• Advertisement

Messmer’s Statement On Trump Banning Words From The CDC

Messmer on Trump Administration Science/Language Suppression And Making America Not So Great Again

Portsmouth, NH– The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that the Trump Administration told them that 7 words are now forbidden from official documents.

FORBIDDEN WORDS/PHRASES ARE:

1. Vulnerable
2. Entitlement
3. Diversity
4. Transgender
5. Fetus
6. Evidence-based
7. Science-based

A senior policy analyst at CDC was told to instead use phrases like: “based on recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”

State Rep and Congressional Candidate for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District, Mindi Messmer released the following statement:

“I could see this coming and this is my rallying call to run for Congress – as a woman and a scientist. Prohibiting the use of these 7 words, that are the basis of what defines us as Americans, is deeply offensive. We are nation that respects science, human rights and diversity and we make decisions based on science and facts not perception or whims. Suppressing speech, sanitizing government records, assaulting science, ethnicity and gender dangerously threaten public health and the basic fiber of the United States.

“We are not going backwards. We must continue to move forward.

“Millions of Americans face the threat of becoming refugees due to sea level rise. This is unprecedented and we have no historical base from which to draw to solve these problems. We need scientists, like me, involved in policy making to solve complex issues like these.

“As we face national threats to our drinking water from PFCs and other toxins, we need scientists like me to enact policy that will clean and protect drinking water and the environment for our children and generations to come.

“Send me to Congress to continue to maintain our integrity as a nation and fight against Making American Not So Great Again.”

Mark Fernald: Voodoo Economics

Supply-Side Economics: Fool Me Once, Shame on You; Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me; Fool me Three Times?  You Have Got to be Kidding.

Since the Reagan Administration, the Republican Party has been enraptured by what the first President Bush called “Voodoo economics:”  the ‘theory’ that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting economic growth and tax receipts.

Republicans have acted on this misguided theory over and over, with the same results:  record-high deficits, soaring debt, and reduced economic growth in the long run.

The Reagan tax cuts caused huge deficits.  In the short term, the economy grew, as the borrowed money sloshed around the economy.  It was ‘morning in America.’  Or, as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan put it, we borrowed a trillion dollars from the Chinese and threw a party.

When the party was over, we endured the severe recession of 1989-1991.  Nearly every major bank in New Hampshire failed.  The re-election campaign of the first President Bush failed along with the economy.

Our next Republican president, George W. Bush, copied the Reagan playbook:  huge tax cuts for the rich, a temporary rise in the economy, followed by the Great Recession.

Recent Democratic administrations provide the counterpoint to “voodoo” supply-side economics.

In 1993, President Clinton signed a tax increase on the rich.  Republicans claimed a tax increase would throw us into recession.  Not a single Republican in Congress voted for the Clinton plan.  What followed was the longest and strongest economic boom in American history, and the first balanced budget in a generation.

During the Obama administration, many of the George W. Bush tax cuts were allowed to expire, particularly the tax cuts for the wealthy.  Under Obama, we experienced nearly eight years of steady growth, during which time the unemployment rate and the deficit were cut by more than half.

The last 37 years of economic history present us with two stark choices:

  • Republican tax cuts, huge deficits and a temporary boost to the economy, followed by a bust.
  • Democratic tax increases on the wealthy, followed by steady growth, falling deficits, and no bust.

Incredibly, Republicans appear to be poised to repeat the failed policies of the past.  Their dream is a tax cut bill that gives its biggest gifts to large corporations and the wealthy, while increasing the deficit by “only” $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.

The point in reviewing economic history is not that all deficits are bad.  Temporary tax cuts, and temporary deficits, are standard macroeconomic practice when the economy is weak.  When tax cuts are permanent, so are the deficits, but the boost to the economy is temporary.  Increased government borrowing to fund the deficits pushes interest rates up, making business investment more expensive.  Short-term deficits can boost the economy out of recession, but long-term deficits harm the economy in the long run by crowding out private investment.

It is true that tax cuts could be paired with spending cuts.  But consider this:  excluding spending for Social Security and Medicare (which is increasing as the Baby Boomers retire), federal spending is a smaller part of our economy than at any other time over the last four decades.

Republican faith in tax cuts and ‘supply-side’ economics is so strong, it has killed off the traditional Republican fear of deficits.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Democrats claimed that deficits did not matter, passing one unbalanced budget after another.  The stagflation of the 1970s followed.

Republicans won the debate about deficits in the 1970s.  Deficits do matter.  But here’s the irony.  Democrats started talking about fiscal responsibility.  When they gained control in Washington, they acted to reduce the deficit.  Republicans kept railing against deficits, but when they gained control of Washington, in 1981 and again in 2001, fiscal responsibility went out the window and the deficit soared.

The current Republican plan began with a good idea:  a revenue-neutral simplification of the tax code that reduces deductions and loopholes, and lowers tax rates.  That good idea has been swamped by the mania for tax cuts, with no regard for the deficit.  If the Republican plan passes, we will cut taxes for the big corporations and the wealthy by at least $1.5 trillion, and we will borrow every penny needed to pay for those cuts.

We have a lot that needs fixing, including the tax code.  Unfortunately, we are stuck with this Congress until 2018.  They don’t do balanced budgets.  They don’t do hearings.  They don’t listen to experts.  They don’t do science. They do tax cuts for the wealthy, no matter what the cost.

 

Mark Fernald is a former State Senator and was the 2002 Democratic nominee for Governor.  He can be reached at mark@markfernald.com.

Leo W Gerard: GOP Goes for Win on Taxes, Consequences be Damned

An entire year of legislative defeats has grated on the GOP.

Getty Images/marvinh

Their promised Affordable Care Act repeal failed – again and again and again. Their Muslim ban was, well, banned by the courts. And now, in the waning days of November, their infrastructure bill, big beautiful border wall and brand new NAFTA are all missing.

Republicans have lost so much, they’re downright desperate for a win. And that’s why they’re pushing a tax scam supported by a mere 25 percent of Americans, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll.

They’ve just got to rack up a win, consequences and American workers be damned. They’re so desperate that GOP Sen. Bob Corker, a self-described deficit hawk, agreed in committee Tuesday to send the bill to the floor for a vote after he got promises for changes. What he wants is cancellation of the bill’s tax breaks if they don’t stimulate economic expansion as Republicans say they will. The GOP keeps swearing the cuts will cause growth despite the fact that the Bush tax breaks didn’t and despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects the cuts will add $1.44 trillion to the deficit.

Some deficit hawk. But, hey, anything for a win.

Republicans are so desperate that they’re shoving this scam through what is supposed to be a deliberative process without any of that deliberation – without, for example, routine hearings or assessment by the Treasury Department or Joint Committee on Taxation. So there’s no bipartisan government evaluation of the GOP assertion that the tax breaks will generate economic growth sufficient to account for the massive revenue losses they’ll cause.

Americans hate this scam for good reason. And they do hate it. The latest Harvard-Harris survey showed 54 percent oppose it and the same percent say the scam is likely to hurt them financially. They know a swindle when they see one.

But Republicans feel like they’ve got to have a win. No matter what. Poor people, working people, old people be damned.

And damned they are by the GOP scam.

The GOP bill delivers massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. The House version, for example, eliminates the estate tax. This is charged only on estates worth $5.49 million or more. So only the richest of the rich, the top 0.2 percent pay. And among the tiny number nationwide that owe estate tax in 2017, the average effective rate paid is less than 17 percent, according to the Tax Policy Center. That’s because the rich employ experts to exploit loopholes so they never pay the official rate of 40 percent.

In addition to generating essential funds for the federal government for more than a century, this tax prevents America from reverting into a kingdom dominated by royal dynasties whose pampered scions thrive by the merit of their grandfathers rather than by the sweat of their brows. This was the system Americans fought a revolution to escape.

But Republicans are voting to bring it back. Anything for a win.

Their scam also bestows on corporations the privilege of paying zero U.S. taxes on the profits of their foreign factories. So instead of the current 35 percent, or the new, low 20 percent rate that Republicans plan to award companies in their tax scam, corporations will pay nothing at all if they move manufacturing from Iowa to India or from Idaho to Mexico.

This will kill American manufacturing and American jobs. Factories will flee even faster to low-wage, high-pollution countries like China where Republicans will absolve them from paying any U.S. income taxes at all! Those Michigan and Ohio auto parts factories – gone. Those Pennsylvania and Illinois steel mills – gone. Those family-supporting jobs – shipped overseas by Republican tax policy.

Republicans are appeasing fat-cat CEOs and shareholders to get themselves a win on taxes. Family-supporting jobs be damned.

The fattest of those cats, the richest 1 percent, rake in 62 percent of the benefits of this tax con by 2027.  Many in the middle class will get tax cuts in the first few years too, but by 2027, their rates rise back up. At that time, this GOP tax fraud would stick 87 million families making less than $200,000 a year with tax increases.

But by then, by 2027, many of those Republicans will have left Congress to become overpaid lobbyists – the kind now demanding income redistribution from the pockets of the poor and middle class up and into the treasure chests of the wealthiest. The tax scam seems like a win for Republicans now, and secure job offers from lobby firms later.

The CBO has estimated that those tax breaks in the Senate GOP bill will dig a $1.44 trillion deficit over 10 years. This hole will be dredged by the party that spent 8 years while President Barack Obama was in office decrying anything that would increase the deficit by a penny. But policy consistency be damned. Anything for a win.

To keep the deficit “down” to $1.4 trillion, Republicans slash and burn programs vital to workers and the elderly like Medicare and the tax credit for student loans.  Democrats have estimated the tax scam will slash $470 billion from Medicare over 10 years. The CBO has estimated those cuts will start next year with $25 billion.

Worse though, is the real potential for Republicans to contend by year five or six, as their tax cuts for the rich and corporations gin up government debt, that programs workers cherish like Social Security and Medicaid must be gutted as well.

So what looks like a Republican win in 2017 could be a tragic loss to American workers by 2027.

Ok. The American people get it. Republicans have had a rough year. They are aching for a win. But doing the wrong thing just to do something is not a win. It’s a scam perpetrated on American workers.

Leo W Gerard: Republican Tax Plan — Make America Grieve Again

A giant sucking sound, louder than a freight train, noisier than a tornado, shriller than Ross Perot yelling, “I told you so,” blasted across the nation Thursday as Republicans in the U.S. House passed their tax plan.

It was the terrible sound of jobs swept out of this country. When Perot ran for president, he said the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would siphon off American jobs. And he was right. It did.

PHOTO BY STEVE DIETZ, UNIONPIX.COM

But this is much, much bigger.

House Republicans approved a scam exempting corporations from all taxes on their foreign operations. Under the GOP proposal, corporations like Carrier and Rexnord can benefit from protections provided by American patents, courts and armed forces, while moving their factories from the United States to Mexico. Or to other low-wage, high-polluting countries like China. Or to countries that charge little or no corporate tax. Once there, instead of paying the new, super-low 20 percent corporate rate Republicans propose for U.S-based producers, the expat factories will pay no taxes to the United States. Nothing. Not a cent.

Rather than Making America Great Again, Congressional Republicans plan to Make America Grieve Again as even more family-supporting factory jobs get shipped offshore to take advantage of the new tax rate of zip.

The math behind that job transfer is simple. Continue manufacturing in the United States and pay a corporate income tax dramatically lowered from 35 to 20 percent. Or move to a ridiculously low-tax country like Switzerland, Montenegro or Paraguay, and pay a measly 9 percent to that nation and nothing to the United States.

With the proposed corporate tax gift from Republicans, CEOs could uproot factories in places like Illinois, Indiana and Western Pennsylvania and ship them to brand new facilities in Bermuda, Palau or Turks & Caicos, where the corporate tax rate is zero. The corporation would pay no taxes on profits to the country hosting the factory and nothing to the United States, which hosts the headquarters.

Republicans contend such corporations will bring those foreign profits back to the United States and invest here. Why would CEOs do that when any American plant they invest in would be billed taxes on profits while the same factory located in certain other countries would pay nothing?

Why would they do that when they didn’t before?

Right now, corporations are sitting on $2.6 trillion in overseas profits. They have not invested that money in U.S. research, factories or jobs because they don’t want to pay the current 35 percent tax rate that would be charged when those profits are returned to the country.

To lure that money back, Republicans propose to give corporations a tax holiday, cutting the rate to between 5 and 12 percent for repatriating the $2.6 billion. The GOP insists corporations will take advantage of that tax deal to bring those billions home and invest in American production. But they won’t. The proof is that they didn’t last time.

Congress gave corporations a tax holiday in 2004 during which CEOs could return foreign profits to the United States and pay a mere 5 percent tax on them in exchange for investment in U.S. research, factories and jobs.

CEOs brought back the money and grabbed that 5 percent rate, alright. But they didn’t use the repatriated cash to conduct research, build factories or create jobs. Just the opposite.

A study by the Democratic staff of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that the 15 corporations that benefited most from the tax holiday turned around and cut more than 20,000 jobs and diminished their pace of research spending.

Labeling the 2004 tax holiday a failed policy, the report cautions against repeating it, saying it cost the U.S. Treasury $3.3 billion in lost revenues over 10 years and led to U.S. corporations sending more funds offshore.

“There is no evidence that the previous repatriation tax giveaway put Americans to work, and substantial evidence that it instead grew executive paychecks, propped up stock prices, and drew more money and jobs offshore,” said former Michigan Senator Carl Levin, then-chairman of the subcommittee, when the report was released in 2011.

So the contention that corporations now would invest in U.S. research, factories and jobs because Republicans plan to give them another tax holiday is about as solid as smoke — the stuff emitted from American factories pre-NAFTA and now flowing from mills moved to Mexico. The same goes for the contention that corporations will invest in U.S. research, factories and jobs with completely untaxed foreign profits.

In fact, suspending taxes on foreign profits would create a perverse incentive for corporations to make it overseas instead of making it in America. But Republicans intend to do it anyway.

Republicans say they must cater to the tax demands of corporations because other countries – Germany and Ireland, for example – offer corporations low rates. And those same Republicans contend they must cease charging American corporations taxes on their foreign operations because other countries have stopped.

That describes a race to the bottom. Pretty soon, corporations won’t pay any taxes at all, anywhere to anyone. They’ll provide nothing toward the roads they use to transport their products, the school systems that educate their workers, the Army Corps of Engineers that protects factories from floods.

If countries don’t work together to stop corporations from playing one against the other, workers will get stuck with all of the costs. That’s what’s happening under the GOP tax scam. The tax changes were supposed to benefit middle-class workers. But they do not.

An analysis of the Senate tax plan, released this week by the Joint Committee on Taxation, which is the official nonpartisan review agency serving Congress, showed the scam would give large tax cuts to corporations and millionaires while raising the levies charged to families earning $10,000 to $75,000 – that’s low-income and middle-class families.

White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said this week, “The most excited group out there are big CEOs, about our tax plan.” Of course they are. Those 1 percenters and their corporations get all the breaks.

To help pay for big fat tax cuts for millionaires and zeroed-out taxes for corporations, Republicans plan to slash programs crucial to workers – like Medicare and Medicaid – and vital deductions, like those for property taxes and student loan interest.

Just like NAFTA, this GOP tax scheme is a scam, a bait-and-switch ruse. Workers pay more and get less – fewer government services and far fewer job opportunities. This time, their jobs won’t just be going south of the border. They’ll be shipped anyplace in the world touting the lowest tax rates.

Kentucky State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan Says, ‘Right to Work’ is Rooted in Racism

Bill Londrigan, Kentucky State AFL-CIO president Bill Londrigan

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

“Right to work” proponents hate it when somebody exposes the racist roots of RTW.

“These are Jim Crow era laws to divide black against white,” Kentucky State AFL-CIO president Bill Londrigan told delegates at the federation’s recent biennial convention in Lexington.

In the 1940s and 50s, ten of the 11 ex-Confederate states were among the first states to pass RTW laws. Segregation and race discrimination were the law and the social order in Dixie.

In a union, everybody is equal. Thus, white supremacist legislators and governors feared unions would undermine the Jim Crow system, so they eagerly hopped on the RTW bandwagon.

Londrigan added that conservative politicians beyond the old Confederacy embraced RTW because the laws “divide everybody at the work site. ‘Right to work’ was an ingenious concept to break down union solidarity.”

Under a RTW law, workers at a union shop can enjoy union-won wages and benefits without joining the union or paying the union a service fee to represent them. The idea is to weaken strong unions, destroy small unions and keep workers from organizing.

Kentucky’s Republican-majority legislature passed a RTW law in January, and GOP Gov. Matt Bevin eagerly signed it.

“‘Right to work is not about economic development,” Londrigan said. “It’s not about individual freedom. It’s about dividing workers.”

Londrigan pointed out that “unions operate, and are founded on, the democratic principle of majority rule and they are one of the last truly democratic institutions in our society.”

In a union, he explained, “all members have an equal voice in voting on union contracts, expenditures and leadership. RTW is another incarnation of tyranny of the minority.”

RTW laws undermine unions by prohibiting union security agreements under which all bargaining unit members belong to the union or pay a service fee. Union and management must ratify such agreements, union members by a majority vote, Londrigan said.

Meanwhile, in the 1940s, the RTW drive got a big boost from Vance Muse, a Texas tycoon and white supremacist who detested “the doctrine of human equality represented by unions,” wrote Roger Bybee in The Progressive. A Klan fan, Muse  was “the Karl Rove-meets-David Duke brains behind the whole right to work movement,” wrote Mark Ames in Pando Quarterly online.

The Texas Legislature passed a right to work law in 1947 but changed the measure to its current form in 1993.

Muse, who also was rabidly anti-Semitic, saw “right to work”as a twofer: RTW would help smash unions and help maintain segregation and white supremacy in Texas and elsewhere in the Jim Crow South.

In 1936, Muse started the reactionary, racist Christian American Association in opposition to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Muse allied the group with the KKK. FDR was running for re-election and Muse bitterly opposed him.

The year before, a Democratic Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act. Also known as the Wagner Act, the legislation gave workers legal protection to organize and bargain collectively.

“The appallingly racist views of Muse and his Christian American Association coincided with the mentality of corporate managers dedicated to holding down wages and maintaining the tight control over workers dating back to the days of slavery,” Bybee wrote. “The CEOs of the 1930s recognized that Muse’s segregationist ‘right to work’ concept would break up unified worker efforts to claim the rights granted under the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. also recognized the racist origins of right to work.

“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work,'” he warned in 1961. “It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone….Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights. We do not intend to let them do this to us. We demand this fraud be stopped. Our weapon is our vote.”

Also in 1961, Dr. King told the AFL-CIO Convention, “Our needs are identical with labor’s needs—decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor’s demands and fight laws which curb labor.

“That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.”

RTW laws are “lies by lying liars,” Londrigan said. “They are a focused attack directly on unions.”

Leo W Gerard: Workers Wary of GOP Flimflam Tax Scam

Congressional Republicans are selling a trickle-down tax scam times two. It’s the same old snake oil, with double hype and no cure.

A single statistic explains it all: 1 percent of Americans – that is the tiny, exclusive club of billionaires and millionaires – get 80 percent of the gain from this tax con. Eighty percent!

But that’s not all! To pay for that unneeded and unwarranted red-ribbon wrapped gift to the uber wealthy, Republicans are slashing and burning $5 trillion in programs cherished by workers, including Medicare and Medicaid.

Look at the statistic in reverse, and it seems worse: 99 percent of Americans will get only 20 percent of the benefit from this GOP tax scam. That’s not tax reform. That’s tax defraud.

Republican tax hucksters claim the uber rich will share. It’s the trickle down effect, they say, the 99 percent will get some trickle down.

It’s a trick. Zilch ever comes down. It’s nothing more than fake tax reform first deployed by voodoo-economics Reagan. There’s a basic question about this flim-flammery: Why do workers always get stuck depending on second-hand benefits? Real tax reform would put the rich in that position for once. Workers would get the big tax breaks and the fat cats could wait to see if any coins trickled up to jingle in their pockets.

House Speaker Paul Ryan claimed Republicans’ primary objective in messing with the tax code is to help the middle class, not the wealthy. Well, there’s a simple way to do that:  Give 99 percent of the tax breaks directly to the 99 percent.

The Republican charlatans hawking this new tax scam are asserting the pure malarkey that it provides two, count them TWO, trickle-down benefits. In addition to the tried-and-false fairytale that the rich will share with the rest after collecting their tax bounty, there’s the additional myth that corporations will redistribute downward some of their big fat tax scam bonuses.

A corporate tax break isn’t some sort of Wall Street baptism that will convert CEOs into believers in the concept of paying workers a fair share of the profit their labor creates.

Corporations have gotten tax breaks before and haven’t done that. And they’ve got plenty of cash to share with workers right now and don’t do it. Instead, they spend corporate money to push up CEO pay. Over the past nine years, corporations have shelled out nearly $4 trillion to buy back their own stock, a ploy that raises stock prices and, right along with them, CEO compensation. Worker pay, meanwhile, flat-lined.

In addition to all of that cash, U.S. corporations are currently sitting on another nearly $2 trillion. But CEOs and corporate boards aren’t sharing any of that with their beleaguered workers, who have struggled with stagnant wages for nearly three decades.

Still, last week, Kevin Hassett, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, insisted that the massive corporate tax cut, from 35 percent down to 20 percent, will not trickle, but instead will shower down on workers in the form of pay raises ranging from $4,000 to $9,000 a year.

Booyah! Happy days are here again! With the median wage at $849 per week or $44,148 a year, that would be pay hikes ranging from 9 percent to 20 percent! Unprecedented!

Or, more likely, unrealistic.

Dishonest, incompetent, and absurd” is what Larry Summers called it. Summers was Treasury Secretary for President Bill Clinton and director of the National Economic Council for President Barack Obama.

Jason Furman, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School who once held Hassett’s title at the  Council of Economic Advisers, called Hassett’s findings “implausible,”  “outside the mainstream” and “far-fetched.”

Frank Lysy, retired from a career at the World Bank, including as its chief economist, agreed that Hassett’s projection was absurd.

Hassett based his findings on unpublished studies by authors who neglected to suffer peer review and projected results with all the clueless positivity of Pollyanna. Meanwhile, Lysy noted, Hassett failed to account for actual experience. That would be the huge corporate tax cuts provided in Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Between 1986 and 1988, the top corporate tax rate dropped from 46 percent to 34 percent, but real wages fell by close to 6 percent between 1986 and 1990.

Thus many economists’ dim assessment of Hassett’s promises.

The other gob-smacking bunkum claim about the Republican tax scam is that it will gin up the economy, and, as a result, the federal government will receive even more tax money. So, in their alternative facts world, cutting taxes on the rich and corporations will not cause deficits. It will result in the government rolling in coin, like a pirate in a treasure trove. That’s the claim, and they’re sticking to it. Like their hero Karl Rove said, “We create our own reality.”

Here’s Republican Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, for example: “This tax plan will be deficit reducing.”

If the Pennsylvania politician truly believes that’s the case, it’s not clear why he voted for a budget that would cut $473 billion from Medicare and $1 trillion from Medicaid. If reducing the tax rate for the rich and corporations really would shrink the deficit, Republicans should be adding money to fund Medicare and Medicaid.

While cutting taxes on the rich won’t really boost the economy, it will increase income inequality. Makes sense, right? Give the richest 1 percenters 80 percent of the gains and the remaining 99 percent only 20 percent and the rich are going to get richer faster.

Economist Thomas Piketty, whose work focuses on wealth and income inequality and who wrote the best seller “Capital in the Twenty First Century,” found in his research no correlation between tax cuts for the rich and economic growth in industrialized countries since the 1970s. He did find, however, that the rich got much richer in countries like the United States that slashed tax rates for the 1 percent than in countries like France and Germany that did not.

This Republican tax scam is a case of the adage that former President George W. Bush once famously bungled: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Republicans, like P. T. Barnum, think workers are fools who can be continually conned. But they aren’t. They’ve been duped too many times to believe this new GOP scam will serve anyone but the rich.

What Politicians’ Votes Say About Their Values

In politics, there are some things that everyone is for—like good schools, low taxes for the middle class, and good public services.

When politicians vote, we see where their values truly lie.

The New Hampshire legislative session that ended in June was no different.  On many issues we saw a huge gulf between the opening rhetoric, and the actual votes–and a stark contrast between the Republicans and the Democrats.

Public schools

In Concord, everyone speaks highly of the public schools.  Everyone’s favorite this year was state funding for full-day kindergarten.  But when it came time to fund kindergarten, the differences became clear.

The Republicans wrote a budget that provided an additional $1 million of tax dollars a year for charter schools.  Full-day kindergarten will receive no state tax dollars.  Instead, we will have Keno (video slot machines) to fund kindergarten.  The Lottery Commission estimates we will realize $9 million a year from Keno—but at what cost in gambling addiction, personal bankruptcies, and broken homes?

The basic amount of state aid to the public schools is about $3600 per student per year.  Charter schools receive almost twice as much—about $6600 per student—but none of it is from the local property tax, which allows charter schools to present the fiction that they don’t cost taxpayers anything.

Tax cuts

Politicians love tax cuts.  It’s their chance to play Santa Claus.  At the end of the legislative session, we find that some taxpayers are ‘naughty’ and get a lump of coal, while some are ‘nice’ and get a tax cut.  This year was no different.

At the beginning of the session, it was proposed that the State resume paying part of the retirement system cost for schools and municipalities.  The goal was to provide a $40 million tax cut to property taxpayers.  The Republicans in the legislature said ‘no way.’

Tax cuts for big business were another matter.  The state budget includes a big cut in the Business Profits Tax.  This is a tax that virtually no small business pays, because they pay their profits out as salaries to their owners, reducing their taxable income to zero.  70% of the cut will go to approximately 500 of our largest, most-profitable businesses, particularly national and multinational firms.

Score this as big business 1, property taxpayers 0.

Setting Budget Priorities

In every budget process, wants exceed revenue.  When budget priorities are set, it reveals the values of the budget writers.

During each budget cycle in Concord, Republicans treat it like a morality play, where they tell the Democrats that they have to live within their allowance.

The reality is that the Democrats go to bat each year for the property taxpayers, the poor, the disabled, the University System, the sick and the elderly, while the Republicans go to bat for big business and the wealthy.  Most of the time, the Republicans win.

Every budget year, Republicans say we do not have enough revenue to make UNH affordable, eliminate the waiting list for the severely disabled, restore our community mental health system, fund Medicaid, or provide property tax relief.

And every budget year, Democrats ask why the wealthy are not paying their fair share of taxes.  New Hampshire has one of the most regressive tax systems in the nation.  On average, the poor pay over 8% of their incomes in tax.  The middle pays about 6%.  The top pays about 3%.

Our tax system is regressive because New Hampshire relies on the property tax for over two-thirds of all state and local tax revenue.  Since 2000, the legislature has repeatedly down-shifted obligations to the local level.  Meanwhile, the total of property taxes collected in NH has doubled.  Very few people have seen their incomes double during that same time period.

Representative Dick Ames, Democrat of Jaffrey, proposed a reform of the Interest and Dividends tax that would have reduced the tax on small savers, and broadened the tax to include capital gains.  The State would have realized about $100 million in new revenue–mostly from our wealthiest residents.  Predictably, the bill failed on a nearly party-line vote.  And the underfunding of the safety net, the short-changing of higher education, and the down-shifting to the property taxpayer will continue for another two years.

Legislating is about making choices.  Our Republican legislature has made clear that it values charter schools more the public schools; thinks businesses need a tax cut, but homeowners do not; and would rather underfund UNH and the safety net, than ask the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes.

It’s all about choices.  You get to make your choice next year.

Mark Fernald is a former State Senator and was the 2002 Democratic nominee for Governor.  He can be reached at mark@markfernald.com.

Leo W Gerard: NAFTA Negotiators Send Corporate Whiners Back to Swamp

Photo by Gerenme on Getty Images

Giant corporations, loyal to coin and faithless to country, staged a public display of blubbering in the run up to this week’s fourth round of negotiations to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Whaa, whaaa, whaaaa, groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sniveled into the swamp from which they crawled to conduct their press conferences. President Trump isn’t doing what corporations want, they wailed.

The President’s trade priorities, which he repeatedly stated on the campaign trail, do not include groveling to the whims and whining of corporations or their toady, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. President Trump said he would create good, American jobs. To do that, he wants more stuff made in America and less stuff made in factories off-shored by greed-motivated American corporations.

“We’ve reached a critical moment,” Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue sobbed this week. “The Chamber has had no choice but to ring the alarm bells.”

He said it, by the way, from Mexico City, where the Chamber, which calls itself the U.S. Chamber, had gone to scheme with Mexican government officials to subvert the NAFTA negotiation goals of the U.S. government.

Chamber Vice President John G. Murphy, meanwhile, was carping from the place the President calls the swamp, “So we’re urging the administration to recalibrate its approach and stop and listen to the business community, the agriculture community, the people who actually engage in trade.”

That is the crux of it, right there. The president had failed to place corporate profits over American workers.

Really, what Murphy and Donohue were saying is that the President should ignore the hundreds of thousands of Americans who lost their jobs because of NAFTA and concentrate instead on the profits to be made by wealthy CEOs and shareholders. Those are the guys who uprooted American factories and transplanted them in Mexico, where corporations can more easily exploit both workers and the environment.

United Technologies (UT) is a good example. UT had two perfectly profitable factories in Indiana where American workers manufactured Carrier gas furnaces and electronic controls. UT decided, however, that it could make even more money if it moved the factories to Monterrey, Mexico.

After Vice President Mike Pence, then governor of Indiana, handed UT $7 million of the state’s tax dollars, the corporation agreed to keep some of the Carrier jobs in the United States, but in the end, it moved all 700 electronic controls jobs to Mexico and 632 of the furnace jobs.

In Mexico, UT can pay its new workers a dime for every dollar in wages earned by its skilled American workers in Indiana. U.S. corporations like UT that transplant factories and kick their American workers to the curb pocket the difference in wages.

NAFTA, which encourages this kind of move, doesn’t benefit Mexican workers either. The poverty rate in Mexico is 52.3 percent, virtually the same as it was in 1994, when NAFTA took effect. Wages there rose just 2.3 percent. Economic development in Mexico has fallen behind that of most other Latin American countries.

But, whaa, whaaa, whaaaa, the Chamber of Commerce cries about the President’s intention to keep his campaign promise to build a trade wall to stop corporations from sneaking across the border.

Emily Davis, a spokesperson for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, gave the Chamber a good smack upside the head after Donohue and Murphy told the President that he should stop listening to workers and do exactly what the Chamber and corporations tell him to do.

Here’s what Davis said: “The president has been clear that NAFTA has been a disaster for many Americans, and achieving his objectives requires substantial change. These changes, of course, will be opposed by entrenched Washington lobbyists and trade associations. We have always understood that draining the swamp would be controversial in Washington.”

The Wall Street Journal explained the problem for the likes of Donohue and Murphy. The newspaper quoted an outside trade adviser to the administration. He said that the administration wants to “create more uncertainty and reluctance for U.S. businesses to invest in Mexico. . . They want to change the decision making around outsourcing and the offshoring of investment.”

The U.S. negotiators, for example, want to weaken, or maybe even eliminate, the NAFTA-created Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system. Corporations love this thing. It’s a secret court presided over by corporate lawyers where corporations can sue countries for passing laws that CEOs claim take a bite out of profits.

So, for example, a corporation could claim that a U.S. safety regulation prohibiting a cancer-causing chemical in plastic baby bottles diminishes expected future profits from its Mexican chemical factory. The corporate lawyers acting as judges in the secret NAFTA court can order the United States to compensate the corporation.  And, to top it off, the amount that the secret court can order taxpayers to hand over to corporations is unlimited.

The secret court reduces risk for corporations moving American factories to Mexico, where they might not have the same confidence that they would in American courts to protect their property rights.

Eliminating or curbing the secret court would reverse one of the NAFTA incentives for corporations to transfer manufacturing to Mexico. The administration wants to change several other aspects of NAFTA for the same result.

For example, it wants the government to be able to insist that more of what it buys be made in the United States. That would mean U.S. tax dollars would create more jobs in the United States. That discourages offshoring because the government is a super consumer.

The administration also wants a higher percentage of a product, such as a car, to be made in the United States, or at least in one of the three partner countries, for it to attain NAFTA duty-free status.  Right now, it’s 62.5 percent. The administration is talking about 85 percent, which would deter offshoring to Asian countries.

The administration is also demanding labor rights for Mexican workers. Enabling them to form real, worker-run labor unions would raise their wages, and, as a result, make transplanting U.S. factories in Mexico less profitable.

Murphy told the administration that it should do none of this. It should, he said, follow the administration’s own guidelines and “do no harm.”

Basically, big corporations and the Chamber want no change to NAFTA. They’re fine with all harm falling on U.S. workers’ shoulders ­ – 800,000 of whom lost their jobs because of NAFTA. And that doesn’t include the 1,600 lost at Rexnord and the two United Technologies factories in Indiana this year.

President Trump isn’t fine with that outcome, however. And that’s why his spokesperson at the Office of U.S. Trade Representative told the Chamber this week to waddle back down to the swamp and shut up.

Berry Craig: Put A Little ‘Ludd’ In Your Life

The Battle Between Progress And Technology That Leaves Workers Without A Job

By BERRY CRAIG, AFT Local 1360

This senior citizen has a hard time figuring out computerized, check-yourself-in airport kiosks.

Like Blanche DuBois, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” So, I’m grateful to nice folks who are still around to check me in the old way.

“Thank you so very much,” I gushed with profound appreciation to the woman who sped my wife and me to our homeward flight from London’s Heathrow airport last summer. (I’m pretty sure she belonged to the UNITE union.)

“You’re welcome,” she smiled and replied. “One day I won’t be here. They want to get rid of us.”

She meant those kiosks would eliminate her job. Millions of people worldwide have already lost jobs to the kind of “progress” the kiosks represent.

As we headed for the gate, I thought of the Luddites, 19th-century English textile mill workers who wrecked machines that were taking their jobs. Factory owners equated mechanization with “progress” — meaning more profit for them. The workers’ supposed leader was Ned Ludd, hence the movement’s name.

Today, “Luddite” is a slam for somebody like me who dares suggest that “technology” is not necessarily synonymous with “progress.”

Don’t get me wrong. I like my PC a lot better than my ancient Royal manual typewriter I used in college going on 50 years ago. Nor am I proposing a Luddite solution to stanch the bleeding of jobs to technology.

I’m with my union brother, David Nickell. He says society needs to redefine its notion of “progress” to ensure that technology serves all of us, rather than enriching just the few.

“We’ve got to start asking ourselves, ‘How can we use technology to bring us the kind of world in which everybody has a job and a place?”” argued David, who teaches sociology and philosophy at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah.

David is the campus representative for AFT Local 1360, this old history teacher’s union office before he retired.

David, like me, is a lifelong resident of rural western Kentucky. We’re fans of Wendell Berry, the famous Bluegrass State writer, environmental activist and social critic.

“Wendell Berry wrote that we are creating a surplus population, with no role for them in society,” David said.

Berry meant farmers and farm workers. The same applies to blue- and white-collar workers who’ve lost–and are still losing–livelihoods to “progress.”

Added David: “I ask my students, ‘How many of you believe in progress? Every one of them holds up a hand. Then I ask, ‘What are we progressing toward?’”

Silence follows, he said.

David said the self-service check-in gizmos–common at U.S. airports, too–symbolize our seemingly insatiable demand for convenience at almost any cost.

“Somebody said the new American credo is ‘Give me convenience or give me death,’” he said.

Anyway, 19th-factory owners and managers on both sides of the Atlantic welcomed machines as profit enhancers.

Absent unions, factory and mill hands toiled long hours at low pay in jobs that threatened, and often claimed, lives and limbs. Most employers saw their employees as mere means to economic ends. They commonly fired workers as soon as they found machines to replace them.

Stateside and in Europe, self-check-out kiosks are also supplanting staffers at supermarkets and other big stores. Automatic answering devices have mostly replaced human telephone operators, too.

After I’m able to run the press-here-for-this-or-that gauntlet and finally reach a real person, I say, “Thank you for being there. Your company needs to hire more people to answer the phones. They need jobs; machines don’t.”

David also noted that many people are uncritically hailing computerized, self-driving cars and trucks as more examples of “progress.”

“With centralized computers with artificial intelligence, the computer can learn from what one truck encounters and instantly reroute all other trucks,” he said.

“The gains in efficiency will be tremendous, but how many truck and delivery drivers will be replaced?  This is one of the last good paying jobs that does not require a college degree, or any specialized training beyond a commercial driver’s license.”

Self-driving taxi cabs are also on the way.

In any event, David said there’s a big difference between finding meaningful work and merely “having a job.”

He explained, “The alienation of the worker has now become so expected that it seems extremist even to point it out.  If the technologies were used properly, they would replace the alienating, tedious, and back breaking jobs, and not the people.”

David recalled his dismay at hearing a Kentucky governor say “’the purpose of higher education is to meet the needs of business and industry.’

“I thought to myself, ‘Business and industry are supposed to succeed, or fail, based on whether they can meet the needs of the people.’”

To feed the greed of wealthy wool and cotton mill owners in the early 1800s, the British parliament, whose members were all rich and powerful men, passed laws to crush the Luddite movement. They also sent redcoat soldiers to shoot or arrest them; several Luddite leaders were hanged, imprisoned or transported to penal colonies in Australia.

In his maiden speech in the House of Lords, George Gordon, Lord Byron, the famous poet, defended the Luddites. While he “condemned” and “deplored” Luddite violence, he warned, “It cannot be denied that they have arisen from circumstances of the most unparalleled distress: the perseverance of these miserable men in their proceedings, tends to prove that nothing but absolute want could have driven a large, and once honest and industrious, body of the people, into the commission of excesses so hazardous to themselves, their families, and the community.”

So, more than a century later, is it “Time to reconsider the Luddites?” asked the headline on a 2014 story in the online U.S. edition of The Guardian, a British newspaper. The author, Robert Skidelsky, based his story on MIT research which showed that over the last 30 years, the share of wages in our national income has been shrinking.

Professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee said that during this “second machine age,” computer technology has pushed deeper “into the service sector, taking over jobs for which the human factor and ‘cognitive functions’ were hitherto deemed indispensable.”

At the airport, most of the old-fashioned check-in desks were unstaffed. So we had to stand in line–“queue” in the local lingo. But there were queues for the kiosks, too.

Not counting queuing time, the friendly staffer at the still open desk had us on our way about as quickly as the kiosk users were checking themselves in and heading for their flights.

Skidelsky, a professor of political economy at Warwick (England) University, pointed to Wal Mart and Amazon as “prime examples of new technology driving down workers’ wages. Because computer programs and humans are close substitutes for such jobs, and given the predictable improvement in computing power, there seems to be no technical obstacle to the redundancy of workers across much of the service economy.”

He acknowledged that “there will still be activities that require human skills, and these skills can be improved. But it is broadly true that the more computers can do, the less humans need to do. The prospect of the ‘abridgment of labour’ should fill us with hope rather than foreboding. But, in our kind of society, there are no mechanisms for converting redundancy into leisure.”

Skidelsky recalled the Luddites. “They claimed that because machines were cheaper than labour, their introduction would depress wages. They argued the case for skill against cheapness. The most thoughtful of them understood that consumption depends on real income, and that depressing real income destroys businesses. Above all, they understood that the solution to the problems created by machines would not be found in laissez-faire nostrums.”

In their headlong embrace of technology as a boon to their bottom lines, business and industry owners would do well to remember that jobless workers can’t afford to buy the products made by the computers, robots and machines that replaced them.

For sure, unemployed airport ground staff won’t have the wherewithal to fly the friendly skies.

 

Rights and Democracy Decries Trump’s Executive Actions On Healthcare

Trump’s  Executive Order, Ending of Cost Sharing Reductions, and Roll Back of No-cost Contraception Will Rob Millions of Their Health Care

With the recent defeat of Graham Cassidy and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal efforts that preceded, we thought the battle to save our health care was won.

Unfortunately, yesterday President Trump demonstrated unequivocally that this battle is far from over—he is directly attacking women, the middle class, and the poor in his effort to strip millions more from having necessary access to health care in order to provide tax breaks for the wealthy and powerful.

Rights & Democracy stands in opposition to Trump and the GOP Congressional leadership’s inhumane and immoral attack on the health care of hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters and millions of Americans. We stand in support of our members of Congress (see Sen. Maggie Hassan’s statement and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s statement) in their resistance to these proposals and we call on Governor Chris Sununu to do the same.

Last night the President announced that he will end Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments that lower costs for more than 6 million people who buy coverage on the exchange. Uncertainty about the future of these CSRs is key reason that many insurers are substantially hiking their rates for 2018—some by more than 20 percent. Some insurers have also left the market. Even Republicans are worried about how this decision will drive up costs and leave millions uninsured.

In addition to the elimination of CSR payments, Trump issued a new executive order that allows health association plans to sell watered down health coverage that doesn’t meet current standards under the ACA. This executive order includes provisions like those in the ACA repeal bills that were roundly rejected earlier in the year by both lawmakers and the public. Trump’s order loosens up rules for insurance companies so that they can go back to refusing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, charging them more for their coverage, and selling bogus plans that don’t even include essential health benefits like maternity care, mental health and prescription drugs that are required for plans sold in the ACA marketplaces. These plans could even have lifetime and annual benefit caps.

Waiving ACA protections means these plans can cherry pick young, healthy consumers and pull them out of the existing individual health insurance market, leading to a market dominated by older and sicker people. That means that rates will skyrocket, insurers will flee, and, ultimately, the entire private health insurance market could collapse.

Finally, the Trump Administration has launched a full on assault on women’s reproductive health with a sweeping new rule that eliminates free contraceptive coverage based on any religious or “moral” objections from the employer. This is a significant departure from the existing law, which allowed exemptions for religious employers like churches and Catholic hospitals only. Under the new rule, any employer, not just religious ones, can deny coverage for birth control based on their own personal religious beliefs or “moral” objections.

Through the ACA, employers were required to include no-cost birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. More than 55 million women have access to birth control without co-payments because of that guarantee – saving them $1.4 billion in 2013 alone. But now these 55 million women could lose access to free contraception if their bosses decide they suddenly have a “moral” objection to paying for it. As a result, millions of American women and families could be left without affordable birth control.

The eliminations of CSR payments, the executive order on health association plans, and the new rule denying contraceptive coverage to millions of women, all make it clear: Trump doesn’t care about the will of the people who have rejected the Republican agenda for health care over the past several months.

Instead of listening to Americans, Trump is charging full-steam ahead with his stated goal of ACA repeal through a political campaign to sabotage the ACA by forcing premium increases, creating instability in the market, actively interfering with the ability of consumers to sign up for coverage, and rolling back the no-cost birth control for 55 million women.

When coupled with the Republican budget proposal working its way through Congress now—which includes massive cuts to Medicaid and further privatizes Medicare—Trump’s sabotage would mean the destruction of our health system as we know it. We will return to the days when being sick could bar you from coverage. We will return to the days when being a woman meant discrimination in the health care system. And we will see Medicaid and Medicare—two programs essential to the quality of life of millions of Americans—irreversibly transformed leading to access and lower quality care.

And what does Trump and his GOP backers in Congress gain from robbing millions of their health care? Huge tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

  • Subscribe to the NH Labor News via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 12,514 other subscribers

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement