Friday, January 24, 2020
GALLUP - 41% OF AMERICANS SATISFIED WITH THE WAY THINGS ARE GOING - DOES THAT MEAN 41% OF AMERICA IS LOBOTOMIZED OR COMATOSE?
Posted by The Mexican Invasion & Occupation at 3:28 PM
TRUMP'S TRICKLE UP ECONOMY - WE MUST CUT SOCIAL SECURITY TO OFFSET TAX CUTS FOR THE SUPER RICH AND WALL STREET BANKSTERS
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that his Medicaid cuts didn’t exist. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Earlier this week, at the bleeding-heart billionaire class’ annual handwringing exhibition in Davos, Switzerland, Donald Trump suggested that he would “take a look” at cutting entitlement programs “at some point.”
As a candidate in 2016, Trump had promised to oppose any and all cuts to seniors’ welfare benefits, a disavowal of conservative orthodoxy that led many voters to perceive the GOP nominee as a “moderate” (his support for Muslim bans and war crimes notwithstanding). Thus, Democrats wasted little time in publicizing the president’s betrayal of the public’s trust.
“Even as the impeachment trial is underway, Trump is still talking about cutting your Social Security,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a news conference Thursday, while headlines in the New York Times, the Associated Press, and Washington Post touted the president’s apparent interest in paring back the safety net.
Breitbart’s John Carney took exception to this hysteria, insisting that Trump had displayed no intention of cutting entitlements. Rather, according to Carney, Trump’s remarks indicated that he actually rejects the “corporate media’s” paranoia about debt and deficits. To unthinking mouthpieces of Beltway orthodoxy, Trump’s emphasis on economic growth when answering Joe Kernen’s question about entitlement spending read as a non-sequitur. But to Carney, it is perfectly clear that what Trump is actually saying in the following excerpt is that the United States cannot run out of money because it prints its own currency — and thus, that the “challenge we face is to make sure the economy is producing enough goods and services to provide for all our retirees when their numbers grow dramatically in proportion to the workers.”
CNBC: Entitlements ever be on your plate?President Trump: At some point they will be. We have tremendous growth. We’re going to have tremendous growth. This next year I — it’ll be toward the end of the year. The growth is going to be incredible. And at the right time, we will take a look at that. You know, that’s actually the easiest of all things, if you look, cause it’s such a —CNBC: If you’re willing —President Trump: — big percentage.CNBC: — to do some of the things that you said you wouldn’t do in the past, though, in terms of Medicare —President Trump: Well, we’re going — we’re going look. We also have — assets that we’ve never had. I mean we’ve never had growth like this.
Perhaps I am too blinded by elitist disdain for the war-crime-superfan-in-chief to recognize a cogent endorsement of Modern Monetary Theory when I see one. But to my eyes, this reads like Trump opting to recite blatantly false talking points about the strength of the U.S. economy (we have definitely “had growth like this” in the past) instead of giving a clear answer to the question he was asked, as he does virtually every time he gives an interview to anyone about anything.
But it doesn’t really matter what Trump said, or meant to say. There isn’t any ambiguity about whether this president is willing to seek entitlement cuts. He already has.
I realize that the ever-accelerating news cycle has turned collective amnesia into a pandemic virus, spread through Facebook feeds and Twitter timelines. But it was only three years ago that Donald Trump decided to make a health-care bill that included draconian cuts to Medicaid the first legislative priority of his presidency. And Medicaid is not only an entitlement program, but one of the three entitlement programs that Trump explicitly promised not to cut when campaigning for the White House.
Even if one posits that what everyone really means when they talk about “entitlements” is benefits for seniors — who, after long working lives, are now entitled to state support in their final years — cutting Medicaid funding would still qualify as an entitlement cut. It is Medicaid, not Medicare, that foots the bulk of the bills generated by the 1.4 million Americans in nursing homes. And as the boomer generation ages, and life expectancy for seniors increases, the number of seniors who will be reliant on Medicaid to secure a minimally decent standard of living is poised to rise sharply in the coming years: An American turning 65 today has somewhere between a 50 and 70 percent chance of eventually requiring long-term support by the end of his or her life.
Trump’s proposed cuts to Medicaid during his first year in office would have forced many states to pare back nursing-home admissions, even as demand for long-term care grew. Not only would this have constituted an entitlement cut by any reasonable definition, it would have been a far more devastating one than most of the Social Security “adjustments” entertained by Congress in recent years.
And the Trump administration did not stop pushing for entitlement cuts after Obamacare repeal was taken off life support. The White House’s 2020 budget proposal called for a $1.5 trillion cut in Medicaid spending over a decade, and a $25 billion cut in spending on Social Security, with $10 billion of that sum coming directly out of benefits for the disabled.
Just this week, while Breitbart was scolding the corporate media for absurdly suggesting that Trump is trying to cut entitlements, the Trump administration was finalizing a plan to cut entitlement spending in red states without congressional authorization. As Politico reports:
The Trump administration is finalizing a plan to let states convert a chunk of Medicaid funding to block grants, even as officials remain divided over how to sell the controversial change to the safety net health program.CMS Administrator Seema Verma plans to issue a letter soon explaining how states could seek waivers to receive defined payments for adults covered by Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, according to seven people with knowledge of the closely guarded effort…Capping Medicaid spending, even among just Obamacare’s expansion population, would be a major transformation of how the federal government finances the safety net health care program that has grown to cover about 1 in 5 Americans. The plan is guaranteed to enrage critics and invite attacks from Democrats in an election year.Republicans have long argued that states should receive defined funding for Medicaid, instead of the current open-ended structure in which the federal government matches state spending. Democrats, along with many hospital and physician groups, have fiercely opposed the idea, warning that strict funding constraints would result in cuts to enrollment and health care services.
The cuts in enrollment and health-care services is the point. At present, federal spending on Medicaid rises in tandem with need for the program: All Americans who fall below a certain income or asset level are entitled to Medicaid’s services, even if this means that overall Medicaid spending comes in higher than Congress expected. This is what makes Medicaid an entitlement program. Thus, the Trump administration is trying to help Republican-controlled states cut entitlements in the most literal sense: It is encouraging them to end their residents’ entitlement to the benefits of the Medicaid expansion.
This point isn’t a technical one. When the president and his congressional allies pushed a similar block-granting scheme in 2017, the Congressional Budget Office found the Republican proposal would constitute a “35 percent reduction” in Medicaid spending by 2036. The reason for this was simple: Medicaid’s per-beneficiary spending is rising at a faster rate than consumer price inflation, and the GOP’s proposal would eventually tie growth in overall Medicaid spending to the latter. The administration’s current initiative aims to advance the same type of covert benefit cut at a smaller scale.
The president knows this. He understands that his administration is working to cut entitlement benefits. In fact, according to Politico, he is concerned that voters will catch on, and is hoping to keep the effort quiet:
[T]here is internal debate on how broadly to publicize the effort. Verma, who two sources said sees the plan as a legacy-defining achievement, is pushing for an in-person event to announce the policy. Other officials, however, argue a high-profile rollout is unnecessary and could bring more scrutiny on a controversial proposal … President Donald Trump, who last week lashed out as HHS Secretary Alex Azar over negative health-care polling, recently voiced concerns about fueling perceptions that he’s cutting Medicaid and other health-care services during an election year, said two officials with knowledge of the president’s comments.
Trump’s support for entitlement cuts is a matter of fact, not “perception.” To the extent that the “corporate media” failed to accurately convey Trump’s position on entitlements this week, it did not not do so by unfairly interpreting his remarks on the subject, but by obscuring his administration’s past and present actions on the issue.
Why aren’t the Wall Street criminals prosecuted?
In May 2012, only days after JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon revealed that his bank had lost billions of dollars in speculative bets, President Barack Obama publicly defended the multi-millionaire CEO, calling him “one of the smartest bankers we’ve got.” What Obama did not mention is that Dimon is a criminal.
JPMorgan is not the exception; it is the rule. Virtually every major bank that operates on Wall Street has settled charges of fraud and criminality on a staggering scale. In 2011, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a 630-page report on the financial crash of 2008 documenting what the committee chairman called “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest and wrongdoing.”
These multiple crimes by serial lawbreakers have had very real and very destructive consequences. The entire world has been plunged into an economic slump that has already lasted more than five years and shows no signs of abating. Tens of millions of families have lost their homes as a result of predatory mortgages pushed by JPMorgan and other Wall Street banks.
Amid poverty wages and tax cuts for the rich
"This decades-long ruling class offensive was accelerated in response to the 2008 financial crisis. President Barack Obama oversaw the channeling of trillions of dollars to the banks and financial markets in order to pay off the debts of the bankers and speculators, whose reckless and criminal activities had led to the crisis, and make them richer than ever. At the same time, he imposed a restructuring of the auto industry based on a 50 percent across-the-board pay cut for new-hires and an expansion of temporary and part-time labor,"
The devastating human cost of the plundering of society by the corporate-financial oligarchy is registered in declining life expectancy, rising mortality and record suicide and drug addiction rates.
BARACK OBAMA AND HIS CRONY BANKSTERS set themselves on America’s pensions next!
The new aristocrats, like the lords of old, are not bound by the laws that apply to the lower orders. Voluminous reports have been issued by Congress and government panels documenting systematic fraud and law breaking carried out by the biggest banks both before and after the Wall Street crash of 2008.
Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and every other major US bank have been implicated in a web of scandals, including the sale of toxic mortgage securities on false pretenses, the rigging of international interest rates and global foreign exchange markets, the laundering of Mexican drug money, accounting fraud and lying to bank regulators, illegally foreclosing on the homes of delinquent borrowers, credit card fraud, illegal debt-collection practices, rigging of energy markets, and complicity in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.
JPMorgan Chase records the biggest profit of any bank in US history
JPMorgan Chase, the most valuable private bank in the world, made $36.4 billion in 2019, the biggest annual profit of any bank in American history. The news, reported Tuesday, sent the company’s stock up by 2 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the company took in $8.5 billion, also a record, making it the tenth largest publicly traded company in the world, with a market cap of $437 billion.
JPMorgan Chase’s record profits were joined by Morgan Stanley, which also reported both record profits and record revenues for 2019, sending its stock price surging 6.6 percent on Thursday.
News of these record gains came as the six largest US banks revealed that they saved a combined $32 billion last year from President Donald Trump’s 2017 corporate tax cut. The tax windfall was up from 2018 for all but one of the banks. JPMorgan’s tax cut went from $3.7 billion in 2018 to $5 billion last year.
At Wednesday’s signing ceremony for the phase one trade deal with China, attended by an array of corporate executives, Trump turned to Mary Erdoes, a top executive at JPMorgan Chase. Calling the bank’s earnings report “incredible,” he joked, “Will you say, ‘Thank you, Mr. President,’ at least?”
The tax cuts for the corporations and the rich,
enacted with only token opposition from the
Democrats, are only one factor in the surge
in profits over the past year. When stocks
plunged at the end of 2018, Trump stepped
up his demand that the Federal Reserve
reverse its policy of gradually raising interest
rates to more normal levels, following years
of near-zero rates in the aftermath of the 2008
financial crisis. Acting as the mouthpiece of
Wall Street, he demanded that the Fed begin
cutting rates once again in order to pump
more cash into the financial markets.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell dutifully complied, cutting interest rates three times in 2018 and assuring the markets that he had no intention of raising them again any time soon. Then, beginning in the late fall, the Fed began pumping tens of billions of dollars a week into the so-called “repo” overnight loan market, resuming the money-printing operation known as “quantitative easing.”
This de facto guarantee of unlimited public funds to backstop stock prices has produced record highs on all of the major US indexes, sending billions more into the private coffers of the rich and the super-rich.
These measures are a continuation and intensification of policies carried out on a bipartisan basis for four decades to redistribute wealth from the working class to the corporations and the financial elite. They have effected a fundamental restructuring of class relations in America, drastically lowering the social position of the working class. Decent-paying, secure jobs have been wiped out and largely replaced by poverty-wage, part-time, temporary and contingent employment—the so-called “gig” economy exemplified by corporations such as Amazon and Uber.
This decades-long ruling class offensive was accelerated in response to the 2008 financial crisis. President Barack Obama oversaw the channeling of trillions of dollars to the banks and financial markets in order to pay off the debts of the bankers and speculators, whose reckless and criminal activities had led to the crisis, and make them richer than ever. At the same time, he imposed a restructuring of the auto industry based on a 50 percent across-the-board pay cut for new-hires and an expansion of temporary and part-time labor.
The United Auto Workers (UAW) has actively participated in this process, enshrining the new “flexible” labor system in sellout contracts in 2015 and 2019. This template of expendable, benefits-free labor has become the new norm for labor relations across the country and throughout the world.
Meanwhile, state, local and federal government programs have been dramatically slashed. Education, housing, Medicaid and food stamps have been particularly hard hit. This process has been accelerated under Trump, along with the removal of occupational safety and environmental regulations, with no opposition from the Democrats, who represent sections of the financial elite and wealthy upper-middle class.
The devastating human cost of the plundering
of society by the corporate-financial oligarchy
is registered in declining life expectancy,
rising mortality and record suicide and drug
addiction rates. A recent study by the Brookings
Institution found that 53 million people in the US—44 percent of
all workers—“earn barely enough to live on.” The study found that
the median pay of this group was $10.22 per hour, around
$18,000 a year. Thirty seven percent of those making $10 an
hour have children. More than half are the primary earners or
“contribute substantially” to family income.
Similarly, a Reuters report from 2018 found that the average income of the bottom 40 percent of workers in the United States was $11,600.
A recent study by Trust for America’s Health found that in 2017 “more than 152,000 Americans died from alcohol- and drug-induced fatalities and suicide.” This was highest number ever recorded and more than double the figure for 1999. Among those in their 20s and early 30s, the prime working life age, drug deaths have increased more than 400 percent in the last 20 years.
At the other pole of society, the Dow Jones Industrial index is now double what it was at its peak in 2007, prior to the implosion of the financial system. Between March 2009 and today, the Dow has risen from 6,500 to over 29,000. The stock market, buttressed by central bank and government policy, has become the central instrument for funneling wealth from the bottom of society to the top. As a result, the top 10 percent of society now owns about 70 percent of all wealth, whereas the bottom 50 percent has, effectively, nothing.
In the midst of this orgy of wealth accumulation at the very top of society, every demand of workers for jobs, decent pay, education, housing, health care and pensions is met with the universal response: “There is no money.” Hundreds of thousands of teachers have struck over the past two years to demand the restoration of funds cut from the public schools and substantial increases in pay and benefits. None of their demands have been met. The same applies to auto workers who struck for 40 days last fall to demand an end to two-tier pay systems and the defense of jobs.
JPMorgan’s $36.4 billion profit in 2019 is more than half the education budget of the US federal government.
Meanwhile, Americans are deeper in debt to JPMorgan and the other banks than at any time in history. Collective consumer debt in the United States approached $14 trillion last year. Credit card debt has surpassed $1 trillion for the first time. Auto debt is at $1.3 trillion and mortgage debt is now $9.4 trillion. Student loan debt has increased the fastest, surging from $500 billion in 2006 to $1.6 trillion today.
These are the conditions, rooted in the historical bankruptcy and crisis of the capitalist system, that have sparked a global upsurge in the class struggle and the growth of anti-capitalist and pro-socialist sentiment. The past year has seen a dramatic expansion of working class struggle that is only a glimpse of what is to come. India, Hong Kong, Mexico, the United States, Puerto Rico, Lebanon, Iraq, France, Chile and Brazil are only some of the places where mass struggles have erupted.
What is becoming increasingly clear to hundreds of millions of people around the world is that the social problems confronting humanity in the 21st century—poverty, debt, disease, global warming, war, fascism, the assault on democratic rights—cannot be solved so long as this parasitic and oligarchical financial elite continues to rule. The turn is to the American and international working class—to unite, take power and seize control of the wealth which it produces to ensure peace, prosperity and equality for all people.
Posted by The Mexican Invasion & Occupation at 3:24 PM