DC insider explains how the GOP 'has descended into opportunistic treachery'

I don't know about you, but I was elated earlier this spring when it seemed as if Trump and COVID were gone, and Biden seemed surprisingly able to get the nation rapidly back on track.

Now much is sliding backwards. It's not Biden's fault; it's Trump's ongoing legacy.

The new Delta strain of the virus requires, according to the CDC, that we go back to wearing masks inside in public places where the virus is surging, even if we're fully inoculated.

This would be nothing more than a small disappointment and inconvenience were it not for Republicans using it as another opportunity to politicize public health.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded to the new CDC recommendation with the kind of unhinged hyperbole Trumpers have perfected. "The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state," he said.

Republican politicizing of public health will get worse if the Delta variant continues to surge. At some point vaccines will have to be mandated because being inoculated is not solely a matter of personal choice. Herd immunity is a common good. If infections mount, that common good can only be achieved if nearly everyone is vaccinated.

But those eager to exploit the virus's resurgence – the know-nothings, Trump wannabe's, vilely ambitious political upstarts, Tucker Carlsons and similarly cynical entertainers – are already howling about "personal freedom" threatened by "socialism."

The investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 is further evidence of how far the Republican Party has descended into opportunistic treachery.

We need to know what happened and why if we are to have half a chance of avoiding a repeat. Just as with the history of systemic discrimination and brutality against Black people in America – which Republicans are calling "critical race theory" and trying to ban from classrooms – the truth shapes our responses to the future.

Here again, the dispiriting aspect of the present moment is Republican denial and obfuscation.

As Officer Michael Fanone – who suffered traumatic brain injury on Jan 6 when rioters attacked him – testified yesterday at the start of the hearings, "What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens — including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend — are downplaying or outright denying what happened."

With the exception of Rep. Liz Cheney – whom I never expected to hold up as a model of integrity – Republicans are eager to divert the public's attention. Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik declared at a press conference yesterday that "Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility, as speaker of the House, for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6."

This is absurd on its face. The Speaker of the House shares responsibility for Capitol security with the Senate majority leader, who at the time of the attack was Mitch McConnell. If Pelosi was negligent – and there's zero evidence she was – McConnell was as well.

Stefanik and other Republican leaders don't want the public to know about Republican members of Congress who were almost certainly involved in the travesty, either directly or indirectly. The list includes Representatives Jim Jordan, Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Andrew Biggs, and McCarthy himself. Senator Josh Hawley also seems to have been on the know, given his fist-salute to the rioters.

And then there's Trump himself, cheerleader and ringleader.

All should be subpoenaed. All, presumably, will fight the subpoenas in court.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to stage rallies for his avid followers as he did last weekend in Phoenix, where he declared "Our nation is up against the most sinister forces… This nation does not belong to them, this nation belongs to you."

Wrong. America belongs to all of us. And we all have a responsibility to protect its public health and its democratic institutions. The real sinister force is the Trump Republicans' cynical exploitation of lies and anti-scientific rubbish to divide and divert us.

Months ago, it seemed as if this darkness was behind us. It is not.

DC Insider: Covid isn't the only thing resurging

Despair is worse after a brief period of hope. I don't know about you, but I was elated earlier this spring when it seemed as if Trump and COVID were gone, and Biden seemed surprisingly able to get the nation rapidly back on track.

Now much is sliding backwards. It's not Biden's fault; it's Trump's ongoing legacy.

The new Delta strain of the virus requires, according to the CDC, that we go back to wearing masks inside in public places where the virus is surging, even if we're fully inoculated.

This would be nothing more than a small disappointment and inconvenience were it not for Republicans using it as another opportunity to politicize public health.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded to the new CDC recommendation with the kind of unhinged hyperbole Trumpers have perfected. "The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state," he said.

Republican politicizing of public health will get worse if the Delta variant continues to surge. At some point vaccines will have to be mandated because being inoculated is not solely a matter of personal choice. Herd immunity is a common good. If infections mount, that common good can only be achieved if nearly everyone is vaccinated.

But those eager to exploit the virus's resurgence – the know-nothings, Trump wannabe's, vilely ambitious political upstarts, Tucker Carlsons and similarly cynical entertainers – are already howling about "personal freedom" threatened by "socialism."

The investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 is further evidence of how far the Republican Party has descended into opportunistic treachery.

We need to know what happened and why if we are to have half a chance of avoiding a repeat. Just as with the history of systemic discrimination and brutality against Black people in America – which Republicans are calling "critical race theory" and trying to ban from classrooms – the truth shapes our responses to the future.

Here again, the dispiriting aspect of the present moment is Republican denial and obfuscation.

As Officer Michael Fanone – who suffered traumatic brain injury on Jan 6 when rioters attacked him – testified yesterday at the start of the hearings, "What makes the struggle harder and more painful is to know so many of my fellow citizens — including so many of the people I put my life at risk to defend — are downplaying or outright denying what happened."

With the exception of Rep. Liz Cheney – whom I never expected to hold up as a model of integrity – Republicans are eager to divert the public's attention. Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik declared at a press conference yesterday that "Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility, as speaker of the House, for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6."

This is absurd on its face. The Speaker of the House shares responsibility for Capitol security with the Senate majority leader, who at the time of the attack was Mitch McConnell. If Pelosi was negligent – and there's zero evidence she was – McConnell was as well.

Stefanik and other Republican leaders don't want the public to know about Republican members of Congress who were almost certainly involved in the travesty, either directly or indirectly. The list includes Representatives Jim Jordan, Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Andrew Biggs, and McCarthy himself. Senator Josh Hawley also seems to have been on the know, given his fist-salute to the rioters.

And then there's Trump himself, cheerleader and ringleader.

All should be subpoenaed. All, presumably, will fight the subpoenas in court.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to stage rallies for his avid followers as he did last weekend in Phoenix, where he declared "Our nation is up against the most sinister forces… This nation does not belong to them, this nation belongs to you."

Wrong. America belongs to all of us. And we all have a responsibility to protect its public health and its democratic institutions. The real sinister force is the Trump Republicans' cynical exploitation of lies and anti-scientific rubbish to divide and divert us.

Months ago, it seemed as if this darkness was behind us. It is not.

DC insider explains how the GOP became the anti-family party

Last Thursday, 39 million American parents began receiving a monthly child allowance ($300 per child under 6, and $250 per child from 6 through 17). It's the biggest helping hand to American families in more than 85 years.

They need it. Even before the pandemic, child poverty had reached post-war records. Even non-poor families were in trouble, burdened with deepening debt and missed payments. Most were living paycheck to paycheck – so if they lost a job, they and their kids could be plunged into poverty. It's estimated that the new monthly child allowance will cut child poverty by more than half.

But every single Republican in both the House and Senate voted against the measure.

After I posted a tweet reminding people of this indisputable fact, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah responded Friday with a perfectly bizarre tweet: "If you're one of the 39 million households receiving their first Child Tax Credit payment today, don't forget that every single Democrat voted against making it larger."

Hello? Did we just go through the funhouse mirror?

In point of fact, when the American Rescue Plan was being debated last February, Lee and Senator Marco Rubio did propose slightly larger payments. But here's the rub: They wanted to restrict them only to "working parents." Children of the unemployed would be out of luck. Yet those kids are the poorest of the poor. They're most at risk of being hungry without a roof over their heads.

In a joint press release at the time, Lee and Rubio said they refused to support what they termed "welfare assistance" to jobless parents, warning against undercutting "the responsibility of parents to work to provide for their families." Then Lee, Rubio, and every other Republican voted against the whole shebang – help for working and non-working parents. And now Lee wants to take credit for wanting to make the payments larger to begin with? Talk about both sides of the mouth.

As we move toward the gravitational pull of the midterm elections – and polls show how popular the monthly child payments are – I expect other Republicans to make the same whopper of a claim.

But underneath this hypocritical Republican rubbish lie two important questions. The first: will a payment of up to $300 per child every month – totaling up to $3,600 per child per year – invite parents to become couch potatoes?

That seems doubtful. Even a family with three kids under six would receive no more than $10,800 a year. That's way below what's needed to pay even subsistence expenses, and still far below what a full-time job at the federal minimum wage would pull in.

But even if the payment caused some parents to work a bit less, it's far from clear their children are worse off as a result. Maybe they benefit from additional parenting time.

Which only raises a second question: should children be penalized because their parents aren't working, or are working less than they would without the child payment?

This question has been debated in America for many years – ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt first provided "Aid for Families with Dependent Children" (AFDC) in the Social Security Act of 1935.

It can't be decided based on facts; it comes down to values. We know, for example, that child poverty soared after Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans ended AFDC in 1996 and substituted a work requirement. Many people – myself included – look back on that decision as a horrible mistake.

But many of its proponents call it a success because it resulted in additional numbers of poor adults getting jobs and thereby setting good examples for their children of personal responsibility. In the view of these proponents, a country where more parents take responsibility to provide for their children is worth the collateral damage of a greater number of impoverished children.

Since the 1990s, the Republican view that public assistance should be limited to families with breadwinners has taken firm hold in America. Only now, with the American Rescue Plan – put into effect during the worst public health crisis in more than a century and one of the fiercest periods of unemployment since World War II – has that view been rejected in favor of a universal family benefit.

It's too early to know whether this about-face is permanent. The Act's payments will end a year from now unless Congress passes Biden's proposed $3.5 trillion addition. Almost every Senate Democrat has signaled a willingness to go along. But here again, not a single Senate Republican has signed on.

Let's be clear. Mike Lee's Republican Party – the putative party of "family values" – doesn't support needy families. It supports a pinched and, in these perilous times, unrealistic view of personal responsibility – children be damned.

Is this the beginning of the end of democracy as we know it?

This morning, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin announced in the Charleston Gazette-Mail that he's a "no" on the For the People Act – and a no for ending the filibuster.

This is a direct in-your-eye response to President Biden's thinly-veiled criticism of Manchin last Tuesday in Tulsa.

If it means the end of the For the People Act, it would open the way for Republican-dominated states to continue their shameless campaign to suppress the votes of likely Democratic voters – using Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud as pretext. That's the beginning of the end of American democracy as we know it.

Manchin's support for extending the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to all fifty states is better than nothing, but it would depend on an activist Justice Department willing to block state changes in voting laws that suppress votes, and an activist Supreme Court willing to uphold such Justice Department decisions.

Don't bet on either. We know what happened to the Justice Department under Trump, and we know what's happened to the Supreme Court.

So without Manchin, is the For the People Act dead? Probably, unless Biden can convince one Republican senator to join him in supporting it.

Would Mitt Romney or Lisa Murkowski or Susan Collins be willing to do so and buck the voter-suppressing, Trump-dominated GOP? Or will history record that Republican senators were more united in their opposition to democracy than Democratic senators are in their support for it?

The optimist in me says Romney will do it because he's an institutionalist who's appalled the authoritarianism that Trump has unleashed in the GOP. The cynical realist in me says no way.

This article was originally published at RobertReich.org

The greatest danger to American democracy isn't coming from inside the House

The greatest danger to American democracy right now is not coming from Russia, China, or North Korea. It is coming from the Republican Party.

Only 25 percent of voters self-identify as Republican, the GOP's worst showing against Democrats since 2012 and sharply down since last November. But those who remain in the Party are far angrier, more ideological, more truth-denying, and more racist than Republicans who preceded them.

And so are the lawmakers who represent them.

Today's Republican Party increasingly is defined not by its shared beliefs but by its shared delusions.

Last Friday, 54 U.S. senators voted in favor of proceeding to debate a House-passed bill to establish a commission to investigate the causes and events of the January 6th insurrection. This was 6 votes short of the number of votes needed for "cloture," or stopping debate – meaning any further consideration of the bill would have been filibustered by Republicans indefinitely.

So there will be no investigation.

The 54 Senators who voted yes to cloture – in favor of the commission – represent 189 million Americans, or 58% of the American population. The 35 who voted no represent 104 million Americans, or 32% of the population.

In other words, 32% of American voters got to decide that the nation would not know about what happened to American democracy on January 6.

Furthermore, the 35 who voted against the commission were all Republicans. They did not want such an inquiry because it might jeopardize their chances of gaining a majority of the House or Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. They also wanted to stay in the good graces of Donald Trump, whose participation in that insurrection might have been more fully revealed.

Eight of these Republicans voted against certifying Joe Biden as president on January 6. Some of their constituents were responsible for the insurrection in the first place.

The Republican Party is also pursuing new laws in many states making it harder for likely Democrats to vote and opposing voting reforms in Congress.

It is actively purging any Republican who has temerity to criticize Trump. They have removed from her leadership position Liz Cheney, who called Trump's efforts to overturn the election and his role in inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot the greatest "betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution."

Local Republicans leaders have either stepped down or been forced out of their party positions for not supporting Trump's baseless election claims or for criticizing the former president's role in inciting the deadly Capitol riot.

American democracy is at an inflection point.

Senate Democrats must get rid of the filibuster and push through major reforms – voting rights, as well as policies that will enable more Americans in the bottom half – most of them without college educations, many of whom cling to the Republican Party – to do better.

In the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt noted that the survival of American democracy depended on the adoption of policies that comprised the New Deal. In that Depression decade, democracy was under siege around the world, and dictators were on the rise.

Joe Biden understands that America and the world face a similar challenge. And like FDR, Biden is making a strong case that the adoption of his policies will buttress democracy against the forces of tyranny, not only as an example to the rest of the world but here at home.

The trauma of 2020 will return if reality-denying Republicans are not held accountable — perhaps in even more terrifying form

At the risk of being the skunk at the picnic, I feel compelled to warn you that if we forget and move on from the tragedies of this past year, we're setting ourselves on a dangerous path. Of course I understand the desire to forget all the unpleasantness and start a new chapter. But if we do, we're inviting greater tragedies in the future.

Let me remind you: Donald Trump lied about the results of the last election. And then – you remember, don't you? – he tried to overturn the results.

Trump 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 encouraged the attempted coup by joining him in the big lie and refusing to certify the election — even after the mob desecrated the halls of our democracy.

This was in January of this year, yet we seem to be doing everything we can to blot it out of our memory. Meanwhile, those responsible for instigating the attack haven't been held accountable in any respect — including by the media.

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 the attack.

But the Post billed the interview as being about Hawley's new book on 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."

CBS This Morning interviewed Florida Republican Rick Scott, another senator who tried to overturn the election by not certifying the results. But there was no mention of his sedition, either. 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, or their continued promotion of Trump's lies.

The media is supposed to serve as a crucial check on those in power. But in its breathless desire to cover the "news" it is failing to remind us of our recent past.

The consequences of this failure are dire.

Trump's big lie that the 2020 election was stolen, and that President Biden is not legitimate, is not disappearing. A majority of Republican voters believe him.

That big lie is being used by Republican state legislatures to justify an all-out assault on the right to vote.

Hours after Florida enacted new voting restrictions, Texas's Republican-led legislature pushed ahead with its own bill that would make it one of the hardest states in which to cast a ballot.

The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate launched a private recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa County – farming out 2.1 million ballots to GOP partisans with no experience in ballot counting or election monitoring. At least one person involved in the recount participated in the Capitol attack.

The Republican Party even purged one of its leaders, Wyoming representative Liz Cheney, for telling the truth about the election.

Meanwhile, Republican state legislatures are muscling their way into election administration, as they attempt to dislodge or bully local election officials who have always run our voting systems.

Trump's big lie will continue to flourish unless the lawmakers who went along with it and have failed to renounce it face real consequences.

That means no book promotions, no cushy interviews, no guest op-eds in the Sunday paper.

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

It also means a thorough independent 9-11 type inquiry into what happened, whether members of Congress were involved, how Donald Trump and others were involved.

Republican leaders must not duck this. History is watching.

They must be held accountable to the truth. Otherwise the trauma of 2020 will return — perhaps in even more terrifying form.

This secret tax loophole you've never heard of is making the rich even richer

How do we prevent America from becoming an aristocracy, while also funding the programs that Americans desperately need?

One way is to get rid of a tax loophole you've probably never heard of. It's known as the "stepped-up basis" rule.

Here's how the stepped-up-basis loophole now works. Take a man named Jeff. At his death, Jeff owns $30 million-worth of stocks he originally bought for a total of $10 million. Under existing law, neither Jeff nor his heirs would owe federal tax on the $20 million of gains because they're automatically "stepped up" to their value when he dies — $30 million.

Under Biden's proposal, Jeff's $20 million of gains would be taxed. And don't worry: Biden's proposal doesn't touch tax-favored retirement accounts, such as 401-Ks, and it only applies to the very richest Americans.

As it is now, the stepped-up basis loophole enables the super-rich, like Jeff, to avoid paying more than $40 billion in taxes each year. It has allowed them to skip taxes on the increased values of mansions and artworks as well as shares of stock.


The Secret Tax Loophole Making the Rich Even Richer | Robert Reich www.youtube.com


In fact, it's one of the chief means by which dynastic wealth has grown and been passed from generation to generation, enabling subsequent generations to live off that growing wealth and never pay a dime of taxes on it.

Unless the stepped-up basis loophole is closed, we will soon have a large class of hugely rich people who have never worked a day in their lives.

Over the next decades, rich baby boomers will pass on an estimated $58 trillion of wealth to their millennial children — the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history.

Closing this giant tax loophole for the super-rich is how Biden intends to fund part of his American Families Plan, which would provide every child with 2 years of pre-school and every student with 2 years of free community college, as well as provide paid family and medical leave to every worker.

Close this stepped-up basis loophole, and we help finance the programs the vast majority of Americans desperately need and deserve. We also end the explosion of dynastic wealth. It should be a no-brainer.

Trump's authoritarianism continues to inflict suffering on America

A hospital in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, is being charged under the country's National Security Act for sounding the alarm over a lack of oxygen that resulted in Covid deaths. The hospital's owner and manager says the police have accused him of "false scare-mongering," after he stated publicly that four of his patients died on a single day when oxygen ran out.

Since Covid-19 exploded in India, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, seems more intent on controlling the news than the outbreak. On Wednesday, India recorded nearly 363,000 Covid cases and 4,120 deaths, about 30 percent of worldwide Covid deaths that day. But experts say India is vastly understating the true number. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, estimates that at least 25,000 Indians are dying from Covid each day.

The horror has been worsened by shortages of oxygen and hospital beds. Yet Modi and his government don't want the public to get the true story.

One big lesson from the Covid crisis: lying makes it worse.

Vladimir Putin is busily denying the truth about Covid in Russia. Demographer Alexei Raksha, who worked at Russia's official statistical agency, Rosstat, but says he was forced to leave last summer for telling the truth about Covid, claims that the daily data in Russia has been "smoothed, rounded, lowered" to look better. Like many experts, he uses excess mortality – the number of deaths during the pandemic over the typical number of deaths – as the best indicator.

"If Russia stops at 500,000 excess deaths, that will be a good scenario," he calculates.

Russia was first out of the gate with a Covid vaccine but has fallen woefully behind on vaccinations. Recent polling puts the share of Russians who don't want to be vaccinated at 60 to 70 percent. That's because Putin and other officials have focused less on vaccinating the public than on claiming success in containing Covid.

The U.S. is suffering a similar problem – the legacy of another strongman, Donald Trump. Although more than half of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, more than 40 percent of Republicans have consistently told pollsters they won't get vaccinated. Their recalcitrance is threatening efforts to achieve "herd immunity" and prevent the virus's spread.

Like Modi and Putin, Trump minimized the seriousness of the pandemic and spread misinformation about it. Trump officials ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to downplay its severity. He declined to get vaccinated publicly and was noticeably absent from a public service announcement on vaccination that featured all other living former presidents.

Trump allies in the media have conducted a scare campaign about the vaccines. In December, Laura Ingraham posted a story on Facebook from the Daily Mail purporting to show evidence that Chinese communist party loyalists worked at pharmaceutical companies that developed the coronavirus vaccine.

As recently as mid-April, Fox News host Tucker Carlson opined that if the vaccine were truly effective, there'd be no reason for people who received it to wear masks or avoid physical contact.

"So maybe it doesn't work, and they're simply not telling you that."

Why then should anyone be surprised at the reluctance of Trump Republicans to get vaccinated? A recent New York Times analysis showed vaccination rates to be lower in counties where a majority voted for Trump in 2020. States that voted more heavily for Trump are also states where lower percentages of the population have been vaccinated.

The Republican pollster Frank Luntz claims Trump bears responsibility for the hesitancy of GOP voters to be vaccinated.

"He wants to get the credit for developing the vaccine. Then he also gets the blame for so few of his voters taking it."

Trump's Republican Party is coming to resemble authoritarian regimes around the world in other respects as well – purging truthtellers and trucking in lies, misinformation, and propaganda harmful to the public.

Last week the GOP stripped Representative Liz Cheney of her leadership position for telling the truth about the 2020 election. At last week's congressional hearing about the January 6 attack on the Capitol, one Republican congressman, Andrew Clyde, even denied it happened.

"There was no insurrection," he said. "To call it an insurrection is a bold-faced lie … you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit."

Biden says he plans to call a summit of democratic governments to contain the rise of authoritarianism around the world. I hope he talks about its rise in the United States, too – and the huge toll it's already taken on Americans.

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.

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