BAILEY T. STEEN | WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2018
Here we go again. After weeks of the Trump White House talking big game on “bills of love” and the unpopular return of the Reagan-era trickle-down economics said to be “helping the little guy” — the same economics once famously dubbed by Reagan’s former Vice President George H.W. Bush as “voodoo economics” — the president is now using your pay cheque, fake endorsements and the media to cover up perhaps one of the biggest corporate con-jobs ever pulled this decade.
“This just isn’t going to work out,” the former vice president soon continued, denying direct video evidence of him saying the disparaging phrase once question by journalists months later. Now, a full 38 years later under Republican President Trump, his statements seems to pan out if we just look the coverage, the experts and the numbers.
Lee Fang of The Intercept did an investigation last December looking into the so-called 137 economists who endorsed the bill, touting it through the The RATE Coalition letter as this shining example of Republican legislation setting the American people free of government burden… only to discover several of the signatures were from ghosts who don’t exist, office assistants with absolutely no background in economics, ex-felons released from jail for white-collar crime, partisan activists and a solid handful of real economists.
One of the signatories was a Mr. Gil Sylvia of the University of Georgia. As Fang reported, the man has no biography or trace to the university, with representatives from the university telling The Intercept no one by that name has or is working for them, and another marine resource economist at Oregon State University named Gil Sylvia did not answer whether it was him instead.
Another signature belonged to the unknown non-economist Seth Bied, some low-level office assistant at the New York State Tax Department. Talking to the more establishment left-wing New York Daily News, a spokesperson for Bied implied he either had his signature forged saying does not remember singing off approval for the Republican tax bill.
John P. Eleazarian was another economist listed and is said to belong to the American Economic Association (AEA)… only literally anybody can claim membership to the AEA so long as you pay your membership fees to the organisation. They’ll even grant it to ex-felons like Eleazarian, the man who lost his law license for the crime of judicial forgery and filing false documents.
James C. Miller III, another one of the signatories, is just an activist for the Koch brothers-run organisation Americans for Prosperity who are spending another $20 million in funds to increase the perception of the tax bill. This is similar in the case of Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the faux-economist who is just head of the American Action Forum, a political activist organisation tied to the American Action Network who raised over $3 million in support of Republican Speaker of The House, Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan.
But surely they weren’t all fake news, right? The RATE Coalition letter does have a handful of real economists listed. This includes Professor Ashley Lyman listed as working for University of Idaho, Richard Kilmer listed under the University of Florida, Jerold Zimmerman under the University of Rochester, Stephen Happel for Arizona State University, and a Mr. William R. Allen of the University of California — real academics who just happen to be retired and currently don’t work for any of the credited universities.
Even economists who check off all the boxes, such as Peter E. Kretzmer, a real, living, working economist appearing to have no criminal record, is a suspicious case since he’s the in-house Senior Economist at Bank of America.
As explained by The Washington Post, Bank of America is one of the institutions being touted by Republicans for their decision to give workers a one-time bonus of $1,000 for the year — costing the company $145 million.
To the average, undervalued American worker, a short $1000 bonus for the year is not “crumbs” as The Post states. Howard Schultz, Executive Chairman at Starbucks, told Fortune most Americans don’t have more than $400 dollars in savings to cover any kind of emergency situation — and this bonus is, admittedly, a form of economic ease they are right to frame as positive.
However, having gone such lengths to lie about the perception of the bill, there just has to be more than meets the surface. Rather than an increase in wages overtime, as Trump and Republicans love to frame this as, companies like this are displaying their single case of giving the worker their due for the year, with signs suggesting they’ll go back to status quo pay cheques by the next, just as that same bank are adding just over $5 billion to buy back their own stocks.
They essentially just increased the wages of their management exponentially (+30%) and the wealth of their own institution within the market, heading to a healthy $17 billion by June 2018 — money could have gone to next year’s workers bonus, and the next, and the next, and you’d still have more to spare.
The Academic-Industry Research Network states that from the 44 businesses that accounced increased worker earners, only $5.2 billion — $3.7 billion will be in one-time bonuses (between $500 — $1000 per worker), whereas only an estimated $1.5 billion will be in annual wage increases in cases such as Fed Ex among other companies.
This, in fact, is crumbs compared to the $157.6 billion they estimate will go 34 companies in stock buybacks — increasing the price of companies held on Wall Street and the payment of executives who just so happen to go to the same dinners as these people.
“This is the greatest tax cut since Ronald Reagan,” Trump famously touted in the presidential debate against defeated Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, only that’s not exactly true either. Ryan Grim, also belonging to The Intercept, did the math on the tax bill and found it’s not only $1.5 trillion tax cut, but $6 trillion in tax reform and redistribution. What does that mean without the Orwellian framing? Well, as Grim explains with simple mathematics, it’s technically a $1.5 trillion cut in taxes across the board if you neglect the other $4.5 trillion they raise in other tax brackets to cover other burdensome costs.
And this begs the question: Where’s the money coming from, Lebowski?
To put it mildly, it comes from you — the bonus-earning tax payer of the poor to middle class fitting the bill of $4.5 trillion for your rich friends.
Imagine. My. Shock.
President Trump swore to deal with the loophole issue of companies storing company profits offshore — an estimated $300 billion is “raised” by allowing those companies to return the money and only taxing it at a lower rate than what they’re due for making profits within the country. Some goes to the government, but what do they do with the discount they just made? Oh, just shareholder dividends and — you guessed it — stock buybacks.
The Research has been consistent in that stocks aren’t necessarily reflective of how the middle to poor class, who I’m sure find stocks confusing, don’t really benefit from them. It is, in fact, the top 10 percent of the wealthiest households in the who own control 84 percent of the value of all shares, meaning when the stocks fall and rise, as touted by the president, it’s more just a gambling game they rich play amongst themselves.
They even bet against the poor-middle class, essentially, with reports citing that stocks tanked after those rise in wages. And if you try to use their strategy of putting the money overseas as you work, your ass goes to jail. The bill even gives everyone a burdensome $1.6 trillion tax increase through the repeal of the “personal exemption” — so even when the Republicans act tough on the rich they find an egalitarian way of fucking you out of cash.
And President Donald Trump knows what to do with the cash after he’s done.
Rather than fixing the plan he just signed that adds about $1.5 trillion to the debt over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, Trump signed a major budget plan, with support from Republicans and Democrats, adding a $300 billion boost in spending on the military — who already have an annual budget of $597 billion, beating the next 8 countries’ military spending combined — with a percentage going to domestic programs.
Another $90 billion will be going to aid for last year’s string of natural disasters, gives funding to fight the opioid crisis, extends the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program for an additional four years, all the while they lift the debt ceiling and federal government are set to borrow over nearly $1 trillion this fiscal year — four times more than the borrowing seen under former President Barack Obama — according to documents from The Treasury released this Wednesday.
So don’t get it twisted, folks. The American workers should be thankful for the $1000 they may be getting in their hands from overhead. But hold that cheque tightly. Big government and big corporation have quite the con job, and the men with guns are sure to run out the back door with all the money in the world.
Thanks for reading! Bailey T. Steen is a journalist, editor, artist and film critic based in Victoria, Australia, but is also Putin’s Puppet™ on occasion.
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Cheers, darlings!! 💋