Tag: US economy

Corporate Welfare Has Not Created Jobs

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The 2012 Democratic National Platform talks big about job creation and rebuilding the middle class which has been taking hits since the Reagan tax cuts in 1984. While it touts the fact that the private sector has created jobs and the manufacturing sector is growing, its not enough. Most of the jobs that have been created are low paying. The Democratic Party has done little to debunk the lie that the wealthy corporations and individuals are job creators. By rubber stamping the past policies of giveaways to corporations and extending the Bush/Obama tax cuts, the Democrats have made the problems for the ever shrinking middle class even worse.

In two articles at Common Dreams, writers Paul Buchheit and John Atcheson debunk the “job creators fraud” and lay out the real problem ailing the economy, “corporate welfare”. In Mr. Buchheit’s article, he concisely cuts through the “job creator” nonsense with the facts.

Based on IRS figures, the richest 1% nearly tripled its share of America’s after-tax income from 1980 to 2006. That’s an extra trillion dollars a year. Then, in the first year after the 2008 recession, they took 93% (pdf) of all the new income.

He also notes that the wealthiest 10% own 83% of the financial wealth (pdf) and only pay 15% tax under the premise that they would create jobs. Instead they put that wealth into tax fee accounts overseas (pdf).

Mr. Atcheson breaks it down noting that the 15% tax rate allows the wealthy to avoid some $59 billion in taxes per year and by sheltering profits off shore, “(c)orporations are given $58 billion a year in tax breaks (pdf).” Hedge fund managers are given a tax break that allows them to pay only 15% on their earnings, avoiding at least $2.1 billion in taxes a year. Yet, as he further points out:

We spend $59 billion on social welfare programs, but more than $92 billion on corporate subsidies.  According to the Environmental Law Institute, fossil fuel industries alone get more than $70 billion in subsidies, with most going to the oil and gas sector.  Yeah, we certainly can’t afford to deprive Exxon of its record profits just to give money to needy kids.

Add to that $1.2 trillion the $9 trillion in low interest and no interest loans from the Federal Reserve and $700 billion bank bailout that these corporations and banks are making huge profits on and paying no taxes. You have, Mr. Buchheit notes, “$10 trillion in misdirected dollars.  Just 1/10 of that would create 25 million jobs, one for every unemployed or underemployed worker in America. Or a $45,000 a year job for every college student in the United States.”

These are the facts that Mr. Buchheit’s lays out:

The Wall Street Journal noted in 2009 that the Bush tax cuts led to the “worst track record for jobs in recorded history.” 25 million people remain unemployed or underemployed, with 30 to 50 percent of recent college graduates in one of those categories. Among unemployed workers, nearly 43 percent have been without a job for six months or longer.

For the jobs that remain, most are low-paying, with the only real employment growth occurring in retail sales and food preparation. A recent report by the National Employment Law Project confirms that lower-wage occupations (up to about $14 per hour) accounted for 21 percent of recession losses and 58 percent of recovery growth, while mid-wage occupations (between $14 and $21 per hour) accounted for 60 percent of recession losses and only 22 percent of recovery growth.

The minimum wage is shamefully low, about 30% lower (pdf) than the inflation-adjusted 1968 figure. And the tiny pay can’t be blamed on small business. Two-thirds of America’s low-wage workers, according to another National Employment Law Project (pdf) report, work for companies that have at least 100 employees.

All these job woes persist while productivity has continued to grow, with an 80% increase since 1973 as median worker pay has stagnated. [..]

With the bulk of their assets buried in “low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, and real estate”, the wealthy are not creating jobs:

… Only 3 percent of the CEOs, upper management, and financial professionals were entrepreneurs (pdf) in 2005, even though they made up about 60 percent of the richest .1% of Americans. A recent study found that less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs came from very rich or very poor backgrounds. They come from the middle class.

There is ample evidence that more jobs were created when the top marginal tax rates were high.

Instead of cutting our social safety net, as President Obama has agreed to do in his “Grand Bargain”, we need to end the corporate welfare programs and put an end to the lie that if we tax the wealthy less they’ll create jobs.

The Good, the Bad and That Dead Fairy

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Confidence Fairy is Dead but its ghost is still haunting the halls of the European Union countries and the United States, as Herr Doktor notes:

This was the month the confidence fairy died.

For the past two years most policy makers in Europe and many politicians and pundits in America have been in thrall to a destructive economic doctrine. [..]

The good news is that many influential people are finally admitting that the confidence fairy was a myth. The bad news is that despite this admission there seems to be little prospect of a near-term course change either in Europe or here in America, where we never fully embraced the doctrine, but have, nonetheless, had de facto austerity in the form of huge spending and employment cuts at the state and local level.

Krugman also pointed the de facto austerity policy of the Obama administration and Congress have added to the stagnant job market:

Here’s a comparison of changes in government employment (federal, state, and local) during the first four years of three presidents who came to office amid a troubled economy:

Public Employment in 3 Administrations

That spike early on is Census hiring; [..] If public employment had grown the way it did under Bush, we’d have 1.3 million more government workers, and probably an unemployment rate of 7 percent or less.

The job market is taking its toll on consumer spending which will continue to slow down any recovery:

More Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week and consumer confidence declined by the most in a year, signaling that a cooling labor market may restrain household spending. [..]

“There has been some slowdown in the labor market,” said Yelena Shulyatyeva, a U.S. economist at BNP Paribas in New York, who correctly projected the level of jobless claims. “That makes consumers feel less confident, and makes them more cautious about their spending. We could see some weakness in April payrolls.”

And even though the predictions about the housing market have been optimistic don’t be fooled, there is a dark side as falling home prices drag new buyers under water

More than 1 million Americans who have taken out mortgages in the past two years now owe more on their loans than their homes are worth, and Federal Housing Administration loans that require only a tiny down payment are partly to blame.

That figure, provided to Reuters by tracking firm CoreLogic, represents about one out of 10 home loans made during that period.

It is a sobering indication the U.S. housing market remains deeply troubled, with home values still falling in many parts of the country, and raises the question of whether low-down payment loans backed by the FHA are putting another generation of buyers at risk.

As of December 2011, the latest figures available, 31 percent of the U.S. home loans that were in negative equity – in which the outstanding loan balance exceeds the value of the home – were FHA-insured mortgages, according to CoreLogic.

In an interview with The European Nobel Prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz said:

…When you look at America, you have to concede that we have failed. Most Americans today are worse off than they were fifteen years ago. A full-time worker in the US is worse off today than he or she was 44 years ago. That is astounding – half a century of stagnation. The economic system is not delivering. It does not matter whether a few people at the top benefitted tremendously – when the majority of citizens are not better off, the economic system is not working… [..]

The argument that the response to the current crisis has to be a lessening of social protection is really an argument by the 1% to say: “We have to grab a bigger share of the pie.” But if the majority of people don’t benefit from the economic pie, the system is a failure. I don’t want to talk about GDP anymore, I want to talk about what is happening to most citizens.

Meanwhile back in Europe with the distinct possibility that French President Nicholas Sarkozy may lose to the Socialist candidate Fran├žois Hollande, some leaders are getting the message but aren’t ready to give up totally:

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager struck a deal with the opposition and got a majority backing on an austerity package to meet the 3 percent budget deficit target in 2013, after seven weeks of talks with Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party failed and led to the collapse of the minority government.

The package increases the value-added tax to 21 percent from 19 percent, doubles the bank tax to 600 million euros ($791 million) and changes the financing of mortgages, De Jager said in a letter to parliament yesterday.[..]

The Labor Party, the Socialist Party as well as the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders didn’t back the agreement. “This is a bad package and the people with a state pension will pay the bill,” Wilders said in parliament.

In an editorial in Bloomberg News, the editors expressed their ideas how European leaders can “boost economic growth in the euro area”:

First, Europe’s leaders must recognize that common deficit rules alone will not guarantee the currency union’s survival. When countries such as Italy and Spain fall into a spiral of shrinking output and rising budget deficits, countries with stronger economies must be willing to help, either by transferring funds or by stimulating their own demand.

Currently, that would mean more German spending. [..] The Bundesbank would also need to live with a little more German inflation than the current 2.1 percent. Higher prices in Germany would help make other euro- area economies and their exports more competitive, reducing both their current account deficits and Germany’s surplus.

Second, the agreement should give Spain and Greece in particular more time to bring down debts piled up over the past 30 years. Requiring them to slash education, research and development, and other budgets will only stunt their future growth potential. To calm markets concerned about Spain’s deficits, the rest of Europe — Germany again — and the International Monetary Fund would have to provide more bailout funds.

Finally, the pact should acknowledge one of the most immediate requirements for a return to economic expansion: Recapitalization of private sector banks so that they can start providing businesses with more credit. Without that, Europe is doomed to anemic growth and a persistent confidence crisis, no matter what documents its politicians may sign.

Stiglitz in his interview makes two important points. First, “The question of social protection does not have to do with the structure of production

It has to do with social cohesion or solidarity. That is why I am also very critical of Draghi’s argument at the European Central Bank that social protection has to be undone. There are no grounds upon which to base that argument. The countries that are doing very well in Europe are the Scandinavian countries. Denmark is different from Sweden, Sweden is different from Norway – but they all have strong social protection and they are all growing.

Hear that, Mr President and Congress? Get your hands off reduction in the social safety net.

And second, that here in the US, “politics is at the root of the problem“:

Most Americans understand that fraud political processes play in fraud outcomes. But we don’t know how to break into that system. Our Supreme Court was appointed by moneyed interests and – not surprisingly – concluded that moneyed interests had unrestricted influence on politics. In the short run, we are exacerbating the influence of money, with negative consequences for the economy and for society. [..]

The diagnosis is that politics is at the root of the problem: That is where the rules of the game are made, that is where we decide on policies that favor the rich and that have allowed the financial sector to amass vast economic and political power. The first step has to be political reform: Change campaign finance laws. Make it easier for people to vote – in Australia, they even have compulsory voting. Address the problem of gerrymandering. Gerrymandering makes it so that your vote doesn’t count. If it does not count, you are leaving it to moneyed interests to push their own agenda. Change the filibuster, which turned from a barely used congressional tactic into a regular feature of politics. It disempowers Americans. Even if you have a majority vote, you cannot win.

The Europeans may well be the “game changers” because the election of their politicians doesn’t hinge on campaign contributions, long drawn out primaries or a rigid two party system that has degenerated into a lack of political choice. We need to kill the fairy once and for all and put governance in the hands of the American people.

Paul Craig Roberts on The Demise of the US Economy



RTAmerica  |   October 08, 2010  

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury

during President Reagan’s first term.



September Jobs Report Reveals America’s Emerging Third World Economy

Paul Craig Roberts, October 08, 2010

U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt… Again

Bernanke

Calling it “basically no more than five rectangular strips of paper,” Fed chairman Ben Bernanke illustrates how much “$200”

is actually worth.
Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion

WASHINGTON-The U.S. economy ceased to function this week after unexpected existential remarks by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke shocked Americans into realizing that money is, in fact, just a meaningless and intangible social construct.

What began as a routine report before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday ended with Bernanke passionately disavowing the entire concept of currency, and negating in an instant the very foundation of the world’s largest economy.

“Though raising interest rates is unlikely at the moment, the Fed will of course act appropriately if we…if we…” said Bernanke, who then paused for a moment, looked down at his prepared statement, and shook his head in utter disbelief. “You know what? It doesn’t matter. None of this-this so-called ‘money’-really matters at all.”

“It’s just an illusion,” a wide-eyed Bernanke added as he removed bills from his wallet and slowly spread them out before him. “Just look at it: Meaningless pieces of paper with numbers printed on them. Worthless.”

According to witnesses, Finance Committee members sat in thunderstruck silence for several moments until Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) finally shouted out, “Oh my God, he’s right. It’s all a mirage. All of it-the money, our whole economy-it’s all a lie!”

[snip]

U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt

As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion

February 16, 2010

Bernanke

Calling it “basically no more than five rectangular strips of paper,” Fed chairman Ben Bernanke illustrates how much “$200”

is actually worth.

WASHINGTON-The U.S. economy ceased to function this week after unexpected existential remarks by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke shocked Americans into realizing that money is, in fact, just a meaningless and intangible social construct.

What began as a routine report before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday ended with Bernanke passionately disavowing the entire concept of currency, and negating in an instant the very foundation of the world’s largest economy.

“Though raising interest rates is unlikely at the moment, the Fed will of course act appropriately if we…if we…” said Bernanke, who then paused for a moment, looked down at his prepared statement, and shook his head in utter disbelief. “You know what? It doesn’t matter. None of this-this so-called ‘money’-really matters at all.”

“It’s just an illusion,” a wide-eyed Bernanke added as he removed bills from his wallet and slowly spread them out before him. “Just look at it: Meaningless pieces of paper with numbers printed on them. Worthless.”

According to witnesses, Finance Committee members sat in thunderstruck silence for several moments until Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) finally shouted out, “Oh my God, he’s right. It’s all a mirage. All of it-the money, our whole economy-it’s all a lie!”

[snip]

Liberal Media Bias? Into The Belly of the Beast

We continue to hear from the strains of Right Wing Hate Radio programming to the musings in conservative rags such as the Washington Times that the media has a Liberal Bias to the stories they cover.  

The Neo-Con’s whine and cry and complain that the New York Times (to a conservative, synonymous with George Soros’ personal newspaper), CNN, The Washington Post, USA Today, BBC News, NPR, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and on and on, are nothing more than the mouthpieces of the dangerous liberal movement in our country!  The Wingnut set decries these media outlets for only giving us one side, TEH LIBERAL SIDE, of any story.

Well, lets once again check into the world of teh Librul Media and see exactly what they have on tap for us.  

Today we will venture into that No-Repulican-Man’s Land of The George Soros New York Times and see what those bastions of Liberal Media claptrap have up their devious progressive sleeves.

Hmmmmm, let’s see.  A story about the South Korean leader.  Nope, nothing to bash Bush or konservatives about in there.  Ok, next story!  This one compares and contrasts Senator’s Obama and McCain in a story by Michael Cooper and Larry Rohter entitled:

Well, No Kidding?

More than 80 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, the highest such number since the early 1990s, according to a new survey.

This according to a CBS – New York Times poll released yesterday (Thursday).

No shit?  Maybe we have been Yelling Loud Enough! Somebody is listening.

The people of this country ARE really beginning to pay attention and it couldn’t come at a better time!  

With national elections only 7 months away, the wheels are falling off the Republican propaganda wagon at a good time for Americans.  Yes, even the Republican-Americans that don’t even realize it.  

From CNN:

The CBS News-New York Times poll released Thursday showed 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.” That was up from 69 percent a year ago, and 35 percent in early 2002.

To borrow from Ricky Ricardo, “Bushie, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do.”  Yet, I don’t think anyone is listening anymore, Bushie.

No, not even to the “FEAR, BE AFRAID, TERRAHRISTS IN YOUR CORN FLAKES,” or even the old standby of “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century” distortion of world policies that Bush wants to sell to you and I.  

His continuous insult to over a billion Muslims around the world by repeatedly speaking of Islam, fascism and terror in the same breath is only upstaged by his domestic slash and burn policies that are beginning to weigh down so hard on the entire population of the United States that even the most staunch of his backers are now backing away.

The only ideological struggle we are having in this 21st century is neo-con greed vs. the good of the people.

It’s getting scary for Americans. From $70K to assistance from the food bank

I know that our fine, upstanding, Corporation assisting Bush Administration is assuring us that this whole credit / housing market mess is just a “blip” on the US economic screen, and that all the “indicators” still project a strong economy, but Americans just don’t seem to be feeling it.

From CNN:

When she was laid off in February, Patricia Guerrero was making $70,000 a year. Weeks later, with bills piling up and in need of food for her family, this middle-class mother did something she never thought she would do: She went to a food bank.

Credit Crunch is getting deeper in US

I was doing my usual perusing of the foreign newspaper and media websites (this is how I get the real news without that well known BushCo bias) and I came across an article at BBC.co.uk that caught my attention.

The credit crunch has hit the US economy hard. From Wall Street to Main Street, loans that looked rock-solid a year ago now look shaky.

And the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, is throwing away the rule book to contain the effects.

  My emphasis.

That is a pretty strong statement.  The Federal Reserve is Throwing Away The Rule Book to contain the effects.

There is more.

Economic News: Things You Should Know

I thought that with all the discussion regarding the US economy recently, and after the Bear Stearns fire sale to J.P. Morgan, it might be a good time to look at what is going on in America, overall.

Now, remember!  Presnit Bush sez that we are in a bit of a rough patch, but that all the leading indicators show a robust economy!  Or somes such drivel.

Unemployment Claims Surge In Latest Week

New filings for unemployment claims rose more than expected last week, matching the highest level since 2005, according to a report released Thursday by the Labor Department.

According to the report, 378,000 people filed for unemployment for the first time in the week ended March 15, up 22,000 from a revised 356,000 reported in the previous week.

The 378,000 reading, which is subject to revision, matched the number reported for the week ended Jan. 26. New jobless claims last exceeded that number on Oct. 1, 2005 when they hit 385,000.

A consensus of economists polled by Briefing.com had expected to see initial jobless claims to rise by 4,000 to 360,000.

The level of new jobless claims can be used as a recession indicator. “I think it confirms that we’re in a recession, or at least in a period of negative growth,” said Ethan Harris, chief U.S. economist for Lehman Brothers.

Have you ever noticed that since the Bush administration has come into office (Thanks again, SCOTUS!) that when a number is adjusted, it is always worse than when first reported?  Coincidence, I’m sure.

Corporate Wingnut Welfare. You as an individual simply don’t count.

Just a short note to everyone regarding the buyout of Bear Stearns by the American government, er, J.P. Morgan.  

Yes, I know you heard that J.P. Morgan bought them for approximately $2.00 per share.  The stock for this company was trading one year ago today at $159.36 per share.

The stock was trading for $62.00 one week ago today.

The stock opened today at $3.20 per share. That is at an upside to the discounted price that J.P. Morgan paid.  J.P. Morgan was guaranteed the money to purchase Bear Stearns by the US Fed.  Guaranteed. The. Money. By the US Government.

Market insanity continues. Bear Stearns to sell to JP Morgan. If they can.

This is so important for all of us to digest right now.

A major financial player in the United States, whom about one week ago trotted their CEO out to tell everyone that their business was solid, only to have the bottom drop out on their stock prices due to the reality of their financial problems coming to the forefront last Wednesday.

From the Wall Street Journal, today:

Bear Stearns Cos. was closing in on a deal Sunday afternoon to sell itself to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., as worries deepened that the financial crisis of confidence could spread if Bear failed to find a buyer by Monday morning.

People familiar with the discussions said all sides were pushing hard to complete an agreement before financial markets in Asia open for Monday trading. “None of these things is done until they’re done,” Treasury Department spokeswoman Michele Davis said Sunday afternoon. “But I think everyone’s expectation is sometime in the early evening hopefully” the deal will be done.

Terms of the deal were still being hammered out Sunday afternoon. Reflecting the dire situation at Bear, the company is likely to fetch considerably less on a per-share basis than its stock price of $30 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading Friday at 4 p.m. Last year, the shares hit $170.

One stumbling point appeared to be the amount of risk that J.P. Morgan would absorb in any type of transaction. While J.P. Morgan is eager to snap up some of Bear Stearns assets — such as its prime brokerage business that caters to hedge funds — Chief Executive Officer James Dimon was reluctant to pursue the deal without certain assurances that would protect his firm’s exposure, said people familiar with the matter.

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