform with reporters before boarding Air Force One in Morristown, N.J., on Sept. 24. (The Washington Post)

See, prior to 2008, whenever Treasury crunched the numbers on this subject, staffers assumed that corporate income taxes were borne only by owners of capital. That is: shareholders.

But toward the end of the George W. Bush administration, the non-political career people in Treasury’s Office of Tax Analysis, a sort of internal think tank, began developing a new model taking into account newer research.

In 2012, they released a paper explaining their latest findings: that 82 percent of corporate taxes were borne by capital owners, and 18 percent were borne by labor. Workers don’t literally write the check, of course, but corporate taxes may discourage investment, and therefore lead to lower wages.

Figuring out who actually bears the burden of taxes, and who therefore benefits from corporate tax cuts, is thorny. We have limited data available, after all, and no true controlled experiments for changes in federal tax policy. But the answers these Treasury staffers produced are not so far from those of most other major nonpartisan tax crunchers, including the Congressional Budget Office, the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Tax Policy Center.

The Treasury paper was subsequently published in an elite academic journal. Outside of tax wonk circles, the numbers were generally ignored.

Until now.

That’s because Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been lately claiming that nearly all of the corporate tax burden is passed on to workers. It’s an argument that he has to make if he hopes to sell the administration’s tax cuts — which even a large share of Republicans opposes — as a helping hand for the Forgotten Man.

On Fox News, Mnuchin claimed that “most economists believe that over 70 percent of corporate taxes are paid for by the workers.” At an event in Kentucky, he declared that “over 80 percent of business taxes is borne by the worker.”

Tax watchers and interviewers began pointing out that Mnuchin’s claims were at odds not only with most credible estimates but also with those of his own staff.

Which clearly annoyed Mnuchin.

So Treasury took the unusual — unprecedented? — step of quietly deleting the inconvenient findings from its website.

It’s not clear when this erasure happened. The paper’s disappearance was first reported last week by the Wall Street Journal’s ace tax reporter, Richard Rubin. When I requested an interview with Treasury about the deletion, a spokesperson emailed me that “the paper was a dated staff analysis from the previous administration. It does not represent our current thinking and analysis.”

Which is a peculiar excuse, and not only because the paper was produced by nonpolitical staffers who still work at Treasury. Office of Tax Analysis models get revised all the time; that’s why this paper was produced in the first place, after all.

Updates to methodology — if that’s really all this was — do not require deletion of older technical reports, which normally stay archived online for transparency reasons. Four decades’ worth of other Office of Tax Analysis working papers somehow remain online, even though many of those have been superseded by subsequent reports.

In removing the paper, Trump officials are making it easier to conceal what their tax plan does, and whom it helps. This is part of a broader GOP effort to duck accountability.

The Senate Budget Resolution, for example, includes language that could help sideline any CBO analysis of the tax bill.

Surrogates on the Hill and executive branch have also been (somewhat incompetently) smearing the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. The center recently produced a preliminary analysis of the Republican tax framework. It estimated that by 2027 the proposal would increase deficits by $2.4 trillion, with about 80 percent of tax cuts going to the top 1 percent.

Asked about these numbers on ABC’s “This Week,” Mnuchin claimed that no one can credibly estimate the effect of the plan, given how many details are still up in the air. In virtually the same breath, he also asserted that the plan will reduce deficits by $1 trillion and primarily benefit the middle class.

Those two statements can’t both be true, at least not simultaneously.

In other words, no matter how hard Trump officials try — and as this report disappearance demonstrates, they’re trying hard — they can’t keep their own lies straight.”

(IF REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP AND THE REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED CONGRESS CAN GET THIS CORRUPT FEDERAL INCOME TAX BILL PASSED, IT WILL BE EXACTLY LIKE LEGALIZED STEALING FROM US TAXPAYERS.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Bloomberg: The Fate of Trump’s Tax Cut Rests With These Six Senators

The following is an excellent article written by Sahil Kapur on the Bloomberg website on September 29, 2017 titled “The Fate of Trump’s Tax Cut Rests With These Six Senators” and I quote:

“The Fate of Trump’s Tax Cut Rests With These Six Senators”

  • ‘We don’t have margins for error,’ Senator John Thune says
  • Corker won’t support a tax bill that adds to the deficit

Trump’s Challenge to Peddle Tax Plan Pass-Throughs

President Donald Trump and Republican leaders unveiled a nine-page framework to rewrite the nation’s tax code this week to rave reviews from within their party. But now the hard part starts — with the tax-writing committees in the House and Senate tasked with settling some of the most divisive issues.

Questions from where to set the top income tax rate to whether the package should be paid for could easily fracture the GOP. With 52 senators in their ranks and little hope of Democratic support, Republicans can’t afford to lose more than two members to get a bill passed. They also can’t afford another legislative loss following their failure to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

1506616608_tax-plan-tout-02

“There’s no question that there’s certainly comfort in margins, and we don’t have margins for error. And so each individual senator is very empowered when it comes to a big issue like this,” No. 3 GOP Senator John Thune of South Dakota said, referring to the tax overhaul. “As we’ve seen now a couple different times, it’s very easy to take a big bill like this down.”

The fate of Trump’s promise of a historic tax revamp could be determined by six key Republican senators: Bob Corker, John McCain, Rand Paul, Pat Toomey, Orrin Hatch and Susan Collins. Some in the group have already laid out their demands for a tax bill. Here’s a closer look at those senators, whose actions will be crucial to getting a tax bill across the finish line:

Bob Corker

Having announced he’ll retire after the 2018 election, the deficit hawk is free to chart his path. And the two-term Tennessee senator is setting down a marker, insisting he won’t support a tax bill that adds to the deficit. That could make meeting Trump’s promise for massive tax cuts difficult.

Bob Corker

Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

Corker recently struck a deal with Toomey paving the way for budget legislation that would allow for huge tax cuts in theory, but Corker has said he wouldn’t allow them to balloon the deficit. “With realistic growth projections, it cannot produce a deficit,” Corker said Wednesday. “There is no way in hell I’m voting for it.” He estimated that some $4 trillion in revenue-raisers must be achieved in order to ease his concerns.

Corker also said he wants to “get down to lower corporate rates and get rid of all these crazy issues that exist in our tax code,” describing his opposition to raising the deficit as a “hard stand” in order to “make sure we stay fiscally sane.”

John McCain

This week, the Arizona Republican outlined the same condition on tax legislation that twice proved pivotal in blocking Obamacare repeal efforts in the Senate: Regular order that allows for hearings, debate, amendments and bipartisan support. “We need to do it in a bipartisan fashion,” McCain said Tuesday of a tax overhaul. “I am committed, as I’ve said before, to a bipartisan approach, such as we’ve been doing in the Armed Services Committee for the last 53 years.”

John McCain

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

That may be difficult to reconcile with Senate Republican leaders’ plans to use the fast-track procedure on taxes that they tried to use on health care. Will the so-called maverick be satisfied? Initial reaction among Democrats to the tax framework indicates firm opposition, but McCain was more positive, praising the multiple tax hearings that the Finance Committee has held and saying he looks forward to reviewing the proposal.

McCain, 81 and battling brain cancer, has a history of bucking his party on the issue of taxes. He was among the few Senate Republicans to vote against President George W. Bush’s two separate tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, although he later came to support making them permanent.

Rand Paul

The Kentucky libertarian is never an easy vote to win over — he proved it during the health-care debate by staunchly opposing the Senate’s last opportunity to undo Obamacare before the Sept. 30 deadline, complaining that it didn’t go far enough. And now he’s staking out a far-reaching position on taxes, too, calling for a “large cut of at least 15 percent for every taxpayer” in an Aug. 30 op-ed.

Rand Paul

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Paul is also opposed to paying for a tax cut, describing the push for revenue neutrality as “a terrible idea” that simply shifts around the tax burden and fails to achieve “real tax cuts.” He called on his party to reject the principle of revenue neutrality, warning it will “result in those with the best lobbyists, lawyers and accountants being the winners, while most everyone else either gets nothing or largely loses out.” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has also said a tax plan should include big cuts, pushing back on the idea of revenue neutral changes.

In 2015, ahead of his failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Paul rolled out a “flat tax” plan that would impose a 14.5 percent individual rate.

Pat Toomey

The second-term Pennsylvania senator is an outspoken cheerleader for tax cuts and has argued against the need to pay for such a plan, saying the overarching focus must be on economic growth and that a revenue-neutral plan would be “anemic.” He successfully pushed for an agreement on a budget vehicle that allows the tax cuts to add to the deficit. He’s also argued for changing the rules to extend the budget window for a temporary tax cut from 10 years to as many as 30 years. “I’d like to stretch that out as much as possible,” he said.

Pat Toomey

Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

Toomey, along with fellow tax wonk Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, are seen as the Senate Finance Committee’s thought leaders on tax policy. One of Toomey’s big priorities: “Expensing capital might be the most pro-growth element of this exercise,” he told reporters Wednesday. “That’s really really important to me.” Another is to create an incentive to bring home the estimated $2.6 trillion in corporate profits sitting overseas and set up a territorial system where U.S. companies aren’t subject to “an extra layer of tax from overseas income.”

Orrin Hatch

A tax overhaul may be the GOP’s last best chance to secure a major legislative victory in 2017, and the chairman of the tax-writing Finance Committee views it as a political imperative. “Very important,” Hatch said in an interview Wednesday. “We all feel the pressure to deliver on taxes.”

Orrin Hatch

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Hatch, who was a second-term senator during the last big tax-code rewrite in 1986, is keenly aware of the issue’s complexity. He declined to say if he believes the Senate will secure a majority to eliminate the state and local tax deduction, a major revenue-raiser targeted in the Trump-GOP framework. “I’m not going to talk about specifics,” he said. “It’s a very complex bill to begin with. And we’re going to have to make some very tough decisions about what we keep and what we don’t.”

Hatch’s panel has a 14-12 split between Republicans and Democrats, which means he can afford to lose no more than one Republican if Democrats decline to play ball. He said he hopes to win Democratic support, but conceded that it “would be unique” in this political environment. “If they want to play politics with it, it’s another matter.”

Susan Collins

Arguably the Senate’s most moderate Republican, the always-meticulous Collins drove a hard bargain on health care that helped torpedo the push. While she has said little about the upcoming tax debate, nobody is taking her vote for granted.

Susan Collins

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The Maine senator has voted for numerous tax cuts in the past, including the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. But she has also taken some heterodox positions that could be a factor: In 2015, she was the only GOP senator of 55 who broke ranks and voted against a budget measure calling for repeal of the estate tax, which the Trump-GOP framework seeks to do. In 2008, she voted for a measure to raise the top tax rate for people earning more than $1 million.

For now, Collins isn’t revealing any of her thoughts on the framework.

“I’m going to take the weekend to study it,” she said.

— With assistance by Erik Wasson”

(GLAD TO HEAR THAT NOT ALL REPUBLICANS ARE FAVORING REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S FEDERAL INCOME TAX PROPOSAL GIVING BILLIONAIRES–INDIVIDUALS AND CORPORATIONS–BIG INCOME TAX CUTS BY REDUCING THE TOP INCOME TAX RATE FROM 39.6% TO 35% AS WELL AS LOWERING THE CORPORATE TAX.  PRES TRUMP ALSO REDUCES THE NUMBER OF BRACKETS FROM SEVEN TO THREE AND RAISES THE BOTTOM RATE FROM 10% TO 12%.  ALL OF THIS WHILE THE FEDERAL DEBT KEEPS GROWING AND THE BOTTOM HALF OF OUR TAXPAYERS ARE GETTING EXPLOITED MORE BY THE ELITIST 1% WHO ARE BILLIONAIRES, WHO ARE MAKING THE MOST MONEY THEY EVER MADE ACCORDING TO FORBES MAGAZINE.

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Washington Post: New Details of GOP Tax Plan Reveal Focus on Wealthy

The following is an excellent article written by Damian Paletta on the Washington Post website on September 24, 2017 titled “New Details of GOP Tax Plan Reveal Focus on Wealthy” and I quote:

“New details of GOP tax plan reveal focus on wealthy”

September 24

President Trump speaks about tax reform on Sept. 6 at the Andeavor Mandan Refinery in Mandan, N.D. (AP)

White House officials and Republican leaders are preparing a set of broad income and corporate tax cuts while also looking for a way to keep their plan from being a massive windfall for the wealthiest Americans, two people familiar with the plan said.

Party leaders are quietly circulating proposals to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and lower the top individual income tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent, according to the people familiar with the plan.

White House advisers are divided over whether to cut the top individual tax rate, and Republican leaders, aware the plan could be construed as a huge giveaway to the wealthy, are trying to design features to the package that would ensure that the rich don’t get too large a share of the plan’s tax relief.

Top White House negotiators and key GOP leaders have agreed on those targets, but apparently President Trump has not. On Sunday, as he was about to board Air Force One in New Jersey, Trump told reporters he hoped to see the corporate tax rate lowered to 15 percent, a level that his own negotiators had privately dismissed weeks ago.

“We’ll see what happens, but I hope it’s going to be 15 percent,” he told reporters. “But it’s going to be substantially lower so we bring jobs back to the country.”

The lack of agreement, days before the plan is set to be unveiled more broadly, underscore the difficult Republicans face in uniting behind a tax bill.

GOP leaders, including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), have said it is impossible to cut the corporate rate to 15 percent without adding too much money to the federal debt. As it stands, the tax cut is expected to add at least $1 trillion to the debt, and potentially much more.

As part of the package of tax cuts, the White House and GOP leaders are hoping to convince their Republican colleagues to cut the rate paid by thousands of businesses that pay taxes through the individual income tax code from 39.6 percent to 25 percent, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the private discussions.

Some details of the plan were reported Friday night by The Washington Post, and others were first reported by Axios on Saturday.

GOP leaders plan to unveil specifics of their targets with their colleagues on Capitol Hill this week, and the details could change as negotiations go forward.

Republicans plan to push for collapsing the seven income tax rates to three new brackets, with the top bracket being 35 percent. It is unclear what income level they want to qualify for that tax bracket. Trump made additional comments on the tax brackets on the tarmac on Sunday, but it wasn’t clear exactly what he was referring to and the White House didn’t immediately clarify his intention.

“We’re going to bring the individual rate to 10 percent or 12 percent, much lower than it is right now,” he said.

Among details that have become public, the plan’s benefits would accrue largely to the wealthy, an awkward position for a president who promised his administration would be an economic boom for working-class and middle-class households.

Even the tax cut Trump is hoping to advance for companies that pay individual taxes would help thousands of upper-income business owners in a way critics have said could be gamed to lower their taxes even more. White House officials have said they would create “guardrails” to prevent against this but they have not explained how.

Many contours of the talks are similar to what Trump proposed in April. The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group that reviews tax proposals, found that about 50 percent of the cuts from that plan would benefit the top 1 percent of U.S. households. The Tax Policy Center found that each one of those households would get an average annual tax cut of $175,000.

External estimates, based on initial reports of the plan and not full details, found that it would cut taxes by $5.5 trillion over 10 years. Some Senate Republicans are trying to tailor the tax cut so that it reduces revenue by only $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

That means the White House and congressional Republicans would have to find $4 trillion in tax breaks to eliminate, something that could prove very difficult if they insist on keeping tax rates low for the wealthy. While rate cuts are broadly popular, many tax breaks are also popular — such as deductions for charitable giving or for interest paid on a home mortgage — or enjoy support from the powerful industries and lobbying groups.

The latest plan in many ways meets the tax rate levels set by House Republicans months ago, although they would have raised an additional $1 trillion by charging higher taxes on certain imports. That import tax proposal proved too controversial and has been scrapped, making it harder for Republicans to craft a tax proposal without adding a large amount to the government’s debt.

The tax cut plan has gained momentum in recent weeks but it will still prove difficult to pass such a giant tax cut into law.

The White House and Republicans have said a giant tax cut will help boost economic growth, make the United States more competitive and raise wages. Republicans in Congress have fought for years to balance the budget over 10 years and eliminate the deficit, but they have pivoted away from that demand during the tax talks because many of them think that tax cuts will deliver a needed jolt to the economy.

Many Democrats, meanwhile, have said the details of Trump’s tax plan would skew largely toward benefiting the wealthy and add trillions of dollars to the federal debt, potentially dragging down the economy with giant interest payments that would overshadow any prospects for growth.

Abby Phillip contributed to this report.”

(REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP’S  FEDERAL INCOME TAX PLAN SOUNDS LIKE IT’S VERY BENEFICIAL FOR PEOPLE LIKE DONALD TRUMP AS WELL AS HIS WEALTHY FRIENDS.  AS FOR THE 99%, THAT ARE GOING TO BE PAYING FOR PRES TRUMP’S TAX BREAKS, IT’S A TOTAL LOSS BECAUSE THE 99% WILL END UP PAYING MORE.  THIS ARTICLE DETAILS JUST EXACTLY WHAT THE REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED CONGRESS AND REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP ARE UP TO.  LET’S HOPE THE DEMOCRATS REALLY LOOK INTO WHAT THE GREEDY BILLIONAIRES ARE UP TO BECAUSE FEDERAL INCOME TAXES MUST BE BASED ON ABILITY TO PAY LIKE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT INTENDED IT TO BE.!!

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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Common Dreams: Bernie Sanders Is Most Popular Politician in the US–and Why Jeremy Corbyn Will Win in Britain

The following is an excellent article written by Naomi Klein on the Common Dreams website on September 28, 2017 titled “Bernie Sanders Is Most Popular Politician in the US—and Why Jeremy Corbyn Will Win in Britain” and I quote:

“Bernie Sanders Is Most Popular Politician in the US – and Why Jeremy Corbyn Will Win in Britain”

Canadian author and activist addresses Labour Party convention in the UK

Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein speaks at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton, on September 26. (Photo: Reuters)

The following is the full transcript, via the UK’s Labour List, of Naomi Klein’s speech delivered at the Labour Party’s annual convention on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 in Brighton, United Kingdom.

 

Thank you Kate for that lovely introduction and all the work that you do to put social justice on the world agenda.

It’s been such a privilege to be part of this historic convention. To feel its energy and optimism.

Because friends, it’s bleak out there. How do I begin to describe a world upside down? From heads of state tweeting threats of nuclear annihilation, to whole regions rocked by climate chaos, to thousands of migrants drowning off the coasts of Europe, to openly racist parties gaining ground, most recently and alarmingly in Germany.

Most days there is simply too much to take in. So I want to start with an example that might seem small against such a vast backdrop. The Caribbean and Southern United States are in the midst of an unprecedented hurricane season: pounded by storm after record-breaking storm.

As we meet, Puerto Rico – hit by Irma, then Maria – is without power and could be for months. It’s water and communication systems are also severely compromised. Three and half million US citizens on that island are in desperate need of their government’s help.

But just like during Hurricane Katrina, the cavalry is missing in action. Donald Trump is too busy trying to get Black athletes fired – smearing them for daring to shine a spotlight on racist violence.

Amazingly a real federal aid package for Puerto Rico has not yet been announced.

By some reports, more money has been spent securing presidential trips to Mar-a-Lago.

As if all this weren’t enough, the vultures are now buzzing. The business press is filled with articles about how the only way for Puerto Rico to get the lights back on is to sell off its electricity utility. Maybe its roads and bridges too.

This is a phenomenon I have called The Shock Doctrine – the exploitation of wrenching crises to smuggle through policies that devour the public sphere and further enrich a small elite.

We see this dismal cycle repeat again and again. We saw it after the 2008 financial crash. We are already seeing it in how the Tories are planning to exploit Brexit to push through disastrous pro-corporate trade deals without debate.

The reason I am highlighting Puerto Rico is because the situation is so urgent. But also because it’s a microcosm of a much larger global crisis, one that contains many of the same overlapping elements: accelerating climate chaos; militarism; histories of colonialism; a weak and neglected public sphere; a totally dysfunctional democracy.

And overlaying it all: the seemingly bottomless capacity to discount the lives of huge numbers of Black and brown people.

Ours is an age when it is impossible to pry one crisis apart from all the others. They have all merged, reinforcing and deepening each other….. like one shambling, multi-headed beast.

I think it’s helpful to think of the current US president in much the same way.

It’s tough to know how to adequately sum him up. So let me try a local example.

You know that horrible thing currently clogging up the London sewers. I believe you call it the fatberg?

Well Trump, he’s the political equivalent of that.

A merger of all that is noxious in the culture, economy and body politic, all kind of glommed together in a self-adhesive mass. And we’re finding it very, very hard to dislodge.

It gets so grim that we have to laugh. But make no mistake: whether it’s climate change or the nuclear threat, Trump represents a crisis that could echo through geologic time.

But here is my message to you today:

Moments of crisis do not have to go the Shock Doctrine route – they do not need to become opportunities for the already obscenely wealthy to grab still more.

They can also go the opposite way.

They can be moments when we find our best selves….. when we locate reserves of strength and focus we never knew we had.

We see it at the grassroots level every time disaster strikes.

We all witnessed it in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower catastrophe.

When the people responsible were MIA……. the community came together…… Held one another in their care, organized the donations and advocated for the living — and for the dead.

And they are doing it still, more than 100 days after the fire.

When there is still no justice and, scandalously, only a handful of survivors have been rehoused.

And it’s not only at the grassroots level that we see disaster awaken something remarkable in us.

There is also a long and proud history of crises sparking progressive transformation on a society-wide scale.

Think of the victories won by working people for social housing and old age pensions during the Great Depression….. Or for the NHS after the horrors of the Second World War.

This should remind us that moments of great crisis and peril do not necessarily need to knock us backwards.

They can also catapult us forward.

Our progressive ancestors achieved that at key moments in history, in your country and in mine.

And we can do it again – in this moment when everything is on the line.

But what we know from the Great Depression and the post-war period, is that we never win these transformative victories by simply resisting….. by simply saying “no” to the latest outrage.

To win in a moment of true crisis, we also need a bold and forward-looking “yes”- a plan for how to rebuild and respond to the underlying causes.

And that plan needs to be convincing, credible and, most of all, captivating.

We have to help a weary and wary public to imagine itself into that better world.

And that is why I am so honoured to be standing with you today.

With the transformed Labour Party in 2017.

And with the next Prime Minister of Britain,

Jeremy Corbyn.

Because in the last election, that’s exactly what you did.

Theresa May ran a cynical campaign based on exploiting fear and shock to grab more power for herself – first the fear of a bad Brexit deal, then the fear following the horrific terror attacks in Manchester and London.

Your party and your leader responded by focusing on root causes: a failed “war on terror”…. economic inequality and weakened democracy.

But you did more than that.

You presented voters with a bold and detailed Manifesto.

One that laid out a plan for millions of people to have tangibly better lives:

  • free tuition,
  • fully funded health care,
  • aggressive climate action.

After decades of lowered expectations and asphyxiated political imagination, finally voters had something hopeful and exciting to say “yes” to.

And so many of them did just that, upending the projections of the entire expert class.

You proved that the era of triangulation and tinkering is over.

The public is hungry for deep change – they are crying out for it.

The trouble is, in far too many countries, it’s only the far right that is offering it, or seeming to, with that toxic combination of fake economic populism and very real racism.

You showed us another way.

One that speaks the language of decency and fairness, that names the true forces most responsible for this mess – no matter how powerful.

And that is unafraid of some of the ideas we were told were gone for good.

Like wealth redistribution.

And nationalising essential public services.

Now, thanks to all of your boldness, we know that this isn’t just a moral strategy.

It’s a winning strategy.

It fires up the base, and it activates constituencies that long ago stopped voting altogether.

If you can keep doing that between now and the next election, you will be unbeatable.

You showed us something else in the last election too, and it’s just as important.

You showed that political parties don’t need to fear the creativity and independence of social movements – and social movements, likewise, have a huge amount to gain from engaging with electoral politics.

That’s a very big deal.

Because let’s be honest: political parties tend to be a bit freakish about control.

And real grassroots movements….. we cherish our independence – and we’re pretty much impossible to control.

But what we are seeing with the remarkable relationship between Labour and Momentum, and with other wonderful campaign organizations, is that it is possible to combine the best of both worlds.

If we listen and learn from each other, we can create a force that is both stronger and more nimble than anything either parties or movements can pull off on their own.

I want you to know that what you have done here is reverberating around the world – so many of us are watching your ongoing experiment in this new kind of politics with rapt attention.

And of course what happened here is itself part of a global phenomenon.

It’s a wave led by young people who came into adulthood just as the global financial system was collapsing and just as climate disruption was banging down the door.

Many come out of social movements like Occupy Wall Street, and Spain’s Indignados.

They began by saying no –

  • to austerity,
  • to bank bailouts,
  • to fracking and pipelines.

But they came to understand that the biggest challenge is overcoming the way neoliberalism has waged war on our collective imagination, on our ability to truly believe in anything outside of its bleak borders.

And so these movements started to dream together, laying out bold and different visions of the future…. and credible pathways out of crisis.

And most importantly they began engaging with political parties, to try to win power.

We saw it in Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign in the US primaries…. which was powered by millennials who know that safe centrist politics offers them no kind of safe future.

By the way…. Bernie, is the most popular politician in the United States today.

We see something similar with Spain’s still-young Podemos party, which built in the power of mass movements from Day One.

In all of these cases, electoral campaigns caught fire with stunning speed.

And they got close to taking power – closer than any genuinely transformative political program has in either Europe or North America in my lifetime.

But still, in each case, not close enough.

So in this time between elections, it’s worth thinking about how to make absolutely sure that next time, all of our movements go all the way.

A big part of the answer is: Keeping it up.

Keep building that yes.

But take it even further.

Outside the heat of a campaign, there is more time to deepen the relationships between issues and movements, so that our solutions address multiple crises at once.

In all of our countries, we can and must do more to connect the dots between economic injustice, racial injustice and gender injustice.

We need to understand and explain how all of those ugly systems that place one group in a position of dominance over another – based on skin colour, religious faith, gender and sexual orientation – consistently serve the interests of power and money and always have.

They do it by keeping us divided.

And keeping themselves protected.

And we have to do more to keep it front of mind…. that we are in a state of climate emergency….  the roots of which are found in the same system of bottomless greed that underlies our economic emergency.

But states of emergency, let’s recall, can be catalysts for deep progressive victories.

So let’s draw out the connections between the gig economy – that treats human beings like a raw resource from which to extract wealth and then discard – and the dig economy, in which the extractive companies treats the Earth in precisely the same careless way.

And let’s show exactly how we can move from that gig and dig economy to a society based on principles of care – caring for the planet and for one another. Where the work of our caregivers and of our land and water protectors, is respected and valued. A world where no one and nowhere is thrown away – whether in fire-trap housing estates or on hurricane-ravaged islands.

I applaud the clear stand Labour has taken against fracking and for clean energy. Now we need to up our ambition and show exactly how battling climate change is a once-in-a-century chance to build a fairer and more democratic economy.

Because as we rapidly transition off fossil fuels, we cannot replicate the wealth concentration and the injustices of the oil and coal economy, in which hundreds of billions in profits have been privatized and the tremendous risks are socialized.

We can and must design a system in which the polluters pay a very large share of the cost of transitioning off fossil fuels. And where we keep green energy in public and community hands. That way revenues stay in your communities, to pay for childcare and firefighters and other crucial services. And it’s the only way to make sure that the green jobs that are created are union jobs that pay a living wage.

The motto needs to be: leave the oil and gas in the ground, but leave no worker behind. And the best part, you don’t need to wait until you get to Westminster to start this great transition. You can use the levers you have right now.

You can take a page from Barcelona and turn your Labour-controlled cities into beacons for the world transformed.

A good start would be divesting your pensions from fossil fuels and investing that money in low carbon social housing and green energy cooperatives.

That way people can begin to experience the benefits of the next economy before the next election – and know in their bones that yes, there is, and always has been, an alternative.

In closing…..

I want to stress, as your international speaker, that none of this can be about turning any one nation into a progressive museum.

In wealthy countries like yours and mine, we need migration policies and levels of international financing that reflect what we owe to the global south – our historic role in destabilizing the economies and ecologies of poorer nations for a great many years.

For instance, during this epic hurricane season, we’ve heard a lot of talk of “the British Virgin Islands,” the “French Virgin Islands” and so on.

Rarely was it seen as relevant to observe that these are not reflections of where Europeans like to holiday.

They are reflections of the fact that so much of the vast wealth of empire was extracted from these Islands in bonded human flesh.

Wealth that supercharged Europe’s and North America’s industrial revolution, positioning us as the super-polluters we are today.

And that is intimately connected to the fact that the future and security of island nations are now at grave risk from superstorms storms, sea level rise, and dying coral reefs.

What should this painful history mean to us today?

It means welcoming migrants and refugees.

And it means paying our fair share to help many more countries ramp up justice-based green transitions of their own.

Trump going rogue is no excuse to demand less of ourselves in the UK and Canada or anywhere else for that matter.

It means the opposite -that we have to demand more of ourselves.

To pick up the slack until the United States manages to get its sewer system unclogged.

I firmly believe that all of this work, challenging as it is, is a crucial part of the path to victory.

That the more ambitious, consistent and holistic you can be in painting a picture of the world transformed, the more credible a Labour government will become.

Because you went and showed us all that you can win.

Now you have to win.

We all do.

Winning is a moral imperative.

The stakes are too high, and time is too short, to settle for anything less.

Thank you.

Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, author, and syndicated columnist. Her new book, No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, will be published in June, 2017. Her previous books include the international best-sellers, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the ClimateThe Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism; and No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies.  To read all her writing visit www.naomiklein.org. Follow her on Twitter: @NaomiAKlein.”

(THREE-QUARTERS OF THE VOTERS IN THE UNITED STATES AND ENGLAND ARE GETTING EXPLOITED BY THE ELITIST 1% BECAUSE OF RIDICULOUS LOW FEDERAL INCOME TAXES WE PAY IN THIS COUNTRY. AND ARE EVEN BEING GOING TO BE LOWERED MORE FROM 39.6% TO 35% ACCORDING TO THE LATEST REPUBLICAN PROPOSAL.  AFTER READING THIS ARTICLE, I’M, GOING TO MAKE A POINT OF READING HER LATEST BOOK “NO IS NOT ENOUGH: RESISTING TRUMP’S SHOCK POLITICS AND WINNING THE WORLD WE NEED.”

LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen Member and USAF Veteran

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