Tag Archives: Wealth inequality

December jobs report disappoints, a market correction is on the horizon

If you were hoping to see the U.S. job market end 2017 on an encouraging note you were disappointed today. And no, it was not due to extreme winter weather (that is going to be noted in January’s jobs report).

Steve Benen has the December jobs report. Job growth slows to a six-year low in Trump’s first year:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the economy added 148,000 jobs in December, which is down a fair amount from the previous two months, and falls short of expectations. That said, the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1%, which is very low.

DecemberJobs

The revisions from the previous two months were mixed, with October’s totals revised down and November’s totals revised up. Combined, they pointed to a net loss of 9,000 jobs, which adds to the discouraging nature of today’s report.

Providing some additional context, now that we have data for all of the previous calendar year, we can note that the U.S. added 1.84 million jobs in 2011, 2.19 million jobs in 2012, 2.33 million in 2013, 3.11 million in 2014, 2.74 million in 2015, 2.24 million in 2016, and 2.05 million in 2017.

Or put another way, while Donald Trump’s first year as president has been pretty good overall for job creation, Americans nevertheless saw the slowest job growth in six years. (Note, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will revise the 2017 data once more, making the available figures preliminary.)

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

DecemberPrivate

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2018 World Inequality Report: inequality in U.S. is a result of deliberate policy decisions (updated)

Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post reports, U.S. lawmakers are redistributing income from the poor to the rich, according to massive new study:

Back in 1980, the bottom 50 percent of wage-earners in the United States earned about 21 percent of all income in the country — nearly twice as much as the share of income (11 percent) earned by the top 1 percent of Americans.

But today, according to a massive new study on global inequality, those numbers have nearly reversed: The bottom 50 percent take in only 13 percent of the income pie, while the top 1 percent grab over 20 percent of the country’s income.

Since 1980, in other words, the U.S. economy has transferred eight points of national income from the bottom 50 percent to the top 1 percent.

That trend is even more remarkable when you set it against comparable numbers for wealthy nations in Western Europe. There, the bottom 50 percent earn nearly 22 percent of the income in those economies, while the top 1 percent take in just over 12 percent of the money.

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The income situation in Western Europe today, in other words, is similar to how things were in the United States nearly 40 years ago.

The 2018 World Inequality Report, written by a team of leading international economists including Thomas Piketty of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” fame, finds that the rise of income inequality in the United States is “largely due to massive educational inequalities, combined with a tax system that grew less progressive despite a surge in top labor compensation since the 1980s, and in top capital incomes in the 2000s.”

Since the 1970s the price of higher education has skyrocketed, putting the price of tuition out of reach for many low-income students. Over the same time, the tax code became more generous to the wealthiest Americans — the top marginal income-tax rate fell from 70 percent in 1980 to 39.6 percent in 2017, taxes on capital gains fell by more than half from the mid-1970s to the mid-2000s, and the estate tax has fallen as well.

Those changes have made it easier for high-income Americans to grab more and more of the income pie in any given year.

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Ignoring bad optics, GOP conferees transfer even more wealth to their wealthy plutocrat campaign donors (Updated)

Despite the fact that The Republican tax plan is the most unpopular bill in 30 years, GOP conferees are transfering even more wealth to their wealthy plutocrat campaign donors. Tea-Publicans simply do not care what this looks like to average Americans, they are obligated to deliver a quid pro quo to their wealthy plutocrat campaign donors. They are looting the treasury on behalf of the oligarchy.

CNBC reports, The Latest: GOP agrees to lower top tax rate for individuals:

Congressional aides say Republican negotiators have agreed to lower the top tax rate for individuals from 39.6 percent to 37 percent as the final parameters of a sweeping tax package are starting to take shape.

The agreement was confirmed by two congressional aides who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private negotiations.

The tax cut could be a windfall for the wealthiest Americans. It could also provide ammunition for Democrats who complain that the tax package is a massive giveaway to corporations and the rich.

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Congressional aides say Republican negotiators have agreed to set the corporate income tax rate at 21 percent as part of last-minute negotiations on a sweeping tax package.

Both the Senate bill and the House bill would lower the corporate rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. But negotiators agreed to bump the rate up to 21 percent to offset revenue losses from other tax breaks, said two congressional aides.

The aides spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss private negotiations.

Business and conservative groups have lobbied hard to keep the corporate rate at 20 percent.

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Study: The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth

Those GOP plutocrat campaign donors really need their tax cuts (not). Christopher Ingraham reports,  The richest 1 percent now owns more of the country’s wealth than at any time in the past 50 years:

The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth, according to a new paper by economist Edward N. Wolff. That share is higher than it has been at any point since at least 1962, according to Wolff’s data, which comes from the federal Survey of Consumer Finances.

From 2013, the share of wealth owned by the 1 percent shot up by nearly three percentage points. Wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent, meanwhile, fell over the same period. Today, the top 1 percent of households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. That gap, between the ultrawealthy and everyone else, has only become wider in the past several decades.

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A lesson from history on the failure of GOP ‘trickle down’ economics

Republicans control the White House, both chambers of Congress, the tilt of the Supreme Court, more state legislative chambers than any time in history, and more governor’s offices than they have held in nearly a century. Republicans Expand Control in a Deeply Divided Nation.

This is the GOP’s high-water mark since 1929 — just before the Great Depression that GOP laissez faire economic policies brought about.

Historian Robert S. McElvaine, the author of “The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941,” warns at the Washington Post, I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

That was more than three decades before the collapse of the economy in 1929. The crash followed a decade of Republican control of the federal government during which trickle-down policies, including massive tax cuts for the rich, produced the greatest concentration of income in the accounts of the richest 0.01 percent at any time between World War I and 2007 (when trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the hyper-rich, and deregulation again resulted in another economic collapse).

Yet the plain fact that the trickle-down approach has never worked leaves Republicans unfazed. The GOP has been singing from the Market-is-God hymnal for well over a century, telling us that deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, and the concentration of ever more wealth in the bloated accounts of the richest people will result in prosperity for the rest of us. The party is now trying to pass a scam that throws a few crumbs to the middle class (temporarily — millions of middle-class Americans will soon see a tax hike if the bill is enacted) while heaping benefits on the super-rich, multiplying the national debt and endangering the American economy.

As a historian of the Great Depression, I can say: I’ve seen this show before.

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The Festering Wound

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

First, let me be absolutely clear. I will applaud any modicum of success Donald Trump realizes as POTUS. It’s currently hard to envision, but if it does happen, I will give credit where credit is due. My bottom line is that I want our country to succeed and flourish.

Second, although I didn’t vote for him, I don’t believe President Trump is the worst threat to our democracy. He is just the most visible symptom…the metaphorical “pus” that oozes from the infected wound. Yes, part of reason he was elected is that middle America is tired of being ignored and wants change. I get that. I wish our system had offered them better choices. But, he was also propelled to victory because of the “bacteria” of racism and hatred, fed by the “talking heads” and Internet content of questionable veracity. Over time, this bacteria infected the wound, generating the “pus” which indicated a problem. Continue reading