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ROBERT B. REICH is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock”, “The Work of Nations,” and"Beyond Outrage,“ and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism.” He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, INEQUALITY FOR ALL.
Updated: 1 hour 37 min ago
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4 REASONS WHY TRUMP’S PLAN TO STRIP THE IRS IS INCREDIBLY DUMB
Donald Trump is proposing a 14.1 percent cut in the I.R.S.’s budget next year. This is incredibly dumb, for four reasons:
1. It won’t save money. To the contrary, this move worsens the budget deficit. That’s because every dollar spent by the IRS to collect taxes generates $4 in unpaid taxes.
2. It worsens the federal budget deficit. The current estimate of unpaid taxes per year is almost as large as the federal government’s annual budget deficit.
3. It widens inequality. Since most IRS audits are of high-income people, the real beneficiaries of Trump’s move are the wealthy, more of whom will now be able to skirt their duty to pay taxes.
4. The IRS is already understaffed. The number of individual tax return audits fell last year to its lowest level since 2004, and enforcement levels were already down by nearly 30 percent from 2010.
Donald Trump hates the IRS and has spent years battling it. There’s reason to think he doesn’t even want to pay his own taxes. But this is no reason to explode the Federal Budget Deficit and give another windfall to the rich.
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THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMPONOMICS
When Donald Trump spoke at Boeing’s factory in North Charleston, South Carolina – unveiling Boeing’s new 787 “Dreamliner” – he congratulated Boeing for building the plane “right here in the great state of South Carolina.“
But that is pure fantasy.
Trump also used the occasion to tout his “America First” economics, stating “our goal as a nation must be to rely less on imports and more on products made here in the U.S.A.”
Trump seems utterly ignorant about global competition – and about what’s really holding back American workers.
Start with Boeing’s Dreamliner itself. It’s not “made in the U.S.A.” It is assembled in the USA. Most of the parts and almost a third of the cost of the entire plane come from overseas.
The center fuselage and horizontal stabilizers came from Italy.
The aircraft’s landing gears, doors, electrical power conversion system - from France.
The main cabin lighting came from Germany.
The cargo access doors from Sweden.
The lavatories, flight deck interiors, and galleys from Japan.
Many of the engines from the U.K.
The moveable trailing edge of the wings from Canada.
Notably, the foreign companies that made these parts don’t pay their workers low wages. In fact, when you add in the value of health and pension benefits, most of these foreign workers get a better deal than do Boeing’s workers.
These nations also provide most young people with excellent educations and technical training, as well as universally-available health care.
To pay for all this, these countries also impose higher tax rates on their corporations and wealthy individuals than does the United States. And their health, safety, environmental, and labor regulations are stricter.
Not incidentally, they have stronger unions.
So why is so much of Boeing’s Dreamliner coming from these high-wage, high-tax, high-cost places?
Because the parts made by workers in these countries are better, last longer, and are more reliable than parts made anywhere else.
There’s a critical lesson here.
The way to make the American workforce more competitive isn’t to build an economic wall around America.
It’s to invest more in the education and skills of Americans, in on-the-job training, in a healthcare system that reaches more of us. And to give workers a say in their companies through strong unions.
In other words, we get a first-class workforce by investing in the productive capacities of Americans – and rewarding them with high wages.
Economic nationalism is no substitute for building the competitiveness of American workers.
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4 (And maybe 5) Grounds to Impeach Trump
By my count, there are now four grounds to impeach Donald Trump. The fifth appears to be on its way.
First, in taking the oath of office, a president promises to “faithfully execute the laws & the constitution.” That’s Article II Section 2.
But Trump is unfaithfully executing his duties as president by accusing his predecessor, president Obama, of undertaking an illegal and impeachable act, with absolutely no evidence to support the accusation.
Second, Article I Section 9 of the Constitution forbids government officials from taking things of value from foreign governments. But Trump is making big money off his Trump International Hotel by steering foreign diplomatic delegations to it, and will make a bundle off China’s recent decision to grant his trademark applications for the Trump brand – decisions Chinese authorities arrived at directly because of decisions Trump has made as president.
Third: The 1st Amendment to the Constitution bars any law “respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” But Trump’s ban on travel into the United States from 6 muslim countries – which he initiated, advocated for, and oversees – violates that provision.
Fourth: The 1st Amendment also bars “abridging the freedom of the press.” But Trump’s labeling the press “the enemy of the people,” and choosing who he invites to news conferences based on whether they’ve given him favorable coverage, violates this provision.
A fifth possible ground if the evidence is there: Article II Section 3 of the Constitution defines “treason against the United States” as “adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”
Evidence is mounting that Trump and his aides colluded with Russian operatives to win the 2016 presidential election.
Presidents can be impeached for what the Constitution calls “high crimes and misdemeanors.” The question is no longer whether there are grounds to impeach Trump. The practical question is whether there’s the political will.
As long as Republicans remain in the majority in the House, where a bill of impeachment originates, it’s unlikely. Another reason why it’s critically important to flip the House in 2018.
TRUMP’S INCREDIBLY DUMB BET ON COAL
When Donald Trump was running for president, he talked a lot about putting people back to work. And one of the industries he focused on most was the coal industry. He even put on a hard hat and waved around a pick axe to show how much he loved coal.
But there simply aren’t very many coal jobs to be had any more in the U.S. That’s not because of anything Obama did. Coal jobs are decreasing because demand for coal is decreasing, and because machines now do much of the work.
In 1985 the coal industry employed a over 178,000 miners. By 2016, it employed just 56,000.
By contrast, in 2016, wind and solar energy provided more than 6 times the number of jobs as coal. The trend is toward even more jobs in wind and solar, regardless of what Trump does.
Solar energy is exploding worldwide, an almost sixfold increase in just the last 5 years. But America ranks fifth in the production of solar energy, behind China, Germany, Japan and Italy.
If we really want to lead - if we really want to join the New Energy Economy - we have to go with the energy of the future, not the energy of the past. The other option — the one Donald Trump is proposing – leaves us following, not leading.
It’s our choice.
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GORSUCH SHOULDN’T BE CONFIRMED UNTIL WE KNOW THE PERSON WHO PICKED HIM IS CLEARED OF WRONGDOING
Neil Gorsuch shouldn’t be confirmed until Trump comes clean.
Nominating a new justice of the Supreme Court is one of the most important responsibilities of a president. But until we know Trump is a legitimate president, he can’t be presumed to have the authority to make such a pick.
First, we need to be sure Trump didn’t collaborate with Russia to rig the election. The FBI says it has enough “credible evidence” that Trump aides colluded with Russian operatives to affect the outcome of the election, to move forward with a full-scale investigation.
At the least, Gorsuch shouldn’t be considered until that investigation is concluded.
We also need to be sure Trump isn’t motivated by financial conflicts of interest around the world. We need to see his tax records to know he doesn’t owe a bundle to Russian oligarchs or big global banks that would affect his judgement.
And we need to know he’s not violating the Constitution by raking in money from foreign governments. For example, Trump still owns a 77 stake of his luxury hotel in Washington and his children are splitting the rest, even as foreign governments assign their dignitaries rooms at the hotel.
China just granted Trump trademark rights to the Trump brand, potentially worth billions of dollars to Trump and his family. Although it’s normally difficult to obtain brand-name rights in China so quickly, the Chinese authorities apparently saw this as a payback in return for Trump’s backing away from recognizing Taiwan.
Last year Senate Republicans wouldn’t move forward with Obama’s pick of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court on the bizarre theory that a president in his last year of office has no legitimacy nominating a Supreme Court justice.
But a true cloud of illegitimacy now hangs over the presidency of Donald Trump. Unless and until that cloud disappears, the Senate shouldn’t move forward with anyone Trump picks for the Supreme Court.
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