CRANSTON, R.I. — On a gray, bone-chilling morning, 18 men in a medium-security prison walked into an empty lunchroom and sat at stainless steel-topped tables, placing both hands palms down, as if they were about to receive a manicure.Over the next few minutes, they received the anti-addiction medication buprenorphine under their tongues, administered by a nurse and double-checked by guards — with military precision. Then they were strip-searched before returning to their cells.This half-hour routine happens every day, part of a program developed at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections to...
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At least 66 clinics in 15 US states have stopped performing abortions since the June Supreme Court ruling that overturned the constitutional right to the procedure, according to a report published on Thursday.
The Guttmacher Institute, a group which supports abortion rights, said there had previously been 79 clinics offering abortions in the 15 states which have implemented strict abortion bans.
That number has since fallen to 13 clinics, all of them in Georgia, which has banned abortion after six weeks of gestation, before many people even know they are pregnant, it said.
The institute said 26 clinics in the 15 states have closed their doors entirely, while 40 remain open providing reproductive health services other than abortion.
The Guttmacher Institute said the 15 states are home to nearly 22 million girls and women of reproductive age -- between the ages of 15 and 49 -- nearly one-third of the total US population of women of reproductive age.
The institute said more than 125,000 abortions were performed in 2020 in the 14 states where abortion is no longer available at all and another 41,000 in Georgia.
"Individuals who can no longer obtain an abortion from a clinic in these states are now forced to travel to another state for abortion care," Guttmacher said.
This extra step to access the procedure can impose travel and child care costs along with those associated with having to take time off work, it said, while some women are instead forced to continue their pregnancy.
Meanwhile, states where abortion remains legal "are being inundated with people from states with abortion bans seeking care," the report said.
"These dramatic increases in caseloads mean clinic capacity and staff are stretched to their limits, resulting in longer wait times for appointments even for residents of states where abortion remains legal," it said.
The institute predicted that the "already precarious abortion access landscape is likely to continue to deteriorate" with a total of 26 states certain or likely to impose near-total abortion bans within a year.
© 2022 AFP
More crime is caused by rich people than poor people in America. It’s not that rich people are committing the crimes, although they often do, but that inequality destroys social trust. If we want to reduce crime, we have to start taxing billionaires.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he’s going to cut taxes for Floridians. The Florida legislature isn’t meeting again until March of next year, which is when governors typically roll out new proposals, but, hey, he’s heading into a make-it-or-break-it election against former Florida Governor Charlie Crist in six weeks.
In West Virginia, Republican Governor Jim Justice proposed a 10% cut in income taxes, and in Missouri Republican Governor Mike Parsons is pushing an end altogether to progressive taxation, replacing the sliding scale with a flat tax that will hit middle-income people hardest.
In New York the Republican candidate for governor, Rep. Lee Zeldin, says he’ll end the income tax altogether, along with killing off the estate tax and cutting back on Medicaid for the working poor. In South Carolina Republican Governor Henry McMaster wants to cut state income taxes on rich people, while Iowa’s Republican Governor Kim Reynolds wants to cut taxes on rich people while raising them on working people with a flat tax similar to Parsons’ proposal.
Meanwhile, the UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, just eliminated altogether Britain’s top (45%) income tax bracket, meaning that Britain’s morbidly rich will only have to pay taxes at the rate usually enjoyed by the merely-well-off.
Truss hopes the tax cut will jump-start the UK’s sclerotic economy, although she’s apparently not that well versed in economics. As a comprehensive study of taxes and GDP by The London School of Economics — spanning 18 nations across the 50 years from 1965 to 2015 — found, there’s no relationship whatsoever between cutting taxes and stimulating the economy:
“Our results show that, for both matching methods, major tax cuts for the rich increase the top 1% share of pre-tax national income in the years following the reform (𝑡 + 1 to 𝑡 + 5). The magnitude of the effect is sizeable; on average, each major reform leads to a rise in top 1% share of pre-tax national income of 0.8 percentage points. The results also show that economic performance, as measured by real GDP per capita and the unemployment rate, is not significantly affected by major tax cuts for the rich. The estimated effects for these variables are statistically indistinguishable from zero, and this finding holds in both the short and medium run.”
To that point, one prominent London economist called Truss’ tax cuts “moronic.”
The only thing that tax cuts for the rich do are indebt a nation while making its rich people richer. But Liz Truss, like Reagan and Thatcher before her, apparently hopes for the best.
As one Member of Parliament told The Guardian:
“This whole thing boils down to infectious childlike optimism in Downing Street. It would almost be endearing if it wasn’t so completely and utterly fucking mad.”
Which makes sense. As multi-millionaire Nick Hanauer told me on my program a few years ago, while he’s probably 10,000 times richer than I am he doesn’t need 10,000 more pairs of jeans and shirts or socks.
When rich people get extra money from tax cuts, it just makes them richer; it doesn’t stimulate them to buy more things just because they now have a bit more money. That’s a behavior limited to “little people” like you and me.
Nonetheless, these conservative politicians are all putting their faith in tax cuts for the rich, all for pretty much the same reasons: the morbidly rich love them (and kick part of them back as campaign donations) while average working people mistakenly believe that somehow it’ll benefit them, too.
It’s time to tell some simple truths about taxes, particularly income taxes (Florida doesn’t have an income tax, so this applies less to that state). And they’re not particularly complicated truths.
- *Cutting high-end income taxes makes rich people richer and raises a nation’s debt but does nothing else. Nothing. It doesn’t influence their pay or lifestyle in any measurable way, nor does it stimulate economic growth. And because tax cuts on the morbidly rich have to be paid for by increasing the national debt, they’re actually a drag on the economy.
- *The effect is quite opposite for working class people. Cutting income taxes on them causes their pay to go down or remain flat. The experience of 100+ years in the United States and nations around the world also finds that raising taxes on working class people leads, over time, to pay raises, something no politician since FDR will explain, while cutting their taxes leads to pay cuts.
“Wait a minute!” I can hear you saying. “Cutting taxes on rich people makes them richer, but cutting taxes on working class people makes them poorer? WTF?!?”
Here’s how it works with a short story thrown in.
Some years ago I did my radio program for a week from the studios of Danish Radio in Copenhagen.
Speaking with one of the more conservative members of Parliament, I asked why the Danish people didn’t revolt over an average 52% income tax rate on working people, with an even higher rate on really high earners?
He pointed out to me that the average Dane was doing just fine, with a minimum wage that averaged about $18 an hour, free college and free healthcare, not to mention four weeks of paid vacation every year and notoriety as the happiest nation on earth, according to a study done by the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.
“You Americans are such suckers,” he told me and I reported some years ago. “You think the rules for taxes that apply to rich people also apply to working people, but they don’t.
“When working people’s taxes go up,” he said, “their pay also goes up over time. When their taxes go down, their pay goes down. It may take a year or two or three to all even out, but it always works that way — look at any country in Europe. And that rule on taxes is the exact opposite of how it works for rich people!”
Economist David Ricardo explained this in 1817 with his “Iron Law of Wages,” laid out in his book On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation.
Ricardo pointed out that in the working class “labor marketplace,” before-tax income is pretty much irrelevant. The money people live on, the money that defines the “marketplace for labor,” is take-home pay.
But the rules for how taxes work are completely different for rich people.
When taxes go down on rich people, they simply keep the money that they saved with the tax cut. They use it to stuff larger wads of cash into their money bins.
When taxes go up on them, they’ll just raise their own wages — until they hit a confiscatory tax rate (which hasn’t existed since the Reagan Revolution), and then they’ll stop giving themselves raises and leave the money in their company.
And, history shows, while keeping that money in their company to avoid a high top tax bracket, employers typically pay their workers more over time as well.
In other words, as taxes go up, income typically goes up for working class people but goes down for the very rich: High tax brackets discourage exploitation by the very rich and push up wages for working class people.
We saw this throughout the 1940–1980 period; income at the very tip-top was stable at about 30 times worker’s wages because rich people didn’t want to get pushed into that very tip-top tax bracket of 74%.
But for working class people, Ricardo pointed out 200 years ago, the rules are completely different.
When working class people end up with more after-tax money as a consequence of a tax cut, their employers realize that they’re receiving more than the “market for labor“ would dictate.
And over time the “Iron Law” dictates that employers will cut back those wages when working class people get a tax cut.
For example, if the average worker on an automobile assembly line made $30,000 a year in take-home pay, all the car manufacturing companies know that $30K in their pockets is what people will build cars for. It’s the set-point in the “market for labor” for that industry or type of job.
Because of income taxes, both federal, state and local, an auto worker may need a gross, pre-tax income of $40,000 a year to end up with that $30,000 take-home pay, so that $40,000 gross (before-tax) income becomes the average pay across the industry. At that pay and tax rate, workers end up taking home $30,000 a year.
But what happens if that income tax for working-class people is cut in half?
Now, a $40,000 a year autoworker’s salary produces $35,000 a year in take-home pay, and employers in the auto industry know that that’s $5000 a year more than they have to pay to hire new people to build cars.
Put another way, the employers know that they can hire people in the labor market for $30,000 a year take-home pay, which is now a gross salary of $35,000, so they begin lowering their $40,000 gross wage offerings toward $35,000 to make up for the tax cut and keep take-home pay within the $30,000 “market for wages.”
Since Reagan‘s massive tax cut, we’ve seen this very phenomenon in the auto industry itself! As taxes went down, pay has been more than cut in half for new hires.
In other words, income tax cuts don’t increase the take-home pay of working people who have little control over their salaries. It’s the opposite, in fact.
On the other hand, when income taxes on working people increase, employers have to raise working class wages so their workers’ take-home pay stays the same. And that’s exactly what happened in the period from the 1940s to the 1980s as tax rates were fairly high across the board.
But when income taxes on working people go down, employers will reduce the wages they offer over time to keep their workers’ take-home pay at the same level. That, after all, is what Ricardo’s “market for labor” specifies.
But the rules are completely different for the rich, who live outside the “Iron Law of Labor.”
When taxes change for the very rich, they take home less money when taxes go up and keep more money when taxes go down. It’s the opposite of what happens to working-class people.
The incredible magic trick that the morbidly rich have done in America over the past 40 years is to convince average working people that the tax rules for the rich also apply to working class people, and therefore tax cuts benefit average workers, too.
Economist have known since the early 1800s that this is nonsense, as David Ricardo and many others have pointed out.
But after decades of this “you should worry about tax increases the same way rich people do” message being pounded into our brains by Republican politicians, working people think that tax cuts benefit them and tax increases hurt them.
It’s a real testimonial to the power of the Republican propaganda machine that even though individual wages have been flat or even declining in many industries for the past 40 years because of Republican tax cuts, the average American still thinks tax cuts are a good thing for them.
In fact, the time of greatest prosperity for the working class, when working class take-home pay (and wealth) was increasing faster than the income (and wealth) of the top 1%, was the period from 1940 to 1980 when taxes were high and the nation was prosperous.
FDR raised the top tax bracket to 91% and it stayed there through his administration, as well as those of Truman, Eisenhower, JFK and the early years of LBJ. President Johnson dropped it to 74%, which held through his administration as well as those of Nixon, Ford and Carter.
This was the time of maximum American working class prosperity.
Reagan’s massive tax cuts in the 1980s, of course, put an end to that and started the explosion of wealth at the top which has led America to produce over 700 billionaires today. And gutted America’s ability to maintain first-class infrastructure.
To stabilize our economy and re-empower working people, we must bring back the top tax bracket that existed before the Reagan Revolution. It’ll also provide the necessary funds to rebuild our country from the wreckage of Reagan’s neoliberal policies, which are largely still in place.
By taxing income in the very top brackets at a rate well above 50%, ideally the 74% rate we had before Reagan, we stabilize the economy, stop the relentless poaching of working peoples’ wages for the money bins of the rich, and begin restoring our middle class.
It’s time to re-normalize taxes on the morbidly rich (and leave them where they are on working class people) so we can again have a growing economy and a prosperous middle class.
I was a presidential science adviser – here are the many challenges Arati Prabhakar faces as she takes over President Biden’s science policy office
Arati Prabhakar has been sworn in as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and assistant to the president for science and technology after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate, two months following her nomination by President Joe Biden. As the director of OSTP and assistant to the president, she now serves as the confidential science adviser to the president and is also accountable to Congress. Prabhakar is both the first woman and first person of color to hold this role.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Prabhakar during the Clinton administration when she was the director of the National Institute for Standards and Technology and I was director of the National Science Foundation. In 1998, President Bill Clinton selected me to be his director of OSTP and assistant to the president for science and technology, a position I held until the end of the administration in 2001.
These positions at the National Science Foundation and Office of Science Technology and Policy gave me different perspectives on how the federal government carries out its multiple complicated roles supporting science and technology, as well as a sense of some of the challenges Prabhakar faces. By focusing on cooperation among federal agencies and the White House offices in addressing the president’s goals, she can help ensure that the U.S. science and technology enterprise rises to the many difficulties the country faces today.
Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law in August 2022, providing funding for semiconductor manufacturing and scientific research in the U.S. to compete with China. AP/Evan Vucci
Eyes on innovation
Born in India, Prabhakar immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, obtained a doctorate in applied physics from the California Institute of Technology and has had a distinguished career in both government and industry. She has held leadership positions in several technology and venture capital companies. Her most recent federal appointment was as director of the Defense Advanced Project Agency, or DARPA, under Barack Obama.
Today, the U.S. faces a number of existential challenges ranging from climate change to future pandemics, to competition from China, to social inequality – all of which will require harnessing the power of science, technology and innovation. In Prabhakar’s Senate testimony, she described how the OSTP is the only place in the federal government that focuses on the overall health and global standing of U.S. science and technology capability. The full spectrum of exploration, discovery and implementation fall under her purview – from very basic, fundamental research to putting technological innovations into the market.
Biden shares this belief in the vital role of science and innovation, as does Congress. The recently passed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act promotes general research and development and semiconductor manufacturing capability, specifically as a response to the rapid rise of Chinese science, technology and innovation.
Collaboration is critical
Arati Prabhakar has held leadership positions in DARPA, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology and a number of private companies. DARPA
No single U.S. executive department or agency alone can accomplish the president’s goals. The U.S. system is enormously complicated; a multitude of agencies support research and development, as well as applications of science and technology. For example, many departments and agencies were instrumental in developing and launching the internet, which many people might take for granted today.
Science agencies interact with dozens of White House offices. OSTP must work well with all these agencies and offices of the White House, a place where effectiveness depends on establishing a balance between assertiveness and cooperation with other players.
A big challenge for Prabhakar – and an issue on the minds of many leaders in science and technology – will be assisting and coordinating the efforts of many research agencies to achieve national goals while protecting and strengthening their traditional roles in supporting basic research in science and engineering. This will require earning the trust and respect of the heads of the various agencies and her colleagues in the White House and making sure her voice is heard in order to achieve the goals laid out by the president and Congress.
Balancing basic research with applications
I very much agree with Prabhakar that the U.S. could benefit greatly from investments in both fundamental research as well as in technology development, but trade-offs will inevitably be made within that broad scope of federal responsibilities.
There is growing concern within the research community that, given the recent focus of Congress and the Biden administration on innovation and the translation of scientific discoveries into real-world applications, fundamental research is likely to lose support. Many worry this could harm the United States’ long-standing supremacy in science.
Prabhakar has devoted her career to creating solutions from the scientific advances that come from basic research done in universities, national laboratories and in industry. She is well aware that sound judgment, teamwork and a degree of assertiveness will be needed to advance the president’s research, development and innovation initiatives while ensuring policymakers do not neglect fundamental research.
Prabhakar is now a member of Biden’s Cabinet and will play a central role in facilitating fruitful relationships between the many players in science and technology. AP Photo/Evan Vucci
How to be effective
With so many players involved, cooperation is key.
As OSTP director, Prabhakar has the task of facilitating effective cooperation among the many federal scientific, health and regulatory agencies. Cooperation among federal agencies and companies, particularly in areas of new technologies, is critically important for accelerating the pace of translation of discoveries to applications, but that has consistently been hard to manage.
The OSTP director can also play an important role in facilitating the relationships between industry and government, and there are currently both a commitment and substantial funding from both sides to support this goal. The CHIPS and Science Act calls for the government to invest US$10 billion to create 20 new “regional technology and innovation hubs” in locations that are not currently centers of technology. I believe Prabhakar’s experience in DARPA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the private sector will allow her to deftly promote cooperation.
Another particularly important challenge every OSTP director faces is in helping prepare the annual budget request. The budget consists of thousands of lines disbursing funding for executive departments and agencies. While the Office of Management and Budget plays the lead role in this process, the director of OSTP is expected to work with the director of the OMB and many other White House advisers to ensure that the president’s priorities in science and technology are addressed.
Since the president’s initiatives will involve many federal agencies, pulling together all the necessary information for the budget is going to be particularly challenging and will require considerable cooperation between agencies. It is critical that Prabhakar develop a close working relationship with the OMB to make sure the agencies get what they need.
The U.S. is facing huge challenges – from pandemics to climate change to competition with China – that all require massive national efforts in science and technology. Arati Prabhakar has devoted her career to advancing U.S. innovation and competitiveness in science and technology. I believe she will do an excellent job in her new role. A final attribute she brings to the table is the fact that, as an immigrant, she sets an example for the thousands of women and men coming to the U.S. to study science, engineering and technology. It is vitally important that the U.S. continue to be a magnet for talent from all over the world.