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Posts Tagged ‘Social Security’

Bernie Sanders and Corporate Taxes
Last week, US Senator Bernie Sanders took to the floor of the senate with a giant poster of a Donald Trump tweet. Sanders challenged the president elect to stand by his promise of no cuts to social security payments, medicare or medicaid. Polls show most US citizens are against cutting back on these programs.

The US could easily expand these programs by simply placing a tariff on goods manufactured abroad by US corporations and then exported to the USA, something Trump also promised to do, and then earmarking those tariff dollars toward Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

In the case of social security, there are many more options for expanding social security benefits, which have been deliberately made to languish behind the growth of real inflation. If you earn more than $118,500 per year, you don’t pay social security tax on any income earnings above that number. Simply eliminating this artificial cap would allow the government to significantly raise payments to beneficiaries for decades to come.

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According to US Uncut, “…a likely Hillary Clinton victory means her intent to defund Social Security may come to fruition.

The Democratic nominee recently came under fire in revealing articles by Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith and International Business Times’ David Sirota, for her potential plans to introduce mandatory retirement savings accounts set up to enrich Wall Street — rather than expanding Social Security.

Under the new mandatory accounts, Americans would pay a 1.5 percent payroll tax to go directly into retirement accounts managed by Wall Street banks that would invest in private equity, hedge funds, and other investments that would come with hefty fees for fund managers, all courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. One of the biggest proponents of mandatory retirement savings accounts is Blackstone CEO Tony James — one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest campaign donors — who is a possible pick for Treasury Secretary in a Clinton administration.”

Leaked emails also show Clinton is in favor of a hemispheric free trade zone for North and South America and open borders. Free trade is code for “exporting jobs from the USA,” while “open borders” is code for lowering wages and benefits in the USA. Like her supposed proposal on Social Security, Wall Street and major corporate investors would benefit from Clinton’s proposal.

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According to Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard, the mutual funds investment company, Social Security is in crisis.

Bogle said the system’s finances could get a big boost from changes that may be rejected as “politically sensitive,” including

  1. adopting a less-generous approach to calculating cost-of-living adjustments,
  2. raising the maximum annual earnings subject to Social Security tax,
  3. and raising the age for full retirement benefits further from the current range of ages 66 to 67.

First of all, Social Security is not in a crisis. The Fund has a reserve of $2.5 trillion that earns $180 billion in interest a year. That money is due to be used up by roughly 2036 as more and more baby boomers retire. Then Social Security can still pay 84 percent of everybody’s benefits after that.

This means it won’t take much to make up the shortfall. Currently, nobody pays social security taxes on income above $118,500. Simply eliminating this cap on taxing income would erase the future shortfall. However, we could go farther and with good reason.

Here’s what the corporate media doesn’t want you to know.

Trillions of dollars every decade earmarked for the social security trust fund are redirected from the fund into the already fat wallets of the super rich. The rich don’t pay social security taxes on capital gains and dividends. Every time a job is exported, the wages and social security contributions from that job are transformed into capital gains and dividends.

Millions of jobs have been exported. That’s hundreds of billions of dollars every year no longer heading into the Trust Fund because the difference between the old higher US wages and the new lower third world wages goes straight into the pockets of the ultra wealthy via capital gains and dividends.

Capital gains and dividend income are exempt from paying social security taxes.

So why not establish social security taxes on dividends and capital gains above a certain point, say $100,000 a year in income from those sources?

Then you could increase monthly payments to retirees while simultaneously raising the demand for goods and services, which would strengthen the economy, as well as spur job and wage growth.

Wall Street won’t like it, but millions of older folks could use the money being stolen from social security via international income redistribution scams falsely marketed as “trade agreements.”

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On January 1st, for just the third time since 1975, seniors who receive Social Security won’t be getting an annual cost of living adjustment. Neither will millions of other Americans whose veterans’ benefits, disability benefits, and other monthly payments are pegged to Social Security.

So today, US Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced the Seniors and Veterans Emergency Benefits Act (SAVE Benefits Act) to give seniors, vets, and other Social Security recipients a one-time 3.9% payment in 2016 — the same raise that America’s top CEOs received last year. The bill is paid for entirely by closing a tax loophole that allows corporations to write off obscene executive bonuses as a business expense for “performance pay” — a loophole that would generate so much revenue “…that we could give every senior this $581 check and still have money left over to extend the life of the Social Security trust fund. Watch Warren’s floor speech introducing this bill and ask your representatives to give seniors and veterans the support they need on January 1st.

This bill is really important inasmuch as it would act as an economic stimulus at a time when the economy is beginning to stagger toward recession. We’re looking at about 18 months or less. That recession will be the worst since the Great Depression, and it likely will bring on grassroots coalitions in a way not seen since the Great Recession.

The great threat looming against a US economic recovery is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest income and wealth redistribution scam (from the 99 to the 1 percent) in US history, which is falsely being labeled an international trade agreement. This massive scam is the brain child of Wall Street President Barack Obama, and Wall Street Senator’s Ron Wyden, Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch, among other toadies of Wall Street. Hopefully, the TPP can be defeated.

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A new study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), called Manufacturing Job Loss: Trade, Not Productivity, Is the Culprit, shows how the corporate propaganda machine has continued to lie to us. The not so free press continues to tell us that automation has cost the US jobs, and that’s the big reason why US job growth is so historically slow nowadays, and wages/benefits have gone down for the last thirty years.

As I’ve pointed out in the past, those claims are out and out lies, and the reporters and editors making these claims are liars. Check out the following links from this blog: Five Graphs that Will Make Your Blood Boiland JOBS: The Largest US Export Product.

According to the EPI study, “The United States lost 5 million manufacturing jobs between January 2000 and December 2014. There is a widespread misperception that rapid productivity growth is the primary cause of continuing manufacturing job losses over the past 15 years. Instead, as this report shows, job losses can be traced to growing trade deficits in manufacturing products prior to the Great Recession and then the massive output collapse during the Great Recession.

Specifically, between 2000 and 2007, growing trade deficits in manufactured goods led to the loss of 3.6 million manufacturing jobs in that period. Between 2007 and 2009, the massive collapse in overall U.S. output hit manufacturing particularly hard (real manufacturing output fell 10.3 percent between 2007 and 2009). This collapse was followed by the slowest recovery in domestic manufacturing output in more than 60 years. Reasonably strong GDP growth over the past five years has not been sufficient to counter these trends; only about 900,000 of the 2.3 million manufacturing jobs lost during the Great Recession have been recovered. In addition, resurgence of the U.S. trade deficit in manufactured goods since 2009 has hurt the recovery of manufacturing output and employment.

In short, the collapse in demand during the Great Recession and ensuing glacial recovery was responsible for most or all of the 1.4 million net manufacturing jobs lost between 2007 and 2014. Between 2007 and 2014, productivity growth slowed noticeably, and manufacturing output experienced no net, real growth.”

There are a few things the EPI study doesn’t mention.

  1. The report didn’t mention that US corporations are the biggest, and perhaps only, cause of the US trade deficit. When a US company ships jobs overseas, to say China, and then exports the products created overseas to the US, that adds to the trade deficit. Think of Apple Inc., Microsoft, Dell Computers, Nike, and thousands of other US corporations that produce their products in China, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Mexico, etc…, and then export them into the US. When was the last time you purchased a Chinese smart phone. Along with US businesses, their chinese contractors and subcontractors manufacture them for US corporations.
  2. The EPI report also didn’t mention that international income redistribution scams, politely called international trade agreements, are also the primary, though not the only, conduit through which income is redistributed from the 99 to the 1 percent in the USA. When a job is created by a US company abroad, or exported from the US, the difference between the old wages and the new lower wages goes straight into the pockets of the super wealthy via higher corporate profits, roaring dividends and surging share prices.
  3. Largely because of trade agreements, the 1 percent steal 37 percent of all income created in the USA, compared to 8 percent in 1980.
  4. Notice in the graph above that this redistribution of income since 1980 has coincided with the loss of US manufacturing jobs. Duh!
  5. Those jobs supported millions of other jobs as well, such as local restaurant workers, accountants, auto salesmen, not to mention they provided the tax dollars for schools, infrastructure, police, fire, and social security nets. Those jobs don’t pay the taxes they used to because they’re not in the US anymore.
  6. The demand for goods and services by the 99 percent has been curtailed due to the exportation of jobs, so manufacturing employment, as well as employment throughout the US, is the worst since the Great Depression.
  7. The trade deficit hurts social security because when the rich are literally the only beneficiaries of trade scams and they don’t pay into the social security trust fund after the first $118,000 of yearly income. Meanwhile, the people who lost their jobs and whose incomes have been redistributed to the 1 percent are no longer paying into the system.
  8. Wages have dropped, in large part, because so many jobs have been exported overseas. According to the Federal Reserve, nearly 28 million jobs were exported from the US from 1990 to 2010.
  9. International income redistribution scams pave the legal way for jobs to be exported from the US to lesser paying nations, but they also pave the legal route for US corporations to create jobs overseas that they would otherwise have been created in the USA, meaning the job losses created by trade are understated by a hefty margin. When a job is exported to China by a US business, and the product of that job is sold in China, or exported to nations other than the USA, then it’s not statistically visible that this exported job has added to the trade deficit, even though US exports are lower than if the job still remained in the US. Under such circumstances, US exports are lower, which raises the trade deficit, increases income and wealth inequality, decimates our tax bases, and weakens social security, but it pushes the stock markets higher.
  10. The Chinese government requires US companies to partner with Chinese companies, and share technology to boot, in order to sell products in China. Boeing has exported thousands of jobs to China because of this partnership clause that otherwise would have been in the USA.

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A friend on the political right wrote me about my support for Bernie Sanders for US president. My friend had some objections about Senator Sanders positions. So I wrote the response below. I should also like to point out that Bernie is a US senator from Vermont, where large pockets of conservatism flourish, and Republicans are elected to statewide offices. Yet Bernie continues to win election after election, campaigning mainly on bread and butter issues.

Anyway, below is my reason why everybody should vote for Bernie, regardless of their political ideology.

“…the Democratic and Republican Party leaderships, and the big money that controls them, also controls the levers of political power. I am against any candidate supported by the leadership of either major political party. That’s why over the years I’ve been a supporter of such diverse independent minded politicians as Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders. Besides, it doesn’t matter what Bernie wants, what matters it what he can achieve as president. If Bernie becomes president, with both houses of congress likely to be controlled by the twin party leadership, Bernie will likely only be able to limit their damage to the middle class in terms of economics.”

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With the help of the corporate news media, which can better be described as the corporate propaganda machine, the Democratic and the Republican leadership rip the grassroots of both parties apart and against each other by inventing social issues, while raping the grassroots of both parties financially on behalf their billionaire and millionaire benefactors.

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Fast Track Authority are classic examples of how the leadership of both political parties team together in their financial rape of the 99 percent.The Federal Reserve estimates the TPP will cost four to five million US jobs. The difference between the old higher US wages, and the new lower overseas wages, will go straight into the pockets of the 1 percent via higher corporate profits, dividends and share prices. That money will be stolen straight out of the pockets of working Americans and redistributed into the already fat bank accounts of the 1 percent, much of which will find its way into the pockets and campaigns of the Democratic and Republican party leadership. The local and state tax dollars paid by the jobs losers will no longer support schools, police, fire, road maintenance and much more. In other words, the TPP will rape our schools and other public services.

The TPP will also steal money that should go to the social security trust fund because the rich only pay social security taxes on the first $118,000 of their income. Worse yet, the TPP will force China to manipulate its currency even more than is already the case, costing the US millions more jobs than the Federal Reserve estimates. This manipulation of currency will compel US corporations to ship more jobs overseas because Chinese currency manipulation increases the profits of those who manufacture in China. (See Four Graphs that Will Make You Boiling Mad About the Trans Pacific Partnership–Or Why President Obama, along with executives from Nike, Microsoft, Apple and other US corporations Steadfastly Support China’s Currency Manipulations–JohnHively.wordpress.com).

In other words, the TPP has been negotiated specifically to redistribute income from the 99 to the 1 percent, and since 2009, the 1 percent has stolen 95 percent of all US income growth. Their share of the total national income has risen from 8 percent in 1980, to 21 percent in 2008, to 37 percent in 2015.

The TPP has also been negotiated to undermine US laws and democracy.

Hillary Clinton has stated publicly on 45 occasions that she is for the TPP. All of the Republican candidates are for it. Bernie would veto the TPP if he was president. Ergo, damage to the vast majority of US citizens would be limited.

Here’s something to think about. Opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership brought together unusual allies, such as the John Birch Society, the Tea Party, Black Lives Matter, and the AFL-CIO. We need more, not less, of that kind of cooperation among US citizens. Bernie understands this, and his candidacy is encouraging this. That’s precisely what the leadership of both political parties and their billionaire benefactors don’t want: Americans of all colors and political persuasions united together in opposition to the billionaire class and their complete corruption of the US government for their own ends.

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After thirty-five years of globalization, most people in the world are still living a wretched existence by US middle class standards, according to the Pew Research Center. More people than ever before have entered the middle class throughout the world, which the US corporate news media will brag about, but definitions of middle class vary throughout the world, which the same corporate news media won’t tell you. So, for example, people living in poverty in Vietnam on $2.70 a day might be considered middle class if their wages double, which would mean those folks are still living a wretched existence by any standard, except now they’re considered middle class, by somebody’s definition.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis, “…though there was growth in the middle-income population (in the world) from 2001 to 2011, the rise in prosperity was concentrated in certain regions of the globe, namely China, South America and Eastern Europe. The middle class barely expanded in India and Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central America.”

This rise in the third world middle class corresponds with a decline in the middle class in the United States, which the corporate news media won’t mention. That’s because globalization is a facade hiding the reality that free trade as is currently negotiated is nothing more than an income redistribution scam. Here’s how it works, and here’s how the researchers at Pew have been easily fooled.

One needs to earn between $6,000 and $25,000 a year to be considered middle class in China. See understanding-chinas-middle-class–China Business Review. In China, these people are free from such things as social security, free from overtime pay, free to suck in the world’s worst air pollution, free to drink among the world’s most polluted water, and they’re are often forced to work sixteen hours a day.

Do a little math. A person in the USA earning the federal minimum wage of $7.50 an hour working forty hours earns $15,600 a year, hardly middle class by US standards. The difference between middle class in the US and China is one of income redistribution.

When the US government signs a so-called free trade treaty, the result redistributes income from the 99 to the 1 percent because these agreements legally pave the way for US corporations to ship jobs from the US to lesser paying nations, like China. The treaties also pave the way for US corporations to create jobs overseas, rather than in the US, so they serve to discourage US job growth, and corporate investment in the USA. The difference between the old higher US pay and the new lower pay, in say China, goes straight into the pockets of the 1 percent via higher corporate profits, rising share prices and soaring dividends.

So, for example, a job paying $50,000 in the US may pay only $6,000 in China (with no overtime pay, and often being forced to work 16 hours a day). The difference between the two figures is $44,000, and that goes toward rising corporate profits, which in turn, goes into the pockets of the one percent via rising dividends and share prices. The US jobs losers get a few months of unemployment insurance, if they’re lucky.

In the meantime, as millions of jobs are shipped overseas, or created there when they would have been created over here in the absence of these income redistribution scams known as free trade agreements, the tax dollars that normally go to schools, fire, police, roads and other infrastructure, and our social safety nets, are being redistributed to the 1 percent with every job that is exported overseas. By the way, the BIGGEST EXPORT PRODUCT OF THE UNITED STATES IS JOBS.

These agreements weaken the Social Security Trust Fund because the people earning $55,000 a year are paying into it, and the people who steal their wages when jobs are shipped overseas, pay social security taxes on only the first $118,500 of their their $10,000,000+ income, which, coincidentally, violates the fourteenth amendment’s equal protection clause of the US Constitution.

However, narrow minded researchers and corrupt news media reporters influenced by corporate dollars will declare that free trade agreements are good things, and they’ll point to China’s growing middle class as their evidence, rather than the declining US middle class, as an example. And they’ll do this without mentioning that middle class in China means living a very subsistence life style at best, and being encapsulated with dire poverty at the worst.

So when the corporate news media reports on the growth of the middle class throughout the world, take it for what it’s worth, which is nothing.

A Global Middle Class Is More Promise than Reality –Pew Research Center

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