Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

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Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby KeithE » Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:48 am

Obama and Public Sentiment by Ralph Nader

There are tens of bills hung up in Congress that are supported by the majority of Americans. Nader mentions several in this article.
- Min Wage Increase (H.R.1010 and S.2223)
- Ending company flight overseas to avoid taxes (H.R.4679 and S.2360) - btw, add your name to Walgreens Petition
- A tax on financial transactions (H.R. 1579) of 0.1% (most of us pay 5-10% tax on purchases)
- Putting all government contracts on line for public scrutiny (a bill that Senators Obama and Coburn co-sponsored in 2006)

Yet Congress is starting a 5-week recess out of the 12 weeks they get per year.
https://www.senate.gov/legislative/resources/pdf/2014_calendar.pdf

You see, these bills languish because corporations don’t want them and candidates need money.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby Dave Roberts » Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:44 pm

So Congress is only there three weeks out of four. Sounds like a good model to me. Corporations should follow their model and give all employees at least 12 weeks off each year. If it's right for Congress, it should be right for the country :roll:
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby Mrs Haruo » Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:56 am

We just had our local primary elections for several offices, both for the state house and the congress. With a vacation schedule like that, I can see why there were a number of people running for senate positions who seemed to be more hot air than substance. :roll:
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby KeithE » Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:47 am

Good News:

As you have probably heard, Walgreen’s backed off and are keeping their headquarters in the US. Whole story here including Obama’s suggestion to end “corporate inversion” that is sweeping the country:
Last week, the president called corporate inversions an “unpatriotic tax loophole,” and urged Congress to act on legislation to halt the exodus.

referring to H.R. 4679 which this source says it has 0% chance of passing (not a priority because it is out of the news, businesses are obviously against it, and of course House GOP rulers would not allow it to come up).

Of course the business-supporting megaphone, Fox News, thinks it is shameful that Walgreen’s backed down.

There is a 2004 law preventing US companies moving offshore to avoid/evade taxes but it has a "gaping loophole".

In 2004, Congress enacted a law to prevent "corporate inversions" in which corporations reincorporate in a foreign country to avoid paying U.S. taxes, but a gaping loophole allows corporations to get around this law by merging with a foreign company.

Simply put, it allows corporations to avoid paying taxes when they "renounce their U.S. citizenship" and change their corporate address to a foreign country.


The real problem is that many of these so-called "U.S." corporations want to keep dictating our economic policies and dominating our politics, yet they have less and less loyalty to the people who actually live and work in America. They want to keep benefiting from all the things our government does for them so they can make profits -- our legal system to protect their investments and patents, our education and training system to train their workers, our transportation system to get their products to market, our federally sponsored research, our military -- but they want the rest of us to front their share of the bill.


Sixty years ago corporations paid one-third of federal revenues, but today they pay only one-tenth. Now they say even that's too much. Corporate profits are at their highest ever and wage growth is near its lowest in half a century, but still these corporations are not satisfied. They want more. They want Congress to cut their income tax rate, even though many of the largest corporations get away with paying little or no taxes for years. They want Congress to eliminate taxes on the factories they ship overseas, even though an existing loophole already allows them to lower their tax bill when they outsource jobs. And if we don't give these corporations what they want, they threaten to renounce their citizenship and stop paying U.S. taxes altogether.


But I note they want to be treated as if they are “people” when it comes to electing officials - the Citizens United case (a misnomer if there ever was one).
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby Sandy » Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:16 am

There is a mistaken impression that if business is given tax breaks, cuts and exemptions, somehow it will lead to the "creation" of jobs, and lower consumer prices. It never does. Well, as far as the jobs go, yes, when American companies outsource, they do create jobs, with cut rate wages exploiting cheap labor in underdeveloped countries. I agree with the President. Not only is it unpatriotic, but if a company moves offshore to avoid paying taxes, the government should immediately slap a tariff on everything they produce and sell, categorizing them as foreign goods, and either collecting what they aren't getting in corporate tax, or force their prices up so high they close.

I don't remember the author's name now, it was a reading assignment in College economics, but there have been warnings for quite some time about allowing corporate contributions to political campaigns and with the potential riches available through the American economy, allowing them to literally "buy" Congress. That's not a new concept in American history, by the way, it has happened all too often. And while the Republicans have been completely caught up in the process, their "values" are a hypocritical joke, and they don't make a move without corporate instruction, the Democrats are also prone to leaning in that direction when they smell the cash. Strict constructionists can easily see how completely and totally unconstitutional corporate contributions to campaigns are, and how far outside the vision of the founding fathers that goes, and that exposes the hypocrisy of conservatives who claim that Obama is ignoring the constitution with his executive orders. He's not, by the way.

America's God is the almighty dollar, and its ethics are built around how to acquire them, regardless of who gets run over in the process. For those who think that nations can incur the wrath of God, that's just as sinful as anything related to "right to life."
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby William Thornton » Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:20 am

Dems in search of something, anything that might bail out the fall election.

Oh, and nice Huffpo piece by the union guy Keith linked and quoted above.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby KeithE » Mon Aug 11, 2014 2:55 pm

William Thornton wrote:Dems in search of something, anything that might bail out the fall election.

Oh, and nice Huffpo piece by the union guy Keith linked and quoted above.

As usual a quick dismissal from William - no attempt to understand/interact with opponents. Anything Obama or Dems promote is automatically w/o merit and certainly anything by a Union Leader is useless.

BTW, imo, most Dems (but not all) and Tea Partiers (but not all) are just as guilty of favoring corporations as the GOP is. I'm praying for a third party to arise for the 2014 mid-terms (or at least by 2016). A clear-headed, data-driven, eye-on-a-"more-perfect-union" action plan (populist progressive viewpoint) is what we need. Not regurgitation of unchangeable positions.

Questions for William- Are you not bothered by tax avoidance involved in moving American companies offshore? Or do you deny it is occurring? Or do you merely dismiss Dems, or Union promoted bills in principle?
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby Sandy » Mon Aug 11, 2014 5:52 pm

William Thornton wrote:Dems in search of something, anything that might bail out the fall election.

Oh, and nice Huffpo piece by the union guy Keith linked and quoted above.


Apparently they don't really need anything to bail out the fall election. The GOP seems to be doing a wonderful job of just handing it to them, thanks to a few loonie tune tea party nominees(in some Southern states, mind you) and an occasional Sarah Palin pop up. By November, at the rate the numbers are moving now, the Dems might actually be in position to take the House as well.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby William Thornton » Mon Aug 11, 2014 6:04 pm

KeithE wrote:
William Thornton wrote:Dems in search of something, anything that might bail out the fall election.

Oh, and nice Huffpo piece by the union guy Keith linked and quoted above.

As usual a quick dismissal from William - no attempt to understand/interact with opponents. Anything Obama or Dems promote is automatically w/o merit and certainly anything by a Union Leader is useless.

BTW, imo, most Dems (but not all) and Tea Partiers (but not all) are just as guilty of favoring corporations as the GOP is. I'm praying for a third party to arise for the 2014 mid-terms (or at least by 2016). A clear-headed, data-driven, eye-on-a-"more-perfect-union" action plan (populist progressive viewpoint) is what we need. Not regurgitation of unchangeable positions.

Questions for William- Are you not bothered by tax avoidance involved in moving American companies offshore? Or do you deny it is occurring? Or do you merely dismiss Dems, or Union promoted bills in principle?


My purpose was to be sure the author and source of the quotes was noticed.

I don't know a lot about inversion but am pleased you chose not to label the issue one of economic patriotism.

And I'm sure any union action plan, more perfect or not, will be well received here.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby Sandy » Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:26 pm

William Thornton wrote:And I'm sure any union action plan, more perfect or not, will be well received here.


The standard of living we enjoy in this country today is largely due to union action plans. So why would they not be well received?
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby William Thornton » Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:34 pm

Sandy wrote:
William Thornton wrote:And I'm sure any union action plan, more perfect or not, will be well received here.


The standard of living we enjoy in this country today is largely due to union action plans. So why would they not be well received?


I thought you might see that. :wink: I have enjoyed your comments elsewhere on megachurches lately.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby Sandy » Mon Aug 11, 2014 7:45 pm

Do a rundown on the history of what Unions have done for labor. We'd be a third world country like Mexico, with a few fabulously rich, and a lot of poverty, had labor not been a powerful movement. And as its influence has waned, wages have plateaued and the working class is getting robbed blind, via lost wages, and taxes.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby KeithE » Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:51 pm

Let the DATA speak.

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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby William Thornton » Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:32 am

I would be curious about adding a stock market, real dollars, line to that graph.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby KeithE » Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:59 am

William Thornton wrote:I would be curious about adding a stock market, real dollars, line to that graph.

Well then add it.

But it would be meaningless. Both of the lines shown (% of income going to the top 10% and % union membership) are normalized percentages. Whatever the value of the dollar is in any year, both factors plotted are unchanged since they are normalized percentages. To boot stock market evaluation does not equate with “real dollars”; inflation does.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby Sandy » Tue Aug 12, 2014 12:32 pm

The stock market only reflects the level of prosperity, not who's getting it, or how, or why.

Unions aren't perfect, they have their elements of susceptibility to the same greed and corruption that drives corporate business. But they are an active force that provides the needed balance to keep the power of wealth from artificially driving down wages and the value of labor, and keeps wages market driven and competitive. The value of labor isn't just established by market forces, it is also established by the wealth that it creates. Most businesses wouldn't consider that, unless they are forced to do so.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby William Thornton » Tue Aug 12, 2014 2:29 pm

KeithE wrote:
William Thornton wrote:I would be curious about adding a stock market, real dollars, line to that graph.

Well then add it.

But it would be meaningless. Both of the lines shown (% of income going to the top 10% and % union membership) are normalized percentages. Whatever the value of the dollar is in any year, both factors plotted are unchanged since they are normalized percentages. To boot stock market evaluation does not equate with “real dollars”; inflation does.


Forget it, Einstein. Any stock market index can be put in real dollars.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby Sandy » Tue Aug 12, 2014 3:55 pm

Showing "real dollars" wouldn't affect the percentages. It's irrelevant. The percentages remain the same.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby KeithE » Tue Aug 12, 2014 5:39 pm

Sandy wrote:Showing "real dollars" wouldn't affect the percentages. It's irrelevant. The percentages remain the same.

Exactly.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby KeithE » Tue Aug 12, 2014 5:49 pm

William Thornton wrote:
KeithE wrote:
William Thornton wrote:I would be curious about adding a stock market, real dollars, line to that graph.

Well then add it.

But it would be meaningless. Both of the lines shown (% of income going to the top 10% and % union membership) are normalized percentages. Whatever the value of the dollar is in any year, both factors plotted are unchanged since they are normalized percentages. To boot stock market evaluation does not equate with “real dollars”; inflation does.


Forget it, Einstein. Any stock market index can be put in real dollars.


Show me how. Perhaps you need to explain what you meant by "real dollars".

The stock market evaluations (e.g. Dow Jones Average, S&P Index) do not track what the dollar is worth in buying power. They do track speculation on how the economy is doing (not directly inflation/deflation or prosperity or GDP).

Sandy has it right and the plot above demonstrates the upward trend in inequality (since ~1980) and the corresponding downward trend in union membership (since ~ 1956). It stands to reason that the cause of the great rise in inequality is due to the drop in worker wages which in turn results in large part from the decline (and demonization) of unions.

The other factor that has helped businesses rack up greater and greater profits is the increase in productivity without corresponding rewards to workers (just more to the top brass).

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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby William Thornton » Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:20 pm

"Real" dollars is a basic economic term. You should know this.
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Thornton and his ilk are frustrating

Postby Stephen Fox » Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:24 pm

In the last few weeks I have linked Packer on Perlstein in the New Yorker, several reviews of Balmer on Carter with my own commentary and Thornton still holds that Jerry Vines and the takeover fundies were just preaching Jesus.

Packer, Steven Miller, Balmer, you know the roll call make a daming case something else was going on.

And of course NOrm Ornstein on the Lost Soul of the GOP; and Garry Wills on Joe Scarborough's version.

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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby KeithE » Tue Aug 12, 2014 6:47 pm

William Thornton wrote:"Real" dollars is a basic economic term. You should know this.

It is what I thought it meant - relative to purchasing power which factors in inflation.

http://www.davemanuel.com/investor-dictionary/real-dollars/

Thus it is irrelevant to the plots I posted. Yet you seem to want to overlay that to make what point? Obscuration?
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby William Thornton » Tue Aug 12, 2014 8:32 pm

Plot the decline of unions against the rise of the stock market in real dollars, one measure of the country's wealth and prosperity. I'm. Not sure what you get but think it might be relevant.

If your preference is for graphs that prove your point then just use those.
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Re: Public Sentiment and Obama/Congressional Inaction

Postby Sandy » Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:52 pm

The "real dollars" are irrelevant to the point. The rise of the stock market is not an indication of overall prosperity, and does not reflect circumstances of labor or the prosperity of any particular economic class. The stock market is rising, but wages remain flat, even though labor is a major factor in the increased prosperity. The disparity between what labor is paid, and the prosperity that is limited to the wealthiest economic class is a clear indication of exactly the point we are making, that the value of labor is no longer market driven, but suppressed artificially by the decline of union influence, which is the balance on labor's side to the corporate corruption and greed that channels wealth into few pockets, and exploits the suppression of the value of labor.

"Prosperity" is a subjective concept. The investor class, which is the prosperity that the stock market and the "real dollars" reflect, is much smaller than it once was, and has maneuvered itself into a position where it monopolizes and controls means of production, artificially inflates prices and artificially suppresses the value of labor.

I've used the example of the US steel mill in Weirton, WV before, but it is a great illustration of this point. The corporation was planning to close the mill completely in the early 90's, and lay off 13,000 mill workers. The local steelworkers union negotiated a deal and bought the mill at a relatively low price, since it was considered inefficient and unproductive. With the profits going back to the union members, the steelworkers themselves, in shares of the company that they owned, they were able to produce steel at prices that were competitive with foreign producers. With a worker-owned company, capital investment modernized the mill, the debt vanished in the wave of prosperity that came from increased orders and production, and the mill became one of the few successful American steel manufacturing firms. That lasted for two decades, and with profits going in shares to each mill worker, the mill weathered economic circumstances that put marginal firms out of business.

Of course, corporate business, especially in the steel industry, was horrified at the thought that workers owned the mill they worked for, and they couldn't compete with either the level of productivity, or the prices. Eventually, they infiltrated the union in Weirton through public sale of stock, gained control of the corporate management, and sold the mill to a foreign producer who promptly shut the operation down, leaving only the coke and carbon plans with about 2,000 employees. Of course, the union membership benefited from selling shares that had increased to more than thirty times their original value in the early 90's, while others took the stock options and receive dividends from the foreign company that bought the mill. The community benefited from union generosity and community building, funds for local schools, churches, and the general increase in business atmosphere that weathered the Bush economic recessions. That's what unions do. It is interesting that corporations can give money directly to political campaigns via the citizens united corruption, but unions can only contribute by collecting individual contributions. If corporations qualify as a person with religious convictions, unions should qualify as well.
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