Sunday, March 17, 2013

FlimFlammery: The Word For Exposing the Whiny M/Billionaires (And Why Should You Pay THEIR Taxes?)

Number of Food Stamp Recipients Reached Record High in 2012

The number of Americans on food stamps climbed to an all-time peak last year, according to data released by the Department of Agriculture.

An average of 46.6 million people received the benefits each month last year, with the average number of households that received them totaling 22.3 million. In 2007, just 26.3 million people received food stamps.

Among states, Texas topped the chart with an average of 4.04 million food stamp recipients per month. California came in second with 3.96 million, and Florida was third with 3.35 million.

The FlimFlam Man Strikes Again?

Only for the misdirected.

Week's Best Word: Flimflammery

It was Dana Milbank who used it but he was clearly referencing Paul Krugman's classic 2010 column The Flimflam Man, for many people the introduction to the now infamous Paul Ryan. Friday, Krugman re-introduced his readers to the term, again, in reference to Ryan: After the Flimflam.

This time it's the new/old Ryan so-called "budget" Krugman is targeting, which he recognizes not only "isn't serious" but is "essentially a cruel joke." Back in 2010 Krugman denounced his budget/roadmap as "obviously fraudulent: huge cuts in aid to the poor, but even bigger tax cuts for the rich, with all the assertions of fiscal responsibility resting on claims that he would raise trillions of dollars by closing tax loopholes (which he refused to specify) and cutting discretionary spending (in ways he refused to specify)... Since then, his budgets have gotten even flimflammier... The good news is that Mr. Ryan’s thoroughly unconvincing policy-wonk act seems, finally, to have worn out its welcome. In 2011, his budget was initially treated with worshipful respect, which faded only slightly as critics pointed out the document’s many absurdities. This time around, quite a few pundits and reporters have greeted his release with the derision it deserves."

. . . But there’s another point to be made here. The Ryan plan requires Republicans to find $5.7 trillion in new revenues via loophole closing to pay for these enormous tax cuts, which would hugely and disproportionately benefit the wealthy. But Republicans are not willing to agree to cede one-tenth that amount in new revenues to reduce the deficit, to get some of the entitlement cuts they say they want, and to stop the sequester.
. . . The tax cuts described in Ryan’s budget would generate a huge windfall for high-income taxpayers. On average, households would get a cut of $3,000. But those in the top 0.1 percent of income, who make $3.3 million or more, would get a whopping $1.2 million on average - a 20 percent increase in their after-tax income.

By contrast, middle-income households would get an average tax cut of about $900. Those in the bottom 20 percent (who make $22,000 or less) would get $40 and one-third of them would get no tax cut at all.

Have you been enjoying paying the taxes of those whiny b/millionaires?

Nope. Me neither.

But you will continue to pick up their bill as they now own your legislative representatives even more than they did under the Bushes. And tax time is upon us.

America’s multinational corporations still need the Navy to protect shipping lanes and the Commerce Department to safeguard U.S. copyrights. They also expect the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department to intervene to provide bailouts and cheap money when the corporate financial swindlers get into trouble, like GE, which almost went aground when its GE Capital financial wing got caught in the great banking meltdown.

They want a huge U.S. government to finance scientific breakthroughs, educate the future workforce, sustain the infrastructure and provide for law and order on the home front, but they just don’t feel they should have to pay for a system of governance, even though it primarily serves their corporate interests. The U.S. government exists primarily to make the world safe for multinational corporations, but those firms feel no obligation to pay for that protection in return.

Think of that perfectly legal and widespread racket when you go to pay your taxes in the next weeks, and consider that you have to make up the gap left by the big boys’ antics. Also, when you contemplate the painful cuts coming because of the sequester that undoubtedly will further destabilize the economy, remember that, as the Wall Street Journal estimated, the tax savings of just 19 of those companies would more than cover the $85 billion in spending reductions triggered by the congressional budget impasse.

If Corporations Don’t Pay Taxes, Why Should You?

By Robert Scheer

March 12, 2013

Go offshore young man and avoid paying taxes. Plunder at will in those foreign lands, and if you get in trouble, Uncle Sam will come rushing to your assistance, diplomatically, financially and militarily, even if you have managed to avoid paying for those government services. Just pretend you’re a multinational corporation.

That’s the honest instruction for business success provided by 60 of the largest U.S. corporations that, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, “parked a total of $166 billion offshore last year” shielding more than 40 percent of their profits from U.S. taxes. They all do it, including Microsoft, GE and pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories. Many, like GE, are so good at it that they have avoided taxes altogether in some recent years.

But they all still expect Uncle Sam to come to their aid with military firepower in case the natives abroad get restless and nationalize their company’s assets. We still have a blockade against Cuba because Fidel Castro more than a half century ago dared seize an American-owned telephone company. During that same period, we have consistently intervened to maintain the lock of U.S. corporations on the world’s resources, continuing to the present task of making Iraq and Libya safe for our oil companies.

In what intelligent universe would this asswipe be taken as an expert on economics?

Other than the one inhabited by those chosen people who've read the first few pages of an Ayn Rand novel (and then been so bored that they threw it at the nearest wall)?

Paul Ryan Keeps Up the Bad Work

By Ruth Conniff, March 11, 2013

The deficit hawks just won't quit. Never mind that the deficit is actually shrinking steadily as a share of GDP.

"Debt Threat!" screamed a typical banner on CNBC this morning, where a full-employment program for the pundits of economic doom is under way, with constant warnings about the debt and deficits.

No wonder cable viewers don't know that the deficit is actually decreasing.

The Congressional Budget Office expects the deficit for the 2013 fiscal year to be $845 billion - that's on track with a steady decline since the height of the current recession in 2009, when the deficit reached $1.4 trillion.

As Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and other economists keep pointing out, economic recovery shrinks annual deficits, and therefore the cumulative national debt, while austerity programs, like those Europe has imposed, will torpedo growth and destroy individual lives and whole national economies.

But forget reality. On Tuesday Paul Ryan will release his latest budget plan, aiming to balance the budget in ten years by making $5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid, food assistance for the poor, and other domestic programs--and through his signature plan: Medicare privatization.

Ryan's budget will also include that old dead horse, repealing ObamaCare.

The ObamaCare detail, dismissed even by Republicans as a nonstarter, is particularly dishonest because Ryan is actually back to embracing the cuts to Medicare included in that law that he bashed during the 2012 Presidential election.

Ryan has quietly reinserted the $716 billion in cuts to Medicare reimbursements for hospitals and insurance companies that he had in his original budget plan--but denounced when the President included it in ObamaCare as an attack on seniors.

He is sticking with his promise that he won't make any changes to Medicare for people over the age of 55 (a promise he has repeated again and again at town hall meetings, but that his staff indicated he was recently reconsidering).

Ryan is trying to have it both ways: In order to make his goal of balancing the budget in 10 years, he happily relies upon the Medicare cuts contained in ObamaCare - but still says he'll "repeal" the law. His budget also gets a boost from the tax hikes on the very rich that passed in January, which he opposed on ideological grounds.

And the continued economic recovery makes it possible, on paper, to claim to reach a balanced budget.

But if the Ryan plan ever really went into effect, the actual effects on the economy would be disastrous.

The House Republicans will embrace Ryan's extreme austerity agenda, knowing full well that it will never go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

What is more worrying is the deal Ryan says he thinks he can make with the President.

Ryan emerged from a lunch with the President last week saying he thinks a deal on spending cuts is possible. That's not good news.

Senator Bernie Sanders has been working hard to pull together a coalition of working people, veterans, and seniors, to sound the alarm about Obama's willingness to cut a deal on so-called chained CPI - a rejiggering of the cost-of-living calculation that would mean big cuts in Social Security benefits for seniors.

Even as Paul Ryan gets his moment in the spotlight this week for a plan that will go nowhere, what we should really be worried about is what the President is doing to strike a deal with the deficit hawks to solve a nonexistent problem and exacerbate suffering for millions of Americans who can afford it the least.

(If you liked this article by Ruth Conniff, the political editor of The Progressive, check out her story "Wall Street Cheers the Austerity Bomb".)

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