Posts Tagged Income-Inequality

SO FAR, DONALD TRUMP’S TAX PLAN IS JUST ONE BIG LIE!

Surely, most people realize that you cannot trust anything that Donald Trump and the GOP say.  The Tax Plan, which they released this past Wednesday, was a charade–focusing on what the middle class might expect, while burying the real meat, which they don’t want us to see.  This plan is intended to reinitiate the Bush Era tax cuts, skewed to the top one percent.  Additionally, they are selling the repeal of the Estate Tax–from which only 6,000 of the very wealthiest families will benefit–which adds to the top one percent of taxpayers.  Those cuts, early on in Bush 43’s first Administration contributed t The Great Recession (4Q07-1Q09).

There is no “reform” included in the proposal; but, rather, that is merely to enhance the appeal to the middle class.  Trump and the Republicans have claimed ad nauseum that America has the highest personal and corporate tax rtes on earth.  Au contraire, both of those rates fall in the dead center, after deductions and loopholes, according to  the OECD organization of industrialized nations.

Oftentimes, Donald Trump meanders around in various directions, suggesting one thing and then another; but in the end, he often reverts back to something that he said on the campaign trail.  Rather than get bogged down analyzing a his short outline, I am including a blog post that I published last January.  As you can see, little has changed after his nine months in office.

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DONALD TRUMP’S VINDICTIVENESS SEEMS TO BE BEHIND TWO SENSELESS IDEAS: ELIMINATING AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE AND SLASHING THE STATE DEPARTMENT BUDGET BY 31%!

Donald Trump has said a lot of idiotic things, taken Tweetery to a new lunacy level, and he has accomplished absolutely nothing…in five months.  Remember all of those asinine Legislative “Acts” that he was going to pass “…on Day One!”  Did Mr. Know-it-all forget that Congress takes more time off than he does—including HIS Inauguration Day?

There are two major actions that Mr. Trump should have most definitely avoided:  Repeal and Replace “Obamacare,” and to slash the State Department Budget by 31%.

Just like any comprehensive bill, such as the (real name) Affordable (Health) Care Act, modifications should be made from time to time, just like what was done after Medicare, was first rolled-out!  Deep down inside, the real reason for eliminating ACA—and why Donald has disrupted it’s functioning—is to replace the huge tax cuts, assessed to the Top Two Percent of Taxpayers, which were lost when the Bush Tax Cuts expired.

And slashing the State Department Budget is reprehensible; because, those 170 State Department Embassies, Consulates and other installations, around-the-world, are the face of of the United States to many foreigners.  Those offices are used for many other purposes, besides diplomacy: Trade and Agricultural Officers work out of them, foreigners apply for Visas there, and its where Americans go when they encounter problems in other countries. Besides, USAID and other social agencies provide excellent assistance, from those offices, directly to rural villages and groups that need it.

In the case of both eliminating ACA and slashing the State Budget, there is no responsible reason, whatsoever, for Donald Trump to do so.  But, after analyzing these ideas, I definitely see a relationship.  Let me highlight each:

1.   Mr. Trump resents the fact that Affordable Health Care isn’t focused around him.  Even though Republicans have called for some form of Health Care for All, going all the way back to Richard M. Nixon, and perhaps even earlier, the GOP just never seemed to have followed through in legislating it!  Also, Trump is displaying his racism through his intention to eradicate the signature accomplishment of Barack Obama, our First Black President.

2. Additionally, Donald doesn’t seem capable of letting go of his hatred for former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton.  When it came to “dirty tricks”, Trumpie was far and away, the all-time champion, and definitely not the victim, during the campaign!  When Secretary of Defense James Mattis heard that State’s budget would be slashed, he said he was “…going to need more bullets!”  Mattis realizes that every dollar spent by State—especially in its various social programs—results in less dollars needed for Defense!

So, when Trump & Friends misrepresent why they needs to Repeal “Obamacare,” and he proposes slashing the State Department budget, the reasons are: his narcissism; racism; sexism; providing huge tax breaks to Mega-Billionaires; and slashing State’s budget to will help pay for the idiotic Wall!

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BETSY DEVOS WANTS TO HELP “TRAIN YOUR BRAIN”–BUT WHERE? OFF THE CLIFF?

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and her husband Dick, are primary investors in Neurocore, a corporate partner in Windquest, the DeVoses’ private equity investment firm.  Operating from twelve storefront locations, in Florida and Michigan, Neurocore claims to be able to “train the brain” to overcome various maladies.

Mr. Ulrich Boser, wrote about his trip to a Neurocore branch store, in a high-end strip mall, in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, where he went to investigate what Neurocore was all about.  The company addresses such diverse problems as: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, anxiety, stress, depression, poor sleep, memory loss and migraines.  The potential magic bullet, which hasn’t been confirmed through peer-review, is “Neurofeedback”—which seeks to help people “optimize” the electrical impulses of their brains.

In a NY Times article about Neurocore, the authors reported that their isn’t any groundswell, within the medical community, to embrace the Neurocore’s treatments.
“(The company)….promotes results that are nothing short of stunning: improvements reported by 91 percent of patients with depression; 90 percent with attention deficit disorder; and 90 percent with anxiety.”  There doesn’t seem too be any confirmation, however, within the neurological health care field.

Sandra K. Loo, director of pediatric neuropsychology at the David Geffen School of Medicine, at the University of California, Los Angeles, has written about neurofeedback and quantitative EEG, a brain-wave test that Neurocore performs as part of its diagnosis.  She states that the effects are short-term, and haven’t been proven to be any better than a placebo.

Dr. Majid Fotuhi, Neurocore’s Chief Medical Officer, and Timothy G. Royer, the company’s founder, each have good credentials; however, their professional careers don’t appear to have been particularly successful, outside of the DeVos family umbrella.  There has also been some reluctance on the part of health insurers to cover Neurocore’s treatments.

Dr. Matthew Siegel, a child psychiatrist at Maine Behavioral Healthcare and associate professor at Tufts School of Medicine, who also co-wrote autism practice standards for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, has stated: “If there were something out there that was uniquely powerful and wonderful, we’d all be using it.”

NOTE:  Unfortunately, this treatment reminds me of the various for-profit schools, which offer hope, which might nor be possible!

NOTE #2:  Welcome to my readers from Germany!

 

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DONALD TRUMP PROMISES TAX CUTS THAT PAY FOR THEMSELVES! AND, WALL STREET JUST YAWNS.

NOTE Just a few days after Donald’s Inauguration, I described the basics of what might have been  Trump’s expected Tax Plan in a blog post.  Three months later, it’s still quite vague!

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Although Trump prefers to label it as Tax Reform, yesterday’s big presentation was nothing but a vague suggestion of a Tax Give-Away, mostly to corporations and the top two percent of taxpayers.  The stock market displayed its ecstasy by closing down a bit lower, and perhaps wondering if they had seen this movie before.  Whatever might come of his Tax Plan, the corporate interests, who truly would benefit from a 57% tax-cut (from 35% to 15%) know that it still must get through Congress, and that is saying something!

Donald Trump will reach Day 100 on Saturday, after which pundits will begIn to slice-and-dice his accomplishments, most of which are quite minimal.  That’s why he has been rushing to make big announcements, even if they are still in the early stages, and not thought-out.  For instance: his visit to the Treasury Department, a couple of days ago, was nothing but a charade, signing an “Executive Order”, which directed Secretary Steve Mnuchin to do what he is already doing.  And then today, Health Care is back in the news, as was an unnecessary  briefing on North Korea, for the Senate, at the White House!

Over the past 22 months, Trump has vowed to reform the IRS Tax Code, and he complains that the Corporate Rate is too high.  Donald, few companies actually pay the top rate of 35%.  In fact, approximately ten percent pay no tax at all!  For comparison, the Average “Effective Tax Rate” (after credits and deductions), that U. S. corporations pay is 27.7%, while the average for OECD (industrialized corporations) is 27.1%. So, the actual difference isn’t really much to complain about!

The really big question is how does the Trump Regime expects to pay for these give-aways—tax cuts to corporations; a one-time Tax Holiday for companies to repatriate earnings held overseas; tax cuts for the very wealthy taxpayers; and the elimination of the Estate Tax, which only about 6,000 families pay.  And by the way, none of these tax cuts would boost the economy or have much of an effect on job creation!

There is one other give-away, which is not boasted about, perhaps because it tells of a personal special interest group; but, it would certainly appeal to Donald Trump’s billionaire buddies.  Many very wealthy people file their taxes as Individuals, which would mean the 35% maximum personal rate.  They are, for instance; doctors; lawyers; hedge funds; real estate developers; etc.  Donald’s Plan proposes the establishment of some sort of tax vehicle, which would enable such taxpayers to file as corporations—at the 15%.rate!

Parsing the Plan, as presented, I can assume a best-efforts guesstimate, that this Trump Tax Reform Plan might reduce the Treasury Department’s Tax Revenue by, let’ say, $4 Trillion over the next decade, or $400 Billion annually.  So, how does the Treasury recoup that huge loss?   MAGIC!

Donald Trump and Secretary Mnuchin claim that, by lowering taxes on the wealthy, the economy would grow and that would, in turn, increase tax receipts.  Since Ronald Reagan first proposed the “Trickle-Down” Theory, ing 1980, it has never been successfully demonstrated in the real world.  The divergence, both in Income and Wealth, however, ,has increased substantially, in America ever since.  Why would anyone expect the result be different this rime?

How many times are we going to hear Donald Trump boast about “Gonna-Do’s”, that aren’t on any sort of rational horizon: Health Care; Tax Reform; Infrastructure; Immigration Reform’ Trade Reform; The Wall, etc?  At the same time, he acts like Congress and the American People are supposed to kiss his Royal Derriere.  No, Donald, you’re no longer a Candidate, you must play by the Constitutional Rules, and we get to keep score!

NOTE #2:  Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman described the Trump Tax Plan, in his NY Times column, with the following analogy to a “Twilight Zone” episode, about a six year-old child, with exceptional powers.

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THE METAPHORICAL WORKING MOM!

Ivanka Trump presents herself as a Champion of Working Moms.  Accordingly, she assumes to speak for those who must work–to support their child(ren), as well as for those who don’t (need to)!  I cannot honestly speak for women who are, or were, working moms; however; whenever I hear her speak, I hear mostly the typical GOP income-divide.

In fact , whenever I hear any of the Trump Clan speak, I hear a very practiced form of Bait and Switch.  Perhaps the Trumps are really descendants of visitors from the planet Metaphor.

When Ms. Trump touts Health Savings Accounts, tor sodden to finance Maternal Leave; let’s be clare, this is no benefit–the woman pays for it.  Why isn’t there a provision  for Paternal Leave., as well?  Of course, most women would need employer approval and, in many cases, the lower-paying jobs would not be held for them.  The proven benefits of parental leave, both to children and parents, abound!  Oh, for some mysterious reason, the Trump Program will only apply to married women!

And Daddy Donald, of course, touts how hard his daughter works; but, giving of herself, is merely drumming-up support for one more program, intended to display both his and her  humanity.  When Donald and Ivanka Trump role out such programs, which are intended to appeal to the working class,  the should remember to remove the strings and GOP tickers:  they’re dead give-aways!

The linked column, by Jill Abramsom, “Ivanka Trump thinks she is in Beauty and the Beast: more like Macbeth”, from The Guardian (UK), most scathingly deflates “Princess I’s” PR balloon, back down to earth.

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AMERICA IS BEGINNING TO WONDER IF DONALD TRUMP CAN GOVERN—AT ALL!

Following the Presidential Election, there has been an on-again, off-again rally in the stock market, which might have been partially attributed to Donald Trump’s victory, last November.  Generally, the stock market performs best in the first and fourth calendar quarters, most years; however, some investors might have placed too much faith in Trump’s vague promises, raising the seasonal spurt even higher.   Also, some CEO’s seem to have swooned over his proposals:  the corporate tax-rate being halved; escalating depreciation on plant and equipment; eliminating most all regulations; and the “Border-Adjustment Tax”.

As of Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 9.3% since Trump won, and the    S & P 500 was up by 8.3%.  There was little in the way of economic activity to have justified such a surge; however, some investors may have just followed the herd instinct.  They wanted to believe!  But like any other asset, when the price rises for no apparent reason, there might come a time where it cannot sustain that psychological momentum.  Did the markets seem to sense that yesterday?

Ever since he announced his candidacy, in June of 2015, Donald Trump has been harping on two primary goals—the worthless Wall, and his vow to “…replace ‘Obamacare’: with something much better, and at less cost.  Just trust me!”  HA! Donald raised the stakes too high, before his American Health Care Act had to be pulled yesterday—for the second time—due to insufficient support from his own Republican Party!

Always the person to find a scapegoat to blame–rather than blame House Speaker Paul Ryan, or the entire GOP–Donald blamed the Opposition Party.  For a self-proclaimed “Negotiator”, how ludicrous was it to have over-sold the “certain” success of his AHCA, as he had often boasted, and then blame the Democrats…but, for what?  He was trying to tear-down a perfectly good (first-step) of a comprehensive plan that could provide Affordable Health Care for all!

Many Americans, including investors, are beginning to wonder if Trump can actually govern! He boasted, before the election, about how many things he would do, beginning “Day One!”  But so far, he has accomplished very little.  On the negative side, however, the list of his idiotic moves is a mile long!

Consider the following problems that he has been entangled in:  the failed raid in Yemen, which resulted in the death of one Navy DEAL and 24 Yemeni civilians; attacking the American Judiciary for rebuking his two Anti-Muslim Bans; his apparent desire to control the Media; threatening a pre-emptive attack on a nuclear-armed North Korea—in China’s back yard; Trump’s potential collusion with Russia, and so on!

A number of Americans who voted for Trump have been on TV stating that they are having Voter’s Remorse.  It’s times like this when I wish that we had a Parliamentary System.  That way, just one “No Confidence!” vote would place M. P. Donald Trump, in a back-bench seat, where he belongs.  Oh, if only…!

When Trump stated yesterday that the GOP’s AHCA Plan had to be pulled, distancing himself from bad news as always, he proclaimed that the next item of business would be Tax Reform.  But there are two problems with that strategy, which he is overlooking:  a number of deep-pocketed conservative organizations, including the Koch Brothers, have come out again Trump’s Tax Plan; and the money that he was supposed to take from ACA customers was necessary to fund his large tax cuts for the Wealthiest two-percent!

Meanwhile, many institutional and individual investors are, no doubt, using this weekend to review Trump’s record—both positive and negative—and to decide what their next financial moves might be.  Additionally, many overseas investors are also considering whether the recent Trump Rally is real, or just a market bubble!  I sure wouldn’t be surprised it there is a pause, at least, in the rally–or perhaps a reversal.

 

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WHEN DID HEALTH CARE BECOME A POLITICAL ISSUE, RATHER THAN A MORAL ONE?

President Barack Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, was designed to provide health insurance for poor Americans who could not afford it.  Many people already have health insurance through employer-sponsored programs, or through Medicare, for Senior Citizens.  Small businesses, however, often do not offer insurance, and minimum-wage workers cannot afford it anyway.  Uninsured Americans were just left to fend for themselves and, of course, private insurance has always been quite expensive.

The Affordable Care Act provide subsidies for poor Americans, including seniors who could not even afford Medicare, and to extend the Medicaid program to more low-income citizens.   Many GOP-controlled states, such as Florida and Texas, have not accepted the Extended Medicaid, even though the Federal Government picks-up most of the cost for the first ten years.

Prior to ACA, cheap health insurance policies, designed for young adults, excluded “pre-existing conditions”, and even maternity was often excluded for young women. For older Americans, the premiums were exorbitant, and out of reach for many.  Policy holders took comfort in being “insured”; however, they didn’t realize how little the policies actually covered—that is, until they became sick or injured!

The total number of previously uninsured Americans, who were able to buy subsidized health insurance, through ACA, approaches 30 million, when the 11 million covered by the Medicaid Extension is included.  Many state Legislatures, that have Republican majorities, have not even allowed their Insurance Commissioners to negotiate for lower premiums, with the insurers.  Basically, those states were working against ACA—and against their own residents.

ACA was assumed to be the first step in providing Affordable Health Care for all Americans.  Like Medicare, some 50 years before, this comprehensive program was expected to need to be amended and modified over time.  But the Republicans, at the Federal and State levels, just fought against the program every step of the way.

TChe Affordable Care Act also required the Health Insurance Industry to meet certain goals:  pre-existing conditions would be covered; contraceptives and maternity must be included for women; equal premiums for males and females; premiums for the elderly could not be more than three times those paid by the younger insured; and no more than 20% of customer premiums would go toward expenses.  Many of these requirements have been dropped, or watered down, under the GOP’s AHCA.

When people do not have health insurance, they only seek medical assistance when they are gravely sick or injured, generally at hospital Emergency Rooms.  By then, the medical condition is usually more aggravated, and the medical personnel are working without any knowledge of the patient’s medical history.   The cost of health care, in this advanced stage, is normally much more expensive, and society and the hospitals bear the expense.

The most humane, as well as the most cost-effective, way to address the need for Affordable Health Care, is to make it available on a regular preventive basis.  Should we ignore the grievously sick, and allow them to die on the streets?  Do we continue to just ignore the overall costs—assuming that they will just go away?   Realistically, we should take pre-emptive action!

Among all of the world’s industrialized nations, American spends the most on health care; but, it gets the lowest return on its investment, by most every metric.  Is this how we wish to continue on?  Should we address the need for providing Health Care for all, in a caring and effective manner?   Or do we, as a Nation, just continue to sink. further and further into the bowels of Humanity.

NOTE:  I was wondering who Donald Trump would try to make the scapegoat when his first foray into major legislation had to be canceled twice, for insufficient support.  Would it be House Speaker Paul Ryan or the entire GOP?  No, he blamed the Democratic Party since they were perfectly happy with the ACA, which they passed seven years ago!   Next stop: Trump’s Tax Scam!

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