Tax Plans Pave the Way for Massive Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security

social-security-tax-reform

Gerry Boughan / Shutterstock

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has a plan: To get rid of nasty deficits, he says, all we need to do is “grow the economy, cut spending.” Under this tax plan, only one of those is likely to become a reality.

Republicans say that the tax plan currently working its way through the House and Senate is supposed to accomplish that first goal: growing the economy. It won’t succeed. Evidence suggests that the tax plan is highly unlikely to create more than a trickle of growth, and that that growth will stay snugly right where the tax plan is putting it: with corporations and billionaires.

The next step, according to Ryan, is cutting spending. And while Congress hasn’t gotten that far yet, the agenda is clear. If a version of the tax plan passes, the next major item of business in Congress will likely include major cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Read My Lips: No New Jobs

The entire tax plan is built around one premise: that cutting taxes causes the economy to grow and creates jobs. The problem is, this doesn’t appear to be true.

study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business found that additional economic growth due to the tax plan would be miniscule — less than a tenth of a percent per year in the near term. That’s not the kind of growth the economy needs to produce more, or better-paying jobs.

Meanwhile, a study from the Institute for Policy Studies found that corporations that paid lower tax rates actually cut jobs — while passing the gains on in the form of higher CEO pay.

Stuck with more or less regular economic growth, the massive tax cuts will just add to the nation’s debt. The nonpartisan Joint Committee for Taxation found last week that under the original Senate tax plan, the United States will be left with an additional $ 1 trillion in debt. By some estimates, that debt would be even higher.

This is not a particularly partisan assessment for those who aren’t currently in Congress. As the bipartisan duo Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles recently wrote in the Washington Post, “Economic growth isn’t going to wash away this debt.”

Welfare Reform Redux: Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security at Risk

As President Trump told supporters at a rally in Missouri, “We’re going to go into welfare reform.” What he didn’t say was that this time, “welfare reform” won’t just target low-income mothers; it will mean drastic cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

The president has support among his party in the Senate and House: former presidential candidate and Sen. Marco RubioRep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patrick Toomey have all spoken about — or refused to deny — the intention to bring about massive spending cuts as Act II of their agenda.

The tax plan is an important key to this momentum toward bringing back “welfare reform,” which, of course, wasn’t a good idea the first time, either (and which still seems to bring out many of the ugliest stereotypes about poverty). The House and Senate versions of the tax bill have one big thing in common: adding significantly to the national debt.

It may seem counterintuitive at first, but to “small-government” types, this is a dream come true. The increased national debt gives the perfect political cover for cutting social programs. And this reform won’t be limited to traditional welfare programs for struggling parents, which in 2016 amounted to less than half a percent of the total federal budget. Instead, lawmakers will take direct aim at the social programs where the most money is spent, and upon which the most Americans rely: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

For starters, there are cuts that will take place to these programs even if Congress takes the rest of the year off after they pass this tax plan. These are the result of deficit-reducing mechanisms enacted under a 2010 law that would kick in to the tune of a $ 25 billion cut to Medicare this fiscal year, even without congressional action. Sen. Mitch McConnell has said that Congress won’t let that happen, but it’s not clear that he can deliver on that promise.

Even if Congress doesn’t permit automatic cuts to Medicare as a result of its tax plan, members have openly said that they’ll be back to cut programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Cuts to these programs are highly unpopular among both Republican and Democratic voters, and as a candidate, Trump campaigned on promises to keep them intact. However, current signals from congressional leaders, and Trump himself, are that he will break those promises.

The House and Senate bills amount to a tax cut for the rich that will be paid for by the poor.

The Non-Repeal Repeal of the Affordable Care Act

The Senate version of the tax plan has a provision that repeals a foundation of the Affordable Care Act: the individual insurance mandate.

Insurance markets only work if some healthy people pay into the system to cover the costs for those who get sick. By getting rid of the individual mandate, the Senate tax plan will encourage some currently healthy people to skip health insurance — making the costs go up for everyone who chooses to stay insured.

According to a nonpartisan estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, this one change would result in 13 million Americans losing health insurance over the next decade — and those who have insurance can expect their premiums to go up by 10 percent.

The House version of the bill doesn’t include the individual mandate repeal. Thus, one of the biggest questions about any final legislation is whether it will include this attack on the Affordable Care Act.

Don’t Look Behind the Curtain: It’s Not About the Money

While congressional leaders bemoan the expense of Social Security and Medicare — which do cost a lot, at $ 982 billion and $ 604 billion respectively in 2016 — don’t expect them to mention in the same breath that they have voted to increase the military budget to $ 700 billion.

Apparently, some things are worth paying for. Those things would include the F-35 jet fighter, an ill-fated and never-used jet that pro-military Sen. John McCain has called “a tragedy and a scandal,” and slated to cost nearly $ 11 billion this year. They’d also include a $ 20 billion annual bill for nuclear weapons, as well as total payments to for-profit corporations likely to be in the neighborhood of $ 300 billion.

This should clear up any confusion about what supporters of the tax plan and spending cuts are after. It’s not about the money; it’s about priorities.

House vs. Senate: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

The House and Senate still need to bridge their differences. Here are a few high-stakes differences:

• The Senate version includes the repeal of the individual health insurance mandate under the Affordable Care Act, which would result in 13 million Americans losing health insurance. The House version does not currently include this provision.

• The House version treats graduate student tuition as regular income — even though graduate students never actually receive this money, and can’t use it to buy housing, food or anything except an education. The Senate version does not include this provision.

• The House version gets rid of the estate tax — which is paid by , with values over $ 10 million for couples. The Senate version raises the limit on which estate taxes must be paid, but keeps the tax.

Each of these differences — among others — represents an opportunity to limit the damage this tax plan can do, or possibly to derail it entirely.

The tax plan is astoundingly unpopular: just 25 percent of voters approve of it. Activists are working around the clock to defeat this legislation, with feet on the ground and nonstop calls to House and Senate offices. These efforts will continue until the last vote is cast.

Even if one of these tax plans does pass both the House and Senate, this activist work will continue. Efforts to reverse the damage will, and must, grow. A bill this unpopular, that benefits only corporations and billionaires, is not built to last.

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Stop Talking About ‘Winners and Losers’ from Corporate Tax Cuts

Dollar bill being cut up

(Photo: Tax Credits/Flickr)

Republicans are pushing a huge corporate tax cut bill through Congress. You might’ve seen a lot of coverage trying to sort out “who wins” and “who loses.”

All that misses the point.

The driving motivation behind this bill, rhetoric and packaging aside, is to deliver a whopping $ 1 trillion tax cut for a few hundred badly behaved global corporations — and another half a trillion to expand tax breaks and loopholes for multi-millionaires and billionaires.

All the other features of proposed tax legislation are either bribes (“sweeteners”) to help pass the bill or “pay fors” to offset their cost.

The news media has been talking about “winners and losers” like this were some sort of high-minded tax reform process with legitimate trade-offs, as in 1986.

But this isn’t tax reform. This is a money grab by powerful corporate interests.

The key question isn’t who wins and loses, but whether we should undertake any of these trade-offs to give massive tax breaks to companies like Apple, Nike, Pfizer, and General Electric — companies whose loyalty to U.S. communities and workers is historically abysmal.

These companies have been dodging their taxes for decades while small businesses and ordinary taxpayers pick up their slack to care for our veterans, maintain our infrastructure, and educate the next generation.

Apple alone is holding $ 250 billion in offshore subsidiaries to reduce their taxes.

For wealthy individuals, the proposed House tax bill eliminates the federal estate tax, which is paid exclusively by families with over $ 11 million, mostly residing in coastal states.

It eliminates the Alternative Minimum Tax, a provision that ensures that wealthy taxpayers chip in at least a few dollars after gaming all their possible deductions.

And while the top tax rate on high earners remains roughly the same, Congress is proposing to open up a “pass through loophole” that will enable wealthy people and their tax accountants to convert their income to be taxed at a lower tax rate.

We should avoid distracting debates over whether to reform one provision or another, such as the home mortgage interest deduction. The real estate industry understands the score. “These corporations are getting a major tax cut, and it’s getting paid for by the equity in American homes,” said Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Home Builders.

Reforming the home mortgage interest deduction makes a lot of sense — the current tax break mostly benefits the already wealthy and fails to expand homeownership. But we shouldn’t restructure housing tax incentives to pay for a massive tax cut for billionaires and badly behaved global corporations.

Nor should we eliminate the deductibility of student debt, eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes, or require families with catastrophic health expenses to pay more to reduce taxes on big drug companies and Jeff Bezos of Amazon. This tax bill would do all of those things.

The good news is people aren’t falling for the marketing baloney that this tax cut will help the middle class. Fewer than 30 percent of voters support these tax cuts, and solid majorities believe that the wealthy and global corporations should pay more taxes, not less.

But this won’t stop Republicans who care more about their campaign contributors than they do about voters.

If the GOP majority in Congress were responsive to voters, they’d invest in updating our aging infrastructure and in skills-based education, as we did after World War Two. Instead of saddling the next generation with tens of thousands in student debt, real leaders would be figuring out how to lift up tomorrow’s workers and entrepreneurs, just as we did in previous generations.

Under this tax plan, small business and ordinary taxpayers will be the big losers. That’s the only score that matters.

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Trump’s Tax Cuts Are the Biggest Wealth Grab in Modern History

Wikimedia Commons

On Nov. 2, Republicans in Congress finally released the details for their tax plan. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a massive overhaul of the tax code and spending priorities—and nothing short of a boon to the very wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

I’m old enough to remember way back to Nov. 1, when CBS released a poll showing most Americans wanted to see the wealthiest households and biggest corporations pay more, not less, in taxes. This is in sync with poll data from Gallup, collected year after year since 1992, that shows a solid majority of Americans believe the wealthy pay too little in taxes.

Given such overwhelming support for raising, not cutting, taxes on the wealthy, it makes sense that President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress would present their tax plan as benefiting the middle class rather than the rich. It’s about “people who are low- and middle-income,” says House Speaker Paul Ryan, “not about people who are really high-income earners getting a break.” Trump has even claimed “the rich will not be gaining at all with this plan.”

Unfortunately, those are bald-faced lies.

Read the full article on Fortune.

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Tax Cuts for the Rich Help the Rich, Not You

(Photo: Canadian Pacific / Flickr)

Soon you’re going to hear about taxes.

You’ll see images of families flashing across your TV screen while a soothing narrator assures you that the tax plan being debated in Washington really is good for you. The newspapers you read, the social media apps you scroll through, the websites you frequent, and the snippets of radio you catch will all feature ads talking about it.

That’s what a marketing blitz looks like, and there’s one coming for the Trump tax plan. It will be well-produced, well-orchestrated, and completely devoid of facts.

President Trump started his sales pitch for his tax cutting agenda in Missouri in August, where the assembled audience was treated to a fact-free sermon on the virtues of his plan. Gone were any specifics of what’s in it, or who gets what.

Looking at Trump’s tax plan from the campaign, as well as what the Republican majority in the House of Representatives have proposed, we can see the basic outlines of what’s coming.

Corporations will see their nominal tax rates drop from 35 percent to 20 or even 15 percent. Individual rates will go down — possibly for everyone, but definitely and most strikingly for the very wealthy. Overall tax revenue will tank, potentially by as much as $ 10 trillion over ten years.

What does all this look like in the real world?

On the corporate side, we know for sure that lower corporate taxes do not create jobs.

In the ads to come, maybe you’ll see a guy in a hard hat claim that corporate tax cuts will put him back to work. He’s lying.

A recent Institute for Policy Studies report looks at 92 profitable companies that already pay an effective 20 percent tax rate, thanks to loopholes. On average they’ve cut jobs, even as the rest of the private sector saw a 6 percent jobs increase.

On the individual side, half of the proposed cuts will go to millionaires, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Less than 5 percent go to families with household incomes below $ 45,000.

This is probably the biggest wealth grab in American history by the wealthy, for the wealthy. Selling it as a middle-class tax cut, regardless of the images in the ads you see, is just old-fashioned lying.

And finally there’s the revenue. Trump claims his tax cuts will pay for themselves with increased economic growth. That theory’s been debunked many times over and yet remains stubbornly in play.

So what happens when trillions of dollars of tax revenue get slashed?

Congress currently bans itself from passing bills that increase the deficit in one of their better acronyms — Pay As You Go (PAYGO). That means the tax cuts Trump proposes will have to come out of public programs.

No matter how much hype you hear, you’d better believe those cuts are gonna hurt. From food assistance like the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program to Head Start, and from clean water protections to unemployment insurance — it’s all on the line.

It’s hard to keep an eye on the truth when savvy marketing campaigns are hell-bent on deflecting your attention away from it. Don’t buy it. The Trump tax cut plan is disastrous for working families and for anyone who cares about a fair and just economy.

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Report: Corporate Tax Cuts Boost CEO Pay, Not Jobs

House Speaker Paul Ryan is proposing to cut the statutory federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent. President Trump wants to slash the rate even further, to just 15 percent. Their core argument? Lowering the tax burden will lead to more and better jobs.

To investigate this claim, this report is the first to analyze the job creation records of the 92 publicly held U.S. corporations that reported a U.S. profit every year from 2008 through 2015 and paid less than 20 percent of these earnings in federal income tax. Did these reduced tax rates actually lead to greater employment within the 92 firms? The data we have compiled give a definitive — and sobering — answer.

Key findings: 

Tax breaks did not spur job creation

  • America’s 92 most consistently profitable tax-dodging firms registered median jobgrowth of negative 1 percent between 2008 and 2016. The job growth rate over those same years among U.S. private sector firms as a whole: 6 percent.
  • More than half of the 92 tax-avoiders, 48 firms in all, eliminated jobs between 2008 and 2016, downsizing by a combined total of 483,000 positions.

Tax-dodging corporations paid their CEOs more than other big firms

  • Average CEO pay among the 92 firms rose 18 percent, to $ 13.4 million in real terms, between 2008 and 2016, compared to a 13 percent increase among S&P 500 CEOs. U.S. private sector worker pay increased by only 4 percent during this period.
  • CEOs at the 48 job-slashing companies within our 92-firm sample pocketed even larger paychecks. In 2016 they made $ 14.9 million on average, 14 percent more than the $ 13.1 million for typical S&P 500 CEOs.

Job-cutting firms spent tax savings on buybacks, which inflated CEO pay

  • Many of the firms in our sample funneled tax savings into stock buybacks, a financial maneuver that inflates the value of executive stock-based pay. On average, the top 10 job-cutters in our sample each spent $ 45 billion over the last nine years repurchasing their own stock, six times as much as the S&P 500 corporate average.

ExxonMobil hiked CEO Tillerson’s pay while dodging taxes, slashing jobs

  • The oil giant paid an effective tax rate of only 13.6 percent during the 2008-2015 period, at the same time cutting more than a third of its global workforce (the company does not reveal U.S. jobs data). After pumping nearly $ 146 billion into stock buybacks, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, now the U.S. secretary of state, took home $ 27.4 million in total compensation in 2016, 22 percent more than he collected in 2008.

AT&T is the top job-cutter among the tax-dodging firms

  • The telecommunications giant managed to get away with an effective tax rate of just 8.1 percent over the 2008-2015 period, while cutting more jobs than any other firm in our sample. After accounting for acquisitions and spinoffs, the firm had nearly 80,000 fewer employees in 2016 than in 2008. Instead of job-preserving investments, the firm shoveled profits into stock buybacks ($ 34 billion over the past nine years) and CEO pay. AT&T chief Randall Stephenson pulled in $ 28.4 million in 2016, more than double his 2008 payout.

GE cut jobs while funneling offshore tax-dodging proceeds into CEO pay and buybacks

  • Through extensive use of overseas tax havens, General Electric achieved a negative effective tax rate during the 2008-2015 period, meaning the firm got more back from Uncle Sam than it paid into federal coffers. The company spent $ 42 billion repurchasing its own stock, which helped boost CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s pay to nearly $ 18 million in 2016. Meanwhile, the company’s employee count dropped by about 14,700 over the past nine years.

Read the full report here [PDF].
Find shareable graphics here.
Explore all Executive Excess reports from 1994 onward.

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New Report Finds Corporate Tax Cuts Boost CEO Pay, Not Jobs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Full report and graphics

Washington, D.C. — When President Donald Trump launches his tax cut campaign today in Missouri, he will no doubt repeat the Republican mantra that slashing the corporate tax rate will lead to more and better jobs. He has proposed cutting the statutory federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 15 percent, while House Speaker Paul Ryan has called for a 20 percent rate.

To investigate this jobs claim, the Institute for Policy Studies has analyzed the employment records of the 92 publicly held U.S. corporations that exploited loopholes to pay less than a 20 percent effective U.S. tax rate from 2008 through 2015, despite making a profit every year.

Key findings: 

Tax breaks did not spur job creation

  • America’s 92 most consistently profitable tax-dodging firms registered median jobgrowth of negative 1 percent between 2008 and 2016. The job growth rate over those same years among U.S. private sector firms as a whole: 6 percent.
  • More than half of the 92 tax-avoiders, 48 firms in all, eliminatedjobs between 2008 and 2016, downsizing by a combined total of 483,000 positions.

Tax-dodging corporations paid their CEOs more than other big firms

  • Average CEO pay among the 92 firms rose 18 percent, to $ 13.4 million in real terms, between 2008 and 2016, compared to a 13 percent increase among S&P 500 CEOs. U.S. private sector worker pay increased by only 4 percent during this period.
  • CEOs at the 48 job-slashing companies within our 92-firm sample pocketed even larger paychecks. In 2016 they made $ 14.9 million on average, 14 percent more than the $ 13.1 million for typical S&P 500 CEOs.

Job-cutting firms spent tax savings on buybacks, which inflated CEO pay

  • Many of the firms in our sample funneled tax savings into stock buybacks, a financial maneuver that inflates the value of executive stock-based pay. On average, the top 10 job-cutters in our sample each spent $ 45 billion over the last nine years repurchasing their own stock, six times as much as the S&P 500 corporate average.

ExxonMobil hiked CEO Tillerson’s pay while dodging taxes, slashing jobs

  • The oil giant paid an effective tax rate of only 13.6 percent during the 2008-2015 period, at the same time cutting more than a third of its global workforce (the company does not reveal U.S. jobs data). After pumping nearly $ 146 billion into stock buybacks, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, now the U.S. secretary of state, took home $ 27.4 million in total compensation in 2016, 22 percent more than he collected in 2008.

AT&T is the top job-cutter among the tax-dodging firms

  • The telecommunications giant managed to get away with an effective tax rate of just 8.1 percent over the 2008-2015 period, while cutting more jobs than any other firm in our sample. After accounting for acquisitions and spinoffs, the firm had nearly 80,000 fewer employees in 2016 than in 2008. Instead of job-preserving investments, the firm shoveled profits into stock buybacks ($ 34 billion over the past nine years) and CEO pay. AT&T chief Randall Stephenson pulled in $ 28.4 million in 2016, more than double his 2008 payout.

GE cut jobs while funneling offshore tax-dodging proceeds into CEO pay and buybacks

  • Through extensive use of overseas tax havens, General Electric achieved a negativeeffective tax rate during the 2008-2015 period, meaning the firm got more back from Uncle Sam than it paid into federal coffers. The company spent $ 42 billion repurchasing its own stock, which helped boost CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s pay to nearly $ 18 million in 2016. Meanwhile, the company’s employee count dropped by about 14,700 over the past nine years.

“CEOs have used the proceeds from tax savings to enrich themselves at the expense of job-creating investments,” notes report author Sarah Anderson. “The debate over corporate taxes should focus on ensuring that the corporations these CEOs run pay their full and fair share.”

This 24th edition of the annual IPS Executive Excess series also includes the most comprehensive available catalog of CEO pay reforms, including proposed legislation to eliminate the CEO bonus loophole.

Full report and graphics.

About the lead author: Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-edits the IPS web site Inequality.org. She has been the lead author on all 24 of the Institute’s annual Executive Excess reports. Her executive compensation analysis has been featured recently in the New York TimesFortune, and the Los Angeles Times.

More Information:

Sarah Anderson, sarah@ips-dc.org(202) 787 5227
Domenica Ghanem, press@ips-dc.org(202) 787-5205
Jessica Pierre, jessicah@ips-dc.org

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS-DC.org) is a multi-issue research center that has conducted path-breaking research on executive compensation for more than 20 years. IPS also provides a constant stream of inequality analysis and solutions through our Inequality.org web site and weekly newsletter.

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It’s a Myth That Corporate Tax Cuts Mean More Jobs

corporate-taxes-job-cuts

Photo: Shutterstock

“The arithmetic for us is simple,” AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, said on CNBC in May. If Congress were to cut the 35 percent tax on corporate profits to 20 percent, he declared, “I know exactly what AT&T would do — we’d invest more” in the United States.

Every $ 1 billion in tax savings would create 7,000 well-paying jobs, Mr. Stephenson went on to say. The correlation between lower corporate taxes and more jobs, he assured viewers, runs “very, very tight.”

As Congress prepares to take up tax legislation this fall, including an effort to reduce the corporate tax rate, this bold jobs claim merits examination. Notably, it comes from the chief executive of a company that’s already paying comparatively little in federal taxes.

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, AT&T enjoyed an effective tax rate of just 8 percent between 2008 and 2015, despite recording a profit in the United States each year, by exploiting tax breaks and loopholes. (The company argues that it pays significant taxes, at a rate close to 34 percent in recent years, but that includes deferred taxes and state and local levies.)

Read the full article on the New York Times’ website.

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How Will the White House Try to Sell its Corporate Tax Cuts?

Steve-Mnuchin-Swearing-In

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

If the spinmeisters in the Donald Trump White House had any marketing nerve — and a mischievous sense of irony — they’d frame the new Trump tax package as a long-overdue move to protect the health and safety of America’s workers.

That’s not, of course, how Trump’s folks are billing the tax plan the White House released last week. Trump’s top economic aide, former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn, is calling the Trump package the most significant tax reform legislation “since 1986.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a former hedge fund manager, is hailing the Trump plan as “the biggest tax cut” in American history.

Critics of the Trump plan, meanwhile, are labeling the package a “plutocrat’s dream” chock full of enormous giveaways to America’s super rich and the corporations they run.

The first of these proposed giveaways: a whopping cut in the corporate tax rate, from 35 to 15 percent. The White House wants that same 15 percent rate applied to the income of “pass-through” companies, the partnerships and other businesses that “pass through” their profits to their principals. Taxes on these passed-through earnings currently face individual income tax rates that can go as high as 39.6 percent.

To top off this sundae of luscious giveaway goodies, the White House is asking Congress to let CEOs bring home the billions in untaxed profits they’ve parked overseas at just a 10 percent tax rate.

What could all these lavish tax breaks for corporate titans possibly have to do with protecting the health and safety of American workers?

In real life, nothing at all. But good spinmeisters don’t ever let reality get in their way. They just spin out of that reality whatever tale makes their patrons look good. And Donald Trump desperately wants to look good to the American workers he claims to champion.

So let the spinning begin. Trump’s people could start their mischief by pointing to alarming new research that appears in the Journal of Accounting and Economics. The two business management analysts behind this research, Judson Caskey of UCLA and N. Bugra Ozel of the University of Texas at Dallas, took a long hard look at how corporate CEOs react when they get anxious about meeting Wall Street’s expectations.

CEOs have good reason to worry about what Wall Street thinks. If high-finance movers and shakers feel a corporation isn’t “performing” as well as expected — not reporting enough earnings – they’ll start selling off that company’s shares. That sell-off will sink the company share price and, in the process, put a big hurt on the personal compensation the company’s CEO stands to collect.

How far will CEOs go to avoid disappointing Wall Street? Researchers Caskey and Ozel set out to see. They combed through years of data to determine whether corporate chiefs would put the health and safety of their workers in jeopardy to keep Wall Street happy.

Executives, turns out, most definitely would. To meet the profit targets Wall Street expects them to meet, one analysis of the Caskey-Ozel research notes, corporate execs “will try to lower costs by increasing employees’ workload and cutting back on safety-related expenditures.”

As a society, Caskey and Ozel point out, we’d like to assume that corporate managers would never “sacrifice people’s health” to meet their performance targets. But their data show that the stretching execs undertake to meet those targets leads to “a 10 to 15 percent increase in employee injuries.”

What could on-the-ball Trump spin kings do with research like this? The Trump tax plan, they could proudly acknowledge, will add countless millions to corporate bottom lines, so many millions that corporate CEOs won’t have to worry anymore about meeting Wall Street’s expectations. If Congress adopts the Trump corporate tax cuts, the spinners could shamelessly pronounce, CEOs would no longer feel pressured to cut back on worker safety.

Caskey and Ozel, for their part, have their own remedy for countering the pressure to jeopardize worker safety — and that remedy has nothing whatsoever to do with cutting corporate taxes.

“Our evidence,” the researchers note, “suggests that unions mitigate the extent to which pressure to meet earnings expectations translates into reduced safety.”

A Trump administration that actually cared about worker safety, in other words, would do everything possible to increase the union presence in America’s workplaces.

In real life, the Trump White House is moving in the exact opposite direction. The President, Politico reports, will soon nominate for the National Labor Relations Board — the federal agency that oversees the nation’s labor relations — a fiercely anti-union attorney.

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Where Would Bernie Make His Big Budget Cuts?

bernie-sanders-defense-spending

(Image: Flickr / Michael Vadon)

Sen. Bernie Sanders has big plans. Make college free. Create a single-payer health care system. Invest in repairing our crumbling infrastructure and upgrading it for a future built on clean transport and energy. If the 2016 presidential candidate succeeds in pulling all this off, the lives of Americans will definitely be better.

But many are doubtful that he can do it. For one thing, they’re wondering where all the money is going to come from. But the news is good on that score too.

Sanders’ “pay-fors” emphasize eliminating tax breaks for the rich and corporations, both stellar targets. But in addition to making big changes to the tax code – the revenue side – he’ll need to look at spending, over on the other side of the ledger, and particularly at the big ticket items in the “discretionary” budget, the one that Congress votes on every year.

The biggest ticket of them all, by far, is the military’s share. In the budget President Barack Obama just unveiled, it accounts for more than all the other government departments, put together, get to spend.

Fortunately, Sanders has a strong track record of training his sights on that target, too.

He stood with only two other Democratic senators in opposing the 2014 defense bill, for example, calling it bloated “particularly in light of the many unmet needs we face as a nation.” In a Senate speech explaining his vote, he noted that this budget had nearly doubled since 2001, not counting the billions in the separate budget on top of this to pay for the wars we are actually fighting. And he quoted President Dwight Eisenhower’s famous declaration that “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

These are not new ideas to Sanders. He’s been arguing for a military that defends the nation, rather than one that serves the interests of military contractors, since he came to Congress just as the Cold War was coming to its bloodless end.

This was the time he began championing the abolition of nuclear weapons, for example. Survival of a nuclear war is no more possible now than it was then. But after years of phased, negotiated reductions in the U.S. and Russian arsenals, we are now back to “modernizing” these weapons and all three of the ways (by land, by sea and by air) we have of delivering them. It’s planned as a 30-year project, with a pricetag well over $ 1 trillion. Building them violates our treaty obligations to proceed with negotiated nuclear disarmament. Saving that trillion dollars could buy us a whole lot of infrastructure and put a whole lot of people to work building it. It could send a lot of kids to college debt-free. It could put us on a path to minimizing the effects of climate change.

Meanwhile, his Republican rivals are competing with each other to apply colorfully apocalyptic terms – “decimated,” “gutted,” “dramatically degraded” – to the state of the U.S. military. They are making these claims despite the fact that the U.S. is spending more now on its military, adjusting for inflation, than it did during all those Cold War years. During those years, the Soviet Union was trying to compete with us on military spending. Now, nobody is.

There is money in this overstuffed, overkill budget that could be reapplied to making American lives better. Does anybody doubt that as president, Bernie Sanders would work to get this done?

The post Where Would Bernie Make His Big Budget Cuts? appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Miriam Pemberton is the Director of  Peace Economy Transitions at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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Hunger strike ends with no agreement over janitorial cuts – Tufts Daily


Tufts Daily
Hunger strike ends with no agreement over janitorial cuts
Tufts Daily
“Given that the administration refused to meet with us over the weekend and pushed off a meeting until Monday, we felt this was the best decision in order to ensure the wellbeing of the strikers.” Another of the original strikers, first-year Mica

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