Friday, December 13, 2013

Obama Talks the Talk but...

PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year is Obama's promise: "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it."

But at least with Obamacare, we have a 3.8% surtax on capital gains for the super-rich, which expands Medicaid for millions of poor and working-class Americans.

But then again, there is still too much government extravagance. A March 2013 report from ABC News found that the Obama administration had spent $400,000 on oil portraits of cabinet members in 2011 and 2012. (Although, this is very tiny compared to tax subsidies for the big oil companies and tax breaks for corporate jets).

Then there's also the annual The White House Correspondents Dinner (and other gala affairs) where Obama rubs elbows with Hollywood celebrities, famous musicians, professional athletes, fashion models, media pundits and other elitists in the top 1% --- all while millions of American lives have been destroyed by the Great Recession.

And then there's Obama's TPP trade agreement, and the H-1B visas in his immigration bill, and his Power Africa initiative to create another "emerging market", and his failure to address the 99ers (the very-very long-term unemployed), and his willingness to cut Social Security, Veterans benefits and military retirement pay with chained-CPI.

And he's too cozy with the CEOs too. Why would Obama have the CEO of the biggest corporate tax dodger and outsourcer-and-chief (Jeffrey Immelt of GE) be our "jobs czar" --- was the president crazy?

It's no wonder a recent poll now shows that a majority of Americans think Obama is not honest or trustworthy (and maybe they don't think that it's because he's a Socialist, but because he's just another crony capitalist).

Sure....we love Obama's populist speeches, but his actions speak louder than words. But then again, the Democrats had both chambers of the Congress in 2009 and 2010. So they could have gotten a lot more done (like tax reform), rather than just giving us a weak Dodd-Frank bill, or a very complicated healthcare bill --- when it should have been Medicare for All.

But we didn't, because we have too many "fake" Democrats in Congress (pro-corporate Democrats vs. more progressive Democrats); so it's understandable that it's not entirely ALL Obama's fault.

But in 2016 Hillary Clinton would be much worse than Obama, and a Republican would be twice as bad. Whereas, people like Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren would be the very best for working-class Americans, tax reform, Social Security, healthcare and reining in the big banks and corporations

If only Americans would wise up and starting voting in their own best financial interests, instead of just for their ideological or religious beliefs, things that opportunistic politicians exploit for their own best interests.

I know Obama means well, but "meaning well" hasn't been good enough. And talk is just that, talk.

Long ago I've realized that we will still be screwed by our government leaders for generations into the future. There will be no campaign finance reform, no reforming the revolving door policies for lobbyists, no taxing the rich their fair share, no reforming the voter laws, no reforming the corporate tax loopholes, and there will be no Congressional reform either. We are SOL for years to come.

In Other News --- Do we have 38 Unemployed for Every Job Opening?

Washington DC is one of the few places in America that actually experienced a economic boom during the aftermath of the Great Recession.

The Census Bureau has just confirmed that, once again, the Washington DC region dominates the list of the most affluent places in the United States.

Washington DC is where 23,000 job applicants had recently competed for 600 jobs at two new Walmart stores. Just 2.6% of those job applicants will walk out with a job, while Harvard only accepts 6.1% of their applicants --- meaning, it's easier to get into Harvard than to get a job at Walmart.

23,000 job applicants for 600 jobs could mean 38 people unemployed for every 1 job opening in "Boomtown" Washington DC. --- so if this is true, then how bad can it be in the rest of the nation?

Last month the unemployment rate was a staggering 31.9% in Yuma, Arizona and 25.2% in El Centro, California --- but in DC it's only reported to be 7.4%.

* Now forward this to your friends who believe we should cut unemployment benefits. Only one third of the "reported" unemployed receive any unemployment benefits --- and so, no, unemployment benefits doesn't cause unemployment --- make-believe "job creators" create unemployment.

What I Read this Week

The headlines blare job openings are at the highest level in five years, but that's not the real story as hiring is way below pre-recession levels. Job openings have increased 80% from July 2009, while hires have only increased 24% from the same time period. A job opening reported to the survey could literally be "take out the trash twice a week" and be counted.

(A Fav of mine) Today’s service economy is in many ways like the Edwardian-era economy in which a small number of wealthy people employed a large number of servants — except that we tend to outsource the service, relying on restaurants and cleaning services instead of cooks and maids. And our outsourced servants are arguably paid and treated worse than the in-house servants of the past, even in absolute terms — let alone relative to per capita GDP.

Minimum Wage in the '80s -- President Ronald Reagan’s top economists argued that the minimum wage was a job killer. The chairman of Mr. Reagan’s first Council of Economic Advisers said of the minimum wage: “If we would have had our druthers, we would have eliminated it.” The Reagan administration didn’t abolish it. Instead, it let inflation turn it into “an effective dead letter.” By the time the Reagan years were over, the minimum wage was worth less than two-thirds of its peak value.

It seems fundamentally wrong that the stock market should surge to record highs at a time when 11 million Americans can’t find work and another 14 million have stopped looking for it over the past six years.

We’re dealing with a recession/depression Herbert Hoover style — by cutting government spending just when we would have needed a strong counter-cyclical push from government.

Senator Marco Rubio, one of Obamacare's biggest critics, is now officially covered under the federal health care exchange. Rubio enrolled through the DC Health Link for coverage and took the federal subsidy afforded to lawmakers and staff — a perk worth up to 75 percent of monthly premium costs — that some Republicans wanted to kill off. In addition to the subsidy, Rubio also got to pick from far more plans than ordinary people, and had access to special customer service.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said he doesn't support an increase in the federal minimum wage. Rather than demanding better pay, Labrador said, fast-food workers who've been going on strike should instead try to acquire more skills through their employers. But there's research showing that such opportunities are quite limited.

One reason why Robert Reich doesn't like the new budget deal is "it contributes to the nation's savage inequality. The deal doesn't close a single tax loophole for wealthy, and it doesn't restore food stamps to the poor."

1.3 million Americans will lose their unemployment benefits before the end of the year. Another 850,000 will be cut off by March, 2014. (and those who receive States benefits will exhaust their within the next 26 weeks)

Food stamps peaked, then declined: Last September's food stamp numbers represent the third consecutive monthly drop and the first year-to-year decline in six years. But it was noted that the enrollment numbers for September 2012 may have been partially inflated by disaster benefits made available to Louisiana residents affected by Hurricane Isaac, and the trend is probably the same.

How Inequality Became as American as Apple Pie --- Chris Christie recently invited the wealthiest New Yorkers to move south and evade de Blasio’s tax hikes. This is silly. Wealthy New Yorkers are not going anywhere. Stanford sociologist Cristobal Young and Princeton sociology student Charles Varner have shown that there was never a millionaire migration out of New Jersey or California after higher taxes were implemented.

The War Over Austerity Is Over. Republicans Won.

Leaving Extended Unemployment Benefits Out of the Budget Deal is Cruel and Stupid

(My Fav) Capitalism Redefined (Nick Hanauer & Eric Beinhocker)

A TED Talk on Income Inequality by Nick Hanauer

Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer wants us to stop picking on Wall Street, and compares supporters of Elizabeth Warren to the Tea Party.

Bill O'Reilly speaks on behalf of Jesus about the scourge of Food Stamps

(My other Fav) Paul Krugman on unemployment benefits - "The Punishment Cure"

Incentives Not to Work (Larry Summers v. Senate Democrats on jobless benefits) (My rebuttal)

On the same day that President Obama eloquently described his vision of an economy defined by economic mobility and opportunity for all, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) was busy cutting a deal with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas to slice another $8 to $9 billion from food stamps (SNAP).

The congressional hunger games began when Senate Democrats voted to cut $4.1 billion from food stamps, or SNAP. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said it was a matter of slicing “waste, fraud and abuse” from the program.

(Also my Fav) Looking for fraud? Don't look at food stamp recipients, look at Wall Street

Brookings: A Dozen Facts about America’s Struggling Lower-Middle-Class

The Minimum-Wage Cure for Illegal Immigration: A conservative who defends a higher minimum wage on conservative grounds said it would reduce government spending on welfare --- and also contends that a higher minimum wage would curb illegal immigration: "In today’s America a huge fraction of jobs that are at or near the minimum wage are held by immigrants, often illegal ones."

The Minimum Wage and the Laws of Economics: Typical low-wage workers don’t lack the skills to do their jobs. They lack the bargaining power to be paid decently for the work.

Cambodia’s low wages lure manufacturers away from China, other countries

The 3 Countries Stealing China's Business

Corporations Are Moving Out Of China To Even Lower Wage Countries

Better Pay Now - The inflation-adjusted wages of nonsupervisory workers in retail trade — who weren’t particularly well paid to begin with — have fallen almost 30 percent since 1973.

What is White Castle’s view of the proposal to raise the federal minimum wage?

White Castle On Obamacare: We May Only Hire Part-Time Workers

Does Lowering Corporate Tax Rates Create Jobs? Answer is a resounding "FUCK NO!"

There’s no correlation at all between wealth and IQ, not even a weak one.

Word of the day: amplituhedron

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