Income inequality grows FOUR TIMES
FASTER under Obama than Bush.
In blockbuster poll, Sanders destroys Trump by 13 points
It is high time and long overdue for television networks such as CNN to end their obsession with Trump and report the all-important fact that in most polls, both Hillary Clinton and Sanders would defeat Trump by landslide margins. In the new Quinnipiac poll, Clinton would defeat Trump by 7 percentage points, which is itself impressive and would qualify as a landslide, while the Sanders lead of 13 points would bring a landslide of epic proportions.
It is noteworthy that in this Quinnipiac poll, Sanders runs so much stronger than Clinton against Trump. It is also noteworthy and important that both Sanders and Clinton run so far ahead of Trump in general election match-up polling. And it is profoundly important and revealing that Sanders would defeat Trump by such a huge margin — 13 points in this poll — that analysts would be talking about a national political realignment and new progressive era in American history if an enlightened candidate such as Sanders would defeat a retrograde race-baiting candidate such as Trump by a potentially epic and historic margin.
It is time for the mainstream media to end their obsession with Trump and their virtual news blackout of the Sanders campaign when discussing presidential campaign polling.
How about, from now on, when any analyst on television discusses how strong Trump allegedly is, that it be emphasized that this strength is only within the GOP, and that in a general election, the real heavyweight champion of presidential polling is Bernie Sanders, not Donald Trump!
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Chief Deputy Majority Whip Bill Alexander (D-Ark.). He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Socialist Alternative forms group to support Sanders campaign
Socialist Alternative forms group to support Sanders campaign
By Eric London
On December 19, Socialist Alternative announced that it had established a new political formation aimed at boosting the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
24 December 2015
Dubbed the “Movement4Bernie,” the group is the most explicit connection between the Democratic Party and the American pseudo-left to date. But even the term “connection” implies that Socialist Alternative and the Democratic Party are separate entities. By actively mobilizing support for a nationalist, pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist bourgeois politician like Sanders, Socialist Alternative has again proven that it is a faction of the Democratic Party and the political establishment.
In announcing its formation, the Movement4Bernie issued a manifesto, which reads, in part: “Let’s get organized to help Bernie win in 2016, stop the right-wing Republicans and counter the Wall Street dominated Democratic Party establishment.
“Millions of people are fed up with establishment politics. The momentum behind Bernie Sanders gives us a real chance to gather together everyone who wants to build a real alternative for the 99%. We can turn this into the most important election in decades by building an organized political force behind the Sanders campaign to fight against racism, sexism and corporate domination. To do this, we need a political movement that can build protests and direct action while running independent candidates who refuse to take corporate cash.”
It continues: “If we get organized in a big way, we can bring millions behind us into Bernie’s campaign to win in 2016. We can begin to build a new, lasting, and powerful force—based on the independent power of working people and not big business…”
While supporting a bourgeois candidate running for a bourgeois party’s nomination to become the commander-in-chief of the armies of American imperialism, the group’s self-proclaimed “independence” from the two parties is an insult to the reader’s intelligence. Every line of this proclamation is a carefully crafted lie aimed at deceiving the “millions” whom the authors hope to “bring behind” them into the Democratic Party.
Seattle’s City Councilperson and Socialist Alternative member Kshama Sawant announced her support for Movement4Bernie with a statement titled “Fight back against the pro-business Democratic establishment—Let’s build a #Movement4Bernie.”
As further proof of the degree to which Socialist Alternative operates as a faction within the Democratic Party, Sawant’s announcement takes as a starting point an internal Democratic Party campaign squabble over access to a voter database. When Sanders staffers apparently took advantage of a fortuitous glitch to steal Clinton voter information, the Democratic Party cut Sanders’ access and restored it shortly thereafter.
“Thursday’s attempt by the Democratic National Committee to sabotage Bernie Sanders’s [sic] campaign shows how the leadership of the Democratic Party is absolutely hostile to anti-corporate and left-wing politics,” Sawant writes.
“It will only be possible for Bernie to defeat Clinton—and the billionaires, the political establishment, and the corporate media that are supporting her—if Sander’s [sic] campaign activates tens of thousands of people as part of a massive movement against big business and the right…together we can stop the right-wing Republicans, Clinton and all big business politicians!”
The terms are carefully crafted in vague and malleable terms (“build a real alternative,” “build a new, lasting, and powerful force,” “fight against corporate domination,” “stop big business politicians”). While the Republicans are denounced as “right-wing” forces who must be “stopped,” it is only the “Democratic establishment” and not the party as a whole that needs, not to be stopped, but merely “countered.” Absent from these metaphysical labels is any class analysis—these terms only serve to confuse and disorient.
But in politics, parties and figures bear responsibility for the endorsements they make. An endorser announces that it is willing to take political ownership for the endorsee’s political program, which enunciates policies aimed at advancing the material interests of definite social classes. In other words, you are what you endorse.
A look at Sanders’ program makes clear that Socialist Alternative is pronouncing its support for the American ruling class and the US imperialist war machine. During the Democratic debate last Saturday, Sanders once again affirmed his support for the never-ending US wars of plunder and destruction in the Middle East.
“I’m running for president because I want a new foreign policy—one that takes on ISIS, one that destroys ISIS,” he said. Sanders, who voted for the war in Afghanistan, voted repeatedly to fund the war in Iraq, and supported Israel’s genocidal war against the people of Gaza in 2014, also supports forcing Muslim countries to escalate the ongoing war in Syria: “I believe that countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have got to step up to the plate, have got to contribute the money that we need, and the troops that we need, to destroy ISIS with American support.”
Sanders has also proclaimed his support for deporting immigrant families, declaring that an open-borders policy would be “right-wing.” Sanders trumpeted the tired, demagogic and nationalist attempt to pit American workers against the international working class by stating that immigration would “make everybody in America poorer.”
Sanders has openly rejected the call for the working class to democratically control production and the distribution of resources—a basic tenet of socialism. To the contrary, his calls for a slightly higher minimum wage, free education and slightly higher taxes on the wealthy are reminiscent of a moderate Democratic platform from the 1960s.
Sanders also supports the Obama administration’s “Pivot to Asia,” the spending of trillions of dollars on the American war machine, and the prosecution of Edward Snowden.
Socialist Alternative’s formation of the Movement4Bernie comes as Sanders’ efforts to combine support for imperialist war abroad with social reform are being exposed as hopeless and impossible.
Though Sanders has made every effort to align himself with the military-intelligence apparatus, he is coming under pressure from sections of the ruling class who oppose any mention of social inequality on the grounds that it might detract from the so-called “war on terror.” Using the pretext of the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote that Sanders “has had his day. Suddenly, big banks are the least of our problems.”
The New York Times added that Sanders makes “fighting terrorism sound like an afterthought.” His “progressive political message, so popular with liberals for much of 2015, now seems lost in a fog of fear.”
In other words, the needs of the imperialist war machine black out all discussion of social reform. The cynical statements of the Democratic press, and the right-wing trajectory of Sanders himself, expose the impossibility of fighting for social equality within the framework of the Sanders campaign, the Democratic Party and the capitalist system.
It is at precisely this moment that Socialist Alternative, which has long supported Sanders, launches an official campaign to cover over Sanders’ pro-war, pro-capitalist program with a “left” fig leaf. This maneuver is aimed to confuse and disorient. It exposes the fact that Socialist Alternative serves to prop up the political establishment, prolong the existence of the capitalist system and ensure the continuity of the state of permanent war.
This maneuver is not the product of mistakes or political misjudgments. Groups like Socialist Alternative represent a privileged section of the upper-middle class that has nothing in common with socialism or the working class. They are paid for their services with additional “political space” within the political establishment, allowing them to advance their identity politics program and stake out positions of personal privilege in government, academia, the trade unions and the military-intelligence apparatus.
Certain disagreements exist between the various factions of the pseudo-left. For example, while Socialist Alternative runs head first into the Sanders campaign, the International Socialist Organization seeks to use its influence in the trade unions as a springboard for propping up bourgeois rule in the city of Chicago.
However, in the final analysis, the efforts of the pseudo-left to block a movement of the working class are becoming an increasingly important axis upon which the fate of capitalism relies. Fearing a revolutionary wave, the ruling class is preparing its political levees. It is in ruthless opposition to such pseudo-socialist groups that a revolutionary movement of the working class will be built.
OBAMA-CLINTONOMICS: Serving their crony banksters and Wall Street paymasters!
“Sentiment is horrendous. It’s the worst since the financial crisis—and it’s getting worse every day.”
"The lack of confidence in the country’s growth prospects in the upper echelons of the financial and economic elites is exemplified by the flight of capital, with foreign exchange reserves recording their third-largest monthly fall in November."
"His decrees range from the idiotic to the grotesque -- his order to the EPA to shut down the coal industry, the repurposing of NASA as a Muslim PR effort, the post-legislative changes to ObamaCare (the most recent requiring full coverage for sex-change operations), and perhaps the most egregious, his gift of one and a half trillion dollars to his pals in the financial industry."
"Critics say the central bank's actions made Wall Street and the super-rich even fatter, fueling a stock market surge while leaving many ordinary workers no better off and widening the nation's wealth inequality."
"First, the supply of trillions of dollars of ultra-cheap money by the Fed and other central banks has done nothing either to resolve the crisis which erupted in 2008 or bring about a genuine economic recovery."
"Yellen seemed flustered and largely dodged the question. She could not provide a convincing answer because the collapse in oil and commodity prices and the persistence of ultralow inflation reflect the reality of economic slump and the failure of the Fed and the other major central banks to engineer a genuine recovery in the real economy, despite the funneling of trillions of dollars into the banking system.
"It has, however, subsidized a vast transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top, fuelling a tripling of stock prices, record corporate profits and CEO bonuses, and ever greater levels of social inequality. The vast sums handed to the banks and hedge funds have not, for the most part, been invested in production, but used instead to fund parasitic activities such as job-slashing corporate mergers, stock buybacks and dividend increases. To pay for the resulting bankrupting of state treasuries, governments around the world have imposed brutal austerity measures against the working class."
"Second, these policies have only created the conditions for another financial crisis, whose consequences are potentially even more devastating than those triggered by the sub-prime mortgage collapse. The deepening decline in the real economy and the mounting signs of financial distress demonstrate that the source of the global economic crisis is the capitalist system itself, which cannot be reformed, but must be overthrown and replaced by the international working class in the fight for socialism."
"The figures are remarkable. The share of the national wealth accruing to middle-income households, the study reported, was 43 percent in 2014, down from 62 percent in 1970. The median wealth of middle-income households has fallen by 28 percent over the past decade and a half. The share of income going to upper-income households has risen from 29 percent to 49 percent over the same period."
"This analysis was absolutely correct, and more than two-and-a-half decades of ever greater appropriation of the national wealth by the top fraction of the super-rich, under both the Bush and Obama administrations, have only imparted greater ferocity and bitterness to those "terrific tensions."
After Fed rate hike, global economic fault lines deepen
After Fed rate hike, global economic fault lines deepen
19 December 2015After an initial rise following the decision by the US Federal Reserve to lift interest rates by 0.25 percentage points on Wednesday, stock markets around the world have experienced significant declines over the past two days.
The biggest falls were in the United States, where the Dow was down by 368 points at the close of trade on Friday, a drop of more than 2 percent, while the more broadly based S&P 500 fell by 1.8 percent. The CBOE VIX index, which measures market volatility and is often referred to as the “fear gauge,” went over 20, a level regarded as indicating a high degree of market stress.
Markets also fell around the world after rising in the immediate aftermath of the Fed decision. The Euro Stoxx index dropped by 1.4 percent on Friday after rising earlier in the week. In Japan, the Nikkei index closed 1.9 percent lower.
Underlying the volatility on share markets are a series of widening fault lines in the global economy produced by the deepening trend toward stagnation and slump. The increased turbulence in financial markets is an expression of the fact that massive financial speculation, fuelled by the Fed and other central banks’ pumping of trillions of dollars into the banking system since the 2008 Wall Street crash, is being overwhelmed by developments in the real economy, particularly the decline in industrial production.
So far, this interaction has found its sharpest expression in the market for high-yield, or “junk,” corporate bonds, particularly in the energy sector, because of the sharp fall in oil and other energy prices, coupled with the decline in basic industrial commodity prices to their lowest levels since the global financial crisis.
This week, the price of Brent crude oil hit a seven-year low of $36.33 per barrel, further heightening problems in the energy junk bond market, where money poured in to finance risky ventures when the price of oil was trading at around $100 per barrel less than two years ago.
But the turbulence is not confined to energy-related finance. According Lipper, a Thomson Reuters company that supplies information to financial markets, investors withdrew $5.1 billion from US mutual funds that purchase bonds rated as investment grade by credit-rating agencies—the largest such withdrawal since 1992. This was accompanied by a further withdrawal of $3 billion from junk bond funds. In the week to December 16, it is estimated that $15.4 billion was withdrawn from taxable bond funds.
In a report on the state of financial markets issued this week, the Office of Financial Research (OFR), set up by the US Treasury after the 2008 crisis, painted a picture of, in the words of Financial Times economic commentator Gill Tett, a “distinctly distorted American financial system” resulting from seven years of ultra-low interest rates.
The OFR said that “credit risk in the US non-financial business sector is elevated and rising.” It went on to warn that “higher base rates may create refinancing risks… and potentially precipitate a broader default cycle.”
In other words, a situation has been created where a default or a series of defaults in high risk areas could set off a chain reaction in the system as a whole, recalling the effects of the sub-prime mortgage collapse. When that crisis emerged in 2006 and 2007, then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke brushed it off as a relatively small problem that could be easily contained.
The worsening financial situation is compounded by the divergence in the policies of the world’s major central banks. While the Fed has moved towards tightening, although at a very gradual pace, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan are continuing with various forms of “quantitative easing” aimed at pumping more money into the financial system.
BLOG: HERE COME THE NEXT ROUND OF CRONY BANKSTER BAILOUTS!
In the midst of growing financial turbulence, however, the official mantra is that the US is in the midst of an expanding economic recovery and is considered to be a “bright spot” in the world economy.
This soothing scenario is belied by both longer-term developments and the immediate situation. Since the US economy started growing in the June quarter of 2009, its gross domestic product has increased by only 2.2 percent per year, the lowest pace for any post-recession phase in post-World War II history. As a result, it took five years for the US economy just to make up for the loss of employment and economic output sustained as a result of the financial crisis.
Now figures from the industrial sector point to another downturn. US industrial production last month was down by a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent from October, the biggest drop since March 2012 and the third straight month it has fallen. Manufacturing output, which comprises three quarters of industrial production, was flat. Mining output was down 1.1 percent for the month and is now 8.2 percent below the level of a year ago.
According to a report published in the Financial Times on Tuesday, a common theme of major companies supplying industry, such as Caterpillar and Deer & Co, is that “tough times are back,” with some even pointing to “the arrival of an industrial recession.”
The stagnation in US industry is part of an emerging global trend. Data on industrial employment in China—the world’s major manufacturing centre—shows that aggregate employment in manufacturing fell by 1.9 percent in the year ending in October. In the third quarter, employment growth in the sector was at its lowest rate on a quarterly basis since 2000. The biggest declines are in heavy industry, with iron ore mining and processing employment down by 12 percent, coal mining down 7 percent, and steel employment down 6 percent.
The slowdown in China is impacting on so-called emerging markets more generally. Of 22 big emerging markets tracked by JPMorgan Chase, 21 have had their growth forecasts for 2016 downgraded. Brazil, which is highly dependent on the Chinese economy, is the sharpest expression of this trend. Its economy is contracting by 4.5 percent according to the latest data. Brazil’s worsening situation was highlighted this week when Fitch became the second of the major credit rating agencies to downgrade the country’s debt to junk status.
The World Bank has warned of “the beginning of an era of weak growth for emerging markets.” This will have a significant impact, as these economies account for almost 40 percent of global output. They could also be hit by significant financial turbulence, with the International Monetary Fund warning that they have incurred $3 trillion more in debt than is warranted by commodity prices and global demand.
Two inescapable conclusions flow from the latest economic data and the growing turbulence in financial markets.
First, the supply of trillions of dollars of ultra-cheap money by the Fed and other central banks has done nothing either to resolve the crisis which erupted in 2008 or bring about a genuine economic recovery.
It has, however, subsidized a vast transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top, fuelling a tripling of stock prices, record corporate profits and CEO bonuses, and ever greater levels of social inequality. The vast sums handed to the banks and hedge funds have not, for the most part, been invested in production, but used instead to fund parasitic activities such as job-slashing corporate mergers, stock buybacks and dividend increases. To pay for the resulting bankrupting of state treasuries, governments around the world have imposed brutal austerity measures against the working class.
Second, these policies have only created the conditions for another financial crisis, whose consequences are potentially even more devastating than those triggered by the sub-prime mortgage collapse. The deepening decline in the real economy and the mounting signs of financial distress demonstrate that the source of the global economic crisis is the capitalist system itself, which cannot be reformed, but must be overthrown and replaced by the international working class in the fight for socialism.