Trump Embraces GOP Tax-Cut Orthodoxy

Exclusive: Not even five months into his presidency, Donald Trump has retreated from key populist promises by moving to slash taxes on the rich and throw millions of Americans off health insurance, writes Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

President Trump earned headlines — and worldwide condemnation — for his announcement June 1 that he was pulling the United States from the Paris climate accord, an agreement signed by 195 nations to fight runaway global warming.

President Donald Trump being sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

Just a week later, however, Trump attracted almost no attention when he rejected another important Paris accord — this one to fight international tax avoidance by multinational corporations.

The landmark agreement, signed by more than 70 countries, including members of the European Union, India and China, sets certain minimum standards for tax treaties. In particular, it curbs the abusive practices of companies that manipulate the flow of their income between subsidiaries to take advantage of low tax rates in jurisdictions like Luxembourg, where secret tax rulings have helped hundreds of multinational firms drastically reduce their payments.

One such firm was Amazon, which candidate Donald Trump accused of “getting away with murder tax-wise,” before he abandoned his populist pretenses. This March, a U.S. tax court judge upheld as legal a $1.5 billion tax dodge by the online retailer, which developed an initiative called Project Goldcrest to shift billions of dollars of profits into Luxembourg.

After the second Paris no-show, critics denounced the Trump administration for once again abdicating its responsibilities. “By retreating from the agreement at this point, the U.S. is forfeiting leadership in yet another forum,” said Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition.

But Gascoigne had it wrong. Trump is leading — in the opposite direction. In late April, he signed an executive order seeking to delay or suspend any significant tax regulations issued by the Obama administration in 2016 that “impose an undue financial burden on United States taxpayers.”

Experts pointed out that the chief targets of Trump’s order were rules imposed by President Obama to make it tougher for American companies to move headquarters abroad to pay lower U.S. taxes. These rules helped kill a merger last year between U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and an Irish company, Allergan, which was driven by the prospect of saving tens of billions of dollars in U.S. taxes.

Even without its merger, Pfizer managed last year to keep $194 billion in profits offshore, with the help of 181 subsidiaries in various tax havens, according to U.S. PIRG. Apple beat even that record, reportedly avoiding more than $65 billion in U.S. taxes by parking $215 billion in profits offshore. A 2014 study of 307 large American companies determined that they had collectively stashed two trillion dollars abroad.

Tax avoidance by multinational firms costs the United States Treasury roughly $190 billion a year, according to new estimates published by the World Institute for Development Economics Research.

Rates of corporate tax avoidance are soaring. A 2014 study by Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the London School of Economics, estimated that a fifth of all U.S. corporate profits are now booked in offshore tax havens. That represented “a tenfold increase since the 1980s,” Zucman observed. “Over the last 15 years, the effective corporate tax rate of US companies has declined from 30 to 20 percent, and about two-thirds of this decline can be attributed to increased profit-shifting to low-tax jurisdictions.”

Individuals Evade Taxes, Too

Zucman also estimated—as a lower bound—that wealthy U.S. households had parked about $1.2 trillion in cash, stocks, and bonds in foreign tax havens. Counting art, jewelry, gold, real estate and other real assets, would almost certainly multiply that number, he added.

A demonstrator holds a sign at the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 20, 2017. (Photo: Chelsea Gilmour)

These estimates are highly uncertain, of course, since owners generally don’t disclose such holdings to the authorities, and “strikingly, more than 20 percent of the world’s cross-border equities have no identifiable owner,” Zucman noted. But the notorious “Panama Papers” leak, as well as leaked documents from Luxembourg and Swiss banks, make Zucman and other researchers confident that tax avoidance and illegal evasion by the ultra-rich are flourishing as never before.

A great deal of tax evasion goes on simply through non-reporting of income, without the use of foreign banks or tax shelters. A reputable 2011 study of America’s “underground economy” estimated that nearly a fifth of reportable income was not, in fact, disclosed to the IRS. The loss to the Treasury from such cheating amounts to a staggering $500 billion annually, equal to all non-military discretionary federal spending combined.

Instead of combating such abuses, President Trump and Congressional Republicans are doing everything in their power to cut tax rates on the rich and undercut enforcement of existing tax laws.

The Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act, for example, is a $700 billion tax cut for the rich dressed up as an alternative to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Forty percent of the tax savings would accrue to the top one percent of earners, according to a study by the Tax Policy Center.

Trump’s proposal to scrap the estate tax would benefit only the very wealthiest individuals — about 5,500 per year — whose estates exceed the $5.5 million federal exemption enough to be taxable. Many of the prospective beneficiaries, of course, are the same billionaires who lavish so much money on GOP candidates and political action committees.

“In a major jolt of support for President Trump, the powerful political network overseen by conservative billionaire Charles Koch is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign to drive Trump’s tax plan through Congress,” USA Today reported in May. The Kochs’ network, which pools contributions from 550 super-rich donors, “plan(s) to spend $300 million to $400 million on policy and political campaigns ahead of the 2018 elections,” the paper said.

More Tax Cuts

Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan also propose to slash tax rates on personal business income, from a top rate of 39.6 percent to as little as 15 percent. The plan, if passed, would cost the Treasury nearly $2 trillion over the next decade, while a major share of the benefits would go to households with incomes of more than $1 million a year (including Donald Trump), according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin

The plan would also encourage widespread tax avoidance by individuals who would try to reclassify their salaries as “business income” to pay lower rates.

The IRS, for its part, would be nearly powerless to stop such abuses. Over the past five years, the New York Times reports, “congressional Republicans have taken out their anti-tax wrath on the Internal Revenue Service, cutting its budget by nearly $1 billion, reducing its staff by about 17,000, and even threatening to impeach its chief.”

Their goal is not to reform the IRS but to cripple it so wealthy tax evaders have nothing to fear. The agency has lost 5,000 revenue agents and investigators since 2012, allowing numerous cases of suspected fraud to go unchecked and tens of billions of dollars in revenue to go uncollected.

“I’m appalled, that’s all I can say,” said Lawrence B. Gibbs, who served as IRS Commissioner under President Reagan from 1986 to 1989. In light of the nation’s challenges, he added, “the one thing people ought to agree on is that we should have a revenue system that works and works well.”

Most Americans do indeed agree, even if Republican legislators and President Trump do not. The latest Pew Research Center survey found that six in 10 Americans were bothered “a lot” by the failure of some corporations and wealthy people to pay their fair share of taxes. Reflecting that sentiment, 56 percent of respondents said the federal tax system is unfair, the highest recorded in two decades.

Perhaps more surprisingly, Americans also feel in general that they are not overtaxed. There’s a good reason for that: Americans have one of the lowest tax burdens of any developed country. Of 36 developed nations, only Korea, Chile, and Mexico tax a smaller share of their total national income.

We’ve come a long way in the two years since economist and columnist Paul Krugman, while harboring no illusions about candidate Trump, praised his professed “willingness to raise taxes on the rich” and his “positive words about universal health care.” Along with most of his other promises, Trump shelved those popular notions when he took office. Today, the billionaire tax dodger pursues only the most orthodox of all Republican agendas: make the rich richer, at the expense of everyone else.

Jonathan Marshall is a regular contributor to Consortiumnews.com.

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67 comments for “Trump Embraces GOP Tax-Cut Orthodoxy

  1. mike k
    June 17, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    There is no crime too dark for the Mafia of the Rich to engage in. On the bright(?) side, these greedy thieves will soon bankrupt the nation, and speed us on to the much needed collapse in our near future. If we can’t find ways to stop these arch criminals, then we are going to have to suffer the consequences. The population at large is the only force that could reign them and deprive them of their power, but the populace is deeply asleep about what is being done to them.

    • mike k
      June 17, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      should read ‘rein them in’.

    • Realist
      June 18, 2017 at 5:29 am

      I fear that if such national bankruptcy occurs the rich will ultimately be made whole and the rest of us will end up paying for it. It seems to be the never-ending story. The rich have an aphorism they truly believe. You’ve heard it in various forms. Briefly, it is that there are fortunes to be made during any major calamity. There are numerous corollaries, such as, behind every great fortune lies a great crime.

      • mike k
        June 18, 2017 at 7:30 am

        Yes. The Shock Doctrine. How to prosper by destroying other’s lives.

        • Gregory Herr
          June 18, 2017 at 7:12 pm

          This is what people care about…doing right by each other in communities and society at large.
          http://youtu.be/Uf3gElSFUSY

  2. June 17, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Starvation is a serious motivator…with what our government is intending to do to us, starvation, freezing and sickness are the most likely forecast for the bottom 80 MILLION of US citizens…people will get motivated then, if not now…wake up and take your country back people!!!

    • mike k
      June 18, 2017 at 7:35 am

      Will the gradually freezing frogs act any differently than the slowly boiling ones? “Do not go gentle into that good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light…” Or will it all end “not with a bang, but a whimper?”

  3. June 17, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Absolutely it’s necessary to take the country back, there should be massive tax revolt unless these oligarchs are reined in. Trump turned out to be nothing but bluster and bluff, and he’s like putty in the hands of the powermeisters. Charles Koch supported Hillary Clinton in the campaign, but now he’s all for Trump’s tax plan. There is definitely some reckoning coming that’s even worse than the madness we’re seeing now on a daily basis.

  4. Gene Splice
    June 17, 2017 at 9:18 pm

    CLASS WARFARE! The goal is disengagement from any welfarism and the penultimate vanquishing of the poor. Social Darwinism at its most lethal … starve them to death or use them as a pool for extracting their meagre pooled wealth through inflicted social chaos, low education standards, high incarceration numbers and shortened life expectancy. The neo- liberal endgame is drawing into clearer view, yet the populace is still slumbering. I dread what is to pass …. increasing waves of class repression and a resultant revolt from the oppressed. What a tangled web we weave!

    • mike k
      June 17, 2017 at 9:30 pm

      Tangled indeed! But most of us are not the weavers – that would be those who seek to exploit or destroy us.

  5. Joe Tedesky
    June 18, 2017 at 12:13 am

    All through the 2016 presidential campaign I could have cared less to seeing Donald Trump’s tax returns, but now after reading Jonathan Marshall’s article here, I’m dying to see what secrets if any Trump’s tax returns hold. I’m starting to believe that Trump has enough to hide that for those who are in the know he is very easily marked a patsy for compromise. Why would this be so hard to believe, when in real life actuality the super rich will spend their money on the grandest scale donating to political campaigns only to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, while being the same elite people who are the biggest beneficiaries of our corrupted governments treasury.

    So now disgruntled Trump voters can meet the disappointed Obama voters, and talk commonalities. Could this be where the two rival factions in America come together? If so, then where or who will represent this merger of the two political poles? Seriously, someone in Washington got to love us poor slobs.

    • Realist
      June 18, 2017 at 5:22 am

      I think you’re on to something with your last point. Certainly all the economically stressed Southerners (the GOP base) don’t cast their votes to see the rich get ever more tax cuts at their expense. Fact is, they are systematically lied to. They are made promises based on their “social” conservatism, all the red ink in the budget which threatens economic stability itself, and the prospects of reducing THEIR tax burdens. But once the pols take office all the “free stuff” is given to the rich and just plain folks are left paying for it.

      The Southerners who presently vote GOP used to see through that. It is why they were part of the FDR alliance. It is why Huey Long was elected governor of Louisiana during the depression on a promise he kept to tax Standard Oil so the state could have decent roads and schools for their children. It’s why he was elected to the senate after his term as governor… and why he was assassinated.

      Nixon radicalised the South by playing the race card at a time when the Civil Rights laws were passed under LBJ, and the South has been solid for GOP corporatism ever since. Can it change back? If the economy and disparity of incomes get bad enough, and IF someone informative and persuasive enough arises in any party–Dems, GOPers, or some third way movement, then maybe. People forget the support that Ross Perot drew in the ’92 campaign in spite of several serious gaffs. I guess, in a way, Donald Trump was supposed to be that man, but we’ve seen how quickly he has folded. He simply turned out to be mostly an easily intimidated egotist, rather than the courageous altruist required to do the job and stand up to the establishment that will threaten and attack any outsider.

      • Dave P.
        June 18, 2017 at 12:48 pm

        Joe Tedesky and Realist: Your ideas are very good, and make sense. However, the reality out there looks different. It seems to me, The South does not look all that different than it used to be in 1863 during the Civil War. Please read General W. T. Sherman’s very interesting long letter written in September, 1863 to Mr. Stanton, the secretary of War. Stanton had asked for his (Sherman’s) opinion as to what should be done with administration of the conquered territories of the South. In the letter, General Sherman describes how the Whites in the South have voluntarily classified themselves into four categories, and what should be done, and much more. I do not see how this merger can be brought about?

        This economic Fiasco this article describes has been in the making, at least since 1981. At that time, democracy still worked somewhat – Democrats, with Tip O’Neil at the head as speaker, still cared for the needs of the working classes to some extent. Now, we have reached at a stage of complete Plutocracy, run by the Wall Street, and the Neocons with total control over media,and the Politicians.

        What I see is, as long as the Empire brings enough booty from all over the globe and keep the masses on steroids – beer, liquor, drugs, bars, Super Sundays with National anthem and exotic entertainment, and all that – everything is just going to be fine. The Masters who rule over the masses plan ahead for next forty or fifty years.

        The only scenario which may lead to awakening of the masses from their stupor is if crash like 2008 happens. But the Wall Street Oligarchy have built just enough safeguards there too. That Crash is not going to happen. They will just keep us on the edge. Economists like Krugman, Stiglitz are opportunist, and collaborators of the Empire. As it is all these outfits who give Nobel Prizes – Peace prize to Obama, Kissinger etc., economics to Krugman, and Stilitz and the like – are just Front Organizations for Global Control, one way or the other.

        Appalling as it is to read the financial crimes outlined in this article, it seems to me that there isn’t going to be any Social Security or Medicare left in its present form – Paul Ryan and the Wall Street Gang has been after it for a long time now. It is going to be privatized – they will start with the partial privatization first.

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 18, 2017 at 10:38 pm

        Realist & Dave P

        Consider how Trump won by spending around a 10% fraction of what Hillary spent on her campaign. Take into account how Bernie Sanders was able to rally record breaking crowds, and to fund his campaign in the age of Citizens United with $27 dollar donations. Who could have imagined after the 2004 presidential campaign that 11 years later that ‘same sex marriage’ would become legal. Although the American political makeup never seems to change no matter what the rhetoric, the American public still wants something better. All it will take is a candidate, or better yet a new political movement headed by that certain special someone, and with America’s ever changing demographics, everything could be turned upside down upon it’s head.

        So far Trump looks to be a joke. Hillary is a has been, and her shelf life is long over do. Biden is going to age severely as he runs for office, if he should choose to run for president. Rand Paul like his dad, is in the wrong party. Tulsi Gabbard in my mind, has what it takes, but she too is in the wrong party…at least for the moment. So the field for this special someone does look pretty bleak, but wasn’t Obama a blast out of nowhere? So any things possible, or so it would seem.

        The hardest nut to crack will be the corporate media, but if a good popular movement were to be born from all this madness, it would be hard to delay it’s maturity. Although my forecast and analogy is based a lot on the word ‘if’, and often I have been wrong, but what I’m suggesting isn’t that far from impossible, it’s just as they say at the race track, ‘it’s a long shot’.

        • Realist
          June 18, 2017 at 11:52 pm

          I don’t see the North and South holding hands singing kumbayah on matters of race or religion, but if the economy crashes as so many predict, if the banks and investment firms collapse, if more people lose their homes and can’t send their kids to college, if the jobs don’t return, and the social safety nets are gutted to appease the gods of war, voters across the entire country will start looking for the next FDR.

          That someone will have to go farther even than Bernie Sanders and not just reform the banks, healthcare, higher education and other problems that require the infusion of money, he or she will have to stop the wars, stop the weapons developments, and bring the tens of thousands of troops back home from the 900+ military bases. Doing the latter will eradicate most of the annual trillion dollar deficit. Sure, the process will have to be gradual, but someone sane has to get it started.

          Rather than squander most of our revenues on weapons development and stockpiling, why not join China and Russia in expanding world wide trade and invest in new infrastructure, like modern airports, shipping terminals, high-speed rail, an ice-free Northwest passage kept open by a fleet of shiny new icebreakers, and actually build that bridge across the Bering Strait to link North America to the New Silk Road? Nicaragua plans a joint project with China to build a larger, updated version of the Panama Canal to link the Atlantic and Pacific. Why could the United States not cooperate with Nicaragua instead of trying to sabotage everything they want to do?

          The United States doesn’t have to control everything in the world but it can improve the standard of living for all through our participation in such world-wide plans. This attitude of “if we don’t run it, it ain’t gonna happen” has got to stop or America will continue to slide into banana republic status. I thought that was the notion Trump was pushing during the campaign when he said he was going to make so many deals that we’d be overwhelmed by all the “winning.” I think America can jointly get behind the right leader. There have been several recent presidents from both parties elected by landslides, so it can happen, especially if the focus is on peace and prosperity rather than identity politics and social engineering.

          Just tossing that out even if the country is not ready for it yet.

          • Dave P.
            June 19, 2017 at 1:10 am

            Realist, You have made very good points. All you have outlined could be done – if only U.S. Foreign Policy is not made by Neocons in Washington, and in Jerusalem.

          • Joe Tedesky
            June 19, 2017 at 1:37 am

            This divide we have in America is a cooked up hoax on the American people. When it comes down to it economic matters will drive the citizens more to the middle. Bernie came close in some ways to addressing a common middle ground on economics, but Trump stool the show because of his business successes.

            My dream would be a ‘grassroots up’ surge by all of the people from all over the world could rise to the occasion and make humanitarian work be the number one priority. When you say it will never be done, then it will never be done. The question still remains; how to get governments to be for the people?

          • Skip Scott
            June 19, 2017 at 10:12 am

            Amen Realist. From your mouth to God’s ears! I think if you define “the country” as the citizenry, we’re more than ready for it. We just need a way to subdue the government power brokers, and make them serve rather than rule.

        • Dave P.
          June 19, 2017 at 12:58 am

          Very good observations Joe, There is a chance, Tulsi Gabbard, given the events develop favorably, could get a chance to go at it. As I wrote in my comments further down, Tulsi Gabbard has to go through Democratic primaries. Given the control of Media, and Finance by the Wall Street Oligarchy, it will be very difficult to start a third Party. The Genuine Progressives will have to get busy to make it happen – to draft Tulsi Gabbard for this run in the Democratic Primary. How to go about it should be discussed and acted on. Money is no problem. It can be raised with small donations. There are lot of young people out there looking for a change. She is young, dynamic, intelligent, articulate and smart. And has solid convictions, and principles. I have watched some of her town hall meetings in Hawaii on youtube. Her constituents seem to show much affection for her.

          There will be fierce opposition from the entire Ruling Establishment.

          • Joe Tedesky
            June 19, 2017 at 1:50 am

            Tulsi needs to get the same agents who help promote Steve Harvey…that guy is going to have enough to have his own network. Yeah, I mean it won’t be easy, but what politician with any youth seems to you to be hopeful. If only for appearances do we need to continue to still have presidential candidates we should try and make it look good.

            I might add we are living in the age, whereas maybe we shouldn’t be looking at D.C. as much as we should be looking towards Hollywood. Donald Trump turned the whole meaning of Reality Show into a whole new meaning…so who’s next?

    • mike k
      June 18, 2017 at 7:40 am

      Rand Paul? An uncertain choice. Tulsi Gabbard? Can she win?

      • Dave P.
        June 18, 2017 at 2:11 pm

        mike: I think Tulsi Gabbard can win, if she can get on the list as a Candidate in the Democratic Party Primaries. She is articulate, smart, and authentic. The only way for her is to work through Democratic Party, and win. There is no scenario exists under which a third Party can be built in U.S., where all Media, and Finance is controlled by Wall Street Oligarchy.

  6. June 18, 2017 at 4:45 am

    I got news for Consortium News.
    When you can’t afford to pay the premiums for Obamacare and you can’t afford to pay YOUR portion of the bill, YOU effectively DON’T HAVE health insurance. The Paying People couldn’t even use the Obamacare they had to have by law.
    THEREFORE THEY HAD “NO” INSURANCE!

    • Skip Scott
      June 18, 2017 at 12:15 pm

      JCLincoln-

      That’s a very valid point and I doubt you’ll find many dissenters here. There was nothing affordable about the affordable care act, and it was getting worse each year it continued. Yet Trump’s plan is no plan either. Single payer is the only thing that makes any sense. However, I also fear the nanny state mentality that allows people to take no personal responsibility for maintaining their health. Imagine the money saved if people would get a little exercise and quit eating junk food. A possible answer might be to tax junk foods at a high rate, and maybe an obesity tax.

      • Gregory Herr
        June 18, 2017 at 7:22 pm

        It’s funny how legislation and military operations get named.

    • Realist
      June 18, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      What you say is true and what Skip Scott says is also true. We know that Obamacare was a sop to the insurance companies, is unsustainable, and actually makes healthcare unaffordable to many working class folks. It was probably the first indicator that Obama was really a Manuchurian candidate when he immediately countered his campaign rhetoric on the matter and took not only single-payer but any government plan, such as making Medicare available to all who would want it, off the table. The Democrats ran against the Republican record but then embraced their policy once in office… on just about everything. Hence, President Trump.

  7. backwardsevolution
    June 18, 2017 at 4:51 am

    Re Panama Papers:

    “What we have not yet seen is any U.S. individual implicated in the leak, which seems unlikely given our stable of international wealth. But one reason why Americans haven’t yet been implicated is that they already have a perfectly good place for their tax avoidance schemes: right here in the United States.

    While several developed countries are already moving to reduce the anonymity behind shell companies, including a public registry of “beneficial ownership” information in the United Kingdom and a directive to collect similar information throughout the European Union, the United States has resisted such transparency. According to recent research, the United States is the second-easiest country in the world to obtain an anonymous shell corporation account. (The first is Kenya.) You can create one in Delaware for your cat.

    While we force foreign financial institutions to give up information on accounts held by U.S. taxpayers through the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2010, we don’t reciprocate by complying with international disclosure requirements standardized by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and agreed to by 97 other nations. As a result, the U.S. is becoming one of the world’s foremost tax havens.

    Several states – Delaware, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming – specialize in incorporating anonymous shell corporations. Delaware earns between one-quarter and one-third of their budget from incorporation fees, according to Clark Gascoigne of the FACT Coalition. The appeal of this revenue has emboldened small states, and now Wyoming bank accounts are the new Swiss bank accounts.”

    Read on for the ugly truth. Article is entitled “This is much worse than the Panama Papers: How America became a world leader in tax avoidance” (from Salon).

  8. June 18, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Trump or any President does not have the power to initiate his or her policies. Trump, as Obama found out, has to deal with realpolitik. The fact he did not do a good job of creating a coalition of oligarchs and, at the same time, seemed to oppose the Deep State meant he was as no other President has ever been to getting a series of offers he could not refuse. Congress whether it is run by Democrats or Republicans, has little interest in opposing the aristocracy in any way. It always meets the needs of the most powerful forces and almost completely ignores the need of the average non-wealthy person. While we have some cosmetic democratic qualities we are not “a democracy” we are an oligarchy in practice. What “the people” want is not what they will ever get under this regime. Instead the government will pretend to act in the people’s interest and the people, grumbling all the way, will always believe that what they are getting is what they actually want–or at least enough of them to maintain public order. Consciously or unconsciously they know that it is better to go along to get along–the alternative would be ugly. But, the Berlin Wall did fall so there’s hope.

    • mike k
      June 18, 2017 at 9:53 am

      The US Empire shows no signs of going peacefully. And we have no Gorbachev to midwife such a miracle. I am afraid we are in for a very violent and painful ending to the hubris of America.

  9. stephen l kelley
    June 18, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    no one should be surprised at trump’s plans to coddle the rich even further. i get so upset when i hear the term populism used to explain his success at being elected. my god, this man is a super wealthy man who even boasts about and flaunts his wealth. he is anything but a populist. the common man is not his concern. his priorities are for the betterment of the wealth elite. no one with an ounce of common sense should be surprised at his iniatives. populist my ass!

  10. backwardsevolution
    June 18, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    The bottom are kept happy and placated by welfare, disability, food stamps, cell phones, subsidized housing and Medicaid. If those benefits were removed, there’d be a riot in….three, two, one. Many of these people are non-conformists who do not care if they work, do not aspire to move up the ladder, or have simply given up trying. The oligarchs know they would rip the place apart if these things were taken away.

    Then there is the slowly disappearing middle class whose jobs were offshored to Asia over the last few decades. Unions were crushed, or union leaders bought off to keep their mouths shut. Illegals and massive amounts of immigrantion serve to keep their wages down. These people do aspire, they conform/follow the rules, dutifully go into debt to send their children to college/university, only to find that there are no jobs and they’re now seriously in debt. These people follow the herd and easily buy into the propaganda of whatever bubble or Ponzi scheme is being pushed at the moment. They are trying desperately to stay in the middle class, but many are slipping through the cracks.

    Then there is the professional/administrator class, educated, live in nice houses, drive nice cars, fairly secure in their jobs. These people do not want to see the whole thing implode, otherwise they’d be out on the street too. Highly conformist. They mostly keep quiet about the oligarchs they work for, provide cover for them, justify their behavior. They pay a huge chunk of the income taxes collected, but have enough disposable income left over to play the stock market or the bubble of the month, and generally benefit.

    Then we have the class of people who really do move governments. They are the planners, the schemers, laws are changed in their favor, monopolies awarded. This is the welfare-for-the-rich class. And, yes, it really is welfare because without this “invisible hand”, which is nothing more than favoritism, they’d be lined up at the soup kitchen too. These are the people who demand that the illegal flows of aliens/H1-B’s continue because they benefit from it. They are in favor of globalization for this reason too. They hire the lobbyists, buy off the politicians, and then hightail it to their tax consultant offices. Many of these people were insolvent after the 2008 crisis hit, but were bailed out.

    There is no “invisible hand”. What we have is not capitalism (where there are no monopolies, where there is good competition), but crony capitalism. Nothing more than cartels. This so-called invisible hand is the hand that reaches deep into every politician’s pocket, like putting some money in a vending machine.

    Then there are all the layers of highly-paid people who keep it all going: the media, the intelligence agencies, the war machine, the Federal Reserve, etc. All necessary to protect the plundering both here and abroad.

    It’s a completely manufactured and engineered machine.

    • Dave P.
      June 18, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      backwardsevolution: Excellent analysis. You have described very accurately, the whole current socio-Economic scene, in the U.S. You are right on the mark : description of the classes,crony capitalism, immigration, aliens/H1-B visas, and all that.

      In this Capitalist System, the people who run it have complete control over all Immigration Policy making. During Vietnam war in 1960’s, the industries were humming. Supposedly, there was shortage of Engineers or may be They (Industrialists) were just cooked it up to keep the wages down. Second scenario is most likely true. They started giving green cards to people like me left and right. I got mine – after my first graduate degree – just in a few months. Mostly, all this immigration is to keep the wages down. But there are other reasons too. It seemed to me, the People at the top came to the view that Americans – with good life they have – are getting too lazy, and do not work hard enough – can’t be exploited as much. They want to bring people from outside who will work harder, will be more subservient.

      • backwardsevolution
        June 18, 2017 at 4:29 pm

        Dave P. – yes, you are also correct to say that many Americans just came to expect that they were owed a living. I’ve worked with many people who were always – always – surprised when they were called on the carpet. Me, I could see it coming a mile away. Too many people do take advantage of good situations, and they ruin it for everyone else.

        There has to be a balance. When workers get too uppity and all mighty, the pendulum shifts in the other direction. Now we have the opposite extreme where employers can dictate hours (maybe three four-hour shifts per week), no benefits, no nothing. Jobs shipped off to Asia. The voters try to hit back by electing people like Trump who promises to bring the jobs back.

        And so it goes, back and forth.

        I truly believe that Trump wanted to help the middle class. It’s just that the bottom (and there are a lot of people in the bottom) and the top (where the money is) are fighting him. They both want to maintain their positions. They’re quite happy with the way things are.

        The top keep the bottom involved in identity politics (race, religion, gender issues), dividing the masses, nothing gets accomplished, except while all this drama is playing out, the rich continue to loot.

        For the wealthy, you couldn’t come up with a better system if you tried. But, of course, they have tried, haven’t they? This has all been manufactured and engineered, all of it, and the gears are working overtime to make sure it stays that way.

        The pendulum will shift back again. It always does. The rich will overplay their hand (which they’re doing at the moment), screaming out “populism” when they’re attacked, and the masses will eventually rise up.

        Meanwhile, the country gets destroyed. Culture is lost, nothing holds the country together. This is going to be one for the history books. You won’t need your old history books, Dave. What’s going to play out is going to be so much more interesting.

        • Dave P.
          June 18, 2017 at 6:28 pm

          Backwardsevolution: Everything you wrote is on the mark – an excellent understanding of this whole Socio-Economic System here, and the psychology of the masses, and the Masters. Your observations that both the Top, and the Bottom -and there are a lot in the bottom as you said – are fighting Trump are true. This is all according to the plan of the Neocon led Neoliberal Global Economic System they want to impose. This immigration from the south of the border is part of the plan too.

          The whole System is manufactured and Engineered . Absolutely, by the Neoliberal Globalists. This very Top Class looks at the Planet from the air. Their eyes see all these resources on the Globe: Oil, Iron, diamonds, Gold, all these precious metals, and the People – all this humanity, this resource. They want to exploit all, and get still more rich. Preserving Cultures, humans needs and human welfare, these thoughts never enter their minds. Humans are just a source, like any other resource, to be exploited. They – The Top (.001%) are clever people; they throw at masses at the bottom a few crumbs, and keep them on leash.

          There are enough trained professionals here. The professionals they import is also by Globalists’ design. Most of this professional class becomes the vocal supporter of the Globalists. They like to be patronized. You have seen this Fareed Zakaria of CNN, the Scion of Prominent Bombay Muslim Family – mouthing all this garbage, the Masters tell him to do. He loves to be patronized – made him a member of Foreign Relations Council.

          Depressing as it is, whatever is left of the culture you mentioned will be no more – in the near future. Trump to save his skin, will do whatever they tell him to do. In addition, they are going to destroy all – Social Security, Medicare -as we know it – which was slowly built starting with the time of FDR.

          • Dave P.
            June 18, 2017 at 7:16 pm

            Correction to my comments: “. . .Humans are just a resource like any other resource to be expoited.”

    • Realist
      June 18, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      Beautifully accurate and concise description of the current operating system for the American state and American society. Of course, it is not sustainable and, like any pyramid scheme, carries the seeds for its own destruction. That’s why the guys at the top want to control the rest of the world as well, so they have other places to exploit, and hide out, after they’ve exhausted and pauperized the United States.

    • Gregory Herr
      June 18, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      The system of income distribution is a system of buffers.

  11. backwardsevolution
    June 18, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    I should say that, unlike the bottom, the middle class generally keep their mouths shut. They’ve got families, bills to pay, and they’re working two and three jobs and using their credit cards just to maintain the illusion. They don’t have time to riot (yes, you have to have time to riot), and they’re too conformist to angrily speak up, too embarrassed to say anything. Because the media don’t spell out what’s been happening in simple-to-understand English, these people feel it is their fault that they’ve failed. White middle class males are offing themselves in big numbers now. These people actually did work hard, did try, and they bought into it all. I guess they felt life would offer more than just a service job.

    • Bob Van Noy
      June 18, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      We’re living in the moment of “Disaster Capitalism”. I have often recommended to readers here “Welcome To The Poisoned Chalice” both books, read in sequence, will adequately explain how negatively controlled economics can quickly disorganize a society. The super irony involved is that, if that society didn’t panic, could shift into neutral, Honestly discuss the Real problem, it could simply Manage its way forward with little consequence. What Germany (Europe) is currently demanding of Greece is unconscionable. Nearly all of the very recent writing and reporting by Michael Hudson is illuminating in this regard. I’ll supply links to follow but I wanted to post this now…

      • Bob Van Noy
        June 18, 2017 at 4:43 pm

        Here is the “about us” page of “The Defend Democracy Press”.

        http://www.defenddemocracy.press/about-us/

      • Bob Van Noy
        June 18, 2017 at 4:46 pm
      • Bob Van Noy
        June 18, 2017 at 4:49 pm
      • backwardsevolution
        June 18, 2017 at 5:11 pm

        Greece has had poor leadership. Lies were told, books were cooked in order to get Greece into the Euro. The northern banks loaned Greece lots of money, too much money. Greece was a poor risk, but the banks took that risk. When the crisis hit, the northern banks got bailed out by the European Central Bank. Sound familiar?

        And Tsipras went along with this!!! What an idiot. He should have let these northern banks twist, he should have done what Iceland did. He should have taken Greece off the Euro, gone back to the Drachma and then devalued the currency. Yes, it would have been a massive heart attack, but not a slow death like the Greek people have been living through. Had Tsipras taken this move, let the debtors who took these big risks take their losses, Greece would have been so much better off. The country would be getting back on their feet by now, and they still would have owned it.

        Instead, their country is being sold to the highest bidder. The Chinese are in there, for crying out loud, buying up their airports, their ports. Selling off their water is being talked about. What a complete disaster.

        Tsipras has had the worst of advice. I hope history is not kind to him. Heads should roll.

        • Dave P.
          June 18, 2017 at 9:12 pm

          I had a very good Greek friend for a ling time. I agree with you completely. It seems like that Tsipras, like some of other Vassal States in E.U. feels good having his pictures taken in Brussels with the Bigwigs.

          • Dave P.
            June 18, 2017 at 9:29 pm

            A correction to the comment: ” . . . Tsipras, like some of the other leaders of Vassal States in E.U, feels good . . . “

          • backwardsevolution
            June 18, 2017 at 11:56 pm

            Dave P. – I think you’re right. “Move in close to Angela, Alex, and smile big.” Click. Completely sucked in and star struck.

            It’s either that or they let him get elected, then blackmailed, threatened or bribed him; in other words, Trump’d him! Why bother paying for a leader; a monkey could have done as good a job.

  12. Drew Hunkins
    June 18, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Focus on Russia, Putin, hacking, Russia, Putin, hacking, hacking, Putin, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Putin, Putin, hacking, Putin, Russia, Putin, hacking…

    Meanwhile…

    • Realist
      June 18, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      Don’t forget his “puppeteering” and his stooge the Donald. Explains EVERYTHING!!

      Hillary’s last hurrah will be… blame the voters. Stupid ingrates! I should have won by 50 percentage points.

  13. ranney
    June 18, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    I was shocked to read that American manufacturers had stashed 2 trillion dollars in tax money overseas.
    I don’t think many people can really get their heads around that figure. Sure a trillion is a lot but so is a billion, so “a trillion here and a trillion there and soon you’re talking about real money” (ha)
    I have a way to show average people the geometric jump it takes to get to a trillion. This is it:

    We all know what a second is, right? So we will be counting in seconds.

    One million seconds equals 12 days
    one Billion seconds equals 32 YEARS
    one Trillion seconds equals 32,000 YEARS!!

    Note the huge jump. 12 days to 32 years from one million to one billion is quite a jump, but 32 years to 32 THOUSAND years is huge! And really no one gets that except mathematicians.
    I have a hard time comprehending that even though I know it’s true. It’s like trying to comprehend space in the universe – it’s hard to grasp. I think of the jump from billion to trillion sort of like the Star Trek show’s jump into hyperspace – one moment you’re in one place in the galaxy and the next you’re someplace else entirely. I know that’s not a scientifically correct analogy, but if I had to visualize it happening that is what I visualize.
    The billions (and soon the trillions) that Trump and the GOP is planning to cut is monumentally huge – it’s much larger really than we can contemplate.

    • Realist
      June 18, 2017 at 6:39 pm

      That’s why infinite expansion of anything (except, as far as we know, the universe writ large) is impossible. Of course, that’s exactly what a capitalist economy is built upon. It needs constant growth and creates debt to fuel the growth. One day the available resources in a finite world cause the whole mechanism to seize up. But neither conservatives nor liberals will ever admit this, since it would put the whole ponzi scheme at risk.

      • Bob Van Noy
        June 19, 2017 at 8:18 am

        Thank you Realist, the Real Limiting Factor is natural resources and workers and that is where one system (economy) might exploit another.

        • Bob Van Noy
          June 19, 2017 at 8:36 am

          Michael Hudson made an important point in his lecture at the New Left Conference this year when he explained that Socialism was basicly National Banking or a National Bank (A Local Bank For Local People). Not a bank for the investment sector.
          I’ve watched “Every Thing Is A Rich Man’s Trick” because of my JFK interests and it didn’t occur to me what the Trick was until Michael Hudson explained it for me. That site now has 4M views, I think because it’s correct.

          https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=U1Qt6a-vaNM

          • backwardsevolution
            June 20, 2017 at 3:23 am

            Bob Van Noy – I watched a part of that video before, but unless you’re ready, it’s hard to take some of that stuff in. I think I’m ready now. Thanks for posting it.

        • Bob Van Noy
          June 19, 2017 at 8:45 am

          Too, one of the salient points that Carroll Quigley (Bill and Hillary’s) teacher at Georgetown University, was exactly this, read “Tragedy And Hope” by Carroll Quigley.

          https://www.amazon.com/Tragedy-Hope-History-World-Time/dp/094500110X

  14. Cal
    June 18, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    I just have to emphasize again what a retard Donald is –as his going after Cuba shows…I want his neos and also dems to take their ‘democracy spreading’ and making America great by creating jobs and shove it up their you know what. I didnt vote for anyone in this election farce so dont accuse me of being a Hillary supporter —-but this clown is nothing more than a dumb honking mule hitched up and plowing for the worse special interest in DC. I admit I had hope that the Donald despite his faults might really drain the swamp.

    In addition to hurting US business it will be doubly devastating on Cubans.
    But don’t take just my word for it

    Trump gives pause to U.S. companies doing business in Cuba

    by Julia Horowitz @juliakhorowitz
    June 16, 2017: 7:03 PM ET

    President Trump said he’s “canceling” Obama’s deal with Cuba. But that agreement was good for a lot of American businesses.

    Many U.S. firms have welcomed the opening of a new market roughly 100 miles from the U.S. coast.

    Now, Trump wants strict enforcement of the tourism ban and will prohibit commerce with Cuban businesses that are owned by military and intelligence services.

    That could hit travel and construction companies, which have started to build a presence in Cuba. And many are speaking out.

    On Friday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce decried the changes.

    “U.S. private sector engagement can be a positive force for the kind of change we all wish to see in Cuba,” Myron Brilliant, the chamber’s head of international affairs, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, today’s moves actually limit the possibility for positive change on the island and risk ceding growth opportunities to other countries that, frankly, may not share America’s interest in a free and democratic Cuba.”

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Cuba’s inaction on human rights is a big reason for the policy shift.

    Caterpillar (CAT), which has long called for the U.S. government to end the trade embargo, also weighed in.

    The maker of heavy equipment has been working to reenter the Cuban market since the Obama administration announced that it would reestablish diplomatic relations in 2014.

    “Caterpillar believes that engagement with Cuba continues to represent a strong opportunity — not just for American businesses, but to serve as a powerful tool for change,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to work closely with policymakers on the best way to accomplish these goals.”

    Many companies in the hospitality industry have already doubled down on development projects, leaving them particularly exposed to the decision.

    Airbnb said it plans to speak with the Trump administration and with Congress in the coming weeks. The startup said it has hosted 560,000 guests in Cuba since April 2015. >>>>

    “Travel from the U.S. to Cuba is an important way to encourage people-to-people diplomacy,” the company said in a statement. “While we are reviewing what this policy could mean for this type of travel, we appreciate that the policy appears to allow us to continue to support Airbnb hosts in Cuba who have welcomed travelers from around the world.”

    Marriott (MAR) noted that the company has invested significant resources to shore up its Cuba operation, with one hotel open and another in the works. It said the effect of Trump’s order may depend on “forthcoming regulations.”

    “We continue to believe that increased travel between the United States and Cuba would serve to strengthen an evolving bilateral relationship, and Marriott remains ready to build on the progress that has been made in the last two years,” the company said.

    American Airlines (AAL) said it’s urging customers planning trips to Cuba to closely watch for updates from the U.S. government.

    “As a global airline, American is committed to continuing to operate service to Cuba,” the company said. “We are reviewing the executive order to understand any potential impacts to our customers or our current service.”

    The carrier has 10 flights from the U.S. to Cuba every day, according to data from the Official Airline Guide.>>>>>>

    And is this not vomit worthy????…… “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Cuba’s inaction on human rights is a big reason for the policy shift. ‘ ..while Trump . like all other politicians bends over and does the donkey for Saudi beheaders.

    • backwardsevolution
      June 19, 2017 at 12:17 am

      Cal – it doesn’t make sense, does it? But we saw Trump and Tillerson turn on a dime re Russia, didn’t we? Remember Tillerson got all indignant over Russia and Crimea, said Russia had to give Crimea back. All I can think of is someone has gotten to the two of them, told them they’re not to improve relations with Cuba. Which is such a shame; that country has suffered enough from U.S. policies.

      Maybe it’s because Cuba is not opening up enough? Insisting on their own people profiting and not the U.S. people (as had been the case previously)? I’ll have to wait and see what some other people have to say about it.

      • Realist
        June 19, 2017 at 7:30 am

        All done to affect the approval ratings. Trump is proving he’s tough on commies. (Never mind that when commies are given the opportunity, they transition to capitalism like Wall Street banksters–see China, Russia and Vietnam as examples).

        Also, I think Trump is trying to win over Marco Rubio in case an impeachment trial makes it to the senate. Rubio leads a band of Hispanic senators (including Menendez of NJ and Cruz of TX) who absolutely loathe the Cuban and Russian governments and want sanctions kept in place against both until the end of time (or until regime change). Trump is sucking up to them.

  15. Roberta
    June 20, 2017 at 11:40 am

    While he gave himself and his buddies a raise by lowering the tax rate for millionaires he gave the rest of us a haircut !!!

  16. ELL
    June 20, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    The one tax cut that should be removed is the one that taxes SOCIAL SECURITY (FEDERAL INCOME TAX)!!!!! A neighbor here in Florida lost her husband recently, no life insurance, paying on a mortgage, can’t afford to run her air conditioner, 80yrs +, $1300 per mo. total income. The idiot that put that tax on social security should be sent to a 3rd world country to live.

  17. Gil
    June 20, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    This article is total propaganda. How about explaining ALL the facts! Our GDP hasn’t seen growth over 3% in almost a decade. How do you want to grow the U.S. economy? By choking businesses even more and enticing them to “stash their cash overseas”? How about lowering the tax rates and letting businesses bring their money back into the United States so they can spend it on infrastructure and research and development, thereby increasing profits, hiring more U.S. workers and lowering the deficit through spurred U.S. economic growth. I see your point though, socialism is great, until you run out of other peoples money to spend. Socialism… so we can all be equally miserable. It’s amazing how you slam the rich in this country, when the rich pay 80% of the taxes in the U.S. Get a clue about capitalism and how it can flourish, if you can get the socialist marxicrats out of the way!

  18. June 20, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    FIRST: The entire tax codes need major revisions eliminating “loop wholes” that help mainly the rich with some that lessen burden on the middle and low income classes. Currently the rich get richer and the middle to lower classes get poorer.
    1. DEATH TAXES: ONLY the rich, $3 million or more, should pay heavy death taxes. The rest of ALL tax payers should NOT pay any death taxes.
    2. INCOME TAXES: The rich should pay MORE taxes than they do now if $1 to $4 million & those over $5 million even more.
    3. People making $25K or less should pay NO taxes.
    4. There should be at least 8 categories of /lower/middle class tax payers.: ie: 26k to $60K 5%; $61K to $100K 8%; $101K to $150K 12%; $151K to $200K 18%; $201K to $600K 24% and $601K to $999K 35%.
    5. Elders 65 & over should pay NO taxes on Medicare if their income is less than $150K.
    6. Social Security should get annual increases based on COLA. Those making $250K income or more NO COLA.

  19. June 21, 2017 at 12:23 am

    Prove it lefty

  20. R J
    June 21, 2017 at 12:27 am

    did u arrive at these numbers because they suit you?

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