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DC insider: The Trump trauma will return if we forget how Republicans pushed his Big Lie -- maybe in an even more terrifying form

America prefers to look forward rather than back. We're a land of second acts. We move on.

This can be a strength. We don't get bogged down in outmoded traditions, old grudges, obsolete ways of thinking. We constantly reinvent. We love innovation and disruption.

The downside is a collective amnesia about what we've been though, and a corresponding reluctance to do anything about it or hold anyone accountable.

Now, with Covid receding and the economy starting to rebound – and the 2020 election and the attack on the Capitol behind us – the future looks bright.

But at the risk of being the skunk at the picnic, let me remind you:

We have lost more than 580,000 people to COVID-19. One big reason that number is so high is our former president lied about the virus and ordered his administration to minimize its danger.

He also lied about the results of the last election. And then – you remember, don't you? – he tried to overturn the results.

He twisted the arms of state election officials. He held a rally to stop Congress from certifying the election, followed by the violent attack on the Capitol. Five people died. Senators and representatives could have been slaughtered.

Several Republican members of Congress joined him in the big lie and refused to certify the election. They thereby encouraged the attempted coup.

This was just over four months ago, yet we seem to be doing everything we can to blot it out of our collective memory.

Last Tuesday, the Washington Post hosted a live video chat with Missouri Republican senator Josh Hawley, a ringleader in the attempt to overturn the results of the election. Hawley had even made a fist-pump gesture toward the mob at the Capitol before they attacked.

But the Post billed the interview as being about Hawley's new book on the "tyranny of big tech." It even posted a biography of Hawley that made no mention of Hawley's sedition, referring instead to his supposed reputation "for taking on the big and the powerful to protect Missouri workers," and as "a fierce defender of the Constitution."

Last week, "CBS This Morning" interviewed Florida Republican senator Rick Scott, another of the senators who tried to overturn the election by not certifying the results. But there was no mention of any of his sedition. The CBS interviewer confined his questions to Biden's spending plans, which Scott unsurprisingly opposed.

Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson, and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy also repeatedly appear on major news programs without being questioned about their attempts to undo the results of the election.

What possible excuse is there for booking them if they have not publicly retracted their election lies? At the least, if they must appear, ask them if they continue to deny the election results and precisely why.

Pretending nothing happened promotes America's dangerous amnesia, which invites more attempts to distort the truth.

Trump is consolidating his power over the Republican Party, based on his big lie. The GOP is about to purge one of its leaders, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, for telling the truth.

The big lie is being used by Republican state legislatures to justify new laws to restrict voting. On Thursday, hours after Florida installed a rash of new voting restrictions, Texas's Republican-led Legislature pushed ahead with its a bill that would make it one of the hardest states in which to cast a ballot.

The Republican-controlled Arizona senate is mounting a private recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa County – farming out 2.1 million ballots to GOP partisans, including at least one who participated in the January 6 raid on the Capitol.

Last Monday, Trump even lied about his big lie, issuing a "proclamation" to co-opt the language of those criticizing the lie. "The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as the BIG LIE!" he wrote.

Most Republican voters believe him.

It is natural to want to put all this unpleasantness behind us. We are finally turning the corner on the pandemic and the economy.

Why look back to the trauma of the 2020 election? Because we cannot put it behind us. Trump's big lie and all that it has provoked are still with us. If we forget what has occurred the trauma will return, perhaps in even more terrifying form.

Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley exposed as 'working-class imposters'


The Republican Party is trying to rebrand itself as te party of the working class.

Rubbish. Republicans can spout off all the catchy slogans about blue jeans and beer they want, but actions speak louder than words. But let's look at what they're actually doing.

Did they vote for the American Rescue Plan? No. Not a single Republican in Congress voted for stimulus checks and extra unemployment benefits needed by millions of American workers.

So what have they voted for? Well, every single one of them voted for Trump's 2017 tax cut for the wealthy and corporations, of which 83 percent of the benefits go to the richest 1 percent over a decade.

They claimed corporations would use the savings from the tax cut to invest in their workers. In reality, corporations used their tax savings to buy back shares of their own stock in order to boost share values. And some corporations then fired large portions of their workforce. Not very pro-worker, if you ask me.

Have they voted for any taxes on the wealthy? No. Quite the opposite. Republicans refuse to tax the rich. They've even been trying to get rid of the estate tax, which only applies to estates worth at least $11.7 million for individuals and $23.4 million for married couples. Working class my foot.

Have they backed a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which a majority of Americans favor? No. Republicans refuse to raise the minimum wage even though it would give 32 million workers a raise. That's about a fifth of the entire U.S. workforce.

Do they support unions, which empower workers to get better pay and benefits? No again. To the contrary: Republicans have enacted right-to-work laws in 28 states, decimating unions' bargaining power and enabling businesses to exploit their workers.

And when it comes to strengthening labor laws, only five out of 211 Republicans voted for the PRO Act in the House – the toughest labor law legislation in a generation.

How about the historic union drive at the Bessemer, Alabama Amazon warehouse, which Joe Biden and almost all Democrats have strongly backed? Just one Republican spoke out in support. All others have been dead silent.

What about backing regulations that keep workers safe? Nope. In fact, they didn't bat an eye when Trump rolled back child labor protections, undid worker safeguards from exposure to cancerous radiation, and gutted measures that shield workers from wage theft.

Do they support overtime? No. They allowed Trump to eliminate overtime for 8 million workers, and continue to repeat the corporate lie about "job-killing regulations."

What about expanding access to healthcare to all working people? Not a chance. Republicans at the state level have blocked Medicaid expansion and enacted Medicaid work requirements, while Republicans in Congress have tried for years to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. If they succeeded, they would have stripped healthcare away from more than 20 million working Americans.

So don't fall for the Republican Party's "working class" rebrand. It's a cruel hoax. The GOP doesn't give a fig about working people. It is, and always will be, the party of big business and billionaires.


Watch below:


The Republican Rebrand, Exposed | Robert Reich youtu.be


Senate Democrats must make a choice: Democracy or authoritarianism

Republican-controlled state legislatures have introduced over 361 voter suppression bills in 47 states, and some states, like Georgia, have already enacted them into law.

There's only one way to stop this assault on our democracy. It's called the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT, and the window for Congress to pass it is closing.

These Republican voter suppression bills are egregious—they shrink early voting periods, add onerous voter ID requirements, limit eligibility for mail-in ballots, ban ballot drop boxes and drive-through voting, and even make it a crime to give voters in line water.

The FOR THE PEOPLE ACT, on the other hand, would prevent these tactics and make it easier to vote. In addition, gerrymandering would be reduced and the power of small political donors would be amplified.

It could not come at a more critical time.

The Republican assault on our democracy is based on the lie that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Multiple recounts in battleground states like Georgia found nothing. Investigations by the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department found nothing. 61 out of 62 courts found nothing.

Republicans claim they're just listening to the concerns of their voters and restoring "trust" in our elections. Rubbish. The real purpose of these restrictions is to hamper voting by Black people, people of color, young people, and lower-income Americans.

After Black voters and organizers in Georgia flipped the state blue for the first time in decades, the GOP is pulling out all the stops to prevent the same from happening in other states. The situation is even more dire given the upcoming once-in-a-decade redistricting process, allowing Republican-controlled states to further gerrymander congressional districts.

Their assault on the right to vote is a coordinated, national strategy led by top party leaders and outside dark-money advocacy groups like the Heritage Foundation. That group is working directly with state legislatures to provide them with "model legislation" and gearing up to spend $24 million in eight states to advance these bills ahead of the midterms.

Unless the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT becomes law, these restrictive state bills will go into effect before the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, and entrench Republican power for years to come. So it's essential we protect voting rights now, while we still can.

This is not a partisan fight. It's a battle between forces that want to go backward to an era of Jim Crow, and the majority of Americans who want to build a more inclusive democracy.

Yet the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT faces an uphill battle in the Senate because of the archaic filibuster rule that requires a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation.

The good news is Senate Democrats have the power to end the filibuster and thereby allow the FOR THE PEOPLE ACT to become law. It's time for Democrats to unite on this, without hesitation.

The stakes could not be higher. Simply put, it's democracy or authoritarianism.

Don’t be fooled: The basic deal between the GOP and corporate America is still very much alive

For four decades, the basic deal between big American corporations and politicians has been simple. Corporations provide campaign funds. Politicians reciprocate by lowering corporate taxes and doing whatever else corporations need to boost profits.

The deal has proven beneficial to both sides, although not to the American public. Campaign spending has soared while corporate taxes have shriveled.

In the 1950s, corporations accounted for about 40 percent of federal revenue. Today, they contribute a meager 7 percent. Last year, more than 50 of the largest U.S. companies paid no federal income taxes at all. Many haven't paid taxes for years.

Both parties have been in on this deal although the GOP has been the bigger player. Yet since Donald Trump issued his big lie about the fraudulence of the 2020 election, corporate America has had a few qualms about its deal with the GOP.

After the storming of the Capitol, dozens of giant corporations said they would no longer donate to the 147 Republican members of Congress who objected to the certification of Biden electors on the basis of the big lie.

Then came the GOP's recent wave of restrictive state voting laws, premised on the same big lie. Georgia's are among the most egregious. The chief executive of Coca Cola, headquartered in the peach tree state, calls those laws "wrong" and "a step backward." The CEO of Delta Airlines, Georgia's largest employer, says they're "unacceptable." Major League Baseball decided to relocate its annual All-Star Game away from the home of the Atlanta Braves.

These criticisms have unleashed a rare firestorm of anti-corporate Republican indignation. The senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, warns corporations of unspecified "serious consequences" for speaking out. Republicans are moving to revoke Major League Baseball's antitrust status. Georgia Republicans threaten to punish Delta Airlines by repealing a state tax credit for jet fuel.

"Why are we still listening to these woke corporate hypocrites on taxes, regulations & antitrust?" asks Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Why? For the same reason Willy Sutton gave when asked why he robbed banks: That's where the money is.

McConnell told reporters that corporations should "stay out of politics" but then qualified his remark: "I'm not talking about political contributions." Of course not. Republicans have long championed "corporate speech" when it comes in the form of campaign cash – just not as criticism.

Talk about hypocrisy. McConnell was the top recipient of corporate money in the 2020 election cycle and has a long history of battling attempts to limit it. In 2010, he hailed the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling, which struck down limits on corporate political donations, on the dubious grounds that corporations are "people" under the First Amendment to the Constitution.

"For too long, some in this country have been deprived of full participation in the political process," McConnell said at the time. Hint: He wasn't referring to poor Black people.

It's hypocrisy squared. The growing tsunami of corporate campaign money suppresses votes indirectly by drowning out all other voices. Republicans are in the grotesque position of calling on corporations to continue bribing politicians as long as they don't criticize Republicans for suppressing votes directly.

The hypocrisy flows in the other direction as well. The Delta's CEO criticized GOP voter suppression but the company continues to bankroll Republicans. Its PAC contributed $1,725,956 in the 2020 election, more than $1 million of which went to federal candidates, mostly to Republicans. Oh, and Delta hasn't paid federal taxes for years.

Don't let the spat fool you. The basic deal between the GOP and corporate America is still very much alive.

Which is why, despite record-low corporate taxes, congressional Republicans are feigning outrage at Joe Biden's plan to have corporations pay for his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal. Biden isn't even seeking to raise the corporate tax rate as high as it was before the Trump tax cut, yet not a single Republicans will support it.

A few Democrats, such as West Virginia's Joe Manchin, don't want to raise corporate taxes as high as Biden does, either. Yet almost two-thirds of Americans support the idea.

The basic deal between American corporations and American politicians has been a terrible deal for America. Which is why a piece of legislation entitled the "For the People Act," passed by the House and co-sponsored in the Senate by every Democratic senator except Manchin, is so important. It would both stop states from suppressing votes and also move the country toward public financing of elections, thereby reducing politicians' dependence on corporate cash.

Corporations can and should bankroll much of what America needs. But they won't as long as corporations keep bankrolling American politicians.

Corporate giants have been crushing workers for decades – but that all might be about to change

The most dramatic change in the system over the last half-century has been the emergence of corporate giants like Amazon and the shrinkage of labor unions.

The resulting power imbalance has spawned near-record inequalities of income and wealth, corruption of democracy by big money, and the abandonment of the working class.

Fifty years ago, General Motors was the largest employer in America. The typical GM worker earned $35 an hour in today's dollars and had a major say over working conditions.

Today's largest employers are Amazon and Walmart, each paying far less per hour and routinely exploiting their workers, who have little recourse.

The typical GM worker wasn't "worth" so much more than today's Amazon or Walmart worker and didn't have more valuable insights about working conditions.

The difference is those GM workers had a strong union. They were backed by the collective bargaining power of more than a third of the entire American workforce.

Today, most workers are on their own. Only 6.4% of America's private-sector workers are unionized, providing little collective pressure on Amazon, Walmart, or other major employers to treat their workers any better.

Fifty years ago, the labor movement had enough political clout to ensure labor laws were enforced and that the government pushed giant firms like GM to sustain the middle class.

Today, organized labor's political clout is minuscule by comparison.

The biggest political players are giant corporations like Amazon. They've used that political muscle to back "right-to-work" laws, whittle down federal labor protections, and keep the National Labor Relations Board understaffed and overburdened, allowing them to get away with egregious union-busting tactics.

They've also impelled government to lower their taxes; extorted states to provide them tax breaks as a condition for locating facilities there; bullied cities where they're headquartered; and wangled trade treaties allowing them to outsource so many jobs that blue-collar workers in America have little choice but to take low-paying, high-stress warehouse and delivery gigs.

Oh, and they've neutered antitrust laws, which in an earlier era would have had companies like Amazon in their crosshairs.

This decades-long power shift – the ascent of corporate leviathans and the demise of labor unions – has resulted in a massive upward redistribution of income and wealth. The richest 0.1% of Americans now have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90% put together.

The power shift can be reversed – but only with stronger labor laws resulting in more unions, tougher trade deals, and a renewed commitment to antitrust.

The Biden administration and congressional Democrats appear willing. The House has just passed the toughest labor reforms in more than a generation. Biden's new trade representative, promises trade deals will protect American workers rather than exporters. And Biden is putting trustbusters in critical positions at the Federal Trade Commission and in the White House.

And across the country, labor activism has surged – from the Amazon union effort, to frontline workers walking out and striking to demand better pay, benefits, and safety protections.

I'd like to think America is at a tipping point similar to where it was some 120 years ago, when the ravages and excesses of the Gilded Age precipitated what became known as the Progressive Era. Then, reformers reined in the unfettered greed and inequalities of the day and made the system work for the many rather than the few.

It's no exaggeration to say that we're now living in a Second Gilded Age. And today's progressive activists may be on the verge of ushering us into a Second Progressive Era. They need all the support we can give them.

This article was originally published at RobertReich.org

What would happen if we actually taxed the rich?

Income and wealth are now more concentrated at the top than at any time over the last 80 years, and our unjust tax system is a big reason why. The tax code is rigged for the rich, enabling a handful of wealthy individuals to exert undue influence over our economy and democracy.

Conservatives fret about budget deficits. Well, then, to pay for what the nation needs – ending poverty, universal health care, infrastructure, reversing climate change, investing in communities, and so much more – the super-wealthy have to pay their fair share.


Here are seven necessary ways to tax the rich.

First: Repeal the Trump tax cuts.

It's no secret Trump's giant tax cut was a giant giveaway to the rich. 65 percent of its benefits go to the richest fifth, 83 percent to the richest 1 percent over a decade. In 2018, for the first time on record, the 400 richest Americans paid a lower effective tax rate than the bottom half. Repealing the Trump tax cut's benefits to the wealthy and big corporations, as Joe Biden has proposed, will raise an estimated $500 billion over a decade.

Second: Raise the tax rate on those at the top.

In the 1950s, the highest tax rate on the richest Americans was over 90 percent. Even after tax deductions and credits, they still paid over 40 percent. But since then, tax rates have dropped dramatically. Today, after Trump's tax cut, the richest Americans pay less than 26 percent, including deductions and credits. And this rate applies only to dollars earned in excess of $523,601. Raising the marginal tax rate by just one percent on the richest Americans would bring in an estimated $123 billion over 10 years.

Third: A wealth tax on the super-wealthy.

Wealth is even more unequal than income. The richest 0.1% of Americans have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent put together. Just during the pandemic, America's billionaires added $1.3 trillion to their collective wealth. Elizabeth Warren's proposed wealth tax would charge 2 percent on wealth over $50 million and 3 percent on wealth over $1 billion. It would only apply to about 75,000 U.S. households, fewer than 0.1% of taxpayers. Under it, Jeff Bezos would owe $5.7 billion out of his $185 billion fortune – less than half what he made in one day last year. The wealth tax would raise $2.75 trillion over a decade, enough to pay for universal childcare and free public college with plenty left over.

Fourth: A transactions tax on trades of stock.

The richest 1 percent owns 50 percent of the stock market. A tiny 0.1 percent tax on financial transactions – just $1 per $1,000 traded – would raise $777 billion over a decade. That's enough to provide housing vouchers to all homeless people in America more than 12 times over.

Fifth: End the "stepped-up cost basis" loophole.

The heirs of the super-rich pay zero capital gains taxes on huge increases in the value of what they inherit because of a loophole called the stepped-up basis. At the time of death, the value of assets is "stepped up" to their current market value – so a stock that was originally valued at, say, one dollar when purchased but that's worth $1,000 when heirs receive it, escapes $999 of capital gains taxes. This loophole enables huge and growing concentrations of wealth to be passed from generation to generation without ever being taxed. Eliminating this loophole would raise $105 billion over a decade.

Six: Close other loopholes for the super-rich.

For example, one way the managers of real estate, venture capital, private equity and hedge funds reduce their taxes is the carried interest loophole, which allows them to treat their income as capital gains rather than ordinary wage income. That means they get taxed at the lower capital gains rate rather than the higher tax rate on incomes. Closing this loophole is estimated to raise $14 billion over a decade.

Seven: Increase the IRS's funding so it can audit rich taxpayers.

Because the IRS has been so underfunded, millionaires are far less likely to be audited than they used to be. As a result, the IRS fails to collect a huge amount of taxes from wealthy taxpayers. Collecting all unpaid federal income taxes from the richest 1 percent would generate at least $1.75 trillion over the decade. So fully fund the IRS.

Together, these 7 ways of taxing the rich would generate more than $6 trillion over 10 years – enough to tackle the great needs of the nation. As inequality has exploded, our unjust tax system has allowed the richest Americans to cheat their way out of paying their fair share.

It's not radical to rein in this irresponsibility. It's radical to let it continue.

This article was originally published at RobertReich.org

Power shift: Several dramatic changes in American capitalism are all coming to a head -- with a major test this week

The most dramatic change in American capitalism over the last half century has been the emergence of corporate behemoths like Amazon and the simultaneous shrinkage of organized labor. The resulting imbalance has spawned near-record inequalities of income and wealth, corruption of democracy by big money, and the abandonment of the working class.

All this is coming to a head in several ways.

Next week, Amazon faces a union vote at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. If successful, it would be Amazon's first U.S.-based union in its nearly 27-year history.

Conditions in Amazon's warehouses would please Kim Jong un – strict production quotas, 10-hour workdays with only two half-hour breaks, unsafe procedures, arbitrary firings, "and they track our every move," Jennifer Bates, a warehouse worker at Bessemer, told the Senate Budget Committee last week.

To thwart the union drive, Amazon has required Bessemer workers to attend anti-union meetings, warned workers they'd have to pay union dues (wrong – Alabama is a so-called "right-to-work" state that bars mandatory dues), and intimidated and harassed organizers.

Why is Amazon abusing its workers?

The company isn't exactly hard-up. It's the most profitable firm in America. Its executive chairman and largest shareholder, Jeff Bezos, is the richest man in the world, holding more wealth than the bottom 39 percent of Americans put together.

Amazon is abusing workers because it can.

Fifty years ago, General Motors was the largest employer in America. The typical GM worker earned $35 an hour in today's dollars and had a major say over working conditions. Today's largest employers are Amazon and Walmart, each paying around $15 an hour and treating their workers like cattle.

The typical GM worker wasn't "worth" more than twice today's Amazon or Walmart worker and didn't have more valuable insights about how work should be organized. The difference is GM workers a half-century ago had a strong union behind them, summoning the collective bargaining power of over a third of the entire American workforce.

By contrast, today's Amazon and Walmart workers are on their own. And because only 6.4 percent of America's private-sector workers are now unionized, there's little collective pressure on Amazon or Walmart to treat their workers any better.

Fifty years ago, "big labor" had enough political clout to ensure labor laws were enforced and that the government pushed giant firms like GM to sustain the middle class.

Today, organized labor's political clout is miniscule by comparison. The biggest political players are giant corporations like Amazon. And what have they done with their muscle? Encouraged state "right-to-work" laws, diluted federal labor protections, and kept the National Labor Relations Board understaffed and overburdened.

They've also impelled government to lower their taxes (Amazon paid zero federal taxes in 2018); extorted states to provide them tax breaks as condition for locating facilities there (Amazon is a champion at this game); bullied cities where they're headquartered (Amazon forced Seattle to back down on a plan to tax big corporations like itself to pay for homeless shelters); and wangled trade treaties allowing them to outsource so many jobs that blue-collar workers in America have little choice but to take low-paying, high-stress warehouse and delivery gigs.

Oh, and they've neutered antitrust laws, which in earlier era would have had companies like Amazon in their crosshairs.

This decades-long power shift – the emergence of corporate leviathans and the demise of labor unions – has resulted in a massive upward redistribution of income and wealth. The richest 0.1 of Americans now has almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent put together.

Corporate profits account for a growing share of the total economy and wages a declining share, with multi-billionaire executives and investors like Bezos taking home the lion's share.

The power shift can be reversed – but only with stronger labor laws, tougher trade deals, and a renewed commitment to antitrust.

The Biden administration and congressional Democrats appear willing. The House has just passed the toughest labor law reforms in over a generation. Biden's new trade representative, Katherine Tai, promises that trade deals will protect the interests of American workers rather than exporters. And Biden is putting trustbusters in critical positions at the Federal Trade Commission and in the White House.

I'd like to think America is at a tipping point similar to where it was some hundred twenty years ago when the ravages and excesses of the Gilded Age precipitated what became known as the Progressive Era. Then, reformers reversed the course of American capitalism for the next 70 years, making it work for the many rather than the few.

Today's progressive activists – in Washington, at Amazon's Bessemer warehouse, and elsewhere around the nation – may be on the verge of doing the same.

Expert economist sounds the alarm on the biggest deficit you've never heard of

America has a deficit problem. But the country's biggest deficit isn't the federal budget deficit. It's the deficit in public investment.

The public investment deficit is the gap between what we should be investing in our future — on infrastructure, education, and basic research — and the relatively little we are investing.

Increasing public investment needs to be a major goal of the Biden administration.

Public investment is similar to private investment in that we invest today because of the payoff in the future. The difference is public investment pays off for all of us, for America.


The Biggest Deficit You’ve Never Heard Of | Robert Reich www.youtube.com


In the 1960s, we used to make a lot of public investments. But they've been steadily declining ever since.

That decline has been largely driven by so-called "deficit hawks" who argue against more federal spending. But as I've been saying for years, reducing the federal deficit just for the sake of reducing it makes no sense.

Any business person knows that you borrow money for the sake of investing in the future of your business. Those are wise borrowings. Because then you can pay those debts off when they get bigger.

A national economy works exactly the same way. It doesn't matter that we're borrowing money, if we're investing those monies that we borrowed from abroad — in education, training, infrastructure, factories — but we're not.

The public return on infrastructure investment, based on 2020 report taking into account the pandemic, averages $2.70 for every single public dollar invested — yet we haven't made those investments. Our infrastructure today is crumbling.

The return on early childhood education is between 10 and 16 percent — but only a handful of our children have access to early childhood education.

Public investment on clean energy has an annual return of over 27 percent. But federal tax breaks favor fossil fuels over renewables by about 7 to 1.

The public return on investments in basic research and development are huge. America's competitiveness depends on them, because no individual company has an incentive to make them. The lithium-ion battery that powers iPhones and electric cars was developed by federally sponsored materials science research, while the Internet itself was borne out of the Advanced Research Projects Administration.

And yet in recent years, public investment in basic research has declined as well.

Are you seeing a pattern yet? Federal investments in all these areas have shrunk — even though the payoffs from these investments are gigantic, and the costs of not making them are astronomical. American productivity is already suffering.

Now, some say we don't need to worry about this public investment deficit because private investments fill the gap. Baloney.

Corporations are focused on getting the best return for themselves, not for America. For most of the last four decades, they've made money by lowering their costs, at the expense of working people: capping wages, reducing taxes, and deregulating.

A common assumption is that when American corporations are profitable, Americans are better off. But that's false. Trickle-down economics is a sham. Tax cuts and subsidies to big corporations and the wealthy don't build the economy. Economies don't grow from the top down — they grow from the bottom up, through public investment.

So if private investment won't fill the gap, how do we fill it? Two ways: tax the wealthy and large corporations, and borrow.

Tax rates on the wealthy and on corporations have continued to drop over the past 40 years, just as the deficit in public investment has grown. In the 1950s, the highest tax rate on individuals was over 90 percent. Even after tax deductions and credits, it was still over 40 percent. But since then, tax rates have dropped dramatically. For the first time on record, the 400 richest Americans now pay a lower effective tax rate than people in the bottom half.
Revenue from corporate taxes has also plummeted.

If wealthy individuals and corporations want all the advantages that come with being American, they have to pay taxes so America can afford the public investments necessary for a high-wage, high-productivity society.

The other way to pay for public investment is through public borrowing. This kind of borrowing doesn't burden future generations, because it's used to build a better future for those future generations.

Remember: There's a difference between borrowing for the future and borrowing for today. You might not want to borrow to pay for a vacation, but it's perfectly rational to borrow to purchase a house, because a vacation doesn't have any future return, while a home does. Right now, the federal budget irrationally treats all government borrowing the same.

The government needs a public investment budget separate from the current spending budget to clarify what we're investing in and allow us to keep borrowing for investments as long as the returns justify it.

Public investment is the biggest and most important deficit you've never heard of.

Don't listen to people who claim we can't afford to invest in the American people. We can afford it. We can't afford not to. Joe Biden needs to recognize this, and make public investment a central part of his economic strategy.

Former White House official explains how Bidenomics is uniting America

A quarter century ago, I and other members of Bill Clinton's cabinet urged him to reject the Republican's proposal to end welfare. It was too punitive, we said, subjecting poor Americans to deep and abiding poverty. But Clinton's political advisers warned that unless he went along, he jeopardized his reelection.

That was the end of welfare as we knew it. As Clinton boasted in his State of the Union address to Congress that year, "the era of big government is over."

Until last Thursday, that is, when Joe Biden signed into law the biggest expansion of government assistance since the 1960s – a guaranteed income for most families with children, raising the maximum benefit by up to 80 percent per child.

As Biden put it in his address to the nation, as if answering Clinton, "the government isn't some foreign force in a distant capital. No, it's us, all of us, we the people."

As a senator, Biden had supported Clinton's 1996 welfare restrictions as did most Americans. What happened between then and now? Three big things.

First, COVID. The pandemic has been a national wake-up call on the fragility of middle-class incomes. The deep COVID recession has revealed the harsh consequences of most Americans now living paycheck to paycheck.

For years, Republicans used welfare to drive a wedge between the white working middle class and the poor. Ronald Reagan portrayed black, inner-city mothers as freeloaders and con artists, repeatedly referring to "a woman in Chicago" as the "welfare queen."

Whites who were putting more hours into paid work than ever – women had streamed into the workforce in the 1970s in order to prop up family incomes decimated by the decline in male factory jobs – were particularly susceptible to the message. Why should "they" get help for not working when "we" get no help, and we work?

By the time Clinton campaigned for president, "ending welfare as we knew it" had become a talisman of so-called New Democrats, even though there was little or no evidence that welfare benefits discouraged the unemployed from taking jobs. (In Britain, enlarged child benefits actually increased employment among single mothers.)

Yet when COVID hit, public assistance was no longer necessary just for "them." It was needed by "us."

The second big thing was Donald Trump. He exploited racism, to be sure, but replaced economic Reaganism with narcissistic grievances, claims of voter fraud, and cultural paranoia stretching from Dr. Seuss to Mr. Potato Head.

Trump obliterated concerns about government giving away money. The CARES Act, which he signed into law at the end of March, gave most Americans checks of $1,200 (to which he calculatedly attached his name). When this proved enormously popular, he demanded the next round of stimulus checks be $2,000.

Part of the GOP's incapacity to respond to Biden's momentous redistribution was due to the Party's equally momentous distribution upward – its $1.9 trillion 2018 tax cut whose benefits went overwhelmingly to the top 20 percent. Despite promises of higher wages for everyone else, nothing trickled down.

Meanwhile, during the pandemic, America's 660 billionaires – major beneficiaries of the Trump tax cut – became $1.3 trillion wealthier, enough to give every American a $3,900 check and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic.

The third big thing is the breadth of Biden's plan. Under it, more than 93 percent of the nation's children — 69 million — receive benefits. Americans in the lowest quintile increase their incomes by 20 percent; those in the second-lowest, 9 percent; those in the middle, 6 percent.

Rather than pit the working middle class against the poor, this unites them. Over 70 percent of Americans support the bill, including 63 percent of low-income Republicans (a quarter of all Republican voters). Younger conservatives are particularly supportive, presumably because people under 50 have felt the brunt of the four-decade slowdown in real wage growth.

Given all this, it's amazing that zero Republican members of Congress voted for it, while 278 voted for Trump's tax cut for corporations and the rich.

The political lesson is that today's Democrats – who enjoy popular vote majorities in presidential elections (having won seven of the past eight) – can gain political majorities by raising the wages of both middle class and poor voters, while fighting Republican efforts to suppress the votes of likely Democrats.

The economic lesson is that Reaganomics is officially dead. For years, conservative economists have argued that tax cuts for the rich create job-creating investments, while assistance to the poor creates dependency. Rubbish.

Bidenomics is exactly the reverse: Give cash to the bottom two-thirds and their purchasing power will drive growth for everyone. This is far more plausible. We'll learn how much in coming months.

Here's why Trump's reemergence is great news for Democrats -- but potentially disastrous for America

Donald Trump formally anointed himself head of the Republican Party at Sunday's Conservative Political Action Conference.

The Grand Old Party, founded in 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin, is now dead. What's left is a dwindling number of elected officials who have stood up to Trump but are now being purged. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's popularity has dropped 29 points among Kentucky Republicans since he broke with Trump.

In its place is the Trump Party, whose major goal is to advance Trump's Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Its agenda is to exact vengeance on Republicans who didn't or won't support the lie or who voted to impeach or convict Trump for inciting the violence that the lie generated, and to keep attention on his grievances.

As the Trump Party takes over the GOP, anti-Trump Republicans are abandoning the party in droves – thereby weakening it for general elections while simultaneously strengthening Trump's hand inside it.

It's great news for Democrats and Joe Biden.

Democrats couldn't hope for a more perfect foil – a defeated one-term president who never cracked 47 percent of the popular vote, left office with just 39 percent approval and is now hovering at an abysmal 34 percent, whom most Americans dislike or loathe, and a majority believe incited an insurrection against the United States.

The gift will keep giving. Courtesy of the Supreme Court, Trump's tax returns will soon be raked across America like barnyard manure. Expect more of his shady business dealings to be exposed – more payoffs, cheats, and cons – as well as civil and criminal prosecutions.

The Trump Party isn't interested in appealing to the nation as a whole, anyway. It's interested only in appealing to Trump and the base that worships him.

All this is making it nearly impossible for congressional Republicans to mount a strong opposition to Biden's ambitious plans for COVID relief followed by major investments in infrastructure and jobs. Lacking unity, leadership, strategy, clarity or a coherent message on anything other than Trump's grievances, the Trump Party is irrelevant to the large choices facing the nation. Democrats in Washington have the public square all to themselves.

Biden is in the enviable position of getting most of America behind his agenda – and he can do so without a single Republican vote if Senate Democrats end the filibuster.

Democrats have proven themselves capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. But if they and Biden use this opportunity as they should, by this time next year COVID will be a tragic memory, and the nation will be in the midst of a strong economic recovery propelling it toward full employment and rising wages. With the GOP in disarray and rabid Trumpism turning off ever more voters, the 2022 midterm elections could swell Democratic majorities in Congress.

But the emergence of the Trump Party is deeply worrisome for America. It is a dangerous, deluded, authoritarian, and potentially violent faction that has no responsible role in a democracy.

Its Big Lie enables supporters of the former president to believe their efforts to overturn the 2020 election were necessary to protect American democracy, and that they must continue to fight a "deep state" conspiracy to thwart Trump. This is an open invitation to violence.

The Big lie also justifies Trump Party efforts to suppress votes considered "fraudulent." In 33 states, Trumplawmakers are already pushing more than 165 bills intended to stop mail-in voting, increase voter ID requirements, make it harder to register to vote, and expand purges of voter rolls.

Democrats in Congress are responding with their proposed "For the People Act," to expand voting through automatic voter registration across the country, early voting, and enlarged mail-in voting.

The incipient civil war pits a national Democratic Party representing America's majority against a state-based Trump Party composed of a defiant and overwhelmingly white, working-class minority. It's a recipe for a harsh clash between democracy and authoritarianism.

Plus, there's the small possibility Trump will run again in 2024 and win.

What's good for Biden and the Democrats in the short run is potentially disastrous for America over the longer term. One of its two major parties is centered on a Big Lie that threatens to blow up the nation, figuratively if not literally.

Former Clinton official says there's only one way Democrats will ever get anything done

Mitch McConnell may no longer be Senate Majority Leader, but Republicans can still block legislation supported by the vast majority. That's because of a Senate rule called the filibuster. If we have any hope of safeguarding our democracy and ushering in transformative change, Democrats must wield their power to get rid of the filibuster – and fast.

The filibuster is a Senate rule requiring a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation. Which means a minority of senators can often block legislation that the vast majority of Americans want and need.

It's not in the Constitution. In fact, it's arguably unconstitutional. Alexander Hamilton regarded a supermajority rule as "a poison" that would lead to "contemptible compromises of the public good."

Even without the filibuster, Senate Republicans already have outsized influence. The 50 of them represent 41 and a half million fewer Americans than the 50 Senate Democrats. Wyoming, with 579,000 people gets two senators. California, with 40 million also gets two senators.


The Senate Rule Breaking Our Politics www.youtube.com


Meanwhile, Republican-controlled states are gearing up to pass even more restrictive voting laws along with additional partisan gerrymandering that could enable Republicans in Washington to maintain power for the next decade.

The best way to prevent this is with national election standards through the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act – but these important bills are stymied as long as the filibuster remains in place.

The filibuster is rooted in racism. In the late 19th century, Southern senators crafted the "talking filibuster" – in which a member could delay the passage of a bill with a long-winded speech – in order to protect the pro-slavery Senate minority.

The current version of the filibuster, requiring 60 votes to end debate, was popularized in the Jim Crow era by Southern senators seeking to prevent passage of civil rights legislation. From the end of Reconstruction to 1964, the filibuster was used only to kill civil rights bills.

Senators can now use a process called "reconciliation" to pass legislation on budgetary matters, requiring a bare majority of 51 votes. But the filibuster can still stop bills on voting rights, the climate crisis, campaign finance reform, and other crucial legislation Americans need – and on which Joe Biden has based much of his presidency.

Getting rid of the filibuster is also good politics. As long as the filibuster is intact, Senate Republicans could keep the Senate in gridlock, and then run in the 2022 midterms on Democrats' failure to get anything done.

The good news is the filibuster is a Senate rule. As I said, it's not in the Constitution. It's not even in a law. Like any other Senate rule it can be changed by a simple majority of senators.

With Vice President Kamala Harris now serving as the tie-breaking vote, Senate Democrats can and must abolish the filibuster.

There are a few conservative Senate Democrats who don't like the idea, but Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer can get them to fall in line. That's what leadership is all about. They must end the filibuster and get America moving. Now.

Republicans scramble to blame green energy as Texas freeze leaves their social Darwinist ideology in tatters

Texas's prevailing social Darwinism was expressed most succinctly last week by the mayor of Colorado City, who accused his constituents – trapped in near sub-zero temperatures and complaining about lack of heat, electricity, and drinkable water – of being the "lazy" products of a "socialist government," adding "I'm sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout!" and predicting "only the strong will survive and the weak will perish."

Texas has the third-highest number of billionaires in America, most of them oil tycoons. Its laissez-faire state energy market delivered a bonanza to oil and gas producers that managed to keep production going during the freeze. It was "like hitting the jackpot," boasted president of Comstock Resources on an earnings call. Jerry Jones, billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, holds a majority of Comstock's shares.

But most other Texans were marooned. Some did perish.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the flow of electric power, exempted affluent downtowns from outages – leaving the thriving parts of Austin, Dallas, and Houston brightly lit while pushing less affluent precincts into the dark and cold.

Like the poor across America and much of the world, poor Texans are getting hammered by climate change. Many inhabit substandard homes, lacking proper insulation. The very poor occupy trailers or tents, or camp out in their cars. Lower-income communities also are located close to refineries and other industrial sites that release added pollutants when they shut or restart.

In Texas, for-profit energy companies have no incentive to prepare for extreme weather or maintain spare capacity. Even when they're able to handle surges in demand, prices go through the roof and poorer households are hit hard. That's what's happened in the wake of the deep freeze. If they can't pay, they're cut off.

Rich Texans take spikes in energy prices in their stride. If the electric grid goes down, private generators kick in. In a pinch – as last week – they check into hotels or leave town. As millions of his constituents remained without power and heat, Senator Ted Cruz flew to Cancun, Mexico for a family vacation. Their Houston home was "FREEZING," as his wife put it.

Climate change and income are together splitting Americans by class more profoundly than Americans are split by politics. Yet the white working class has been seduced by conservative Republicans and Trump cultists, of which Texas has an abundance, into believing that what's good for Black and Latino people is bad for them, and that whites are, or should be, on the winning side of the social Darwinian contest.

White grievance helps keep Republicans in power, protecting their rich patrons from a majority that might otherwise join together to demand what they need – such heat and drinking water.

Lower-income Texans, white as well as Black and Latino, are taking it on the chin in many other ways. Texas is one of the few states that hasn't expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving the share of Texans without health insurance twice the national average, the largest uninsured population of any state. Texas has double the national average of children in poverty and a higher rate of unemployment than the nation's average.

And although Texans have suffered multiple natural disasters stemming from climate change, Texas Republicans are dead set against a Green New Deal that would help reduce the horrific impacts.

Last Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott went on Fox News to proclaim, absurdly, that what happened to his state "shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States." Abbott blamed the power failure on the fact that "wind and solar got shut down."

Rubbish. The loss of power from frozen coal-fired and natural gas plants was six times larger than the dent caused by frozen wind turbines. Texans froze because deregulation and a profit-driven free market created an electric grid utterly unprepared for climate change.

In Texas, tycoons are the only winners from climate change. Everyone else is losing badly. Adapting to extreme weather is necessary but it's no substitute for cutting emissions, which Texas is loath to do. Not even the Lone Star State should protect the freedom to freeze.

This article was originally published at RobertReich.org

Inside the rapidly 'shrinking' GOP's plan to keep power over the rest of America -- and how to fight back

The Republican Party is shrinking. It's lost the popular vote in seven of the past eight Presidential elections. Since Trump's attempted coup, more Americans are abandoning it every day.

Yet even as a shrinking minority party, the GOP intends to entrench themselves in power over the majority. Here's their playbook – and what the rest of us can do to stop them.


Unrigging the GOP's Minority Rule | Robert Reich www.youtube.com



1. In presidential elections, they'll continue to try to win enough swing states to dominate the Electoral College and win the presidency.

The answer is to make the Electoral College irrelevant by having states join the growing movement to pass laws giving all their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

2. In the Senate, they'll continue to try to win enough seats in mostly white, sparsely populated rural states to outvote highly populated urban states.

The answer here is for Congress to grant statehood to Washington D.C., and to work with Puerto Rico, which recently voted in favor of statehood, on a concrete path to self-determination.

3. They also aim to use the Senate filibuster to block the majority. The answer is to eliminate the filibuster, which Senate Democrats can do without a single Republican vote.

4. Finally, the GOP will use its control over state governments to gerrymander congressional districts and gain disproportionate power in the House. And they will pass even more laws making it harder for Democrats to vote.

The answer is to prevent gerrymandering and voter suppression by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act – which Democrats can do with a simple majority of 51 votes once they eliminate the filibuster. The values of the Republican Party do not reflect the values of most Americans. It should not be allowed to silence the voices of the majority.

Here's the disturbing reason it's impossible for Biden to govern from the 'center'

I keep hearing that Joe Biden has to govern from the "center." He has no choice, they say, because he has razor-thin majorities in Congress and the Republican Party has moved to the right.

Rubbish. First, there is no "center" between the reality-based world and the conspiracy-fueled, hate-filled world of today's Republican Party. Second, the problems the country is facing cannot be solved with milquetoast, centrist solutions – they demand immediate, bold action.

I've been in or around politics for 50 years. I've served several Democratic presidents who have needed Republican votes. But the Republicans now in Congress are nothing like those I've dealt with.

Today's Republican Party is a cult.

93 percent of House Republicans voted against impeaching Trump for inciting an insurrection, and Senate Republicans refuse to convict him. This is after Trump's insurrection threatened even their own lives.

The 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are facing backlash from their colleagues, with some even calling to remove Liz Cheney from her leadership position.

But hardly any have condemned the vile conspiracy theories spouted by Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has claimed that the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were "false flags" and that the deadly California wildfires were sparked by a Jewish space laser, among other wild lies.

All of this marks the culmination of the GOP's growing lunacy over the last four years. With Trump at its head, the Republican Party has embraced blatant white supremacy, and now inhabits a counterfactual wonderland of lies and conspiracies.

Even by mid-January, polls show three out of four Republicans don't think Biden won legitimately. 45 percent support the storming of the Capitol; 57 percent say Trump should be the Republican candidate in 2024.

And a growing fringe – including some Republicans in Congress – openly talk of redressing grievances through violence.

With this Republican Party, Biden cannot be a "centrist."

Instead, he must deliver bold change for the American people, refusing to compromise with violent Trumpism. Barring Trump from ever holding public office again. Expelling Trump's co-conspirators from Congress.

Don't listen to people claiming this would be a "distraction" from Biden's agenda. There is no healing without accountability. If we let those who incited this insurrection off the hook, we're inviting it to happen again. And next time they might succeed.

It should all be part of Biden's agenda. Biden must fight for democracy and against authoritarianism – including strengthening voting rights, getting big money out of politics, and taking on the Republican Party's anti-democratic agenda of gerrymandering and voter suppression.

There is no longer a "center" in American politics. No middle ground between lies and facts. No halfway point between civil discourse and violence. No midrange between democracy and fascism.

We either have a future based on lies, violence, and authoritarianism – or on unyielding truth, unshakeable civility, and democracy. Biden and the Democrats must fight for the latter. And we must make them.

Trump is history -- it's Joe Biden who's changing America: Former Labor secretary

While most of official Washington has been consumed with the Senate impeachment trial, another part of Washington is preparing the most far-ranging changes in American social policy in a generation.

Congress is moving ahead with Biden's American Rescue Plan, which expands health care and unemployment benefits, and contains one of the most ambitious efforts to reduce child poverty since the New Deal. Right behind it is Biden's plan for infrastructure and jobs.

The juxtaposition of Trump's impeachment trial and Biden's ambitious plans is no coincidence.

Trump left Republicans badly fractured and on the defensive. The Republican Party is imploding. Since January 6th, growing numbers of Republicans have deserted it. State and county committees are becoming wackier by the day. Big business no longer has a home in the crackpot GOP.

Republican infighting has created a political void into which Democrats are stepping with far-reaching reforms. Biden and the Democrats, who now control the White House and both houses of Congress, are responding boldly to the largest social and economic crisis since Great Depression.

Importantly, they are now free to disregard conservative canards that have hobbled America's ability to respond to public needs ever since Ronald Reagan convinced the nation that big government was the problem.

The first is the supposed omnipresent danger of inflation and the accompanying worry that public spending can easily overheat the economy.

Rubbish. Inflation hasn't reared its head in years, not even during the roaring job market of 2018 and 2019. "Overheating" may no longer even be a problem for globalized, high-tech economies whose goods and services are so easily replaceable.

Biden's ambitious plans are worth the small risk, in any event. If you hadn't noticed, the American economy is becoming more unequal by the day. Bringing it to a boil may be the only way to lift the wages of the bottom half. The hope is that record low interest rates and vast public spending generate enough demand that employers will need to raise wages to find the workers they need.

A few Democratic economists who should know better are sounding the false alarm about inflation, but Biden is wisely ignoring them. So should Democrats in Congress.

Another conservative bromide is that a larger national debt crowds out private investment and slows growth. This view hamstrung the Clinton and Obama administrations as deficit hawks warned against public spending unaccompanied by tax increases to pay for it. (I still have some old injuries from those hawks.)

Fortunately, Biden isn't buying this, either.

Four decades of chronic underemployment and stagnant wages have shown how important public spending is for sustained growth. Not incidentally, growth reduces the debt as a share of the overall economy. The real danger is the opposite: fiscal austerity shrinks economies and causes national debts to grow in proportion.

The third canard is that generous safety nets discourage work.

Democratic presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson sought to alleviate poverty and economic insecurity with broad-based relief. But after Reagan tied public assistance to racism – deriding single-mother "welfare queens" – conservatives began demanding stringent work requirements so that only the "truly deserving" received help. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama acquiesced to this nonsense.

Not Biden. His proposal would not only expand jobless benefits but also provide assistance to parents who are not working – thereby extending relief to 27 million children, including about half of all Black and Latino children. Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah has put forward a similar plan.

This is just common sense. Tens of millions are hurting. A record number of American children are impoverished, according to the most recent Census data.

The pandemic has also caused a large number of women to drop out of the labor force in order to care for children. With financial help, some of them will be able to pay for childcare and move back into paid work. After Canada enacted a national child allowance in 2006, employment rates for mothers increased. A decade later, when Canada increased its annual child allowance, its economy added jobs.

It's still unclear exactly what form Biden's final plans will take as they work their way through Congress. He has razor-thin majorities in both chambers. In addition, most of his proposals are designed for the current emergency; they would need to be made permanent.

But the stars are now better aligned for fundamental reform than they've been since Reagan.

It's no small irony that a half century after Reagan persuaded Americans that big government was the problem, Trump's demise is finally liberating America from Reaganism – and letting the richest nation on earth give its people the social supports they desperately need.

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