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Posts Tagged ‘Gross Domestic Product’

According to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the current economic expansion is the worst of all since and including the recovery of 1949. Robert Scott, the author of the report, blames government reduction of expenditures during this recovery for the weakness of it. You can see from the graph below that this recovery in Gross Domestic Product (GNP) is the lowest of the last 11 recoveries. No doubt government spending plays a role in how fast GNP grows, along with other variables, such as wage and job growth. This recovery is the worst on record for government expenditures. But there is another likely culprit that plays a role in making this the weakest of economic expansions.

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You will notice above that all of the economic recoveries since 1949 and through 1990 grew at rates of 4 percent and higher. The recovery under President Ronald Reagan was the last to top 4 percent GNP growth. Under President Bill Clinton GNP growth averaged 3.4 percent, under President George W. Bush it was 2.8 percent, and under President Obama GNP growth is 2.1 percent. Notice growth was less under Bush than under Clinton despite higher government spending. So what else could be going on? Look at the graph below.

Income inequality has grown since and during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, and almost every year since has seen increasing income and wealth inequality. As inequality has grown, the demand for goods and services has been reduced by income stagnation or reduction.

income inequality

Since and including the 1980s, credit has been expanded in the form of credit cards, home equity credit lines, and home equity growth. In other words, much of the current expansion, weak as it is, is spurred on by credit for the 99 percent, with profits and other enrichment going to the 1 percent, who stole 99 percent of all income growth from 2009 to 2014, along with most of the income produced in the USA during 2016. The 1 percent has gone from stealing about 8 percent of all the income produced in the United States to roughly 37 percent, leaving us with less money to demand goods and services, along with historically slow job growth, wage stagnation, and lost opportunities.

Now the rich want more, and a weaker economy, weaker job growth, reduced real incomes, are the price we’ll have to pay for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), should it pass through congress. Wall Street President Obama has already signed it. Wall Street Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton has voiced her support for and against it. No doubt Clintonis is really for it, since her vice presidential choice Tim Kaine is for it, as is her newly appointed head of her transition team Ken Salazar. See What the Corporate Propaganda Network Doesn’t Want You to Know: One of the Many Ways the Trans Pacific Partnership Will Destroy US Jobs and Redistribute Massive Income and Wealth From the 99 to the 1 Percent–JohnHively.Wordpress.com

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15 dollars

People earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 aren’t going out to eat at restaurants because they can’t afford to do so. That’s pretty much true for those who make higher state minimum wages of nine and ten dollars an hours. These people are not taking yoga, piano, or karate lessons. They don’t belong to gyms, and they don’t take part in yoga classes. They purchase few if any new books, and buy clothes at second hand stores, like the local Goodwill. They don’t buy flowers for their mother’s on mother’s day. They’re not purchasing new computers, cameras, tables, chairs, carpets, washing machines, dryers, I-phones, cars, organic food, or houses. They’re not buying a lot of other things.

What good are these people to the economy, other than to provide rich people with cheap labor? Like the idle rich, minimum wage workers barely stimulate demand for goods and services.

What do low wages have to do to with rich people? Low wages boost profits. As a consequence of that, corporate dividends and share prices go up. People who earn less than $100,000 a year own hardly any shares of corporations. The primary beneficiaries of people working at minimum wages go primarily to the rich.

If you raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, the people who benefit from this raise will be buying a lot of the things listed above and more, even a house in Detroit, Michigan, and elsewhere, as well.

And all of a sudden, not just large businesses, but small businesses thrive because demand for goods and services is stronger.

Studies over the last fifteen years show that the idea that high wages weakens employment is a myth.

There are two fundamental laws of capitalism. One is something about supply and demand, which is often rigged in favor of those who believe and act upon the golden rule; he who has the gold makes the rules. The other rule, which Henry Ford (the founder of the Ford Motor Company) believed was simple: When people have more money, businesses have more customers, and need more workers.

This explains why the current economic expansion is the worst since the Great Depression in virtually every category having to do with jobs, wages, GNP, and the things that are important to 99 percent of the US population.

Currently, 1 percent of the population has rigged the economic and political games over the last thirty-five years to the point where they have received a legislatively determined 95 percent of all income growth since 2009, the most ever on record. Worse yet, the rich steal 37 percent of all income produced in the United States nowadays, and that figure is growing, and with no end in sight. Rich parasites will soon be larger in terms of total income than their hosts, the 99 percent.

Ever wonder why the economy under President Jimmy Carter produced more jobs, raised wages, and had greater GNP growth on average than any year of the last fifteen with an economy that was ½ the size of today, and with a population that was 60 percent the size of today? The answer is simple.

Back then, the rich only stole 8 percent of the annual income produced in the United States. That means the rest of us earned 92 percent of all the income created in the USA, which meant demand for goods and services was far more plentiful then than today, job growth was greater, and wages for the 99 percent also rose. Under Carter, the economy created 225,000 jobs a month. Over the last fifteen years, 90,000 has been hailed as an outstanding achievement by President George W. Bush, as well as President Obama.

Something clearly is out of whack with the economy, and yes, most of it has to do with the massive corruption of the US government that was unleashed by the Reagan tax cuts. But if income can be massively redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent, as it has been for the last thirty-five years, then the government can act to redistribute it back to where it belongs, and all for the good of the economy. This can partially be achieved by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2017.

And don’t tell me corporate America doesn’t have the money. Currently, they’re sitting on 7-8 trillion dollars inside the US, while holding another 7-8 trillion outside the US, because the demand for goods and services is so low they have no reason to invest it in new plant and equipment so as to increase production, which would require workers.

You can go back 150 years and literally find the same people shouting over and over again on behalf of their rich patrons saying the same thing, “If people on the bottom get paid more, it will be bad for them, and they will lose their jobs.” That’s just a polite way of saying, “My patrons and I are rich, you’re poor, and my boss and I want to keep it that way. And besides, it’s good for Wall Street.”

The fact that corporations are sitting on trillions upon trillions of dollars because demand is slack shows the opposite is true. Every one of those trillions of dollars could be used to create jobs if only the demand was there. The years between President Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan also show the same thing.

If you pay people more, they will purchase more, and everybody will be better off, not just a few politically powerful people. Those trillions of dollars will be used to invest in the production of goods and services. Those trillions also show that US corporations are quite capable of paying their employees more, and not just the already rich CEOs.

That’s why it’s long past time to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Besides, if the minimum wage had kept up with productivity (or real inflation) over the last 56 years, the US federal minimum wage would be nearly twenty dollars an hour.

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By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

26 December 14

If Ronald Reagan were alive today, he would be one of Barack Obama’s biggest fans. In the six years he’s been president, Obama has managed to turn our country’s economy, at its worst point since the Great Depression, into one booming along with the greatest quarterly GDP growth in 11 years. The Dow Jones closed above 18,000 this week – the highest ever. And yet, despite an apparently surging economy, 95 percent of income gains since 2009 have gone to the richest 1 percent. Not even Ronald Reagan’s economic policies created inequality on that scale.

Since his first inauguration, President Obama has masterfully steered the benefits of the recovery to only the wealthy, while the net worth of average working Americans has dropped by 40 percent since before the recession. Today’s middle class is actually poorer than it was in 1989, when Reagan left the White House. Even though the most recent unemployment rate is 5.8 percent, most of the new jobs that have been created since the recession have been in low-paying sectors, like retail and fast food. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, which most workers in those industries earn, has less buying power than the minimum wage in 1968.

According to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, if the minimum wage had kept up with worker productivity since then, it would be $16.54 an hour today. This means Americans are working harder than ever, but aren’t getting a penny ahead. When you use that data to paint a picture with the most recent quarterly GDP growth surge and the new record-high closing on the Dow Jones, the image is actually quite ugly. The insane growth our economy is experiencing, combined with the fact that 99 percent of Americans aren’t seeing 95 percent of the income gains from that rapid economic surge, means that our hard work is simply feathering the nest of the ownership class. Income inequality hasn’t been this severe since right before the crash that caused the Great Depression.

President Obama could be pushing for the pitifully-low minimum wage for tipped workers to be increased from $2.13 an hour, where it has stayed since 1991. He could sign executive orders to pay all federal workers $15 an hour, to allow government contracts to go only to model employers who pay a living wage, and to allow all government workers to have the right to collectively bargain for better wages and working conditions. He could be investing billions of tax dollars into in creating public sector jobs aimed at rejuvenating American infrastructure – which American engineers have given a D+ in their most recent assessment – rather than lowering the deficit with cruel austerity like the continued budget sequester.

At the very least, President Obama could have vetoed the federal budget “cromnibus” bill that was recently passed, sparing low-income women, infants, and children from another $93 million in cuts to their food assistance. But we’re talking about the president who already approved $8.7 billion in cuts to food stamps in the latest farm bill. Even the last lifelines of help for the most desperate Americans have been slashed to pieces and put on hold by the Obama administration. Even if Republicans are singlehandedly holding social safety nets like food stamps and unemployment extensions for the long-term jobless hostage, the fact that President Obama hasn’t even fought that hard for these programs speaks volumes. Republicans applauded Clinton when he cut welfare in the 1990s, but there’s been nothing but silence from today’s crop of Congressional Republicans for Obama’s cuts to the welfare state.

Instead of fortifying his legacy with economic populism, Obama has presided over an economic “recovery” where only the rich have benefited – the first “recovery” of its kind. If Obama were a Republican instead of a Democrat, Republicans would be singing his praises. Instead, liberals and partisan Democrats are celebrating the news of growth they don’t benefit from, and are the first to shout from mountaintops about lower deficit numbers. In terms of economic policy, Obama and his most diehard supporters are Reagan Republicans. But despite their similarities in economic policy, Reagan would be even more proud of Obama for his foreign policy.

As Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, President Obama has extended George W. Bush’s War on Terror from just Iraq and Afghanistan to Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Libya, and even the Philippines. The U.S. military has more of a presence than ever in the Middle East since Obama took office, with the Iraq War alone costing as much as $4 trillion. Obama has been just as steadfast a supporter of Israel as any of his predecessors – standing by them even as they bombed civilian targets in Gaza earlier this year. He recently signed off on supplying the Israeli weapons stockpile with another $200 million infusion; this is the same stockpile that Israel used to bomb Gaza. And thanks to Obama’s signature, Israel will now have the capability to refuel fighter jets in mid-air, which would be necessary if Israel wanted to launch airstrikes in Iran.

It speaks volumes that President Obama agreed to cut food stamps by $8.7 billion and WIC by $93 million, but committed to spending $1 trillion over the next 30 years to upgrade our nuclear weapons stockpile. Even while Obama has supported the idea of equipping police officers with body cameras, his defense department stands by the Pentagon’s 1033 program that allows military equipment like grenade launchers, sniper rifles, and apache helicopters to flow to local and county police departments. And despite his historic move to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, Obama is still stuck in a cold war mentality of the U.S. having to command the widest array of nuclear weapons. Obama’s record on foreign policy and the military-industrial complex puts Reagan’s to shame. The ludicrous “Star Wars” program and the 1983 invasion of Grenada don’t hold a candle to the current administration’s imperialist worldview.

From a policy standpoint, it makes no logical sense for Republicans to hate Obama as much as they do. He’s simultaneously expanded the worst economic policies we saw under Reagan and the worst foreign policy we saw under George W. Bush. The rich are richer than ever before, the middle class is becoming poorer, and the poor have had their already razor-thin social safety nets cut to the barest of margins. On top of all of that, the U.S. military is engaged in permanent wars all over the Middle East, and the cold war mentality that drove Reagan and George H. Bush is still very much alive in the current White House. The only reasonable explanation left for Republicans’ fervent opposition to everything Obama says and does is that he’s black.

Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary “We’re Not Broke,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Reprinted with permission from Readersupportednews,org.

Get more stories like this at Readersupportednews.org

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The evidence is all in; tax cuts for the rich destroy jobs. The money from tax cuts for the rich is used to purchase politicians, like Wall Street Congressman John Boehner and Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden, who then press for legislation or free trade treaties that redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent, destroying American jobs in the process.

Free trade treaties are the most obvious case in point. These treaties pave the way for corporations to ship jobs overseas, and the difference between the old higher US wages and the new lower overseas wages goes into the pockets of the super rich via higher corporate profits, rising share prices and soaring dividends.

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Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich asked the following on

“Why has America forgotten the three most important economic lessons we learned in the 30 years following World War II? Before I answer that question, let me remind you what those lessons were:

First, America’s real job creators are consumers, whose rising wages generate jobs and growth. If average people don’t have decent wages there can be no real recovery and no sustained growth.

In those years, business boomed because American workers were getting raises, and had enough purchasing power to buy what expanding businesses had to offer. Strong labor unions ensured American workers got a fair share of the economy’s gains. It was a virtuous cycle.

Second, the rich do better with a smaller share of a rapidly growing economy than they do with a large share of an economy that’s barely growing at all.

Between 1946 and 1974, the economy grew faster than it’s grown since, on average, because the nation was creating the largest middle class in history. The overall size of the economy doubled, as did the earnings of almost everyone. CEOs rarely took home more than forty times the average worker’s wage, yet were riding high.

Third, higher taxes on the wealthy to finance public investments — better roads, bridges, public transportation, basic research, world-class K-12 education and affordable higher education – improve the future productivity of America. All of us gain from these investments, including the wealthy.

In those years, the top marginal tax rate on America’s highest earners never fell below 70 percent. Under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower the tax rate was 91 percent. Combined with tax revenues from a growing middle class, these were enough to build the Interstate Highway system, dramatically expand public higher education and make American public education the envy of the world.

We learned, in other words, that broadly-shared prosperity isn’t just compatible with a healthy economy that benefits everyone — it’s essential to it.

But then we forgot these lessons. For the last three decades the American economy has continued to grow but most peoples’ earnings have gone nowhere. Since the start of the recovery in 2009, 95 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent.

What happened?”

Then Reich explains a lot of true stuff, while leaving out a ton of things the Clinton administration did to bring about our current state of massively unequal income distribution.

For starters, instead of defending the middle class, President Clinton joined his Wall Street masters in redistributing income from the middle to the top via free trade treaties, such as NAFTA. Take a look at the graph below.

The US free trade regime began during the 1980s, during the regime of President Ronald Reagan. Jobs, however, had been exported from the US since the 1950s. Under Clinton, and Wall Street Congressmen, such as Ron Wyden, the exportation of jobs accelerated with NAFTA, as anybody with half a brain can see from the graph above, though not Wyden, who apparently still clings to fulfill the desires of his Wall Street masters.

In this case, the financial markets are a Ponzi Scheme. They need to increase steadily in value over the course of time. Otherwise, they’ll accelerate downward. That’s the primary purpose of redistributing income from the 99 to the 1 percent, that is to keep the Ponzi scam known as Wall Street from collapsing, as it did during the Great Depression.

Furthermore, free trade treaties also pave the way for US corporations to create jobs overseas. Millions have been created over there rather here because of NAFTA, the South Korea free trade treaty and more.

And finally, with all the jobs begin shipped away, or created away, from the United States, that meant downward pressure on wages, benefits and salaries. And the difference between the old higher wages and the new lower wages have been redistributed from the pockets of the middle class to the already fat wallets of the 1 percent.

This is precisely why the stock markets tripled in value, more or less, during the last four years of the Clinton regime.

It’s accurate to conclude that the primary purpose of the regime of free trade is to redistribute income upward, and to lower wages, salaries and benefits.

The result of all this has been to diminish the middle class by redistributing the tax bases for our schools and social safety nets to the 1 percent, increase poverty, and corrupt democracy in the USA. And that’s just a few of the negative things this inequality has done.

Now Wall Street Ronnie Wyden wants to continue this process of redistribution via the Trans Pacific Partnership, the biggest income redistribution scam of all time in favor of Wall Street and the 1 percent.

As for the Clinton regime, there were plenty things President Clinton did to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent, but Reich has no intention of letting you in on this, like the free trade scams.

In other words, the political and economic game has been rigged, and Bill Clinton and his labor secretary Robert Reich played big roles in creating this inequality, and now Reich is trying to pretend that his boss and he played no role in creating this rigged game.

For the rest of Reich’s semi-accurate story, click the link below.

Why the Three Biggest Economic Lessons Were Forgotten–BillMoyers.com

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By Joshua Holland

Last week, a new study found that the top ten percent of American households raked in over half of the nation’s income in 2012. The results were widely reported, but another study garnered less attention. It concluded that your government is working hard to boost the incomes of the top ten percent further, while continuing to depress the wages of the vast majority of American families.

The study, by economist David Rosnick at the Center for Economic Policy and Research, attempts to estimate the likely effects on wages from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a mega-trade deal that’s been negotiated out of view of the public, with what government transparency watchdogs call an “unprecedented level of secrecy.”

The TPP is a proposed deal between twelve countries in the Americas and Asia. It would expand an already controversial agreement between Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, and Singapore – if finalized, it would become the biggest trade pact ever.

These kinds of regional deals are the neoliberal response to widespread opposition to the World Trade Organization (WTO), and they include the most controversial provisions on multinational corporations’ wish-lists – measures that have been stuck at the WTO for years.

Public Citizen calls the TPP a “corporate power tool for the one percent.” According to a leaked draft agreement, the treaty would establish independent tribunals that would allow corporations to bypass member countries’ judicial systems to challenge domestic laws and regulations that interfere with their business. According to an analysis of the text by Public Citizen, “the tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers that rotate between acting as ‘judges’ and as advocates for the investors suing the governments” – a conflict of interest that would never stand in an American courtroom. The tribunals could order countries to pay monetary damages to foreign investors if they didn’t comply with the rulings. Fair trade activists call it a back door to deregulation.

Writing at the Campaign for America’s Future, Dave Johnson notes that Chile’s lead negotiator recently quit his job in order to warn that “the TPP is solidifying multinational corporate control over the Internet, copyrights [and] patents (especially drug patents),” and that “giant financial interests are solidifying their current control over the regulatory process.” (Last year, New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson detailed how Wall Street might use international trade deals to derail reforms like Dodd-Frank.)

That’s a lot of controversy. Yet according to Rosnick, economists estimate that the TPP will have only a miniscule impact on our overall economic growth in the future – if enacted, it’s projected to increase U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by only 0.13 percent between 2015 and 2025. As Rosnick puts it, “this figure is meaninglessly tiny in almost any reasonable context.”

But the distributional effects are anything but trivial. Rosnick expects those at the bottom of the ladder to be protected by minimum wage laws, those at the top – highly paid professionals and the investor class — to see their incomes increase significantly as a result of TPP’s expanded patent protections and intellectual property rights, and the vast majority in the middle to experience yet more downward mobility.

Estimates of how much trade has contributed to rapidly rising economic inequality vary. In his study, Rosnick extrapolated the TPP’s impact on wages based on four different estimates of how much trade deals have contributed to rising inequality in the past. The graphic below illustrates his results.

All four estimates result in the median wage – the one right in the middle of the pile – declining in absolute terms. Rosnick writes, “thus, under any reasonable assumptions about the effect of trade on inequality… the majority of workers” will suffer “a net loss as the result of these trade agreements.” And again, the pact’s overall impact on growth would be negligible.

This dynamic – those at the top grabbing a bigger share of the pie while the rest of us lose ground – is typical of these trade deals for the simple reason that they’re not negotiated with the greater good in mind. Rather, they provide a shining example of how economic inequality and political inequality are inexorably linked. As former trade negotiator Clyde Prestowitz writes in Foreign Policy, the winners of these trade agreements are always “going to be the shareholders — the guys at the Business Roundtable who dominate the ‘cleared advisors’ to the trade representative and who, of course, are investing most of the money that’s being invested to make this deal happen. They own it, so it’s likely that they will win something from it.” They’re the only ones who can even take a look at what’s being discussed behind closed doors by TPP negotiators; the only ones who have the U.S. trade representative’s ear.

This is what proponents of these pacts overlook or ignore. They rely on idealized economic theories of trade to argue that signing more binding trade deals will lift all boats. And in a perfect world, those theories might hold true. But in reality, these deals are about corporate lobbyists getting their firms’ narrow, bottom-line interests codified into international trade law – the one area of international law that is readily enforceable. That a majority of workers, the environment, food safety and public health regulations and a host of other priorities are given short shrift should come as no surprise – those things don’t help powerful multinationals’ bottom lines.

This article, Study: Mega-Trade Deal Would Make Most Americans Poorer, is syndicated from Moyers & Company and is posted here with permission.
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Despite such terminology as “fiscal cliff” and “debt ceiling,” the great debate taking place in Washington now has relatively little to do with financial issues. It’s all about economic winners and losers in American society, about Wall Street and Big Money, and how they’ve gotten control of both political parties. Senator Bernie Sanders says “It is all about the soul of America.”

In the following article by Senator Sanders, he doesn’t mention corruption, he simply implies it. Big Oil, Big Money, these are the phrases he uses. But Big Oil and Big Money have to have bought something with their money. They’ve purchased politicians, with political contributions, with personal favors, such as lobbying jobs after they’re finished raping and pillaging the middle class on behalf of Wall Street. You know who I’m talking about: Ron Wyden, Orrin Hatch, John Boehner, Barack Obama, and so many others. Corruption is rampant in the US government.

The Senator writes, “In America today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, and more inequality than at any time period since 1928. The top 1 percent owns 42 percent of the financial wealth of the nation, while, incredibly, the bottom 60 percent own only 2.3 percent. One family, the Walton family of Wal-Mart, owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. In terms of income distribution in 2010, the last study done on this issue, the top 1 percent earned 93 percent of all new income while the bottom 99 percent shared the remaining 7 percent.

Despite the reality that the rich are becoming much richer while the middle class collapses and the number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high, the Republicans and their billionaire backers want more, more, and more. The class warfare continues.

My Republican colleagues say that the deficits are a spending problem, not a revenue problem. What these deficit-hawk hypocrites won’t talk about is their spending. They won’t discuss what they did to dig the country into this $1 trillion deep deficit hole. They waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without paying for them. They gave away huge tax breaks for the rich. They squandered taxpayer dollars on the pharmaceutical industry by making it illegal for Medicare to bargain for lower drug prices. They also rescinded financial regulations that enabled Wall Street to operate like a gambling casino, leading to a severe recession that eroded tax revenue and left more than 14 percent of American workers unemployed or underemployed.

Now, despite the deficits their policies helped to create and despite the enormous suffering which exists in our society, the Republicans want to cut Social Security, veterans’ programs, Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition programs, and virtually every program which benefits low- and moderate-income Americans. They choose to turn their backs on the economic reality facing a significant part of our population: high unemployment, reduced wages, 50 million without health insurance, college graduates saddled with enormous student debt and elderly people living in desperation. And they have tried to slam the door on any further discussion about how to raise revenue by ending tax loopholes and unfair tax breaks.

Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who say the revenue debate is over don’t want you to consider these facts:

• Federal revenue today, at 15.8 percent of GDP, is lower today than it was 60 years ago. During the last year of the Clinton administration, when we had a significant federal surplus, federal revenue was 20.6 percent of GDP.

• Today corporate profits are at an all-time high, while corporate income tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is near a record low.

• In 2011, corporate revenue as a percentage of GDP was just 1.2 percent — lower than any other major country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, including Britain, Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Norway, Australia, South Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Ireland, Poland, and Iceland.

• In 2011, corporations paid just 12 percent of their profits in taxes, the lowest since 1972.

• In 2005, one out of four large corporations paid no income taxes at all while they collected $1.1 trillion in revenue over that one-year period.

We know where the Republicans are coming from. What about the Democrats? Will President Obama fulfill his campaign pledge to “protect the middle class” or will he surrender to right-wing blackmail? Will Democrats in the House and Senate stand with the vast majority of our citizens and such organizations as AARP, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, the AFL-CIO, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and every other veterans’ organization in the fight against cuts to Social Security and veterans’ programs, or will they agree to a disastrous corporate-backed “chained CPI” concept which makes major benefit cuts to those programs and raises taxes on low-income workers?

The simple truth is there are relatively easy ways to deal with the deficit crisis — without attacking the elderly, the children the sick or the poor.

For example, we have got to eliminate loopholes in the tax code that allow large corporations and the wealthy to avoid more than $100 billion in taxes every year by setting up offshore tax shelters in places like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the Bahamas. This situation has become so absurd that one five-story office building in the Cayman Islands is now the “home” to more than 18,000 corporations.

Further, we must also end tax breaks for companies shipping American jobs overseas. Today, the United State government continues to reward companies that move American manufacturing jobs abroad, despite the fact that millions of American jobs have been outsourced to China, Mexico, and other low wage countries over the past decade. The Joint Committee on Taxation (the official revenue scorekeeper in Congress) has estimated that we could raise more than $582 billion in revenue over the next decade by eliminating these offshore tax loopholes.

We must also recognize that Wall Street recklessness caused the economic crisis, and it has a responsibility to reduce the deficit. Establishing a 0.03 percent Wall Street speculation fee, similar to what we had from 1914-1966, would dampen the dangerous level of speculation and gambling on Wall Street, encourage the financial sector to invest in the productive economy and reduce the deficit by more than $350 billion over 10 years.

We are entering a pivotal moment in the modern history of our country. Do the elected officials in Washington stand with ordinary Americans — working families, children, the elderly, the poor — or will the extraordinary power of billionaire campaign contributors and Big Money prevail? The American people, by the millions, must send Congress the answer to that question.”

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