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Health Care & Environment
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
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.