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

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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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Internet disgusted after Buffalo first responders cheer cops charged with assaulting 75-year-old protester

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Commenters on Twitter expressed both contempt and disgust for Buffalo firefighters and police officers who turned out in front of Buffalo City Court to support two suspended police officers with applause and cheering.

Moments after officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault and then released without having to post bail, they were greeted as heroes outside the courthouse.

After a video was posted showing the celebration, commenters on Twitter vented at cops and firefighters for defending the two officers who assaulted the 75-year-old man who had to be rushed to a hospital after they shoved him to the ground where he sustained a head injury.

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Donald Trump’s lurch toward fascism is backfiring spectacularly

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

During the 2016 campaign, as Donald Trump railed against "Mexican rapists" and other "criminal aliens," pollsters found that the share of Americans who said that immigrants worked hard and made a positive contribution to our society increased significantly, and noticed a similar decline in the share who said they take citizens' jobs and burden our social safety net. After Trump was elected and began pursuing his Muslim ban, the share of respondents who held a positive view of Islam also increased pretty dramatically. I'm not aware of any polling of the general public about transgender troops serving in the military before Trump decided to discharge them, but Gallup found that 71 percent of respondents opposed his position after he did.

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Judge blocking release of Jeffrey Epstein records has ties to officials linked to Epstein: report

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On Saturday, the Miami Herald reported that a judge who blocked the release of grand jury material in the Jeffrey Epstein child sex abuse case has ties to three officials with a vested interest in the outcome of the lawsuits surrounding the scandal.

"Krista Marx, the Palm Beach chief judge who also heads a panel that polices judicial conduct, has potential conflicts of interest involving three prominent players embroiled in the Epstein sex-trafficking saga: State Attorney Dave Aronberg, who has been sued by the Palm Beach Post to release the grand jury records; Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, whose department’s favored treatment of Epstein while he was in the Palm Beach County jail is part of an ongoing state criminal investigation; and ex-State Attorney Barry Krischer, part of the same investigation in connection with his decision not to prosecute Epstein on child-sex charges," wrote Julie Brown, a reporter who has extensively covered the Epstein case.

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