Monday, November 11, 2019

A Prosperity Of Kindness And Decency


The States That Make Voting Hard For Many To Do






There are not as many Republicans in the United States as Democrats. That is just a fact. And it means to win a national election the Republicans would have to win a substantial majority of Independents.

That is not likely to happen in 2020 -- partly because of policies the Republicans have pursued, and partly because they will have a very unpopular person (Trump) at the top of their ticket. They could change that by changing their racist and xenophobic policies and by dumping Donald Trump. Neither will happen. The party's base will not let it happen.

That leaves the Republicans with only one other option -- to try and suppress the vote of Democrats. And in many states, they are actively trying to do that. They do it in a number of different ways.

These charts, from The Guardian, show the states that make voting the hardest for a citizen to do. The top chart combines all the Republicans efforts at voter suppression. The second shows the states with Voter ID laws. The third shows the states that make voter registration more difficult. The fourth shows the states that disenfranchise voters who were convicted of a crime. The fifth shows states that make early voting more difficult or impossible.

About To Be Kicked Under The Bus

Political Cartoon is by Ann Telnaes in The Washington Post.

PRRI Survey Shows GOP Out-Of-Step With Most Adults





Here are four interesting charts from the Public Religion Research Institute. They questioned 2,527 adults between August 22nd and September 15th of this year. The margin of error for the survey is 2.8 points.

Trump is holding his Republican base, but he's not doing well with anyone else.

A Strong Wind

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

The GOP Tax Cuts Are Not Delivering On Their Promises



The Republicans made a lot of promises when passing their tax cuts (most of which went to corporations and the rich). The tax cuts were supposed to boost the economy, increase hiring, and increase the wages of workers. It has done none of that.

Here's how Hunter Blair at the Economic Policy Institute describes the failure of those tax cuts:

Proponents of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made bold claims about the effects that the TCJA’s corporate rate cuts would have on the paychecks of U.S. households. The economic theory rests on corporate rate cuts bringing forth enough additional savings to finance new investment spending. Specifically, higher after-tax corporate profits are passed down to shareholders in the form of higher dividends. These higher dividends attract more savings from abroad and incentivize U.S. households to save more. These extra savings finance new investments in plants and equipment, which boost the productivity of workers, and eventually that increased productivity boosts workers’ wages.
We pointed out at the time that in practice, this theory wasn’t likely to hold. After the TCJA passed, we indicated that by increasing deficits, the specifics of the TCJA didn’t even conform to the economic theory that was supposed to support it.
But that wasn’t enough to stop the TCJA’s proponents from making disingenuous arguments about the effects it was having on the economy. Proponents pointed to corporate claims that they were giving out bonuses or raising wages in the wake of the TCJA. The economic theory above shows clearly how this was nothing but a corporate PR ploy. Even in theory, it takes time for corporate profits to trickle down into worker wages, and we weren’t the only ones pointing this out. Unsurprisingly, data since then show those bonuses didn’t materialize for workers.
Kevin Hassett, then the chair of the Trump administration’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), went so far as to bless the truly economically absurd notion that “retroactive tax cuts” are a way to boost long-term growth, claiming that businesses invested more before the TCJA was passedbecause they somehow knew that some of the TCJA’s corporate provisions would be made retroactive.
But if you want to know if the TCJA is working as advertised, investment really is the key economic indicator to watch. If the TCJA’s corporate rate cuts are to even have a chance at reaching your paycheck, first investment has to boom. The results have been abysmal for the TCJA.
Year-over-year real, nonresidential fixed investment growth continues to fall off a cliff. If the TCJA was working, we should have seen an investment boom. Instead, after the passage of the TCJA, investment growth continued along its pre-TCJA trend for a couple quarters before falling all the way to 1.3% in 2019Q3. To be clear, if the TCJA’s corporate rate cuts were working, we would be seeing a permanent rise in investment. Instead, investment growth is cratering.
There is little hope in the data that this will change anytime soon. Capital goods orders were down once again in September. And year-over-year growth of capital goods orders has seen a steady but sharp decline in the wake of the TCJA.
The TCJA’s corporate rate cuts haven’t produced the investment boom proponents promised, but what they have done is exacerbate decades of rising income inequality. They should be repealed.

Looking The Other Way

Political Cartoon is by Dave Whamond at cagle.com.

Raucous Clubhouses


Sunday, November 10, 2019

A Benevolent Creator?


Religion & Church Attendance Increase With Age



These charts are from the Gallup Poll. The top chart shows the younger generation is much more likely to have no religion than older Americans. The bottom chart shows that older Americans are much more likely to attend church than younger Americans.

Religion is dying in America with each generation being less religious than the previous one. Will this trend level off or be reversed? I doubt it.

GOP Smears A Hero

Political Cartoon is by Steve Sack in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Trump's Job Approval In Each Of The States (And D.C.)




These charts reflect the results of the Morning Consult Poll for October. It shows the job approval rating for Donald Trump in each of the 50 states (and the District of Columbia). The margin of error is between 1 and 4 points for each state (depending on the size of the sample from a state). Morning Consult questioned 5,000 people each day across all states.

Frightening

Political Cartoon is by Jimmy Margulies at jimmymargulies.com.

Character & Integrity Are Unimportant To GOP Evangelicals

(Cartoon image is by Bob Englehart at cagle.com.)

Will evangelicals ever be able to live down their support of the most immoral and unethical politician of all time? They have shown they are willing to give up their values for political power.

Here's what Peter Wehner, former advisor to President Reagan, had to say about this at CNN:

Speaking to CNN this Saturday, former advisor to President Ronald Reagan and “lifelong evangelical” Peter Wehner slammed evangelical supporters of President Trump, saying that they see him as a champion of their cause despite his moral failings — many of which are in direct contrast to the principles evangelicals claim to uphold.
“The bottom line is that [Trump] will fight for them,” Wehner said. “Not that he himself is of Christian faith. Not even he himself is a manifestation of Christian virtues, but they feel like they’re involved in an existential struggle against a malicious enemy that they consider to be the American Left. And Trump will try and vanquish that enemy.”
According to Wehner, evangelicals think Trump is bringing “a gun to a cultural knife fight,” and that he “hates the same people that they hate. And that he’ll employ means that’ll get it done.”
Although Wehner has been a fixture in past GOP administrations, he’s been a vocal Trump critic.
“I think it’s been tremendously discrediting to the Christian faith,” Wehner continued. “I think it’s shown to a watching world a tremendous amount of hypocrisy.”
“After all, this ‘character counts’ and ‘personal integrity’ and political leadership was central to what a lot of evangelicals argued when Bill Clinton was president,” he added. “And now that it’s Donald Trump, they’ve decided to push it aside, which means for them, that reality is a means to an end, not an end. It was something to be used as a political weapon.”
“I think a lot of these white evangelical leaders are doing more to hurt Christianity than the so-called New Atheists ever could,” he concluded.

She Makes Billionaires Cry

Political Cartoon is by Rex A. Jones at artistrexajones.wix.com/crazycartoons.

Not A Religion


Saturday, November 09, 2019

This Just Ain't Right


Could Bloomberg Win The Nomination? (The Answer Is NO!)



This chart reflects the results of the November 3-5 Economist/YouGov Poll.


Last March, New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg ended speculation that he might run for the Democratic presidential nomination. But he seems to be once again considering it. His campaign is entering his name as a candidate in Alabama (the state with the earliest deadline for candidacy -- yesterday).

Aides say he will make a decision on whether to run in about a week. Why is he doing this?

He will tell you that he thinks a moderate must be nominated to defeat Trump. I think it's because it is starting to look like Elizabeth Warren has a chance of winning the nomination -- and Bloomberg, like some other billionaires, is afraid of that. While Bloomberg may have some liberal ideas (guns, gays, etc.), he is not an economic liberal. He likes the Republican economic plan (to give more to the rich and claim that helps everyone). And that is why Democrats should and will not nominate him if he runs.

Democrats don't want a billionaire heading their party. Ask Tom Steyer. Steyer has spent more money than any other trying to get the Democratic nomination -- about $47 million dollars. And the best he can do in any poll is about 2% or 3%.

The truth is that, while Bloomberg may not be satisfied with the current crop of Democratic candidates, the Democratic voters are (see the chart above). Nearly 4 out of 5 Democratic voters say they are satisfied with the candidates in the race -- the choices they already have. There is no clamoring for another candidate -- not Bloomberg or anyone else.

If Bloomberg is back, then he needs to go away again. He cannot win the nomination. Like Steyer, he would just be wasting a lot of his own money.

Democrats don't want, and won't nominate a billionaire with no experience to be their candidate.

Trump Veteran's Day Schedule

Political Cartoon is by David Fitzsimmons in the Arizona Daily Star.

The Unemployment Rate Rose By 0.1% In October



The Labor Department released its statistics for October. It showed that only 128,000 jobs were created -- marking the forth month in a row that job creation was significantly under 200,000. It could not cover the rise in the number of new entrants to the workforce (about 325,000 workers). And this time, it pushed the official unemployment rate up by one-tenth of a point to 3.6%.

Here are the relevant statistics for October:

SIZE OF THE CIVILIAN WORK FORCE:

164,364,000

OFFICIAL NUMBER OF UNEMPLOYED WORKERS:

5,855,000

OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE:

3.6%

DEMOGRAPHIC BREAKDOWN OF OFFICIAL UNEMPLOYMENT:

Adult men...............3.2%
Adult women...............3.2%
Teenagers (16-19)...............12.3%
White...............3.2%
Black...............5.4%
Hispanic...............4.1%
Asian...............2.9%
Less than HS degree...............5.6%
HS diploma...............3.7%
Some college...............2.9%
Bachelor's degree or more...............2.1%

NUMBER OF MARGINALLY-ATTACHED UNEMPLOYED (No longer counted):

1,229,000

MORE REALISTIC NUMBER OF UNEMPLOYED (Official + Marginally-attached):

7,084,000

MORE REALISTIC UNEMPLOYMENT RATE:

4.3%

Doesn't Want To See

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Siers in The Charlotte Observer.

Warren Is Making The Wall Street Billionaires Nervous

As Elizabeth Warren climbs in the polls, billionaires are starting to get nervous. If she was elected president (and Democrats controlled Congress), the days of the oligarchy could be numbered. They might have to pay their fair share of taxes and pay their employees a livable wage. And the economic playing field would no longer be tilted to give them an advantage to the disadvantage of all other Americans.

They are once again floating the argument that taxing them will hurt the economy. They are wrong.

Here is how the editorial board of The New York Times puts it:

When Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975, the top marginal tax rate on personal income was 70 percent, tax rates on capital gains and corporate income were significantly higher than at present, and the estate tax was a much more formidable levy. None of that dissuaded Mr. Gates from pouring himself into his business, nor discouraged his investors from pouring in their money.

Yet he is now the latest affluent American to warn that Senator Elizabeth Warren’s plan for much higher taxes on the rich would be bad not just for the wealthy but for the rest of America, too.


Mr. Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, suggested on Wednesday that a big tax increase would result in less economic growth. “I do think if you tax too much you do risk the capital formation, innovation, U.S. as the desirable place to do innovative companies — I do think you risk that,” he said.


Other perturbed plutocrats have made the same point with less finesse. The billionaire investor Leon Cooperman was downright crude when he declared that Ms. Warren was wrecking the American Dream. Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, complained on CNBC that Warren “uses some pretty harsh words” about the rich. He added, “Some would say vilifiessuccessful people.”


Let’s get a few things straight.


The wealthiest Americans are paying a much smaller share of income in taxes than they did a half-century ago. In 1961, Americans with the highest incomes paid an average of 51.5 percent of that income in federal, state and local taxes. Half a century later, in 2011, Americans with the highest incomes paid just 33.2 percent of their income in taxes, according to a study by Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman published last year. Data for the last few years is not yet available but would likely show a relatively similar tax burden.


The federal government needs a lot more money. Decades of episodic tax cuts have left the government deeply in debt: The Treasury is on pace to borrow more than $1 trillion during the current fiscal year to meet its obligations. The government will need still more money for critical investments in infrastructure, education and the social safety net.


This is not an endorsement of the particulars of Ms. Warren’s tax plan. There is plenty of room to debate how much money the government needs, and how best to raise that money. The specific proposals by Ms. Warren and one of her rivals, Senator Bernie Sanders, to impose a new federal tax on wealth are innovations that require careful consideration.


But a necessary part of the solution is to collect more from those Americans who have the most.



And there is little evidence to justify Mr. Gates’s concern that tax increases of the magnitude proposed by Ms. Warren and other candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination would meaningfully discourage innovation, investment or economic growth.
The available evidence strongly suggests that taxation exerts a minor influence on innovation. Experts have an imperfect understanding of what drives innovation, but taxation isn’t in the same weight class as factors including education, research and a consistent legal system.

Congress has slashed taxation three times in the past four decades, each time for the stated purpose of spurring innovation and investment and growth. Each time, the purported benefits failed to materialize. President Trump initiated the most recent experiment in 2017. The International Monetary Fund concluded in a recent report that it had not worked.


Moreover, while higher tax rates may weigh modestly against innovation and investment, that calculus is incomplete. It ignores the question of what the government does with the additional money. It also ignores the possibility that higher taxes could result in more innovation.


A study of American patent holders found that innovators tend to come from wealthy families, to grow up in communities of innovators, and to receive high-quality educations in math and science. Mr. Gates, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American history, fits the profile: He grew up in an affluent family and received the best education money could buy.


The implication of that study, and related research, is that public investment, funded by taxation, could give more kids the kinds of advantages enjoyed by the young Mr. Gates.


There is no doubt that it is theoretically possible to raise taxes to prohibitive heights: If a person had to pay 100 percent of the next dollar they earned, they would be likely to call it a day.



But the alarm bells are out of all proportion with Ms. Warren’s plan. Describing his concerns on Wednesday, Mr. Gates at one pointsuggested he might be asked to pay $100 billion. 

The Warren campaign calculates that under Ms. Warren’s plan, Mr. Gates would owe $6.379 billion in taxes next year. Notably, that is less than Mr. Gates earned from his investments last year. Even under Ms. Warren’s plan, there’s a good chance Mr. Gates would get richer.

Smoking Guns

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz at pocho.com.

The Real Question


Friday, November 08, 2019

Still True


New Poll Has Iowa As A Four-Way Free-For-All For Dems



These charts reflect the results of the latest Quinnipiac University Poll of Iowa voters. It was done between October 30th and November 5th of 698 likely Democratic caucus attendees, and has a 4.5 point margin of error.

It shows four candidates leading the rest of the field -- Elizabeth Warren (20%), Pete Buttigieg (19%), Bernie Sanders (17%), and Joe Biden (15%). Considering the margin of error, those candidates are all very close and no real front-runner can be clearly shown. In other words, any of the four could win the state -- or they could divide the state's delegates fairly evenly.

It will be interesting to see how the next couple of months goes. Will one or two separate themselves, or will they stay bunched up?

Quid Pro . . .

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Trump Is Not Doing Well In Four Critical Swing States








These charts reflect the results of the Cook Political Report / Kaiser Family Foundation Poll -- done between September 23rd and October 15th of registered voters in four battleground states. They questioned 767 voters in Michigan, 958 voters in Minnesota, 752 voters in Pennsylvania, and 745 voters in Wisconsin. The margin of error was 4 points in all four states.

These four states are going to be critical for both parties in the 2020 general election. In 2016, Trump won three of them and finished close in the other. He will need to repeat that performance to get re-elected.

Right now, it doesn't look like he could do that. The voters in all four states don't approve of the job he is doing. They also disapprove of how he's handling healthcare, immigration, foreign trade, and foreign policy -- and they are split on how he's handling the economy.

Trump is going to have to do a lot better than this in these states to get re-elected.

Autumn Colors

Political Cartoon is by Christopher Weyant in The Boston Globe.