Inflation Not Issue With Democrats’ Job And Revenue Generating Proposals

The news has lately been filled with stories about price increases from gasoline to beef. But just as many stories have been reported that airlines are selling tickets galore and sales are percolating at stores. This morning the lead story above the fold in The Wall Street Journal was titled Shoppers Increase Spending, Despite Inflation.

U.S. consumers withstood rising inflation to power a burst of shopping ahead of the holiday season, with big retailers reporting higher sales and expectations for a solid finish to the year.

Sales at U.S. retail stores, online sellers, and restaurants rose in October by a seasonally adjusted 1.7% from the previous month, the Commerce Department said.

While it is possible to track the reasons for inflation since the pandemic, the supply chain disruptions, and the unemployment numbers or as it has also been termed the “mass resignations’, it must be noted why we must not throw away the chance to advance our society with policies that have been long sought. We need to understand that these proposed initiatives are not inflation-inducing.

When it comes to the Build Back Better legislation some partisans who desire to undermine President Biden rather than listen to the strong support from the public, as polls show, have used the fear of inflation as their rhetorical tool. But the facts and logic are not on their side.

This week at the signing of the massive and much-needed infrastructure bill Republican Senator Rob Portman spoke words that did not make as much news coverage as they warranted. His message was clear. Investing in jobs and revenue-generating ideas is a path towards a strong US economy.

“It represents a long-term investment in our nation’s hard infrastructure assets that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and make us more efficient, more productive and more competitive against other countries like China. Importantly, economists agree that by investing over time in hard assets, it adds to the supply side of the economy, and will be counter-inflationary at a time of rising inflation. And it does all of this without raising taxes on the American economy as we are coming out of the pandemic. In contrast, the partisan tax and spend Build Back Better plan will increase inflation through massive stimulus spending and hurt the economy through massive tax increases.

While it is easy to locate the latest screed from the likes of GOP Senators Ted Cruz or Ron Johnson it obviously makes far more sense to listen to the words of economists and learned individuals. Such as Mark Zandi who for years has been read and heard in this nation about economic matters. He is now the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

The hair-on-fire discourse over high inflation is understandable, but it’s overdone. … My inflation outlook could be Pollyannish, but only if inflation expectations — what investors, businesses, consumers and economists think inflation will be in the future — rise. If there is a widespread view that inflation will remain high, workers will demand higher wages to compensate and businesses will ante up, believing they can pass along their higher costs to their customers. This vicious wage-price spiral was behind the persistently high inflation we suffered 30 years ago. But there is no evidence that this is happening today.

All of this refutes the notion that the government spending and tax breaks to support the economy through the pandemic, including the American Rescue Plan this past March, are somehow behind the higher inflation. These factors certainly gave a boost to demand last spring, but that faded when the Delta variant gained momentum this fall. There is also no good way to connect the dots between the Build Back Better agenda, which is currently being debated in Congress, and higher inflation. The legislation provides support for public infrastructure and various social programs, and longer term, it is designed to lift the economy’s growth potential, which will ease inflationary pressures.

The fact is that inflation fears are being used by Republicans to confuse a certain segment of the nation and undermine the sitting president. They are not interested in, or understanding of the popular support for housing programs, climate-change policies, and a plethora of other matters contained in the Build Back Better legislation.

Fear may get them a headline now, but the nation is deserving of progress that history will long record.

And so it goes.

Republican States Greatly Benefiting From Biden’s Child Tax Credits

If you build it they will come.

Even if the building is done with one team doing all the work, while the other team seeks to block all efforts.

That applies to conservative Republicans who worked feverishly to block congressional efforts to construct the child tax credit.

But once the heavy lifting was done, and the measure signed into law by President Biden, we find that the states in the nation which are most benefiting from it are those which voted for Donald Trump in 2020.

The tax credit can be summed up with one word.

Popular.

As part of a COVID relief package that Congress passed in March, qualified families began receiving monthly payments from the federal government in July ranging from $300 for children under age 6 and $250 for children under age 18.

The current expanded tax credit has proven a policy favorite across the land. Regardless of party.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll found the credit supported by 59% of U.S. adults including 75% of people who identified themselves as Democrats and 41% of people who identified as Republicans.

The top 10 states by average monthly child tax credit payments in August — all from the West and Midwest — were: Utah, Idaho, South Dakota, Alaska, Nebraska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, and Montana, with monthly payments ranging from $515 to $456 in August.  Again, all states that voted for Trump.

The conservative state of Utah, which is also the nation’s youngest state home to large families, averaged the highest monthly payment of all at $515.

With the broad support for the policy there is now a very concerted effort underway to extend the credit which is part of the President’s $3.5 trillion spending package.

So while the GOP will not give Biden credit for darn near anything they will gladly reap the cash rewards for the hard work his administration has done to create stronger families in the nation.

The reason Democrats can make the claim for strengthening the foundation of families is based on data. Researchers at Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy are estimating that Biden’s new credit will cut childhood poverty by 45%. The IRS has estimated that 39 million families and 65 million children will benefit under this plan.

In the world of blue-collar politics, we call this a middle-class tax cut.

One that even Republicans have embraced.

And so it goes.

Donald Trump Begins Journey Of Meeting Justice, She Is Dressed As Tax Agent

At the end of each year, we see the almost routine cartoon of Father Time being ushered out as a baby New Year takes over. I thought of that type of drawing this morning as I searched for an old editorial cartoon showing Donald Trump meeting Lady Justice. The cartoon I found is most relevant today as Donald Trump and his business, have finally started to be brought into the light of law and justice.

It is but the first leg of a long and legally intense drama. But it is a very much-needed event for our nation. It is a vital function of a working democracy that those who are at the highest rungs of elected office not be seen or thinking they are above the laws. You know, the ones that the rest of us follow.

The charges are being brought by the Manhattan District Attorney against the Trump Organization and Allen Weisselberg, whom Trump once praised for doing, as is often quoted, “whatever was necessary to protect the bottom line” are most riveting. The Trump Organization is officially facing criminal charges. The organization, a company helmed by the Trump family that contains a host of business entities, including numerous luxury real estate properties, is charged with scheme conspiracy, grand larceny, falsifying business records, and criminal tax fraud.

Grifting with all their might for decades.

As such we now have the first, and certainly not the last, of a sweeping legal inquiry into the business practices that for decades have been openly talked about for their corrupt underpinnings.

Last night James and I were talking as we took a late evening drive about a local company offering $500 if one signed up to be a co-worker. He had read about this matter online earlier in the day. But, of course, taxes and other amounts are removed as if the money was an actual paycheck. The amount of money left as an incentive was one that, I assume, many would not consider a deal.

So when it comes to viewing the Trump tax shams now meeting Lady Justice, where vast amounts of goods and services were provided with no tax paid, it then underscores the vast difference between the ‘little guy’ trying to make ends meet in Dane County, and the corruption now making banner headlines.

I can see the Trump base, not understanding the intricacies of tax law, and simply dismissing the entire matter as political. Of course, they feel this way, as Dear Leader is never wrong in their undereducated eyes.

But the rest of us know history.

It was tax evasion that finally, once and for all, caught up Al Capone. Lady Justice comes in many guises, and this time for Trump and Company she dresses as the taxman.

This blog, throughout the 2016 presidential election, made clear that it was essential nominees for the White House release their taxes. The reason was obvious, as was made clear for decades of such practice by those politicians who had nothing to hide. Now, due to Trump, we are seeing why such disclosures are most prudent and warranted.

The fraud that we knew was at the heart of Trump’s refusal to be forthcoming will now be headlines that the entire nation will come to understand.

And so it goes.

Federal Tax Increases Are Justified In 2021, History Tells Us Why

With the death of Walter Mondale last week we were reminded of the honest, and required dialogue, that our leaders should have with the citizenry. In 1984, the Democratic presidential nominee told the nation that if he were elected there would be a tax increase. While some saw that honesty with the nation as a political blunder I saw it as needed candor about the necessity for more tax revenues.

Over the decades I have continuously rejected the notion that there is never to be any new tax hikes or ways to reap revenue. That is just a most absurd and untenable position from which to govern.  For far too long there has been a line of rhetoric that cutting government is the only way to move either the nation (or a state) forward.  We have seen the limits, and pure folly of such a political argument when following policy needs on the national level.

Since becoming an adult I have felt it not only an obligation but a responsibility to pay taxes. I have argued that the nation should raise taxes to pay for our wars, and also advocated on the local level for a wheel tax. Though I have been disheartened Congress has not in recent years adhered to the actions from the war of 1812, and up through the Vietnam War where special taxes were levied, I was pleased when Madison enacted a wheel tax.

This spring the nation is embarking upon another major discussion about new taxes that are needed to pay for national programming. The rhetorical volume is sure to increase following President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress and his proposal for trillions in spending for infrastructure needs and family support bills.

Biden laid out his plans repeatedly during the long presidential campaign. At the center of the revenue plan is an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, implement a minimum corporate tax, nearly double taxes on investment gains for the wealthiest, and the tweaking of inheritance laws.

The announced plans for corporate taxes would cover the $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan dealing with transport, broadband, drinking water, ports, and electricity grids. Capital gains and other proposals will create the needed revenue streams for family infrastructure which deals with early education and home care. The estimated price tag for that portion of the larger plan could reach over $1.5 trillion. 

We could cut and paste the same tired rhetoric from conservative Republicans when it comes to government spending or the needs of the citizens. Saying no and doing even less is simply what they have come to stand for over the years. That same lingo is what they will offer going forward. All the GOP can offer is claiming that any new government action is socialism. The current batch of angry white males in the party could never even pretend at fostering policy ideas akin to how former congressman Jack Kemp once labored! 

For the rest of us, however, there is history that we can look back on as a way to gauge our path forward.

Aggressive federal power has always been an active ingredient for progress. President George Washington had an industrial policy so to build and enhance a much-needed manufacturing economy. No prudish Federalist, but rather a determined nationalist.

Sidney Blumenthal writes in his volumes about the strong feelings Abraham Lincoln had for federal dollars on behalf of infrastructure projects, and a deep understanding as to why increased spending on public education was a necessity.

The list could go on and on about the leaders who knew the power of government, and the wise use of harnessing it for the greater good. As one reads about President Teddy Roosevelt or later President Franklin Roosevelt the battles were not about big government or small. That is due to the way they acted as leaders. As with the others through our nation’s narrative, they grasped the fact that government is the means of getting big things done for the people that matter.

The conservatives will snark endlessly this year about taxes but the rest of us have history on our side.

On April 8, 1789–three weeks before George Washington will be sworn into office for the first time–James Madison stood up in the House of Representatives and introduced a tax bill.  It was the first bill ever introduced under the new form of government outlined in the U.S. Constitution. 

The very first order of business in the very first session of Congress was a bill to make sure that the economy was placed in a more sure-footed path, and that manufacturing would be promoted.  The means to do that were duties, and tariffs on a whole range of products from rum, beer, molasses, sugar cocoa, and coffee. 

There was a clear sense of the need for revenue, and while there was a lively debate about the taxes, the bill passed.

That must be the same frame of mind and outcome in 2021.

And so it goes.

Texans Need Civics Books Following Winter Storm

A minister, who is a friend, wrote on Facebook today her desire to assist Texans with something more than prayers. We responded that perhaps sending civics books with chapters highlighted about the way revenues from locals are used to pay for infrastructure might be appropriate. It was not meant to be flippant but rather a truism that ranks with teaching a person to fish being better than just supplying seafood for free.

Watching the news from Texas over the past few days has been most educational for the nation as it plainly and directly underscores what happens when people will not pay taxes for needed programs aimed at their own long-term well-being. When it comes to their electrical grid and its lack of weatherization–a problem that was highlighted following the 2011 ‘storm of a lifetime’ it proves that the allure of lower taxes and less regulation prevailed over reasoned thinking. Now another ‘storm of a lifetime’ has struck, which first, further proves the science of climate change.

But secondly, that Texans are needing all sorts of federal ‘socialism’.

Let me state that it is absolutely the duty of the federal government to aid the state and to alleviate the plight of our fellow citizens. I do not subscribe to the conservative’s Darwinian view that we first need to cut programs to find the dollars for doing what is the social compact we have with one another in the nation. I am a liberal Democrat, and even though Texans have not demonstrated intelligence with their infrastructure needs, does not mean my party loses our sense of national priorities when it comes to natural disasters.

Having said that, however, does not require me to lessen my point about the lack of civics-education among too many Texans. What we are reading in the papers and watching unfold on television showcases what can only be termed their flagrant disregard and disdain for reason and logic. The regulations that are required for weatherization, and the tax dollars that are then required for the projects make sense so that when Mother Nature comes a’-howling a crisis can be averted. While not each weather event can be totally prepared for, this winter storm in Texas could have been managed had political leadership been undertaken many years ago.

It is frustrating to see so many Texans seriously impacted because Republican officials have turned every attempt at needed regulations into some red-tape politically-inspired nightmare. If the knuckle-draggers in Texas thought prevention was costly…let this Northerner alert them they are to be stunned at the costs associated with fixing broken pipes. Think how much more cost-efficient it would have been to have insulated when the sun was shining and it was warm. And everything was not sopping wet!

I was the Administrative Assistant for the Joint Committee for Review Of Administrative Rules in the Wisconsin statehouse for two years. We undertook a number of code reviews for homes and businesses. While I can attest to the dialogue about ‘red-tape’, I can also speak to the logic of mandated standards and construction guidelines. They offer the best long-term protection for the dollars spent. I was proud to be a small part of making our state government work for the needs of the citizens.

So when I say civics books need to be sent to Texans following this winter storm I am not being smug or snarky. I am being frank about the real problem at hand. The problem is plain to see. You have to want to make the government work for the people for it to then, well, actually work.

Conservatives just need to be educated to that fact.

And so it goes.

Trump Pays No Taxes Editorial Cartoons

Editorial cartoons say what we all feel.

Trump’s Non-Payment Of Taxes Underscores Him Being Grifter-In-Chief

Late this afternoon a most disturbing major news story erupted concerning Donald Trump not doing what other Americans do every year. That being not only paying taxes, but paying a sizable amount. This news story further underscores what we know about him…..that he is a grifter and not anyone we would ever wish to enter our home. (We have nice silverware.)

Let’s set the stage with the basic facts as reported in a bombshell from The New York Times.

Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.

The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.

The New York Times has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office. It does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019. This article offers an overview of The Times’s findings; additional articles will be published in the coming weeks.

What this underscores is the degree to which Trump lies to the lower economic-runged voters in his base who struggle for jobs, fair wages, and who would be the first ones brought to justice for not paying their taxes. These voters struggle while Trump has bragged that his ability to get by without paying taxes “makes me smart”.

To top if off these taxpayers also get to pay the lawyers in the federal government who are now working so Trump can continue to cheat and lie about paying taxes.

He once boasted that his tax returns were “very big” and “beautiful.” But making them public? “It’s very complicated.” He often claims that he cannot do so while under audit — an argument refuted by his own I.R.S. commissioner. When prosecutors and congressional investigators issued subpoenas for his returns, he wielded not just his private lawyers but also the power of his Justice Department to stalemate them all the way to the Supreme Court.

For all his bluster and bloviating about ‘draining the swamp’ Trump has demonstrated that he is a con artist and manipulator of the first order. Trump supporters have allowed themselves to be duped. And now they have proof, which doubtless many in their cult will dismiss out of hand. But the Grifter-in-Chief now has nowhere to hide. The majority of the nation know it.

And we know from history there is an opposite way of behaving as a man and president.

The grifting nature of Trump and his entire clan runs counter to the way another businessman, President Jimmy Carter operated upon being elected.  Carter had been managing the family-owned peanut farm, warehouse, and store in Plains, Georgia since his dad died in 1953, but when he became president, he put it into a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest. And Carter paid his taxes as we know from financial reports.

In so doing Carter demonstrated respect for the laws of the nation, self-respect, and respect to the people who elected him to serve in the highest office in the land.  Carter did not aim to make money off of the presidency.  Today Trump and his family show what happens when there is no respect for anything but money and all-out-greed.

Most of the nation lives at the center of sensibilities where Carter has resided his whole life.  The home he and Roslyn live in is a two-bedroom valued at $167,000.  Carter has been known to buy his clothes at the Dollar General and he often flies commercial.

The rank-and-file Republican Trump supporter lives like Carter but caters and fawns over the biggest scammer and con artist who has ever stepped into the White House.  Trump supporters hoot and holler about their love of the nation along with the need to be respected around the world.

But look who they support.  And what Donald Trump is, and what he does for self-enrichment every day in office.

Readers know I so very much admire Abraham Lincoln and also love history. So I often head into our past and post a quote that aligns with the topic at hand. Nothing more sage comes to mind as I write about Trump and his lies than what Abe would ask us to ponder.

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

And so it goes.

Blue States Pay More Taxes, More Benefits Used In Red States Than Taxes Paid

I can not say that Donald Trump’s statement about dead Americans in Blue States is the most deplorable one from his term in office, but it is darn close.

“If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at” in terms of coronavirus deaths. We’re really at a very low level. But some of the states, they were blue states and blue state-managed.”

The nation I grew up in was made of Americans and when calamities struck it was not how you voted that mattered, but gauging how much help will be needed from government. But if Trump wants to dig down into the gutter and act like a complete idiot over Blue states and their worth during this pandemic as he strides to a resounding national defeat is about 50 days, so be it. He will notice that statisticians are ready to do battle with his words.

Let us see that would happen to his base should Blue states somehow disappear. His base of white males in Red states likely have not been following the numbers but the nation has a massive budget deficit. Given the extent to which Blue states often pay more in taxes than they receive in services, Trump should just keep his mouth shut.

The US overall pays 3.1 trillion in taxes and uses 3.8 trillion in benefits. But Red America pays 1.6 trillion in taxes but uses 2.1 trillion in benefits.

Then there is the part of the news today which makes me snicker. I am not a sports fan but I always take note of the cultural side to this pastime for many. So the data makes for news on this blog.

Extract blue states, and you lose 42 percent of NHL teams, 43 percent of NBA teams, 44 percent of NFL teams and fully half of Major League Baseball teams — including Trump’s favorite, the New York Yankees.

Then as The Washington Post noted if Trump were to undo the Blue parts of the nation suddenly a broad range of Trump-branded properties are excluded from the America Trump wants to lead. Trump Tower? No longer American. His hotel in D.C.? Out. His hotel in Vegas or his club in Bedminster, N.J.? Now foreign territory.

The New York Times summed up my dismay with Trump regarding his statement with a stinging editorial today.

While presidents running for re-election typically look at the map of the country through a partisan lens, they ostensibly take off such a filter when it comes to their duties to govern, or at least make the effort to look like they do. 

The contrast with his predecessors in moments of national crisis could hardly be more stark. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush invited the Democratic senators from New York, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, to the Oval Office to collaborate on how to help the victims and repair the damage.

When Hurricane Sandy slammed into New Jersey just days before the 2012 election, President Barack Obama broke off from campaigning to travel to the ravaged state where he stood side by side with Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who was supporting his opponent, to pledge solidarity in recovery efforts.

But these are more partisan times, and Mr. Trump is a more overtly partisan figure than perhaps any modern president. Through months of the pandemic, he has at various moments lashed out at Democratic governors, blaming them for any failures, while his comment on Wednesday about not counting deaths in blue states reflected an effort to lay responsibility for the worst pandemic in a century on his opposition.

“It’s so unworthy of a president,” Tom Ridge, a Republican former governor of Pennsylvania and later secretary of homeland security under Mr. Bush, said on Thursday. “It’s beyond despicable. It’s soulless.” He added that the virus was an equal-opportunity killer. “It’s almost unspeakable in the middle of the pandemic to try to divide the country on a political basis when Covid-19 is really bipartisan.”