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Archive for June, 2017

The Senate’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is not a healthcare bill. It’s a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, paid for by a dramatic reduction in healthcare funding for approximately 23 million poor, disabled, working and middle-class Americans.

America’s wealthiest taxpayers (earning more than $200,000 a year, $250,000 for couples) would get a tax cut totaling $346bn over 10 years, representing what they save from no longer financing healthcare for lower-income Americans.

That’s not all. The bill would save an additional $400bn on Medicaid, which Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Donald Trump are intent on shrinking in order to cut even more taxes for the wealthy and for big corporations.

If enacted, it would be the largest single transfer of wealth to the rich from the middle class and poor in American history.

This disgrace is being proposed at a time when the country’s rich receive the highest percentage of America’s income since the era of the robber barons of the late nineteenth century. They have received virtually all income growth since 1981 because of their massive financial and political power.

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According to the Economic Policy Institute, “As Medicaid is slashed, households’ premium costs (will) skyrocket, and protections for people with preexisting conditions are eliminated, 23 million Americans will lose their health insurance by 2026. The majority would lose it to breathtakingly large cuts to the vital Medicaid program (almost $900 billion over the next decade). Further, millions more would lose the coverage they get through their employer if AHCA passes.”

In other words, the AHCA is a massive income redistribution program from the 99 to the 1 percent.

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The appliance maker Whirlpool has asked the U.S. government to impose trade barriers on washing machines imported from South Korean companies, escalating a trade dispute that has been ongoing for years.

Anybody with half a brain could see this coming before President Obama and his henchmen and henchwomen, like Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden, signed the South Korea Free Trade Treaty. Yet, Obama and his sleazy corporate Demorats, like Wyden, pushed for this scam anyway, mainly because it redistributes income from US workers to billionaire US investors, hedge funds and other finance types that finance the Demorat Party.

With headquarters in Benton Harbor Michigan, Whirlpool Corporation is the world’s largest home appliance maker. In the U.S., Whirlpool has eight manufacturing facilities: Amana, Iowa; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Cleveland, Tennessee; Clyde, Ohio; Findlay, Ohio; Greenville, Ohio; Marion, Ohio; and Ottawa, Ohio. Whirlpool has five factories in Mexico. Whirlpool has over 28,000 employees in the United States and Mexico. Those jobs are at risk.

USA Today reports that “In filing a petition to the U.S. International Trade Commission Wednesday, the Benton Harbor, Michigan-based manufacturer is seeking remedy from U.S. regulators on its claim that Samsung and LG are selling their washing machines in the U.S. at prices that are below the prices charged by American companies or below their cost of production.”

The U.S. government has twice found that Samsung and LG were selling in the U.S. at unfairly low prices. But Samsung and LG responded by “relocating their production facilities to other foreign countries in order to circumvent the U.S. government’s rulings,” Whirlpool says.

Whirlpool is a supporter of free and fair trade. According to company’s website, “We believe competition is healthy and breeds innovation. That’s why we support free and fair trade and promote an open global trading system that benefits our consumers, employees and the entire home appliance industry. Enforcing open, rules-based trade policies ensures the highest level of investment, innovation and choice for consumers around the world. Supporting free and fair trade increases industry access and incentivizes innovation globally, helping us to protect jobs and ensure continued innovation and investment in the appliance industry.”

Obama and Wyden supported the South Korea Trade Scam, and US citizen’s and now paying the price. Click on the following link for more on the story, whirlpool-files-complaint-samsung-lg-dump-washers-us–USA Today

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Dozens of scientists on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Board of Scientific Counselors and board subcommittees have been informed that they will not be renewed for their roles advising the agency, the Washington Post reported.

The move, which would dismiss 38 of the 49 remaining subcommittee members, “effectively wipes out [the board] and leaves it free for a complete reappointment,” board executive committee chair Deborah Swackhamer told the Post. Representatives of corporate polluters and climate change deniers will likely be appointed to take their place.

Global warming denier Scott Pruitt heads the EPA. He is a staunch supporter of corporations right to pollute. He has always chosen corporate profits over the lives and health of US citizens. He’s also a keen supporter of exterminating the unborn in the womb via pollution, but only if corporate profits can be had in the process. This means the unborn are no better than number two on his list of important corporate objectives like ever increasing profits.

Advisory board members aren’t the only ones facing the end of their time at EPA: the agency also announced Tuesday plans to buy out more than 1,200 employees this summer.

This signals a troubling attitude toward the EPA’s scientific work, according to Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“By sacking dozens of scientific counselors, Pruitt (and by extension President Trump who appointed Pruitt to the post) is showing that he doesn’t value scientific input and the benefits it offers the public,” Kimmell said.

“The administrator has an important job to do, and this includes listening to the best independent science and to make decisions that protect our health, our safety and our environment. Instead, he’s delaying important public protections, denying the facts of climate change, and now, dismissing expert researchers who could help EPA do its best work. It’s appalling to see an administrator so directly attack the effectiveness of his own agency.”

Pruitt’s real job as EPA Administrator is to ensure corporate polluters can pollute even more regardless of the effects of this pollution on the citizens of the United States.

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The activist corporate conservative justices have reinterpreted the US Constitution over the decades giving corporations all the legal rights and none of the responsibilities of real people, and then giving corporations free speech rights, which has then been used to roll back 100 years of campaign finance spending laws.

These conservative justices are not and never have been original intent jurists, as they claim. If anybody tells you the US Constitution is not a legal contract that is open to reinterpretation in a manner inconsistent with the desires of the founding fathers, they are wrong, and all you need to do is point to the modern conservative justices who represent only one economic class in the United States, and it isn’t the 99 percent (currently Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito and Anthony Kennedy).

Since Neil Gorsuch made his way to a supreme court seat earlier this year, I’ve been waiting for all to see that the Republicans who control the US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and the United States presidency will not under any circumstances come up with legislation banning abortions. That would give their base a lot of hope such legislation could withstand a challenge in front of the conservatively loaded US Supreme Court.

In addition, the US Republican-dominated US Senate will never vote to end the filibuster on legislation so that the conservatives in the Senate can disappoint their grassroots base again. That won’t happen because doing so would raise the hopes of the Republican faithful that their dreams of saving tens of thousands of the unborn every year would be fulfilled, and this great wedge issue would be legally resolved. Perhaps then many of the faithful would begin to clamor for a more equitable distribution of income, wealth, and political power, and the leadership cannot have that.

Ergo, conservatism, as it is largely practiced in the Republican Party, is only about letting corporations and the rich legally run wild over everybody else while redistributing income and wealth from the 99 to the 1 percent. But the Republican Party is not the only representative body in the US government who performs this function on behalf of the wealthy.

So too are corporate Democrats, such as Hillary and Bill Clinton, Wall Street Senators Ron Wyden and Joe Biden and many others.

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In a little reported news story, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a significant victory June 14 in its fight to protect the Tribe’s drinking water and ancestral lands from the Dakota Access pipeline.

A federal judge ruled that the federal permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock reservation, which were hastily issued by the Trump administration just days after the inauguration, violated the law in certain critical respects.

In a 91-page decision, Judge James Boasberg wrote, “the Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.” The Court did not determine whether pipeline operations should be shut off and has requested additional briefing on the subject and a status conference next week.

“This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II in a recent statement. “The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests. We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately.”

The Tribe’s inspiring and courageous fight has attracted international attention and drawn the support of hundreds of tribes from around the nation. However, this is a win for all Americans against the insatiable greed of the big corporations and Wall Street investment firms.

The $3.8 billion pipeline project, also known as Bakken Oil Pipeline, extends 1,168 miles across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, crossing through communities, farms, tribal land, sensitive natural areas and wildlife habitat. The pipeline would carry up to 570,000 barrels a day of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois where it links with another pipeline that will transport the oil to terminals and refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.

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Income inequality is getting worse in the United States, and some new data from Pew Research shows this to be true.

An analysis that weighs the U.S. against 11 countries in Western Europe shows that America holds the tiniest middle class, with just 59% of the United States’ population falling between rich and poor on the income scale. By contrast, 72% of the German population falls into that middle-income bracket — defined by Pew to be between two-thirds the country’s median income and double the median — as does 80% of the Danish population.

“Countries with higher income inequality tend to have smaller middle classes,” said Rakesh Kochhar, the associate director of research at Pew Research Center. The US rates 93rd worst when it comes to income inequality. That’s because the vast majority of new income in the United States is being redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent, and because the rich control virtually all levers of government that determines income and wealth redistribution.

Tens of millions of US jobs have been exported thanks to Free Trade Treaties since 1990, for example. The difference between the old higher US wages and benefits and the new lower third world wages with no-benefits go straight from the pockets of the middle class to the super wealthy via higher corporate profits, soaring share prices, and surging dividends.

There’s one interesting wrinkle to the Pew data: While the U.S. middle-income segment is smaller than in European countries, it takes a higher income overall to make it into that group. The median income for a middle-class household in Italy is $35,608. It’s $44,000 in France and $46,000 in Denmark.

But in the United States, it’s $60,084. That, however, simply measures how badly income inequality has become in the US since income inequality in the US badly skews the data. Pew defines the middle class to be between two-thirds the country’s median income and double the median. The median is the midpoint. So if the highest earner in a nation earns $1.2 billion a year and the lowest worker earns $50,000, the midpoint is $599,950,000.

The median is the midpoint. So if the highest earner in a nation earns $1.2 billion a year and the lowest worker earns $50,000, the midpoint between the two is $599,950,000. Whereas, if the highest earner garners $1 million while the lowest worker earns $100,000, then the median income is $450,000. The higher income inequality, the more money it takes to get into the middle class. The less income inequality is, the less cash it takes to be in the middle class.

 

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Supporters of the H1-B Visa program continuously tell us of the need for it because of a severe shortage of high-tech employees in the United States. This, of course, is not and has never been true. The program has been used by US corporations to lower the wages and benefits they pay to their employees by switching out US workers for foreign labor. That’s it in a nutshell.

Lowes Home Improvement provides us with the latest example of how the visa scam works. On June 7, 2017, the Charlotte Observer reported that Lowes was laying off 125 of its US high-tech workers, and is sending those jobs to Bangalore India. That means we have another 125 skilled and experienced US high-tech workers to fill jobs anyplace in the states. See Lowes Lays of High-Tech Workers–Charlotte Observer

Actually, the US has hundreds of thousands of highly skilled US high-tech workers who cannot find jobs because corporations have outsourced hundreds of thousands of high-tech jobs using H1-B visa workers, or simply brought in hundreds of thousands of H1-B workers. That’s because US companies can bring in 85,000 foreign workers every year under the subterfuge of the H1-B visa.

“Bangalore has been described as the “Silicon Valley of India.” Other major corporations have a growing presence in the IT hub, including Oracle, Dell, IBM and GE, according to a recent Wired story. Another is Wipro, an outsourcing firm used by Observer parent McClatchy,” according to the Observer.

US high-tech workers have experienced numerous layoffs over the last several years because their jobs were exported, or taken by H1-B Visa workers. Some of the employers exporting high-tech jobs include Disney, Intel, Nike, Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Dell, IBM, General Electric, the University of California at San Francisco, Eversource Energy, Abbott Laboratories, PG and E, and many more. That’s thousands of US high-tech workers who have been replaced. Where is this shortage of US high-tech workers? It isn’t in the USA.

The typical American high-tech worker earns considerably more than foreign H1-B workers. According to the New York Times, US businesses only need to pay the minimum of $60,000 a year to its H1-B workers, and they often don’t get any sort of benefits package.

The H1-B visa scam works like this. A US company will hire H1-B Visa folks through a third party. Then American high-tech workers will train their H1-B replacements. Then the H1-B visa worker will either stay in the US or work in say, India, meaning the job has been exported via the H1-B program. The H1-B Visa is only good for three years, so if US jobs are exported using H1-B workers, after three years, the job is no longer governed by H1-B Visa rules. Then the foreign employee can work for quite a bit less than the $60,000 minimum in India or wherever.

The difference in pay and other compensation between the higher compensated US workers and the lower paid foreign and H1-B visa workers is redistributed to the super rich via higher corporate earnings, rising share prices, and surging dividends. The H1-B visa is an income transfer scam, plain and simple. It is time to eliminate this disaster for US high-tech workers.

The Trump Administration claims it is preparing to propose changes to the system that will benefit US workers over Wall Street investors, but we will see.

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