Sunday One (or two) Liners …

It is Sunday morning, and I have promised to make a nice brunch for my family.  And then I must wash my daughter’s uniforms, because otherwise she will have no pants to wear to work tomorrow.  And so, I do not have a lot of time and am going with just a few brief snippets this morning that I came across while trolling the news.


Pinocchio x2

I frequently wonder about the physical and mental well-being of republicans in Congress.  Turns out I am right to be concerned.  Take, for instance, Ohio’s representative Jim Jordan, who told Anderson Cooper last week that he has never heard Trump tell a lie.  “I’ve never heard the president… He’s always been square with me, that’s for darn sure.”  When asked to think harder, he contemplated for a moment, then said, “I don’t know of it.  Nothing comes to mind.”  This man is not only deaf, but also not too smart and does not belong in Congress!


Aliens, Anyone?

In Florida, Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera is looking to replace retiring Miami Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.  Aguilera may fit right in with the current batch in Congress, for she already lives in a world of fantasy.  Ms. Aguilera says she’s been aboard a spaceship crewed by aliens. As in extraterrestrials, not Mexicans. Three blond, big-bodied beings — two females, one male — visited her when she was 7 years old and have communicated telepathically with her several times in her life.  Among other things, she claims to know …

  • There are 30,000 skulls — “different from humans” — in a cave in the Mediterranean island of Malta.
  • The world’s “energy center” is in Africa.
  • The Coral Castle, a limestone tourist attraction South Miami-Dade, is actually an ancient Egyptian pyramid.

Great … well, as I said, she will fit right in with the others who claim that Trump is an honest and decent man … just about as much a stretch of the imagination as alien abductions.


Re-writing History?

Presumably on Trump’s orders, the Department of Homeland Security has removed 12 reports from FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) website.  Rather like removing the phrase “climate change” from the EPA’s website, don’t you think?  The reports?  They were primarily positive evaluations of FEMA’s operations during the tenure of President Obama.  Go figure.  I wonder if the next generation, or the one after, will be able to believe anything they read about President Obama in their history books?


Trickle-Down Didn’t Trickle

First quarter reports on U.S. economic growth showed a distinct slowing of such growth.  Why?  Because consumer spending slowed to a pace not seen since 2013.  Now wait … weren’t those ‘tax cuts’ supposed to encourage people to go out and spend more money?  What happened, Donnie?

According to an article in Reuters, “Consumer spending in the last quarter was undercut by a decline in purchases of motor vehicles, clothing and footwear as well as a slowdown in food and beverages outlays.”

Hmmm … who could have predicted this?  Oh wait … I did!!!!

A footnote here … while most working people say they are seeing little, if any, difference in their paychecks, America’s biggest banks are boasting record profits.  Think about that one … more on this later.


Say WHAT?

“I would rather have the popular vote because it’s, to me, it’s much easier to win the popular vote.” – Donald Trump

Trump now says he wants to get rid of the electoral college – the very tool that put him in the Oval Office – as it is much easier to win the popular vote.  If it’s so bloomin’ easy, then why did he lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes???

Where is that doctor who supposedly declared him mentally fit?  Oh … yeah …


Shut up, Public!!!

Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says that he is considering removing the agency’s database of consumer complaints from public view.  His excuse is that he claims it contains information that has not been vetted by the bureau and could be used unfairly against financial institutions.

Awwwww … gee golly gosh … we certainly wouldn’t wish to be unfair to the very institutions that caused the financial crisis of 2007-2008 now, would we.  We The People, after all, are not smart enough to understand that information and make our own judgments, just like Trump said we aren’t smart enough to understand his tax returns, so he just kept them private.


Well, now that I’ve managed to either make you chuckle or growl on this fine Sunday afternoon, I shall go make some mini-quiche and pancakes for my girls!  I hope you all enjoy a wonderful, relaxing Sunday afternoon!

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.