Paul Krugman: Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan is one big scam – Salon.com

Paul Krugman: Donald Trump's infrastructure plan is one big scam

Trump’s plan to rebuild the country’s infrastructure is really a scheme to enrich wealthy people…..

There is also the fact that private investors will have no interest in building infrastructure that can’t be turned into a profit center. Privatizing these public projects is a gratuitous hand out to select investors, who would be aquiring public assets for “just 18 cents on the dollar, with taxpayers picking up the rest of the tab.

Source: Paul Krugman: Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan is one big scam – Salon.com

Who’s Moving Into and Out of Washington, D.C. – Next City

Construction workers, cashiers and janitors are moving out of Washington, D.C., while doctors, economists and software developers are moving in. As the cost of housing increases in the city, it’s part of a larger trend, says the District of Columbia’s Office of Revenue Analysis (ORA), which has low-wage workers fleeing for the suburbs, and higher-wage workers flocking to urban cores.

Source: Who’s Moving Into and Out of Washington, D.C. – Next City

Are You Ready for Some Hard Truths About the Birth of Our Nation? Brace Yourself | Alternet

Cutting edge historians are breaking new ground to help us understand the dogged persistence of white racism…

So much so that historian Gerald Horne poses a radical reinterpretation of the founding of the nation’s origins, in his trailblazing book, The Counter-Revolution of 1776. “Ironically, the founders of the republic have been hailed and lionized by left, right and center for—in effect—creating the first apartheid state,” he writes.

Citing previously ignored evidence, Horne argues convincingly that a combination of alarm over the growing abolition sentiment in Britain, well underway by the late 1700s, and the deep-rooted fear of potential British support for slave uprisings were major motivating forces behind the desire for “independence” in the first place.

Source: Are You Ready for Some Hard Truths About the Birth of Our Nation? Brace Yourself | Alternet

The Massachusetts Supreme Court Will Decide on a Religion-Related Tax Exemption for the Attleboro Catholic Shrine – The Atlantic

The Massachusetts Supreme Court will decide whether a local shrine should be tax-exempt—a decision that could have broad implications for faith organizations in America.

Source: The Massachusetts Supreme Court Will Decide on a Religion-Related Tax Exemption for the Attleboro Catholic Shrine – The Atlantic

Must-read: Narayana Kocherlakota: “The World Needs More U.S. Government Debt” – Equitable Growth

The world wants U.S. debt and the U.S. needs infrastructure repair. Seems like a natural match unless you’re a Republican or fellow-traveling Democrat.

Must-Read: Narayana Kocherlakota: The World Needs More U.S. Government Debt: “Are government-imposed restrictions holding back the U.S. economy?… …In a way, yes: The federal government is causing great harm by […]

Source: Must-read: Narayana Kocherlakota: “The World Needs More U.S. Government Debt” – Equitable Growth

Top 50 US Companies Stash a Trillion Dollars Offshore While Benefitting from Trillions in Government Support | Oxfam America

The 50 biggest US companies, including global brands such Pfizer, Goldman Sachs, Dow Chemical, Chevron, Walmart, IBM, and Procter & Gamble, have stashed more than a trillion dollars offshore and used more than 1,600 subsidiaries in tax havens to avoid billions of dollars in tax each year, according to Oxfam America. In a new report released today ahead of Tax Day, Oxfam outlines how corporate tax dodging costs the US an estimated $100 billion each year, a gap that the average American taxpayer would have to shell out an extra $760 to cover…..

…..The report reveals that the same companies are among the largest beneficiaries of US taxpayer funded support, receiving a staggering $11 trillion in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailout assistance from 2008-2014 even as they avoided hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes over the same period.

Oxfam calculated that during this period, these 50 companies collectively received approximately $27 in loan support for every $1 they paid in federal taxes.“…..

The companies, which made nearly $4 trillion in profits globally between 2008 and 2014, paid an average effective tax rate of just 26.5% – well below the statutory tax rate of 35% in the US and well below the tax rate of an average US worker of 31.5%…..

“For every $1 spent on lobbying, the largest 50 companies received $130 in tax breaks and more than $4,000 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts,”…..

Source: Top 50 US Companies Stash a Trillion Dollars Offshore While Benefitting from Trillions in Government Support | Oxfam America

Who’s Responsible for the Demise of America’s Public Research Universities? – The Atlantic

America’s great public research universities, which produce path-breaking discoveries and train some of the country’s most talented young students, are under siege. The result may be a significant weakening of the nation’s preeminence in higher education. Dramatic cuts in public spending for state flagship universities seem to be at odds with widespread public sentiment. Americans say they strongly believe in exceptional educational systems; they want their kids to attend excellent and selective colleges and to get good, well-paying, prestigious jobs. They also support university research. After 15 years of surveys, Research! America found in 2015 that 70 percent of American adults supported government-sponsored basic scientific research like that produced by public universities, while a significant plurality (44 percent) supported paying higher taxes for medical research designed to cure diseases like cancer or Alzheimer’s. Nonetheless, many state legislators seem to be ignoring public opinion as they essentially starve some of the best universities—those that educate about two-thirds of American college students.

According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ recently completed Lincoln Project report, between 2008 and 2013 states reduced financial support to top public research universities by close to 30 percent. At the same time, these states increased support of prisons by more than 130 percent. New York City’s budget office reported in 2013 that incarcerating a person in a state prison cost the city roughly $168,000 a year. California apparently does it on the cheap: It costs roughly $64,000 annually for each prisoner—a bit more than the cost of a year at an Ivy League university (average tuition is $50,000) and far more than at the University of California, Berkeley, ($13,000) or at CUNY ($8,000).

……….

All this amounts, arguably, to a pillaging of the country’s greatest state universities. And that pillaging is not a matter of necessity, as many elected officials would insist—it’s a matter of choice. If Wisconsin’s governor and legislature succeed in eliminating or emasculating tenure for faculty members at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, they can say goodbye to the greatness of that institution of higher learning. If Florida’s governor asks students in the humanities or arts to pay higher tuition than those who major in business or STEM subjects, Florida’s universities are apt to deteriorate in quality. And just so it doesn’t seem like I’m cherry picking, consider what North Carolina’s governor said not long ago: “If you want to take gender studies, that’s fine, go to a private school and take it. But I don’t want to subsidize that if that’s not going to get someone a job.” The consequence of such policy choices, it seems, is that tuition will go up and access for kids from poorer families will go down.

………

Source: Who’s Responsible for the Demise of America’s Public Research Universities? – The Atlantic

Bernie v. the Macro-Economists’ Hubris

The next time you read about macro-economists’ authoritative statements on forecasting the economy under Bernie’s programs, remember the following two charts and how well the macro-economists at the IMF did on projecting World Growth and China’s Growth. Doesn’t make him right, makes you think.

Source: When The Hockeystick Breaks: The IMF Gives Up On China Growth | Zero Hedge

Why Commercial Real Estate Is Next: ‘Challenging Technicals’ Are About To Become ‘Weak Fundamentals’ | Zero Hedge

There is a growing sense of tighter financial conditions, particularly to the commercial real estate sector. Late last year the regulators issued a joint statement on Prudent Risk Management for Commercial Real Estate Lending and the latest Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey (SLOOS) shows that banks tightened their lending standards to commercial real estate meaningfully in 4Q15…. The growing sense of gathering clouds in terms of tightening financial conditions to commercial real estate translates into a more challenging road ahead for US commercial real estate.

Source: Why Commercial Real Estate Is Next: ‘Challenging Technicals’ Are About To Become ‘Weak Fundamentals’ | Zero Hedge

Bernie Sander’s Plan to Tame Wall Street Riles Team Clinton

Sanders points out: “Three out of the 4 largest financial institutions (JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo) are nearly 80 percent bigger than before we bailed them out. Incredibly, the six largest banks in this country issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards and more than 35 percent of all mortgages. They control more than 95 percent of all financial derivatives and hold more than 40 percent of all bank deposits. Their assets are equivalent to nearly 60 percent of our GDP. Enough is enough.”

Source: Bernie Sander’s Plan to Tame Wall Street Riles Team Clinton | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Punish the Bankers! | Foreign Policy

Timely article given recent article in NY Times (An S.E.C. Settlement With Citigroup That Fails to Name Names) wherein Citi agrees to pay a $180 million settlement plus $726 million in investor compensation and yet the SEC not only doesn’t hold any individual responsible – it doesn’t even name them. Talk about moral hazard.

The sentencing of the trader Tom Hayes for his part in the Libor scandal caused many a sharp intake of breath on London’s Canary Wharf.…

Source: Punish the Bankers! | Foreign Policy

Elizabeth Warren’s Trade Deal Fears Confirmed: Canada Uses NAFTA to Challenge Volcker Rule | naked capitalism

Elizabeth Warren’s concerns about trade deals undermining financial regulations get an unexpected confirmation from Canada.

Source: Elizabeth Warren’s Trade Deal Fears Confirmed: Canada Uses NAFTA to Challenge Volcker Rule | naked capitalism

Corporate Kleptocracy: 6,300 Examples Of America’s Malignant Malfeasance | Zero Hedge

The settlements with the banks along with the ongoing investigations have shown that virtually every market is being manipulated; the stocks, metals markets, LIBOR, FOREX, everything. The companies would only break so many laws if they felt they would have a reasonable chance of getting away with it; they would also need a reason to do it, which is provided by the infinite growth model our economy is based on.

Source: Corporate Kleptocracy: 6,300 Examples Of America’s Malignant Malfeasance | Zero Hedge

The ludicrous myth of Republican fiscal responsibility: A history lesson for the modern GOP – Salon.com

The GOP loves to insist that Democrats have caused a fiscal crisis. But the real story looks far different…

…when Republican Vice President Dick Cheney said to Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil, “You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” Indeed, Ted Cruz’s hero Ronald Reagan was the original deficit master.

When Reagan took office, he advocated fiscal responsibility, as his disciples do today. But his presidency was anything but responsible when it came to fiscal policies. The size of America’s debt when he entered office was $1 trillion, and by the end of his two terms, it had grown by 190 percent, to $2.9 trillion, nearly tripling under his leadership. By the the end of twelve years of Reagan-Bush administration, the debt had quadrupled to $4 trillion…

…Reagan backtracked from that initial tax cut, increasing income taxes as well as gasoline and social security taxes, which he would use to fund his runaway spending.

…both Ford and Carter were better at cutting government spending — their presidential terms combined for a 1.4 percent increase of national income, while Reagan’s spending grew 3 percent.

Rather than going the responsible “tax and spend” route, Reagan decided to “borrow and spend.”…

…So, Reagan and Bush Sr. quadrupled America’s debt, following a decade of fiscal irresponsibility and regressive tax increases that ultimately defrauded America’s working class. And then, of course, Democrat Bill Clinton came into office to clean up the mess. In his first years, Clinton enacted tax increases for the wealthy, and the effective total federal tax rates rose significantly for the one percent. When Clinton signed these increases into law, Conservatives warned it would destroy jobs and stifle economic growth — but the opposite happened, the economy flourished…Clinton was fiscally responsible, and he left George W. Bush with a budged surplus of $86 billion.

And what did the Republican do with this wonderful gift? He did the usual — cut taxes for the wealthy, and rapidly increased spending by starting two extremely expensive wars. Bush’s fiscally irresponsible policies raised the debt by over $5 trillion. This, along with his administrations lack of Wall Street oversight, helped fuel the financial crisis that he would pass down to President Obama…

For the full story and more facts please go to: The ludicrous myth of Republican fiscal responsibility: A history lesson for the modern GOP – Salon.com

In Democrats’ Eyes, Republicans Are Helping Foster Chinese Power – Real Time Economics – WSJ

Are Republicans aiding Chinese efforts to undercut America’s global economic sway?

That’s the case some Democrats are making, complaining that GOP lawmakers are eroding U.S. soft-power overseas by refusing to back the key international institutions where the U.S. has long exercised intellectual, political and economic leverage.

via In Democrats’ Eyes, Republicans Are Helping Foster Chinese Power – Real Time Economics – WSJ.

Coastal property values could erode if nourishment subsidies end — ScienceDaily

The value of many oceanfront properties on the East Coast could drop dramatically if Congress were to suddenly end federal beach nourishment subsidies. Values could fall by as much as 17 percent in towns with high property values and almost 34 percent in towns with low property values. A gradual reduction of the subsidies, in contrast, is more likely to smooth the transition to more climate-resilient coastal communities.

via Coastal property values could erode if nourishment subsidies end — ScienceDaily.

The Five Worst Supreme Court Justices In American History, Ranked | ThinkProgress

“the justices of the Supreme Court have shaped a nation where children toiled in coal mines, where Americans could be forced into camps because of their race, and where a woman could be sterilized against her will by state law. The Court was the midwife of Jim Crow, the right hand of union busters, and the dead hand of the Confederacy. Nor is the modern Court a vast improvement, with its incursions on voting rights and its willingness to place elections for sale.”

Even amidst this dark history, certain justices stand out as particularly mean-spirited, ideological or unconcerned about their duty to follow the text of the Constitution. Based on my review of over 150 years of Supreme Court history in Injustices, here are the five jurists who stand out as the worst justices in American history:

The Five Worst Supreme Court Justices In American History, Ranked | ThinkProgress.