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  • March 11, 2018
    Democrats Proven Right--Again--on Tax Cut Windfall for the Rich

    During the run-up to the passage of the "Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" late last year, one technical paper from the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Analysis suddenly went missing. Why "Distributing the Corporate Income Tax: Revised U.S. Treasury Methodology" alone among the office's four-decade online archive of reports and analyses disappeared in September 2017 was never a mystery. The May 2012 update to a 2008 Bush administration assessment concluded that 82 percent of the benefits of a corporate tax cut would go to capital and only 18 percent to labor. That forecast wasn't just a damning indictment of the $1 trillion corporate tax cut from 35 to 21 percent at the heart of the GOP's $1.5 trillion, 10-year plan. That predicted windfall for wealthy shareholders also made a mockery of the comical claims by Trump administration mouthpieces like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that workers would win big:

    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."

    Mnuchin's tall tale wasn't just well outside the consensus of most economists and the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. Two months into the new tax regime, a survey by Morgan Stanley found that "only 13% of companies' tax cut savings will go to pay raises, bonuses and employee benefits" while "43% will go to investors in the form of stock buybacks and dividends." American companies, already sitting on mountains of cash, have already spent over $170 billion on stock buybacks alone in 2018, the most ever this early in the year. As it turns out, Democrats warned that these gigantic gains for gilded-class shareholders would come to pass. And it's hardly the first time. For decades, Democrats have been proven right about what tax code changes would or wouldn't do for the rich and the economy over all.

    Writing in the Washington Post, Paul Waldman pointed that the data so far confirm Democrats' warning that the GOP corporate tax cut was "a scam."

    They charged that workers would see only a fraction of the benefits, and instead corporations would use most of their windfall for things like stock buybacks, which increase share prices and benefit the wealthy people who own the vast majority of stocks.

    Continue reading at Daily Kos.

    Perrspective 9:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    March 1, 2018
    "No One's Ever Asked to See My Birth Certificate": The Mitt Romney Story

    So, 13 months after Donald Trump took the oath of office, it's come to this for the Republican Party. Its putative leader used to be pro-choice. He routinely boasted about getting "everybody" insured, only to then promise to "kill" Obamacare. He not only reversed past positions at a rapid-fire rate, he lied to voters at a frequency that dwarfed recent nominees of either party. Having inherited great wealth from his father, he supported a massive tax cut windfall for himself and his family even as he fought tooth and nail to keep his own tax returns hidden from the American people. Throughout his lucrative career, he pocketed millions of dollars even as his companies went bankrupt. And in his battles with the first African American president of the United States, he casually trafficked in racist "Birther" slanders like this:
    "No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate."

    I am, of course, talking about Mitt Romney. And far from retiring to "take up knitting," the twice-defeated GOP presidential hopeful reemerged this week in the guise of a candidate to replace exiting Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch. But as a quick glance back at his record suggests, it's simply not true that "the Romney ethos could hardly diverge more from the Trump ethos." This week, the once and future white knight of the GOP gratefully accepted Donald Trump's endorsement, just as he did six years ago. That's because for all of his short-lived talk in 2016 about Trump being a "phony" and a "fraud" who was "playing Americans for suckers," Mitt was never #NeverTrump, but #AlwaysRomney.

    That was clear during his on-again, off-again presidential quest heading into 2016. As he revealed in his self-serving eponymous documentary Mitt, he couldn't bear the pain of his defeat in 2012:

    Continue reading at Daily Kos.

    Perrspective 7:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    February 18, 2018
    The President's Address to the Nation on Russian Cyber Aggression

    As prepared for delivery by the president (provided the president is not named Donald Trump), February 19, 2018.

    My fellow Americans, I have requested this time tonight to speak to you regarding a matter of the greatest national urgency. As your commander in chief, I have no greater responsibility and no more solemn obligation than the preservation of the security of the United States of America, the safety of our people, and the vibrancy of our democracy.

    Tonight, it is my duty to report to you that our institutions of self-government, our way of life, and even our freedom itself are under threat by ongoing acts of cyber aggression carried out by the Russian Federation. Fifteen months after the controversial and closely contested election of 2016, the Russian government, its agents, and its proxies acting under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin have continued to wage an electronic war of disinformation and disorder against the United States and many of our close allies.

    Let me be clear: this constitutes the gravest risk to American national security since Soviet nuclear missiles stood ready to launch just 90 miles from Florida.

    That's why this evening, I will discuss the steps your government is taking and will take to punish these Russian assaults on American sovereignty and to counter and deter future threats from the Kremlin and its cyber warriors. Just as important, I want to outline for you and to the Russian people alike how our two nations can step back from the brink of conflict, and instead restore a relationship of mutual respect and enduring peace.

    As you will recall, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on January 6, 2017 released an unclassified version of its report on Russian hacking for President Obama. The DNI, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA) concluded with "high confidence" that Putin had ordered a campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. election. The intelligence community's assessment found, and I quote:

    Continue reading at Daily Kos.

    Perrspective 12:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    February 9, 2018
    There's No Mystery to Achieving Transparent Pricing and Lower Costs for U.S. Health Care

    Health industry stocks plunged on Tuesday with word that corporate powerhouses Amazon, J.P. Morgan, and Berkshire Hathaway were partnering to create a new, nonprofit company to "focus on technological solutions to provide coverage for U.S. employees at a lower cost." But if Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, and Jamie Dimon were less than clear about precisely what their new venture will do, their bottom-line objective to help corporate employers like themselves dramatically reduce the cost of their workers' health care is straightforward. With a combined market capitalization of $1.5 trillion and 1 million employees, their potential savings are enormous. CNBC sources claimed that "this effort can cut J.P. Morgan's annual $1.25 billion medical expense by up to 20 percent."

    Whether the new entity will use its combined buying power to drive down the cost of treatments; negotiate drug prices; or pioneer a technology platform for real-time cost comparisons, insurance customization, and health record management (i.e. "Amazon Health Services" or "AHS") is still to be determined. As Amazon founder and CEO Bezos put it:

    "The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty. Hard as it might be, reducing healthcare's burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner's mind, and a long-term orientation."

    Or as Buffett, the Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO explained:

    "The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable. Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country's best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes." [Emphasis mine.]

    But with all due respect to the Oracle of Omaha, there is already an answer to this problem, one which America's economic competitors discovered years ago and still share today. Whether in the nationalized system of the UK, the single-payer systems of Canada's provinces, the mandated health savings accounts in Singapore, or the universal coverage regimes nevertheless dependent on private insurers in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan, the solution for cost control and price transparency is the same. Whether negotiated directly or through a national association of insurers, the government sets the prices for prescription drugs, tests, treatments, hospital stays, and pretty much everything else.

    Continue reading at Daily Kos.

    Perrspective 12:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

    January 23, 2018
    "Equal Sovereignty" of the States in the Age of Trump

    Less than a week into the new year, the Trump administration kicked off 2018 with one of the most cynical and craven acts of political favoritism in recent American history. On January 4, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke unveiled the Draft Five Year Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. That massive gift to Donald Trump's backers in the oil and gas industry would open virtually the entire coastal United States to energy exploration and drilling. Then just five days later, Zinke delivered another reward for loyalty, this time to Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott. The Sunshine State, home to 29 electoral votes, Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort, and Scott's likely 2018 Senate bid, would get an exemption from the unpopular drilling expansion.

    Zinke made no secret as to the reason why Florida was to be so blessed. "The governor," Zinke admitted. "You have a tremendous governor that is straightforward, easy to work for, says exactly what he means. And I can tell you Florida is well-served." Of course, his official statement tried to provide the thin veneer of a reasonable rationale for the administration's naked partisanship:

    "I support the governor's position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver (so) I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms."

    Needless to say, other coastal states--most of them governed by Democrats--were having none of it. Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff noted that California "like Florida, has hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline and a governor who wants to keep it that way. Or is that not enough for blue states?" His Golden State colleague Ted Lieu warned that Zinke's Tallahassee Take-Back "violates the legal standard of arbitrary and capricious agency action." And as CBS News reported, that's not the only reason the Trump's Panhandle Payoff might violate federal law:

    Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's decision to give Florida a last-minute exemption while ignoring at least 10 other states that made similar requests may violate requirements of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which governs drilling in U.S. coastal waters.

    But you don't have to take the word of these Democrats that something's rotten in the state of Florida when it comes to Trump's coastal drilling policy. Just ask Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. After all, in his 2013 opinion striking down sections of the Voting Rights Act, Roberts invented a novel theory of "equal sovereignty" prohibiting "disparate treatment of states." And as the President and his Republican allies in Congress seek new ways to punish blue states while rewarding red ones, Ruth Bader-Ginsburg's warning that Roberts' fictional constitutional construct "is capable of much mischief" may come to pass in ways neither anticipated.

    Continue reading at Daily Kos.

    Perrspective 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Share

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    Democrats Proven Right--Again--on Tax Cut Windfall for the Rich
    March 11, 2018
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    "No One's Ever Asked to See My Birth Certificate": The Mitt Romney Story
    March 1, 2018
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    The President's Address to the Nation on Russian Cyber Aggression
    February 18, 2018
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    There's No Mystery to Achieving Transparent Pricing and Lower Costs for U.S. Health Care
    February 9, 2018
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    "Equal Sovereignty" of the States in the Age of Trump
    January 23, 2018
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    Republicans' Lesson for Democrats: Next President Must "Look Backwards" at GOP Crimes
    January 18, 2018
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    How to Hatch a Republican Leader
    January 8, 2018
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    The Difference Between 2018 and the 2010 Midterms? The Truth
    January 4, 2018
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    The 'We Told You So' President
    December 26, 2017
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    GOP Turns to Decades-Old Lies to Sell New Tax Scam
    December 11, 2017
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