Category Archives: Labor

Bruce Bartlett destroys the GOP’s ‘trickle down’ tax myth that he helped to create

I happened to catch economist and former deputy assistant to the Treasury under George H. W. Bush, Bruce Bartlett, discussing the Trump tax “plan” (actually just an outline) released on Wednesday on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnel.

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Bartlett had some harsh words for the faith-based supply side “trickle down” economics that got its start with Arthur Laffer under the Reagan administration, which his boss George H. W. Bush used to deride as “voodoo economics.”

(Beginning at the 10:00 minute mark)

O’Donnell: You recently wrote that “Everything Republicans now say about taxes is wrong.”

Bartlett: “Well, I think that they took a good idea of lowering marginal tax rates and doing tax reform and they simply got carried away. They started making exaggerated arguments saying these tax cuts would pay for themselves with no loss of revenue, and that’s just hogwash, that’s just a lie. And anybody who says it is a liar. And I think that the people who say it know that they’re lying. There is not a single serious study, there’s no serious study of anything by this administration or anybody on the right these days, that would back up in the slightest possible way the talking points that they continually throw out there as just propaganda.

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Ducey is a disaster for Arizona

Governor Doug Ducey, the ice cream man hired by Koch industries to run their Southwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Arizona, self-labels himself, for purely propaganda purposes, as “the education governor.”

The governor’s label would be a joke if his misguided policies did not come with serious and dire consequences for the actual condition of public education in Arizona.

Perhaps the governor should accept responsibility for his policies making Arizona the worst — that’s right, dead last — in public education, as the Republic’s Laurie Roberts describes. Arizona ranks as worst state to be a teacher:

Quick, what is the worst state in which to be a teacher?

If you said Arizona, give yourself a gold star.

WalletHub this week released its annual rankings for the best – and worst – states in  which to spend a career in the classroom. The financial services website compared the 50 states and Washington D.C., analyzing 21 key indicators, ranging from income growth potential to class size to safety.

The best states in which to be a teacher: New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Pennsylvania.

The worst: Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Hawaii and finally, down there in our usual spot at the bottom of the barrel, Arizona.

We ranked as one of the states with the highest turnover, the highest student-teacher ratios and the lowest spending per student.

And we ranked as dead last in the number of people expected to be competing for teacher jobs by 2024. Gee, I wonder why.

Lest you think things are looking up, two years ago Arizona ranked 49th  overall. Now, we’re 51st.

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New Census Bureau data on median household income

Permanent musical accompaniment to this post: Party Like It’s 1999.

The median income for U.S. households is now slightly higher than what the median income was for households . . . in 1999. Americans are finally making more money than we were in 1999:

Adjusted for inflation, median household income rose to $59,039, which is up 3.2 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to Census Bureau statistics. The previous highest median income, the Associated Press reported, was $58,665, which was recorded in 1999.

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It took 18 years, but the American median income is finally back to where it was before the 2001 recession.

The report covers the final year of the Obama administration, in which poverty rates also decreased from 13.5 percent to 12.7 percent. In real numbers, that’s a drop of 2.5 million people, according to USA Today. The number represent the first time since the recession that the rate wasn’t higher than levels prior to the recession.

In a year filled with debate on health care, the amount of Americans who have health insurance increased by 900,000 to 28.1 million, and the percentage of Americans not covered by insurance dropped from 9.1 percent to 8.8 percent.

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Trump Ends DACA: Will Congress Save Dreamers?

Undocubus

Undocumented workers and students protested at the DNC in 2012. (That’s me in the turquoise dress before the cops told me to move.)

Our country’s most ill-prepared president just lobbed one of our country’s stickiest problems into the court of the country’s least effective Congress, ever. What could go wrong? The dreams of nearly one million young people.

On Sept. 5, 2017, Attorney General and long-time anti-immigration advocate Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration’s decision to rescind President Obama’s executive order that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Implemented five years ago, DACA was supposed to be a stop-gap measure to shield children and young adults, who were brought to the US illegally as minors by their parents. The plan was that Congress would move on immigration reform while DACA protected these young people from immediate deportation.

Roughly 800,000 young adults under DACA could face deportation if Congress fails to act within the next six months. The crux of the problem is that DACA was created because Congress shirked its duty on meaningful immigration reform. For 16 years, Congress has failed to pass any immigration reform– let alone comprehensive reform, which is sorely needed. Even the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) — which outlined a path to citizenship for Dreamers– has died a bipartisan death in Congress multiple times, since it was originally proposed in 2001.

Will Congress have the guts to save the Dreamers now?

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August jobs report shows weakness

Steve Benen has the monthly jobs report for August. Job numbers fall short of expectations in August:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in August, which is down from June and July totals, and fell short of expectations. The unemployment rate, while still low, inched up a little to 4.4%.

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In fact, overall, this is not a heartening set of data. The revisions for June and July were both lower, and combined they show a net loss of about 41,000 jobs. (In case you’re curious, the BLS report explained at the outset, “Hurricane Harvey had no discernible effect on the employment and unemployment data for August.”)

All told, if current averages keep up, we’re on track to see the U.S. economy add about 2.1 million jobs this calendar year, which isn’t bad, but which would fall short of last year’s totals. In the first eight months of last year, 1.55 million jobs were created, while in the first eight months of this year, the total is 1.4 million.

Here’s another chart, this one showing monthly job losses/gains in just the private sector since the start of the Great Recession.

AugustPrivate

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Jared Bernstein: The whys of increasing inequality

I posted about this chart last week, Inequality in One Chart, and our “usual suspects” posted their utterly nonsensical defenses of faith based supply-side “trickle down” GOP economics in the comments.

Today, economist Jared Bernstein weighs in at the Washington Post, The whys of increasing inequality: A graphical portrait:

The graph below, based on the work of economists Gabriel Zucman, Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, has been receiving considerable attention since it appeared in the New York Times last week. It shows the rate of annual income growth for adults at each percentile in the income distribution — from those who have the lowest incomes to those who have the highest incomes — over two time periods: the mid-1940s to 1980, and 1980 to 2014. Over the first period, post-tax income growth was fastest at the bottom, about 2 percent per year for the “middle class” (the 40th to the 80th percentiles), and a little slower among the wealthy.

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The growth pattern over the second 34-year period looks very different: The richer you were, the faster you got ahead. Incomes grew less than 1 percent for the bottom 50 percent and less than 2 percent for the next 45 percent. They then took off for the richest Americans, with the growth rate for the richest adults ending up about six times that of those in the middle.

The chart is a clear, intuitive way to show the increase in income inequality over the past few decades, and an important reminder that growth for the rich cannot be expected to trickle down to everyone else.

But it doesn’t show why inequality has grown. What explains this portentous change, one that has had profound effects on our society, our living standards, and our politics?

In fact, there are many perps, each of which is captured in the “Inequality’s Causes” slide below. They do, however, share a theme: Many of the factors that enforced a more equitable distribution of growth in the earlier period have been eroded. Moreover, that erosion is neither an accident nor the benign outcome of natural economic evolution. It is often the result of policies that have reduced workers’ bargaining power and supported the upward redistribution of growth.

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