A Year Out, the Election Day Hangover We Can’t Get Rid Of

(Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

About a year ago I woke up with one of the more punishing weekday hangovers of my adult life. It was a bleak, headachy day, and I’d been up late hastily rewriting a piece about the 2016 election. That was how “making America great” started for me.

Although Hillary Clinton won about 3 million more votes, Donald Trump gamed our rickety, 18th-century election system by flipping several Rust Belt states President Obama had won, including my home state of Ohio.

Trump made a two-pronged appeal to states like mine. First, with racially tinged invectives against immigration, “inner-city crime,” and “political correctness.” And second, with a populist-sounding line on economics that spoke to voters long overlooked by Washington.

“What truly matters is not which party controls our government,” Trump said at his inauguration, “but whether our government is controlled by the people.”

A year out, how are the people faring?

Amid pledges to “drain the swamp” in Washington, Trump appointed the wealthiest ever U.S. Cabinet — one Newsweek recently called “the most corrupt in history.” A Daily Beast investigation into hundreds of Trump appointees found that more than half profited from the industries they were tapped to regulate.

What he’s done on Capitol Hill is almost worse.

He’s pushed health care bills that would strip health coverage from more than 20 million Americans. When those failed, he nixed subsidies for companies that insure low-income customers — about 70 percent of whom live in states he won, by the way — and virtually guaranteed a hike in premiums for everyone.

And his tax plan? It would permanently slash the corporate tax rate and completely eliminate taxes on multi-millionaire estates. Meanwhile, it would end popular middle-class deductions (sorry, student loan payers) while actually raising the rate the lowest income payers face.

All this would blow a $ 1.5 trillion hole in the U.S. deficit. As my colleague Josh Hoxie has written, that’s enough to double college grants and cancer research, treat 300,000 people suffering from addiction, train 3.5 million workers, and help 6 million kids get child care — every year for 10 years. Instead, it goes to tax breaks for people like Trump and his Cabinet.

On the environmental front, pulling out of the Paris climate agreement and letting companies dump coal ash in freshwater have done precisely nothing to bring back flagging coal jobs. Yet Trump has duped many miners into rejecting job retraining, Reuters reports.

So Trump’s economic populism was a hustle. But what about his not-so-subtle threats against people who don’t resemble his white base? Well, there things are happening.

Immigration arrests are way up. Authorities insist they’re targeting “gang members” and “bad dudes.” But they seem to be spending an awful lot of time haunting schools, domestic violence centers and hospitals — where they recently picked up a 10-year-old girl getting treatment for cerebral palsy.

At the same time, refugee admissions have been dramatically curtailed, and the administration says it wants to cut legal immigration in half.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department is canceling reform plans for police departments with records of racial discrimination and brutality. The FBI has labeled black civil rights activists a domestic threat. And the Department of Education is rolling back protections for LGTBQ students and sexual assault survivors.

No wonder so many read making America “great” again as making America “white” again. But handing the government over to racist billionaires isn’t a great deal for most white people either. Neither is threatening war with Iran and North Korea.

Trumpism, journalist Matt Yglesias concludes, is “a bet that if you punch nonwhite America in the face, white America will be so busy gawking they won’t notice their pockets are being picked too.” Sad!

The silver lining? A new era of activism.

Ordinary Americans have rallied to stave off assaults on their health care, preserve the climate, protect immigrants and refugees, and take a knee for racial justice. Record numbers of women and people of color are running for office. And a majority of Democrats now want their party to move left — away from the corporate center Hillary Clinton never abandoned.

For those reasons I’m cautiously optimistic, but we’re walking a real razor’s edge. If we make it through the next three years intact, it’ll be with a hangover for the ages.

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Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett Are Wealthier Than The Bottom Half of the Country Combined

ceo-pay-tax-plan-wealthy

(Photo: Shutterstock)

It can be hard to grasp just how much money is concentrated in just a few hands in our lopsided economy today. But here’s a start: The richest three people in the United States — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett — together have more wealth than the entire bottom half of the country combined.

To put an even finer point on it: That’s three people versus about 160 million people.

To really comprehend just how insane the wealth concentration has become, consider Bezos, the head of Amazon. Worth about $ 90 billion, he recently was declared the richest man in the world. In October alone, his wealth jumped by $ 10 billion — or about $ 4 million per second.

Given his massive wealth, one might imagine that his company has enough to pay its warehouse workers a minimum of $ 15 an hour. But apparently it doesn’t. Amazon pays some of its workers as little as $ 12.84 an hour.

Read the full article on  LA Times.

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VIDEO: Trump Is All in on the Philippine Drug War

U.S. President Donald Trump recently met Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for the first time — in fact, the two were photographed clinking champagne flutes. Duterte’s brutal war on drug users, which has left upwards of 13,000 dead from extrajudicial executions, has been roundly condemned by world leaders — except for Trump himself.

The U.S. president has praised Duterte and even invited him to the White House. In return, Duterte made the developer of Trump Tower Manila his envoy to the United States. Emolument clause, anyone?

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What Else Could a Tax Cut for the Richest 1% Buy in Your State?

Methods & Data Sources

For the cumulative and average tax cuts to the richest 1 percent in each state, as well as the average income of the richest 1 percent in each state, we relied on estimates from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy Microsimulation Tax Model for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced on November 2, 2017.

Health premiums

For health insurance premium costs in the individual marketplace, we relied primarily on 2018 premium data registered by insurance providers with healthcare.gov. The premium cost for our calculations was the cost of the second-least expensive Silver plan in the most populous county in each state, for a single 40-year-old adult.

Because healthcare.gov data only covers states in the federal marketplace, we also used data from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2018 premium calculator for the United States and for states with their own marketplaces (California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington). We used the unsubsidized premium for the second-lowest cost Silver plan for a single, 40-year-old nonsmoker in each state’s most populous county.

Pell grants

The maximum Pell grant award for the 2017-2018 school year is $ 5,920. Our calculations represent the number of maximum awards that could be covered.

Infrastructure Jobs

The number of infrastructure jobs created by a federal investment depends on many factors: the specific type of infrastructure, the location, the likelihood that the infrastructure would be built without a federal investment, and more.

For the purposes of these calculations, we reviewed various estimates of the cost per infrastructure job created, ranging from roughly $ 36,000 per job created (Feyrer & Sacerdote, 2011) for investment through the Department of Transportation, to $ 92,136 per job created by government investment under ARRA (Council of Economic Advisors, 2009), among others.

For these calculations, we use an estimate from Feyrer & Sacerdote (Dartmouth/ NBER, 2011) of $ 105,485 per job created by federal investments through the Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Since the cost per job is high compared to other estimates, our estimates of job creation may be low. Also, in reality job creation costs are likely to vary by state. The Feyrer & Sacerdote approach means the reported job effects represent direct, indirect and induced effects – that is, employment in construction and related industries directly resulting from federal investment, but also the resulting boost to the local economy as the initial investment passes through to existing local businesses and their employees.