Fact Vs Fiction

There are so many misconceptions and falsehoods swirling around the upcoming debt ceiling debate that people don’t know what to think.  Today’s newsletter from Robert Reich pushes aside the lies and cuts to the core of things, including why the nation needs to keep borrowing more to pay its bills.


The biggest story you’ve never heard about today’s federal debt

America’s wealthy used to pay taxes to support the nation. Now, they lend it money and collect interest from the rest of us.

Robert Reich

31 January 2023

Friends,

The dire warnings of fiscal hawks are once again darkening the skies of official Washington, demanding that the $31 trillion federal debt be reduced and government spending curtailed (thereby giving cover to Republican efforts to hold America hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling).

It’s always the same when Republicans take over a chamber of Congress or the presidency. Horrors! The debt is out of control! Federal spending must be cut!

Not only is the story false, but it leaves out the bigger and more important story behind today’s federal debt: the switch by America’s wealthy over the last half century from paying taxes to the government to lending the government money.

This back story needs to be told if Americans are to understand what’s really happened and what needs to be done about it. Republicans won’t tell it, so Democrats (starting with Joe Biden) must.

A half century ago, American’s wealthy financed the federal government mainly through their tax payments. Tax rates on the wealthy were high: Under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, they were over 90 percent. Even after all tax deductions, the wealthy typically paid half of their incomes in taxes.

Since then — courtesy of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump — the effective tax rate on wealthy Americans has plummeted. Even as they’ve accumulated unprecedented wealth, today’s rich are now paying a lower tax rate than middle-class Americans. (The 400 richest American families paid a tax rate of just 3.4 percent between 2014 and 2018, while the rest of us paid an average tax rate of 13.3 percent.)

One of the biggest reasons the federal debt has exploded is that tax cuts on wealthier Americans have reduced government revenue.

Meanwhile, America’s wealthy are financing America’s exploding debt by lending the federal government money, for which the government pays them interest.

As the federal debt continues to mount, those interest payments are ballooning — hitting a record $475 billion in the last fiscal next year (which ran through September). The Congressional Budget Office predicts that interest payments on the federal debt will reach 3.3 percent of the GDP by 2032 and 7.2 percent by 2052.

The biggest recipients of these interest payments are not foreigners but wealthy Americans who park their savings in treasury bonds held by mutual funds, hedge funds, pension funds, banks, insurance companies, personal trusts, and estates.

Hence the half-century switch: The wealthy used to pay higher taxes to the government. Now the government pays the wealthy interest on their loans to finance a swelling debt that’s been caused largely by lower taxes on the wealthy.

This means that a growing portion of your taxes are going to the wealthy in the form of interest payments, rather than paying for government services everyone needs.

So, the real problem isn’t America’s growing federal budget deficit. It’s the decline in tax revenue from America’s wealthy combined with growing interest payments to them.

Both are worsening America’s already horrific inequalities of income and wealth.

What should be done? Reduce the debt by raising taxes on the wealthy.

This back story needs to be told. Please spread the word.

Tired

I’m tired, my friends, and I imagine you are too.

  • I’m tired of being told that more than 3,200 deaths by guns, including 44 mass shootings in less than 28 days is simply the ‘price of freedom’. Freedom to … WHAT?  Get shot to death at the grocery store?  To have our children killed in school?  If that’s the price of freedom, you can keep the damned freedom!
  • I’m tired of the altogether too frequent killing of people by the police … the very people we are supposed to be able to trust to protect life. The relatively few police who take the lives of primarily Black people who have done little or no wrong, have given police officers everywhere a bad name and frankly, if I see a cop in a store, I turn the other way, hoping he doesn’t even notice me.  If I see one behind me at a traffic light, my heart stops and I try so hard to look innocent that I probably look guilty!
  • I’m tired of being called a ‘Marxist’ because I believe in human rights, believe that nobody should amass huge amounts of wealth while others go to bed hungry at night, or live on the streets in cardboard boxes.
  • I’m tired of spending more than half of my monthly Social Security stipend on medications that are essential to keep me from dying, while seeing the profits of the pharma companies that manufacture those drugs skyrocket.
  • I’m tired of listening to Republican politicians threatening to cut that very same Social Security that a) I paid into all my life, and b) is not enough to support me if I lived on my own! This is a threat against the very survival of those of us over a certain age, so apparently those politicians have decided that our lives no longer add value to the world.
  • I’m tired of conspiracy theories, especially those lies told by politicians who know the truth, but find it more expeditious to their own ends to push the lies.  And I’m tired of the ignorance in the general public that allows so many everyday people to believe those lies.
  • I’m tired of companies that raise their prices for one of a variety of excuses – supply chain issues, staffing shortages, increased production costs – and then at the end of the year show a huge increase in their profits.
  • I’m tired of the bigotry that is on the rise in this country. Anti-LGBTQ sentiment, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny … all are increasing at significant levels, thanks in part to religious ‘leaders’ who have zero tolerance for any that don’t fit their pat little images, and in part due to politicians like Ron DeSantis and others who promote the idea that ‘other’ is bad, ‘other’ is to be shunned.
  • I’m tired of a free press that keeps shoving the former guy down our throats. By now, he should have faded into obscurity to the point that if we saw a picture of him, we’d say, “Oh yeah … I remember that fat slob … what was his name again?”  But no, we have to see his picture and read every word that comes out of his lying mouth on a daily basis.
  • I’m tired, most of all, of Republican politicians in Congress who are bastards. Sorry, Keith, but that fits them to a ‘T’.  They take our hard-earned tax dollars to the tune of $174,000 and more every year, and then fail miserably to do the job for which we paid them.  They don’t legislate, they retaliate.  They don’t build, they destroy.  They don’t govern, they campaign.  Before the current 118th Congress was even seated, they were already plotting their next election campaigns.  I’m tired of our government being so divided by party that ‘party’ is the only thing that matters, not people.
  • I’m tired of feeling helpless to change any of the things I’m tired of. I’m tired of being ashamed of this country I’ve lived in for almost 72 years now, tired of wishing I were almost anywhere but here.  My vote is my voice, but it is a very small voice, made even smaller with such tactics as gerrymandering that dilute my voice.

I could probably think of more, but … I’m tired of writing for tonight, so I think I’ll go read for a while now.

I am not mistaken, I was misquoted (a reprise)

Today, our friend Keith reprised a post from ten years ago that brings to mind the quote, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Thank you, Keith, for this walk down memory lane and the reminder that lying politicians is nothing new (although I do think George Santos gets the grand prize for the biggest lies!)

musingsofanoldfart

George Santos is not the first politician to be caught in a lie. I wrote the following in 2013, before the age of Trump. You can tell as if it was written later, examples of his untruthfulness would be hard not to include.

On our way to school this morning, my son and daughter were arguing over who said what. My son told his sister that she is acting like a politician and uttered, “I am not mistaken, I was misquoted.” I almost ran off the road it was so funny. It reminds me that you cannot hide from your comments in this day and age. They may be taken out of context, but they have been recorded somewhere, so you cannot disown them.

Last year, Charles Barkley, the former basketball player and current sports analyst, got some flack for what appeared in his book. His classic response was he…

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The New Kid In The Party?

A good governor … and here I am using the term more expansively to include all government decision-makers from state legislators all the way up through the U.S. Congress and even the president … will make every decision based on what is best for the country and for its people – ALL its people, not just white people or male people or Christian people or straight people.  They will sometimes err because they will rarely, if ever, have all the facts upon which to base their decisions, but they will be guided in making decisions by the facts they do have, and their conscience reminding them of their responsibility to the people of the nation.  Federal officials must remember that while they were elected by the people from their state or district, their decisions, their votes and their actions affect every individual within the country, thus they should act accordingly.

I believe there are some in our government who actually do just this, make decisions based on what seems at the time to be in the best interests of the people … ALL the people.  Unfortunately, however, there are more than a few who make their decisions on the basis of what’s in it for them, of their own quest for power, for re-election, for financial gain.  Now, I won’t deny there are some on both sides of the aisle who have forgotten their responsibility, but over the last decade, the Republican Party, aka the GOP, appears to no longer care about either the country or the people.  They have sacrificed integrity.  Their forefathers must surely be doing that proverbial “rolling over in their grave” thing.

I could point to so many, such as Marge Greene who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives despite being a follower of QAnon, despite believing that Jewish space lasers (hint, in case any Republicans are reading this, there ain’t no such thing as Jewish space lasers) started the California wildfires.  Or the pistol-totin’ barhop, Lauren Boebert who proudly put a photo of all her children holding big guns on her Christmas cards.  And then, there’s Kevin McCarthy, vying to be the next Speaker of the House, whose only platform is revenge against any and all liberal democratic policies and those of us who support those policies.  But for now, I want to focus on one incoming member of the House, a person who will be seated in the House of Representatives next Tuesday, a person who has broken the boundaries of dishonesty:  George Santos.

I wrote about Santos just over a week ago, after the New York Times published a laundry list of the lies he has told … everything from his heritage to his education to his work history to his family to his criminal record to his financial situation … and more!  Last week, a day or two before Christmas, Santos was confronted about his lies and said he would talk about it all ‘next week’ … next week now being this week.  Well, he did.  He admitted to most of his lies, claimed the felony convictions against him for theft in Brazil were false, but the documentation proves the lie.  Did he ‘come clean’ with humility and shame?  Nope … just stated as a matter of fact that yes, he lied, but that he still has every intention of taking his seat in the House of Representatives next Tuesday!  The unmitigated gall left me speechless, but only for a moment.

This is a new low even for the Republican Party and if, in fact, they allow him to be seated in the House on Tuesday, it will be the most definitive statement yet that there is no conscience, no morals, no values, and no integrity within the Republican Party.  One lie of any substance would have disqualified any Democratic candidate, but Mr. Santos told lies about every single aspect of his entire 34 years!!!  I imagine there are some Republicans who are wishing they could crawl under a rock right about now – Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney – but the rest seem to be scratching their heads and wondering how to get this out of the news, how to make it disappear.  Not a single word from the otherwise garrulous Kevin McCarthy … funny that.

This is, for the Republicans, as bad a nightmare as the former guy, an egomaniac, planning to run for the Oval Office again.  I would pity the Republicans, but … they brought this mess on themselves when they first began letting unqualified circus clowns run for office.  It seems to me that a person who cannot even be relied upon to tell the truth about where he went to college (he didn’t), property he claims to own (but doesn’t), where he has worked, his ancestry, his criminal past, where he lives, cannot possibly be trusted to be an honest lawmaker!  I thought Herschel Walker told some mighty big lies, but Santos even makes him look like an amateur.  Santos is right up there with the former guy, who wouldn’t recognize the truth if it smacked him upside the head!  This is NOT what this nation needs … lawmakers who cannot ever be trusted, whose words and actions must always, always be fact-checked!  But alas, this is the new GOP – which, by the way, no longer stands for “Grand Old Party”, but rather for “Gaslight Or Perjure.”

Jaw-Dropping!!! 😲

In last month’s mid-term elections, a relatively unknown man named George Santos was elected to represent New York’s 3rd district in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Republicans will have a very slim majority of 4 seats in the House come January 3rd.  An article in yesterday’s New York Times about Santos caused my jaw to drop.  Apparently, Mr. Santos is a consummate liar and literally nothing on his resume is to be believed!  A few snippets from the NYT article …

    George Santos, whose election to Congress on Long Island last month helped Republicans clinch a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, built his candidacy on the notion that he was the “full embodiment of the American dream” and was running to safeguard it for others.

    His campaign biography amplified his storybook journey: He is the son of Brazilian immigrants, and the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent. By his account, he catapulted himself from a New York City public college to become a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor” with a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties and an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats.

    But a New York Times review of public documents and court filings from the United States and Brazil, as well as various attempts to verify claims that Mr. Santos, 34, made on the campaign trail, calls into question key parts of the résumé that he sold to voters.

    Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, the marquee Wall Street firms on Mr. Santos’s campaign biography, told The Times they had no record of his ever working there. Officials at Baruch College, which Mr. Santos has said he graduated from in 2010, could find no record of anyone matching his name and date of birth graduating that year.

    There was also little evidence that his animal rescue group, Friends of Pets United, was, as Mr. Santos claimed, a tax-exempt organization: The Internal Revenue Service could locate no record of a registered charity with that name.

    His financial disclosure forms suggest a life of some wealth. He lent his campaign more than $700,000 during the midterm election, has donated thousands of dollars to other candidates in the last two years and reported a $750,000 salary and over $1 million in dividends from his company, the Devolder Organization.

    Yet the firm, which has no public website or LinkedIn page, is something of a mystery. On a campaign website, Mr. Santos once described Devolder as his “family’s firm” that managed $80 million in assets. On his congressional financial disclosure, he described it as a capital introduction consulting company, a type of boutique firm that serves as a liaison between investment funds and deep-pocketed investors. But Mr. Santos’s disclosures did not reveal any clients, an omission three election law experts said could be problematic if such clients exist.

    And while Mr. Santos has described a family fortune in real estate, he has not disclosed, nor could The Times could find, records of his properties.

But wait … it gets even worse!

    Records show that Mr. Santos’s mother, who died in 2016, lived for a time in the Brazilian city of Niterói, a Rio suburb where she was employed as a nurse. After Mr. Santos obtained a high school equivalency diploma, he apparently also spent some time there.

    In 2008, when Mr. Santos was 19, he stole the checkbook of a man his mother was caring for, according to Brazilian court records uncovered by The Times. Police and court records show that Mr. Santos used the checkbook to make fraudulent purchases, including a pair of shoes. Two years later, Mr. Santos confessed to the crime and was later charged.

    The court and local prosecutor in Brazil confirmed the case remains unresolved. Mr. Santos did not respond to an official summons, and a court representative could not find him at his given address, records show.

    That period in Brazil overlapped with when Mr. Santos said he was attending Baruch College, where he has said he was awarded a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance. But Baruch College said it was unable to find records of Mr. Santos …

The first question is … why are we only learning of this now???  How did he manage to bamboozle the Republican Party into the nomination, and why didn’t the Democratic Party do their opposition research homework?  The next question is … will he be allowed to take his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 3rd, just two weeks from now?  The chairman of New York’s Democratic Party has called for an ethics investigation, but given the slim Republican majority in the House, best guess is that nothing much will happen … for now, at least. Mr. Santos is yet another example of what the Republican Party has become.  He should fit in really well with Marge Greene, Loren Boebert, Matt Gaetz and some of the others he’ll be serving with, eh?

I urge you to read the entire article … it’s a bit lengthy, but it is an eye-opener, a jaw-dropper!

Not A Nice Man

The following is from an email by evangelical Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an ultra-conservative ‘Christian’ hate group …

Earlier this week, President Biden signed the so-called Respect for Marriage Act, which not only codifies same-sex marriage into federal law but also opens wide the door to endless litigation and persecution of those who hold to a biblical and natural view of marriage.

I won’t mince words. There’s no denying that this is a tremendous blow to religious freedom in America. Countless God-fearing Americans could face the wrath of activist bureaucrats, leftist politicians, and militant LGBTQ activists as they seek to live out their deeply held convictions.

That’s why I’m humbly asking for your support in the final weeks of 2022. We must raise $400,000 by the end of the month to continue pushing back against the Biden agenda in 2023.

Who will stand up to this insidious assault on the children of America? With your help, we will!

I’m betting that enough people will believe his lies, his fear-mongering, and his ‘doomsday’ scenario about the “assault on the children” that he won’t have any trouble getting that $400,000 … most will come from people who work hard every day trying to pay their bills and put food on the table, and Perkins will have no remorse, for he is not a good man.  He is a bigot inside and out, so much so that the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has listed Perkins’ group as an “anti-LGBTQ hate group” whose “false claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science” in an effort to block LGBTQ civil rights have led to violence.  And what, I wonder, does he think his $400,000 will buy?  Does he think he will reverse the law with it?  Will he pay members of Congress to vote to strike down or reverse the law?  Or perhaps he’ll just pocket the money. Oh, and just as an aside, Mr. Perkins’ personal net worth is around $200 million.  Seems if he needs funding, he could write himself a check.

It will be poetic justice when one day, one of his five children comes to him and says, “Dad, I’ve got something to tell you … I’m gay.”

The Conservative Curse of Gullibility

Y’know, folks, I really think Republicans should have to wear tinfoil hats so we can identify them and keep our distance! Jeff shares a post by Jerry, aka Grumpy, that will either make you laugh, growl, or at the very least shake your head! Thanks, Jeff & Jerry!!!

On The Fence Voters

Our good friend Jerry over at Grumpy’s Grumblings has a post that I’d like to share with you. I’ve included a link at the end to continue reading on his site. Thanks Jerry!

Ronald Reagan said, “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.” When he said that I absolutely agreed with him. Liberals live in a fantasyland where beliefs supersede facts, I believed. What my bias prevented me from seeing at the time was that what might be true, to some degree, of liberals was to a much greater degree true of me and my conservative compatriots.

Sure, every human tends to succumb to confirmation bias, but I’ve come to see that it’s also true that we can overcome those biased beliefs through open-mindedness and objective, fact-based education. And, as I’ve increasingly observed, liberals—generally being better…

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The Lies: Debunked!

One of the people whose words I often share here is Robert Reich.  There’s a reason for that … Mr. Reich’s credentials would take this entire post to list, but suffice it to say he served under Presidents Ford, Carter, Clinton and Obama, and he is one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable men I know, yet he can explain things in a way that we can all understand.  So here we are, two days before this highly-charged, contentious mid-term election, and Robert Reich has some words of wisdom that he has asked those of us who receive his newsletter to share.  Please take just 4 minutes to watch his video, and as he asks, share it with others if you feel so inclined.


Lies, lies, and more lies

Republican candidates are not only pushing Trump’s big lie, but three others. In these last days before the midterms, let’s continue to spread the truth

By Robert Reich

6 November 2022

In these last exhausting days before the midterm elections of 2022, I thought you might find useful this inquiry into the lies Republican candidates are telling which I and my colleagues at Inequality Media have been circulating.

You see, the so-called “issues” Republicans are focusing on — inflation, taxes, and crime — are not really issues at all. Get below the rhetoric and look at the facts, and these “issues” have been concocted out of nothing.

Yet the media continues to report that these so-called “issues” are gaining traction with voters.

I’m sending you the attached video in hopes you will share with others. At this point, every voter we can reach with the truth is one additional potential vote for decency and democracy.

No elected official is above the law, that includes you Senator

Good ol’ Lindsey Graham … the man who stabbed his ‘best friend’ John McCain in the back. The man who long ago forgot the meaning of that Oath of Office he swore to uphold. Our friend Keith sums up his latest perfidy pretty well … thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

Oh, Senator Lindsey Graham. You still think you are above the law, just like the former president for whom you keep white washing away his sins and crimes. This is highly disappointing, especially for an attorney who served in the military. So, you should know better as you technically have sworn the same oath to protect our constitution on three occasions.

For those who are not keeping up, Senator Graham had twice asked the courts to not require him to testify in the former president’s election meddling case in Georgia. Two judges have said no to his requests. Now, he is asking the Supreme Court to allow him to blow off a subpoena. If you have even only a small dose of skepticism, you have to ask why is he so adamant to not testify? Call me crazy, but I think he does not want to have to perjure himself…

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Democracy Can’t Afford a Governor Kari Lake

There are so many truly horrible candidates on the ballot this November that I’ve lost count. However, a few stand out in my mind … Oz, Vance, Walker, Mastriano, and Lake for starters. Kari Lake is the most unconscionable woman I can imagine … she has none. My writing partner Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has done a good job of showing us just what Ms. Lake is and I hope Arizona voters are wise enough to keep her OUT of the governor’s mansion! Thanks, Jeff!!!

On The Fence Voters

Kari Lake has a charismatic personality that reflects her years as an Arizona media personality. She talks rapidly, much like carnival barkers Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz in the House of Representatives. And much like the Congressmen above, she lies with impunity. And she does it with self-confidence that ranks right up there with her hero, the disgraced 45th President of the United States.

And, if things do not change fast, Kari Lake will be the new governor of Arizona.

If you care about democracy, and I’m not sure how many Americans do at this point, Kari Lake must be defeated in the November election. If Arizona falls for this demagogue, the rest of us will have to pick up the pieces of what might be left of a democracy in tatters.

Kari Lake is an election denier and blind sycophant to Donald Trump. He’s proudly campaigned for…

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