On Sunday's "This Week," Carly Fiorina feebly trotted out an old GOP canard: that the "highest corporate tax rate in the world" is to blame for our stubbornly-high unemployment. In fact, the effective tax US corporations pay is much lower than most industrial nations. This is how a corporation like GE paid effectively no taxes in 2010.
Well, Paul Krugman would have none of it.
FIORINA: ...I said there were three structural issues in the economy. One is small business. There are two others.
The rest of the world has also changed. And the two other structural problems in our economy are we now have the single highest business tax rate in the world. Guess what?
With the highest tax rate in the world, we see the same thing around the world that we see in states -- states with lower tax rates have more jobs, more people. People leave states with higher tax rates. The data is crystal clear. [...]
FIORINA: -- a robust recovery.
KRUGMAN: Nothing you said about business taxes is actually true.
FIORINA: Everything I said...
FIORINA: -- about business taxes...
KRUGMAN: -- we can have that discussion (INAUDIBLE) place...
FIORINA: -- is true.
KRUGMAN: But -- but it's not true. If you look at the actual tax collections...
FIORINA: This isn't an academic discussion. It's clear it's true.
KRUGMAN: If you look at the actual tax collections in the United States on business, they're lower than -- than other advanced countries. And if you look at the alleged finding that high business taxes cause job losses in states, it -- it goes away -- on even the kick the tires, even slightly and the whole thing falls apart. It's just not true.
I really don't know why Republicans think they can get away with spouting falsehoods when Krugman's on the show, but I hope they keep doing it.
The struggle that workers face at the NFI warehouses in Chino, Calif.
A growing industry of temp agencies supplies -- and exploits -- workers that move the products sold by big box stores like Walmart. In sprawling warehouse areas in places like California and Illinois, a new wave of so-called 'logistics' companies hire temp workers to run warehouse distribution facilities that get products from manufacturers -- mostly overseas -- to stores like Walmart. The logistics companies hire large workforces on a daily basis, paying them low wages, giving them no benefits and putting them in grueling working conditions that lead many of the best workers to suffer from debilitating injuries that end their careers. The jobs are frequently given to African Americans and immigrants from Latin America.
Companies like Walmart hire logistics companies who then subcontract out to smaller companies who directly employ the warehouse workers, adding layers of bureaucracy that prevent the big box companies from suffering any negative blowback if the workers exploited or treated illegally.
Walmart may have been the end beneficiary of Dickerson's sweat, but the big-box retailer wasn't directly responsible for her low pay or her aching body. That's one of the many benefits to an employment arrangement based on outsourcing and subcontracting: The corporation at the top indemnifies itself from any unpleasantness at the bottom, thanks to the smaller corporate players in the middle. Many American companies have woken up to this fact, with broad implications for the future of blue-collar work.
"It seems to be spreading like wildfire," Nelson Lichtenstein, a professor of American labor history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, says of such outsourcing, particularly as it relates to temp workers like Dickerson. "All of these companies, wherever they possibly can, they want to create a workforce that doesn't work for them. The question is, Why? What is the incentive?"
"They're smart," he says. "They run the numbers."
Such subcontracting enables corporations to essentially take workers off their books, foisting the traditional responsibilities that go with being an employer -- paying a reasonable wage, offering health benefits, providing a pension or retirement plan, chipping into workers' compensation coverage -- conveniently onto someone else. Workers like Dickerson, of course, aren't accounted for when Walmart touts that more than half of its workforce receives health coverage.
Over the weekend I was re-reading the infamous Powell Memo, written by written in 1971 by former Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell, who at the time was working as a corporate attorney. The memo is in essence a letter to the Chamber of Commerce in which Powell urges the American business community to begin investing more money trying to capture the hearts and minds of Ma and Pa America. You see, back in the early '70s a handsome young buck named Ralph Nader was making life miserable for the American business establishment, particularly the automobile industry. While Nader today is considered a crank by most of the country, at the time he was quite effective, a sort of anti-corporate Andrew Breitbart who loved to stir the pot, make trouble and collect scalps.
At any rate, Powell's memo basically encouraged the business community to take more of an active role in political life. And I don't just mean donating to campaigns -- I mean getting involved in academia and the media to begin influencing public opinion. While it's true that this memo is not the Rosetta Stone of corporate influence that it's made out to be, it is reflective of a general feeling among business elites that they were tired of being pushed around by liberals and leftists and that they were going to start hitting back. This passage is particularly amusing in light of how much corporate power dominates our political landscape today:
[A]s every business executive knows, few elements of American society today have as little influence in government as the American businessman, the corporation, or even the millions of corporate stockholders. If one doubts this, let him undertake the role of "lobbyist" for the business point of view before Congressional committees. The same situation obtains in the legislative halls of most states and major cities. One does not exaggerate to say that, in terms of political influence with respect to the course of legislation and government action, the American business executive is truly the "forgotten man."
Powell is certainly exaggerating the plight of the poor beleaguered business man here, as the business lobby always had a seat at the table even during liberalism's heyday in the 1960s. The difference was, unlike today, the business lobby didn't own the damn table.
One of my favorite scene's in Oliver Stone's "Nixon" film comes when a group of cigar-chomping right-wing businessmen give Tricky Dick and earful about "federal price controls on my oil" and about the fact that "your EPA environmental agency has got its thumb so far up my ass that it's scratching my ear."
And while this is a work of fiction (and an Oliver Stone work of fiction at that), it's still somewhat thrilling to see Nixon stick up for the EPA in the face of corporate pressure. Where have you gone, Tricky Dick, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you!
The point here is that in the early 1970s, the public at large still thought the putting limits on how much pollution a private firm could emit was actually a good thing. That same decade was when Corporate America began investing more cash into think tanks like Heritage and Cato in order to scrub these inconvenient little ideas out of peoples' heads and convince them that air pollution was just one of the free market's many wonders, along with lead poisoning and E. coli.
But back to the Powell Memo. Toward the end of the memo, Powell provides a list of several principles that Corporate America should be defending as part of its propaganda campaign. Some of what you would expect, but others are still surprising:
We in America already have moved very far indeed toward some aspects of state socialism, as the needs and complexities of a vast urban society require types of regulation and control that were quite unnecessary in earlier times. In some areas, such regulation and control already have seriously impaired the freedom of both business and labor, and indeed of the public generally. But most of the essential freedoms remain: private ownership, private profit, labor unions, collective bargaining, consumer choice, and a market economy in which competition largely determines price, quality and variety of the goods and services provided the consumer.
Labor unions??!! Collective bargaining?!!?!!?!!?! This dude would be considered a Communist by the Tea Party's standards!
Powell then closes with a flourish and recites the most insidious meme embedded within corporate propaganda -- that your right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is directly tied to the right of rich and powerful corporations to do whatever the hell they want:
But whatever the causes of diminishing economic freedom may be, the truth is that freedom as a concept is indivisible. As the experience of the socialist and totalitarian states demonstrates, the contraction and denial of economic freedom is followed inevitably by governmental restrictions on other cherished rights. It is this message, above all others, that must be carried home to the American people.
And tragically for our country, this campaign to influence hearts and minds has been stunningly successful. We no longer protect blue-collar jobs, union membership as a percentage of the workforce is the lowest it's been in decades, and average wages have stalled even as corporate profits have soared. And still, our corporatist ideologues demand more. They want to voucherize Medicare in order to pay for tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals. They want to privatize Social Security and shift risk even more toward individuals. They want to end collective bargaining rights for public-sector workers all together.
So it seems Charles Koch wrote an editorial while I was away. An editorial for the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, where he spends an entire column saying a whole lot of nothing. An editorial where he misstates facts, figures, and twists up truth into his weird alternate reality.
I feel compelled to respond to him.
Dear Charles Koch,
In your March 1st editorial, you make the following statements:
Years of tremendous overspending by federal, state and local governments have brought us face-to-face with an economic crisis. Federal spending will total at least $3.8 trillion this year—double what it was 10 years ago. And unlike in 2001, when there was a small federal surplus, this year's projected budget deficit is more than $1.6 trillion.
This is a direct consequence of the costs of two wars which until 2008, were not added to the balance sheets. Funny how you fail to account for where the deficits arose, but are quick to point to their existence.
Several trillions more in debt have been accumulated by state and local governments. States are looking at a combined total of more than $130 billion in budget shortfalls this year. Next year, they will be in even worse shape as most so-called stimulus payments end.
Ironic that you would give any credit to the stimulus for helping states, given the enormous funds you've laid out to criticize any lawmaker who supported it. What hypocrisy is this? State and local governments are looking at shortfalls because tax revenues have not kept pace with expenditures. This is not the fault of individuals living in those states or municipalities. It is the direct effect of the failure of corporations to pay their fair share to do business in states, and the failure of those same corporations to employ workers in those states, causing those workers to rely upon governmental safety nets to get them by while their jobs are outsourced to countries where corporate profits can increase.
For many years, I, my family and our company have contributed to a variety of intellectual and political causes working to solve these problems. Because of our activism, we've been vilified by various groups. Despite this criticism, we're determined to keep contributing and standing up for those politicians, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who are taking these challenges seriously.
Let's talk about your "activism", because it goes far beyond just political philosophy. You fund groups who actively seek to promote lies about the current President's place of birth, his legitimacy as a United States citizen, and undermine the mandate he received from voters in 2008. That's not "standing up" for anything.
A Gardena High School student brought a gun to the campus in a backpack Tuesday, and the weapon discharged -- possibly accidentally -- injuring two students.
Despite earlier reports of three shooting victims, a Los Angeles Unified School District spokesman said only two students were shot.
"Our indication is that a student took a gun to school in a backpack, and that that student had dropped the backpack and consequently the gun discharged," LAUSD spokesman Robert Alaniz told KABC. "We're not quite sure how both the students were injured, but we do know we have two injured students transported to the hospital.''
Police said the weapon was recovered, and the student was arrested shortly before noon in a classroom that was filled with students and one teacher.
Evidently the student dropped the backpack and the gun went off, hitting two students, and the hits weren't just a grazing shot, either.
Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jamie Moore told the Associated Press that two victims have been transported, one in serious and one in critical condition.
As the parent of a high school student and a human being, I cannot tell you how angry it makes me that any student would bring a gun to school and put my child in danger for what? For WHAT? What possible reason would ANY student have for putting a gun in his backpack before he left for school.
Enough. Guns serve one purpose: to kill. They have no business in our schools, our supermarkets, our malls, or anywhere else.
Since the passage of the debt ceiling deal, I have been reading through a lot of reflections among my friends in the online community about the progressive zeitgeist. Many in the Netroots community right now are feeling the same sense of hopelessness around the country’s political and media landscape that pervaded back in 2002-03 during the America’s misguided war against Iraq.
Imagine a scenario where Democrats, instead of marginalizing the Netroots, treated them with the same awe and respect the tea party engenders on the GOP side. Imagine an Obama presidency where the health care debate started with a fierce fight for single-payer; where Gitmo had been closed; where gay rights were unequivocally supported; where Bush and Cheney were investigated for sanctioning torture; where climate change was a top priority; where Bush’s civil liberties violations were prosecuted rather than reinforced; where the Bush tax cuts expired; where the stimulus was much bigger; where programs for the poor, for research, jobs, infrastructure, science, education, were enhanced at the expense of war and profits for the wealthy; where the Republican assault on women’s rights was met with furious resistance. I could go on and on.
In short, imagine an America where the Democratic establishment loudly proclaimed that they were unshakable champions of core progressive values and that they would work hand in hand with their base to convince America that their ideas were superior to the right’s.
Of course, that’s a fantasy. The unwillingness of Democratic leaders and strategists to do anything remotely close to that has virtually guaranteed that the triangle isn’t formed on the left. Obama’s supporters are fond of pointing to the GOP House and complaining that his hands are tied because of the 2010 midterms. But it’s precisely the Democratic establishment’s decrepitude that enabled the rise of the Tea Party and the 2010 defeat.
Greg Sargent frets that “one sixth of Americans agree with the liberal argument about the [debt] deal.” He’s right to be worried about the numbers. America’s national debate is conducted on the right’s terms. That won’t change unless and until Democrats work with their most ardent activists to move a low-information nation toward progressive positions. The online community and progressive groups simply can’t do it on their own without the participation of the Democratic leadership and media. The media won’t do it as long as the Democratic establishment marginalizes the left.
Peter’s lament is an unfortunate reminder for those of us who immersed ourselves into the world of Democratic and progressive politics around the time of rise of Netroots in 2002 around the explosion of energy generated by communities organized through MoveOn, DailyKos and of course, the Dean for America campaign. When the Netroots emerged, pivoting off the organizing against the march to war against Iraq--against which the Democratic establishment in Washington failed to put up any kind of credible opposition--there was a lot of hope that the dynamic between the party and progressive establishment and the activists plugged in through the online world would change.
Things seemed to have moved towards the right direction when an all-out opposition against President Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security synergized the efforts of the Congressional Democratic Leadership, progressive communities in Washington and the emerging progressive blogosphere, clicking on all cylinders back in 2005. Yet somehow all that mojo, despite the explosion of social media communities and fancier digital tools have been lost.
The fate of almost a million lives could be decided in the next six hours. As a voter, as a millenial, as a migrant, as a Guatemalan, I'm writing to say that I will be watching along with the vast majority of those who will determine the future of the United States of America.
If you haven't heard about the DREAM Act yet I wouldn't be surprised. The media has largely been focused on the train wreck that is Christine O'Donnell's campaign. But the mainstream media is missing out on one of the most suspenseful political dramas I've ever witnessed. No one knows if we have the votes to beat the filibuster in the Senate, today. If we don't beat it, the National Defense Authorization Act will likely have to wait until after the elections. At that point, all bets are off.
One of the most compelling elements of this political drama has been the interaction between The LGBT movement and the migrant youth movement. What to an outsider might be perceived as two unrelated constituencies, perhaps even hostile to each other, have been working long before this moment to build unity and solidarity. It is one thing to believe in the truth that we are all woven into a "single garment of destiny." It is another to live that truth and act on it. The migrant youth movement and the LGBT movement having been living and acting on that truth, as we all should. My freedom is tied up with the freedom of everyone else in the universe, and tomorrow we have a chance to set close to a million people free.
Again, the media hasn't been watching but everyone who matters everyone who will decide the future of this country is watching. The DREAM Act has been front-page news on major Spanish language newspapers all week, and featured heavily on Spanish language television. The U.S.'s largest and fastest growing minority, Latinos, is watching, today. Educators and students from around the country have organized for and come out in support of the DREAM Act. The next generation is watching, today. Facebook and twitter have blown up with mentions of the DREAM Act, and traffic on the sites covering the DREAM Act is through the roof. Business leaders, religious leaders, and military leaders have all come out strong in support of the DREAM Act. If the Senate fails to move the DREAM Act forward today, we will all be watching and we won't just remember this November, but for the rest of our lives.
According to a poll commissioned by First Focus, 70% of the U.S. public supports the DREAM Act. Multiple polls show that a majority of the U.S. public supports the repeal of DADT. Republicans, for the most part, are floating arguments about procedure. They are saying that Democrats are playing politics with the National Defense Authorization Act. Republicans are playing politics, too, and have used the procedure of the filibuster to grind the Senate to a halt for two years. Playing politics is what politicians do. The public doesn't care about politicians playing politics or what procedures are used as long as Congress does their job and gets things done. It's time for Congress to get two things done that the majority of Americans support.
Republicans, especially, face an important choice, today. They can please their increasingly regional extremist base and relegate themselves to irrelevancy for a generation, or they can do the right thing and be competitive with the next generation of voters.
If we win, today, we will face an even steeper uphill battle, but we will all be watching. Failure has not entered into my mind. We will pass the DREAM Act and DADT will be repealed. It is no longer a question of if, but a question of when. The time is now and whomever stands in the way will regret it for a long time.