Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush proposes to double down on his brother’s tax cuts for the rich. Jeb outlined a tax plan (9/9) that would cut the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans almost one-third, from the current 39.6% to 28%. George W. Bush had cut the top rate to 33%.

Jeb also would eliminate the estate tax and cut the capital gains tax for those who make their money from securities from the current maximum of 23.8% to 20%. He also said he would cut taxes for all families and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, which helps the working poor.

Jeb offered few details on how to pay for all that lost revenue. Zach Carter and Ben Walsh noted at HuffingtonPost.com (9/9) that “Mitt Romney was chastised by economists in 2012 for promising to cut the top income tax rate to 28%—the same level Jeb Bush is proposing. Economists said that under Romney’s plan, the only way to keep the deficit from ballooning would have been to raise taxes on middle- or low-income Americans.”

Greg Sargent noted at WashingtonPost.com (9/9), “We’ve had this debate again and again in recent years, and every time, events in the real world prove Republicans wrong, yet they never seem to change their tune. When Bill Clinton’s first budget passed in 1993 and raised taxes on the wealthy, Republicans said it would cause a ‘job-killing recession’; what ensued was a rather extraordinary economic boom and the first budget surpluses in decades. When George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001 and 2003, primarily for the wealthy, they said that not only would the economy rocket forward into hyperspace, but there would be little or no increase in the deficit because of all that increased economic activity. What actually happened was anemic growth and dramatically increased deficits, culminating in the economic catastrophe of 2008. When Barack Obama raised taxes, Republicans said the economy would grind to a halt; instead we’ve seen sustained job creation (despite weak income gains).”

Sargent also noted that, “with the bizarre exception of Donald Trump, all the Republican candidates put tax cuts that would benefit the wealthy at the center of the their ideas for helping the American economy. So why can’t they learn from history?”

HOW DO BUSH TAX CUTS STACK UP AGAINST OBAMANOMICS? Bill Scher noted at OurFuture.org (9/8) that the back-to-back Bush and Obama administrations allow for easy comparison of the effectiveness of liberal and conservative economic policies. President George W. Bush’s record is highlighted by tax cuts largely aimed at giving the wealthiest Americans more money with which to invest, and a looser regulatory regime on businesses. President Obama in 2009 implemented the Keynesian-style American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (also known as “the stimulus”), repealed the heart of the Bush tax cuts, greatly expanded the federal government’s role in health care with the Affordable Care Act, and tightened regulations on several industry sectors including finance and energy.

How do their economic records compare? During the Bush administration from January 2001 to 2009, the economy lost a net 462,000 private-sector jobs. During the first six and a half years of the Obama administration, the economy generated a net 8,895,000 private-sector jobs—and that includes 12 mln jobs since the Great Recession that Bush handed Obama technically ended in July 2009. When Bush took office, the unemployment rate was 4.2%. When he left office, the unemployment rate was 7.8%. At the end of August, the jobless rate was 5.1%.

While the lower unemployment rate does not count unemployed people who have given up looking for a job, another way to gauge employment is the “employment-population ratio” to see what percent of the population is actually working. Under Bush the EPR dropped 3.8 points, from 64.4% to 60.6%. Under Obama, it fell another 2.4 points by October 2013 but since has regained half of that loss and now sits at 59.4%. Scher noted that with continued steady job gains, Obama could leave office with a net positive increase

Media household income was down 4.2% on Bush’s watch and then dropped another 4.9% during Obama’s first term, while corporate profits increased under Bush and soared under Obama. But the first year of Obama’s second term, median household income ticked up 0.3%, the first year with an increase since 2007, Scher noted.

Also, average hourly earnings of private-sector employees have risen, though slowly, up 14% during the course of Obama’s presidency.

“This could mean income declines hit bottom in 2012, and the other economic successes of the Obama administration are beginning to translate into improvements felt by the middle class. The other silver lining for the middle class is that inflation has been lower under Obama than Bush, so at least flat wages aren’t losing purchasing power,” Scher wrote.

“Still, stagnant wages have been a persistent problem both before and after the crash. According to a 2013 report from the Economic Policy Institute, by one measure wages only grew 2.4% between 2000 and 2007, under Bush yet before the crash, then have basically stayed flat since. Presuming that wages can rise enough to rescue the middle class without any new policies would be a big risk

. “A big debate awaits us on how we solve the problem of stagnant wages holding back middle-class prosperity. Considering that under Bush, corporations did worse than under Obama, household income still fell and private sector jobs were lost, perhaps conservative economic policies should not be our North Star.”

REPUB STRATEGISTS FRET ABOUT GOP SLIDE TO EXTREMISM. While Republican presidential contenders pay tribute to the Kentucky county clerk who went to jail rather than comply with a federal court order that her office issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Republican strategists worry that the return of same-sex marriage as a presidential campaign piñata could hurt the party in the 2016 general election.

A growing majority of Americans believes gay couples should have the right to marry. National Republicans operatives hoped the issue was settled in June when the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, Sahil Kapur and Greg Stohr reported for bloomberg.com (9/9).

Six in 10 Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal, according to Gallup. Just 26% of likely voters believe that a public official should be able to ignore a federal court ruling for religious reasons, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll. But just 24% of white evangelical Protestants support same-sex marriage, according to a Pew poll released in July, and it’s those voters that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee were pandering to when they stood up for Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis as she defied the court order. Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham clearly stated that Davis must follow the law and offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

LOUISIANA DEFUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD IS PUBLIC HEALTH DISASTER. As Republicans continue their calls to defund Planned Parenthood, they completely ignore the public health consequences of taking such an action, Kerry Eleveld notes at DailyKos.com (9/7). The cuts will almost exclusively affect women—especially low-income women. Here’s a look at how defunding Louisiana’s two Planned Parenthood clinics would play out, as Jackie Calmes reported in the New York Times (9/1).

Neither Planned Parenthood clinic in Louisiana—like nearly half of all Planned Parenthood centers—performs abortions, Calmes noted. What the Louisiana Planned Parenthood clinics did last year was administer nearly 20,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections, as well as providing gynecological exams, contraceptive care, cancer screenings and other wellness services for nearly 10,000 mostly low-income patients.

“You can’t just cut Planned Parenthood off one day and expect everyone across the city to absorb the patients,” Dr. Stephanie Taylor, medical director overseeing programs to combat sexually transmitted infections for the State Office of Public Health, told Calmes. “There needs to be time to build the capacity.”

Louisiana is among a number of states counted as medically underserved: It has a large poor and unhealthy population, with high rates of unintended pregnancies, a shortage of health professionals and too few who will accept Medicaid, as Planned Parenthood does, Calmes noted.

“So cutting off funds for two clinics will stop zero abortions, while depriving some 30,000 women of health services,” Eleveld concluded. “If that’s not the definition of fanaticism, I’m not sure what is. What’s certain is it surely has nothing to do with any genuine concern for public health.”

STUDY: UNIONS CRITICAL TO ECONOMIC MOBILITY. A new report from the Center for American Progress, co-authored with economists Richard Freeman and Eunice Han, suggests that unions play a critical role in intergenerational mobility. The research finds that areas with higher union membership demonstrate more mobility and children with union parents earn more than the children of nonunion parents. The research strongly indicates that policies that make it easier for workers to form unions and bargain collectively should be at the heart of any agenda to boost mobility and ensure an inclusive economy.

“The fact that the effects of unions in raising the well-being of members extends to their children tells us that the ongoing decline of unions will make it harder and harder for the United States to reduce inequality and maintain a strong middle class in the future,” said Richard B. Freeman, the Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University. “Given the current weakness of unions, the United States desperately needs a rejuvenated union movement or, if that is not possible, some new form of worker organization to play the union role of reducing inequality and opening doors for workers and their families.”

The analysis showed a 10-percentage-point increase in an area’s union membership is associated with low-income children ranking 1.3 percentage points higher in the national income distribution using data from Stanford economist Raj Chetty and others. The correlation is about the same size as that of high school dropout rates and segregation, two of the most important drivers of economic mobility in Chetty’s original analysis.

In the CAP paper, the authors also found that areas with higher union membership have more mobility as measured by the incomes of all children. A 10-point increase in union density is associated with a 4.5% increase in the income of an area’s children, after controlling for their parents’ incomes. This outcome remained true even after adopting several additional controls.

The CAP report also used a second dataset to confirm the findings across households and found that children who grow up in union households have better outcomes than children who grew up in nonunion households—even after controlling for a host of factors, including parents’ education, race, age, full-time status, industry, and occupation. Importantly, the effect is concentrated among the children of low-skilled parents. CAP’s report found that for example, children of non-college-educated fathers earn 28% more if their father was in a labor union.

With policymakers, economists, and researchers alike focused on ways to rebuild the American middle class, CAP’s report concludes that a serious policy agenda aimed at boosting intergenerational mobility must include policies that will increase the bargaining power of workers.

See more on the report, “Bargaining for the American Dream: What Do Unions Do for Mobility?” by Richard Freeman, Eunice Han, David Madland, and Brendan V. Duke, at <http://ampr.gs/1K9eSnJ>.

ANYBODY WITH A JOB CAN CELEBRATE TOM BRADY’S WIN. Even conservatives in Boston are on board with the unions in celebrating US District Judge Richard Berman’s decision vacating the decision of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to suspend Boston Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four games for his alleged role in deflating footballs, Charles P. Pierce wrote at Esquire.com (9/4).

“This is a win for all workers no matter the color of their collars,” Pierce wrote, while admitting to some amusement when he hears the more conservative members of the media, especially the ones on the radio, and the more conservative members of a football fan base, which is practically everybody, suddenly discover their inner liberal on this issue. “My old pal Gerry Callahan, for example, on Boston’s WEEI, suddenly has discovered a union grievance, a Clinton-appointed liberal federal judge, and a due-process case, that he can love. I consider this a minor day of jubilee.”

Deep in the decision, Pierce noted, “Berman takes the legs out from under not only the NFL’s contention that its commissioner’s powers of discipline are absolute as sanctified by the current collective bargaining issue, but also takes the legs out from under their contention that the case of [Major League Baseball Players Association] v. Garvey was dispositive in this case. There was a lot of talk during the extended legal maneuvering about the precedential value of Garvey, a Supreme Court decision involving former baseball star Steve Garvey, that strictly limited a court’s ability to review a decision reached by an arbitrator. (In this case, because of a truly stupid concession by the players in the last [collective bargaining agreement], Goodell was allowed to sit in arbitration of his own decision.) In his decision, Berman simply ignores Garvey, and instead relies upon two other cases–Gilmer v. Interstate/Johnson Lane Co. and Kaplan v. Alfred Dunhill of London, Inc.–which mandate that an arbitrator’s decision be based on some sort of substantive due process.”

As Berman quotes, from the decision in Kaplan: “The deference due an arbitrator does not extend so far as to require a district court to countenance, much less confirm, an award obtained without the requisites of fairness or due process.”

Pierce (who is a native of Greater Boston) continued, “And that is a win for everyone who has been victimized by the increasing power of employers over employees, and everyone who has been victimized by a management-friendly system of workplace arbitration.

“It’s important to remember in this case how Tom Brady was raised. His father is a former seminarian, steeped in Vatican II Catholicism and the doctrines of Catholic social action going back to Leo XIII and Rerum Novarum [the 1891 papal encyclical that legitimized the right of labor to organize unions and government to regulate capitalism]. In addition to just being a damned stubborn competitor, Tom Brady imbibed the notion of workplace justice his whole life. If this turns him into a union firebrand now–as it should–then nobody should be at all surprised.”

STATS UNDERMINE ‘WAR ON POLICE’ DEMAGOGUERY. Conservative politicians and commentators are claiming that a recent spate of cop-killings means police officers are being “hunted” by cop haters radicalized by the Black Lives Matter movement, which criticizes racist policing.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a campaign stop in Milford, N.H. (9/1), “Cops across the country are feeling the assault … They’re feeling the assault from the president … From the top on down, as we see—whether it’s in Ferguson or Baltimore—the response of senior officials of the president, of the attorney general, is to vilify law enforcement. That is fundamentally wrong, and it is endangering the safety and security of us all.”

Frank Vyan Walton noted at DailyKos.com (9/5), President Obama hasn’t done anything like vilifying police when he issued this statement on the shooting of Deputy Goforth:

“Targeting police officers is completely unacceptable—an affront to civilized society,” Obama said. “We’ve got to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the door at the end of his shift.”

Despite the fearmongering, Dylan Petrohilos noted at ThinkProgress (9/9) that the number of police killed on the job has been steadily dropping for decades, after spiking suddenly in the 1970s, when President Richard Nixon began the War on Drugs.

August saw 103 people killed by law enforcement. In the first week of September, police killed more civilians (25) than the total police officers killed so far this year (24).

According to The Guardian (TheGuardian.com/TheCounted), 806 people had been killed by police in 2015 as of (9/9). The dead include 395 whites (1.99 per 1 mln population), 205 blacks (4.91), 116 Latino (2.14), 67 other/unknown, 14 Asian/Pacific Islander and 9 Native American.

Shaun King noted at DailyKos.com (9/5) that police are three times more likely to kill themselves than be shot and killed by someone else. In 2013, the last year on public record, 126 police officers committed suicide. Compare that to 47 police officers who were shot and killed in 2014, King wrote, “and it’s increasingly clear that people who love police officers and want to see them do well in life should seriously consider focusing on their mental health.”

WHY DOESN’T US HAVE SEAT AT LAW OF THE SEA TALKS? On Labor Day weekend, Jake Tapper found himself interviewing Sarah Palin on CNN’s “State of the Union” show, Kevin Drum noted at MotherJones.com (9/6). “She was her usual self, and even managed to pretend that she disapproved of Obama renaming Mt. McKinley as Denali. Then Tapper mentioned that Russian planes had been flying off the coast of Alaska and Chinese warships had transited the Bering Strait.

What did Palin think about that?” She replied, “Putin right now—he’s flagging undersea our resources, claiming them as his own. What’s America doing about it? We don’t even have a seat at the table under the Law of the Sea Treaty. We’re not even participating in fighting back, putting America first.”

Drum wrote, “I assume Palin is talking about the fight over the Arctic, which is hardly breaking news. But notice what Palin failed to mention: Why does America not have a seat at the table under the Law of the Sea Treaty? Answer: because Republicans are dead set against it. The military is for it, the State Department is for it, and Democrats are for it. I think even Palin supports it. But no matter how many concessions get made to their concerns, conservatives have relentlessly claimed that it’s a massive intrusion on American sovereignty and Republicans have accordingly refused to ratify it for decades. They refused under Reagan, they refused under Clinton, they refused under Bush, and they refused under Obama. So Palin is right: thanks to the GOP, we’re not official participants in LOST. I guess that part slipped her mind.”

LESSIG PLANS PREZ RACE FOR CAMPAIGN REFORM. Harvard law professor and campaign finance reform advocate Lawrence Lessighas announced plans to run for the Democratic nomination for president.Lessig appeared on ABC’s “This Week” (9/6) to confirm he would be pursuing a presidential run. He was to formally announce in Claremont, N.H. (9/9), according to CNN. 

“I think I’m running to get people to acknowledge the elephant in the room,” Lessig told ABC. “We have to recognize — we have a government that does not work. The stalemate, partisan platform of American politics in Washington right now doesn’t work.”

In August, Lessig announced formation of an exploratory committee, saying he would make a decision about whether he would run by Labor Day based on contributions to a crowdfunding campaign he set up. Hours before his ABC appearance, the professor tweeted that he had reached his fundraising goal of $1 mln.

From The Progressive Populist, October 1, 2015


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