This Speaks Volumes …

Last night I came across this editorial from the Editorial Board at the Orlando Sentinel.  It speaks for itself …

Orlando-Sentinel.jpgOur Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump | Editorial

By ORLANDO SENTINEL EDITORIAL BOARD

| ORLANDO SENTINEL |

JUN 18, 2019 | 5:30 AM

Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign.

We’re here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing: Donald Trump.

Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent.

Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump.

After 2½ years we’ve seen enough.

Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.

So many lies — from white lies to whoppers — told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity.

Trump’s capacity for lying isn’t the surprise here, though the frequency is.

It’s the tolerance so many Americans have for it.

There was a time when even a single lie — a phony college degree, a bogus work history — would doom a politician’s career.

Not so for Trump, who claimed in 2017 that he lost the popular vote because millions of people voted illegally (they didn’t). In 2018 he said North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat (it is). And in 2019 he said windmills cause cancer (they don’t). Just last week he claimed the media fabricated unfavorable results from his campaign’s internal polling (it didn’t).

According to a Washington Post database, the president has tallied more than 10,000 lies since he took office.

Trump’s successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency.

Trump insults political opponents and national heroes alike with middle-school taunts. He demonstrates no capacity for empathy or remorse. He misuses his office to punish opponents, as when he recently called for a boycott of AT&T to get even with his least favorite media outlet, CNN. He tears down institutions, once airily suggesting the U.S. should try having a leader for life as China now allows. He seems incapable of learning a lesson, telling an ABC interviewer last week — just two months after Robert Mueller’s report on election interference was released — that he would accept dirt on an opponent from Russia or China.

Trump has diminished our standing in the world. He reneges on deals, attacks allies and embraces enemies.

This nation must never forget that humiliating public moment in Helsinki in 2018 when the president of the United States chose to accept Vladimir Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election over the unanimous assessment of the American intelligence community.

Such a betrayal by a U.S. president would have been the unforgivable political sin in normal times.

As if that’s not enough, Trump declares his love for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, a genuine villain who starves and enslaves his people and executes his enemies with antiaircraft guns and flamethrowers.

But he wrote the president a “beautiful letter.” Flattery will get you everywhere with this president, and that’s dangerous.

Domestically, the president’s signature issue — immigration — has moved in fits and starts. Happily, he abandoned pursuing an outright — and unconstitutional — ban on Muslims entering the U.S., opting instead to restrict travel for people from a handful of nations, most of them majority Muslim.

He’s tried separating families, sending troops to the border and declaring a national emergency. For all of that, illegal border crossings are, as the president himself calls it, at crisis levels.

He blames House Democrats because casting blame is Trump’s forte. But Republicans controlled the House and the Senate for two full years. That seemed like an ideal time to fix what the president believes ails our immigration laws.

Even with Democrats now controlling the House, where is Trump’s much-touted deal-making mojo, an attribute he campaigned on?

“But the economy!”

Yes, the market has done well since Trump’s election.

The S&P 500 was up about 21% between Trump’s inauguration and May 31 of his third year in office. Under President Obama, it was up about 56% in that same period.

Unemployment is headed down, as it was during seven straight years under Obama.

Wages are up, and that’s a welcome change. But GDP increases so far are no better than some periods under Obama. Deficit spending under Obama was far too high, in part because of the stimulus needed to dig out of the Great Recession. Under Trump, it’s still headed in the wrong direction, once again pushing $1 trillion even though the economy is healthy.

Trump seems to care nothing about the deficit and the national debt, which once breathed life into the Tea Party.

Through all of this, Trump’s base remains loyal. Sadly, the truest words Trump might ever have spoken was when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose his supporters.

This non-endorsement isn’t defaulting to whomever the Democrats choose. This newspaper has a history of presidential appointments favoring Republicans starting in the mid-20th century. Except for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the Sentinel backed Republican presidential nominees from 1952 through 2004, when we recommended John Kerry over another four years of George W. Bush.

As recently as 2012 we recommended Republican Mitt Romney because of what seemed at the time to be Obama’s failure to adequately manage the nation’s finances.

If — however unlikely — a Republican like Romney, now a senator from Utah, or former Ohio Gov. John Kasich successfully primaried the president, we would eagerly give them a look. Same if an independent candidate mounted a legitimate campaign.

We’d even consider backing Trump if, say, he found the proverbial cure for cancer or — about as likely — changed the essence of who he is (he won’t).

The nation must endure another 1½ years of Trump. But it needn’t suffer another four beyond that.

We can do better. We have to do better.


The comments ran about 2-1 in agreement with the Sentinel, praising its high standards and integrity in taking this stand.  I think it speaks volumes when a newspaper that has consistently endorsed republican candidates for more than half a century refuses to endorse this republican incumbent, Donald Trump.

King of Debt …

The Commerce Department announced Wednesday that the overall U.S. trade deficit in goods last year soared to an all-time high of $891 billion.  That’s an all-time high … of $891,000,000,000.  That’s the second record Trump has broken in as many months … he must be mighty proud of himself.  But wait … it seems that I recall something he said …

  • “I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN” – 04 December 2018
  • “We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S. Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!” – 04 April 2018

Now, frankly, although concerning, the trade deficit does not worry me nearly as much as the national debt that rose to a staggering all-time high of $22 trillion last month.  That was the first record he broke.  Between the two, the national debt and the trade deficit, it would appear that Trump’s real goal is to bankrupt the United States of America.  Is this what he meant by “Make America Great Again”?  And worse yet, his blind-faith followers, both in the Congress and among the voters, are still busily applauding him, chanting “Lock her up”, and still waiting for Mexico to pay for the wall that will never be built.tax-cuts-debt.jpgCare to know some of what happens when a nation becomes ‘bankrupt’ and cannot pay its debt?  In part, domestic savers and investors, anticipating a fall in the value of the local currency, will scramble to withdraw their money from bank accounts and move it out of the country. To avoid bank-runs and precipitous currency depreciation, the government may shut down banks and impose capital controls. As punishment for default, capital markets will either impose punitive borrowing rates or refuse to lend at all. And credit-rating agencies will no doubt warn against investing in the country.

mnuchin

Mnuchin … a seedy-looking character

That Donald Trump does not understand economics is obvious, but what’s worse, what is unconscionable, is that he refuses to listen to and learn from those who do understand.  To add insult to injury, Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury is Steve Mnuchin, an investment banker and former hedge-fund manager.  Talk about putting the fox in charge of the hen house!!!

Trump’s ignorance is quite frankly costing us … we the taxpayers, We the People.  Farmers are filing for bankruptcy because Trump’s tariffs have virtually closed the Chinese market for soybeans and damaged exports of milk and pork.  And still, the people are applauding him with their eyes closed and cotton stuffed into their ears.Farm-bankruptcyAnd while our debt increases, while our trade deficits are skyrocketing, while farmers are losing their life savings, Donald Trump wants to spend billions more dollars to build a useless, unneeded wall on our southern border.  As I said … it would seem his goal is to take what he, his family, and his rich cronies can get during his four-year term and destroy the rest.

The biggest cause of the national debt increase is the tax cuts for the very wealthy that were voted into law in December 2017.  If you think of your household budget, it is as if you took a large pay cut, yet still have the same obligations such as mortgage/rent, electricity/gas, car payment, water bill, fuel, food, clothing, etc.  You can see where this just doesn’t work.  Obviously, Trump cannot see, for apparently he either missed out or slept through Econ 101, and has never had to prepare or maintain a household budget.  After all, this is the ‘man’ who thought you had to present identification to buy groceries!

Way back in 2016, when he was campaigning for the office he now holds, he said this:

“People said I want to go and buy debt and default on debt, and I mean, these people are crazy. This is the United States government. First of all, you never have to default because you print the money, I hate to tell you, OK?”

That is reminiscent of the time, when my children were small, and I couldn’t afford to buy my son a toy he wanted.  He said, “But mommy, you have lots of checks!”  Sigh.  It simply doesn’t work that way, as most of us who are thinking individuals realize.  I could understand that lack of comprehension from my 6-year-old son, but not from a ‘man’ aged 72 who is the leader of a nation of some 300 million people!

Perhaps most telling is an incident from 2017 when economic advisors (ones who actually understood economics) were trying to explain to Trump that his policies would ultimately lead to a severe spike in the national debt, and Trump’s response was …

“Yeah, but I won’t be here.”

As long as he can milk it for what it’s worth to him, personally, while he’s in office, he does not care what happens to our economy, our nation, our lives, once he leaves office.  I fear that by the time somebody manages to awaken the republicans, remove their blinders and pull the cotton from their ears, it will be too late to avert a full-fledged depression such as  the one that began in 1929 and lasted for ten years.  milton-friedman

A Batch of Mini-Snarkies

Mind bounce has returned and I cannot seem to stay focused long enough to finish the post I was working on tonight, so instead I give you a few very short snippets.  But don’t worry … they are not short on snark!


The George & Kelly show …george-kellyanne-conwayI have to admit that I take great pleasure in the anti-Trumpian comments I see from time-to-time by none other than George Conway, Kellyanne’s husband!  Here’s his latest tweet …

“Even the modern tyrants whom the president … praises demonstrate more facility with language and more attention to governing detail than does he. To borrow from popular culture, Trump looks less like the sinister Emperor Palpatine and more like the hapless Jar Jar Binks.”

One commenter praised George, saying …

“Your bi- partisan honesty is making you an American hero.   You are amongst some of society’s opinion leaders who stepped up to the plate after Senator McCain could no longer do so….Thank You.”

I repeat what I’ve often said … I wonder what their home life is like?


Ann Coulter makes sense???

coulterThe very name makes me see red, for she is the most radical, foul-mouthed, utterly stupid woman on the face of the earth.  However, on Friday she miraculously said something that was actually true and made sense …

“The goal of a national emergency is for Trump to scam the stupidest people in his base for 2 more years.”

A change of heart?  No, she just happens to be feuding with Trump and was likely trying to get his goat.  Either that, or it was an accident.  Even the stupidest of people will sometimes accidentally say something sensible.  Nonetheless, she got it right … this time.


A tweet is worth a thousand words …

Trump tweet


They turn on their own

A pair of Fox ‘News’ hosts have called for Florida Senator Marco Rubio to step down because he spoke out against Trump’s declaration of a state of emergency.  You may remember last April (or, if you’re like me, you may not even remember yesterday) when I wrote a piece about Fox hosts Diamond and Silk?  Well, it was they who took umbrage at Rubio’s statement:

“We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution.  Today’s national emergency is border security. But a future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal.”

And Diamond & Silk’s response …

Brilliant … simply brilliant and so typical of the republicans today!


Oopsie!

Last December, Trump announced his choice of former Fox ‘News’ reporter Heather Nauert to replace Nikki Haley as United States Ambassador to the United Nations.  Of course, Ms. Nauert is highly qualified … she worked for Fox and she praises Trump – the only two qualifications necessary for any position in today’s federal government.  But yesterday Ms. Nauert suddenly removed herself from consideration for this prestigious position.  Why?

heather-nauertWhat Ms. Nauert said was that “it is in the best interests of my family”.  But it seems there is just a little bit more to it than that.  You see, about 10 years ago, she hired a foreign-born nanny who didn’t have the proper work visa and Nauert didn’t pay proper taxes on time.  Yep, she fits right in with the Trump bunch.  I wonder if this means she will have to step down from her current position as Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs?


Who’s guarding the henhouse?

As I mentioned earlier this week, the national debt has now reached an all-time high of $22 trillion … that’s t-r-i-l-l-i-o-n.  But Trump & Company seem to be shrugging their shoulders and saying, “So what?”mick-mulvaneyI find it interesting, and more than a little bit disturbing, that Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has no apparent interest in the ever-growing national debt.  Mulvaney was one of the founding members of the House Freedom Caucus and a deficit hawk.  But last week, when asked if Trump would mention the debt in his State of the Union address, Mick said that he would not, because “nobody cares”.

And Trump himself, who was highly critical of the debt under President Obama …

“Our debt is about to top $17T. ObamaCare and China (& others) are killing American business.” – 24 June 2013

“So many problems in the U.S. and leadership that is hopeless…and now, on top of everything else, we just hit $18 trillion in debt!” – 13 October 2014

“With America’s debt topping $21T by the end of his presidency, Obama will have effectively bankrupted our country.” – 10 February 2015

The same man who tweeted those tweets now shrugs his shoulders after adding nearly another $3 trillion to the debt and bringing it to its highest level in the history of the nation.  And when financial advisors attempted to explain the severity of the situation in 2017, he reportedly said, “Yeah, but I won’t be here”.


And on that note, I bid you a happy Sunday!

The United States of Chaos

I don’t know about you folks, but personally I am beginning to feel very irrelevant, inconsequential when it comes to the current administration and the republicans in Congress.  You will notice, those of you who are employed, that during the 35-day shutdown, federal income taxes continued to be withheld from your paycheck.  Every pay, like clockwork, we pay our taxes, and most of us don’t grumble about it, for we understand that it is our taxes that are used to build roads, maintain the military, provide food and shelter for those less fortunate, and pay the salaries of those who serve in our government.  It is as it should be.  BUT …

I don’t think there is a single person reading this blog who appreciates Donald Trump spending $50,000 for a toy to keep him entertained on rainy afternoons, during his 60% “Executive Time”.  What, you ask, am I prattling on about?  This …

Trump plays a lot of golf, as we all know.  When he was on the campaign trail in 2016, he criticized President Obama for the amount of time he spent playing golf, and said this …

“I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf.” – Donald J. Trump, August 2016

And yet, absorb this:  President Obama played 306 rounds of golf during the entire 8 years he was in office, which averages to approximately 38 rounds of golf per year.  But Donald Trump, the ‘man’ who said he would be working so hard that he wouldn’t have time for golf, has averaged 70 rounds of golf per year for his first two years!  Where’s all that hard work, eh?  But back to his latest toy …

During the 35-day government shutdown when nearly a million federal workers were either furloughed sans pay, or were expected to work without being paid, Trump’s advisors were apparently able to convince him that it would look really bad if he were out playing golf instead of working to come to an agreement to re-open the government and pay our people.  And thus, he went … wait for it … 69 days without playing golf!  And thus, the above toy … a room-sized golf simulator game at the cost of what, for most of us, is an entire year’s salary or more.  It is said by an anonymous White House staffer that Trump paid for the toy with his own money, but frankly, until I see a canceled check drawn on his personal checking account, I am skeptical.

It was recently reported that Trump spends 60% of his time doing ‘executive time’ … time that he spends watching television, tweeting and talking on the phone, and that he doesn’t leave his residence to begin work until around 11:00 a.m.  Now, you can add another hour to his ‘executive time’, for that is the time it takes to play a round of golf on the new toy.  I wonder … will he get all hot & sweaty and have to take another 20 minutes for a shower after he plays?

trump-golfing


And in other news … again on the campaign trail, Trump promised this …

  • In his official campaign launch address, Trump promised to “reduce our $18 trillion in debt,” which will not happen if annual deficits hit $1 trillion in two years.
  • On the campaign trail, Trump said he would “freeze the budget,” which has certainly not happened.
  • Shortly before his inauguration, he told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would “balance the budget very quickly… I think over a five-year period. And I don’t know, maybe I could even surprise you.”
  • Previous to that, in March 2016, he told Bob Woodward that he could get rid of the debt “fairly quickly.” When pressed, he said, “Well, I would say over a period of eight years.” Since Trump took office, his own budget director called that promise “hyperbole.”
  • Trump asserted during the second presidential debate that he would bring back energy companies, which would make so much money that they could pay off the national debt. This has not happened.

None of those things have happened but guess what DID happen.  On Tuesday, 12 February 2019, the national debt hit a record high of $22 trillion, nearly $3 trillion higher than when he took office just over two years ago.  Never before in our history has it topped $21 trillion.  For perspective, that is $22,000,000,000.  And climbing.  Why?  While there is no single reason, the biggest reason is the reduction in revenue as a result of the tax cuts for the wealthy that Congress passed, and Trump signed in December 2017.  As tax filers are finding out this month, those tax cuts were truly for the wealthy, and the average taxpayer got shafted.  And still, he presses on for his unnecessary, useless border wall.

Over the course of the last two years, we have gone from a democratic-republic to a plutocracy, a government by the wealthy.  We have ceased to matter to the current administration.  And while Trump’s supporters may crow about the low unemployment rate and the stable economy … a change is coming.  We cannot continue to exist on high deficit spending and an increasing national debt without paying the consequences which I believe are waiting just around the corner.  A rising national debt has been compared to driving your car with the emergency brake on.  Trump’s house of cards may well be about to come tumbling down around us, but he’s having fun playing with his new golf toy, so … no worries, right?

Meanwhile, the Trumptanic keeps chugging toward the iceberg …iceberg

The State of DISunion

I did not watch Donald Trump’s State of the Union (SOTU) address last night, for three very good reasons.

  1. I was already not feeling well and knew that having to see his face, hear his voice, and see all those strange contortions he does with his face would make me unbearably ill.
  2. I feared that my strong reaction to having to listen to him would cause me to irreparably damage my laptop, and frankly I cannot afford a new computer at the moment.
  3. The most important reason of all is that the speech was sure to be filled with lies, or as Keith would prefer I say, ‘untruths’. Why bother?  I have better things to do with my time.

I have worked my way through most of the transcript this morning, have read a few analyses, read The Washington Post’s fact check, and concluded that I was correct in my assessment – it would have been a colossal waste of my valuable time.  That said, I do have some things to say (surprised, aren’t you?) about it all.

First of all, one has to wonder why we even have a State of the Union address every year.

Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution states that the president shall ”from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

Somehow, I think that goal could be accomplished without all the pomp and circumstance that surround the event these days.  And, with today’s instantaneous communication, the speech seems really to have outlived its usefulness.  In fact, of what use is it to waste the time of Congress, the Supreme Court, other guests and the home viewing audience, just to listen to fairy tales?  Why couldn’t he just tweet it, as he does everything else? I won’t bother to bore you with the fact-checking … you can get that from any of the major media outlets.

The speech is most notable for what was not addressed.

Climate Change.  How can a speech that is intended to inform us about the state of the country, completely ignore the thing that, by most measures, is the single most important issue facing this, and every other nation?  Under Trump, the U.S. has pulled out of major agreements to work toward reducing carbon emissions and has rolled back the regulations that were intended to help protect the environment.  We have seen the results with our own eyes in the past year, even the past week, yet he says not one word?

Renewable Energy.  The future is not in the coal, gas and oil that Trump has so adamantly vowed to protect, but the future is in renewable energy such as solar, wind and water.  Under Trump, there is no major push by the federal government to explore and expand on renewable energy, but a number of states and corporations are participating.  This could have been a genuine feather in Trump’s cap, had he opted to do the right thing, to take seriously the need to distance ourselves from fossil fuels.  Instead, he chose the most destructive path.

Relations with Allies.  Our relationships with our allies are crumbling, thanks to Trump’s policies that have, in many cases, left our allies scrambling to try to make up for the failure of the U.S. to pull its weight, such as in the Paris Accord, NATO, the Iran nuclear agreement, and NAFTA, and the latest threat to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria and Afghanistan.  Add to that the disdain he has shown for the leaders of allied nations, such as Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Theresa May and others.  We are no longer a good and trusted friend, to put it quite simply.

Poverty.  Despite Trump’s claims that wages have risen, jobs have been created, 13.4% of people in this nation are living below the poverty level.  As the population increases, and some jobs are replaced by technology, the number of people who struggle just to put food on the table has risen and will continue to rise.

Education.  We are falling behind in our education system, as I have mentioned more than a few times, and this is the key to almost everything I have listed so far.  The new trend seems to be moving away from developing minds and more toward job training.  This is a mistake … a huge mistake … and to add insult to injury, this nation has made it nearly impossible for a young person from a lower-income family to go to college.

National Debt.  With the December 2017 tax cuts that benefit almost exclusively the wealthy in the nation, we severely reduced the nation’s revenue.  To maintain a balanced budget, thereby keeping the national debt at current levels, would require spending cuts equal to the revenue reduction.  But those cuts, under Trump’s plan, would come from programs that help disadvantaged people.  Trump’s fiscal plan is rather a reverse Robin Hood – rob from the poor to give to the rich.

Gun Regulation.  The U.S. is the only nation on the globe with almost no regulations on firearms.  Those who claim the 2nd Amendment gives them the right to own an arsenal that includes assault-type weapons that can mow down a crowd inside of a minute are fools.  On this, the 37th day of 2019, there have already been 510 gun deaths in the U.S.  An average of 14 per day.  And yet, this topic was not considered important enough to be addressed in the State of the Union.

There is more I could add, but you get the picture.  The address was a public relations event, nothing more.  I found it strange that he would call for unity, when he has, in fact, been the most divisive president in the history of the nation.  “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution …” he said, when he is the very source of revenge and retribution, he has pursued a divisive political strategy very much focused on his base.  Last night’s speech, like most everything he does, was intended only for his base … he told them what they wanted to hear and left the rest of us with the clear knowledge that nothing is changed, that the state of the nation is _____________________. (Fill in the blank)

CHAOS!!! — Part II

When I wrote Chaos yesterday, I had no intention of it becoming Part I of a series, but as the day progressed into evening, I knew I wasn’t finished, so here is Part II, and Part III seems likely.

Okay, I know you are all sick and tired of hearing about ‘the wall’, and so am I.  But, since the child sitting in the Oval Office is throwing spoons again demanding his fribbin’ wall, we are not done hearing about it, much as it is giving us all ulcers.  The latest …

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, after vacillating between determination to shut the government down if he doesn’t get initial funding for his wall, and willingness to sign a short-term spending bill and delay this argument until next February, he finally gave his final word before leaving for a ‘vacation’ at his bloody estate in Florida:

“I’ve made my position very clear. Any measure that funds the government must include border security.  Walls work, whether we like it or not. They work better than anything.”

Okay, nothing new there, right?  Except that … the unthinkable … the House of Representatives caved and instead of passing the short-term spending bill approved by the Senate, House Republican leaders hurried to appease the president, pulling together a bill that would keep the government funded through Feb. 8 while also allocating $5.7 billion for the border wall.  CAVED!  Threw the hard-working citizens of this nation under the bus!  $5.7 billion!!!  For a useless, destructive wall, only because it’s what his ego demands.  Nobody with an IQ over 45 wants that damn wall!  $5.7 billion!!! 

The legislation passed the House on a near-party-line vote of 217 to 185 last night, over strident objections from Democrats who criticized the wall as immoral and ineffective and declared the legislation dead on arrival in the Senate. No Democrats voted for the House measure, and eight Republicans voted against it.

Yo!  Republican members of the House of Representatives!  Where are your cojones?  You knew all along that this wall is a waste of money, and the $5.7 billion is barely the beginning, for all reasonable estimates put the total cost between $50 billion and $75 billion.  This is not your money you’re throwing away … it is OURS!!!  Remember us?  We The People?

And in case you need a real laugh right about now, a man, a veteran named Brian Kolfage has started a GoFundMe site to raise funds for the wall and is asking that every American contribute $80!  Over my dead body!  But the sad part is apparently an awful lot of people in this nation have more money than they have common sense, for thus far more than 100,000 people have contributed and the account has raised more than $8 million.  I am truly sickened by this.  Why?  Because … do you see Mr. Kolfage raising money to help out starving children or provide medical care for families in need?  No, instead he is directing his efforts to a useless piece of steel & mortar that will only harm humans, the economy and wildlife.  Mr. Kolfage, as well as those 100,000 people are not humanitarians.  They are fools who care not one whit for any but themselves.  They are, in my book, white supremacist cowards, afraid to share their nation with those whose skin may not be quite as pale as their own.

Kolfage claims that Trump has “followed through on just about every promise” he made in his campaign, and that it is every citizen’s duty to help Trump “overcome Democratic resistance to the wall”.  Whoa … hold up Brian … more of those ‘citizens’ whose duty you claim to know are democrats than are republicans.  You’re saying, basically, that it is the duty of democrats to overcome their own resistance?  Have you read any of the studies about the wall, the harm it will do to wildlife, the damage to the economy of the border states?  Open your eyes, man!

There are so many more important issues in this nation than a wall along the southern border.  Do we really want to live in a walled-in nation?  I know I don’t. Are we really so afraid of families fleeing for their lives, or starving children, that we are willing to plunge this nation into massive debt in order to keep “them” out?  Yes, I am angry … no, wait … between this wall thing and Trump’s asinine claims that he will be pulling our troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, I am well beyond angry … I am furious.  Republicans … please, wake up and demand a stop to the madness before the planet explodes into a fiery ball of violence!  Demand that our legislators be the adults in the room, since Trump cannot.  This madness cannot continue … it simply cannot.  And now, I shall leave you to go in search of happier blogs.

Tick, tick, tick – young folks please raise some holy hell on this

Amidst all the hoopla and smoke & mirrors that defines Trump and his administration, there are some very serious long-term policy decisions being made that will affect the future of this nation. Friend Keith Wilson has brought one to the limelight, and we should all be taking this one seriously. Please take a moment to read Keith’s post about our national debt and where we are heading. Thank you, Keith, for the clarification.

musingsofanoldfart

Tick, tick tick…the US debt of $20.7 trillion is expected to increase by $10 trillion by 2027 even before the December Tax Bill and last night’s Budget Bill were passed.

Tick, tick, tick…per the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the Tax Bill is projected to increase the US debt by $1.5 trillion or so by 2027.

Tick, tick, tick…last night’s Budget Bill which has now been signed into law is expected to increase the debt by $300 billion over the next two years.

Tick, tick, tick…unless something is done about it, the debt will be close to $33 trillion in 2027. The scarier thought is that might be low.

Tick, tick, tick…the added dilemma we are facing is the interest rates are increasing, since we may have overheated a good economy. That will add further to the annual interest cost on the debt.

If I were in…

View original post 322 more words

Tax Bill Reconciliation?

Members of Congress have been busy as little beavers, trying to bring the House and Senate versions of the ‘tax reform bills’ together into a single bill for Trump to sign.  They seem to be in such a rush that they do not have time for such things as facts and credible analyses.  They remind me of the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland who is looking at his pocket watch, repeatedly saying, “I’m late, I’m late …”

What’s the rush?  Well, first of all, they are under pressure from Trump and from their rich donors to “get ‘er done”.  More to the point, while the budget was extended for two weeks, that is a very short time to prepare a spending bill, get the necessary votes, reconcile the House and Senate versions, and get it signed.  Look how long the tax bill is taking, after all! Thus, a government shutdown still looms.  So, I understand the rush, but … both of these bills are so terrible that neither deserve consideration, and to completely disregard the facts, to ignore every likely outcome, is destined to do far more harm to the people of this nation than it will benefit them.  Let us take a look …

Today, the Department of Treasury, under the ‘leadership’ of Trump’s handpicked Steven Mnuchin, issued its “Analysis of Growth and Revenue Estimates Based on the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Tax Reform Plan”. The tax bills are filled with fallacies and fantasies that are far more appropriate for children’s storybooks than for government policies.  Let us begin with the claim by Congress that the gigantic tax cuts for the wealthy will pay for themselves.  The Treasury Department report itself debunks this myth, as have a number of independent and non-partisan groups before this.  The plan will cost an estimated $1.5 trillion in lost revenue from major corporation and wealthy taxpayers, and is only projected to generate an additional $408 billion in additional revenue from growth.  Thus, the deficit would be more than a trillion dollars to add to our already astronomical national debt.

Treasury analysisBut, that isn’ even the worst of it, for that $408 billion in additional revenue is fallacy #2.  It is based on the assumption that all those large corporations that are saving all that money will reinvest it into solvent enterprises that will a) generate corporate tax dollars, and b) employ people who will pay taxes.  In short, it is based on the fantasy of ‘trickle down’ economics, which I have written about previously, and which has been de-bunked and proven wrong so many times that it should not even enter into the equation.  The Treasury report makes an assumption, based on this marvelous falsehood about trickle down economics of a sustained 2.9% growth rate per year over the next ten years.  Ain’t gonna happen, folks.

There are certain rules for the reconciliation process, one of which is called the Byrd Rule.  The Byrd Rule requires all provisions in the bill to be funded by revenues, and they cannot increase the deficit beyond the 10-year budget window. Obviously, neither version of the current bills being considered could pass either stipulation in the Byrd Bill, nor even come close.  That, in itself, should send them scurrying back to the drawing board for something more reasonable.

Thus far, most of the republicans in Congress still support basically whatever outcome the committee reconciling the bills comes up with, but there are some who are beginning to look at the deficit numbers and have concerns.  One such Senator is Susan Collins of Maine, who says she is as yet undecided, and has laid out certain conditions that would determine her vote, including assurances that federal Medicare payments will not be cut and that Republicans will support two separate health care bills aimed at reducing premium costs.  Far too little, and she does not even mention the deficit, but if it keeps her from voting in favour of the bill, then it’s a start.

While the increase to the national debt is the most important fallacy of these abominable bills, the impact on the average citizen must also play a role.  I did some quick and dirty math earlier today and determined that my own household would be left with a deficit of some $2,500 dollars at the end of next year.  Not a huge sum, perhaps, but still … I cannot call this a tax ‘cut’ by any stretch of the imagination. It means that we will be tightening our belts and spending less money next year, contributing less to the economy.

Now, putting this all together, if the Senate finds a way around the Byrd Rule, and if Susan Collins and the rest are somehow convinced to vote ‘aye’, here is what I see happening.

  • Median earners will have less disposable income, for they will be able to claim fewer deductions, thus effectively raising their tax rate. With less disposable income, they will spend less money on non-essential goods and services.  There goes that 2.9% growth rate, folks.
  • As consumers spend less and less, and fewer people have healthcare because the individual mandate will be gone, the economy will actually begin to lose ground, rather than grow. The national debt, therefore, will increase even faster than the Treasury Department predicts.
  • As the national debt increases, as the economy takes a hit, quarter after quarter, consumer confidence will wane and people who are already struggling will slow their contributions to their 401(k) plans, further reducing economic growth and further increasing the national debt. It is at this point that I look for a hug dip in the stock market.
  • The stock market increase in the past year has been unnatural and largely without a solid foundation. It was built on consumer confidence that stemmed from the lies coming from the administration.  When/if it dips very much, look for a recession.  And then, POP goes the republican bubble.

Now, my analysis is an over-simplification, and there are far too many variables to consider in this short post.  Plus, I am not an economist.  But common sense should tell us all that one cannot build a castle on a foundation of hot air, and that is precisely what Congress is trying to do.  There is no long-range view that has been taken, the immediate goal simply being to pass a bill that benefits all the ‘right’ people, for mid-terms are coming up in less than a year and members of Congress need to get those campaign donations coming in.  Besides that, the pest in the White House keeps calling and asking where the bill is, for he is sitting at his desk, pen in hand.

Thus concludes this bedtime story that is worthy of being included in the Grimm’s Book of Fairy Tales, for it is, indeed, a grim tale.