How to explain in five minutes or less what happens when the rich get tax cuts

December 18, 2017 at 8:58 am

A political cartoon and a parody of the second scene of Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode with politicians playing the main parts. A wealthy couple is having breakfast in a richly decorated room, the morning after a card party. (Wellcome Images/Wikimedia)

The corporate special interest group spin is that the rich will spend more if only we give them more in the form of tax cuts.

If people buy this story, then they think they’re doing the right thing by giving rich people tax cuts. That is, it doesn’t even matter if all of the benefits of the GOP tax bill are geared toward America’s wealthiest, because the wealthy will use this money to “create” more jobs as they say.

This is why it’s important to have a simple story about what really happens when the rich get tax cuts. Here’s how to explain in a way that makes it easy for people to understand in five minutes.

How corporate special interests socialize costs: moral hazard

November 26, 2017 at 10:43 am

One of the ways corporate special interest propaganda works is by framing reality so there are only two choices: one good, one bad.

The most common frame used is capitalism vs. socialism. The right is framed as a bunch of wonderful superhuman capitalists out to make the world better through their endless pursuit of profit over everything else. Meanwhile, the “left” is described as a bunch of horrible Venezuelan socialists destined to bring ruin to all of America with their irresponsibility and laziness.

Sadly, all too often we fall for this framing trap and find ourselves in the weak position corporate special interests want us to be in: fighting for something that a majority of people in the United States see as morally wrong.

One way to break out of this trap is to fight a different battle, to reframe the world as democracy vs. oligarchy. I’ve written before about how to make a strong argument for democracy as key to a vital economy.

Another way to do this is to talk about what it is that corporate special interests and the wealthy in our country really want: To privatize the profits while socializing all the costs and risk.

Seven ways the wealthy raise taxes on the 99 percent after cutting them for themselves

November 2, 2017 at 10:53 pm

One of the biggest lies told by conservative pundits is that one-half of Americans pay no taxes.

Conservatives like to throw around numbers, like the top 1 percent of wage earners will pay 45.7 percent of federal income taxes (from a 2014 report). This only tells a small part of the story.

For example, income tax accounts for less than one-half of federal taxes, and only one-fifth of taxes at all levels of government. Or that the top 1 percent receive 21 percent of total income.

What they also don’t tell you is that the 80 percent of taxes that aren’t income taxes tend to fall heavily on the the poor and middle class.

When you give massive tax cuts to the rich, as Donald Trump’s new tax plan proposes, what this means is that revenues will fall at the federal level. The federal government then cuts money to state governments, who cut money to local governments, who cut services and shift the costs onto the 99 percent.

What this strategy does is privatize profits for the wealthy, create stock bubbles, and push costs down to everyone else at the state, local, and individual level.

Here’s some of the regressive taxes that the 99 percent pay most of—and that are likely to increase if we write more tax loopholes for the rich.

The United States is becoming an extraction economy (like Puerto Rico)

October 20, 2017 at 9:19 am

While watching Trump troll us with Puerto Rico, one question kept popping up: why?

In some ways it’s obvious why he’s trolling us. He wants to distract us from what his team of billionaires is doing in Washington and control the news cycle.

But why troll us by going to Puerto Rico?

The answer is that he’s there to show us that they are poor and we are not, and that we should be afraid of ending up like them. In other words, he’s campaigning. He’s telling the country that he knows what’s best because he’s a rich businessman.

This is a variation on the corporate special interest group propaganda we see so much of: Everything that is good is business, capitalism. Everything that is bad is socialism.

Sadly, it’s working.

The reason it’s working isn’t because it’s right, but because so many people believe and repeat these terrible ideas about what’s made us a successful country.

Everyone I talk to knows something is wrong with our country. Yet many think the only people who know how to solve it are the “good” business people of our country. This is a big reason Trump won.

People don’t know why and how Puerto Rico is the way it is and they think we need people like Trump. What we need is a better story about why Puerto Rico is poor, how it’s run as an extraction economy, why this is bad, and why all the successful economies of the world tend to be democratic.

Universal health care would save $17 trillion

July 26, 2017 at 9:29 pm

$32 trillion. You may have seen this number in corporate media coverage and Republican propaganda. It’s the estimated cost of universal health care over a 10-year period.

It’s a big number—a big, scary number. So hacks like the editorial board at The Washington Post use it to scare people with titles like “Single-payer health care would have an astonishingly high price tag.”

Not just high—astonishingly high.

Of course what the editorial board of The Washington Post leaves out (though you think they’d know better) is any comparison to what we’re currently spending.

Compared to what we’re currently spending, universal health care or single-payer health care would save us $17 trillion over 10 years.

Of all developed countries, America self-invests the least because of tax cuts for the 1 percent

April 18, 2017 at 12:30 pm

As tax day (April 18) approaches, it’s interesting to consider the lie that America is “overtaxed.”

The average developed country reinvests 34 percent of its gross domestic product back into the country and its people.

As of 2014, America only invests 26 percent, which puts it ahead of Korea, Chile, Mexico, and exactly zero other developed countries.

What does this do?

Democratic capitalism: Freeing people from the corporate special interest definition of ‘corruption’

January 18, 2017 at 1:43 pm

Monument to the victims of capitalism in Montreal. (photographymontreal/Flickr)

This week someone asked me if I’d heard any questions about IDEA, the federal law protecting students with disabilities (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearings.

I get these types of questions a lot because I write about politics. It’s kind of funny because I don’t think I know much about politics—at least not when it comes to policy details. I’ve had people tell me in response, “But I love listening to you talk. You know so much.”

Here’s a secret: It’s more important to know what you believe in—and how to talk about what you believe in.

The problem is that corporate special interests “get” this, and all too often we don’t—especially many of us who come from academic backgrounds, where arguing is the accepted way to flesh out ideas and learn.

Let me demonstrate by showing you how corporate special interests redefined “corruption,” why this is so important, and how you can help break people out of this trap.

Pay more and get less: The Ryan plan to privatize Medicare

November 29, 2016 at 11:41 am
[caption id="attachment_2147" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Paul Ryan speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011 (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia) Paul Ryan speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011 (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia)[/caption]

One of the fights likely to come up early during the next administration is privatizing Medicare.

Tom Price, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has indicated Republicans will try to privatize Medicare in a budget reconciliation bill (a sneaky filibuster proof attack).

You’re going to hear a lot about “choice” and “efficiency” and the amazingness of markets, but Ryan’s plan basically comes down to two things: 1) you will pay more, and 2) you will get less.

Big businesses are hurting small businesses

June 29, 2016 at 6:39 pm
[caption id="attachment_2112" align="aligncenter" width="650"]'The Big Fish Eat the Little Fish,' satire on the fall of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, 1619. ‘The Big Fish Eat the Little Fish,’ satire on the fall of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, 1619.[/caption]

We often hear that taxes and regulation are hurting small businesses. As a small business owner and someone who talks to a lot of conservatives, I hear this all the time.

Though it has a small kernel of truth to it (a key to most successful marketing), this ignores the larger part of what’s really happening.

What’s hurting small businesses? Big businesses. A few ways they do this are through consolidation, market leverage, technology, temporary jobs, corporate special interests, media, and globalization. They also do this through tax evasion, government capture, and lobbying for regulations that create barriers to entry.

Here’s a closer look at how big businesses are hurting small businesses.

Why we have a progressive income tax

June 7, 2016 at 1:51 pm

Pictures are a really powerful way to tell a story. If you can find an easy way to explain something through pictures, you can often make great strides in a very short period of time.

One of the things that often gets brought up in conversations with conservatives is this idea of a flat tax. Many conservatives think this is somehow “fair.”

progressive_tax012

Here’s a simple drawing to illustrate why we have a progressive tax and to show how the flat tax is really just a loophole for the wealthy.