A Bombshell That Few Noticed

Last week, we found out that the former guy had instructed then-acting-attorney general Jeffrey Rosen to “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R congressmen.”  I saw this headline in numerous news sites that I visit daily, and like most of the rest of you, I growled a bit, called him a few choice names, then moved on to other stories.  But as Robert Reich points out … that was the wrong move.  This is THE story that is most important in its implications.  I’ll let Mr. Reich explain …


A Trump bombshell quietly dropped last week. And it should shock us all

Robert Reich

A newly released memo shows that Trump told the acting attorney general: ‘Just say the election was corrupt [and] leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen’

We’ve become so inured to Donald Trump’s proto-fascism that we barely blink an eye when we learn that he tried to manipulate the 2020 election. Yet the most recent revelation should frighten every American to their core.

On Friday, the House oversight committee released notes of a 27 December telephone call from Trump to then acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, in which Trump told Rosen: “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R congressmen.” The notes were taken by Richard Donoghue, Rosen’s deputy, who was also on the call.

The release of these notes has barely made a stir. The weekend news was filled with more immediate things – infrastructure! The Delta strain! Inflation! Wildfires! In light of everything else going on, Trump’s bizarre efforts in the last weeks of his presidency seem wearily irrelevant. Didn’t we already know how desperate he was?

In a word, no. This revelation is hugely important.

Rosen obviously rejected Trump’s request. But what if Rosen had obeyed Trump and said to the American public that the election was corrupt – and then “left the rest” to Trump and the Republican congressmen? What would Trump’s and the Republicans’ next moves have been? And which Republican congressmen were in cahoots with Trump in this attempted coup d’état?

Make no mistake: this was an attempted coup.

Trump knew it. Just weeks earlier, then attorney general William Barr said the justice department had found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have overturned the results.

And a few days after Trump’s call to Rosen – on 2 January – Trump told Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, to “find” votes to change the election outcome. He berated Raffensperger for not doing more to overturn the election.

Emails released last month also show that Trump and his allies in the last weeks of his presidency pressured the justice department to investigate totally unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud – forwarding them conspiracy theories and even a draft legal brief they hoped would be filed with the supreme court.

Some people, especially Republican officeholders, believe we should simply forget these sordid details. We must not.

For the first time in the history of the United States we did not have a peaceful transition of power. For the first time in American history, a president refused – still refuses – to concede, and continues to claim, with no basis in fact, that the election was “stolen” from him. For the first time in history, a president actively plotted a coup.

It would have been bad enough were Trump a mere crackpot acting on his own pathetic stage – a would-be dictator who accidentally became president and then, when he lost re-election, went bonkers – after which he was swept into the dustbin of history.

We might then merely regret this temporary lapse in American presidential history. At best, Trump would be seen as a fool and the whole affair an embarrassment to the country.

But Trump was no accident and he’s not in any dustbin. He has turned one of America’s two major parties into his own cult. He has cast the major political division in the US as a clash between those who believe him about the 2020 election and those who do not. He has emboldened state Republicans to execute the most brazen attack on voting rights since Jim Crow. Most Republican senators and representatives dare not cross him. Some of his followers continue to threaten violence against the government. By all accounts, he is running for president again in 2024.

Donald Trump’s proto-fascism poses the largest internal threat to American democracy since the civil war.

What to do about it? Fight it, and the sooner the better.

This final revelation – Trump’s 27 December call to the acting attorney general in which he pleads “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me” – should trigger section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars anyone from holding office who “engaged in insurrection” against the US. The current attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, should issue an advisory opinion clearly stating this. If Trump wants to take it to the supreme court, fine.

The Danger of Collective Amnesia

Nearly five months after the attack on the Capitol on January 6th of this year, Republicans continue to downplay and naysay the attack.  Time seems to have diminished their memories of that fateful day, and they claim it was nothing more than a few ‘tourists’ or ‘patriots’ having a good time.  Never mind that five people were killed and 140 police officers injured, and never mind that if the attempt to overthrow an election had succeeded, we would be living in a very different country today, one ruled by a madman and his cronies.

Robert Reich explains the utter importance of investigating the attack and the events that led up to it, the people who may have played a role in instigating it.  If we fail to learn from the past, then we are destined to repeat it.  Listen closely to his words, for he speaks the truth.  We the People pay to sustain a government that operates in our best interest, yet nearly half of those in Congress have completely forgotten their oaths, forgotten their purpose, and their only goal is to cement their own positions of power.

Looking Forward Doesn’t Mean Forgetting The Past

The attacks on Congress and the Capitol on January 6th of this year are destined to become a notable part of the ongoing history of this nation.  We rely on the media to help us find answers to the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions, but instead the press, whose independence we cherish and protect, is turning a blind eye, has moved on without delving too deeply for answers.  The GOP prefers to simply ‘move on’ and the press is giving in to them, it seems.  Robert Reich’s piece in The Guardian yesterday speaks to this issue …


Republicans tried to overturn the election. We can’t just forget that

Robert Reich

Americans like to look forward but the effects of Trump’s lies about Covid and the 6 January insurrection are still with us

America prefers to look forward rather than back. We’re a land of second acts. We move on.

This can be a strength. We don’t get bogged down in outmoded traditions, old grudges, obsolete ways of thinking. We constantly reinvent. We love innovation and disruption.

The downside is a tendency toward collective amnesia about what we’ve been through, and a corresponding reluctance to do anything about it or hold anyone accountable.

Now, with Covid receding and the economy starting to rebound – and the 2020 election and the attack on the Capitol behind us – the future looks bright.

But at the risk of being the skunk at the picnic, let me remind you: we have lost more than 580,000 people to Covid-19. One big reason that number is so high is our former president lied about the virus and ordered his administration to minimize its danger.

Donald Trump also lied about the results of the last election. And then – you remember, don’t you? – he tried to overturn the results.

Trump twisted the arms of state election officials. He held a rally to stop Congress from certifying the election, followed by the violent attack on the Capitol. Five people died. Senators and representatives could have been slaughtered.

Several Republican members of Congress encouraged the attempted coup by joining him in the big lie and refusing to certify the election.

This was just over four months ago, yet we seem to be doing everything we can to blot it out of our memory.

Last Tuesday, the Washington Post hosted a live video chat with the Missouri Republican senator Josh Hawley, a ringleader in the attempt to overturn the results of the election. Hawley had even made a fist-pump gesture toward the mob at the Capitol before the attack.

But the Post billed the interview as being about Hawley’s new book on the “tyranny of big tech”. It even posted a biography of Hawley that made no mention of Hawley’s sedition, referring instead to his supposed reputation “for taking on the big and the powerful to protect Missouri workers” and as “a fierce defender of the constitution”.

Last week, CBS This Morning interviewed the Florida Republican Rick Scott, another of the senators who tried to overturn the election by not certifying the results. But there was no mention of his sedition. The CBS interviewer confined his questions to Biden’s spending plans, which Scott unsurprisingly opposed.

Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson and the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, also repeatedly appear on major news programs without being questioned about their attempts to undo the results of the election.

What possible excuse is there for booking them if they have not publicly retracted their election lies? If they must appear, they should be asked if they continue to deny the election results and precisely why.

Pretending nothing happened promotes America’s amnesia, which invites more attempts to distort the truth.

On Monday, Trump issued a “proclamation” seeking to co-opt the language of those criticizing his falsehoods. “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as the BIG LIE!” he wrote, repeating his claims that the 2020 election was stolen and that President Biden is illegitimate. Most Republican voters believe him.

Trump’s big lie is being used by Republican state legislatures to justify new laws that restrict voting. On Thursday, hours after Florida installed new voting restrictions, Texas’s Republican-led legislature pushed ahead with its own bill that would make it one of the hardest states in which to cast a ballot.

The Republican-controlled Arizona senate is mounting a private recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa county – farming out 2.1m ballots to GOP partisans, including at least one who participated in the 6 January raid on the Capitol.

The Republican party is about to purge one of its leaders, the Wyoming representative Liz Cheney, for telling the truth.

It is natural to want to put all this unpleasantness behind us. We are finally turning the corner on the pandemic and the economy. Why look back to the trauma of the 2020 election?

But we cannot put it behind us. Trump’s big lie and all that it has provoked are still with us. If we forget what has occurred, the trauma will return, perhaps in even more terrifying form.

Party Of The Working Class??? 🤣🤣🤣

The newly-branded GOP, attached at the hip to the former guy, is now calling themselves the “Party of the working class”, a misnomer at the very least.  The party that supports tax breaks for mainly the 1% at the top of the economic spectrum can hardly be the party of the working class.  A party that supports racism and bigotry is not, in my view, for the working people.  However, don’t take my word for it … listen to an expert.

A friend sent me the following video last night.  For some reason, I have missed several of Robert Reich’s columns, but this one video strikes down the GOP’s attempt to redesign itself, to do grievous harm to the people of this country while telling them that the party is “for the people”.  No, they are not.  Take a look at what Mr. Reich has to say …

Ponder On This …

Robert Reich’s opinion piece in The Guardian today is especially relevant … he covers a number of topics, all of which point in the same direction … the destruction of the democratic principles that were once the foundation of this nation.


Republicans have taken up the politics of bigotry, putting US democracy at risk

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

There is no ‘surge’ of migrants at the border and there is no huge voter fraud problem – there is only hard-right attack

Republicans are outraged – outraged! – at the surge of migrants at the southern border. The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, declares it a “crisis … created by the presidential policies of this new administration”. The Arizona congressman Andy Biggs claims, “we go through some periods where we have these surges, but right now is probably the most dramatic that I’ve seen at the border in my lifetime.”

Donald Trump demands the Biden administration “immediately complete the wall, which can be done in a matter of weeks – they should never have stopped it. They are causing death and human tragedy.”

“Our country is being destroyed!” he adds.

In fact, there’s no surge of migrants at the border.

US Customs and Border Protection apprehended 28% more migrants from January to February this year than in previous months. But this was largely seasonal. Two years ago, apprehensions increased 31% during the same period. Three years ago, it was about 25% from February to March. Migrants start coming when winter ends and the weather gets a bit warmer, then stop coming in the hotter summer months when the desert is deadly.

To be sure, there is a humanitarian crisis of children detained in overcrowded border facilities. And an even worse humanitarian tragedy in the violence and political oppression in Central America, worsened by US policies over the years, that drives migration in the first place.

But the “surge” has been fabricated by Republicans in order to stoke fear – and, not incidentally, to justify changes in laws they say are necessary to prevent non-citizens from voting.

Republicans continue to allege – without proof – that the 2020 election was rife with fraudulent ballots, many from undocumented migrants. Over the past six weeks they’ve introduced 250 bills in 43 states designed to make it harder for people to vote – especially the young, the poor, Black people and Hispanic Americans, all of whom are likely to vote for Democrats – by eliminating mail-in ballots, reducing times for voting, decreasing the number of drop-off boxes, demanding proof of citizenship, even making it a crime to give water to people waiting in line to vote.

To stop this, Democrats are trying to enact a sweeping voting rights bill, the For the People Act, which protects voting, ends partisan gerrymandering and keeps dark money out of elections. It passed the House but Republicans in the Senate are fighting it with more lies.

On Wednesday, the Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz falsely claimed the new bill would register millions of undocumented migrants to vote and accused Democrats of wanting the most violent criminals to cast ballots too.

The core message of the Republican party now consists of lies about a “crisis” of violent migrants crossing the border, lies that they’re voting illegally, and blatantly anti-democratic demands voting be restricted to counter it.

The party that once championed lower taxes, smaller government, states’ rights and a strong national defense now has more in common with anti-democratic regimes and racist-nationalist political movements around the world than with America’s avowed ideals of democracy, rule of law and human rights.

Donald Trump isn’t single-handedly responsible for this, but he demonstrated to the GOP the political potency of bigotry and the GOP has taken him up on it.

This transformation in one of America’s two eminent political parties has shocking implications, not just for the future of American democracy but for the future of democracy everywhere.

“I predict to you, your children or grandchildren are going to be doing their doctoral thesis on the issue of who succeeded: autocracy or democracy?” Joe Biden opined at his news conference on Thursday.

In his maiden speech at the state department on 4 March, Antony Blinken conceded that the erosion of democracy around the world is “also happening here in the United States”.

The secretary of state didn’t explicitly talk about the Republican party, but there was no mistaking his subject.

“When democracies are weak … they become more vulnerable to extremist movements from the inside and to interference from the outside,” he warned.

People around the world witnessing the fragility of American democracy “want to see whether our democracy is resilient, whether we can rise to the challenge here at home. That will be the foundation for our legitimacy in defending democracy around the world for years to come.”

That resilience and legitimacy will depend in large part on whether Republicans or Democrats prevail on voting rights.

Not since the years leading up to the civil war has the clash between the nation’s two major parties so clearly defined the core challenge facing American democracy.

The Wealthy Are Killing Us

Two things along similar lines caught my eye today, both dealing with the income disparity in the U.S.  The first was an email/newsletter I received from Robert Reich about how this nation’s people are suffering in numerous ways that could be alleviated if only the wealthy paid their fair share in taxes.  This is a topic I’ve addressed before and in my opinion, it is criminal that the top 1% of the wealthiest people in this country pay relatively almost no taxes, while those of us working hard just to survive pay the bulk of the taxes.

The second thing that drew my attention was a post by our friend Keith based on an article in US News called “The upward mobility ‘American Dream’ has been broken. Look at the numbers” by Bella Cangelosi.  The article outlines how far the U.S. has fallen in so many areas, largely because, again, the wealthy and corporations have been given so many tax dodges disguised as deductions that the nation can no longer afford to provide a helping hand to those who are trying to better their lives.

Below is Reich’s newsletter, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read Keith’s excellent piece.

Wealth. Tax. Now.

Robert Reich-4by Robert Reich

The United States is the richest country in the world, with financial assets more than 400 times greater than the poorest country per capita.

So why can’t we afford universal health care, high-quality affordable childcare, and free college, like virtually every other developed country?

The truth is that we can afford those things and much more, but Republicans have blocked them for decades with a Big Lie: the government is broke, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

But America is not broke. The problem is that the top 1% of people own 44% of the country’s wealth but pay the lowest tax rate. That’s why Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have proposed a small, common-sense wealth tax that will take just a few pennies on every dollar over $32 million (Sanders) or $50 million (Warren) so America can finally meet the needs of working people, just like every other country does.

The amount of money consolidated in the hands of the wealthiest people in the U.S. is hard to fathom. Just 400 people in this country control $3.2 trillion, which is more money than the bottom half of Americans. The top 10% controls 75% of the wealth.

And every day, that wealth grows into even more wealth, just by sitting in investments and taking advantage of the stock market. Jeff Bezos makes nearly $150,000 every minute by doing nothing.

While the rich get exponentially richer, those in the bottom 50% are getting crushed by the pandemic economy, creating the worst wealth inequality in history. And in the next thirty years, the ultra rich of the Boomer generation will pass down their fortunes to their children in the biggest transfer of wealth ever known.

This is the dynasty-building that the founding fathers were trying to avoid when this country began. These ultra wealthy use their money to exert outsized control over charities, the government, and business trends, making them de facto rulers in the U.S.

Worse, thanks to decades of the fairy tale of trickle-down economics culminating in the Trump tax cut, the wealthy pay nowhere near their fair share to keep the country going.

The majority of taxes that fund the government come from payroll and income taxes, but that’s not where real wealth is made or stored. That’s why the ultra wealthy have been experiencing exponential growth in their holdings while the government has been cutting programs and building the deficit.

No billionaire is going to suffer under either of these plans — even under the highest tax rate, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates will still be worth tens of billions of dollars. That’s more money than most people could spend in a lifetime. But the tax dollars can pay for the basic items other countries take for granted that we’ve been denied: Universal health care. Childcare. Higher education.

The programs paid for by the wealth tax will both slow the money-hoarding taking place at the top and give the bottom 50% the programs they need to be able to build savings and eventually their own wealth.

economy-3economy-7

How To Mend A Broken Nation

There are two distinct socio-political ideologies in the United States:  liberals & conservatives.  Now, most of us are not completely one or the other but lean toward one more strongly than the other.  Of late, however, it seems sometimes as if the two sides are so divided that they live in two separate universes.  There simply is no connection, no common ground, no set of values that binds us together.

Robert Reich’s weekly column/newsletter this morning rather supports this notion … I’m glad I’m not the only one who wonders what alternate universe we’ve been dropped into!  Reich also has some common-sense ideas for how to help the two sides come closer together before we destroy ourselves and how to break the Trump-trance.


Trump left behind a monstrous predicament. Here’s how to tackle it

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

One of the nation’s two major political parties has abandoned democracy and reality. We must now move a vast swath of America back into a fact-based pro-democracy society

Next week’s Senate trial is unlikely to convict Donald Trump of inciting sedition against the United States. At least 17 Republican Senators are needed for conviction, but only five have signaled they’ll go along.

Why won’t Republican Senators convict him? After all, it’s an open and shut case. As summarized in the brief submitted by House impeachment managers, Trump spent months before the election telling his followers that the only way he could lose was through “a dangerous, wide-ranging conspiracy against them that threatened America itself.”

Immediately after the election, he lied that he had won by a “landslide”, and later urged his followers to stop the counting of electoral ballots by making plans to “fight like hell” and “fight to the death” against this “act of war” perpetrated by “Radical Left Democrats” and the “weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party”.

If this isn’t an impeachable offense, it’s hard to imagine what is. But Republican Senators won’t convict him because they’re answerable to Republican voters, and Republican voters continue to believe Trump’s Big Lie.

A shocking three out of four Republican voters don’t think Joe Biden won legitimately. About 45% even support the storming of the Capitol.

The crux of the problem is Americans now occupy two separate worlds – a fact-based pro-democracy world and a Trump-based authoritarian one.

Trump spent the last four years seducing voters into his world, turning the GOP from a political party into a grotesque projection of his pathological narcissism.

Regardless of whether he is convicted, America must now deal with the monstrous predicament he left behind: one of the nation’s two major political parties has abandoned reality and democracy.

What to do? Four things.

First, prevent Trump from running for President in 2024. The mere possibility energizes his followers.

An impeachment conviction is not the only way to prevent him. Under Section Three of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, anyone who has taken an oath to protect the Constitution is barred from holding public office if they “have engaged in insurrection” against the United States. As Constitutional expert and former Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman has noted, a majority vote that Trump engaged in insurrection against the United States is sufficient to trigger this clause.

Second, give Republicans and independents every incentive to abandon the Trump cult.

White working-class voters without college degrees who now comprise a large portion of its base need good jobs and better futures. Many are understandably angry after being left behind in vast enclaves of unemployment and despair. They should not have to depend on Trump’s fact-free fanaticism in order to feel visible and respected.

A jobs program on the scale necessary to bring many of them around will be expensive but worth the cost, especially when democracy hangs in the balance.

Big business, which used to have a home in the GOP, will need a third party. Democrats should not try to court them; the Democratic Party should aim to represent the interests of the bottom 90%.

Third, disempower the giant media empires that amplified Trump’s lies for four years – Facebook, Twitter and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and its imitators.

The goal is not to “cancel” the political right, but to refocus public deliberation on facts, truth, and logic. Democracy cannot thrive where big lies are systematically and repeatedly exploited for commercial gain.

The solution is antitrust enforcement and stricter regulation of social media, accompanied by countervailing financial pressure. Consumers should boycott products advertised on these lie factories and advertisers should shun them. Large tech platforms should lose legal immunity for violence-inciting content. Broadcasters such as Fox News and Newsmax should be liable for knowingly spreading lies (they are now being sued by producers of voting machinery and software which they accused of having been rigged for Biden).

Fourth, safeguard the democratic form of government.

This requires barring corporations and the very wealthy from buying off politicians, ending so-called “dark money” political groups that don’t disclose their donors, defending the right to vote, and ensuring more citizens are heard, not fewer.

Let’s be clear about the challenge ahead. The major goal is not to convict Trump for inciting insurrection. It is to move a vast swath of America back into a fact-based pro-democracy society and away from the Trump-based authoritarian one.

Regardless of whether he is convicted, the end of Trump’s presidency has given the nation a reprieve. But unless America uses it to end Trumpism’s hold over tens of millions of Americans, that reprieve may be temporary.

Thankfully, Joe Biden appears to understand this.

Presidential Accountability?

We all know of Donald Trump’s demeaning of the office of the president, the many ways in which he has shattered norms and broken nearly every rule in the book.  But more than his own demonic behaviour, has he set the course for the future of the presidency?  Yesterday’s column by Robert Reich examines the ‘legacy’, such as it is, of the Reign of Trump.


Americans’ acceptance of Trump’s behavior will be his vilest legacy

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

Most of the 74,222,957 Americans who voted to reelect Donald Trump – 46.8 percent of the votes cast in the 2020 presidential election – don’t hold Trump accountable for what he’s done to America. Their acceptance of Trump’s behavior will be his vilest legacy.

Nearly forty years ago, political scientist James Q. Wilson and criminologist George Kelling observed that a broken window left unattended in a community signals that no one cares if windows are broken there. The broken window is thereby an invitation to throw more stones and break more windows. The message: Do whatever you want here because others have done it and got away with it.

The broken window theory has led to picayune and arbitrary law enforcement in poor communities. But America’s most privileged and powerful have been breaking big windows with impunity.

In 2008, Wall Street nearly destroyed the economy. The Street got bailed out while millions of Americans lost their jobs, savings, and homes. Yet not no major Wall Street executive ever went to jail.

In more recent years, top executives of Purdue Pharmaceuticals, along with the members of the Sackler family who own it, knew the dangers of OxyContin but did nothing. Executives at Wells Fargo Bank pushed bank employees to defraud customers. Executives at Boeing hid the results of tests showing its 737 Max Jetliner was unsafe. Police chiefs across America looked the other way as police under their command repeatedly killed innocent Black Americans.

Here, too, they’ve got away with it. These windows remain broken.

Trump has brought impunity to the highest office in the land, wielding a wrecking ball to the most precious windowpane of all – American democracy.

The message? A president can obstruct special counsels’ investigations of his wrongdoing, push foreign officials to dig up dirt on political rivals, fire inspectors general who find corruption, order the entire executive branch to refuse congressional subpoenas, flood the Internet with fake information about his opponents, refuse to release his tax returns, accuse the press of being “fake media” and “enemies of the people,” and make money off his presidency.

And he can get away with it. Almost half of the electorate will even vote for his reelection.

A president can also lie about the results of an election without a shred of evidence — and yet, according to polls, be believed by the vast majority of those who voted for him.

Trump’s recent pardons have broken double-paned windows.

Not only has he shattered the norm for presidential pardons – usually granted because of a petitioner’s good conduct after conviction and service of sentence – but he’s pardoned people who themselves shattered windows. By pardoning them, he has rendered them unaccountable for their acts.

They include aides convicted of lying to the FBI and threatening potential witnesses in order to protect him; his son-in-law’s father, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion, witness tampering, illegal campaign contributions, and lying to the Federal Election Commission; Blackwater security guards convicted of murdering Iraqi civilians, including women and children; Border Patrol agents convicted of assaulting or shooting unarmed suspects; and Republican lawmakers and their aides found guilty of fraud, obstruction of justice and campaign finance violations.

It’s not simply the size of the broken window that undermines standards, according to Wilson and Kelling. It’s the willingness of society to look the other way. If no one is held accountable, norms collapse.

Trump may face a barrage of lawsuits when he leaves office, possibly including criminal charges. But it’s unlikely he’ll go to jail. Presidential immunity or a self-pardon will protect him. Prosecutorial discretion would almost certainly argue against indictment, in any event. No former president has ever been convicted of a crime. The mere possibility of a criminal trial for Trump would ignite a partisan brawl across the nation.

Congress may try to limit the power of future presidents — strengthening congressional oversight, fortifying the independence of inspectors general, demanding more financial disclosure, increasing penalties on presidential aides who break laws, restricting the pardon process, and so on.

But Congress – a co-equal branch of government under the Constitution — cannot rein in rogue presidents. And the courts don’t want to weigh in on political questions.

The appalling reality is that Trump may get away with it. And in getting away with it he will have changed and degraded the norms governing American presidents. The giant windows he’s broken are invitations to a future president to break even more.

Nothing will correct this unless or until an overwhelming majority of Americans recognize and condemn what has occurred.

The Rich Must Do Their Share!

Way back in 2017, I wrote a post titled It Trickles Up … Not Down! in which I de-bunked this theory that if you give the rich more money, they will use it to improve the lot of the other 99% of us … it just doesn’t happen that way, folks, for the rich delight in seeing their investment portfolios grow and largely don’t give a damn about the rest of us.  In today’s column, Robert Reich explains it in a bit more detail …


Trickle-down economics doesn’t work but build-up does – is Biden listening?

A new study confirms tax cuts for the rich do not benefit the rest. Recovery from the pandemic is a chance to change course

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

How should the huge financial costs of the pandemic be paid for, as well as the other deferred needs of society, after this annus horribilis?

Politicians rarely want to raise taxes on the rich. Joe Biden promised to do so, but a closely divided Congress is already balking.

That’s because they’ve bought into one of the most dangerous of all economic ideas: that economic growth requires the rich to become even richer. Rubbish.

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith once dubbed it the “horse and sparrow” theory: “If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.”

We know it as trickle-down economics.

In a new study, David Hope of the London School of Economics and Julian Limberg of King’s College London lay waste to the theory. They reviewed data over the last half-century in advanced economies and found that tax cuts for the rich widened inequality without having any significant effect on jobs or growth. Nothing trickled down.

Meanwhile, the rich have become far richer. Since the start of the pandemic, just 651 American billionaires have gained $1 trillion of wealth. With this windfall, they could send a $3,000 check to every person in America and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic. Don’t hold your breath.

Stock markets have been hitting record highs. More initial public stock offerings have been launched this year than in over two decades. A wave of high-tech IPOs has delivered gushers of money to Silicon Valley investors, founders, and employees.

Oh, and tax rates are historically low.

Yet at the same time, more than 20 million Americans are jobless, 8 million have fallen into poverty, 19 million are at risk of eviction, and 26 million are going hungry. Mainstream economists are already talking about a “K-shaped” recovery – the better-off reaping most gains while the bottom half continue to slide.

You don’t need a doctorate in ethical philosophy to think that now might be a good time to tax and redistribute some of the top’s riches to the hard-hit below. The UK is already considering an emergency tax on wealth.

The president-elect has rejected a wealth tax, but maybe he should be even more ambitious and seek to change economic thinking altogether.

The practical alternative to trickle-down economics might be called build-up economics. Not only should the rich pay for today’s devastating crisis but they should also invest in the public’s long-term wellbeing. The rich themselves would benefit from doing so, as would everyone else.

At one time, America’s major political parties were on the way to embodying these two theories. Speaking to the Democratic National Convention in 1896, populist William Jennings Bryan noted: “There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that, if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous, their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

Build-up economics reached its zenith in the decades after the Second World War, when the richest Americans paid a marginal income tax rate of between 70% and 90%. That revenue helped fund massive investment in infrastructure, education, health, and basic research – creating the largest and most productive middle class the world had ever seen.

But starting in the 1980s, America retreated from public investment. The result is crumbling infrastructure, inadequate schools, wildly dysfunctional healthcare and public health systems, and a shrinking core of basic research. Productivity has plummeted.

Yet we know public investment pays off. Studies show an average return on infrastructure investment of $1.92 for every public dollar invested, and a return on early childhood education of between 10% and 16% – with 80% of the benefits going to the general public.

The Covid vaccine reveals the importance of investments in public health, and the pandemic shows how everyone’s health affects everyone else’s. Yet 37 million Americans still have no health insurance. A study in the Lancet estimates Medicare for All would prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths each year, while saving money.

If we don’t launch something as bold as a Green New Deal, we’ll spend trillions coping with ever more damaging hurricanes, wildfires, floods and rising sea levels.

The returns from these and other public investments are huge. The costs of not making them are astronomical.

Trickle-down economics is a cruel hoax, while the benefits of build-up economics are real. At this juncture, between a global pandemic and the promise of a post-pandemic world, and between the administrations of Trump and Biden, we would be well-served by changing the economic paradigm from trickle down to build up.

Welcome to America, Where the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer

Yesterday, I wrote of my frustration with this nation’s apparent inability or unwillingness to unite — left vs right, Republican vs Democrat.  Today, Robert Reich’s column in The Guardian shows us that the divide is a calculated one, a manipulation by those with billions of dollars in their portfolio, aided and abetted by the GOP.  Reich proposes that the real division is the 1% vs 99% and that a middle ground no longer exists, nor can it.  Take a look …


Trump’s refusal to concede is just the latest gambit to please Republican donors

Robert Reich-4by Robert Reich

Millions who should be ranged against the American oligarchy are distracted and divided – just as their leaders want

Leave it to Trump and his Republican allies to spend more energy fighting non-existent voter fraud than containing a virus that has killed 244,000 Americans and counting.

The cost of this misplaced attention is incalculable. While Covid-19 surges to record levels, there’s still no national strategy for equipment, stay-at-home orders, mask mandates or disaster relief.

The other cost is found in the millions of Trump voters who are being led to believe the election was stolen and who will be a hostile force for years to come – making it harder to do much of anything the nation needs, including actions to contain the virus.

Trump is continuing this charade because it pulls money into his newly formed political action committee and allows him to assume the mantle of presumed presidential candidate for 2024, whether he intends to run or merely keep himself the center of attention.

Leading Republicans like the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, are going along with it because donors are refilling GOP coffers.

The biggest beneficiaries are the party’s biggest patrons – the billionaire class, including the heads of the nation’s largest corporations and financial institutions, private-equity partnerships and hedge funds – whom a deeply divided nation serves by giving them unfettered access to the economy’s gains.

Their heist started four decades ago. According to a recent Rand study, if America’s distribution of income had remained the same as it was in the three decades following the second world war, the bottom 90% would now be $47tn richer.

A low-income American earning $35,000 this year would be earning $61,000. A college-educated worker now earning $72,000 would be earning $120,000. Overall, the grotesque surge in inequality that began 40 years ago is costing the median American worker $42,000 per year.

The upward redistribution of $47tn wasn’t due to natural forces. It was contrived. As wealth accumulated at the top, so did political power to siphon off even more wealth and shaft everyone else.

Monopolies expanded because antitrust laws were neutered. Labor unions shriveled because corporations were allowed to bust unions. Wall Street was permitted to gamble with other people’s money and was bailed out when its bets soured even as millions lost their homes and savings. Taxes on the top were cut, tax loopholes widened.

When Covid-19 hit, big tech cornered the market, the rich traded on inside information and the Treasury and the Fed bailed out big corporations but let small businesses go under. Since March, billionaire wealth has soared while most of America has become poorer.

How could the oligarchy get away with this in a democracy where the bottom 90% have the votes? Because the bottom 90% are bitterly divided.

Long before Trump, the GOP suggested to white working-class voters that their real enemies were Black people, Latinos, immigrants, “coastal elites”, bureaucrats and “socialists”. Trump rode their anger and frustration into the White House with more explicit and incendiary messages. He’s still at it with his bonkers claim of a stolen election.

The oligarchy surely appreciates the Trump-GOP tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and the most business-friendly supreme court since the early 1930s. But the Trump-GOP’s biggest gift has been an electorate more fiercely split than ever.

Into this melee comes Joe Biden, who speaks of being “president of all Americans” and collaborating with the Republican party. But the GOP doesn’t want to collaborate. When Biden holds out an olive branch, McConnell and other Republican leaders will respond just as they did to Barack Obama – with more warfare, because that maintains their power and keeps the big money rolling in.

The president-elect aspires to find a moderate middle ground. This will be difficult because there’s no middle. The real divide is no longer left versus right but the bottom 90% versus the oligarchy.

Biden and the Democrats will better serve the nation by becoming the party of the bottom 90% – of the poor and the working middle class, of black and white and brown, and of all those who would be $47tn richer today had the oligarchy not taken over America.

This would require that Democrats abandon the fiction of political centrism and establish a countervailing force to the oligarchy – and, not incidentally, sever their own links to it.

They’d have to show white working-class voters how badly racism and xenophobia have hurt them as well as people of color. And change the Democratic narrative from kumbaya to economic and social justice.

Easy to say, hugely difficult to accomplish. But if today’s bizarre standoff in Washington is seen for what it really is, there’s no alternative.