The recent announcement by the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, that his company would give substantial raises to its lowest-paid employees should not blind us to the fact that most American workers are not receiving big wage increases. In fact, the real wages (that is, wages adjusted for inflation) of average American workers are declining.
When justifying the Republicans’ December 2017 $1.5 trillion tax cut for corporations and the wealthy, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan claimed that it would result, in 2018, in wage gains for American workers ranging from $4,000 to $9,000 each.
But, in reality, nothing like that has materialized. Instead, as the U.S. Labor Department reported, between the second quarter of 2017 and the second quarter of 2018, the real wages of American workers actually declined. Indeed, the second quarter of 2018 was the third straight quarter―all during the Trump administration―when inflation outpaced wage growth. The last time wages grew substantially above inflation was in 2016, during the Obama administration. Consequently, by August 2018, as the Pew Research Center reported, the purchasing power of American workers’ wages was at the same level as in 1978.
Why did the Republican promises go unfulfilled? A key reason for stagnating wages lies in the fact that U.S. corporations used their windfall derived from the slashing of the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent under the 2017 GOP tax legislation to engage in stock buybacks (thereby raising their stock prices) and to increase dividends to share-holders. This practice produced substantial gains for big corporate investors but did nothing for workers. Although it appears that some workers (a reported 4 percent) did receive pay raises thanks to the tax cuts, it’s estimated that corporations spent 88 times more on stock buybacks than on pay increases for workers.
Another important long-term factor that has depressed workers’ wages is the dwindling membership and declining power of America’s labor unions. Once a force that created a more level playing field between workers and their bosses, unions have been badly weakened in recent years by Republican-sponsored anti-union measures, such as so-called “Right-to-Work” laws and the subversion of the National Labor Relations Board.
The Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage has also undermined wage levels. In the past, numerous Republican Presidents backed legislation that increased the minimum wage. But that position has radically changed as the Republican Party has turned sharply to the Right. Although the federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 for more than nine years, Trump and congressional Republicans have blocked legislative efforts to raise this pathetically low wage floor, contending that they saw no need for a federal minimum wage. Moreover, Republicans have used their control of state governments, as in Missouri and Iowa, to block cities and counties from raising local wage levels through legislation.
By contrast, Republican policies have done wonders for the wealthy and their corporations. By the fall of 2018, the stock market had reached new heights and the fortunes of the wealthiest Americans had grown remarkably. According to Forbes, the wealth of the 400 richest Americans averaged $7.2 billion each―a hefty increase over the previous year, when they averaged $6.7 billion. Moreover, the ten richest Americans possessed $730 billion among them―an increase in their wealth of nearly 20 percent over the past year. And the very wealthiest American, Jeff Bezos, nearly doubled his wealth during this time―to $160 billion. From the Republican standpoint, their programs had been a great success. Accordingly, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted in late September to make its steep tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy permanent.
So let’s stop saying that Republican rule in the United States―from the White House, to the Congress, to the Supreme Court, and to the states―has been dysfunctional. It’s been very functional―not for American workers, of course, but certainly for those people Bernie Sanders has referred to as “the billionaire class.”
‘Possible war in the Middle East’: Editor explains why Trump’s visa attack on Iran is ‘lame’ response to oil field bombing
As the United States is searching for ways to draw down on decades-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, serious conflicts might be afoot, one Daily Beast reporter told MSNBC Sunday.
World News editor Christopher Dickey told host Kendis Gibson he doesn't understand the point of barring Iranian diplomats from being able to come to the United Nations General Assembly meeting this fall. During a "Meet the Press" interview Sunday morning, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said that the U.S. should deny the visas. The statement prompted Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to call her out for "warmongering," and said she was out of touch with Americans who don't want to get into another costly Middle East war.
Why you should sell your house now — and not wait for the climate to change
Cities across the United States are already seeing the impacts of climate change. Sea levels are on the rise in Miami, Florida, where ocean waters creep into the streets, even when it isn't raining. Massive wildfires have taken out whole neighborhoods in California and in Alaska, about 2.5 million acres have burned since July 3. Wildfires there are getting worse, according to experts.
The problem of climate change has reached a dangerous level for some homeowners in areas that are no longer insurable. In Miami, for example, the "street-level" is now considered the basement and insurers are dropping coverage for basements. According to the Daily Beast, at least 340,000 California homeowners lost their property insurance coverage between 2015 and 2018 because the wildfires are getting worse and companies don't want to pay out when homes are destroyed.
‘Please give me the audacity of a mediocre white man’: Editor unleashes on Justice Brett Kavanaugh
Managing Editor Tiffany Cross, who co-founded The Beat DC, unleashed on the most recent Supreme Court Justice to be outed for sexual misconduct.
Max Stier, a classmate of Justice Brett Kavanaugh came out with another story of the justice forcing his naked penis into the hand of a woman. The FBI was supposed to do a full investigation into Kavanaugh, and Stier gave them the information. Somehow, however, the investigation either wasn't completed, wasn't revealed or was ignored, because none of the information revealed was released.
Cross said that there are some who normally would have said, "man if only we knew about these allegations during the confirmation hearing." The problem, of course, is that it was known, Cross explained. It was simply ignored by Republicans in the majority. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is an excellent example of a pro-choice, pro-woman senator who claimed she trusted Kavanaugh. She's suffered the consequences from her home-state in wake of the vote. In the past four years, she has dropped from being the most favored senator in the country to among the least.