Posts Tagged ‘income taxes

20
Jan
17

The Oaf of Office – More USA Jobs or Less?

This is written specifically for Inauguration Day. With Donald Trump being sworn in as the 45th President, the question is whether his administration will be good for the American worker and the Made in USA movement which ultimately means more jobs for Americans.

What Can We Expect for Made in USA jobs under the Trump Administration?

Will the Trump administration increase Made in USA jobs or will the Trump administration continue the Republican doctrine and do the opposite: to decrease good paying jobs in the USA? To predict these two outcomes, we have to know what Trump believes by what he has said (which is sometimes difficult as sometimes he is on both sides of the same issue). We know that he agrees with the ultra-right of the Republican Party on all issues except possibly two: first, the GOP has always been wary of Communism and Russia. Interestingly enough, Trump has expressed the exact opposite of this wariness. Second, the GOP are in full support of Free Trade, exporting US jobs and maximizing profits for the company’s CEOs. While Trump had previously offshored jobs and has his Trump clothing line (and his family’s products) made outside of the U.S, suddenly, in mid-campaign, Trump said that he is against Free Trade treaties.

Policies of the Republicans and Therefore, Trump and its effect on the USA.

So let us quickly look at some of the policies of the Republicans (and therefore, Trump) and see how it would effect US jobs. These include minimum wage, income taxes, Immigration, Free Trade, Energy, Mergers, Economic Growth, Free Press.

Wages and the Minimum Wage

For the past 100 years, the traditional view of Republicans towards business has always been on the side of owners of businesses.  This has not changed. Republicans have always been against all issues that would make the bosses pay more: minimum wage, vacations, 40 hour work week, overtime pay, social security, unions, pensions, employee health care, disability, child labor, worker’s compensation,  and workplace laws that outlaw discrimination or harassment. These issues were fine when the United States was an overwhelmingly run by small businesses. But, since 1980, the USA has become the Mega company capital of the world and many of these giant companies are multi-nationally owned. In fact, large corporations (since 2007) employ more Americans than small businesses (small business being defined as less than 500 employees). The US is so top-heavy (big corporations dominate) that just 6 companies made 50% of all profit in the US in 2015 (according to USA Today) and 28 companies made 50% of the profit to the S & P. So, sometimes it seems ludicrous that the Republicans go to great lengths to protect the mega-Rich, who already have their own lobbyists, but very little for small business owners. So, what about the workers? Workers compensation has been stagnant especially when compared to corporate profits and CEO pay. Workers wages are just starting to go up over the past two years, but many workers depend on the Federal Minimum Wage to make a living. The Minimum Wage has been unchanged since 2007 (as passed by a Democratic Congress), it is still $7.25 per hour (Louisiana and Tennessee do not follow the federal minimum wage). It has been shown by many economists that the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation. And at the present time, an employee working a forty hour week at minimum wage would still put one at the poverty level. Critics (mainly Republicans) have charged that the raising of the minimum wage kills jobs. This has never been proven, in fact, there evidence to the contrary (Business Insider) and (US News).

History of US Federal Minimum wage to Nominal Dollars

History of US Federal Minimum wage to Nominal Dollars

What is the opinion of Trump? He wants to repeal the minimum wage. But, of course, he has flip-flopped on this issue multiple times (see Washington Post Flip-flops on minimum wage). But if Trump follows standard Republican orthodoxy, and many expect that he will, Trump will try to repeal the minimum wage. What does this mean for American workers? The prospects don’t look good. It is assured that the Federal Minimum Wage will not be raised. However, some Democratic states have, on their own, voted to increase their own state minimum wage. These states have shown the greatest economic growth. Growth in these states will be great, because they are innovative, and despite the efforts of the Trump administration.

Income Taxes

Trump has promised to change the tax code. It has always been hard to pin down Trump, especially when what he says does not match what he says on paper. But the written Trump Plan is a basic Republican plan, First, it gets rid of the Inheritance Estate Tax which would help only the top 1%. Second, it decreases the corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. Third,  it would decrease the rate of the top income makers from 37% to 33%. The group of $91,150 – $110,000 per year  would also get a small tax break from 28% to 25%. There is no change from $37,500 – $91,150. In fact, most may be paying more. (You can see more on the Trump Tax Plan/NPR analysis). The final verdict: This is classic trickledown economics, giving more money to the top 1%. It didn’t work with Reagan did it, it won’t work now. When you give more money to the rich ,they do not spend it (there is no trickledown), they invest it. Additionally with substantially less income coming to the government, the cost to the government is $62 Trillion per year (greatly increasing the deficit). Final Cost to the worker: more taxes paid by the middle class, less money from the corporations, less money from the top 1%, less money for the government to finance infrastructure. In fact, this is the exact same policy that caused the middle class to disappear in the first place.

income-tax

Immigration

Historically, there have always been groups that have hated immigrants: at first, it was directed at the Irish, and then the Germans, then the Chinese and Japanese and then later, the Hispanics. The Republicans haven’t always been about deporting immigrants. For Republicans, this is a relatively new phenomenon. I mean there were always a sub-group of Republicans – the KKK, the John Birch society, the segregationists, and other White Supremistist groups (they had been Democrats until the Civil Rights Acts of 1965, then they became Republicans) whose voices have always been minimal until recently. Now they are quite vocal. The cause of this movement? It happened after President Reagan repealed the Fairness Doctrine in journalism and Media. This is when Right Wing Media went into action. It encouraged prejudiced people who were previously silent to speak out publicly. And this is where Trump has made his connection. Trump loved to inflame this crowd with hatred towards immigrants: He said he would build a wall. And then he said Mexico would pay for it. Of course, it was talk, just saying outrageous things to get people to listen.

trump-minority

The Wall Between the US and Mexico

So, how serious is the possibility of building the wall between the US and Mexico? Even Trump supporters didn’t take this idea seriously, but they loved the hateful rhetoric anyways. Let us look at the 119 mile wall between Mexico and the United States. The Washington Post said that building just the wall would cost $25 Billion (not million- and it doesn’t consider surveillance). But, we know the actual costs are always more than estimated by three to four times. So, that would make it approximately $100 Billion. And Mexico is sure not going to pay for it. So, guess who is going to pay for a wall that won’t keep immigrants out? You are, the American tax payer. Estimated cost per person $308.

trump-wall                                                                                                    The Trump Wall

Republicans know that immigrants are a vital source of labor for certain business especially the farming community. In fact, the Senate had passed a Comprehensive Immigration bill in 2013 (that is right – both Democrats and Republicans worked together). However, some Republican Tea Party members scuttled the bill in the House and now, we are in the same state as before. Final decision: I can’t see Trump getting enough Republican votes to build the wall. Some Republicans are thinking about the future of their party. They know they can’t stay in power as the all-white Party about increasing their chances of getting Hispanics to vote for them. The Republican can’t stay the all-white Party, not without a lot of tricks anyways (like the ones they are already employing – gerrymandering, voter suppression), so they will need to lure some Hispanic voters. Theoretically, what if Trump built the wall , and deports all the ones he said he would (11 million), many industries would be hit hard: agriculture, construction, Home Health, Hotels, Motels, restaurants, landscaping, wine growers, etc. Some anti-immigrants say that this will “free up jobs for Americans.” My experience, Americans don’t take those jobs. When the Great Recession hit in 2009, how many Americans did you see working on the farm or Home Health? Practically none. Americans would rather collect unemployment than do the heavy manual labor that the immigrants do.

Free Trade

Free Trade is a Republican creation, taking root under the Reagan administration. It undermines what our Founding Fathers had started which was, in order to protect fledgling U.S. businesses, the government would levy tariffs on products coming from other countries. The first Free Trade Agreement passed was the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which was an agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico. The next Free Trade agreement was a whopper. It was the World Trade Organization (WTO) which brought in tons of more countries, including China. And guess what happened, just as previous President contender, Ross Perot predicted, this created “a giant sucking sound” of American jobs to other countries. By eliminating import tariffs, it made imports much cheaper, American products suffered, businesses closed, and, then, American business owners joined the foreign competition by closing down American factories and sending the jobs to China, Mexico, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, etc. (where labor is cheap and regulations minimal). Multiple industries in the USA have been hurt, severely injured and many are on life-support. A lot of good paying manufacturing jobs had been eliminated in the United States, which has created a giant vacuum in the US economy – that vacuum is from the loss of the middle class.

Trump had always been a Free Trader, in fact, he has offshored his Trump clothing to places like China and Mexico. He was never against Free Trade until, during his campaign, he had read a survey where people felt it was important that jobs be kept in the USA. During the campaign to whip up this anti-trade talk, Trump had made insinuations that he would raise the tariffs on China.

Buick Envision made in China

Buick Envision made in China

It is interesting that Trump has targeted companies auto companies that have planned to off-shore to Mexico, but does he say anything about China bringing cars into the USA? No. How about the Buick, Chinese – made, Envision? Nope, not a word. Then, there is the new all-electric car, Atieva which just changed its name to Lucid, to make it look like it is American, which is totally financed by Chinese businesses, will Trump comment on this? Nope. Trump will only comment once there is enough publicity to make it worth commenting on it. It is not like he really cares whether it is US made or not.

Will Trump raise tariffs on Imports from China?

So, the question is whether Trump will levy tariffs of 35 or 45% like he threatened. My prediction is No. Trump has too many ties to China (from Time Magazine). He has plans to build 20 Hotels in China over the next 10-15 years and not to mention that the Bank of China is his biggest tenant in Trump Towers. If Trump really infuriates the Chinese government, the Chinese could impound his company that makes Trump clothing and they could jail all of his employees and managers as spies, because totalitarian governments are like that. This is called conflict of interest. Federal policy is being influenced on how it effects hid business personally. Another potential conflict of Interest: The Obama administration has filed a suit against Fiat-Chrysler . Fiat is hoping that can make a deal with the Trump administration. Fiat might be thinking instead of being sued or paying a fine, maybe we could just make a contribution to some Trump business?

So How Will Trump Save American Jobs?

If  import tariffs on Chinese products are not raised, then, how will Trump save American jobs? My prediction is he won’t. What he will do, is what he has been doing since being elected? He will tweet and threaten a company who have had thoughts about building factories in Mexico. (See Ford and Toyota – Washingon Post). Also, see Fiat-Chrysler. In all cases, Trump took credit where no credit was due. He did not change the course of their company. Think about it, do you think corporations make millions of dollars in investment just because of a tweet? This is not a charity auction. (“I bid 30 milllion dolllars to bring jobs back to the USA!”) These corporation have been formulating these plans for years. (In reality, Trump should be thanking Obama for all these actions, but Obama is not one to be a credit hog.) Will he truly go after NAFTA which would hurt his most loyal constituents, the Farmers? Maybe, but Trump has no loyalty and no interest in agriculture.

Will there be serious reforms towards Free Trade? I truly doubt it. Trump will give the outward appearance that he cares. In the meantime, American companies will continue to off-shore, and companies that come back (re-shore of jobs), instead of being little noticed (like the present time), it will be crowed about by Trump who will take all the credit where none was due. One good thing to come out of this is that traditional Republicans like Paul Ryan are looking to decrease taxes on American products that are to be exported, they haven’t gone so far as to say that they will increase tariffs on foreign imports or getting rid of tax exemptions for moving expenses for companies as they move their company from the USA to another country. At least, the Republicans are entertaining some Democratic ideas, but don’t let them hear that.

Other Issues That May effect the Economy

Health Care

Health Care can strongly influence consumer’s pocket book. At the present, Trump and the Republicans are ready to repeal The Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the Republicans do replace the Affordable Care Act with a comprehensive Health Plan that covers everyone, providing good health care at less cost, this would be one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of American government. But will the GOP take that giant and brave step. Not a chance.

The Evaluation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

The ACA did many great things, it insured an additional 20 million Americans, the highest percentage of insured Americans ever in the history of the nation. It controlled expenses, brought down the price of healthcare, paid for preventive health and eliminated exclusion based on pre-existing conditions. But, the ACA wasn’t close to a perfect system. One of the main problems with the ACA was that is was based on the obsolete notion that companies wanted to give their employees health insurance. Today, companies bend over backwards to make sure employees are not full-time and, therefore, does not have to pay benefits). In fact, companies like Macys keeps track to the minute any employee that comes close to qualifying for benefits, and makes sure that it does not happen. My belief was that the ACA was a band-aid to the health care system, to decrease its expenses – to delay the eventual bankruptcy of the nation from health care for several more years.

obamacare-insurance-rates

The Cost of Repealing The Affordable Care Act

There are a couple of problems with the idea of repealing the ACA. One is the Republicans have no replacement policy. Even though Trump says they have a plan and it is close and Everyone will be covered, better care, less cost. This is definitely a case of over-promise and under-deliver. (Especially if Medicare for everybody is off the table.) The other problem with the Affordable Care Act is that it is a Republican idea from the Heritage Foundation. The only “real” thing that the Republicans don’t like about the ACA is that President Barack Obama takes all the credit for it and therefore, for political expediency, it had to be demonized. The idea behind the ACA was to add more competition between the insurance companies (health insurance exchanges) and, therefore, decreases costs. The only wrinkle from the GOP brain trust, thus far, is that the insurance companies can compete across state lines. Wow, what a change. (Oh yeah, Health Savings Accounts which are available in the ACA, great idea). The problem with the ACA and the GOP wrinkle is that insurance companies can drop out of the competition at any time (because many times there are “agreements” between oligopolies) which raises the price of insurance premiums. The fact is the Republicans want to repeal only the name of Obamacare and leave the rest of the system untouched. They don’t want to go back to the extremely expensive  and dysfunctional old system. But that is the only way. So, what the GOP did under the dark of night was to hide the fact that repealing the ACA will cost the nation trillions of dollars, the GOP wrote a resolution that repealed a mandate that The Congressional Budget Office keep track of how much repealing the Affordable Care Act would cost. In the same article, it highlighted:The result of repeal is estimate that $140 billion of federal funding would be cut to states by 2019, resulting in the loss of 3 million jobs by 2021, loss of $1.5 trillion in gross state products and a $2.6 trillion reduction in business output. State and local tax revenues will fall by $48 billion. Obviously, the repeal of the ACA will be very costly, and it is very probable that the average American will be paying a lot more for Health Care. And expect a lot more Americans to declare bankruptcy due to medical expenses. The AP reported than premiums will increase by 25%, that 18 million more people will be uninsured one year after enactment and 32 million more uninsured by 2026. Look at it another way, the Trumpcare model will be so expensive and exclude so many people that it would rapidly drive the nation and individuals into bankruptcy, that the electorate would be willing to give the model of Medicare-for-all model a very serious look many years sooner. (But, the Republicans are very serious of getting rid of Medicare by privatizing it based on a model like Obamacare).

obamacare-repeal-vote-cartoon-luckovich

Energy

Trump has nominated Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon, as Secretary of State. What does this mean? Well, detente with Russia, of course. But, with regards to oil, we should expect to see more widespread drilling everywhere including the Oceans, the Arctic and National Parks. Expect more pipeline projects across the United States. And, you will definitely be spending a lot more for gasoline. The price of gasoline is not actually based on supply and demand (as people traditionally think) but rather on speculation (see my blog entry: Wall Street and the price of Oil). The price of oil hit a low in January 20, 2016 at $27 a barrel. Now, with the election of oil friendly politicians, the price of oil has increased to close to $54 per barrel (this is definitely not due to increased demand or decreased supply). It is estimated that in 2017 the cost of oil per barrel will be in the $60s, however, I believe this is severely underestimated and that speculators will push this up much higher. Remember it wasn’t all that long ago when a barrel of oil was $114 (in June, 2014). So, expect to pay a lot more at the pump.

take-me-to-your-leader

Mergers

Trump and the GOP believe in the government staying out of the way when it comes to businesses. We know from history that the natural outcome of unfettered capitalism is monopolies. But since this was outlawed by Theodore Roosevelt, the natural end point is oligopolies (a few companies that own everything). By collusion (oligopolies say instead “a gentleman’s agreement), a few companies can drive prices up without actually competing. For 2017, one can expect many new giant mergers to pass without fight from the Federal government. AT&T with Time-Warner will merger as will Monsanto and Bayer. Even Fortune Magazine has made this prediction with their headline A Trump Presidency Could Unleash a Pharma Merger Boom. So, maybe Pfizer and Allergan could try a try another merger (it was thwarted by the Obama administration). The effect for consumers: Pay More for Less Choice.

merger

Economic Growth

One thing that people forget is that the United States is at near maximal employment, the US economy is very strong (all economist believe this, maybe not political pundits). The economic growth has been steady at 2% per year. Yet, enough people (not a majority) still wanted a change. Here is what Goldman-Sachs predicts for 2017:

Donald Trump promised economic growth of 5-6%. No other economist is coming close to predicting this. It is another case of over-promising and under-delivering. In fact, some are thinking that Trump may slow the economy and Citi group thinks that it is a 50% probability that Trump will not even finish out his term. The next year – there will be growth and it will be all due to the Obama administration. Plus, there is no evidence of weakness in the economy, unlike years previous to The Great Recession. However, after that, it will be Trump’s baby. Sometimes, growth and recession have nothing to do with the President and there are swings that naturally occur or sometimes things occur can effect the economy (9/11). I predict based on the cycles of the economy, that we are due for a “slowing” as we have never seen this many consecutive years of positive growth ever. Certainly, President’s do make a difference. Sometimes it takes several years to really see the effect – but is plain when you evaluate Reagan’s legacy both on the United States and on California, (back when he was governor). The United States and California have never recovered. There is distrust in government, the government tax base is shrinking, infrastructure has almost collapsed. Are there any great infrastructure projects in the USA anymore? (Just compare the USA to China’s incredible growth, we look like Ancient Rome).

Conclusion

Trump’s policies are like Reagan’s. It is Voodoo economics. Bad for everybody except for the 1%. There will be more large corporation mergers, Health Care will become much more expensive, the middle class will have to pay more in income taxes, the Federal deficit will explode, oil prices will increase, the rich get richer and no real change in jobs coming back to the USA. The only potential bright lights for the economy are: Republicans working on adjusting their Free Trade policies and a “big” infrastructure project. The infrastructure project could be done right, but I severely have my doubts with this group of Republicans. As Trump takes the oath of office, he becomes the oaf in office. This inauguration is like scene from a parallel universe, like what if Hitler didn’t attack Russia, or what if we didn’t discover Penicillin. The American public have not grasped that we are living in a great time, but have decided that we needed a “change”. People for some reason can’t grasp the concept that change can be for the worse, sometimes much worse. So, for the people who to vote for a temper-“mental” man without one day of public service, “You reap what you sow”. If the economy goes south, you go bankrupt, you lose your health insurance, well you brought it upon yourself. 70 million Americans voted against your choice. As far as bringing jobs back into the USA, Trump will bring none, not even his Trump clothing line from China.

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Free Press

This last issue does not have to do with economic issues, but there has been a disturbing trend. With the rise of right-wing news groups, Breitbart, Fox News, Alex Jones, it is getting difficult for Republicans to know what is real news and what is fake news. Trump only reads the most extreme right wing news, so he does not know what is real news versus fake news. And if Trump is confronted by the real truth, he belittles the Press. Trump is kicking the Press out of the White House to limit access. He didn’t allow the regular Press to ask questions during his so-called “Press Conference”.He has threatened to sue the Press or jail them like other dictators. In the meantime, they have hired KellyAnne Conway as the Reich Minister of Propaganda (ala Joseph Goebbels). I believe that if he can intimidate the Press, then he can intimidate any Americans who disagree with him. My idea is that all networks should fact-check in real time – which means while a political participant or President speaks, at the same time, in close captioning – it says whether the person is lying. It would be easy because almost all of these TV shows are tape-delayed.

free-pressWe need to support the Free Press and they should be free from the intimidation of a dictatorial President. And we need to stay strong against the Trump and his trolls who threaten violence and vitriol on all who disagree with Don the Con.

 




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