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The Obscure Rule Change That Would Make It Easier For Republicans To Pass Massive Tax Cuts | ThinkProgress

Republicans prepare to cook-the-books to justify tax cuts. Most likely, they will simply increase the deficit and then try (yet again) to use that as an excuse to cut social services.

Individual states repeatedly cooked-the-books on pension obligations assuming unrealistic investment returns creating huge unfunded obligations and credit downgrades (New Jersey’s pension problems contributed to that state having the second-lowest credit rating of any State, beaten only by Illinois which also has tremendous unfunded pension obligations.)

The Bush and Reagan tax cuts didn’t spur economic growth and Gov. Brownback has devastated the Kansas budget with tax cuts without growth (and surprise, surprise now proposes cuts in social services). Now the Republicans are preparing to do the same on the Federal level.

For example, last year the JCT estimated that Rep. Dave Camp’s (R-MI) tax bill could generate between $50 billion and $700 billion in additional revenue over a decade thanks to faster growth, but the bigger number included the assumption of large spending cuts that weren’t in his bill. The estimate also didn’t take into account any negative impacts that might arise from those steep cuts. As Chye-Ching Huang and Paul N. Van de Water at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities write, “If highly optimistic economic and fiscal assumptions like these are included in official cost estimates but then fail to materialize, the result will be higher deficits and debt.”

This is particularly true because there’s little evidence that steep tax cuts will lead to higher economic growth, especially if they end up increasing the deficit. A recent paper from the Brookings Institution found that while tax cuts can have the impact of encouraging people to work, save, and invest, which can generate growth, “if the tax cuts are not financed by immediate spending cuts they will likely also result in an increased federal budget deficit.” For example, it doesn’t find evidence that the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 led to economic growth. Multiple studies have come to the same conclusion of President Regan’s 1986 tax cuts.

via The Obscure Rule Change That Would Make It Easier For Republicans To Pass Massive Tax Cuts | ThinkProgress.

Urban Life and a Microscopic Attention | Sustainable Cities Collective

Small-scale urban spaces can be rich in biodiversity, contribute important ecological benefits for human mental and physical health (McPhearson et al., 2013), and overall help to create more livable cities. Micro_urban spaces are the sandwich spaces between buildings, rooftops, walls, curbs, sidewalk cracks, and other small-scale urban spaces that exist in the fissures between linear infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges, tunnels, rail lines) and our three dimensional gridded cities.

via Urban Life and a Microscopic Attention | Sustainable Cities Collective.

Maps and Measurments of the Expansion of Cities | Sustainable Cities Collective

 

We are living in the midst of the urban century. Though it is common knowledge that the world is urbanizing, it can be striking to visualize this growth on a map. This animation from Unicef maps countries’ urban populations from 1950 to 2050, and shows that urbanization is a global phenomenon set to continue for decades:

 

population-circle-urban-growth-asia-cities1

 

Maps and Measurements of the Expansion of Cities | Sustainable Cities Collective.

Anne Stevenson-Yang: Why Xi Jinping’s Troubles, and China’s, Could Get Worse – Barron’s

Prominent expert on Chinese economy warns of depression and possible crash:

China, for all its talk about economic reform, is in big trouble. The old model of relying on export growth and heavy investment to power the economy isn’t working anymore…

… starting in 2008, China sought to counter global recession with huge amounts of ill-advised investment in redundant industrial capacity and vanity infrastructure projects—you know, airports with no commercial flights, highways to nowhere, and stadiums with no teams…

People are crazy if they believe any government statistics, which, of course, are largely fabricated…actual Chinese GDP is probably a third lower than is officially reported…

Property sales are in decline, steel production is falling, commercial long-and short-haul vehicle sales are continuing to implode, and much of the growth in GDP is coming from huge rises in inventories across the economy. We track the 400 Chinese consumer companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets, and in the third quarter, their gross revenues fell 4% from a year ago. This is hardly a vibrant economy…

Rampant capital flight could turn into a rout given the ridiculous concentration of wealth in China, cutting the seemingly impregnable foreign reserves dramatically…

China is riding an involuntary credit treadmill where much new money has to be hosed into the economy just to sustain ever-mounting bad-debt totals. Capital efficiency, or the amount of capital it takes to generate a unit of GDP growth, has soared as a result…

The Chinese home real estate market, mostly units in high-rise buildings, is truly bizarre. Many Chinese regard apartments as capital-gains machines rather than sources of shelter. In fact, there are 50 million units in China that are owned but vacant. The owners won’t rent them because used apartments suffer an immediate haircut in value.

It’s as if the government created a new asset class that no one lives in. This fact gives lie to the commonly held myth that the buildout of all these empty towers and ghost cities is a Chinese urbanization play. The only city folk who don’t own housing are the millions of migrant laborers continuously flocking to Chinese cities. Yet, they can’t afford the new housing…

Families have more than half of their wealth in housing, including the less affluent in recent years who have taken to buying fractional shares in luxury apartments and town houses. Local governments, which rely on land sales to developers and real estate transfer taxes for something like 35% of their revenue, would be in a bad way in a housing-price bust…

Interestingly, liquidity seems to be a growing problem in China. Chinese corporations have taken on $1.5 trillion in foreign debt in the past year or so, where previously they had none. A lot of it is short term. If defaults start to cascade through the economy, it will be more difficult for China to hide its debt problems now that foreign investors are involved. It’s here that a credit crisis could start…

December 5, 2014

Anne Stevenson-Yang: Why Xi Jinping’s Troubles, and China’s, Could Get Worse – Barron’s.

John Steinbeck

Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

 

John Steinbeck

Pentagon Plans for Climate Wars

Now that the Pentagon wants to address climate change, progress may be possible.

After all we only implemented food assistance when the head of the Selective Service in WWII warned Congress that too many draftees were being rejected due to malnutrition, the interstate highway system is actually the  Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, and the internet and numerous other technologies were funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).

No fear, no funds.

Pentagon says we could soon be fighting climate wars | Grist.