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The real State of the Union: Here are 8 ways America is falling behind

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- Commentary

I wasn’t going to comment on Trump’s lie-filled State of the Union message but the whoppers were so big – especially on the economy – that I feel compelled. Here, for the record, is the real state of the union:

1. JOBS: Average monthly job creation dropped from 223,000 in 2018 to 176,000 in 2019. The employment rate for working-age adults has increased less than during the Obama recovery, and is still significantly below that of other developed countries. The pace of job creation is also markedly slower than it was under Obama.

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2. WAGES: Wage growth has slowed, except in states with minimum-wage increases. The typical American household remains poorer today than it was before the financial crisis began in 2007. The median wage of a full-time male worker (and those with full-time jobs are the lucky ones) is still more than 3% below what it was 40 years ago.

3. TAXES: The Trump-Republican tax cut has been a huge failure. We were promised an increase in business investment, but business investment has contracted for the third straight quarter—the first time this has happened since the Great Recession in 2009. Instead, the tax cut triggered an all-time record binge of share buybacks – some $800 billion in 2018.

If fully implemented, the 2017 tax cut will result in tax increases for most households in the bottom 80 percent.

And it has resulted in record peacetime deficits (almost $1 trillion in fiscal 2019) in a country supposedly near full employment. Even with weak investment, the US had to borrow massively abroad: the most recent data show foreign borrowing at nearly $500 billion a year, with an increase of more than 10% in America’s net indebtedness position in one year alone.

Nothing has trickled down to average workers. To the contrary, If fully implemented the 2017 tax cut will result in tax increases for most households in the bottom 80 percent.

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4. TRADE: The 2018 goods deficit was the largest on record. Even the deficit in trade with China was up almost a quarter from 2016.

5 GROWTH: Last quarter’s growth was just 2.1%, far less than the 4%, 5%, or even 6% Trump promised to deliver, and even less than the 2.4% average of Obama’s second term. That is a remarkably poor performance considering the stimulus provided by the $1 trillion deficit and ultra-low interest rates.

6. WORKERS’ RIGHTS: Trump administration has systematically weakened workers’ rights. More than eight million workers will be left behind by the Trump overtime rule. Workers would receive $1.4 billion less than under the 2016 rule. New Trump administration joint-employer rule has $1 billion price tag for workers.

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7. HEALTH: Millions of Americans have lost their health coverage, and the uninsured rate has risen, in just two years, from 10.9% to 13.7%. US life expectancy, already relatively low, fell in each of the first two years of Trump’s presidency, and in 2017, midlife mortality reached its highest rate since World War II.

8. CLIMATE: losses related to climate change have already reached new highs in the US, which has suffered more property damage than any other country – reaching some 1.5% of GDP in 2017.

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‘Didn’t Trump want the death penalty for drug offenses?’: White House mocked for claim Blagojevich was freed to combat ‘aggressive sentencing’

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During an appearance on Fox News this Wednesday, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley addressed President Trump's recent pardons and commutations, specifically the commutation of Rod Blagojevich, suggesting it was done in an effort to clamp down on "aggressive sentencing" by prosecutors.

"The fact is, the president is clearly against excessive sentencing," Gidley said. "Whether it's Rod Blagojevich or Alice Johnson, he's focused on making sure people who serve time in prison, who have rehabilitated, who show regret and show remorse, don't have to rot away in a jail cell their whole life."

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2020 Election

Will Wednesday’s debate finally prove that Bloomberg is not Batman?

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This article was originally published at Salon

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Paul Krugman debunks Trump’s bogus claims about the ‘Obama economy’

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that his policies alone are responsible for the economic recovery in the United States, claiming that he inherited a broken economy from his Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama. But Trump’s claims are wildly misleading, and economist/New York Times columnist Paul Krugman debunked some of them this week in a Twitter thread.

Krugman tweeted, “So, I see that Trump is bad-mouthing the Obama economy. Two points. First, there was absolutely no break in economic trends after the 2016 election.”

The 66-year-old Krugman posted a chart showing GDP (gross domestic product) from 2010 (when Obama was serving his first term) to 2020 (three years into Trump’s presidency). GDP, the chart shows, gradually improved during Obama’s eight-year presidency.

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