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Dr. Jack Rasmus
Copyright 2020

Today Mitch McConnell’s Republican Senate confirmed its third ultra conservative Supreme Court nominee, Amy Barrett, as Supreme Court Justice. Coming in the midst of America’s current dual crisis—economic and Covid health—both now worsening, the Barrett appointment ensures the emergence of historic political instability in the USA. The dual crisis is about to become a triple crisis.

As US unemployment claims rise, rent evictions accelerate, food lines grow, the prospect of a fiscal stimulus bill in Congress fades, and as a third Covid 19 wave creates record level infections & hospitalizations, each deterioration has begun reinforcing the other.

Potentially exacerbating all the above, political instability and conflict of historic dimensions is around the corner. And the Barrett confirmation today, October 26, 2020 will put the US Supreme Court at the center of this dynamic.

The Consequences of the Barrett Confirmation

Democrats correctly complain Barrett’s confirmation will mean the end of women’s right to choose, a destruction of what’s left of the Affordable Care Act, the ending of many gay rights, a further US retreat from climate change, more deregulation of business, and a long list of other social programs of recent decades. They are right on all that. But even all that may not prove the worst of it.

Perhaps the most serious, and most immediate, consequence of the Barrett appointment to the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will be that Court’s interference once again in a presidential election—as in the 2000 national election when the Court played the central key role in stopping counting of votes and thus ‘selecting’ George W. Bush as president.

The Barrett appointment to the Court means Trump will have his 6-3 majority on the court just in time for the election and the counting of ballots. Even if chief Justice Roberts becomes an occasional swing vote, Barrett’s appointment will still ensure a 5-4 vote in favor of Trump.

The historic question thus arises: will Barrett, along with the other two Trump SCOTUS appointees Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, vote to stop the counting of mail in ballots in swing states and thus give Trump a second term? Would they dare? In particular would Barrett, being just confirmed to the Court?

More specifically, will the 6-3 SCOTUS Trump majority perform again its role of usurper of Democracy in America and intervene in Trump’s favor—as it did In 2000 when it ordered a halt to a vote re-count in Florida by declaring it “prejudiced George Bush’s’ campaign”? Is this possible again? You bet it is.

Guess who two of Bush’s main defense lawyers were in 2000 who demanded and argued to the Court at that time that it halt the vote re-count in Florida in favor of Bush? Both Barrett and Kavanaugh!

The Pusillanimity of Democrat Leadership

Democrats have been gnashing their political teeth, pounding their desks in the Senate, boycotting committee voting on the nomination, and making empty threats about stacking SCOTUS after the election. But recent history shows the Democrats themselves are complicit, and therefore responsible in part, for Barrett’s appointment, as well as for the appointments of her two radical right predecessors, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.

It was the Democrats who capitulated when their nominee to SCOTUS, Garland, was nominated by Obama in early 2016. Garland’s nomination was stopped dead when the Senate’s leader, McConnell, refused to even have hearings on Garland—let alone take his nomination to a vote. McConnell used a phony Senate rule that there must be no nominations in a year of a presidential election, to halt the Garland nomination. And what did the Democrats do? Nada! They thought they would win in 2016 and push through Garland then. Bad strategy. Hillary and the Democrat party corporate moneybags who ensured Hillary was the party’s candidate in 2016 scuttled that. The Democrats capitulated to McConnell and did nothing.

That wasn’t the first time either. Remember the do-nothing Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Court? No fewer than 11 Democrats in the Senate voted for him too? Now in 2020 they’re being ‘sandbagged’ once again by McConnell, who arbitrarily changed Senate rules a few weeks ago to get Barrett approved in a mere week before the national election! Democrats couldn’t get a hearing for Garland 11 months before an election; Barrett gets approved less than 11 days before the election! Democrats didn’t fight him in early 2016. They gave tepid resistance to the Gorsuch nomination by Trump. He flew through the confirmation hearing with little Democrat resistance. Kavanaugh was a wake up call for Democrats. They fought but, as usual, with an ineffective strategy.

Democrats’ failure to effectively resist McConnell is not new. Senate leader McConnell has played hard ball with the Democrats for years, striking them out repeatedly. Their batting average is pathetic. McConnell arbitarily broke Senate rules whenever it suited him, created new ones on the fly, and has generally ran roughshod over the Democrats at will. Meanwhile, Democrats keep crying ‘foul’ with each rule change, demanding McConnell play by the (old) rules and stop throwing them curve balls they can’t hit. So McConnell just threw them a fast ball past them in the Barrett case they couldn’t even swing at. Now they can’t even step up to the plate.

It all began with Obama back in 2009. He continually tried to establish a ‘bipartisan’ consensus with the Republicans to pass legislation for economic recovery. Obama listened to their demands to reduce his stimulus. But when he did not one Republican voted for it.

But they did vote when they convinced Obama in August 2011 to cut social spending programs by $1.5 trillion—i.e. more than Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill of $787 billion. Obama kept pursuing his futile ‘bipartisanship’. But he was tricked into cutting $1.5 trillion in education and other social programs, on the Republican promise that Defense spending would be cut as well by $500 billion. Republicans later found a way around that and Pentagon spending cuts were eventually restored. Outfoxed again, Obama fell in line in 2013 in the name of ‘bipartisanship’, when he and Democrats supported the Republican demand to extend George W. Bush’s 2001-03 massive $3.4 trillion tax cuts for business and investors for another decade. That added ten years of business tax cuts cost taxpayers another $5 trillion! Obama ended up actually cutting business-investor taxes by $trillions more than George W. Bush!

Time and again Obama extended his hand to the Republican dog which repeatedly bit him. Obama kept extending it nonetheless; and McConnell kept biting. That’s the history of legislation in Congress over Obama’s entire term, 2008-2016. And it explains a lot why millions of voters abandoned the Democrats in 2016—although Hillary’s ineffective campaign helped a lot.

With Trump’s election, Republicans shifted strategy from just thwarting Democrat policies to plans to destroy the Democrats politically for a generation. The Obama era bipartisanship strategy continued for a while into the Trump era. Trump was permitted to keep raising US defense spending by hundreds of billions of dollars every year, in exchange for his agreement not to cut social program spending. He gained; they kept what they had. Meanwhile, the US budget deficit reached $1 trillion a year, during what was vaunted to be a robust economy. Lasts year, 2019, the Dems woke up to the failure of bipartisanship with Trump and his transformed Trump-worshipping Republican party out to destroy them, but too late.

Now the Barrett confirmation will enable Trump and McConnell to bite off at least a couple more fingers of the Democrat hand: womens’ right to choose and the Affordable Care Act. But not just Obamacare or women’s right to choose are about to be severed. Soon Barrett will be the decider on the Supreme Court again—as in 2000—determining the outcome of the upcoming presidential election. Trump and McConnell may slice off a thumb.

With the Barrett confirmation, the US Supreme Court—with no right to select the president— may nevertheless do so again. An institution not even mentioned in the US Constitution, with Barrett providing Trump a secure 6-3 (or at minimum 5-4) majority the Supreme Court may once again usurp the sovereignty of the American people. Here’s how it may occur:

Creating One, Two, Three….Many Floridas!

In just a few short weeks, it will become apparent the USA in 2020 has entered a déjà vu contested election as in 2000. ‘Contested’ is an unfortunate term. Every election is contested. What the media really means by choosing such a safe, neutral term like ‘contested’, is that the election may be stolen… once again. And this time it may usher in a deeper coup d’etat, not just a personality change at the top, as Trump radically attacks his opponents and the last vestiges of Democracy in America upon consolidating his victory coup.

The November 3, 2020 election may be Florida 2000 all over again! Only this time, unlike 2000 when vote re-counting was halted in three counties in Florida to give George W. Bush the election, it will be two, three, many Floridas. And it won’t be vote recounting. It will be counting of initial mail-in ballot votes.

All indications are Trump clearly plans to challenge and halt the mail in ballot vote counting in swing states where the direct in person vote tally will be close—i.e. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Arizona, and maybe even Georgia or Florida. He already has more than 250 of his lawyers stationed in the swing states to file injunctions to stop the mail in ballot counts. More will be coming, poised in the wings to swoop down into the swing states if needed. They’ll demand and get preliminary injunctions to halt the mail in vote counting. Hundreds of McConnell judge appointees in the swing states in recent years will move quickly to approve injunctions and move them along quickly; ditto for McConnell Appeals Court appointees who’ll cooperate and hand off the appeals to the Supreme Court. The matter will quickly rise to the new Trump SCOTUS with 6-3 majority with Barrett, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch recent appointees to the Court. They’ll pick the most favorable to Trump case to decide on, creating a de facto precedent that can be used to halt mail in ballot counting in other swing states.

The disruption and delays in vote counting will give Trump time to declare he has won the key swing states based on direct in person voting. He’ll likely declare himself the winner late on November 3 or certainly early on November 4 based on in person voting on November 3. Mail in ballot counting will be further delayed by legal maneuvers as long as possible. Trump will publicly hammer the message he won via direct votes and mail in votes are suspect, even fraudulent, and shouldn’t be ever counted but impounded.

Democrats will again gnash their teeth, jump up and down, and declare ‘foul’. Trump’s not playing by the rules. (Of course, he’s rewriting the rules in his favor, dummies, as he has always done).

Following Trump’s November 3 or 4 declaration of himself as winner, people will take to the streets to protest and demand resumption of the mail ballot vote counting. Trump will likely call on his supporters to hit the streets as well.

Demonstrators and counter-demonstrators will clash, sometimes violently. It may well make the Antifa vs. Proud boys conflicts of recent months look like a high school play dress rehearsal.

But those clashes and growing violence will benefit Trump. His lawyers can then argue that the social and political disruptions will only worsen, unless SCOTUS puts an end to it by permanently halting the mail ballot vote count. SCOTUS will comply, as it did in 2000. Or perhaps punt the ball and declare Congress should resolve the issue—but immediately to quell the social unrest and not after the new Congress takes office. That means with the existing Congress, dominated by the Republican Senate. Intensifying social disruptions in November-December will help to push the Court to decide in his favor, whichever of the two possible outcomes. He’ll therefore incite his followers incessantly through November-December.

It’s not coincidental that Wall St. and business interests are now buying insurance and hedging their investments in expectation of a scenario not unlike that just described. Nor coincidental that police forces and local governments are quietly preparing for mass confrontations in November, even as the mainstream media is purposely refusing to report on those preparations and scenarios.

Feeble Democrat Party Counter Strategies

Biden and Democrats are hoping that by generating a mass voter turnout they can avoid the close election results on November 3 in the swing states that, should that occur, would set in motion Trump’s plans and a SCOTUS repeat of Florida 2000 now in multiple swing states.

But a record voter turnout may occur in both sides—for Trump and for Biden—in the same swing states, with neither overwhelming the other and thus resulting in a close election in the swing states with record turnout for both sides! Turnout in such a case will be irrelevant. The election results will still be close, allowing Trump to still declare himself victor early.

The fact that far more Republicans will vote directly on November 3 than will Democrats (and conversely more Democrats vote via mail than Republicans) enables Trump to declare early victory and try to stop the mail in vote count. CNN polls show nationally that 55% Republicans will vote in person November 3, and only 22% Democrats. The percentages are reversed for the mail in voting. The swing state spreads will likely be even greater than the national CNN poll percentages.

Democrats and their media (CNN, MSNBC, etc.) keep talking today about national polls showing Biden with 8-10% lead over Trump in the popular vote nationwide. National polls are totally irrelevant. Only state wide polls and winning enough small states to accumulate a required 270 electoral votes to take the president. And the swing state polls show Trump and Biden virtually tied. Trump’s halting of mail in ballot counting could tip more swing states in his favor.

This election is not about maximizing voter turnout. It’s about not fully counting voter turn out in the form of mail in ballots in the swing states!

The US Supreme Court As Bulwark Against Democracy

America is a truncated Democracy. It does not have a direct democracy form of presidential election. There is no one person one vote. There never has been.
The USA has the electoral college, created in 1789, that was designed to check the popular uprisings of the 1780s following the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783. Read the minutes of the US Constitutional Convention. The electoral college was a concession to those who feared the direct action and voting by the general population. Following the revolutionary war’s end in 1783, Yeoman farmers rose up everywhere protesting the economic depression of 1784-87.

They occupied and in some cases even seized control of their state legislatures in protest to the unpaid debts owed them by their governments and rising taxation.

The US Constitution of 1789 was created in response to their protests, designed to centralize power in the hands of northern Merchants and southern Plantation owners in order to check the popular uprisings. No women or slaves could vote was one outcome of that Constitution. Another was no direct election of Senators. Another was the electoral college, designed to allow state politicians and their appointed electors to determine the presidency. The right of women to vote, freeing of slaves and ensuring their right to vote, and Americans’ right to directly elect Senators were all achieved by means of mass popular movements that amended the original un-democratic constitution. But the electoral college still remains unamended. Neither party wants to amend it. They fear the uncontrolled will of the people still.

Here’s another fact that most Americans don’t know about their own Constitution: no where in it does it call for or authorize a US Supreme Court! Just that the Congress after the ratification of the Constitution by the States would legislate some kind of judiciary. The Congress created the court by means of legislation after the Constitution. So SCOTUS is subordinate to the authority of Congress, to whom the people in turn delegate their ultimate sovereignty periodically by means of elections. And take it back in elections.

So Congress can change anything it wants about the Supreme Court. It can add or delete justices. It can limit their terms in office, no longer for lifetime. It can make the justices serve by means of elections. It can even abolish SCOTUS altogether and replace it with something else.

The Supreme Court is thus not a co-equal to the Congress in the Constitution. It is not a co-equal institution. SCOTUS was purposely omitted by the framers of the Constitution because they didn’t want an institution of judges who were not directly elected by the people and who served for a lifetime to have any power to negate the sovereignty of the people or its elected Congress. That’s what the founders argued in the minutes of the Constitutional Convention of 1787!

Even less so was the Supreme Court given the authority to rule a law passed by Congress was unconstitutional. The legislation passed by Congress creating a court system did not give the Supreme Court authority to negate laws. That power is called ‘judicial review’, i.e. a power the Supreme Court usurped for itself in 1803 when it simply assumed the power of judicial review for itself. In short, the power of the Supreme Court to declare a law unconstitutional is not provided by the US Constitution nor passed by any law of Congress! It is therefore unconstitutional.

Even more so, neither the Constitution, nor Congress, nor any other institution ever gave the Supreme Court the authority to intervene in an election for president and decide on suspending a vote count, or any way interrupt a vote count, in order to favor one candidate for president over the other. That is, not until 2000 in Florida. And now again soon most likely in 2020!

Those who believe SCOTUS does have the right to intervene in elections, or that the Supreme Court can rule a law unconstitutional, or even that it is a co-equal branch of government simply don’t know their own US Constitution. Or how the Supreme Court usurped and declared its powers in 1803.

The usurpation was declared in 1803 by then Supreme Court chief justice, John Marshall. Who was he? He was a former Secretary of State for John Adams, president 1797-1800, who lost the election of 1800 and quickly appointed Marshall, his Secretary of State, as Chief Justice, in order to try to check the incoming new president, Thomas Jefferson, from reforming Adams’ corrupt business dominated government. Adams also tried to stack the lower courts before Jefferson took office. Sound familiar?

The purpose of all this explanation of the origins of the Supreme Court is not to provide an academic history lesson. It’s to point out that the US Supreme Court is not an institution of American Democracy. It’s an institution created by business interests more than two hundred years ago, the primary purpose of which is to check and prevent the exercise of direct democracy and direct voting rights of the American people. It’s been doing just that for two centuries!

In recent years the Supreme Court has become even more active in thwarting Democracy in America.

In 2013 SCOTUS struck down the even weak voting rights act of 1965. It passed the infamous Citizens United decision in 2010 that gave businesses and wealthy investors virtually unlimited right to spend money for their candidates in elections, presidential and all other! It has repeatedly allowed and endorsed various ‘red’ states voter repression efforts in recent years, including allowing conservative and radical right state legislaturess and governments to throw out hundreds of thousands of registered voters before elections. It ‘selected’ George W. Bush as president in 2000. And it’s about to do the same—given the Barrett approval to join the Supreme Court today—for Trump in 2020.

America’s Rolling Coup D’Etat

Readers should remember all this when they watch the news tomorrow, as Barrett takes her seat on the Supreme Court before next week’s November 3 election—i.e. just in time perhaps to do the ‘selecting’ of another president contrary to the popular vote and will of the majority of the American people!
There is a rolling coup d’etat’ in progress in America today led by Trump and the radical economic and political interests supporting him.

And the Supreme Court of the USA, now firmly in his camp with the Barrett appointment, may well prove to be one of his essential tools in pulling off that coup d’etat.

A good part of the American people will no doubt resist, setting in motion street protests and demonstrations, counter-demonstrations with associated violence, and a period of great political instability in America in coming months perhaps not seen since the 1850s. That instability will exacerbate the growing concurrent economic and Covid 19 health crises, already mutually exacerbating each other. The dual economic-health crisis may thus soon become a ‘Triple’ crisis: economic, health, and political.

Dr. Jack Rasmus
October 26, 2020


Listen to my hour long radio interview with Jason Myles on the state of US politics as of late September 2020 as the race for the White House takes off. Topics covered include explaining simply what is Neoliberalism; how Trump plans to provoke a political Constitutional crisis around the November elections; why White European Americans in the heartland-rural-small town America continue to support Trump no matter what he says or does; why Identity Politics is a great distraction from the politics of massive income redistribution and income transfer in America; why we need a War Mobilization economic program to defeat the virus which, by end of this year may have killed as many Americans as were lost during four years of World War II; and related topics.


Podbean:
https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-hxg63-ed2369

Spotify:
https://open.spotify.com/episode/2ejlwg9yv2jKiFjIVaSB0P?si=PTApadt0RbWaMo2yihdIOA

Apple Podcasts:
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/this-is-revolution-podcast/id1524576360

Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/bitterlakeband/this-is-revolutionpodcast-ep-76-predicting-the-coming-crisis-w-dr-jack-rasmus

As a follow up to my recent print article, listen to my 17 min. interview with ‘By Any Means Necessary’ Radio yesterday on the implications of the failing fiscal stimulus 3-way negotiations between Democrats in Congress, Trump, and McConnell’s Republican Senate.

To Listen GO TO:

https://www.spreaker.com/user/radiosputnik/by-any-means-1046-seg3-rasmus-spreaker

It’s been more than three months since the March-April economic rescue package, called the Cares Act, expired at the end of July. Since then both political parties, Republican and Democrat, have played a ‘hot potato’ bargaining game: i.e. “here’s my offer, the ball’s in your court…Here’s mine, now it’s your turn”. This week the game continues, showing no indication of ending.

Last March’s ‘CARES ACT’ was not a fiscal stimulus. It was instead about ‘mitigation’–meaning the various measures contained in that $2.3 trillion package (actually nearly $3T when the additional $650 billion in business-investor tax cuts are added to the Act) were designed only to put a floor under the collapsing US economy–not to generate a sustained economic recovery. Even the politicians voting for it publicly acknowledged at the time that it was not a stimulus bill, but rather a set of measures designed to buy time–no more than 10-12 weeks at most–until a more serious economic recovery Act could be implemented.

The real fiscal stimulus bill was to follow, designed to pick the economy up off the floor and generate a sustained recovery as the economy reopened. The reopening began in May and gained a little momentum over the summer. But not enough to generate a sustained recovery by itself that was expected by late summer.

In a typical Great Recession trajectory, the reopening over the summer resulted in a roughly two-thirds recovery of lost economic activity by end of July. It was thought by politicians and mainstream economists that, when the reopening crested at two-thirds in July, a subsequent real stimulus bill would follow. The two forces–reopening and fiscal stimulus–would together generate a sustained recovery.

But it just didn’t happen that way. Nor is it to date.

The Democrats in the US House of Representatives presented their version of a fiscal stimulus bill–called the HEROES ACT-in late May. But the Trump administration and the McConnell led Republican majority in the US Senate balked at joining in passing a stimulus bill.

McConnell & friends looked around and it appeared big business and corporations and banks were doing just fine by June–even if small business and working households were not. A few exceptions to big business doing well were the airlines, hotels and some leisure and hospitality industries. But banks and other big corporations were fat with cash. The Federal Reserve had already pumped nearly $3 trillion in virtually free money into the banks. And big corporations had raised trillions of dollars more by selling corporate bonds at record historical levels, at cheapest rates, also made possible by the Federal Reserve. Trillions more were hoarded by borrowing down their credit lines with banks, saving on facilities operations, and temporarily suspending dividends and stock buybacks.

McConnell, Trump and their business constituencies didn’t need more stimulus. Indeed, they didn’t even need the Cares Act. That Act, passed in March, included among its provisions no less than $1.1 trillion in loans for medium and large businesses, along with $650B in tax cuts for the same. But as of this past August, less than $150 billion of that $1.1 trillion had actually been borrowed by big businesses and spent into the economy, and it appears little of the tax cuts resulted in production increases or hiring as well.

So in June, McConnell and the Republican Senate dug in their heels for two months and simply ignored the Democrat House stimulus proposal in the form of their late May passed $3.4 trillion HEROES ACT bill.

In July McConnell eventually put forth his proposal, called the ‘HEALS Act’. It totaled $1.5 trillion, but was loaded with ambiguous and onerous language like exempting all businesses from any and all legal claims for negligence for failing to provide safety and health conditions for their workers.

By end of July the only provisions of the Cares Act that provided any semblance of economic stimulus ran out. That was the $500 billion in extra unemployment assistance to workers, the $1200 checks, and the $670 billion in grants and loans (mostly grants) to small businesses. The unemployment, checks and grants amounted to government spending of only $1.2 trillion of the Cares Act’s $3 or so trillion. That $1.2 trillion was, and remains, the only actual spending to hit the economy, since the $1.1 trillion in loans to large-medium corporations has never been actually ‘taken up’ and spent into the economy by business. Ditto for the $650 billion in business tax cuts in the Cares Act. So only a little more than a third of the Cares Act resulted in any economic spending.

That $1.2 trillion, moreover, amounts to barely 5.5% of US GDP. In GDP percentage terms, that’s roughly the size of the 2009 stimulus of $787 billion spent during the previous Great Recession of 2008-09. That $787 billion proved insufficient at the time to generate a prompt recovery from that recession. It took six years just to get back to the level of jobs in 2007 before that recession, for example. But today’s 2020 Great Recession 2.0 is four times deeper in terms of economic contraction compared to 2008-09. And it’s still only an effective 5.5% spending package as contained in the March Cares Act.

A much more aggressive stimulus bill was desperately needed as a follow up as the Cares Act spending ran out at the end of July. The May HEROES ACT was an attempt to provide that follow up actual stimulus but, as noted, McConnell, Trump and Republicans weren’t interested. Their banker and big business constituencies were doing quite well by early-summer. No doubt Trump-McConnell further believed the reopening of the economy, as Covid 19 disappeared, would prove sufficient to lead to a sustained economic recovery.

Of course, history has already proven them wrong.

By late July many sectors of the US economy began to weaken again. And a second, worse wave of Covid 19 hit the economy in July-August, just as the weak Cares Act spending ran out at the end of July. Unemployment claims began to slowly rise again through August and into September. Small businesses began to close, many permanently now, in greater numbers. Large corporations began to announce mass layoffs, more permanent than just furloughs now. Evictions of renters by the millions began to occur. Low income homeowners began to miss mortgage payments. And the much predicted V-shape recovery began to look increasingly like a ‘W-shape’.

But instead of seeing the trend, Trump and McConnell doubled down and refused to negotiate seriously with the Democrat House on its HEROES Act proposal. In early August, House Speaker Pelosi, thinking the Trump administration might bargain in good faith, reduced her proposal from the HEROES Act $3.4 trillion cost by $1.2 trillion. Instead of following up, however, the Trump negotiators, led by Trump’s Staff Secretary, Mark Meadows, abruptly broke off all negotiations–without making a counter offer. What he did leave though was a bad taste in the mouths of Pelosi and Shumer, who now could not trust the Trump team should further negotiations resume. Nor could they trust McConnell and his Republican Senate, who followed Trump and withdrew their prior HEALS ACT $1.5T and refused to consider anything more than $650 billion if brought to the Senate by the Trump-Pelosi negotiators in the future. Moreover, $350B of the $650B was unspent funds left over from the Cares Act. So the net spending increase proposed was only $300B.

Trump had set up Pelosi and then ‘sandbagged’ her, in bargaining parlance. Within 24 hours Trump publicly announced four executive orders as his personal fiscal stimulus offer. But the EOs were no stimulus in fact. Just a diversion of already existing government funds and payroll tax cuts that would have to be repaid in 2021.

Both sides maneuvered in the press thereafter, as the US economy weakened further throughout September and into October–and as the Covid 19 infection rates surged once again. The Virus was not cooperating with economic recovery. And there was no stimulus to assist in that either. Meanwhile, millions more were becoming unemployed–at least 30 to 35 million remained jobless as of mid October. Food deprivation worsened and food lines began emerging again. Rent evictions were now escalating as well. Hundreds of thousands more small businesses were closing their doors, with predictions by the National Federation of Independent Business that millions would fail in coming months–even as bankers, big corporations, and stock and financial markets attained record levels.

Trump then shot himself in the foot by declaring there would be no further negotiations on a stimulus until after the November 3 election. McConnell said that was fine since 20% of his Republicans were against any further stimulus out of concern of its negative impact on the US deficit, which by October hit a record $3.1 trillion for the 2020 fiscal year–the largest in modern history.

Trump’s walking away from any further negotiations hurt his political chances, since not only were workers, renters, and small businesses being ‘thrown under the bus’, but the announcement had serious negative effects on stock market values. Now big corporations were worried too. So Trump back-tracked and made another bargaining offer.

Which brings us to events of the last 10 days. Trump offered Pelosi-Shumer an $1.8 trillion counter offer–complete with loophole language permitting him to renege on items of his choice. $350B of the $1.8T was just carry over of unspent Cares Act funds. So Trump’s offer last week was the same $1.5T of the July HEALS ACT. But it was an offer he now couldn’t deliver. McConnell in the Senate quickly added he wouldn’t even bring the $1.8T up for a Senate vote because he couldn’t get it passed within his own Republican ranks.

What the $1.8T did achieve was to get the corporate wing of the Democrat party, including its mainstream media arms–MSNBC, CNN, etc.–to raise the pressure on Pelosi to accept Trump’s phony $1.8T offer that he couldn’t deliver. What Trump wanted, and still wants, is just an announcement of a ‘deal’ that he can take credit for as he campaigns across the country before the election. What big business wants is the same, an announcement, not necessarily a deal right now. Stock prices and especially tech sector stocks have begun seriously wavering on news of no stimulus negotiations. An announcement would quell that issue and ensure stock prices remain strong through the election. Even some ‘left’ Democrats like Rho Khanna and Andrew Yang–both from silicon valley–chimed in and demanded Pelosi accept the Trump offer.

So what happens next, this week? Trump’s negotiator, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Pelosi have begun to talk yet again. Trump wants to announce a deal before the next presidential debate with Joe Biden this thursday, only 72 hrs away. Today, October 20, Trump reportedly has instructed Mnuchin to increase his offer to $2T. (He even said he’d go higher than $2.2T to get a deal). He knows he’s got nothing to lose, and he knows McConnell’s ‘hard cop’ is there backing him up to stop (or at least change the terms of any tentative deal) for him. Trump gains a campaign message. McConnell blocks any deal. And Pelosi and the Democrats get nothing once again except more negotiations, now with McConnell. It’s a clever ‘double-teaming’ of the Democrats by the Republicans, once again!

Apparently getting wise to Trump-McConnell games, Pelosi on Tuesday said language likely can’t be finalized on a deal until Friday–thus denying Trump the opportunity to claim ‘he got the deal’ in this coming Thursday night final presidential debate with Biden.

Dr. Jack Rasmus
October 19, 2020

This writer has been following the day to day swings of the stimulus negotiations since last June. The brief history above provides an outline of that negotiations trajectory. For readers further interested, appended below are my day to day tweets describing the ‘On Again, Off Again’ negotiations, with some of the data and stats . (The tweets are in reverse chronological order, with the latest October 19 back to July 7, 2020. Join me on Twitter for my daily updates on negotiations on the stimulus at, @drjackrasmus) Check out as well my blog, jackrasmus.com, for other articles written on the subject in recent months.

A Running Commentary on Stimulus Package Negotiations
October 19 to July 1, 2020

#STIMULUS McConnell’s Senate votes today on $500B stimulus package, as Pelosi & Mnuchin talk later today. Prediction: even the $500B will fail in the Senate. Meanwhile, Trump says he wants a package even larger than Pelosi’s $2.2T (knowing it’s all ‘smoke & mirrors’ given Senate)

Oct 19
#STIMULUS Pelosi Sunday says a deal must be done in 48 hrs in order to have implemented by Nov. 3. McConnell says Republican Senate will vote on a $500B package ON WEDNESDAY (after 48 hrs.) That sounds like a maneuver to ensure no vote on whatever deal Pelosi-Mnuchin reach before

Oct 19
#STIMULUS Announcing a stimulus ‘deal’ does not=deal. McConnell’s Senate will reopen any announced deal & demand changes. Only chance for real deal is after Nov. 3 & only if appears McConnell loses control of Senate. Repub. Senators who lose their seats no longer fearful of Trump

Oct 18
#STIMULUS Watch Trump’s man, Mnuchin, to offer Pelosi a package of $2T to see if she bites. If not, he’ll go to $2.2T. Pelosi says language in Trump offer needs clarifying (‘may’ vs. ‘shall’, etc.) Some kind of announcement ‘in principle’ likely before Thursday night debate.

Oct 18
#STIMULUS Prediction: Trump will go beyond his $1.8T ‘offer’ last week (knowing McConnell would never approve it) & declare he’ll accept Pelosi’s $2.2T (knowing again McConnell’s Republican Senate will never approve it). All Trump wants to say is he closed the deal in next debate

Oct 18
#STIMULUS CNN & Corp mainstream media keep up their attack on Pelosi for not agreeing to Trump’s phony $1.8T offer that everyone knows McConnell’s Senate won’t approve. Trump will take credit and Pelosi still gets nothing. But CNN & media know stock prices will surge in meantime

Oct 16
#STIMULUS As I predicted yesterday, McConnell today says he won’t support Trump’s $1.8T stimulus offer. Says Senate will today propose a $500B deal (probably all bus. bailout). So Pelosi was right not to fall for Trump’s phony offer he can’t deliver but will take credit fo

Oct 15
#STIMULUS btw, why isn’t there more discussion why there’s $350B unspent funds from last March Cares Act, incl. $135B unspent PPP? With millions small bus. closing why isn’t that $350B being spent now? It’s already authorized. Why is it even part of future stimulus proposals

Oct 15
#STIMULUS Update: Trump says he’ll lobby Republican Senate to get stimulus passed–admitting his $1.8T offer is just talk & he can’t deliver; Republican Senate won’t agree. No way Trump-Pelosi deal even half $1.8T passes Senate by Nov. 3. McConnell to propose $350B unspent funds

Oct 15
#STIMULUS Trump reportedly today said will go higher than last offer of $1.8T. But Trump will say anything at this point, knowing that whatever the offer that the Republican Senate will never approve it. Rand Paul faction shot down $1.5T, then $1.0T, and even $650B already.

Oct 14
#STIMULUS Mainstream media offering no explanation or even discussion why $135B authorized by Congress for small bus. in March Cares Act has not been spent. Why has Trump admin. not spent that? Where’s the other $253B unspent funds coming from? Why is that not also spent?

Oct 14
#STIMULUS Mainstream media (CNN), tech corps & friends (Yang, Khanna, etc. & corp. Dems worried about stock prices) continue today (10-14)to gang up on Pelosi to force her to capitulate to Trump’s offer-i.e. same as McConnell’s last July. If Pelosi bites watch Trump renege
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Oct 14
#STIMULUS A short history. July:McConnell offers $1.5T. Aug: Pelosi reduces -$1T to $2.2T. Trump breaks off negotiations. Sept:Trump offers $650B(incl. $350B unspent PPP/loans). Oct:Trump offers $1.88T(incl. $350B unspent)=No Repub net change since July despite Pelosi -$1T

Oct 13
#STIMULUS Some Democrats pressing Pelosi to take Trump $1.88T proposal. Yang, Sanders’ Rho Khanna, etc. But it’s same Repub July $1.5T offer+Trump’s unspent March PPP funds. Pelosi sandbagged by Trump in August; Trump will take credit and do it again. Some Dems are so dumb

Oct 10
#STIMULUS Mnuchin latest proposal=$1.88T. But $400B is unspent PPP & other funds from March CARES Act. So really just $1.5T, same as Republican ‘Heals Act’ proposal of last July when negotiations began. Not really counteroffer. It’s called ‘moving the money around’ in bargaining

Oct 9
#STIMULUS Just announced: Trump tells Mnuchin Ok for a larger $1.8T stimulus. (up from $1.5T). Pelosi at $2.2T. But don’t hold your breath. Key now: will McConnell take on Rand Paul Republican faction in Senate (who opposed $1T) to push through a likely $2T compromise stimulus?

Oct 8
#STIMULUS Trump reverses course again tonight, for 5th time in one week. Says he’ll now consider a stimulus deal >$1.6T Treasury Secretary Mnuchin left on the table last week in negotiations with Pelosi before Trump abruptly scuttled a deal saying no stimulus until after Nov 3.

Oct 8
#STIMULUS Trump says he’s again for comprehensive stimulus deal. That’s 4 flip-flops in < a week. Must be getting a lot of nasty calls from CEOs of airlines, US Chambers of Commerce, & the Business Roundtable. Can anyone trust what he says? Schizophrenia parading as negotiating!

Oct 7
#STIMULUS Check out my latest blog piece on events yesterday on current US fiscal stimulus negotiations, “Trump Scuttles A Fiscal Stimulus–Again!” at my blog, jackrasmus.com

Oct 6
#STIMULUS Just out! Trump tells Mnuchin to break off negotiations (again, as in August). Trump says no further negotiations and no stimulus until after the Nov. 3 election. So watch 4Q US econ to slow sharply again (and short your stocks while you’re at it)

Oct 3
#STIMULUS With a token fiscal stimulus package now all but dead in Congress (politicians scurrying home), looks like nothing until Dec., maybe Feb. US econ needs govt stimulus 40% of GDP=$4T (only $1.3T actually spent so far). Read my blog piece at
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Sep 30
#STIMULUS Mnuchin reportedly said past hour that “IF” there’s an agreement it will include income checks. Mnuchin trying to keep markets from imploding if investors think no deal forthcoming. Many other major items still not agreed: benefit checks, state-local govt, etc.

Sep 30
#STIMULUS Pelosi-Mnuchin meet again today to try next stimulus. If agree, no more than $1.5T(Airlines bailout, small bus., checks, $400/wk extra benefits)=another mitigation not fiscal stimulus. With >$1T in bus. loans from March still unclaimed, $1.5T no real net stimulus

Sep 25
#Stimulus Talk of Pelosi-Mnuchin new stimulus talks, for a watered down package. Will Trump-Meadows let Mnuchin-Pelosi take back control of the bargaining agenda, after Trump grabbed it with his EOs? Or is Pelosi being ‘set up’ again for another Trump tactical move before Nov. 3?

Sep 2
#PPPprogram McConnell today says no new stimulus likely in 2020. Meanwhile, US small bus. collapsing: Natl Federation Small Bus. survey shows 21% plan to close in next 6 mos. That’s 21% now still open, on top of 20% already permanently or temporarily closed (Homebase survey).

Aug 29
#PPPLoans With the program closed down August 8, why is $134B of total available small business loans still not loaned out? If small bus. don’t want it, why not use it to provide 2 more months of $600/wk. unemployment benefits? If they do want & need it, why is it not loaned out?

Aug 29
#PPPLoans Hard hit restaurants, bars, hotels got only 8% of $525B loan money. Roughly $42B divided among more than 1 million restaurants, bars, & hotels-motels in the USA!

Aug 29
#PPPLoans Govt PPP closed out with 5.2m loans. 5.2m=only 16% of 30m small businesses got loans! $525B loaned. (1st $350B Ave.=$206k. Total Ave.=$101k). Last April study said 10m small bus. (not 5.2m) would need $180k and total cost needed=$1.8T. No wonder millions will now clos

Aug 25
#Bailout PPP small bus. loan prgm now ended. 5.2m loans worth $525B from available $660B pot. Federal Reserve’s companion MSLP small business lending facility provided <$1B to date. So why are corp bankruptcies spiking nonetheless & non-corp small businesses failing even faster?

Aug 22
#Stimulus Why are McConnell & Trump in no hurry to pass another stimulus? Cuz their big corp. constituents don’t need it yet. They’re sitting on $1.6T ($1T in corp govt loans & $650B in tax cuts) since last March they haven’t even claimed yet. It’s there if & when they need it.

Aug 20
#Stimulus Pelosi says no to Trump-McConnell plan for a ‘skinny’ minimum fiscal stimulus. Fed July 29 minutes reveal concern if no new stimulus by Congress as $600 jobless benefits expire, jobless rise, & state-local govts fiscal stress grows by Sept.–all of which now occurring

Aug 19
#Stimulus First rule of negotiating contracts is never make a counter-offer when your opponent reduces their initial offer. Signals weakness. Opponent then continue to probe to seek further concessions. Short stimulus in Sept. will mean Dems share responsibility for econ failure

Aug 19
#Stimulus Pelosi-Shumer will justify restarting negotiations at only $.5T, saying it’s only short term. After Nov. 3 they’ll negotiate another bill. But Congress won’t change until Jan. 20, presuming they win both houses. Six months from now US econ recovery will be a shambles

Aug 19
#Stimulus here’s the fundamental fact re. the status of econ stimulus negotiations between Trump & Dems: Dems reduced their proposals by $1T, to $2T. Repubs responded reducing theirs from $1T to est. $.5T today. Now Dems will start from a $.5T base as negotiations resume >Sept. 8

Aug 19
#Stimulus Rumors growing Pelosi & Dems moving toward deal worth only $500B-$1T. That’s even less than Republicans’ initial $1T proposal. If so, then they ‘blinked’ and will have capitulated to Trump’s breaking off negotiations tactic last week. $500B ensures deeper recession.

Aug 18
#Stimulus Pelosi offers to cut Dem $3T package ‘by half’. Does that mean, having already cut $1T, Dems signaling will cut $.5T more? Trump/Repubs preparing a 2nd offer. Will require Dems accept small bill if they want $25B for Post Office. If Dems bite on that, no more stimulus

Aug 11
#Stimulus NBER Economists’ report yesterday end of $600 unemployment benefit reduces jobless benefit to ave. $257/wk. Trump’s proposed $300 (from prior $600) cuts consumer spending 12% to 28%. If Trump can unilaterally cut payroll taxes (w/o Congress) why not capital gains too?

Aug 11
#Stimulus Chase bank says Trump’s 4 Exec Orders provide less than $100B economic stimulus. Govt’s $300 unemployment benefit only if state kicks in another $100. But many states’ unemployment funds exhausted & won’t. Oxford Economics says 4 EOs equal only 0.2% of GDP “negligible”.

Aug 8
#Stimulus Trump announced today he’s signing executive order to extend jobless benefits. He broke off negotiations with Dems friday to make it look like now he’s the only one getting benefits for unemployed & not Dems–i.e. a typical ‘Art of the Deal’ bad faith bargaining tactic

Aug 7
#Stimuluspackage Trump’s breaking negotiations means he doesn’t want a deal with Dems where he shares a compromise. So he’ll now deepen the constitutional-political crisis and ‘legislate’ again by executive action since he got away with it before (shifting Pentagon $ to his wall)

Aug 7
#stimuluspackage Today, friday, August 7 negotiations on economic stimulus collapsed. Trump’s man, Mark Meadows, rejects Dems’s compromise offer reducing their proposals by $1T. Trump’s tactic is typical of his negotiations: break off discussions & walk away,then see what happens

Aug 6
#Stimulus US business 2nd qtr deposited $2.2T in US commercial banks (+more offshore). Wealthy US households also hoarding March bailout. Savings rate, usually 8% of income, rose to 25%. $3T March bailout did not get into economy, except $1.2T PPP, unemployment benefits & checks

Aug 6
#Stimulus McConnell’s strategy has been to ‘go slow’ on new stimulus, saying $1T of Cares Act still not spent. True. That’s $1T in allocated loans to medium & large corps that hasn’t been borrowed. Why not? Cuz they’re sitting on $3T cash hoard and don’t need or want the loans

Aug 6
#Stimulus US Airlines got $50B in Cares Act ($25b grant, $25B loan). Want another round of $25m grant. US majors threatening 50,000 layoffs if don’t get it. $75B total. That’s equal to covering rent payments of households now on moratorium (12.3m) 10 more mos (cost: $7.3B/mo.).
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Aug 6
#Stimulus Reports out today McConnell-Mnuchin upped their offer on continuing the $600/wk supplemental unemployment benefits, from initial $200 to now $400/wk. But still refuse aid to state-local govts. Republican strategy: squeeze Democrat/blue states that need bailout most.

Aug 5
#Stimulus Wonder why Trump wants payroll tax cut but Congress Repubs/Dems don’t? Cuz bus. CARES ACT already provides deferral of bus payroll tax(to be repaid back by 2022). Current Repub/Dem HEROES Act’s Bus. Retention Tax Credit far more lucrative ($194B) & requires no repayment

Aug 4
#Stimuluspackage While Dems & Mnuchin negotiate, Repubs Rubio & Collins add proposals to continue small bus./PPP program thru 2020. But same folks won’t support $600/wk benefit & rent support thru same!(btw, forget calling it PPP. No enforcement of 70% of loans for wages to date)

Aug 4
#stimuluspackage Unable to make progress with ‘hard cop’ McConnell, Dems turn to ‘soft cop’ Mnuchin in negotiating on econ stimulus proposals. Meanwhile, back at the precinct, Trump throws bombs over the transom on payroll tax cuts & rent eviction to try to look good to his base.

Aug 2
#Stimulus Mnuchin doesn’t want to extend the $600 unemployment benefit for 14m jobless. Says US can’t afford the $250B cost. So why not divert & use some of the $400B in loans for big corps, or the $550B for medium corps, passed last March that neither are bothering to borrow?

Jul 28
#HEALsAct Mnuchin-McConnell claim $600 benefit keeps workers from returning to work is debunked by new Yale Univ. study: “We find no evidence that more generous benefits disincentivized work either at the onset of the expansion or as firms looked to return to business over time”

Jul 28
#HEALsAct While jobless benefits cut 2/3, business tax cut expanded 3X: Bus. worker retention tax credit before $10k/worker, now $30k/worker–i.e. for every worker bus. can deduct a cost of $30k from its tax bill at end of year.(+Current rules don’t require proof of retention)

Jul 28
#HEALsAct Republicans’ cutting $600/wk. Federal benefit to $200 means $40B in consumer spending cut/mo. from economy. ($600 now=$15B/wk spending). The $200 is cut further after 2 mos. by combining with state jobless benefit, with both capped at 70% of worker’s wage.

Jul 28
#HEALsAct The state unemployment benefits payment of 70% of wages is also capped at $500/wk. That means jobless in Calif. who get max of $450 will see a $50 state benefit rise but $400 federal benefit cut. (And how will state agencies figure out 33m benefits receivers’ 70% wage?)

Jul 28
#HEALsAct 1st look at Republicans stimulus proposals called the HEALsAct: Federal Govt’s $600/wk. benefits reduced to $200. State benefits limited to 70% of person’s wages. $30B more for Pentagon. $1,200 one time checks. $190B more to small bus. $100B to ‘seasonal’ bus. (hotels?

Jul 27
#HeroesAct Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said: “We’re not going to use taxpayer money to pay people more to stay home.” No. He’s giving taxpayer money to the Airlines & Boeing to permanently layoff 72,000 (United 36k, American 20k, Boeing 16k). And that’s only some who’ll get $1.1T

Jul 27
#HeroesAct Trump admin today calls for cut in $600/wk. unemployment benefits to $200. That means their ‘compromise’ cut, via McConnell’s Senate, will likely be $300. 14m jobless now getting the $600 will see their benefits cut in half! Just as the economy is stalling late July

Jul 24
#HeroesAct 22% households say can’t make next rent or mortgage pymt, per US Census Bureau. That’s 22% of 110m renters & 50m home owners. US monthly rent/mortgage +utility bills cost $7.3B/mo. So less than $90B will cover evictions/mortgages for a yr. House Heroes Bill covers that

Jul 22
#HeroesAct Sen. Rand Paul leading opposition to stimulus. Where was he when Trump’s 2018 tax cut gave $4.5T to investors-multinational corps? Or $429B more in 2019 in loopholes for pharma, big tech, banks? Or $650B in CARES Act in March, 83% of which went to wealthy 1% & corps?

Jul 22
#HeroesAct Senate Repubs balking at more stimulus. Whine about deficit & $600/wk. jobless benefit paying workers more than they made. Same folks silent re. Trump’s $4.5T tax cuts for investors-corps & deficit; or Lockheed’s loans + cash subsidy from Govt despite $billions profits

Jul 21
#HeroesAct Preliminary Repub. proposals per McConnell today: more PPP($130B still unspent); $105B for schools; Bus. liability release for 5 yrs; some $(?) for testing & child care; no more $ for CDC; stimulus checks only to those <$40k/yr income; maybe no repay of payroll tax cut

Jul 21
#HeroesAct Republican proposals exclude aid to States & Cities. Estimates $969B needed. If no aid, then mass layoffs inevitable + defaults on muni bonds followed by potential contagion to other financial mkts. Most aid would go to blue states in most need=why McConnell opposed

Jul 20
#HeroesAct You’ve heard Trump wants a payroll tax cut in Heroes Act? But business already got that in CARES ACT as part of $650B cut (of which only 3% went to folks<$100k yr. income). But current payroll tax cut only deferred to 12-21 & must be paid back. Trump wants it permanent

Jul 20
#HeroesAct Question of the week: will Heroes Act up for vote this week be another weak mitigation or real stimulus? Trump/Mnuchin offer $1T. (US needs $4T stimulus). Composition of $1T also critical. Tax cuts don’t stimulate investment in deep contraction. Ditto lower int. rates

Jul 18
#HeroesAct Mnuchin: “It’s not the federal government’s role to bail out” states–as states’ virus costs rise & tax revenues fall. States now already laying off thousands. Big 3 states with worst infections: Calif, Tex, Flor=28% US GDP. No bailout=muni bond mkt crisis & contagion

Jul 18
#ppploans Mnuchin proposes immediate converting 86% of $520b PPP small business loans to grants–i.e. no need to prove before that loans were used to keep workers on payroll. Now he wants more for PPP, after precedent set no need to use for payrolls. Guess what they’ll do with it

Jul 18
#HEROESAct Treasury Secy Mnuchin wants more for small business ($660B so far) but cancel workers’ $600/wk. unemployment benefits. Why? Proposes to cut $600 benefits & transfer money as wage subsidies paid instead to businesses–another massive income transfer from labor to bus.

Jul 15
#CaresAct Govt report on the impact of the PPP program conveniently fails to report which businesses got the biggest loans. ‘Specific loan amounts were not provided for transactions above $150,000, covering 282,164 loans, or 13.5% of the total.'(Reuters) What are they covering up

Jul 15
#CARESAct Re. the PPP program ‘success or failure’, analysis of its effects thus far show more than third of jobs lost were in leisure & hospitality (bars, restaurants, etc.) but these companies received less than 10% of the PPP loans.
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Jul 10
#CARESAct NFIB small bus. survey finds 22% of bus. receiving PPP loans to keep workers on payroll admitted they laid them off. That’s what they admitted. How many refused to say they laid off? Now PPP running out of money. Watch 3m service workers rehired June laid off again

Jul 9
#HeroesAct Pelosi calls for $2T more stimulus ($1T state & local govt bailout) + $1T more unemployment benefit extensions & income checks. Trump says $1T (more bus.-investor tax cuts + wage subsidies to business instead of unemployment benefits). Meanwhile 2nd layoff wave coming

Jul 8
#PPPloans U of Chicago finance study finds: “A lot of firms who got this funding (PPP) were only a little bit impacted in terms of revenues during the crisis and probably wouldn’t have changed their head count (# jobs) that much…The PPP had no substantial effect on employment”

Jul 8
#PPPloans 4000 banks made up to $24.6B in fees on PPP small bus. loans so far. That’s fees of $6.15 million per bank, for 4.9m loans the vast majority of which were less than $150k. Chase & BofA made $billions in fees. Then they ‘sell back’ the loans to the Fed for how much more?

Jul 7
#CARESAct US Govt released report today on PPP small bus. bailout program showing who got what-incl. ineligible big corps. For my analysis 2 weeks ago how the PPP & Fed bailout has been ‘gamed’ by big corps, banks & investors, listen to my radio show at

Radio Interview #1

.https://www.spreaker.com/user/radiosputnik/economist-latest-unemployment-numbers-sh

(forward to 24:50 of the above 30:30 minute radio interview for my predicted scenario how Trump plans to refuse to leave office on November 3-4)

Radio Interview #2:

https://equaltimeradio.transistor.fm/episodes/the-national-guard-a-legal-coup-the-far-right



Listen to my recent radio interview with the ‘Political Misfits’ show on this past week’s awarding of the Nobel Prize in Economics to two Stanford University profs for their latest version of nonsense about ‘efficient markets’ theory. A variation on the theme that private market prices benefit everyone the most–buyers, sellers, government, taxpayers–the Stanford profs received the prize in Economics from the Nobel Committee this past week for their arcane Game Theory math creation on how to structure auction markets. Hidden beneath their theory, however, is the policy proposition that the government can earn more revenues from privatizing (selling off) public goods (like wireless spectrum) by allowing the ‘markets’ to set the price for investors who buy government wireless spectrum. And if markets provide the ‘best’ price, for investors and government alike, then the taxpayer benefits in turn. Privatization is thus the hidden agenda behind the theory.

It isn’t the first time the Nobel Committee has awarded its economics prize to economists who argue ‘markets are efficient’ and government price setting in privatizing public goods should allow markets to set the price for selling off public goods or services. The latest Nobel prize is just a continuation of that Nobel tradition.

To hear more of why the prize awarded last week is for work that is more economic ‘ideology’ than economic ‘science’…

GO TO:

https://www.spreaker.com/user/radiosputnik/what-work-gets-recognized-for-a-nobel-pr

For an up to date presentation on the status of the ‘on again, off again’ negotiations on a fiscal stimulus package between the Trump administration and the Democrat’s US House of Representatives & Senate leaders, Pelosi & Shumer, listen to my friday October 9 Alternative Visions radio show. Why Trump has been vacillating on a deal since August and why a deal before the November 3 elections is highly unlikely. The show concludes with a review of the real state of the US economy, about to experience a significant slowdown in the fourth quarter as America’s Triple Crisis intensifies (i.e. Covid health crisis worsening again, jobs and economy deteriorating again, and prospects of an historic political crisis in the wake of the November 3 elections growing)

TO LISTEN GO TO:

http://alternativevisions.podbean.com
.
SHOW ANNOUNCEMENT:
Dr. Rasmus discusses the ‘on again, off again’ negotiations on a fiscal stimulus package. Trump’s 5 flip flops this past week, for and against, a stimulus bill. What’s behind the vacillation. Democrats’ positions, as Pelosi-Shumer, deal with trying to negotiate with Trump. Will there be a fiscal stimulus package before the November 3 election? Rasmus recounts the recent history of negotiations for a stimulus since July, when the Democrat-US House ‘Heroes’ bill proposal and the Republican Senate’s ‘Heals’ bill proposal were the starting points, as the economic effects of the March ‘Cares Act’ ran out. How Trump scuttled negotiations in August, what happened in September, and how he scuttled it again last week. Why Trump has reversed positions so many times. Today’s latest rumors of elements of a deal. Why it has a big hill to climb in McConnell’s Senate and why odds are against a deal by November 3. Dr. Rasmus describes the deteriorating economic conditions in the US today in terms of jobs, business closures, bankruptcies, and coming financial defaults. (read Dr. Rasmus’ latest article, ‘Trump Scuttles a Fiscal Stimulus Deal…Again!’ on his blog at jackrasmus.com. Join him for day to day commentary on Twitter at @drjackrasmus)

This past Tuesday, October 6, Trump pulled the plug once again—a second time—on negotiations on a fiscal stimulus between House speaker, Pelosi, and his Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin.


This past week Pelosi and Mnuchin had reportedly been quietly negotiating toward a compromise fiscal stimulus package and were making progress while Trump was in the hospital with his Covid infection. But as soon as Trump returned to the White House, one of his first moves was to scuttle the negotiations. On Tuesday, October 6, he dramatically declared the negotiations were over. Furthermore, he added, there would be no stimulus until sometime after the November elections.

This was not the first time House speaker, Pelosi, and Mnuchin were growing closer to a deal and Trump abruptly intervened unexpectedly and scuttled it.

In an almost identical event earlier this past August Trump intervened and declared the negotiations over. Negotiating with Mnuchin in July and early August, Pelosi had reduced her original fiscal stimulus package costing $3.4 trillion—i.e. the Democrats ‘Heroes Act’ passed way back in late May—to a proposal costing $2 Trillion. That was a drop of $1.4 trillion. The Republican position at the time was the Republican Senate’s so-called ‘Heals Act’, with a cost of $1.5 trillion. Thus the parties were only about $500 billion apart and a deal looked possible in early August.

But once Pelosi-Shumer cut their offer to $2 trillion, Trump had his lead negotiator, chief of staff Mark Meadows, who had taken over as lead negotiator from Mnuchin, abruptly break off negotiations and walk out. That was done without making a counter-offer to Pelosi. In bargaining parlance, Trump had thus ‘sandbagged’ Pelosi with a cheap bargaining trick: namely, get your opponent to make a major move, then instead of countering, break off negotiations altogether. Should negotiations ever resume, your opponent then has to make a second move and concession while you consider only one.

In less than 24 hours after breaking off negotiations in early August, Trump quickly announced his four Executive Orders (EOs). That overnight response strongly suggests Trump had pre-planned to scuttle the August negotiations and had his four Executive Orders already in his pocket, ready to go. Scuttling the negotiations was planned well in advance with the intent of Trump personally taking over the bargaining agenda and thereby to deny Pelosi-Shumer any credit for any eventual stimulus.

Trump’s Executive Orders were largely smoke and mirrors and provided virtually no fiscal stimulus. Clearly Trump wanted to be identified with the public as the guy who delivered a deal and no one else—especially Pelosi and the Democrats. There would be no shared responsibility for stimulus benefits.

Here’s why Trump’s August EOs were more smoke and mirrors, however:

The first Executive Order recommendation that governors could, if they wished, extend the moratorium on rent evictions that was contained in the March 2020 Cares Act passed by Congress. Trump’s EO did not provide for a continuation of a moratorium; just a recommendation, and only if a governor wanted. And few would subsequently prove they wanted.

Trump’s second August EO provided a supplemental unemployment benefit of $300 a week, to replace the $600/wk. benefit that expired at the end of July. That $600 expiration meant $65 billion a month in income for consumption by households was taken out of the economy, starting in August and every month thereafter. In fact, when a standard fiscal multiplier effect of 2X is applied, it reduced potential GDP spending by $130 billion a month. With few states offering even half of that, the US economy lost nearly $100 billion a month, every month, in spending with Trump’s second EO.

But there was more ‘smoke’. Trump’s $300/wk. substitution benefit would apply only if a state threw in another $100. Many state unemployment benefit funds were broke or near busted and many states could not afford the $100, so their workers never got the $300.

More interesting still, the $300 was taken from the fund for disaster relief, which had only $50 billion or so in it. So the $300 was a transfer of funds—from the disaster relief fund to unemployment benefits. That thus offered no net fiscal stimulus spending to the economy. At only $50 billion, the fund was exhausted anyway in just six weeks, by mid-to-late September. By October, moreover, the western fires season reached record levels while the southeast coast hurricane season recorded more hurricanes than there were names available from letters of the alphabet. By October both the disaster relief fund was now depleted as well as the six weeks of $300!

An even greater ‘bag of policy worms’ was Trump’s third EO. It called for a cut in workers’ payroll tax for social security and Medicare. Apart from the unconstitutionality of the Executive branch of government introducing a tax measure unilaterally—when such tax legislation may only arise in the US House of Representatives per the US Constitution—Trump’s payroll tax cut EO was not really a tax cut. It was a payroll tax deferral. (Note that business’s share of the payroll tax was already deferred to the end of 2021 by the March Cares Act). So workers, like businesses, have to pay double payroll taxes sometime in 2021 according to Trump’s payroll tax EO. Given that businesses are legally responsible for collecting and distributing workers’ share of the payroll tax to government, many businesses complained if they cut the workers share of the payroll tax legally they might be liable for paying for both deferrals in 2021—i.e. their deferred tax share and their workers’ deferred tax. So many have since decided to not cut their workers payroll tax. To this date, little research is available summarizing how much payroll taxes for workers have actually been cut.

But Trump nevertheless still claimed publicly when campaigning in blue collar states that he’s cutting their taxes—not just deferring them. Most will not realize they will eventually have to pay double payroll taxes in 2021. When questioned about this possibility, Trump replied he would later make the payroll tax deferral permanent, if he were re-elected. But that’s not likely without Congress approval (which is highly unlikely) and even more unlikely if he’s not elected. Workers will get stuck with paying double payroll taxes in 2021, which will have a double negative impact on household spending and the US GDP.

The payroll tax EO is also an insidious way of undermining social security and Medicare—one of Trump’s and Republicans’ major policy objectives: i.e. reduce the revenues necessary to make social security retirement benefits and Medicare payments for retirees in 2021. Then call for massive social security and Medicare benefit cuts to make up the difference.

Trump’s fourth EO extended the deferral of payments on students’ government education debt until the end of December 2020. With record and rising levels of defaults on the $1.7 trillion current student debt, the extension only recognized the obvious: that debt payments wouldn’t be made for the overwhelming majority of the unemployed anyway.

These four Executive Orders, issued in mid-August, represent Trump’s taking over control of the bargaining agenda for the fiscal stimulus. Pelosi-Shumer and company were cleverly set up and then ‘punked’, as they say. Trump now looked like he had the real control over whether a fiscal stimulus would happen or not, and that he alone was powerful enough to deliver any stimulus. It would be his stimulus. The problem was, the four EOs amounted no stimulus at all! His stimulus via EOs was no stimulus and key sectors of the US economy have continued to weaken in August and after.

More than a million and a half workers every week, from mid-August to early October, have continued to file every week for first time unemployment benefits. That’s more than 10 million. As that million and a half applied weekly for benefits for the first time, another million a week began exhausting the unemployment benefits they had been collecting since March-April. By October more than 20 million workers would be considered long-duration jobless, and thus unlikely to ever get their jobs back. More than 5 million workers dropped out of the labor force, giving up on getting jobs. And 4.3 million in two paycheck families would have to quit work to manage their K-6 grade children struggling with remote education from home. The jobs picture was worsening, not improving. But that’s not the only indicator of the failure of Trump’s EOs as a fiscal stimulus.

Commencing in August and subsequent months, tens of millions of working families started being evicted from their rents, and hundreds of thousands of lower income family home ownersbegan to default and go into foreclosure as well.

Meanwhile, millions of small businesses began filing for bankruptcy by late summer and closing or preparing to do so. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), a trade association for small businesses, no fewer than 21% of the approximate 30 million small businesses in the US had closed, or would close, in the coming months!
In other words, Trump’s feeble four Executive Orders had virtually no positive on the economy by September-October 2020—as jobs, unemployed, rent evictions, foreclosures, business closings all began to deteriorate by late 3rd quarter 2020.

Given these conditions, Pelosi-Shumer and Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, attempted one last time in early October to try to reach a deal on a stimulus bill before the November 3 elections. Mnuchin reportedly raised his offer from his late July $1.5 trillion position to $1.6 trillion. Pelosi-Shumer’s position as of early October was $2.2 (having raised it slight from $2 trillion in response to Trump’s breaking off negotiations in August after the Democrats reduced their proposals to $2 trillion). Reportedly as well, however, they again considered $2 trillion.

With around only $400-$500 billion difference in terms of final cost of a fiscal package both parties—Pelosi and Mnuchin—were not so far apart they couldn’t reach an agreement. That is, until Trump abruptly intervened again and called off the Pelosi-Mnuchin negotiations.

In early October, as in August previously, the main sticking points to an agreement appeared to be the Democrats’ demand to bail out State and Local governments, which were soon to have to layoff hundreds of thousands of public employees due to tax revenue collapse. The Trump-McConnell position has always been to deny any funds for state-local government since, in their view, most would go to the larger ‘blue’ states. The other sticky qualitative issue was the Republican-Trump demand that businesses be absolved from all liability claims during the pandemic period. Democrats feared this blanket liability exclusion would allow businesses exemption from all liabilities for health and safety of their workers or the local communities in which they did business.


Despite both negotiating parties closing the gap toward a deal, Trump abruptly broke off the negotiations once again, a second time, on October 6 and declared the negotiations dead until after the election.

As in August, Trump again a second time personally took over control of the bargaining agenda on October 6. But by saying ‘no further negotiations until after the election’ he set off a shit storm of complaints from his business base. The stock markets, which had been hundreds of points up on October 6, after Trump’s theatrical return from the hospital to the White House, in late hours tanked hundreds of points into the red after Trump’s announcement of no stimulus until after the elections.

So Trump put on his twitter hat after the markets closed and slung out a series of tweets, including retracting his earlier announcement of no new negotiations until after November 3.


But that was not all. Further tweets challenged Pelosi-Shumer to agree to separate bills on the content of the Pelosi-Mnuching talks. He taunted Pelosi to agree to a bill just to bail out the airlines. Another just to provide a second round of $1,200 income checks. Another to provide more grants for small businesses. And so on. The not so clever intent here was obviously to suck Pelosi and Shumer in and get them to break up their package proposal and negotiate directly with Trump, item by item. But to do so would concede all their bargaining leverage, as they say. Trump would be in a position to cherry pick and agree to the separate provisions he wants, and veto line by line the ones he doesn’t. It was evidence that Trump just can’t let any one else take credit for a deal. It has to be all his to brag about.

It will be interesting to see if Pelosi and the Democrats fall for Trump’s latest bargaining trick. He’s proven in the past not to be a trustful good faith bargainer. They enter Trump’s latest fools game at their risk!

But regardless whether they fall for Trump’s latest trick or not, should anything result it will appear as if Trump delivered the deal—not Congress and Mnuchin. Trump the great negotiator! Knows the ‘Art of the Deal’! But that’s all Trump: Take the credit always, appear responsible for everything positive, and throw everyone else under the bus should anything fail! And never, never negotiate in good faith. That’s only for “suckers and losers”, in Trump parlance.

Like his obviously staged return from the hospital to the White House, Trump is all drama and theater. To borrow a well worn literary phrase, “there’s no there there”.

But the US economy now more than ever needs something ‘there’, it needs a real fiscal stimulus not phony theater. It has entered the fourth quarter of 2020 with ominous negative economic signs on the horizon: large corporations are now announcing permanent layoffs (not furloughs) by the tens of thousands. Unemployment claims have begun to clearly rise again. Evictions and foreclosures and business closures are now escalating as well. A second Covid 19 wave is beginning to appear in the US, just as it has in Europe and elsewhere. That will mean more shutdowns, even if only partial. And more reluctance by consumers to spend on services like travel, leisure, hospitality, restaurants, movies, theater, entertainment, shopping at malls, buying gas, sports events, to name but the most obvious.

The combination of no fiscal stimulus and a Covid resurgence is ominous for the US economy. Even more ominous is the growing likelihood of major political instability erupting—institutionally and in the streets—around Trump’s oft-stated intent not to recognize the outcome of the November elections should he lose, driven by his unsubstantiated claim of fraudulent mail in ballot voting.

Trump has already begun moving his political chess pieces to challenge the election and refuse to leave office. Teams of his lawyers are filing hundreds of court injunctions against counting mail in ballots, in particular in the swing states. Pro-Trump red state legislators meanwhile are throwing hundreds of thousands of voters off the voting rolls, reducing polling locations in minority neighborhoods, eliminating drop boxes for ballots in some cases to one per city, sending ‘observers’ to intimidate voters at polling stations. Simultaneously, Mitch McConnell in the Senate is rushing to confirm Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, to ensure he has a 6-3 safe majority on the Court should it come down to the Supreme Court calling for a halt to counting mail in ballots, especially in swing states that will determine the election; or to legitimize other tactical moves by Trump lawyers trying to prevent mail in ballot vote counting.

A most likely scenario is the following: Trump lawyers in swing states get recent McConnell appointed pro-Trump district and appeals court judges to declare mail in ballots cannot be accurately counted for various reasons. With mail in ballot counting suspended, Trump lawyers then ask Republican controlled state legislators to pick the ‘electors’ for the electoral college, who would almost certainly vote for Trump. That way the Supreme Court may not have to directly ‘select’ Trump, as they did with George W. Bush in 2000. But they would indirectly, by enabling the state legislators to select the electors that then select Trump. (This was the way Senators used to be ‘elected’ before the US Constitution was amended to provide for direct election of Senators).

The more economic, political, and health crises and confusion there is around November 3 and after, the more likely the Courts will defer to the above scenario in the name of restoring social order.

So it just may be that Trump doesn’t really want a fiscal stimulus before November 3. A deeper economic crisis may better serve his political strategy. Maybe his latest ‘line by line’ tweets are just that—a delaying tactic.

Dr. Jack Rasmus
October 6, 2020

Follow Jack Rasmus on his blog, jackrasmus.com, for weekly articles, on Twitter for daily commentary at @drjackrasmus, and on his weekly radio show, Alternative Visions, on the Progressive Radio Network every Friday at 2pm eastern time. His various interviews, book reviews, videos, plays and longer articles are available on his website, http://kyklosproductions.com

In my various blog pieces, twitter comments, and radio show presentations and interviews, I’ve argued that in a war time economic crisis environment–of which the Covid 19 has created–it is necessary for the federal government to raise its level of government spending as a percent of annual GDP to at least 40%. That’s what we did in the USA in 1941-42. That’s real spending, not tax cutting, that takes the form of household consumption and/or business real investment in plant, equipment, production expansion–that hires more workers and provides a continuation of wage income that in turn stimulates more consumption.

On the eve of World War II the US government spending percent of GDP was barely 15%, given even the New Deal social programs. In 1929 it was a mere 3%. A war time spending stimulus quickly raised it to 40% where it remained the next four years until 1945. Unemployment quickly fell from more than 10% in 1940 to only 1.9% by 1943.

As I’ve been arguing for months, the March 2020 Cares Act amounted to only an increase of 5% more actual government spending as a percent of GDP, which was around 20% before the crisis–where it’s more or less averaged in the post 1947 period. The Cares Act called for $3.2 trillion, but $650 billion of that was in business-investor tax cuts which were, and remain, largely hoarded or unused. It’s never gotten into the US economy as a true fiscal stimulus. Tax cuts in deep crises typically get hoarded. In addition, about $1.7 trillion more of the Cares Act was set aside in the form of loans to medium and large businesses. Only around $150B of that has actually been borrowed and gotten into the economy. It’s still sitting there waiting to be claimed by businesses, medium and large. Only $500 billion in unemployment benefits and household checks plus $525 billion of grants to small businesses have actually gotten into the economy. That’s barely 5% of GDP. This deep contraction of the real economy since March is 4 times worse than 2008-09, during which the fiscal stimulus package was also about 5%. We’ve had no real fiscal stimulus to date. The Cares Act was a mitigation act, designed to buy time of 8 weeks or so until a real stimulus could be introduced. McConnell-Trump have made sure so far it has not been introduced. That’s why the ‘rebound’ from reopening the economy is now waning and a relapse is on the horizon. That, by the way, is a W-shape “recovery” trajectory.

Now to my other point. In a recent interview I gave with JKunstler on his radio show, I explained this previous analysis. One of the listeners has taken issue, however, with the idea we need to spend 40% of GDP. He argues that was possible in World War II when the US had 70% of the world’s assets; now it doesn’t even have “two nickels to rub” (note that’s a metaphor and not an economic statistic of analysis). Beware of economics by metaphor, by professionals or amateurs. It usually means they have no explanation and substitute metaphors for economic analysis.

Here’s my reply elsewhere on line to the gentlemen without ‘two nickels’ and his argument that the US had 70% of world’s assets in the 1940s and thus could afford to spend 40% of GDP, but now is essentially broke! (By the way, government’s that control the world currency (the US$) don’t go broke ever. And the private sector in the US is sitting on tens of trillions of dollars of assets far greater than during the 1940s that could be taxed without negatively affecting the economy, since most of that is sitting on corporate balance sheets unused or being pittered away in financial market speculation globally).

Again here’s my reply to Mr. ‘not two nickels’, why we can, and should, spend 40% of GDP in stimulus if we’re ever to get out of this crisis economically’:

“In absolute terms the USA has far more wealth assets than it did in 1944. The 70% then was based on the ROW having very little. So please no simple percentage analyses! “now have not two nickels” is just a misleading subjective anecdotal phrase. Finally, government spending potential is not based on the magnitude of private asset accumulation, especially when the latter is just fictitious financial securities price level measured. The US government could deficit spend $15 trillion over revenues, which would bring its national debt approximately even with that of Japan’s. And the latter appears to be able to absorb an 180% of GDP deficit and debt without collapsing.  So go back and start with the 40% GDP war time spending experience. We’re already at around 25%+ of annual GDP. We need at least another $3 trillion in direct spending (not tax cuts that get hoarded in these kind of situations). To date only about $1.1T of actual spending has occurred in the Cares Act. The rest is medium-large business loans that haven’t been taken up by corporations and $650B in investor-business tax cuts that have had little direct effect on stimulus as investment thus far. Like the corporate loans it’s been mostly still hoarded on bank balance sheets and not gotten into the economy as yet. Try reading Keynes’ General Theory and find out why tax cuts, interest rate cuts, and business cost cutting in general does not get transmitted into real investment in conditions of the business cycle like we face today.”


Dr. Jack Rasmus
copyright September 30, 2020

The 1st Presidential debate of 2020 held last night, September 29, was a reflection of the growing systemic social crisis in the USA. This is what we saw:

1) a refusal of the representatives (Trump & Biden) of the two wings of the Corporate Party of America to propose any actual solutions to the multiple crises now all intensifying across the country—health, economic, racism, and climate.

2) identity politics run amuck, now writ large at the highest political levels—i.e. the Great Distraction in full force, crowding out and preventing solutions to the crises.

3) a harbinger of political chaos just around the corner—at both a street level and in the major political institutions of the country—and the collapse of Democracy before our eyes.

The commentary of the media following the chaotic exchange (none dare call it a debate) focused on the ‘form’ rather than the content of the exchange: Trump went wild interrupting Biden and stealing much of Biden’s time. The moderator, Fox News’ Chris Wallace, was either incompetent in his inability to stop Trump or else willing to let him continue and intervening only when Trump had succeeded in drowning out most of Biden’s talk. Biden too was unable to deal with Trump’s antics, at times taking Trump’s bait and falling into his trap.

But what’s so new about all that? That’s Trump, who came to give a speech to his 40% voter ‘red’ base—i.e. the third party at the debate!

Nevertheless, the media talking heads were shocked that Trump would engage in such an egotistical, disrespectful disregard for the rules of the debate which he had pre-agreed to. To the media the ‘form’ of the debate was thus more important than any content that might have addressed today’s multiple real crises.

1) The Multiple Crises Ignored (Economic, Health, Race, Climate)

Biden raised the New York Times’ story released over the weekend in which Trump’s tax returns showed Trump paid only $750 in total federal income taxes over two years, 2016-2017. Trump of course denied it as ‘fake news’. And that was that. There was no follow up discussing the four decades long tax system rip off. Nor about why both parties (i.e. both wings of the one party) since 2001 have given investors, corporations, and the wealthiest US households more than $15 trillion in tax cuts. GW Bush $4.7T, Obama $6.1T, Trump $5T with both parties agreeing to another $650B just last March.

Nor was there any mention of the escalating income inequality on both Republican & Democrat watches that was enabled by the $15 trillion tax redistribution to corporations and the rich. Nothing was said why Trump’s tax rip off resulted in wealthy investors getting $3.4 trillion in stock buybacks and dividend payouts in just the last three years; or why under Obama they got more than $6 trillion in buybacks & dividends on his watch!

And nothing was said by either of them why there are still 40 million American workers jobless, or why tens of millions of those lost jobs will never return, or why a long line of big corporations are now announcing permanent layoffs by the tens of thousands.

Biden never bothered to raise the point why millions of small businesses have gone under and millions more are about to do so. He could have quoted the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the trade association arm of small businesses in the US, and its recent forecast that 21% of the roughly 30 million small businesses have already, or soon will close, if no real fiscal stimulus and bailout is passed. Trump of course ignored that altogether. He no doubt would have called the NFIB survey ‘fake news’.

There was a brief exchange on US manufacturing by both candidates, but both were wrong on the facts. The business cycle in 2008-10 destroyed millions of manufacturing jobs, only some of which came back and then mostly as two tiered, temp, low paid, no benefits jobs. The current recession is now in repeat mode in manufacturing. Production is up but jobs aren’t being restored. Biden could have indicated manufacturing was in a recession for the six months prior to Covid but he didn’t. And neither candidate discussed why free trade deals, in addition to the recessions, have destroyed at least 4 million US manufacturing jobs. Biden clearly will not go there since he and the Democrats, like the Republicans, are champions of free trade deals. The Dems praised the recent phony NAFTA 2.0 agreement negotiated by Trump. Trump’s promise to bring back those jobs in 2016 has been all smoke and mirrors. But did Biden bother to cite the facts?

And what about trade? Trump claimed his trade wars have been a glowing success. Is that why he’s had to subsidize the farm sector with $49 billion in cash handouts since 2018 (with $17B more promised)! If his trade wars have been so successful, why has he had to funnel billions of dollars in hand outs to his agribusiness buddies? Why have more than 10,000 small farmers gone bankrupt annually in recent years? Biden said nothing of the subsidy to agribusinesses still earning billions in profits or the bankruptcies of small family farms. For Biden the ‘trade problem’ is not the escalating subsidies to business or the destruction of jobs in the millions; it’s just a China deficit issue, the numbers of which he couldn’t even quote correctly.

So far as the health/Covid crisis is concerned, there was an exchange in last night’s ‘debate’. But it came down to Biden saying we should wear masks and Trump saying a vaccine was around the corner. That’s it. Biden noted correctly, of course, that Trump has grossly mismanaged the handling of the virus response. To which Trump simply retorted Biden would close down the entire economy again. Trump’s position is ‘Horror of horrors! We can’t save grandma and grandpa if the profits of our nail salons are the cost’! Biden’s position: Yes we can. Let’s all wear masks.

But where was the discussion that the US total reliance on private businesses and ‘markets’ has in large part been responsible for the magnitude of the Covid crisis in the US? The US had outsourced its production of PPE to China and elsewhere before the crisis. There was no mention of that, because both parties have agreed for decades to provide business tax incentives to move operations offshore. There was not a word about the responsibility of US businesses that conveniently offshored critical US goods like PPE and now testing agents to ensure greater profits for themselves. Now, with a second Covid wave imminent this winter, the US still lacks reagents and other pharmaceutical materials needed to do effective testing. Six months into the Covid crisis US business continues to offshore production of critical health supplies, despite US deaths are now predicted to exceed 400,000 by year’s end. That’s more US dead in less than a year than occurred during nearly four years of World War II. But still no war production plan is in place in the US. Neither Trump or Biden has proposed one. Trump, the great admirer of private business and stock markets, is still reluctant act like a ‘war president’ in the worst war confronting the US since 1941. Why? Because he knows that means stepping on the toes of his business buddies and election campaign contributors. For the same reason Biden won’t go there.

For Biden to propose putting the US on a war production footing would mean seizing the necessary production assets of private business, including big pharma companies, and returning it all to the US under a central war production plan. His wing of the Corporate Party of America is no more interested in doing that than Trump’s wing. Nor Trump or Biden explained how a vaccine might be fairly distributed to all Americans next year, or how a million tests a day would be produced and administered.

Biden not surprisingly defended Obamacare, the ACA, focusing on how it protected pre-existing conditions. Trump bragged about how he gutted it by ending the individual mandate.

But what did either say about the fact nearly 50 million workers and families are again uninsured? And at least another 30-40 million grossly under-insured? Biden’s answer was to add the ‘public option’ to Obamacare—which Obama himself pulled from the ACA in 2010. That way private employers can keep their tax write offs for continuing to provide their employees health insurance while the health insurers can continue to reap record profits from both private employer plans and the ACA. Biden specifically rejected any notion of Medicare for All. Trump said he had an alternative plan to replace ACA—which he’s been saying for three years but not showing!

In short, both candidates provided no answer to how to manage the continuing Covid crisis, nor to the even worse general health crisis in the US. The USA remains in the ranks of 3rd world banana republics when it comes to the health security of all but the wealthiest of its citizens.

And what about the discussion of race relations and policing in America? Here a heated exchange did occur. Biden’s answer was to get local police departments, politicians and select community leaders together to ‘unite America’. Somehow that would end systemic racism and institutionalized police repression. Trump attacked that idea as well as race ‘sensitivity’ training programs in general, which he recently declared cancelled. According to Trump, the programs were demeaning to whites and suggested they were reverse racists. White folks don’t want to be reminded of that, he said. Even more, they don’t want to be forced to ‘role play’ as blacks. It’s demeaning. And that was that, i.e. the full extent of the discussion of systemic racism in America: let’s do more sensitivity training (Biden); let’s not because it’s reverse racism and might make his white folk political base uncomfortable. They don’t like being role played as black (Trump).

And climate change? Biden’s answer was to rejoin the Paris Accords and maybe spend some more money on alternative energy infrastructure, as he went out of his way to reiterate his rejection of the notion of a ‘Green New Deal’. Trump’s answer to climate warming was it was too expensive for American business, even though they’re reaping historical maximum profits and getting trillions of dollars of tax cuts and subsidies every year. Trump then attacked Biden for California being consumed by forest fires, saying the Dems there have mismanaged the forest floor by not raking up enough leaves. Biden said nothing in return about the fact that 65% of California’s forests are federal land, and if anyone was responsible for not ‘raking the leaves’ it was Trump’s own Interior Department. But he did say there were larger storms in Iowa, whatever that meant. Neither candidate has a clue what to do about the climate crisis.

In summary, neither Trump or Biden addressed the real issues or proposed any credible solutions to the multiple crises afflicting America today— multiple crises now intensifying, converging, and exacerbating each other.

2) Identity Politics Run Amuck

What we also saw in the first presidential debate is a reflection—at the highest level of politics and within the US elite itself—of the country’s descent into the muck of identity politics.

US society is becoming mired in the plague of identity politics. At all levels, the focus is increasingly on extreme individualism—often at the expense of the public good. Rational discussion and solutions to collective crises are crowded out of public discourse. Replaced by fear-mongering appeals to identity among their political supporters by the politicians and elites of both wings of the Corporate Party of America.

White European Americans are fearful their culture, jobs, and ‘way of life’ is about to give way to the ‘others’—i.e. all the peoples of color whether Latin, Muslim, and other immigrants coming into the country; and to those of color (African Americans) already here but growing in number as well.

Like the Jews in Germany, large sections of white European Americans see black Americans as the ‘others’ living within our midst but not really one of us. Like the German Jews, they are the foreigners allowed to come here by past politicians. As in Germany, the ‘others’ become the ‘enemy within’ and the symbol of all the causes of their economic and social fears, insecurity, and anxiety—as politicians and elites re-direct the cause of social decay from their policies to the ‘others’—i.e. the Latin immigrants, blacks, LGBTQ, etc. Immigrants, blacks, and gays are the cause of their declining standard of living, their culture, and their way of life—so say the Trumpublicans and their media; white European ‘deplorables’ are preventing you people of color from achieving your rightful identity as equals to white European Americans—so say the Democrats and their media.

It’s all part of the ‘Great Distraction’, designed to allow the elites of both wings to continue to pick all our pockets while we’re preoccupied with identity issues and politics. So long as we’re immersed in issues of identity that separate us there’s no need to divide and conquer so they can continue to pick our pockets. Identity means by definition we’ve divided ourselves from each other.

Technology of course plays a conscious role in enabling the descent into extreme individualism and dead end identity.

The youngest are mesmerized by their electronic gadgets that enable them to focus neurotically on themselves for hours upon hour every day, absorbing most of their waking lives. Young adults are immersed in social media sourced news and pseudo-facts. As they come to realize they are condemned for life to lives of indentured, low pay, part time and temp service employment, they desperately seek and embrace simplistic ideologies as an explanation for their plight. Middle age adults become increasingly insecure and fearful as they see their families’ futures dim and realize they are approaching older age and retirement without pensions and sufficient income to keep themselves from poverty. They look for a ‘strongman’ to save them quickly.

They all become fodder for clever manipulation, fear mongering by media talking heads, and conspiracy theories multiplying daily on social media that substitute for the thinking and the evaluating of facts and opinions that is necessary for rational thought. The network does the thinking for them. People fearful and in crisis grab the nearest exit and short cut to explain their situation and grab a solution.

The capitalist media no longer consists of objective presenters of facts and events but subjective interpreters and spinners of facts and events. The subjective media is the new priest providing the congregation of the fearful and desperate the answers it wants them to absorb—except now it all occurs on a daily and by the minute basis instead of just on Sunday mornings. The result is predictable: when confronted with objective facts, such facts are rejected since they don’t conform to their rapidly expanding fantasy world of conspiracies and the messaging of media spin doctors.

Tell me what I already believe or I’ll listen to someone else who will! Don’t tell me what I don’t want to hear’. Tell me something so that I can cheer: ‘Hooray for our side’.

People are so concerned trying to understand who they are that they are unable to see who they are becoming, manipulated by the political elites who have found playing the identity card works well for keeping folks—white and non-white—from understanding the real source of their fears, their anxieties, their growing angst. That real source originates in the policies of both parties that are ever-enriching their wealthy elites at the expense of the rest of society.

Identity politics is the Heroin fix necessary to create the social stupor of the Great Distraction. And the flip side of the Great Distraction of identity politics is the Big Rip-off—where the same elites and politicians of both wings of the Corporate Party of America pick our pockets.

What we’ve just seen at the highest level in yesterday’s 1st presidential debate is the same focus on Identity politics, albeit now write large at the highest level. The same Great Distraction that has been intensifying in America for years. The same Big Rip Off in action!

In the first presidential debate both Biden and Trump immersed themselves in a personality food fight, like teenagers in a high school cafeteria: Trump attacked Biden as ‘sleepy Joe’ who Trump even suggested failed to graduate from college. Adding that to Trump’s pre-debate comments that Joe has early onset dementia and has to take performance drugs to stay awake and debate. Biden in turn declared Trump a clown. A neurotic egotist. Sick. Mentally unfit. And told him to just ‘shut up’.

The disease of identity politics in America has thus bubbled up like foul smelling swamp gas from society at large, to the very top echelons of the American political elite. Every election cycle we say the quality of the candidates put up to represent can’t get worse; but it does.

Listening to the media commentators at CNN and other outlets after the ‘debate’, the talking head experts were perplexed and repeatedly asked each other why any voter would continue to support Trump after his childish performance in last night’s debate? Conversely, at Fox the spin was his performance was precisely why his base continues to support him. What the former don’t understand, and the latter won’t admit, is that Trump’s 40% base remains solid no matter what he says, how he says it, or what he does. And that’s for a fundamental reason that also has to do with Identity.

For white European Americans, Trump is the bulwark against the ‘others’. He stands unequivocally against the changing demographic where White Europeans will soon no longer constitute the majority. They fear should that happen, not only their jobs but their culture, their values, their religion, and ‘their America’ will be no more! That single, fundamental reason is why they overlook everything about Trump and still support him regardless of his racism, his misogyny, his proto-fascist inclinations, his disrespect for democratic practices and norms, his verbal slips about ‘suckers and losers’ in the military, and all the rest. Nothing matters except he hold back the wave of colored folks of varying hues that will take away their America.

And with more than 350 million guns in America (and more than 15 million assault rifles) many of them are prepared to go to violent extremes if need be. Many are just waiting for the ‘Big Dog Whistle’ from Trump.

3) A Political Crisis of Unimaginable Dimensions

In an essay entitled, ‘A Most Dire Warning’ a couple weeks ago this writer predicted the most likely scenario following the November 3 election. It included Trump taking legal action to stop the mail in ballot vote counting by turning to his now many Federal District and Appeals court judge appointees. The scenario includes Trump declaring himself the winner on November 3-4, knowing that more Republicans will vote directly that day than will mail in ballots than Biden supporters will vote directly. CNN polls show 66% of Trump supporters will vote directly vs. only 22% Biden supporters. That means Trump will likely show an early lead, supported by exit polling. But he must stop the mail ballot counting or he may lose in the end. He will rely on his soon 6-3 US Supreme Court majority to support Appeals court decisions to stop the voting in select swing or blue states. There is a precedent for this already. It’s exactly what the Supreme Court did in 2000 to ‘select’ George W. Bush as president. It stopped the vote recount in Florida to give Bush the presidency. Only this time it will be multiple states and the original mail in ballot vote counting that may be halted. Protests that erupt will be met with physical police force. That too is being planned. Protestors will be identified as ‘Antifa’ and ‘BLM’ militants and repressed. The federal police force created in 2002 for the first time in US history—called the DHS—are the favored instruments. But Trump may call on his radical fascist street supporters to assist where necessary as well. And the more the street level social chaos the more likely the Supreme Court will tend to try to settle the dispute to end the street chaos.

In yesterday’s debate, the moderator asked Trump if he would call on his street supporters to not get involved. To this he answered, “Proud Boys ( a widespread neo-fascist group in America today) Stand Back. Stand By”. Immediately the radical right, hearing these words, began to mobilize and prepare for Trump’s ‘big dog whistle’ on November 4.

Trump will not accept the outcome should he lose on November 3. Nor in January 2021. He said “we might not know for months” the final vote count. That means well beyond January 2021. In the meantime, he further noted he’s “counting on the Supreme Court to look at the ballots”. Will the SCOTUS review the tens of millions of mail in ballots directly! Trump concluded “This is not going to end well”.

For his part, Biden declared to the TV audience “He can’t stop you from the outcome of this election”. If we get the votes, he’s not going to stay in power”. But what Biden fails to understand is we may not get all the votes if the mail ballots end up not being counted—as happened in 2000 in Florida thanks to the same Supreme Court that is soon even more in Trump’s camp today than it was in Bush’s in 2000! Biden’s pre-debate statement that the US military will ‘escort him out of the White House’ was wishful thinking as well. The Pentagon generals the next day publicly stated they would not get involved. So who will ‘escort’ Trump out? The Democrats have no executive arm; Trump does: the DHS swat teams and most of the police departments in the country that support his election. And then there’s the Proud Boys neo-fascists who may just descend upon Washington D.C. and take up positions around the White House, armed with their AR-15s when Trump blows his whistle. Who’s going to try to escort Trump out in that scenario?

The exchange by Trump and Biden on what each would do on the day of the election and after was undoubtedly the most important exchange of the entire 1st presidential debate. All the rest was irrelevant verbal bombast, appeals to identity politics, and personality clash. Viewers of the debate learned nothing about how America might extract itself from its intensifying multiple crises. What they learned is that a political crisis may be coming, the likes of which haven’t been seen in America since 1860.

Dr. Jack Rasmus
September 30, 2020