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Journal Archives

Slowpoke Toon- Kneejerkin'

Robert Reich- Why we must end the upward pre-distributions to the rich

You often hear inequality has widened because globalization and technological change have made most people less competitive, while making the best educated more competitive.

There’s some truth to this. The tasks most people used to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by computer-driven machines.

But this common explanation overlooks a critically important phenomenon: the increasing concentration of political power in a corporate and financial elite that has been able to influence the rules by which the economy runs.

As I argue in my new book, “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few” (out this week), this transformation has amounted to a pre-distribution upward.


Early Analysis: Donald Trump’s Tax Cut Plan Would Cost at Least $10.8 Trillion

Donald Trump's tax plan, which he debuted today, is, shockingly, not the most carefully crafted document. Mostly, it looks a lot like the arch-conservative proposal Jeb Bush rolled out earlier this month, but with even more implausibly low rates for all—sort of like when a high school kid copies his homework and then changes a few details so the teacher doesn't catch them. Nonetheless, Citizens for Tax Justice, which previously crunched the numbers on who would benefit most from Bush's various reforms, has taken the information Trump provided and worked up a rough estimate of what its effects would be.

First takeaway: The plan would cost at least $10.8 trillion over 10 years. Which is, you know, crazy—that's almost enough to fund three years of our $3.8 trillion federal budget. Not that Donald "Make Mexico Pay for the Wall" Trump is really into policy realism.

Second takeaway: For all of Trump's bluster about making hedge funders pay more in taxes, his plan is just another massive gift to the rich. One third of the benefits would to go the top 1 percent of taxpayers. In some sense, this is more progressive than Bush's plan—the top 1 percent would take home more than half the income gains from his blueprint. But in absolute terms, the rich make out far better in Trump world. The average one-percenter would get a $82,000 cut with Bush, but would upgrade to a yooge $184,000 cut with the Donald. (That said, the numbers aren't 100 percent equivalent—the CTJ analysis didn't account for Bush's corporate tax cuts, whereas it does include the results of Trump's—so take this as a rough guide.)


What does probability mean in your profession?






Toon: They've found Boehner's Replacement

Pot Arrests Up: 1 Every 45 Seconds Last Year

American law enforcement officers arrested one person for marijuana every 45 seconds in 2014, data released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show.

The nearly 701,000 marijuana arrests, about 90 percent for possession alone, reveal an increase in busts for the first time since 2009, despite the spread of more lenient laws and policies.

In 2013, by contrast, cops made about 693,000 arrests for possession, sale or production of marijuana, down from an all-time high of 873,000 in 2007.

It’s unclear why the number of arrests increased last year, particularly given the nationwide sea change in attitudes about the status of marijuana and political actions that decriminalized or abolished penalties for possessing the drug.


End the drug war now

'Duck Dynasty' star, once a Bobby Jindal supporter, now says 'I like Trump'

Has Gov. Bobby Jindal lost the "Duck Dynasty" vote to Donald Trump?

Willie Robertson, a star of the breakout A&E show and CEO of the West Monroe-based Duck Commander, appeared at a Donald Trump rally Friday in Oklahoma where he gave an endorsement of sorts to Trump. After Trump asked Robertson to join him on stage, he asked the star, "Willie, do you love Trump?"

"I do like me some Trump, I've got to admit," Robertson told the crowd at the Oklahoma State Fair. "Here's the deal: We're both successful businessmen. We both have pretty big shows on television. We both have wives that are 1,000 times better looking than us. So I like Trump."

Robertson's appearance raises questions of whether Robertson is still backing the governor of his home state for the GOP presidential nomination. Jindal has appeared on "Duck Dynasty." Robertson has indicated he would support the governor, and he even made a Jindal fundraising pitch via email in June, according to the National Review.


Poor Jindal, can't even buy support anymore.

Sanders struck a chord with crowd in Waukee

WAUKEE, Iowa —Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders struck a chord with the crowd at the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines in Waukee on Sunday.

To a packed auditorium Sanders addressed issues like the economy, income and wealth inequality, climate change and what he called Republican values.

“Their family values mean that women in America should not have the right to control their bodies. I strongly disagree with that. Their views on family values our gay brothers and sisters should not have the right to get married. I strongly disagree with that,” he said.

Moderator and KCCI political analyst Denis Goldford said Sanders did well Sunday.

“Whatever his fortunes might be in Iowa, I think he's got a good reason to feel pretty good after this event,” Goldford said.

more with video


Paul Krugman-The Blackmail Caucus, a.k.a. the Republican Party

John Boehner was a terrible, very bad, no good speaker of the House. Under his leadership, Republicans pursued an unprecedented strategy of scorched-earth obstructionism, which did immense damage to the economy and undermined America’s credibility around the world.

Still, things could have been worse. And under his successor they almost surely will be worse. Bad as Mr. Boehner was, he was just a symptom of the underlying malady, the madness that has consumed his party.

For me, Mr. Boehner’s defining moment remains what he said and did as House minority leader in early 2009, when a newly inaugurated President Obama was trying to cope with the disastrous recession that began under his predecessor.

There was and is a strong consensus among economists that a temporary period of deficit spending can help mitigate an economic slump. In 2008 a stimulus plan passed Congress with bipartisan support, and the case for a further stimulus in 2009 was overwhelming. But with a Democrat in the White House, Mr. Boehner demanded that policy go in the opposite direction, declaring that “American families are tightening their belts. But they don’t see government tightening its belt.” And he called for government to “go on a diet.”

This was know-nothing economics, and incredibly irresponsible at a time of crisis; not long ago it would have been hard to imagine a major political figure making such a statement. Did Mr. Boehner actually believe what he was saying? Was he just against anything Mr. Obama was for? Or was he engaged in deliberate sabotage, trying to block measures that would help the economy because a bad economy would be good for Republican electoral prospects?

We’ll probably never know for sure, but those remarks set the tone for everything that followed. The Boehner era has been one in which Republicans have accepted no responsibility for helping to govern the country, in which they have opposed anything and everything the president proposes.



Why The Most Urgent Civil Rights Cause Of Our Time Is The Supreme Court Itself


The future composition of the Supreme Court is the most important civil rights cause of our time. It is more important than racial justice, marriage equality, voting rights, money in politics, abortion rights, gun rights, or managing climate change. It matters more because the ability to move forward in these other civil rights struggles depends first and foremost upon control of the Court. And control for the next generation is about to be up for grabs, likely in the next presidential election, a point many on the right but few on the left seem to have recognized.

When the next President of the United States assumes office on January 20, 2017, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be nearly 84, Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy will be over 80, and Justice Stephen Breyer will be 78. Although many Justices have served on the Court into their 80s and beyond, the chances for all of these Justices remaining through the next 4 or 8 years of the 45th President are slim. Indeed, the next president will likely make multiple appointments to the Court.

The stakes are high. On non-controversial cases, or cases where the ideological stakes are low, the Justices often agree and are sometimes unanimous. In such cases, the Justices act much like lower court judges do, applying precedents, text, history, and a range of interpretative tools to decide cases. In the most controversial cases, however—those involving issues such as gun rights, affirmative action, abortion, money in politics, privacy, and federal power—the value judgments and ideology of the Supreme Court Justices, and increasingly the party affiliation of the president appointing them, are good predictors of each Justice’s vote.

A conservative like Justice Scalia tends to vote to uphold abortion restrictions, strike down gun restrictions, and view the First Amendment as protecting the right to spend unlimited sums in elections. A liberal like Justice Ginsburg tends to vote the opposite way: to strike down abortion restrictions, uphold gun laws, and view the government’s interest in stopping undue influence of money in elections as justifying some limits on money in politics. This to not to say it is just politics in these cases, or that these Justices are making crassly partisan decisions. They’re not. It is that increasingly a Justice’s ideology and jurisprudence line up with one political party’s positions or another because Justices are chosen for that very reason.

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