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Puerto Rico banks on medical marijuana to counter fiscal crisis

Puerto Rico is pinning its future on medical marijuana production to lift it out of its...

US growth forecasts slide, IMF cites uncertainty in Trump’s fiscal plan

Published time: 28 Jun, 2017 00:51 The International Monetary Fund has released its US economic growth...

Financial Auguries Predict Impending Fiscal Doom

Jun 27, 2017 By Mundilfury | Financial auguries predict impending fiscal doom on the horizon. Two recent articles have cited a...

The Federal Fiscal Joke

Donald Trump wants to cut the tax/confiscation rate.  Ok, but maybe it would be a good idea to look at the monetary and fiscal...
video

Video: Italy Needs Expansionary Fiscal Policy to Escape Six-Year Recession

Further cuts in government expenditure to compensate for the bailout will worsen the situation, says economist Heiner Flassbeck Help support The Real News ... Via...
video

Video: How Will Elizabeth Warren Vote on Setting Up Fiscal Control Board in Puerto...

http://democracynow.org - Part 2 of a discussion about the upcoming U.S. Senate vote to to set up a federally appointed control board with sweeping...

Trumped! Washington’s Fiscal Hypocrisy

You have to love it when one of Donald Trump’s wild pitches sends the beltway hypocrites into high dudgeon. But his rumination about negotiating...

Pentagon wants $582bn in funding as part of fiscal year 2017 budget

President Obama will request $582.7 billion in funding for the Pentagon as part of the fiscal year 2017 budget, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter...

Labour will oppose Osborne’s fiscal charter setting budget surplus into law

Shadow Cabinet Minister Diane Abbot has defended Labour’s volte-face on whether to support Chancellor George Osborne’s fiscal charter which seeks to force future government...
video

Video: Keiser Report: Monetary Nuclear Option meets Fiscal Policy (E815)

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the nuclear option in monetary meets fiscal policy as QE for...

Cry for Argentina: Fiscal Mismanagement, Odious Debt or Pillage?

Ellen Brown RINF Alternative News Argentina has now taken the US to The Hague for blocking the country’s 2005 settlement with the bulk of its creditors....

Fiscal-Policy Obstruction to Economic Recovery

Seymour Patterson  RINF Alternative News Janet Yellen, the new chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Banking system (Fed)--she replaces Ben Bernanke, said the Fed will taper quantitative...

Obama€’s Nuke-Powered Drone Strike on America’€™s Fiscal Sanity

Harvey Wasserman  RINF Alternative News So the "all the above" energy strategy now deems we dump another $6.5 billion in bogus loan guarantees down the atomic...

Desert Hot Springs, California, declares “fiscal emergency”

Juan Verala Luz  RINF Alternative News At a public meeting, the city council of Desert Hot Springs, California, declared that the small resort town is in...

French Left Front’s “Fiscal Revolution” aims to block anti-austerity movement

By Antoine Lerougetel9 December 2013 Amid rising popular opposition to the reactionary wars and austerity policies of France's Socialist Party (PS) government, the Left...

France: The fraud of Mélenchon’s “Fiscal Revolution”

By Antoine Lerougetel26 November 2013 On November 12, Jean-Luc Mélenchon called for a “Fiscal Revolution” amid rising mass anger with France's Socialist Party (PS)...

France: The fraud of Mélenchon’s “Fiscal Revolution”

By Antoine Lerougetel26 November 2013 On November 12, Jean-Luc Mélenchon called for a “Fiscal Revolution” amid rising mass anger with France's Socialist Party (PS)...

The Contradictions of Global Fiscal-Monetary Policy

“QEs, near zero central bank interest rates, and token initial fiscal stimulus policies followed soon by austerity fiscal stimulus withdrawals, represent the economic recovery...

Lew: US economy bruised by fiscal fight

US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says the recent fiscal fight between Republicans and Democrats which resulted in a 16-day federal government shutdown has had...

Obama: Ignore Bloggers, Activists and Radio Talk Show Hosts Demanding Fiscal Sanity

Says opposition profits from attempt to save America from economic ruin

Kurt Nimmo
Infowars.com
October 17, 2013

Following the deal to end the government non-shutdown, Obama took to the podium and teleprompter to excoriate Americans opposed to the staggering bankster and Federal Reserve debt destroying the country.

Obama makes his comments at 5 minutes, 40 seconds into the above video.

He specifically targeted bloggers and radio talk show hosts, including Alex Jones.

“All of us need to stop focusing on the lobbyists, and the bloggers, and the talking heads on radio, and the professional activists who profit from conflict and focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do,” Obama pontificated.

In other words, Obama demands that the American people stop reading sites like Infowars.com and flock over to the corporate Mockingbird media where they can consume a standard fare of government propaganda and lies.

This article was posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 11:31 am

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Obama: Ignore Bloggers, Activists and Radio Talk Show Hosts Demanding Fiscal Sanity

Says opposition profits from attempt to save America from economic ruin Kurt NimmoInfowars.comOctober 17, 2013 Following...

On the News With Thom Hartmann: House Republicans and President Obama Stalemate in Fiscal...

In today's On the News segment: Over the weekend, House Republicans and President Obama hit a stalemate in fiscal negotiations, and the Senate moved...

World leaders press US on fiscal crisis

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde said a œlack of certainty” threatened the global economy.Global economic partners of the United States have warned the country against...

Politicians Filling Coffers as Fiscal Battles Rage

Democrats, Republicans alike use Obamacare defunding, budget clash to raise political cash Defunding Obamacare. Shuttering the government. Defaulting on federal obligations. No matter that most every...

Seven Things You Should Know About the Wackiest “Fiscal Crisis” Yet

Sometime in the next week, Congress will either get it together to pass a new budget resolution or the government will shut down (all...

GOP to attach Obamacare to fiscal deal

House Republicans may attach a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate to a continuing budget resolution that would keep the government...

The Debt Ceiling Debate: It’s Not a Fiscal Cliff … It’s the Breakdown of...

The blood pressure of the patient in the emergency room drops precipitously. The ER docs have already given 15 pints of blood over the course...

California pensions remain underfunded despite fiscal gains

California state employee pension systems posted large gains in their portfolios, however, they remain massively underfunded. Republished from: World Socialist Web Site

‘Greece must not relax fiscal effort’

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde speaks to reporters in Paris on May 24, 2013.International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief has said Greece must not relax a...

‘Left, Right & Center’: Fiscal Cliff Forever, Saucy Scalia and Double Pope

‘Left, Right & Center’: Fiscal Cliff Forever, Saucy Scalia and Double Pope

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Posted on Mar 1, 2013
kcrw.com

Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer, economist Robert Reich and the other “Left, Right & Center” panelists discuss President Obama’s criticism of the sequester cuts. Has Capitol Hill devolved into a state of perpetual dysfunction or is this disagreement finally proof that there’s something worth fighting for?

Also, Supreme Court conservatives take a hard line on the Voting Rights Act while the White House and a coalition of Republicans ask the justices to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage. Scheer decries the government’s role in squashing whistle-blower rights in its prosecution of Pfc. Bradley Manning, and Weekly Standard writer Jonathan Last (who provides the perspective from the right) looks at what it means to have a new pope before the pope emeritus has shaken his mortal coil.

—Adapted from KCRW by Alexander Reed Kelly.

KCRW:

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US Fiscal Debate Could Learn From Norway

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If Washington sincerely wants to reduce the budget deficit and national debt while protecting the broader economy, it should learn from other nations which have succeeded. One country stands out: Norway.

Norway has the largest budget surpluses in the developed world, no net national debt, citizens enjoy a robust safety net, and unemployment is below 3%. (1) (2)

What is Norway’s secret, other than refusing to join the European Union?

Before the discovery of off-shore oil in the late 60s, Norway’s lackluster economy earned the nickname ‘Europe’s ugly duckling’. But Norway’s subsequent success has as much to do with public policy as their fortuitous location near petroleum reserves.

Norway’s overall tax as a share of GDP is among the highest in the OECD–for corporations, it is the highest. Norway’s corporate tax revenue as a share of GDP is above eight percent—the highest in the world and four times higher than the US. (3) By comparison, the US is the third lowest taxed country and the second lowest for corporations. (4) In other words, if a US company sought lower tax rates by relocating to another country, as they regularly threaten, there is only one country in the world they could go: Iceland. (5) Contrary to the myth of job creators, high rates have not crippled Norwegian entrepreneurs. In fact, Norway produces more successful business start-ups than the US. (6)

By far the largest source of Norway’s tax revenues is from off-shore oil and gas development. In addition to the 28 percent corporate rate, the government collects 50 percent surtax on oil and gas profits for a combined tax of 78 percent. (7) The majority of oil revenue is saved in a sovereign wealth account estimated at $640 billion—the largest in the world. (8) Norway limits the amount of oil revenue that can be spent on the annual budget to no more than 4 percent of the fund’s returns, although the government broke the rule during the global recession to prevent a collapse in spending.

The US also possesses one of the largest oil and gas deposits in the world, but profits from its development accrue in the accounts of Exxon and BP rather than the public ledger.

Numerous polls show Americans want their representatives to focus on jobs and the economy. Americans strongly oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Two of the most popular proposals for reducing the debt, aside from deep cuts in military spending, are raising taxes on corporations, as well as a windfall profits tax on oil companies. Fortunately, the solutions which are the most politically popular are also the most economically effective and morally defensible.

Norway’s economic miracle proves that responsible fiscal management starts with protecting the safety net and asking the people who have benefited the most to pay their fair share—the opposite of what the apostles of austerity tell us.

  1. Norway’s budget surplus largest in OECD
  2. Norway’s net national surplus
  3. Norway: highest corporate taxes
  4. US third lowest tax rate in OECD
  5. US corporate tax, second lowest
  6. Norway’s entrepreneurs love socialism
  7. Norway’s 78% oil tax
  8. Sovereign wealth fund

Harry Reid Picking Winners In Fiscal Cliff Deal

Buried deep in the bowels of the much-heralded last-minute fiscal-cliff deal, that saved us from a fate worse than death and raised taxes on 77% of Americans, was a quiet little provision, inserted at the last minute, that sharply slashed Medicare pay...

Japan’s Fiscal Stimulus: Yes, There Is Such a Thing as a Free Lunch

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media at a press conference at the Liberal Democratic Party's headquarters in Tokyo, July 29, 2007. (Photo: Ko Sasaki / The New York Times) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media at a press conference at the Liberal Democratic Party's headquarters in Tokyo, July 29, 2007. (Photo: Ko Sasaki / The New York Times) Economists like to say there’s no such thing as a free lunch – this was even the title of a 1975 book by Milton Friedman. But sometimes there is a free lunch – in a vitally important sense – and now is one of those times for a lot of countries suffering from unnecessary unemployment and in some cases, recession.

Adam Posen doesn’t want to recognize that this is the case for Japan at present.  Posen is president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which is probably Washington’s most influential think tank on international economics.  Posen is not an “austerian” economist – in the second half of the 1990s he supported expansionary fiscal policy in Japan; and more recently, as a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee from 2009-2012, he supported expansionary monetary policy, including quantitative easing and very low interest rates.

So it is worth looking at his argument, because it may help us understand how the mainstream of the economics profession can sometimes be an obstacle to global economic recovery, as well as to important social goals such as reducing unemployment and poverty.

The Japanese government of Shinzo Abe recently announced a large stimulus program; the exact size is not clear but the government is seeking to boost GDP growth by 2 percentage points.  That would seem to be a good idea, since the Japanese economy is currently in recession, and the world economy to which it exports is not doing so well either.  Japanese inflation is currently negative, which means that the government can create money to pay for the stimulus without having to worry about increasing inflation.  In fact, deflation is the much greater worry, and the government wants the central bank to target a 2 percent inflation rate. (Deflation tends to discourage consumption, because purchases will be cheaper in the future; and investment, because investors are looking at shaky demand in the future, especially with the economy already in recession).

This is what I mean by a free lunch.  In fact, it’s a free lunch and a five-course dinner plus dessert.  It costs the central bank nothing to create this money for the government to spend; and any resulting increase in inflation actually helps get the Japanese economy out of its slump.  It also means that the government doesn’t have to add anything to its net debt – so, no increase in the public debt burden for the future.

But Posen argues that it’s an idea whose time has past.  Here is the crux of his argument:

Stuffing bank balance sheets with JGBs [Japanese government bonds] has constrained commercial lending by those banks – even during the recovery of 2003-08 – which harmed small and new business development. The persistently low returns on Japanese savings have further squandered investment opportunities, thereby creating a negative feedback loop with deflation and older savers’ risk aversion. The absence of external pressure has fed the combined long-term appreciation of the yen and stagnation of Japanese stock market returns, both severely distorting the economy. Needed public investment and funds for adequate healthcare and disaster recovery have been crowded out by debt payments …

I find it difficult to believe that Japanese government debt payments are crowding out public spending, much less private investment.  Net interest payments on Japan’s public debt are less than 1 percent of GDP. (This is also true for the U.S., incidentally, for those who have debt-phobia here.) This is quite small. I am also skeptical about the other problems that he attributes to Japan’s debt accumulation, such as the long-term appreciation of the yen and low stock market returns.  These have multiple causes, as does the amount of commercial lending by banks – which is more likely to be constrained by a weak economy than by government spending.

In any case, it’s difficult to see how a new stimulus program, financed by money creation, would worsen any of these problems – even if the potential for such an effect were possible -- since it doesn’t add to the country’s net debt burden or reduce banks’ lending capacity. 

And a big chunk of the stimulus is targeted toward “needed public investment” and disaster reconstruction that Posen is worried about being crowded out by public debt.

From a public interest perspective, the only worries about a stimulus program like this one would be if the money were poorly spent, e.g. on environmentally destructive rather than constructive activities; and – to a much lesser extent, if the government were to finance it through borrowing from the public, rather than the central bank (i.e. the free lunch).

Posen also argues that the stimulus won’t fix Japan’s “real problem” which is “a return to deflation and an overvalued currency.”  But it’s more likely to reduce these problems than to make them worse. Indeed press reports have noted:

The expectation of aggressive monetary easing and a much bolder BOJ [Bank of Japan] since Abe, who was prime minister in 2006-2007, returned to power has sparked a bull run in Japanese markets.

Tokyo's benchmark stock index, the Nikkei 225, has soared more than 20 percent since mid-November, while the yen has fallen roughly 11 percent in anticipation of aggressive monetary easing. The Nikkei hit a fresh 23-month high on Friday following the release of the stimulus package.

I would also take issue with a certain “false equivalence” regarding the alleged dangers of fiscal stimulus (in this case involving an economy with actual deflation) versus austerity, at a time when not only Japan but Europe is in recession, and much of the global economy is weak and facing downside risks. Posen writes:

Persistent fiscal policies that fail to adapt to changing cyclical conditions result in long-term damage. This holds true whether a government errs on the side of excessive austerity, as in Europe of late, or on the side of unjustified indiscipline, as in Japan since its recovery a decade ago . . . Italy, the UK and the US should fear the structural damage of following Japan’s example if fiscal expansion is not timed to end with recovery.

But the U.S. recovery is too weak; at the current pace it will take more than a decade to get back to full employment.  This is unacceptable. The world economy is projected to grow at 3.6 percent this year, as compared with 5.1 percent in 2010. Japan’s example should be followed anywhere that there is the economic capacity to do so, including in the United States and the eurozone.

Fiscal Footnote: Big Senate Gift to Drug Maker

The language buried in Section 632 of the law delays a set of Medicareprice restraints on a class of drugs that includes Sensipar, a lucrative Amgen pill used by kidney dialysispatients.

The provision gives Amgen an additional two years to sell Sensipar without government controls. The news was so welcome that the company’s chief executive quickly relayed it to investment analysts. But it is projected to cost Medicare up to $500 million over that period.

Amgen, which has a small army of 74 lobbyists in the capital, was the only company to argue aggressively for the delay, according to several Congressional aides of both parties.

Supporters of the delay, primarily leaders of the Senate Finance Committee who have long benefited from Amgen’s political largess, said it was necessary to allow regulators to prepare properly for the pricing change.

But critics, including several Congressional aides who were stunned to find the measure in the final bill, pointed out that Amgen had already won a previous two-year delay, and they depicted a second one as an unnecessary giveaway.

“That is why we are in the trouble we are in,” said Dennis J. Cotter, a health policy researcher who studies the cost and efficacy of dialysis drugs. “Everybody is carving out their own turf and getting it protected, and we pass the bill on to the taxpayer.”

The provision’s inclusion in the legislation to avert the tax increases and spending cuts that made up the so-called fiscal cliff shows the enduring power of special interests in Washington, even as Congress faces a critical test of its ability to balance the budget.

Amgen has deep financial and political ties to lawmakers like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, and Senators Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, who hold heavy sway over Medicare payment policy as the leaders of the Finance Committee.

It also has worked hard to build close ties with the Obama administration, with its lobbyists showing up more than a dozen times since 2009 on logs of visits to the White House, although a company official said Saturday that it had not appealed to the administration during the debate over the fiscal legislation.

Aides to Mr. Hatch and Mr. Baucus, and a spokeswoman for Amgen, said the delay would give the Medicare system and medical providers the time they needed to accommodate other complicated changes in how federal reimbursements for kidney care were determined.

“Sometimes when you try to do too much and too quickly, you screw up,” said Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for Mr. Hatch. The goal, an Amgen spokeswoman said in a written statement, is “to ensure that quality of care is not compromised for dialysis patients.”

But the measure runs counter to a five-year effort in Washington to control the enormous expense of dialysis for the Medicare program by reversing incentives to overprescribe medication.

Amgen’s success also shows that even a significant federal criminal investigation may pose little threat to a company’s influence on Capitol Hill. On Dec. 19, as Congressional negotiations over the fiscal bill reached a frenzy, Amgen pleaded guilty to marketing one of its anti-anemia drugs, Aranesp, illegally. It agreed to pay criminal and civil penalties totaling $762 million, a record settlement for a biotechnology company, according to the Justice Department.

Amgen, whose headquarters is near Los Angeles and which had $15.6 billion in revenuein 2011, has a deep bench of Washington lobbyists that includes Jeff Forbes, the former chief of staff to Mr. Baucus; Hunter Bates, the former chief of staff for Mr. McConnell; and Tony Podesta, whose fast-growing lobbying firm has unusually close ties to the White House.

Amgen’s employees and political action committee have distributed nearly $5 million in contributions to political candidates and committees since 2007, including $67,750to Mr. Baucus, the Finance Committee chairman, and $59,000 to Mr. Hatch, the committee’s ranking Republican. They gave an additional $73,000 to Mr. McConnell, some of it at a fund-raising event for him that it helped sponsor in December while the debate over the fiscal legislation was under way. More than $141,000 has also gone from Amgen employees to President Obama’s campaigns.

What distinguishes the company’s efforts in Washington is the diversity and intensity of its public policy campaigns. Amgen and its foundation have directed hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable contributions to influential groups like theCongressional Black Caucus and to lesser-known groups like the Utah Families Foundation, which was founded by Mr. Hatch and brings the senator positive coverage in his state’s news media.

Amgen has sent large donations to Glacier PAC, sponsored by Mr. Baucus in Montana, and OrrinPAC, a political action committee controlled by Mr. Hatch in Utah.

And when Mr. Hatch faced a rare primary challenge last year, a nonprofit group calling itself Freedom Path sponsored advertisements in Utah that attacked his opponent, an effort that tax records released in November show was financed in large part by thePharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group that includes Amgen.

In some cases, the company’s former employees have found important posts inside the Capitol. They include Dan Todd, one of Mr. Hatch’s top Finance Committee staff members on health and Medicare policy, who worked as a health policy analyst for Amgen’s government affairs office from 2005 to 2009. Mr. Todd, who joined Mr. Hatch’s staff in 2011, was directly involved in negotiating the dialysis components of the fiscal bill, and he met with “all the stakeholders,” Mr. Hatch’s spokeswoman said, not disputing when asked that this included Amgen lobbyists.

For years, Amgen used its clout in Washington to lobby for generous Medicare payments for its blockbuster drug, Epogen, which fends off anemia in dialysis patients.

The Medicare program covers most costs associated with treating severe renal disease, regardless of a patient’s age, and the dialysis market continues to grow steadily. In 2010, the government’s kidney program was spending $1.9 billion on injectable anti-anemia drugs like Epogen.

But nearly a decade ago, evidence started to surface that questioned the effectiveness and safety of Epogen at the levels being used.

Researchers found that Medicare’s practice of reimbursing providers with separate payments for the drugs and for dialysis treatments encouraged overprescription because the providers made healthy profits with each dose. They also found that high doses posed cardiovascular risks to patients.

Congress reversed the incentive in 2008 by requiring Medicare to pay a single, bundled rate for a dialysis treatment and related medications starting in 2011. With providers potentially profiting more by prescribing less Epogen, use of dialysis drugs dropped by nearly 25 percent.

But the blow was softened for Amgen and other kidney care companies with a few favors from Congress. Among them was a two-year delay in the inclusion of certain oral drugs, Sensipar among them, in the new bundled payment system. That meant demand for Sensipar would not decline and Amgen would maintain control over pricing.

With that two-year exclusion set to expire in 2014, Amgen’s lobbyists began making rounds again on Capitol Hill last fall. In private meetings with staff members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, they argued for another two-year delay, several Congressional aides said.

Committee staff members had been meeting regularly in Room S-124 of the Capitol to negotiate a package of Medicare cuts needed to prevent a large scheduled reduction in doctors’ fees. The kidney program was on the table because a new report by the Government Accountability Office had found that Medicare had overpaid for dialysis by up to $880 million in 2011.

The discussions about cutting dialysis reimbursement began late last fall with little focus on a delay for oral drugs, but it was eventually endorsed by leading staff members for Mr. Baucus and Mr. Hatch, Congressional aides said.

Aides to the senators said the delay made sense because the Government Accountability Office had warned in early 2011 that federal regulators should take care in setting compensation levels for the drugs.

But others on Capitol Hill saw no justification for further delay.

“It is disappointing,” said a Democratic Congressional aide who declined to be named because of the issue’s sensitivity, “since the status quo encourages prescribing of oral drugs based on financial incentives rather than on best clinical practices.”

Mr. Hatch’s spokeswoman, Ms. Ferrier, said the involvement of Mr. Todd, the former Amgen employee, had not been inappropriate and that dozens of staff members on Capitol Hill handled matters that might benefit former employers.

“They have to leave their previous lives behind,” Ms. Ferrier said. “And Dan has done just that.”

After the House was sidelined late in the fiscal negotiations, the Senate gained control of the final bill-writing process, and the provision requested by Amgen was inserted into the legislation by Senate staff members.

Aides to Mr. Baucus and Mr. Hatch emphasized that the White House and Senate leadership, including Mr. McConnell, had the final word on the bill.

A spokesman for Mr. McConnell praised the parts of the legislation related to Medicare, while a White House spokesman declined to comment, saying the matter was decided by players on Capitol Hill.

Many lobbyists and Congressional aides said they first learned of the language when the final bill was posted publicly, only hours before being approved. It called for cutting $4.9 billion over 10 years by lowering Medicare payments for dialysis, but left hundreds of millions on the table by extending the oral drug delay.

At this point, opponents had no way to challenge the provision, as there was a single vote on the entire fiscal package. Mr. Baucus and Mr. Hatch voted in favor.

Aides to the senators said some heavy donors had won and others had lost in the Medicare negotiations — proof that the legislative outcome was based on the merits. “What is the best policy for Montanans and people across the country lies at the heart of every decision Chairman Baucus makes,” said Meaghan Smith, a spokeswoman for Mr. Baucus. “It’s as simple as that.”

Guest Post: Fiscal Farce, Failure, Fantasy, & Fornication

Submitted by Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform blog,

I’ve put off writing an article about what is likely to happen in 2013 so I could peruse the thousands of other articles by reputable bloggers, paid pundits, Wall Street shills and captured charlatans to gather their wisdom. It’s essential that I make predictions for 2013 so I can write another article in December rationalizing why 90% of my predictions failed to materialize. Reading all of these 2013 prediction articles made things much clearer for me. I now know for sure:

  • The stock market will reach an all-time high.
  • The stock market will fall 42%.
  • The economy will strengthen as the year progresses.
  • The economy will descend into a depression.
  • The USD will strengthen.
  • The USD will collapse.
  • Gas prices will set new highs.
  • Gas prices will fall below 2012 levels.
  • Gold will rise to $10,000 per ounce.
  • Gold will drop below $1,000 per ounce.
  • We will experience hyperinflation.
  • We will experience horrific deflation.
  • Obama will compromise with the Republicans and put the country on a path to prosperity.
  • Obama will create a debt ceiling crisis and assume dictatorial powers as a result.
  • Snooki will be a better mother than Kim Kardashian.
  • Honey Boo Boo will beat I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant in the Neilson ratings.

The majority of 2013 prediction articles are written to support the agenda of the writer. Many are trying to sell newsletter subscriptions or investment services. Their predictions will match the theme of their newsletter. Others are Wall Street paid shills who will predict what they are paid to predict by their owners. Then there are the political hacks who tow the party line with their predictions. But no one can top the predictive powers of the CBO. They just put out their ten year updated forecast reflecting the fabulous fiscal cliff deal that saved the country. According to the CBO, the “compromise” to reduce our deficits will add a mere $4 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years. I’m sure this will prove to be accurate. Just take a look at their 2002 projection, after passage of the Bush tax cuts:

The CBO predicted the FY2012 surplus would be $641 billion, the national debt would total $3.5 trillion, the debt held by the public would total $1.273 trillion, and GDP would total $17.2 trillion. They missed by that much.

 

The actual FY12 results were:

  • The true deficit was $1.37 trillion (amount national debt increased – not the phony deficit number reported by the mainstream media).
  • The national debt was $16.1 trillion.
  • The debt held by the public was $11.3 trillion.
  • GDP was $15.8 trillion.

Based on these results, I won’t be asking the CBO for help with my Super Bowl bet. Making ten year predictions is beyond worthless, but public policy in Washington DC is based on these useless CBO projections. The entire fiscal cliff kabuki theater fictitious crisis reveals the politicians and mainstream media pundits to be liars, fools and frauds. The tax the rich to cut the deficit storyline was sold to the public and won the day. Of course, the highly accurate CBO immediately revealed that the Orwellian named American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 adds $4 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years. Based on the accuracy of their previous predictions, it’s a guarantee the national debt goes up by $8 trillion, as the rich take advantage of the thousands of loopholes in the IRS code they paid for to avoid paying the taxes expected by the CBO.

Hypocrisy abounds on both sides of the aisle in Washington DC and on the media company propaganda channels. As the national debt soared from $10.6 trillion on the day Obama took office to $16.4 trillion today, I heard shrieking liberal talking heads on MSNBC, CNN, and the rest of the liberal media blame the debt on the Bush tax cuts and the Bush wars. If the Bush tax cuts were so horrific, why did Obama and his minions just make 98% of these tax cuts permanent? Liberals held protest marches across the country against Bush’s wars and burned him in effigy. Obama’s defense budgets have been larger than Bush’s and he doubled down on our miserable failure in Afghanistan. You don’t hear a peep from the liberals about the warmongering Barack Obama who has kill lists and unleashes predator drones, killing women and children across the globe. Liberals pretend to be concerned about the welfare of the citizens, but continue to support a President that uses executive orders to imprison citizens indefinitely without charges, has expanded surveillance on citizens, has kept Guantanamo open, signs the continuation of the Patriot Act, and proposes overturning the Second Amendment by executive order. Liberals shriek about the evils of an unregulated Wall Street, while remaining silent as Obama hasn’t prosecuted a single banker for the greatest financial fraud in world history. You don’t hear a peep about Jon Corzine, who stole $1.2 billion from the accounts of farmers and ranchers. Liberals talk about regulation and then stand idly by while Wall Street lobbyists wrote the Dodd Frank law and insurance and drug company lobbyists wrote the Obamacare law. Liberal hypocrisy knows no bounds and is only matched by Neo-Con hypocrisy.

The Neo-Con controlled Republican Party is a pathetic joke. They have the guts to declare themselves the party of fiscal responsibility, after Bush’s eight year reign of error. He and his fiscally responsible party were handed a budget in surplus and managed to add $4.9 trillion to the national debt by waging undeclared wars, encouraging Wall Street to create the biggest fraudulent financial bubble in history, creating a new $16 trillion unfunded entitlement (Medicare Part D), cutting taxes without paying for them, and creating a massive new government agency (DHS) to take away our liberties and freedom. Federal government spending grew from $1.9 trillion to $3.0 trillion under Bush and the Republicans. Does that sound fiscally responsible?

Does anyone believe the Republican Party is serious about cutting anything? Tough guy Republicans like Big Chris Christie preach fiscal responsibility when going to war with teachers’ unions, but he squeals  like a stuck pig when a $60 billion pork filled, unpaid for, Sandy Relief bill is held up in Congress. The courageous fiscally responsible Congress critters passed the entire pork filled, unfunded, bloated, vote buying joke. It included $28 billion to mitigate future disasters, $3 billion to repair or replace Federal assets, and $6 billion for transportation projects completely unrelated to Sandy damage.   The hypocrisy of politicians who proclaim the $50 billion of 2013 fiscal cliff tax revenue as deficit cutting, and then immediately piss it away by paying people to rebuild their houses yards from the Atlantic Ocean while funding billions of non-disaster related projects is disgusting to behold. There is nothing like compromise to add another $60 billion to the national debt.

Our entire economic and political system is a farce. The American people are being played by the powerful interests that provide them with an illusion of choice. Both parties serve the interests of their masters and the fiscal cliff show and debt ceiling show are a form of reality TV to keep the masses alarmed, fearful, and believing there is actually a difference between the policies of the ruling class. The charade has played out in its full glory in the last few weeks with Obama convincing the masses he had stuck it to the rich, while in reality the working middle class got it good and hard when they got their January paychecks. This chart details the tax changes that went into effect on January 1.          

 taxbill

The funniest part this fiscal fiasco farce is watching the reaction of the sheep who believed Obama and the mainstream media storyline. Obama was able to raise the published top rate on people making over $400,000. The newly defined “rich” laughed heartily as they know only fools pay anywhere near the top rate. The rich just call their tax advisor and instruct them to use one of the thousands of tax loopholes in the 75,000 page IRS tax code to “legally” avoid the new Obama rates. Meanwhile, both parties and their mainstream media mouthpieces downplayed the 2% payroll tax increase on every working American. This tax increase has been a complete surprise to the reality TV zombies and Facebook aficionados. Even college educated professionals in my office had no idea their next monthly paycheck was going to be $150 to $200 lighter. This will wipe out most, or all, of the annual raise they received. The tax will fall heavily on the 75% of households that make less than the $113,700 Social Security cutoff. For a struggling family of four earning the median income of $50,000, the $1,000 less in their paychecks will mean less food, putting off trips to the doctor, driving on bald tires, or not taking the family on a vacation to the Jersey shore. The $2,274 increase in taxes (.57%) for the Wall Street banker making $400,000 probably won’t put too much of a crimp in his Hamptons lifestyle.

The joke is on the American people as the rich will ante up maybe $50 billion of taxes in 2013, while the working middle class will be skewered for $125 billion. How’s that “Tax the Rich” slogan working out for you?     

 

Only in the Orwellian capital of Washington DC would a bill that was supposed to provide tax relief to the middle class and spending cuts to reduce the deficit, actually increase the tax burden of a median household by $1,000 and perpetuate the pork spending payoffs to campaign contributors and friends of the slimy politicians that slither through the halls of Congress. The list of pork and bribes should be nauseating to hard working Americans across the country:

$30 billion extension of the 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, even though we are supposedly in the 3rd year of economic recovery. Continuing to pay people to not work for two years will surely boost employment.

$14.3 billion for a two-year extension of the corporate research credit benefiting large technology companies like IBM and Hewlett Packard.

$12.2 billion one-year extension of the production tax credit for wind power.

$11.2 billion two- year extension of the active financing exception, which lets GE, Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) and Citigroup Inc. (C), among others, defer taxes on financing income they earn outside the U.S.

$1.9 billion extension of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring workers from disadvantaged groups, benefitting mega-restaurant chains like McDonalds.

$1.8 billion extension of the New Markets Tax Credit for investments in low- income areas, benefitting JP Morgan and other Wall Street shyster banks.

$650 million tax credit for manufacturing energy-efficient appliances, benefitting mega-corps like Whirlpool.

$430 million for Hollywood through “special expensing rules” to encourage TV and film production in the United States. Producers can expense up to $15 million of costs for their projects. NBC thanks you.

$331 million for railroads by allowing short-line and regional operators to claim a tax credit up to 50% of the cost to maintain tracks that they own or lease.

$248 million in special expensing rules for films and television programs.

$222 million for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands through returned excise taxes collected by the federal government on rum produced in the islands and imported to the mainland.

$78 million for NASCAR by extending a “7-year cost recovery period for certain motorsports racing track facilities.”

$59 million for algae growers through tax credits to encourage production of “cellulosic biofuel” at up to $1.01 per gallon.

$4 million for electric motorcycle makers by expanding an existing green-energy tax credit for buyers of plug-in vehicles to include electric motorbikes.

So when you see the cut in your take home pay, just comfort yourself knowing that JP Morgan, Citigroup, GE and hundreds of mega-corporations were able to retain their tax breaks. As they have done for decades, Congress and the President agreed to address spending cuts at a future date. Of course, a government spending cut isn’t actually a cut. It’s a lower increase than their previous projection. Nothing is ever cut in Washington DC. The austerity storyline is a lie. Not a dime has been cut from the Federal budget. Intellectually dishonest ideologues try to peddle the wind down of the Obama $800 billion porkulus program as a cut in Federal spending. They sold this Keynesian “shovel ready” crap to a gullible public as stimulus to jumpstart the economy. Federal spending was $3.0 trillion before the Obama stimulus. After the two year stimulus was pissed away without helping the economy one iota, the baseline should have been back in the $3.2 trillion range. Instead, FY13 Federal spending will be $3.8 trillion. This hasn’t kept liberal ideologues like Krugman and his minions in the mainstream media from blaming crazy Tea Party Republicans for inflicting horrendous austerity measures on the poor and disadvantaged.

 

The chart above reveals a few truths:

  • The country has been blessed with two of the worst presidents in U.S. history over the last twelve years.
  • When Federal spending as a percentage of GDP is beyond two standard deviations over the normal range during the last sixty years, your problem is not lack of tax revenue.
  • Obama and the current Congress are spending at a level of 24% of GDP versus the 18% of GDP when Clinton left office. This amounts to a nose bleed altitude $950 billion higher than the level Clinton was spending in his final year in office.

The Op-eds in liberal rags across the land decry the lack of civility in Washington DC and plead for politicians on both sides of the aisle to come together and compromise for the good of the country. This line of bullshit would be laughable if it wasn’t so wretched in its falsity. Compromise is what has left this country with a $16.4 trillion national debt, $200 trillion of unfunded liabilities, and $1 trillion deficits as far as the eye can see. Democrats have compromised and let the Republicans create a warfare state. Republicans have compromised and let Democrats create a welfare state. The two headed monster living in the swamps of Washington DC just voted to increase taxes on all Americans. They voted to hand criminal Wall Street banks $700 billion. They voted to pass the Patriot Act. They voted to pass the NDAA. They’ve allowed the President to wage undeclared wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and now Iran. They voted for a $663 billion Defense bill that includes tens of billions the Secretary of Defense doesn’t even want. They will vote to raise the debt ceiling in the next two months. The last thing this country needs is more compromise. We can’t afford any more compromise. The chart above proves what can happen when gridlock ensues, spending restrictions are enforced, and confrontation displaces compromise. After the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, gridlock ensued for the next six years. PAYGO restrictions in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 didn’t allow unfettered spending increases. The result was Federal spending falling from 22% of GDP to 18% of GDP and a budget surplus. The Pay-Go restrictions expired in 2002 and Democrats and Republicans have compromised to the tune of a $10.2 trillion increase in the national debt in ten years. The hypocrisy of pandering deceitful politicians is boundless and shows utter contempt for the intelligence of the American populace.  

“Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize more spending. It simply allows the country to pay for spending that Congress has already committed to. If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks, and veterans benefits will be delayed. We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners. Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialist who track down loose nuclear materials wouldn’t get their paychecks. Investors around the world will ask if the United States of America is in fact a safe bet. Markets could go haywire, interest rates would spike for anybody who borrows money – Every homeowner with a mortgage, every student with a college loan, every small business owner who wants to grow and hire. We are not a deadbeat nation.

It would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy. It would slow down our growth, might tip us into recession. And ironically it would probably increase our deficit. So to even entertain the idea of this happening, of the United States of America not paying its bills, is irresponsible. It’s absurd. Republicans in Congress have two choices here. They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.” – President Barack Obama – January 14, 2013

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. The Senate continues to reject a return to the common sense Pay-go rules that used to apply. Previously, Pay-go rules applied both to increases in mandatory spending and to tax cuts.

The Senate had to abide by the common sense budgeting principle of balancing expenses and revenues. But we must remember that the more we depend on foreign nations to lend us money, the more our economic security is tied to the whims of foreign leaders whose interests might not be aligned with ours. Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘‘the buck stops here.’’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.” – Senator Barack Obama – March 16, 2006

I could have shown quotes from George W. Bush during the 2000 Presidential campaign talking about a non-interventionist foreign policy and no need for the U.S. to get involved in nation building and then proceeding to pre-emptively attack sovereign countries while wasting trillions and impoverishing unborn generations trying to create “democracy” in the Middle East at the point of a gun as a cover to protect “our” oil. The point is that we are being given the illusion of choice. Everyone knows the debt ceiling will be raised after another episode of Washington DC Kabuki Theater, presented by the corporate mainstream media in breathtaking detail, because the politicians are beholden to their owners and those owners want more of our money. That is why spending will never be willingly cut by the spineless puppet congressmen, as their strings are pulled by the corporate puppet masters and they dance to the tune of the banking oligarchs that own this country.

After witnessing the fighting of undeclared never ending wars, passage of freedom destroying legislation like the Patriot Act & NDAA, approval of pork barrel spending to the tune of hundreds of billions, rule by Executive Order, using ZIRP to extract hundreds of billions from senior citizen savers and give it to criminal Wall Street banks, forcing the American people at gunpoint to replenish the Wall Street banks with $700 billion after they had committed the greatest financial fraud in history, and a continuing trampling of the U.S. Constitution, the American people continue to remain willfully ignorant of the truth. The American Dream is dead. We’ve allowed a rich, privileged, elite few to achieve hegemony over our economic and political system with their control of the media and manipulation of our financial markets. They will collapse the country because they will never be satisfied with the amount of wealth and power they’ve accumulated. Their voracious greed will be their downfall. The sooner we can channel the anger of George Carlin, the sooner we can put an end to this corporate fascist reign of terror.         

“Politicians are put there to give you that idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land, they own and control the corporations, and they’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the State Houses, and the City Halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies so they control just about all the news and information you get to hear. They’ve got you by the balls.

They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else. But I’ll tell you what they don’t want—they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interest. You know something, they don’t want people that are smart enough to sit around their kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

It’s a big club and you ain’t in it! You and I are not in the Big Club. By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you in the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy. The table is tilted folks, the game is rigged. And nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on, the fact that Americans are and will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white, and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes every day. Because the owners of this country know the truth, it’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.” George Carlin

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A Modest Proposal for Jacob Lew: Acknowledge Three Simple Facts about U.S. Fiscal Reality

In a reasonable world, in which we recognized the culpability of big-time D.C. politicians and bureaucrats who allowed Wall Street hyper-speculation to run wild and eventually cause the 2008-09 crash and Great Recession, Jacob Lew would be understood as a terrible choice as President Obama’s second-term Treasury Secretary, replacing Timothy Geithner. The outstanding journalist Robert Sheer gives us the basic background in a recent Nation article. Sheer writes:

I suppose that he can’t be much worse than Timothy Geithner, but that should be scant cause for cheer over the news that the president has nominated Jack Lew as Treasury secretary. Both championed the financial deregulation craze of the Clinton administration, and both are acolytes of Robert Rubin, the former Clinton Treasury secretary who unfettered Wall Street greed and then took his own considerable cut of the action.

But because we are not living in a reasonable world, at least in terms of D.C.-insider debates on economic policy, Lew’s nomination apparently faces opposition from Republicans because he appears insufficiently committed to an austerity budget that could push the economy back into recession while also devastating spending for Social Security, education, health care, family support, and unemployment insurance.

It is clear that debate over the fiscal deficit and austerity will dominate Lew’s confirmation hearings and at least his initial period in office, if he ends up getting confirmed. But without pursuing any deep explorations about who should be taxed more or less, or whether 47 percent of U.S. citizens are indeed freeloaders, I would just propose that Lew be willing to recognize three sets of very simple, irrefutable facts about the current U.S. fiscal condition. Here they are:

Fact #1: The U.S. government is not facing a fiscal crisis.

In any common sense meaning of the term “fiscal crisis,” we would be referring to the government’s inability to make its forthcoming payments to its creditors. By that common sense definition, the U.S. federal government is in just about the best shape it has ever been. Figure 1 below tells the story.

According to the most recent data from the third quarter of 2012 (which we term “2012.3”), the federal government spent 7.7 percent of its total expenditures on interest to its creditors. As the figure shows, that figure is less than half of the average figure under the full 12 years of Republican Presidents Reagan and Bush, when the government paid, on average, 16.8 percent of the total budget to cover interest payments. Right now, as we see, government interest payments are at near historic lows, not highs. As Treasury Secretary-designate, Lew needs to just state this obvious, and highly relevant point. To my knowledge, it has been heretofore completely left out of the insider-D.C. fiscal cliff debates, by Lew, Obama, and Geithner, to say nothing of the Republicans.

Fact #2: Interest rates on government bonds are at historic lows.

Figure 2 tells this story, which is well-known, but is not being given proper recognition in the deficit debates. As the figure shows, at the end of 2012, the U.S. government was borrowing at 0.7 percent on its 5-year Treasury Bonds.

It is precisely because the federal government can borrow so cheaply that our interest payments are corresponding low. Deficit hawks—economists and politicians alike—have been insisting for years that the rates are about to spike back up. Of course, interest rates will rise back up, at some point. We need to be vigilant about that. But this hasn’t happened over the full four year period since the onset of the Great Recession. This enables the U.S. government to maintain stimulus levels of spending, to get the economy onto a healthy growth trajectory. In other words, we have no reason to submit to an austerity agenda now. We should expect Jacob Lew to at least state the obvious here: that the deficit hawks have been wrong about an impending interest rate spike for four years running.

Fact #3: Current large government deficits are due to the recession, not out-of-control spending.

This is so obvious it should be barely worth mentioning. But simple facts are ignored repeatedly in the fiscal deficit debates. No doubt during the Lew hearings, there will be more discussion about the current crisis being due to the 47 percent freeloading population who, as Mitt Romney put it after his defeat, “want stuff” from the government. As we see in Figure 3, the government’s fiscal deficit spiked at 10.1 percent of GDP in 2009, immediately after the onset of the recession.

But does anybody want to seriously claim that the pattern of fiscal deficits that we see in Figure 3 is due to the fact that people didn’t want too much stuff as of 2007 or 2008, then all of the sudden, that demand for stuff soared in 2009, which was just coincidentally exactly when the Wall Street crash brought the economy to its knees?

The deficit has fallen modestly since 2009, to 8.5 percent of GDP in 2012. But the single most important thing we can do to lower the fiscal deficit further is to push unemployment down. This will generate increased government revenues with people paying more in income and sales taxes, and it will reduce government payments on unemployment insurance and supplemental aid for health care and family support. The U.S. has the capacity to pursue a stimulus agenda now quite easily, precisely because interest rates and interest payments to creditors remain historically low.

It shouldn’t be any stretch at all for Jacob Lew to acknowledge these three simple, irrefutable points. But will he do it? My guess is that he will not. If I am right in this guess, it will provide only further evidence as to the dismal state of the economic policy debate in official Washington, including Democrats like Lew here as well as Republicans.

© 2013 Political Economy Research Institute (PERI)

Robert Pollin, a professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, is co-author of Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy.

A Modest Proposal for Jacob Lew: Acknowledge Three Simple Facts about U.S. Fiscal Reality

In a reasonable world, in which we recognized the culpability of big-time D.C. politicians and bureaucrats who allowed Wall Street hyper-speculation to run wild and eventually cause the 2008-09 crash and Great Recession, Jacob Lew would be understood as a terrible choice as President Obama’s second-term Treasury Secretary, replacing Timothy Geithner. The outstanding journalist Robert Sheer gives us the basic background in a recent Nation article. Sheer writes:

I suppose that he can’t be much worse than Timothy Geithner, but that should be scant cause for cheer over the news that the president has nominated Jack Lew as Treasury secretary. Both championed the financial deregulation craze of the Clinton administration, and both are acolytes of Robert Rubin, the former Clinton Treasury secretary who unfettered Wall Street greed and then took his own considerable cut of the action.

But because we are not living in a reasonable world, at least in terms of D.C.-insider debates on economic policy, Lew’s nomination apparently faces opposition from Republicans because he appears insufficiently committed to an austerity budget that could push the economy back into recession while also devastating spending for Social Security, education, health care, family support, and unemployment insurance.

It is clear that debate over the fiscal deficit and austerity will dominate Lew’s confirmation hearings and at least his initial period in office, if he ends up getting confirmed. But without pursuing any deep explorations about who should be taxed more or less, or whether 47 percent of U.S. citizens are indeed freeloaders, I would just propose that Lew be willing to recognize three sets of very simple, irrefutable facts about the current U.S. fiscal condition. Here they are:

Fact #1: The U.S. government is not facing a fiscal crisis.

In any common sense meaning of the term “fiscal crisis,” we would be referring to the government’s inability to make its forthcoming payments to its creditors. By that common sense definition, the U.S. federal government is in just about the best shape it has ever been. Figure 1 below tells the story.

According to the most recent data from the third quarter of 2012 (which we term “2012.3”), the federal government spent 7.7 percent of its total expenditures on interest to its creditors. As the figure shows, that figure is less than half of the average figure under the full 12 years of Republican Presidents Reagan and Bush, when the government paid, on average, 16.8 percent of the total budget to cover interest payments. Right now, as we see, government interest payments are at near historic lows, not highs. As Treasury Secretary-designate, Lew needs to just state this obvious, and highly relevant point. To my knowledge, it has been heretofore completely left out of the insider-D.C. fiscal cliff debates, by Lew, Obama, and Geithner, to say nothing of the Republicans.

Fact #2: Interest rates on government bonds are at historic lows.

Figure 2 tells this story, which is well-known, but is not being given proper recognition in the deficit debates. As the figure shows, at the end of 2012, the U.S. government was borrowing at 0.7 percent on its 5-year Treasury Bonds.

It is precisely because the federal government can borrow so cheaply that our interest payments are corresponding low. Deficit hawks—economists and politicians alike—have been insisting for years that the rates are about to spike back up. Of course, interest rates will rise back up, at some point. We need to be vigilant about that. But this hasn’t happened over the full four year period since the onset of the Great Recession. This enables the U.S. government to maintain stimulus levels of spending, to get the economy onto a healthy growth trajectory. In other words, we have no reason to submit to an austerity agenda now. We should expect Jacob Lew to at least state the obvious here: that the deficit hawks have been wrong about an impending interest rate spike for four years running.

Fact #3: Current large government deficits are due to the recession, not out-of-control spending.

This is so obvious it should be barely worth mentioning. But simple facts are ignored repeatedly in the fiscal deficit debates. No doubt during the Lew hearings, there will be more discussion about the current crisis being due to the 47 percent freeloading population who, as Mitt Romney put it after his defeat, “want stuff” from the government. As we see in Figure 3, the government’s fiscal deficit spiked at 10.1 percent of GDP in 2009, immediately after the onset of the recession.

But does anybody want to seriously claim that the pattern of fiscal deficits that we see in Figure 3 is due to the fact that people didn’t want too much stuff as of 2007 or 2008, then all of the sudden, that demand for stuff soared in 2009, which was just coincidentally exactly when the Wall Street crash brought the economy to its knees?

The deficit has fallen modestly since 2009, to 8.5 percent of GDP in 2012. But the single most important thing we can do to lower the fiscal deficit further is to push unemployment down. This will generate increased government revenues with people paying more in income and sales taxes, and it will reduce government payments on unemployment insurance and supplemental aid for health care and family support. The U.S. has the capacity to pursue a stimulus agenda now quite easily, precisely because interest rates and interest payments to creditors remain historically low.

It shouldn’t be any stretch at all for Jacob Lew to acknowledge these three simple, irrefutable points. But will he do it? My guess is that he will not. If I am right in this guess, it will provide only further evidence as to the dismal state of the economic policy debate in official Washington, including Democrats like Lew here as well as Republicans.

© 2013 Political Economy Research Institute (PERI)

Robert Pollin

Robert Pollin, a professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, is co-author of Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy.

Corporate Gold on the Fiscal Cliff

In economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s book, End This Depression Now!, there’s a chapter titled “The Second Gilded Age” in which he describes the extraordinary rise in wealth and power of the very rich during this era of unregulated greed. Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, the top one percent of Americans have seen their incomes increase by 275 percent. After accounting for inflation, the typical hourly wage for a worker has increased just $1.23.

Big Money, as Krugman writes in his book, buys Big Influence. And that’s why the financiers of Wall Street never truly experience regime change — their cash brings both political parties to heel. So it is that the policies that got us where we are today — in this big ditch of chronic financial depression — have done little for most, but have been very good to a few at the top.

But they’re not satisfied with having only most of it — they want it all. If Krugman were writing his book today, he could find plenty of evidence in the deal that supposedly kept us from going over the fiscal cliff. Behind closed doors, Congress larded it with corporate tax breaks worth tens of billions of dollars — everything from tax credits for NASCAR racing and the railroads to subsidies for Hollywood, rebates for the rum industry and loopholes for off-shore financing that could help giant multinationals like General Electric avoid billions of dollars in corporate income taxes.

Writing in the conservative Washington Examiner, columnist Tim Carney says many of these expensive giveaways were “spawned by a web of lobbyists, donors and staffers surrounding Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana,” chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. As we know from the Obamacare fight, Baucus is a connoisseur of revolving door corruption. “Pick any one of the special-interest tax breaks extended by the cliff deal,” Carney wrote, “and you’re likely to find a former Baucus aide who lobbied for it on behalf of a large corporation or industry organization.” Even the pro-business Wall Street Journal was appalled. They called it a “Crony Capitalist Blowout.”

And so it was — and more. It was payback time for all those campaign donations. CEOs and lobbyists were tripping over themselves as they traipsed up and down Pennsylvania Avenue between Congress and the White House. You’ve no doubt heard about Fix the Debt, that group of business execs and retired politicians taking out TV ads and campaigning to slash the deficit. In The New York Times, Nick Confessorereported, “…close to half of the members of Fix the Debt’s board and steering committee have ties to companies that have engaged in lobbying on taxes and spending, often to preserve tax breaks and other special treatment.”

Get it? They’re privately protecting their interests as they publicly urge austerity on everyone else.

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO and chair of the global investment giant Goldman Sachs, is on Fix the Debt’s Fiscal Leadership Council. Here’s what he said when asked by CBS News’ Scott Pelley about how he would reduce the federal deficit: “You’re going to have to undoubtedly do something to lower people’s expectations — the entitlements and what people think that they’re going to get, because it’s not going to — they’re not going to get it… Social Security wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30-year retirement after a 25-year career… in general, entitlements have to be slowed down and contained.”

Yes, but Blankfein and Goldman Sachs make sure their entitlements aren’t touched! Here’s the story: After 9/11, Congress created tax-exempt Liberty Zone bonds to help small businesses rebuild near Ground Zero. Turns out Goldman’s friends in high places consider it a small business, too, although it made $5.6 billion in profits last year. As the fiscal cliff fiasco was playing out over New Year’s Eve, faster than the ball dropped in Times Square, a deal was struck that will extend the subsidies for Goldman’s fancy new headquarters in lower Manhattan. In their 43 stories of glass and steel, and a footprint two city blocks long, Goldman Sachs reigns supreme – thanks to a system rigged by and for the powerful rich.

And then, according to The Wall Street Journal, just before the fiscal cliff deal’s higher individual tax rates kicked in, Goldman handed “Lloyd Blankfein and his top lieutenants a total of $65 million in restricted stock” — bonuses awarded a month earlier than usual so they could all beat the coming tax hike from which they have been spared for more than ten lucrative years.

It won’t surprise you to learn that, “Corporations announced more special dividends last month than in any other December since at least 1955.” Doing everything they can to avoid helping pay off the debt their CEOs have been urging Congress to cut.

As for working people — tough luck. Because the fiscal cliff deal ends the cut in payroll taxes, the average worker this year will take home about a thousand dollars less.

“Fiscal Pain”: Austerity Drives Up European Unemployment to Record Levels

The policy of unrelenting austerity adopted by the European political elite has driven up unemployment across the continent to record levels, as shown in data released Tuesday by the Eurostat statistics agency.

Unemployment in the 17 European countries that make up the euro zone rose in November to 11.8 percent, with the number of jobless workers hitting 18.8 million. This is the highest figure since the single currency was introduced in 1999.

Euro zone unemployment rose by 0.1 percent compared to the previous month and was up by 1.2 percent from November 2011. Joblessness across the 27 members of the European Union was 10.7 percent and topped 26 million for the first time.

The biggest increases in unemployment have occurred in those European countries that have been selected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union for economic shock treatment. Joblessness in Greece soared to 26 percent in September, an increase of over 7 percent from September of 2011. The European leader for unemployment, however, is the continent’s fourth largest economy, Spain, where 26.6 percent of the work force was registered as unemployed in November.

Commenting on the latest European statistics, the chief economist at the British Institute of Directors, Graeme Leach, said, “It is clear that the economic implosion of several member states continues at a troubling pace… The headline figures spell bad news, but that is compounded by the political and human impact of terrifying levels of youth unemployment in Spain, Greece and Italy.”

According to the Eurostat figures, youth unemployment is currently hovering around 50 percent in Greece and Spain and topping 30 percent in Italy. All of the leading economic indicators point to a worsening of the economic situation in Europe and a further increase in unemployment in 2013.

The bald statistics fail to reveal the enormous suffering and despair gripping tens of millions of families across the continent. The inevitable consequence of record levels of unemployment is levels of poverty in some of the most developed economies of Europe on a scale unseen since the 1930s.

In a recent report, the Oxfam Aid charity warned that the austerity measures introduced by the Spanish government at the end of last year, which include severe cuts to unemployment benefits, could drive the number of people categorized as living in poverty to 18 million, or 40 percent of the population, over the next 10 years.

In Greece, more than a third of the population now lives below the poverty line, according to official estimates. Soup kitchens have become commonplace in major cities, and bartering communities have been established in parts of the country to enable the income-less poor to exchange commodities.

At the end of January, a series of cuts to the incomes of pensioners and civil servants will take effect as part of the latest cuts package approved by the government in Athens. Many workers’ incomes, which have already declined by 40 percent in recent years, will fall further.

Aliki Mouriki, a sociologist at the National Centre for Social Research, warns of the political consequences of the austerity policies imposed by the EU and IMF: “Joblessness will continue to grow, the recession will get worse, more businesses will close. The big question is who will survive?… Anger and despair are building up… unless people see a way out of this deplorable situation there will be an explosion.”

In fact, mass unemployment and widespread poverty have been factored in by the European ruling elite in the course of drawing up plans for what one economic commentator has described as “perma-austerity.”

At the end of the year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested that when it came to determining the wages and social conditions of European workers, China was the bench mark. A huge army of unemployed living on the brink of destitution is being created in order to push down the wages of those still employed and achieve the levels of super-exploitation found in the free trade zones of China. The extremes of social devastation and poverty prevailing in Greece, Spain and Italy are to be exported across the entire continent.

Merkel’s own government is drawing up plans for the introduction of drastic austerity measures in Germany in 2014, following federal elections this autumn. The recent adoption of the German debt brake, which strictly limits levels of debt, will force all other euro zone countries to take the same path.

Outside the euro zone, British Chancellor Cameron has made clear that the Westminster government intends to maintain its own program of “fiscal pain” until at least 2018. Not least among the cuts planned for this year by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government is the introduction of a ceiling for welfare payments, which will mean massive cuts to the incomes of the poorest layers of society.

All of these attacks across the continent have been made possible by the compliance of the trade unions, which support the policy of the European ruling class of slashing workers’ wages and conditions to close the labor exploitation gap with China.

Following the “Fiscal Cliff” Agreement, Drastic Bi-partisan Spending Cuts

tax

Following the agreement between Democrats and Republicans to avert the “fiscal cliff,” the two big business parties enter the new year with one item on their domestic agenda: cuts in health care, retirement and other programs on which millions of people depend.

Behind the squabbling and political theater, the representatives of the financial aristocracy, along with the media, are working to create the conditions for implementing social attacks that previously were considered politically impossible. Such measures—slashing health care, cutting already meager retirement benefits, forcing people to work longer before receiving benefits—are presented as unavoidable.

President Obama used his Saturday radio and Internet address to declare that there would be no negotiations with congressional Republicans on raising the federal debt ceiling, which the US Treasury is about to breach. House Speaker John Boehner said the Republicans would use the debt ceiling as leverage to force through spending cuts in social programs, demanding one dollar in cuts over a ten-year period for every dollar increase in the debt ceiling.

For the ruling class, the question of the debt ceiling is a tactical issue, with a section concerned that continuing to use it as leverage for pushing through cuts imperils the US debt rating and the position of the dollar. On the end goal—slashing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—all are in agreement.

In his Saturday address, Obama pointed to $2.4 trillion in deficit-reduction measures enacted under his administration, while declaring his readiness to impose “reforms” on Medicare and other entitlement programs. “And I’m willing to do more,” he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told the CBS program “Face the Nation” that she was willing to consider increased means-testing for Medicare, among other deficit-reduction measures.

For the Republicans, Senator Mitch McConnell appeared on several network interview programs Sunday morning to reiterate that with the fiscal cliff deal, the “tax issue is finished.” He continued, “Now the question is: what are we going to do about the biggest problem confronting our country and our future? And that’s our spending addiction.”

The Washington Post reported Saturday that the White House is planning to revive many of the social benefit cuts that were included in the “grand bargain” negotiated by Obama and Boehner in July 2011, which ultimately collapsed. Overall, the newspaper said, the administration was considering $900 billion in spending cuts, including $600 billion from entitlement programs. The cuts could include raising the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67 and reducing cost-of-living increases in Social Security benefits.

For the ruling class, such measures are considered a down payment. They have much grander schemes in mind. A particularly revealing analysis appeared in the New York Times Sunday Review, penned by economists Gary King and Samir Soneji. Arguing that the budget crisis in Social Security was “worse than you think,” it called for discussion of actions like raising the age of retirement to 69 or 70, reducing benefits across-the-board, and introducing a new, lower, benefit rate for workers with incomes above $43,000 a year.

The analysis was remarkable for its hostility to the elderly, suggesting that retirement was a positive evil, and arguing that federal policy should be restructured so as not to “encourage” retirement, but only make it “an option.” It is no accident that one of the authors, Soneji, comes from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy, an institution closely aligned with the Obama administration that has been in the forefront of calls for slashing “unnecessary” medical procedures to cut costs.

It is, we are supposed to believe, the elderly who are leeching off society because they want, as Times columnist David Brooks put it last week, to “spend a lot on themselves” while “pushing costs onto their children and grandchildren.”

The American financial aristocracy has spent several decades consumed by the single-minded aim of extracting as much money as possible through speculative and parasitic operations. It is an occupation to which it has given redoubled attention over the past four years in order to ensure that the rich not see their fortunes diminished by the economic crisis they fostered.

Yet it is not they who must pay—not the multi-millionaire hedge fund managers or corporate executives—but the elderly and infirm. The flood of right-wing media pontification is all based on the unquestioning acceptance that society can no longer afford to have its population get old or sick.

Amidst these calls for austerity, the US stock market is at a five-year high, having largely recovered from the losses of the 2008 financial crash. American corporations are sitting on a cash hoard of trillions of dollars.

The political and media establishment treats the vastly unequal distribution of wealth and income as an unalterable fact of life. The vast sums of wealth accumulated by the ruling class have been based on a looting operation that, at all costs, must be continued. Whatever drains on profit and private wealth still exist—including social reform programs that were a bedrock of the post-war social and political order—are targeted for elimination.

Such conditions speak to a social order, capitalism, that has lost all historical legitimacy. The fact that this social system can no longer afford the pensions and health care which tens of millions of retired workers have earned through many years of labor is an argument, not against the elderly, but against the profit system.

The resources to meet the needs of retired workers, and to meet the needs of the entire population, for jobs, decent incomes, education, health care, access to culture and other social benefits, must be obtained through the expropriation of the billionaires and the giant corporations and the reorganization of economic life to serve the needs of the working people who produce all the wealth, not the handful of wealthy parasites at the top.

Patrick Martin

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is warning the backlog for veterans appealing decisions involving disability...

Trump signs NASA funding bill to send astronauts to Mars

President Donald Trump has signed a bill authorizing $19.5 billion in funding for NASA, which includes...

Trump Is Hurting the Pentagon! (By Giving It Too Much Money)

Anyone who’s been in the military knows what happens as the end of a fiscal year approaches: wild spending. Any money that’s left in...

Trump’s budget cuts State Dept, keeps foreign aid to Israel, silent on other countries

President Donald Trump’s new budget cuts deep into several agencies, including the State Department, but he is asking Congress to boost US military spending...

A Step Towards De-Politicizing Science

The Trump administration has released its proposed 2018 budget, and within it are some things worth cheering. Trump’s “America First budget” includes needed cuts...

Judge issues nationwide restraining order against Trump's second travel ban

Hours before President Donald Trump's revised ban on issuing visas to travelers from six majority-Muslim countries...

Trump’s Infrastructure Boondoggle

Photo by Marco Nürnberger | CC BY 2.0 “We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals…....

LA County sheriff to spend $300k on gold belt buckles for deputies

Amid a staffing shortage and regular budget deficits of $250 million, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim...

Keeping America’s Retirement Promise

by Gerald E. Scorse / March 13th, 2017 Too many Americans are saving little to nothing for retirement. According to one study, 45 percent of...

How the US Could Solve Its Retirement Crisis

(Photo: Beejees) Too many Americans are saving little to nothing for retirement. According to one study, 45 percent of working-age households "do not have any...

A Time To Break the Silence on Military Spending

Fifty years ago next month Martin Luther King, Jr. warned us in his first public antiwar speech Beyond Vietnam – A Time to Break...

Trump's Budget Draft Takes Axe to Low Income Housing Funds

Should the Trump administration's plan to slash 14 percent from the national housing budget come to fruition, people will indeed be "dying on the...

‘Botox away’: High-powered professionals turn to facial injections to hide emotions at work

Professionals in high-powered jobs are turning to Botox to appear emotionless at work, according to...

Congress passes NASA funding bill, Mars mission date set

A trip to Mars by 2033 is among the several long-term NASA goals included in a...

Budget predictions: Chancellor to keep purse strings tight in last pre-Brexit financial statement

Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to keep the strings to the British state purse pretty...

Calls for Tory Chancellor Hammond to publish taxes after Corbyn criticism

Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond is facing calls on social media to publish his taxes after opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn made his own accounts public. “Media...

Will Cuts to Public Broadcasting Silence Native Radio Stations?

Eighty miles south of the Oregon border, along the Trinity River in Northern California, sits the 12-square-mile Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. "Every year someone is...

Fake News & Fake Values

It appears that America has little awareness of the value of awareness since fake news and fake values arrived to take possession of the...

Trump Boosts Most Wasteful Department, Reduces All Others

Eric Zuesse On February 27th, Reuters headlined “Trump seeks 'historic' increase of 9 percent in U.S. military's budget” and reported that "Trump will ask Congress to boost...

The Post-Millennial Generation Should Worry Democrats

On Deck, “Generation Z,” the most conservative generation in 70 years.  Born between 1995 -2010, they’re fiscally conservative, staunchly supportive of personal...

More govt cuts ordered despite UK public services being at ‘tipping point’

Government departments have been ordered to find extra spending cuts from their day-to-day budget in order to save £3.5bn by 2020. David Gauke, the chief...

Tory government cutting school funding for first time in decades – IFS report

The UK government will cut school funding for the first time in two decades, a...

Trump to boost Pentagon budget by $54bn – White House

Published time: 27 Feb, 2017 15:32Edited time: 27 Feb, 2017 16:16 President Donald Trump aims to increase...

Fair Game: The Resistance Puts Pressure on Complicit Democrats

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) takes questions after Democrats held an emergency caucus meeting on investigating former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, on...

Senate Confirms Austerity Champion Congressman as Influential White House Staffer

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, President Trump's pick to be next director of the Office of Management and Budget, testifies at his conformation hearing before the...

The Cost of a Border Wall vs. the Cost of Illegal Immigration

The findings of this analysis show that if a border wall stopped a small fraction of the illegal immigrants who are expected...

Greece Under Continuous Siege: Syriza's Disastrous Political Stance

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Greece at his office, in Athens, on November 23, 2015. (Photo: Tomas Munita / The New York Times) It's...

UK schools decimated by funding cuts

  ...

Nips & tucks hit by Brexit as Brits cut back on plastic surgery

While the Bank of England and various leading economists have backtracked on their claims that...

Ecuador After Ten Years of President Correa: New Paper Examines Key Indicators, Reforms, and...

WASHINGTON - A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) looks at key economic and social indicators, as well as...

£200k-a-year salary not enough to keep UK judges happy – survey

Hundreds of British judges are unhappy with their jobs because of pay, pension cuts, large...

Brexit could give £8bn extra spending money to UK government – IFS

Britain could see a Brexit dividend of up to £8 billion (US$10 billion), the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said. In its Green Budget,...

Consumer, Environmental and Workers Groups File Legal Challenge to Trump’s ‘One-In, Two-Out’ Executive Order...

WASHINGTON - Public Citizen, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Communications Workers of America sued the Trump administration today to block an executive order...

Britain in line for decade of austerity & highest tax burden in 30 years,...

As the UK faces another decade of austerity, Britain’s tax burden is to hit its...

‘Refuse Fascism’ Group Behind Berkeley Riot Received $50k from George Soros

One of the far-left “anti-fascist” groups behind last week’s riot in Berkeley, Refuse Fascism, received $50,000 from a group backed by socialist billionaire...

Trump’s Terrifying Problem

Every president inherits something difficult. Some problems are simply out of the incoming president’s hands. Obama inherited a financial crisis. Reagan inherited double digit inflation. Kennedy,...

Donald Trump ‘has been good for the UK economy,’ says Bank of England

Britain’s economy is benefitting from greater confidence in US financial markets following the election of...

Trump Veers Off Course with Iran Threats

The Trump administration has veered into dangerous territory with its threats against Iran, a danger to President Trump’s larger vision...

How We the People Were Screwed by Obama’s Bogus “Recovery”

It’s amazing how Obama was able to dupe the American people into believing that the weakest expansion in the postwar era, was an “economic...

Mattis memo reveals plans for leaner Pentagon, more money to fight ISIS

The US Department of Defense will ask for additional funds in 2017 to step up operations...

'Unreasonable burden': House votes to repeal SEC rule on US energy company payments to...

House Republicans have approved a resolution repealing the rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)...

Trump Signs Executive Order to Slash Regulations

President Donald Trump signed an order on Monday that will seek to dramatically pare back federal regulations by requiring agencies to cut...

Amazon Deforestation Rises as Government Moves to Weaken Indigenous Protections

The Brazilian government is changing the process for approving Indigenous lands, with critics warning the country now risks sliding back after years of progress...

President Trump: Nationalist Capitalism, an Alternative to Corporate Globalization

During his inaugural speech, President Trump clearly and forcefully outlined the strategic political-economic policies he will pursue over the next four years. Anti-Trump...

‘We are taking names’ of those who fail to support US, Trump’s new UN...

The new US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who has little foreign policy experience,...

Halting Invasion Will Pay for Trump’s Wall 4x Over Every Year

The Third World invasion costs American taxpayers at least $113 billion every year, a figure which will pay for the expected $20...

Trump executive order suspends Syrian refugee program – reports

An executive order reportedly signed by President Donald Trump on Friday calls the admittance of Syrian...

Trump admin stalls Obama’s last-moment $221mn handout to Palestine – report

Washington has reportedly frozen the transfer of the multimillion aid bound for West Bank and Gaza,...

Taxcast: South Dakota as Tax Haven, Stopping Corporate Tax Dodgers

In this month's Taxcast, our monthly podcast: we look at tax justice and public procurement -- the efforts to hit tax dodging companies where it...

Trump to order Mexican border wall, ban refugees from 7 Muslim countries

A red-letter day on “national security” is in the cards for US President Donald Trump, who...

In final presidential hours, Obama quietly gave Palestinian Authority $221mn in aid – report

Just before leaving office, President Barack Obama reportedly authorized the discreet transfer of more than $227...

Tories will use Brexit to make Britain a tax haven, Labour MP tells RT...

Speaking to RT’s Going Underground program, Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon MP warned that Prime...

With First Executive Order, Trump Strikes Blow to Obamacare

President Donald Trump's very first executive order was a move toward fulfilling his campaign promise to gut Obamacare. The executive order, signed hours after Trump's...

Trump Signs First Order on Obamacare

President Donald Trump directed government agencies on Friday to freeze regulations and take steps to weaken Obamacare, using his first hours in...

Trump’s Attack on America

As "President" Trump assumes the Oval Office amid historically rock-bottom public support, the clatter of partisan battling and liberal anger clutters a harsher reality. This...

The Bush-Obama Mafia

This week, Congress passed a budget calling for increasing federal spending and adding $1.7 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years....

Corporate Contributors to Trump Inauguration Seek to Curry Favor

Despite the incoming administration of President-Elect Donald Trump’s efforts to keep inauguration donors secret, The New York Times has reported seven of the event’s...

F-35 has 276 deficiencies and counting, unfit for combat operations – Pentagon report

The F-35 stealth fighter jet suffers from hundreds of problems and won’t be fully combat-capable before 2020, says a scathing report from the Pentagon’s...

House approves budget measure, opens door to repeal of Obamacare

The US House of Representatives has approved a budget measure that opens the door for a...

Pressed By Warren, Carson Can't Promise Trump Won't Benefit From HUD Contracts

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Donald Trump's pick to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), refused to say on Thursday that...

‘Same way we treat other migrants’: Obama ends ‘wet foot, dry foot’ Cuban immigration...

The Obama administration has repealed the “wet foot, dry foot” policy that has been in place...

Los Angeles to borrow $70mn to cover ‘new trend of increased liability payouts’

Los Angeles is set to borrow up to $70 million after a year of high-profile lawsuits...

California Floods, America Burns, Irony Explodes

The bloated orange president-elect is in love with dumb-thug Russians, tweets about himself in the third person and is readying his murder of conspiracy-minded billionaire-idiots...

DEA knocked for ‘wasteful’ marijuana raids in states where it is legal

The Drug Enforcement Administration is being criticized for marijuana raids in states where the drug is...

Goodbye cruel world: Professor predicts societal collapse in 2020s

We are living in society’s twilight years – if a professor of ecology and mathematics from...

ICE Deported Less Than 1 Percent Of All Illegal Aliens in FY2016

If anyone out there still believes Obama to be the "deporter-in-chief," now would be a good time to stop.  The moniker is...

Head-On Collision Between Perception and Reality

Economist Jim Rickards appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” outlining his 2017 predictions for rate hikes, Trump stimulus, and the coming US recession. Rickards believes...

Opioid epidemic leads to foster care crisis in many states

Across the United States, the opioid epidemic isn’t just affecting addicts. It’s hurting their children, who...

Will Obsolete Systems Be Replaced With The $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan?

To stimulate the economy, create new jobs and generate new GDP requires an injection of new money. Borrowing from the bond markets or off-balance-sheet...

The Professor Watch List

Turning Point USA is biased against black faculty and freedom of speech. Turning Pointis  501(c)3 non-profit organization founded on June 5, 2012. They sponsor Professor Watch List, a...

Former colony India’s defense spending to overtake UK war budget

India looks set to outstrip its shrinking ex-colonizer Britain in terms of defense spending within...

MPs will enjoy £1,000 pay hike, while average worker endures 10% real term wage...

MPs will see their salaries rise by over £1,000 ($1,271) next April, in the second...

Eurozone Showdown Coming

The eurozone cannot survive without Italy. The serious problem at the moment is the Eurozone also cannot survive with Italy. Two of Italy’s three largest...

Why EU Must End in Tears

The latest consequence of economic mismanagement in Europe was the failed attempt at constitutional reform in Italy this week. The Italian people have had enough...

Rough patch: Govt shutdown thwarted as temporary spending fix passes Senate

The US government once again narrowly avoids being forced to close down from running out of...

Democrats Launch New McCarthyism

Unwilling to examine the real reasons why Democrats did so poorly on Election Day, party leaders in Congress are scapegoating...

More trouble ahead for West, warns ex-PM Cameron in lucrative speech

Western democracies must undergo a “course correction” after Brexit and Trump or risk being swept...

Post-Brexit plunge in immigration won’t push up wages – report

Despite claims made by Leave campaigners, a new report says Brexit will have a minimal impact on wages in Britain, with plummeting migration numbers...

Corruption, Socialism, and Banksterism

This article was submitted by Shubhendu Pathak, a finance professional working in the Bay Area. Past: Capital One Shubhendu earned his Bachelors (B.Tech) and Masters...

Playing Defense: How Progressives Could Push Democrats to Block the Trump Agenda

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) listens to John Stumpf, the chief executive of Wells Fargo, testify before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee...

Russia is ‘No. 1 threat’ to United States, Air Force secretary claims

The Secretary of the US Air Force has once again claimed that Russia is the “No....

Despite scandals, DHS to continue using private detention facilities to house asylum seekers

An advisory panel has recommended that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continue using private detention...

NZ- Sponsorship period for immigrants' parents doubles

Immigrants will have to support their parents financially for a decade if they are approved to settle in New Zealand, under new...

Military draft for women among dropped ideas in compromise 2017 defense bill

Congress has managed to finalize a $618.7 billion defense bill for the 2017 fiscal year, boosting it with an extra $3.2 billion for manpower,...

Trump and the Fed

REUTERS: Is it reasonable to expect to see a return to a 3 to 4 percent pace of U.S. economic growth under Trump’s policies; if...

New College Professor 'Watchlist' Aims To Expose Professors Who 'Advance Leftist Propaganda'

A new website is asking students and others to “expose and document” professors who “discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values and...

Our Gandalf the Grey

“Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people. The establishment has...

EU Army to be ratified… saddling Britain with £420mn annual bill despite Brexit vote

The European Union hopes to ratify plans for a combined, continent-wide army on Tuesday night,...

Trump’s Awesome Opportunity

Come January, President-elect Donald Trump — the self-described “king of builders” — will be faced with a unique re-modeling opportunity that’s nearly exclusive to...

The War on the First Amendment Didn’t Start Last Week

For those who woke a week ago to discover the First Amendment is under attack, I lost my job at the Obama/Clinton State Department...

The system is rigged for another market crash

(RINF) - Since Donald Trump’s victory on election night we have seen the worst bond crash in 15 years.  Global bond investors have seen...

Before the Wall: Central American migrants ‘pouring’ into Arizona

There has been a surge in migrants from Central America across the US border into Arizona,...

Noam Chomsky discusses Trump victory he predicted 6 years ago

Donald Trump’s victory came as a shock to many, but not to renowned scholar and activist...

Veterans in 2016: Backlogs, coverage gaps, and a Trump mandate

November 11 is designated Veterans Day in the US, a nation with almost 19 million military...

EpiPen manufacturer posts $119 mn losses over price-gouging settlement

Mylan, the company that manufacturers the EpiPen, posted third-quarter losses when it set aside over $465...

A generation of UK children will suffer in poverty. Suddenly that’s normal

“Austerity” may be an abstract term to much of the public – or a thing of the past, if you listen to Theresa May...

Is this person our new President?

Here’s Why Hillary Won’t Allow Her Corporate Speeches to be Published Eric Zuesse (update added 8 November 2016) In a previous report, I indicated "Why Hillary Clinton’s...

‘Child poverty will rise’ as tough new welfare cap comes into force

Tens of thousands of families will be hit with a controversial new benefits cap that...

Death, taxes and condoms: Bonanza year for hot-button ballot issues

Voters in 35 states will not only be considering the next US president but 154 ballot...

Securus from what? A look at the company blocking FCC efforts to cap prison...

The Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to halt increasing prices of inmate phone calls has been blocked...

The Coming Plague of Poverty Among the Elderly: Clinton’s Plan For Gutting Social Security

Photo by aphrodite-in-nyc | CC BY 2.0 In the recent Wikileaks revelations confirming Hillary Clinton’s duplicity, one of the clearest disclosures of her policy plans...

Hillary Clinton and the Neocons

Washington’s neocons are generally terrified of Trump’s unpredictability and his flirtation with the alt-right. They also support Clinton’s more assertive foreign policy, not to...

Never enough: $500mn more needed for F-35, Pentagon told

The US military will have to come up with another $500 million to finish development on...

How Soon Before We Become Venezuela?

It’s nonsense to claim that inflation is only going up 1 percent per year in the United States. The cost of living of a...

Who Gains from Colombia’s Vote for Permanent War?

(Photo: medea_material / Flickr) In early October, the Colombian people voted NO to peace. Or to be exact, 50.2 percent of 37 percent of the eligible...

NYT’s Kristof Blames Poverty on Too Many TVs, Not Too Little Money

The New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristof (10/28/16) blames the United States’ 21 percent child poverty rate on people who buy too many television sets. New...

EpiPen price hikes increase Pentagon drug budget over 1,000% in 8 years – report

New analysis shows Pentagon pharmaceutical spending on EpiPens jumped over 1,000 percent in eight years to...

The Best and Worst Presidents on Taxes

With all the debate over Donald Trump’s tax-dodging, I’ve been wondering how taxes have played into presidential politics in the past. For some answers, I...

Tory deficit targets in tatters as leaked Treasury papers expose £16bn ‘black hole’

A leaked Treasury document reveals the government faces a black hole of up to £16...

How the 2004 Presidential Election Was Stolen by George W. Bush

Eric Zuesse (RINF) - In 2006, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. headlined at Rolling Stone “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” and he presented an argument that...

Public says it prefers Tories, but demands Corbyn’s Labour policies – poll

He might trail in the polls when it comes to his chances of becoming Britain’s...

Congressman Walter Jones on US Financing of ‘Ghost Soldiers’ in Afghanistan

Letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter: October 14, 2016 The Honorable Ashton B. CarterSecretary of DefenseThe PentagonWashington, DC 20301-1000 Dear Secretary Carter: I am responding...

Free Trade Meets Populism at the IMF

Photo by Daniel Lobo | CC BY 2.0 I was taken by surprise by the headline of the Latin American Herald Tribune: Global Elites Insist on Greater...

The Truth About the Detroit Public Schools

Detroit school students, represented by the Los Angeles-based public interest firm Public Counsel, filed suit last month against the state of Michigan, claiming a...

UK Chancellor on Wall Street to reassure nervous bankers about London’s financial future

British Chancellor Philip Hammond is in the US, cozying up to Wall Street power-brokers in...

What Got Left Out–and Right-Spun–at VP Debate

CBS News‘ Elaine Quijano, the vice presidential debate moderator. The vice presidential debate (10/4/16) provided a stark picture of just how distorted corporate media’s priorities...

Hammond praises Osborne’s economic legacy… then tears up Tory manifesto

Chancellor Philip Hammond sang the praises of his predecessor George Osborne at the Conservative Party...

In Defense of Gary Johnson

The Clinton smear machine, having finally noticed that Gary Johnson is cutting into what they regard as Hillary’s rightful share of the so-called "millennial"...

I’m a Bernie Sanders Voter: Here’s Why I’ll Vote Trump

By Eric Zuesse Sometimes, things in politics are the opposite of the way they seem. The Presidential contest between the ‘liberal’ Hillary Clinton’ and the...

Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?

Wasted money, wasted lives, or maybe both. That's the promise of increased military spending. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout; Adapted: matthileo,...

The Biggest Heist in Human History

Photo by John Morgan | CC BY 2.0 Here’s your economics quiz for the day: Question 1– What do you think would happen if you put $3 trillion...

Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?

In early September 2016, Donald Trump announced his plan for a vast expansion of the U.S. military, including 90,000 new...

81% of Americans Oppose $38 Billion Pledge to Israel

A solid majority of Americans would redirect $38 billion the Obama Administration pledged to Israel toward other priorities. The Obama administration last...

Cost of US post-9/11 wars approaching $5trn – report

The US spent $4.79 trillion on wars in the Middle East and on the ‘War on...

Quid pro woah: Documents link Wisconsin governor to dark money

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker faced threats of losing his title in 2012 during a recall election. He won, but documents newly leaked show that...

Corruption and waste in Afghanistan: Role of US gov’t exposed in new report

A new report examining widespread corruption and waste in Afghanistan found that the practice blossomed following...

Every Journalist Mourns a Dead Journalist

Noé Zavaleta holds up photographs of his murdered colleague, photojournalist Rubén Espinosa, in Xalapa, on July 31, 2016. (Photo by Patrick Timmons) Noé Zavaleta is...

The Black Horse of the Apocalypse

Revelation 6:5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was...

Old Cold Warriors Cool to New Cold War

To the surprise of many, some old Cold Warriors, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, are cooling to the idea of a New...

NATO’s Expiration Date

(Photo: Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com) If the number of eager applicants on a waiting list determines the strength of a club, then the North...

Kathy Kelly on A Good Beginning

It seems that some who have the ears of U.S. elite decision-makers are at least shifting away from wishing to provoke wars with Russia...

Trump’s new plan: Stop defense cuts & military draw-down

Donald Trump is looking to end defense spending cuts and allocate even more funds in the...

The Hard Message from Brazil’s ‘Soft Coup’

With little protest from Washington, Brazil’s elected President Dilma Rousseff was ousted in a politically motivated impeachment, a “soft coup”...

California lawmakers move to ban companies from boycotting Israel

A bill heading to California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk could prevent companies that boycott Israel from...

Ignoring the Pentagon’s Multi-Trillion-Dollar Accounting Error

Reuters (8/19/16) had one of the few media reports on the Pentagon’s mammoth accounting errors. In 2014, the New York Times (10/12/14) ran a major...

Fact-checking Trump’s claim that illegal immigration costs US taxpayers $113 billion annually

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s highly anticipated speech in Arizona was meant to finalize his immigration...

DHS to review private immigration detention facilities, consider closures

The US may soon curtail the use of privately-owned immigration detention centers as the Department of...

Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot

Hillary Clinton may be enjoying a comfortable lead in national polls, but she is far from enjoying a comfortable night’s sleep given the ever-widening...

The guy who yelled "Pepe" during Hillary's speech is a cuck

Aug 26, 2016 By Reinhard Wolff | redice.tv Yesterday, Hillary gave a speech in which she formally condemned the alt-right....

Will Hillary Clinton take a gamble with the casinos?

In the endless run up to the US presidential election, it’s been fascinating and horrifying in equal amounts to see the two challengers position...

Has North Sea oil’s collapse scuppered Scotland’s dreams of independence?

The massive slump in North Sea oil revenues would leave an independent Scotland with a...

Public Banks Could Break the Impasse Over Marijuana Money

(Photo: Martijn) With nearly a dozen state initiatives legalizing recreational marijuana on the November ballot, the market for legalized marijuana is certain to...

This Will Turn Out To Be Very Bad

Submitted by Christoph Gisiger via Finanz und Wirtschaft, James Grant, Wall Street expert and editor of the investment newsletter «Grant’s Interest Rate Observer», warns of...

Justice Department to phase out private prisons citing safety concerns

In a few years there will be no private prisons in the US. Following a damning...

The Bloody Evil of George Soros

Excerpt from Contagion:The Betrayal of Liberty; Russia and the United States in the Post-Cold War Era adapted for lewrockwell.com ……..Spooked out of Russia after the...

Pentagon can’t account for $6.5 trillion of taxpayer money – IG report

The Pentagon failed to account for $6.5 trillion in its financial statement, a recently-recovered Inspector General’s...

Detroit to target banks, businesses with 600 lawsuits over $12mn+ in unpaid taxes

Detroit is threatening banks and businesses with nearly 600 lawsuits over more than $12 million in...

Obama gave $1bn to private prisons, bypassing law amid 2014 immigration crisis – report

The Obama administration bypassed public bidding laws to seal a $1 billion deal with the largest prison company in the US, all to handle...

Fruits of ‘special relationship’: Britain spends $449bn to support 1mn US jobs

Britain is the biggest single investor in the United States, supporting more than one million...

Europeans say no single market access … unless migrants are still welcome in post-Brexit...

Citizens of several European Union member states called on Britain to keep its borders open...

The Hardest Politics to Catch: Lin-Manuel Comes to Puerto Rico

Debby Wong | Shutterstock.com On the night of July 27thHamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda came home. In front of a capacity crowd at the Center for Performing Arts,...

Drop in a bucket: US still leads on prison numbers, despite Obama’s clemency

While President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 214 offenders, the US remains a world leader...

Not content tricking migrant workers, Byron burgers now found hiding taxable profits abroad

First they rounded up their staff and let immigration authorities seize those with out-of-date papers....

Israel to US: ‘Give Us More!’

Washington is preparing to increase US aid to Israel by billions of dollars, with a ten-year ironclad agreement that couldn’t...

For Corporate Media, Bloomberg Is the Better Billionaire

New York Times photo of Michael Bloomberg with Donald Trump in happier times. (photo: Robert Sabo/Daily News) On the third night of the Democratic convention...

Banking Cartels Are Sending Europe Into Collapse

Unequivocally, the rubber is hitting the road NOW!  So much so, I believe “last to go” markets are in danger of being overwhelmed by...

Long Live the Queen of Chaos

Stone | Shutterstock.com For those to whom this hasn’t yet occurred, if Hillary Clinton is elected President she will be President. The Democratic Party platform, Bernie Sanders’...
video

Video: Why Bankers and Financiers Benefit from Low Inflation Policy

PERI's Gerald Epstein explains why financial institutions like the IMF promote fiscal policy that reduces investment, economic growth, and employment. Via Youtube

America Needs an Old-Fashioned Depression

Describing what he called the “crack-up boom”, Ludwig von Mises, the great Austrian economist, said: The boom cannot continue indefinitely. There are two alternatives. Either...

With DNC Leaks, Former ‘Conspiracy Theory’ Is Now True––and No Big Deal

For months, Bernie Sanders supporters and surrogates have complained about unfair treatment from the Democratic National Committee—only to have these concerns dismissed by media...

New Anti-Government TV Series

“Never trust a criminal … until you have to,” is the official motto of The Blacklist, the American crime-thriller television series that premiered on NBC...

Orlando Shooter’s Statements Vindicate Ron Paul

Despite all the articles and analysis in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shooting, one important fact seems to have been ...

Middle Britain becomes the ‘new poor’ as poverty stalks the nation

The middle classes are the “new poor” with half of families renting rather than owning...

Bern Out: Beyond Cowardly Lion Leftism

Andrew Cline | Shutterstock.com I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession. – Bernie Sanders, Portsmouth, New...

Helicopter Money

The Cleveland Fed’s Loretta Mester is a clueless apparatchik and Fed lifer, who joined the system in 1985 fresh out of Barnard and Princeton and has imbibed in...

Brexit: A Workers’ Response to Oligarchs, Bankers, Flunkies, and Scabs

The European Union is controlled by an oligarchy, which dictates socio-economic and political decisions according to the interests of bankers and multi-national business. ...

Greater Fools Storm the Casino

While we are waiting it might be wondered, however, whether nearly two decades of central bank financial repression have not merely destroyed honest price discovery on...

Are We in for Another Increase in Military Spending?

At the present time, an increase in U.S. military spending seems as superfluous as a third leg. The United States, armed with...

Pennsylvania approves $1.3bn bailout

Pennsylvania lawmakers have approved a financial bailout after a yearlong stalemate over the state’s beleaguered budget....

US on track to approve $40bn in foreign arms sales – Pentagon

The US government is on schedule to approve almost $40 billion in foreign military sales in...

Go Green Bernie! or Be Left Behind

The duopoly that serves as our ‘democracy’ is again poised to install another corporatist into the White House. Oh goody. If you believe corporate media,...

Crumbling roads take me home: New Jersey declares state of emergency over infrastructure

After counting the potholes on the New Jersey Turnpike, Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency over the condition of the Garden State’s...

Senate passes Puerto Rico financial rescue bill to Obama for signature

The US Senate passed a bill to financially rescue Puerto Rico, which is mired in debt....

Treasury Secretary Warns Senate About Looming Puerto Rico Default

People play on the beach in Puerto Rico. If the Senate passes a version of a debt restructuring bill that varies from...

London Mayor Sadiq Khan demands more autonomy for pro-EU capital after Brexit

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has demanded more autonomy for Britain’s capital in the wake of...

UK finance minister: We must cut spending & raise taxes

“It’s very clear that the country is going to be poorer as a result of what’s happening to the economy,” Chancellor George Osborne told...

Here’s Why Hillary Won’t Allow Her Corporate Speeches to be Published

Eric Zuesse (update added 8 November 2016) In a previous report, I indicated "Why Hillary Clinton’s Paid Speeches Are Relevant”, but not what they contained. The...

Private Banks: Creating Money Out of Thin Air

In his book The Joy of Tax: How a Fair Tax System Can Create a Better Society, Richard Murphy, UK Tax Justice Network co-founder,...

Brexit Wins!

The betting sites were wrong. The polls were wrong. The politicians were wrong. The last YouGov poll was 52 to 48 “remain” hours before the...

Brexit Vote: A Very British Affair

A deal David Cameron (pictured in a happier time) cut with his party came back to bite him – and the entire UK. (Photo:...

Non-military federal agencies have more firearm authority than entire US Marine Corps ‒ report

The militarization of local law enforcement in America has long been documented, but a new report...

Brexit; What It’s Really About

If you read the presstitute media, Brexit—the referendum tomorrow on the UK’s exit from theEU— is about racism. According to the story line, angry...

Reviving the Cold War? Senate intelligence bill ‘targets Russian spies, diplomats’

The Senate Intelligence Committee is backing a bill to reinstate a Cold War-era committee aimed at...

America Trashes NATO Founding Act

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org The NATO Founding Act was agreed to between the U.S. and Russia in 1997 in order to provide to...

Brazil's Rio state declares financial disaster before Olympic Games

The acting governor of Rio de Janeiro state has declared a state of financial disaster so he has more leeway to...

No more ‘US & UN trickery’: Bankrupt Puerto Ricans flood San Juan demanding decolonization

Ahead of next week’s visit by the UN decolonization committee and buried in economic debt, some...

Tax hikes, more austerity: Osborne’s punishing recipe for post-Brexit budget

Chancellor George Osborne has warned he will be forced to slash public spending and ratchet...

The Pentagon’s Real $trategy: Keeping the Money Flowing

Originally posted at TomDispatch. When it comes to Pentagon weapons systems, have you ever heard of cost “underruns”? I think not. Cost overruns?...

Brexit bad for your health? NHS woes won’t be fixed by Vote Leave, says...

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) has become a political football in the EU referendum race,...

Historic East Cleveland, Ohio: A city in decline faces bankruptcy

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. In the shadow of the Republican National Convention Leah Jeresova Cleveland, the second...

Congress, Obama call for a Financial Control Board for Puerto Rico

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Rafael Azul On June 11, US President Barack Obama devoted his weekly...

Secrecy abounds over 12 Gitmo detainees, attacks on Americans

Since a Pentagon official reported two months ago that some dozen former Guantánamo detainees were responsible...

Baseball Without the Umpire: The Republicans' War on Regulations

Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Selland Arena in Fresno, California, May 27, 2016. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee,...

The Gathering Storm

“The next Fourth Turning is due to begin shortly after the new millennium, midway through the Oh-Oh decade. Around the year 2005, a sudden...

Will Japan Nuke Pearl Harbor?

I was struck by something Donald Trump said on CNN this morning: “Until I got involved in this most people ...

4,700 Syrians to receive asylum in US as migrant camps deteriorate

The US has approved 4,700 Syrians for asylum, according to the Homeland Security chief. An additional...

Gold & Diamond Jewelry Slump

As trend forecasters, we closely monitor movements that signal market-sector advances and/or declines often driven from the grassroots up or the top down. In the...

All Donald Trump’s Men

Donald Trump claims to fight for the little guy against a rigged system, but the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has...

Third way: Libertarians elect Gary Johnson as presidential nominee

Gary Johnson, a former New Mexico governor, has won the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination at the...

All the Presumptive Nominee's Men

Roger Stone Jr., who backs Donald Trump, in front of a Nixon campaign poster at his apartment in New York, August 13,...

Brexit fears force Cameron to seek help from his friends at G7 summit

Prime Minister David Cameron will seek support for Britain remaining in the European Union from world leaders at the G7 summit this week, amid...

The Pentagon's War on Accountability

The Department of Defense is taking active measures to disguise how it is spending the hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars it...

Cameron’s new BFF? UK faces US & Japanese ire at G7 after ‘love-bombing’ China

Prime Minister David Cameron will come under pressure from the United States and Japan at...

The BlackRock Dilemma: To End Short-Termism, Reform CEO Pay

In April, Gretchen Morgenson boldly called out the hypocrisy of BlackRock pillorying corporate short-termism while the investment giant simultaneously approved more than 96 percent...

The Privatization of the Public Sphere

a katz | Shutterstock.com   The Republican Party is consolidating behind Donald Trump and, on May 12th, House Speaker Paul Ryan kissed the ring of the party’s presumptive...

The West’s Needless Aggression

Last week at the United Nations, Russian President Vladimir Putin made another futile appeal for sanity in international relations. He commented that the recent...

Secret Armies, Shadow Wars, Silent Unaccountability

Headline: “Obama Embraces Special Operations Forces” Headline: “Did U.S. Forces Commit Atrocities in a Key...

Libertarianism and the Libertarian Party

Now that Mary Matalin and the mainstream media have mentioned the Libertarian Party as a possible alternative to the Republicrat Party, already there is...

Obama budgets $1.3 billion for illegal minors

$17,613 per child exceeds average annual Social Security retirement benefit President Obama has set aside an estimated $1.3 billion in his wish-list...

Jeremy Corbyn appeals to UK Labour’s Blairite wing for unity

Chris Marsden There does not appear to be any limit to what Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn will do in order to appease his right-wing...

Defense Bill Coming This Week: A Boost for War and Tyranny

Ron Paul For many of us concerned with liberty, the letters “NDAA” have come to symbolize Washington’s ongoing effort to undermine the US Constitution in...

Defense Bill Coming This Week: A Boost for War and Tyranny

Defense Bill Coming This Week: A Boost for War and Tyranny For many of us concerned with liberty, the letters...

Trump Is Right on the Federal Debt

God help Donald Trump’s critics. The paroxysms they have after the mogul–turned–GOP nominee’s policy pronouncements can’t be good for their health. The latest is a...

We All Pay for Low Wages

Marie Kanger Born | Shutterstock.com   When you are paid starvation wages, it’s up to public-assistance programs to make up the difference. That government assistance, costing treasuries billions...

‘Dangerous White House propaganda’: Obama team & GOP battle over Iran media spin

Mainstream media outlets in the US had a tough week after being accused of being puppets...

WaPo Columnist Urges Paul Ryan to Boast of Positions He Doesn’t Hold

Ruth Marcus used her Washington Post column today (5/11/16) to present the speech that House Speaker Paul Ryan should give to  Republicans in order...

Washington Post Squeezes Four Anti-Sanders Stories Out of One Tax Study Over Seven Hours

Surely one study can’t be this important? It’s not news that the Washington Post’s editorial board has been lobbying against Sen. Bernie Sanders since the...

WaPo Columnist Urges Paul Ryan to Boast of Positions He Doesn’t Hold

Ruth Marcus used her Washington Post column today (5/11/16) to present the speech that House Speaker Paul Ryan should give to  Republicans in order...

Man arrested after teaching girlfriend’s pug to perform Nazi salute (OFFENSIVE)

A Scottish man who filmed his girlfriend’s dog performing a Nazi salute has been arrested...

US forced to buy boots for Afghan army despite billions already invested – report

Although the US spent $68 billion on Afghan forces over the past 14 years, that apparently...

Over 2,500 Georgia children tested positive for lead poisoning last year

More than 2,500 children in Georgia tested positive for lead poisoning in 2014, according to a...

Life or death: Sioux tribe sues federal government to reopen sole ER on reservation

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota has sued the federal government over the closure of...

‘Poison pill’: Senator’s anti-Iran deal amendment prevents passage of bill keeping government funded

The first of 12 appropriations bills the US Senate must pass to keep the government funded...

In pursuit of 2017 budget, Pentagon sees danger everywhere

Citing dangers to US military dominance, the Pentagon’s top civilian and military officials pleaded with Congress...

Economy In Decline: Apple Reports Massive Revenue Decline As iPhone Sales Plummet Dramatically

Michael Snyder (RINF) - Corporate revenues in the United States have been falling for quite some time, but now some of the biggest companies in...

UK: Millions of low income families will be poorer under welfare reforms

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Thomas Scripps This month, cuts to Universal Credit—the Tory government’s cover scheme...

Do We Really Want China Living in Fear of a U.S. Nuclear Attack?

Chinese military leaders seek to put China’s nuclear weapons on high alert. (Photo: the Diplomat) Russia, Iraq — the list of countries that the United...

Senate bill underfunds Mars mission to spend $1 billion on rocket NASA doesn’t need

NASA’s goal of sending humans to Mars requires some extra cash, so a $21 million budget...

Breadline Britain: Rising malnutrition & death linked to low wages, welfare cuts

Foodbank use has risen to record highs in the UK, with over a million three-day...

Pentagon recites ‘Russian aggression’ to justify missile defense expansion budget

The Pentagon is mulling a new strategy to protect the US from what it obsessively calls...

Pig Book: The most expensive ‘pork barrel’ projects in the US budget this year

Upgrades to unnecessary tanks, a $1 billion battleship and a problem-plagued fighter jet are just some...

A Short History of the Pentagon Wasting Your Money

The Pentagon spent $6 billion on not auditing itself, according to the Project on Government Oversight. (Photo: Mariordo Camila Ferreira & Mario Duran/Wikimedia Commons) From...

Senators scold IRS for data insecurities as tax agency claims more than 1mn daily...

US senators accused the Internal Revenue Service of failing to protect Americans’ private data during a...

How Not to Audit the Pentagon: The Military Waste Machine Is Running Full Speed...

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)From spending $150 million on private villas for a handful of personnel in Afghanistan to blowing $2.7 billion...

‘No legal basis’: Michigan governor asks Flint water lawsuit targeting him be dismissed

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is seeking have a class action lawsuit filed against him by Flint...

Ohio Proves It: Rehabilitation Works

You might not guess it from the Republican governor or GOP-dominated legislature, but Ohio is proving itself the most progressive state in the union...

‘Punisher’: Shoulder-fired grenade launcher XM 25 could transform US Army

The US Army is scheduled to introduce a new shoulder-fired grenade launching weapon that could change...

Behind Brazil’s ‘Regime Change’

Government “corruption” – trumpeted by international media and exploited by U.S.-funded NGOs – is a favorite weapon for discrediting and removing populist leaders, as...

Flint may sue Michigan over water pollution crisis

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said she is not currently planning to sue the state of Michigan...

Missing in Action: Political Reality and Leadership

Every federal budget is a dream sheet. They’re all unrealistic. It goes something like this: The president lays out a slate of new programs, revenue...

Corporate Debt Defaults Explode To Catastrophic Levels Not Seen Since The Last Financial Crisis

Michael Snyder (RINF) - If a new financial crisis had already begun, we would expect to see corporate debt defaults skyrocket, and that is precisely...

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Millionaires in New York Want to Pay Higher...

In today's On the News segment: Millionaires in New York want to pay higher taxes; our election process should be a national...

Cuban migrants rescued at sea after being shot by 'criminals who wanted to steal...

The US Coast Guard stopped a makeshift raft on the outskirts of Key West, Florida, finding...

$200 mn worth of cocaine sinks to ocean floor in semi-sub during US raid

American authorities say they successfully disrupted a drug-trafficking effort to bring almost $200 million worth of...

US Border Patrol predicts surge of migrant children

US Customs and Border Protection officials told a House national security subcommittee that they expect an...

Scottish deficit deepens as SNP preps for second independence drive

Scotland’s deficit has deepened and now stands at more than three times the rest of...

Corbyn’s first six months as genuine opposition to warmongers

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. After half a year in office, nothing remains of the platform...

Australian government threatens a “double dissolution” election

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Mike Head Facing intense pressures on his government, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm...

Baltimore study links rats to depression

Baltimore, Maryland residents who live in areas with a high rat population are much more likely...

Top US general warns Congress military unprepared for ‘great power war’ while fighting terrorism

Despite his confidence in US troops to fight insurgencies, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley...

Denouncing Free College in the Name of the Poor

Protest against the imposition of tuition at New York City’s Cooper Union, historically a tuition-free private college. (cc photo: Michael Fleshman) Although corporate media outlets...