Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Bits n’ pieces from east, west and beyond

by Compiled by Lorraine H. Marie
| October 28, 2022 7:00 AM

East, west or beyond, sooner or later events elsewhere may have a local impact.

A recent sampling:

  • Using the tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy plan to encourage growth didn’t go well for Britain’s new prime minister, who resigned after 44 days.

Investors feared the plan would worsen inflation. As well, the plan caused Britain’s financial markets to spiral, The New York Times said.

Bottom up and middle out contrasted to trickle down: President Joe Biden recently compared the two political philosophies, and the results of his adoption of the former.

Since he took office the nation added 10 million jobs and unemployment dropped to a 50-year low of 3.5%, (professional economic forecasters, factoring in the impact of Covid, had predicted average unemployment of 5.2%). There are 700,000 more manufacturing jobs and companies are investing in new industries. Roads, airports, bridges and ports are being rebuilt.

Regarding the deficit (what the government takes in via taxes and what it pays out), Biden pointed out that Democrats have reduced the deficit this year by $1.4 trillion, a largest-ever decline. (The drop was $350 billion in 2021.)

In contrast, the deficit rose every year under Trump, including before the pandemic, largely due to the $2 trillion tax cut for corporations and the wealthy.

Politifact backed up Biden’s claims, noting that under Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan deficits have gone up significantly, and under Democratic presidents they go down: the deficit went from $70 billion to $175 billion under Reagan, then to $300 billion under G.H.W. Bush.

President Bill Clinton took the deficit to zero (Factcheck.org), then G.W.Bush raised it to $1.2 trillion via unfunded wars.

President Barack Obama took the deficit down to $600 billion. Under Trump, due to tax cuts for the wealthy, the deficit rose to almost $7.8 trillion, making it the third largest presidential rise.

Pre-Covid, in 2019 the national debt was $23.2 trillion. (Presidents G.W. Bush saw an 11.7% rise, and Abraham Lincoln saw it rise 9.4%, compared to Trump’s 5.2%).

Biden cautions that there’s a pattern of Republicans creating high deficits via tax cuts for the wealthy, then using the shrunken budget to say there are no funds for social programs, with some saying Social Security and Medicare are at risk.

After decades of being led to believe that prosperity hinged on special benefits for America’s wealthiest and for big corporations, many are re-considering.

Details are explored in The Middle Out: The Rise of Progressive Economics and a Return to Shared Prosperity, by journalist Michael Tomasky.

Cancellation of student debt (up to $20,000) has been temporarily blocked by a federal appeals court, the AP says. Six Republican-led states filed a motion to block the program.

  • The House January 6 Committee has asked Donald Trump to testify under oath, explaining that “We have assembled overwhelming evidence…that you personally orchestrated and oversaw a multi-part effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to obstruct the peaceful transition of power.”

They have requested that Trump inform them “promptly” if he plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights. Trump is also ordered to produce pertinent documents and records (by Nov. 4) of messages he placed or received at the time of the coup attempt.

The Committee pointed out that seven previous presidents had testified before Congress after leaving office. One of them was Theodore Roosevelt, who said “an ex-president is merely a citizen of the United States” and should help Congress.

Trump ally Stephen Bannon was sentenced to four months in prison and a $6,500 fine for contempt of court for ignoring a subpoena from the Jan. 6 House committee, Business Insider reported.

BBC says funds for Trump’s legal defense have come from his Save America Political Action Committee, and Make America Great Again PAC, which comes from donors across the country.

Republicans are saying they will make overturning $80 billion for improvements at the IRS a top priority if elected. The Dem-approved funds are for targeting a massive backlog of unprocessed tax returns, updating decades-old technology, and hiring more auditors.

New auditors will review corporations and people making over $400,000 annually, the AP reported.

The IRS says they will adjust a number of rules in response to inflation. While adjustments are made annually, CBS News says this change will provide relief for lower tax brackets.

Example: single taxpayers will see a rise to a standard deduction of $13,850 in 2023, up from the current $12,950.

Blast from the past: The Declaration of Independence embraced “all men are created equal.”

That’s been challenged with recent efforts to suppress the vote, accusations of voter fraud and “stop the steal” actions, plans to challenge mid-term election outcomes on flimsy evidence, and even voter intimidation in Arizona this last weekend (where two masked men were armed and dressed in tactical gear at a polling site).

Taking a page from yet-to-be Halloweens, after the 1867 Military Reconstruction Act, KKK members dressed up in white, pretended to be ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers, and warned the formerly enslaved to stay away from the polls.

Then in 1898 a successful coup in Wilmington, North Carolina, overthrew white Populists and Black Republicans who were legitimately elected, with the excuse that they were unfit to run a government; the white property owners claimed they would do a better job.