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Health Care & Environment
06.19 Engineers boost output of solar desalination system by 50% [Trump fires scientist. It would be far better to enable their good work.]
06.19 We’ll Never Solve Immigration If We Don’t Solve Climate Change [Why is our President so willfully stupid?]
06.18 The Worst Patients in the World [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Navy Contaminates Local Groundwater and Sewer System in Maryland [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.17 Hopes for climate progress falter with coal still king across Asia [Governments must subsidize very rapid installation of renewable energy to displace all fossil energy—aka DEATH ENERGY—power plants that must be made illegal ASAP]
06.17 Oil companies double down on plastics as public outcry grows [Obscene!]
06.15 So much plastic is being made that "recycling has no impact" [Non-recyclable plastic must be made illegal to manufacture, use]
06.15 We must transform our lives and values to save this burning planet [Increased ice melt in polar latitudes has been disguising reality in the middle latitudes. This effect will soon be replaced by record heat as ice volume and seasonal melting increasingly declines.]
06.15 This all-male council in Texas just voted to ban abortion [1:59 video; Bad assumptions foment ignorant actions...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
06.19 America has never gone this long without hiking the federal minimum wage [The poor would spend every penny and help the economy and decrease health costs. Only dummies don't understand the costly effects of penury.]
06.19 When migrants arrived in droves, this poor New Mexico city opened its arms [A good example for us all: This is the way we must respond to human suffering]
06.18 It's A Horrible Idea To Privatize The Tennessee Valley Authority And Other Public Energy Assets [Is THIS the dumbest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 Tobacco's 'Special Friend': What Internal Documents Say About Mitch McConnell [His immorality is in complete control]
06.17 Climate change leadership would create a new 'American century' [We must incentivize the strategic good, again, before it's too late.]
06.17 Drug Cop Worth $400 Million After Bets on Brooklyn Real Estate [A better role-model than Trump or Kushner!]
06.15 White House physicist sought aid of rightwing thinktank to challenge climate science [When your President is a quack he naturally surrounds himself with sycophants]
06.18 As promised, Trump slashes aid to Central America over migrants [Is THIS the cruelest thing we can do? Then let's do it!]
06.18 ‘The Saudis couldn’t do it without us’: the UK’s true role in Yemen’s deadly war [If you act psychopathic you are psychopathic; 3:40 Video: Where have all the flowers (and morals and young men) gone, long time passing, sung by Marlene Dietreich]
06.17 'Blatant Theft': Netanyahu Unveils Illegal Settlement Named 'Trump Heights' in Occupied Syrian Territory [Great deal: the U.S. gives Israel $Billions every year, and they name an illegal settlement—to be built on Palestinian land—after Trump]
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism
06.15 'Eye-Popping': Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion [More equality or bring back the guillotines!]
International & Futurism
06.19 Trump Enabled an ‘Act of Organized Crime’ in Guatemala [Trump and other mafia-dons cause refugees and migrants as much as global warming]
06.19 Madrid’s new rightwing council suspends low-emissions zone [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]
06.19 Donald Trump’s reckless Iran policy casts doubt on the US as global leader [America's reputation has plummeted more speedily since Trump's dubious election, with professionals willfully replaced with less competent appointees or left unfilled in many federal government agencies]
06.18 'If This Is True, They Are Even Bigger Lunatics Than We Realized': UN Officials Reportedly Believe Trump Planning 'Massive' Bombing Campaign in Iran [Never underestimate the stupidity of the Trump Administration]
06.18 Iran will not wage war against any nation, says Hassan Rouhani [Economic sanctions are cruel punishment to innocent civilians causing hate for generations. We will reap what Trump sows.]
06.17 Saudi Arabia May Execute Teenager for His Protests — Including When He Was 10 [America's “best ally” is psychopathically insane]
06.17 Why Venezuela Is the Vietnam of Our Time [Powerful, clear writing!]
Obama Capitulates to Republicans
A Faustian deal with the devil.
Wednesday, 8 December 2010
In the midst of a deepening Main Street depression, rich and super-rich Americans never had it so good, thanks to Obama and congressional Democrats governing like Republicans.
Despite campaign pledges and President Obama opposing extending tax cuts for households earning over $250,000, another promise made was broken. At the same time, while supporting them for working Americans, he said doing so permanently is unaffordable. Unsurprisingly, a December 6 White House press release issued a "Statement by the President on Tax Cuts and Unemployment Benefits," saying:
"As a result, we have arrived at a framework for a bipartisan agreement." Everyone will get a tax cut on income, capital gains, dividends, and the Bush enacted federal estate tax that lapsed at the start of 2010, including the super-rich (who deserve higher, not lower taxes), Obama caving to Republicans and deep-pocketed donors who'd likely give less if they paid more.
In Obama-speak, we need to make "tough choices...to secure our future and our children's future and our grandchildren's future" by:
Neither Obama or congressional allies explained it or that both parties accelerated it in recent years.
Super-rich Americans will be further enriched by greater estate tax deductions. The exemption will be raised to $5 million for an individual (up from $3.5 million in 2009) and $10 million per family in addition to cutting the tax rate to from 45 to 35%. It matches levels not seen since the Great Depression's onset, besides the current greatest ever wealth gap disparity, obscene and unjustified by any standard.
In the midst of a deepening Main Street depression, rich and super-rich Americans never had it so good, thanks to Obama and congressional Democrats governing like Republicans, signaling harder times ahead for working households.
In contrast, the administration and Congress initiated no jobs creation programs or serious long-term relief for millions of unemployed, including many who've lost homes through foreclosure. Instead, unemployment benefits are extended grudgingly for limited periods. In prior downturns, they were enacted routinely without expiration until recessions ended.
Handouts to the Rich, Pay Freezes for Federal Employees
On November 29, Obama froze pay for all civilian federal employees, a White House press release saying:
Except, of course, for Wall Street, other corporate favorites, imperial adventurism, war profiteers, tax cuts for the rich and super-rich, and other privileged beneficiaries on the government dole. Only the little people make sacrifices, collateral damage in Pentagon-speak. Others do very well, thank you very much, including $30 billion more for businesses that buy equipment in the next two years.
Neoliberal Austerity Coming
Other handouts will follow, generous ones if Obama's deficit cutting commission proposals are adopted. (An earlier article addressed them.) They include dramatically cutting income tax rates to 9, 15 and 24%, down from six brackets ranging from 10 - 35% for income over $373,650. Also slashing corporate rates from 35 - 26%, combined with eliminating some deductions easily manipulated around by clever tax lawyers. At the same time, the following pain was proposed:
Congress Looks After Its Own
In January 2009, Congress voted itself a $4,700 increase, raising their pay to $174,000. It abstained in 2010 and 2011, the law requiring both Houses reject it. Otherwise, it's automatic.
According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Obama's announced freeze doesn't apply to "legislative-branch employees," including Congress able to raise, freeze, or cut pay for all government workers at all levels.
In 2011, military personnel will get a 1.4% increase, the smallest one since 1973, OMB citing low inflation as justification. Yet considering wartime hardships, including long deployments, high risk, possible severe injuries and deaths, who more than combat forces deserve more consideration on pay and other benefits. Next year and perhaps thereafter, it will be grudgingly meager.
A Final Comment
Obama, congressional Democrats and Republicans back shared sacrifice. The rich and super-rich share. Others most in need sacrifice through growing poverty, lost jobs and homes, lower pay, and fewer benefits "to bolster the economy," according to New York Times writers David Herszenhorn and Jackie Calmes in their December 7 article headlined, "Tax Deal Suggests New Path for Obama."
Honest observers call it business as usual, new policies like current ones plus painful proposed austerity. For Obama:
Few, in fact, have been created, showing labor force stagnation, full-time jobs being cut. In the last six months, 1.6 million have been lost. Those added are temporary or part time with low pay and few benefits. Moreover, the broader household survey shows large declines - 330,000 in October, another 173,000 in November, a pattern stubbornly persisting.
Shadowstats reports true unemployment, including discouraged workers and those wanting full-time jobs but can't find them at 22.6%, not the Labor Department's jerry-rigged 9.8%. In a word, the job market's sick, administration policies doing little to improve it.
Obama's "compromise" does provide a two-year expanded tax credits extension, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and American Opportunity Tax Credit as well as a 2% cut in payroll taxes in lieu of eliminating the Making Work Pay tax credit.
It also extends unemployment benefits another 13 months, gives some families a college tuition tax credit, and adjusts the alternative minimum tax temporarily (indexing it for inflation), exempting 21 million households from being hit.
The cost, of course, adds hugely to the deficit, up to $900 billion over the next two years, according to some estimates. Neither party scrimps on lavish handouts to corporate favorites, wailing only about crumbs to working households, even under Obama's so-called "compromise."
Economist Paul Krugman opposes extending George Bush's 2001 "fast one, (his) irresponsible tax cut," largely benefitting America's rich and super-rich. In his December 5 op-ed headlined "Let's Not Make a Deal," he urged "just say no." Obama and congressional allies didn't listen, capitulating instead to Republican "blackmailers."
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on December 8, 2010.