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Does Trump Get Impeached or Get Two Terms?

2017 January 23
by Ian Welsh

One of the more interesting pieces of writing over the weekend was Robert Reich’s report on his meeting with a friend who had been a Republican Congressperson.

I had breakfast recently with a friend who’s a former Republican member of Congress. Here’s what he said:

Him: Trump is no Republican. He’s just a big fat ego.

Me: Then why didn’t you speak out against him during the campaign?

Him: You kidding? I was surrounded by Trump voters. I’d have been shot.

Me: So what now? What are your former Republican colleagues going to do?

Him (smirking): They’ll play along for a while.

Me: A while?

Him: They’ll get as much as they want – tax cuts galore, deregulation, military buildup, slash all those poverty programs, and then get to work on Social Security and Medicare – and blame him. And he’s such a fool he’ll want to take credit for everything.

Me: And then what?

Him (laughing): They like Pence.

Me: What do you mean?

Him: Pence is their guy. They all think Trump is out of his mind.

Me: So what?

Him: So the moment Trump does something really dumb – steps over the line – violates the law in a big stupid clumsy way … and you know he will …

Me: They impeach him?

Him: You bet. They pull the trigger.

Now, this lines up with what I’ve heard from other people, and the bit at the start with ” You kidding? I was surrounded by Trump voters. I’d have been shot.” also aligns with what I’ve said a few times to the derision of some liberals, who don’t really believe violence would happen.

My take is the same, but more succinct. Trump has a base. If he keeps that base happy, the Republicans won’t dare impeach him. Even if you don’t believe there would be violence (I think it’s quite possible), these are the sort of people who would make their congress members lives quite miserable and would definitely primary them, with a good chance of winning.

The problem here is that, for example, that some of the plans floated are insane, and will gut Trump’s support. He can get away with cutting taxes and even reducing mortgage subsidies (though it was stupid of him), but he can’t get away with cutting Medicare or Social Security. He said in the primary that he would never do so, or allow it. If he does, he’s toast, it’s that simple.

People will know if this happens in the sense that they will feel it in their lives. The same is true of the Obamacare repeal: People will know if they’re not getting health care they used to get. (Note I didn’t say insurance, but health care.) If Trump actually replaces Obamacare with something about as good or better, there’s no worries. If it’s repealed and placed with shitty health care savings plans or tax write-offs which don’t actually add up to as much care as even Obamacare offered, people will know.

Trump’s core promise is to make the lives of people who lost from the last 40 years of neoliberal politics better. (He didn’t use those words, but that’s what it amounts to, and that’s how his own base understands it, again, using other words).

If he makes the lives of those in his base better off, he’s golden, and the GOP will show their belly. If he doesn’t, they will turn on him and rip his belly out. It is about that simple.

Trump doesn’t need to be popular with everyone. It doesn’t matter that the women’s march produced more people than his inauguration, despite his squealing about it: It is irrelevant because those people couldn’t produce enough people in the right states to with the election AND, as with previous great protests, nothing appears to have been built on top of the protests. It’s nice they all showed up, but they aren’t being asked (or organized) to do things that matter in the future, for all the talk of “the resistance.” If you wanted power, you’d want to be able to get one-fifth that crowd to show up when needed to oppose specific bills and actions by Congress, for example.

All that Trump needs is to make the lives of the people who voted for him, and a few more, better. If he does, he doesn’t get impeached and gets re-elected, and his deranged screams about how reality is the way he wants it to be (biggest inauguration crowd) are irrelevant.

Trump gets this if he listens to the right people. The more he listens to what people like Pence and Priebus and Rand Paul want, the more likely he is to get impeached quicker. The more he listens to Bannon’s populism in particular, and allows people like Kushner and his daughter Ivana to mitigate the worst cruelty desired by Republicans, the more likely he is to get two terms.

This puts some of the opposition in the odd position of needing him to be maximally cruel and to not help ordinary Americans in the states he won. They need the worst people to win (Kushner, Bannon, and Ivanka are not even close to the worst people in DC).

Trump is immensely flawed. The need to be seen as the bestest, reality be damned, makes it hard for him to always make good decisions. This is not, again, to say he isn’t competent by any useful definition of the word (he shits on a gold toilet, had sex with some of the most beautiful women in the world and became President when almost no one thought he could), but it also doesn’t mean he doesn’t have issues. Not every man or woman who is capable of achieving great things is equal.

Those who want Trump to fail should be careful what they wish for, as well. Pence is a theocrat’s theocrat, and not amenable to influence in the way that Trump is. He’ll parse as a lot less crazy, but his policies won’t necessarily be better and for many, they will be worse.

But bottom line: Trump keeps his base happy or he gets impeached. He delivers a better enough life for people who voted for him or would consider voting for him, or he doesn’t get his second term.

It’s that simple.

Now we will know whether he’ll last within a couple months or sooner. We will be able to tell from his budget, his first series of actions, and whether he allows real cuts to Medicare and SS, and replaces Obamacare with something at least about as good.

All you have to do is evaluate how those things will feel, once they’ve played out. I predicted the shape of Obama’s economy the second I had two pieces of information: his economic team and his stimulus. I wrote in early February of 2009 that his economy would never recover for most Americans, and it pretty much never did (only in 2016 was there an increase in median wages, and employment as a percentage of population never recovered).

Because Trump is potentially changing so much, it will be a little harder to tell, but I still expect it to be entirely clear by the end of March, and quite possibly within a few weeks.

Everything after that will just be playing out what Trump and the Republican Congress have already decided on, and their inevitable effects.

So chill and watch, the future will its shape soon enough, and for quite a few years in advance.


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140 Responses
  1. Webstir permalink
    January 24, 2017

    @Peter

    I have no problem with the idea itself. As realitychecker says above:
    “when originally introduced into the public dialogue it seemed to capture the essence of the chronic whiners and crybabies it was meant to describe.” I agree.

    Now, pull out your dictionary. Look up the words trite and banal. Then re-read your post above and tell me if any part of it touches on what I was saying.

    Boor’s are boring, buddy.

  2. Webstir permalink
    January 24, 2017

    @Peter
    I have no problem with the idea itself. As realitychecker says above:

    “when originally introduced into the public dialogue it seemed to capture the essence of the chronic whiners and crybabies it was meant to describe.” I agree.

    Now, pull out your dictionary. Look up the words trite and banal. Then re-read your post above and tell me if any part of it touches on what I was saying.

    Boor’s are boring, buddy.

  3. Webstir permalink
    January 24, 2017

    @realitychecker

    Good lawyers know when to keep the mouth closed and let others do the talking 😉

  4. Webstir permalink
    January 24, 2017

    @ the commentariat
    Apologies, I seem to be struggling with the simple act of not posting the same comment twice. I’ll work on it …

  5. January 24, 2017

    Violent rhetoric and fantasies combined with delicate-flower tone policing of the wimmen folk is quite the spectacle.

    I know. They’re supposed to be like politely eloquent like 19th and early 20th century suffragette eugenicists, “earning” rights by raising decent daughters or something (completely forgetting what the suffragette’s actually did to make progress, …). The fact that winning doesn’t automatically make their Trumpian champion loved is so enraging to them that out drop all the old-school sexist tropes, entirely validating what people were originally afraid of…

  6. Peter permalink
    January 24, 2017

    @Anarcho

    If someone could destroy capitalism they would also be destroying western industrial civilization and with most people living in cities dependent on that civilization they would be destroyed also.

    If 10% of that population survived and could be educated and trained in anarchist method and ideas they might be able to resist the dominance of the warlords and petty potentates that would surely arise. With enough local farming and the huge store of resources that could be mined in the abandoned cities they could prosper for centuries without doing extreme damage to the planet.

    This ignores what may happen elsewhere in the world especially in a country such as China where they may not want to destroy their new capitalist prosperity and they may also be able to respond better to a worldwide collapse. The new emperors there along with their hundreds of millions of survivors may decide that the unguarded, fertile, mostly fallow agricultural heartland of the former US is too attractive to resist and come to take it.

    Anarchists have made good resistance fighters before but there would be some irony in this conflict between the once communists China and the newly minted anarchists of the former US.

  7. BlizzardOfOz permalink
    January 24, 2017

    Well Mandos, as you know, Trump is quite popular with white women, and overwhelmingly so with married white women. Why do you suppose that might be?

  8. neil tuchin permalink
    January 24, 2017

    This site needs moderation. Too bad because there’s some intelligent stuff here, and Ian is a smart guy…

  9. realitychecker permalink
    January 24, 2017

    @ Webstir

    Prudence and principle are in constant opposition. (IOW, nobody wants to get shut out of the bedroom lol.)

    I respect your reluctance to participate, but then you might need to be more accepting of the term currently en vogue, n’est-ce pas?

    On a separate point, do you not find it distressing to see the overt embrace of “hypocrisy” as a normative concept by our recent arrivals above? I would have thought there could be no debate about whether hypocrisy was something that should be opposed rather than embraced. Perhaps I have lived too long, and the world now belongs to those who have no memory of or respect for original principles. Just another aspect of rule of law being displaced by rule of the angry man/woman?

  10. realitychecker permalink
    January 24, 2017

    @ Neil Tuchin

    This blog is not a safe space. Debate is permitted. Moderation is censorship, and censorship is authoritarian.

    It’s good to know where you are coming from, stranger.

  11. Ché Pasa permalink
    January 24, 2017

    Those of you who keep banging on about how “popular” Trump is need a reality check. But you’ll never get one in your bubble.

  12. Hugh permalink
    January 24, 2017

    BlizzardofOz, unions are important, or at least could be important in protecting workers’ rights and increasing their wages. But there has been a war against them since Wilson. That’s a hundred years. Today they are shadow of what they used to be, both in terms of their power and their numbers. Only 6.7% of workers in the private sector are unionized, and 35% in the public/government sector.

    The truth is most labor leaders are Establishment liberals who sold out their memberships decades ago. They have been in the bag for the Democrats even though the Democrats have regularly sold them out since Carter. About the only group left with strong unions is the police, and that isn’t always a good thing when they defend bad cops and worse policies. About the only union that hasn’t sold completely out is National Nurses United.

    With Trump’s and the Republicans’ victories in the election, there has been a surge in state legislatures to pass so-called right to work laws. These should be called right of employers to pay crap wages laws. They seriously undermine already weak, decimated unions. It has been forgotten that when unions were strong, they pulled up everyone’s wages, not just those of their members.

    So what does all this have to do with union leaders meeting with Trump? Well, unions are weak. Their leaderships are corrupt. They have sold out repeatedly on issues like benefits and two-tiered wage structures. They looking at 4 years minimum of being trampled into the ground by Republican controlled state legislatures. Trump’s pledge to bring back manufacturing jobs is about the only bright spot in a very bleak scene, and although Trump has a history of being anti-worker, anti-union, and against increasing the minimum wage, I think they see him as “moderate” in comparison with all the other Republican officeholders out there.

  13. Willy permalink
    January 24, 2017

    @neil tuchin

    It’s a shame. “Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.” Ian appears to have that touch, and the people who need to come together are your average overworked citizens, because ya know, that’s where most votes are. But I’ve seen it before. That end game where self appointed elites have so purified the playground, that nobody else wants to play there anymore.

  14. realitychecker permalink
    January 24, 2017

    It takes a simpleton to think everything is simple.

    Until the left stops thinking in strictly linear, short-term, and binary fashion, and starts allowing the concept of jiu-jitsu into their thinking, there is no hope for a victory of progressive values.

    Because the enemies of the left are very adept at mindfuckery. And, as of now and in recent history, lefties are very vulnerable to mindfuckery.

    I’d like to see the left win some victories that matter, not mere symbolic ones scornfully tossed as crumbs to keep them passive.

  15. wendy davis permalink
    January 24, 2017

    congratulations. a real Algonquin Round Table you have goin’ here; well, minus the wit, but add the ad hominem attacks. goodness me, why didn’t any of you mention michael moore’s ‘let’s take of the dem party’ speech, rather that the not-feminist madonna? so said greenwald and the editor of #fake left Jacobin magaine, by the by…

    but my personal fave was close to: “wot? some mezzican is callin’ me ‘little man'”?

    by the by: who is that y’all imagine should be the arbiters of painful justice? are all jobs created equal? might jobs that fuck up the planet’s health (breaking: ‘restart keystone xl and dapl’ and fucking w/food sovereignty further be ‘good jobs’?

    yeah, i wouldda/couldda liked the marches had they been about tearing down the system and building a socialist democracy (meaning: we all get to decide how we’re ruled), rather than disaffected dems, although there may have been others involved).

    i spent the mornin’ reading the breaking news on herr T’s edicts and choices (yeah, ugh), and still i’m glad that he won, not the Ovien Queen.

    oy, yeah; for those believers that herr T’s bowing out of the TPP is grand, do remember that he’s said nothing about the ttip and tisa, which seem to be alive and sorta well, according to lori wallach of trade watch.

  16. realitychecker permalink
    January 24, 2017

    It takes a simpleton to think everything is simple.

    Until the left stops thinking in strictly linear, short-term, and binary fashion, and starts allowing the concept of jiu-jitsu into their thinking, there is no hope for a victory of progressive values.

    Because the enemies of the left are very adept at mindfuckery. And, as of now and in recent history, lefties are very vulnerable to mindfuckery.

    I’d like to see the left win some victories that matter, not mere symbolic ones scornfully tossed as crumbs to keep them passive.

    But in orderto learn how to be more effective, it is first necessary to cometo terms with and then change what you have been doing wrong.

    So far, the left just keeps insisting it did NOTHING wrong. That won’t get us anywhere.

  17. realitychecker permalink
    January 24, 2017

    LOL If something is worth being said once, it’s worth being said twice.

    But there does seem to be something strange going on around the submit key.

  18. Willy permalink
    January 24, 2017

    “It takes a simpleton to think everything is simple.”
    A comment more self-serving than instructive. Most voters are “simpleton”. Good luck reaching them with dismissive sarcasm.

    “…the concept of jiu-jitsu into their thinking”
    Clear examples would be most excellent. For starters, things successfully done to the left, lefty success stories employing such concepts, self-defense…

    “lefties are very vulnerable to mindfuckery”
    See above. Productive examples might include

    “But in orderto learn how to be more effective, it is first necessary to cometo terms with and then change what you have been doing wrong.”
    Now we’re getting somewhere.

    “So far, the left just keeps insisting it did NOTHING wrong. That won’t get us anywhere.”
    You entirely sure about that? I’m seeing terminology such as “neoliberalism” and “third way” finally gaining some traction, after all these years. And I do believe it takes a while for such ideas to trickle down to the simple, comprising the overwhelming majority.

  19. Willy permalink
    January 24, 2017

    strike the “Productive examples might include”

  20. adrena permalink
    January 24, 2017

    @realitychecker

    Your repeatedly gross generalizations of and disdain for feminists as well as your description of the recent marchers as “amoral harpies” (only women can be amoral, never men), are a clear indication that you offer no solutions but are part of the problem.

  21. StewartM permalink
    January 24, 2017

    Peter:

    The problem I have with your Mad Taxman desires to mine someone else’s gold is that Social Security is based on payroll taxes and most people recover more money than they put in. What your nostrum would accomplish is that some people would be forced to subsidize the program never recovering their contribution.

    That’s part and parcel of any government service: some people get more benefit, some less, and some not at all (at least insofar as in direct benefits). A childless couple doesn’t directly benefit form money spend on educating other people’s kids, but everyone benefits from an educated workforce and elector. Social Security is something that everyone collects, and moreover even if you are in the top 2 % now and would lose according to the proposal I put forwards, who’s to say that you might suffer a personal economy disaster and might badly need that money when you retire?

    Wise people support social insurance for the same reason they carry auto insurance and home insurance. You don’t plan on having that wreck, or your home being destroyed in a tornado, but you say “yeah, if it happens I’ll need it”. Foolish people think that could never happen to them.

    Social Security was never meant to be people’s sole retirement income but a base to alleviate extreme poverty among the elderly. A true government retirement program would be Socialism need based not based on contributions.

    Yeah, but a) most companies don’t offer pensions anymore (including mine) and b) the ability to personally save has been gutted by declining incomes. Both of these trends were driven by Wall Street’s rapacity, largely that same top 2 % who are not producers of wealth but manipulators of it. It’s only fair to restore SS to health and to double the benefits to correct for the damage they did.

    Moreover, these guys are taxed at lower rates than ever before. When “America was great” as I said, they were taxed at an effective rate of 74 % and to a large part *because* they were taxed so, America prospered (I can discuss *why* high taxes of the rich promotes economic growth and a good economy in another reply). Now Mitt Romney pays 9.3 % on the only tax form he released, Warren Buffet pays about 15 %, while I pay 23 % in Federal taxes. Many of that 2 % pay less in taxes than most people making far less. Worse, when you consider state taxation and not just Federal, the bottom 20 % gets whacked about 3 times harder than the top 20 %.

    If you want to “Make America Great Again” in terms of the America where 5 % unemployment was considered intolerable instead of something to brag about, and where inflation was also modest, then part of that proven solution (proven to work not only hear, but in Europe as well) is that the rich pay high tax rates. This also results in more honest government as even after paying 75 % of their income the rich can still have all of life’s luxuries; but they can no longer buy all of Congress and the statehouses like they do now.

  22. MojaveWolf permalink
    January 24, 2017

    @Blizzard — given that Trump and Bernie were the only recent presidential candidates who didn’t openly view the American working class w/open contempt, the union leaders reactions to their meeting with him is not surprising. He at least pretends to like and care about them, and I believe (despite what I said above and am about to say after this) that Trump will be better on trade (at least from an American worker perspective) than Obama was or Hillary would have been; at worst, he’ll say better things and then do something similar to what they would have. And my other reasons for preferring him to HRC still stand.

    But . . . he’s not running in an either/or against Hillary anymore. “The other side sucks worse in some ways” is not going to be a winning argument for Trump any more than it was for the Dems; less so, since people’s patience with our ruling class is getting understandably short and Trump has less good will to work with than Obama did.

    And otherwise, he’s not impressing thus far. He appears to be letting Pence determine his position on social issues, we have an incoming CIA director who’s written an op-ed urging collection of data on American citizens and the whole administration seems to have an environmental agenda geared to destroying the world as fast as possible. And “better than the pro-TPP crowd on trade and jobs” is sort of like saying “better than Inhofe on environmental issues”, one is true for Trump, the other is true for pretty much even the worst of the neoliberal dems, but it’s too low a bar to get very happy about by itself–the question is “will it be enough better?”. And if we kill the whole biosphere, honestly, none of the rest of this will even matter.

  23. Lisa permalink
    January 24, 2017

    Trump is lazy, not stupid by any means but lazy. He’ll take the short term easy way out everytime.

    He wasn’t prepared to put the hard jakka in to form an election team so he jumped on the religious right (a poisoned chalice if there ever was one).

    He could have done the smart thing after he (just) got elected ..betray them and put some half decent people in his cabinet/executive. But he didn’t even do that, so his Govt is stuffed with the biggest, most right wing (every sense, social and economic) nut jobs around. To say they make the neo-liberal economic followers look positively wonderful in comparison, is an understatement.

    So it is going to be a train wreck. And that will kill his Govt.

    None of you really get it, go onto the FRC website and do some (scary)reading about what they want, economically as well as for women and LGBTI people.
    They actually want the end of health risk pooling, which means the end of health insurance (public or private), that you pay for everything yourself, because if you get sick is your fault because it was ‘avoidable because of poor lifestyle choices’.

    Their ‘logic’ follow the old ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy: ‘no true good god fearing christian who follows a true christian life gets sick you see’ , if you do get sick it is because ‘you are not a true christian and made poor life choices (translated sinned).’
    The end of scientific research, the usual NO environmental protection, more tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy and so on.

    Over on the other side Putin better get ahold of his ‘christian’ religious nutjobs real soon, or they will tear Russia apart. You have to remember that it is a fundamental tenet of so called ‘christian’ beliefs that domestic violence (against child or spouse) is ok. Even the Pope says that…..

  24. realitychecker permalink
    January 24, 2017

    adena, the amoral harpies I referred to were not the marchers, they were you and anonone, for your professed adoration for hypocrisy.

    I love feminists, I hate amoral idiots. Sorry.

  25. realitychecker permalink
    January 24, 2017

    @ Willy

    I am not paid to be your professor here. I open up doors for you to look into, it is up to you to do the work of exploring what is behind them. If you are too lazy or too limited to do that work for yourself, I don’t give a damn about you.

    Where do you get the idea that I owe you detailed explanations? The world is too full of stupid, lazy, ignorant people for me to ever make a dent in their befoggedness. I give some of my energy to the task, as my contribution to the overall community, but I have other things to do with the bulk of my time and energy.

    How arrogant of you to think I am here to serve you in the way you demand. Your entitlement mentality is showing, and it’s pathetic to me.

  26. Willy permalink
    January 24, 2017

    Yeah, I thought so. I demanded nothing, and am far from “arrogant” or “entitlement mentality”.

    You’re not here for the reasons you claim.

  27. realitychecker permalink
    January 25, 2017

    @ Willy

    Go teach yourself, fool. Read. Think. Put some fucking work into your own education. I’m already over my quota of fools for the entire year. And yes, I’m getting ornery about it. Too fucking bad if you don’t like it.

  28. Willy permalink
    January 25, 2017

    “getting ornery”? It’s who you already are. I wouldn’t have given you a second thought if you weren’t so emotionally invested in trashing, yet so disinvested in an equal or lesser effort of teaching.

  29. realitychecker permalink
    January 25, 2017

    @ Willy

    You just showed up, proclaiming your personal ignorance but having the arrogance to be stupidly disrespectful.

    I’ve been doing this shit for 15 years, and have watched the lefties who I was allied with (as a very militant progressive) become stupider and stupider, more and more childish in their denial and ad hominem nonsense, their ridiculous devotion to PC dogma, their inability to analyze anything that happens in the real world with anything that resembles or is in accord with common sense.

    I’ve ultimately become so filled with disgust for these idiotic lefty types that I was forced to vote for Trump as the lesser evil, the first vote I ever cast for a Republican. You have no idea how much it cost me to have to do that, but the madness of the Democratic Party and its blind adherents has got to be curtailed.

    So, I don’t suffer fools gladly anymore. If you act the fool with me, as you have been doing, you will get thumped. Better keep your safe space handy, or else adopt the appropriate attitude for one who claims to be here to learn and is asking a more learned person to help him achieve a glimmer of understanding.

  30. realitychecker permalink
    January 25, 2017

    @ wendy davis

    “but my personal fave was close to: “wot? some mezzican is callin’ me ‘little man’”?”

    Really, Wendy, that’s what got your attention today?

    Maybe you should instead tell your pet Mexican, one of only a half dozen who still comment at your own personal ‘Algonquin table,’ that if he is stupid enough to use “little man” as a derogatory attack against someone he has never met, then he invites the possibility that it may get shoved back into his teeth?

    In future, please try not to act like a scorned woman, OK? If you try to bite me, you will get bitten back, but for the sake of our former friendship, I prefer not to have to do that.

  31. Peter permalink
    January 25, 2017

    @StewM

    You’re conflating general taxation that funds the government with a separate scheme where working people pay for the retirement security of the previous generation directly. You’ve made it clear why you believe that the Taxman might be made to appear like Robin Hood but I think Robin robbed the taxman whenever he could.

    Many people approaching retirement are not prepared and will spend much of their money servicing the debt they will carry into retirement. The causes of these problems you mention are valid to some extent but many people made bad decisions that didn’t help their position.

    The fixation on low wage growth as the cause of the SS shortfall leaves out the equal or more negative effect of the hollowing out of our industrial base and replacing those skilled high pay jobs with low wage service work. A skilled union worker pays in about four times as much into SS as a low skill service worker.

    If Warren Buffet ever donates a substantial portion of his capital gains to SS to shame other extremely wealthy people to respond I might take him seriously. He uses this liberal hand-wringing to promote the Clintonite agenda who also use this rhetoric to sway the rubes. None of these people have any intention of touching the wealthiest people’s money their agenda is neoliberalism ‘ designed to help them accumulate this wealth.

  32. Willy permalink
    January 25, 2017

    @ realitychecker

    You make far too many snap assumptions and accusations to be worthy of respect. If everybody was as rational and integrous as you’re ‘trying’ to get lefties to be, you never would have had a law career. Reality is what it is. Everybody is imperfect. A blog known as Trump central (Gateway Pundit), is notorious for having all the rationality and integrity of the National Enquirer. Think we can win any of them over by demonstrating what you’re trying to force here?

  33. Lisa permalink
    January 25, 2017

    StewartM: Correct, people seem to struggle with the concept of social insurance, such as public health systems, social security and so on. Sadly (like the religious right) some people fall into the traps of ‘it won’t happen to me’ and ‘it is their fault’… forgetting the simple element of probabilities. Whether they want to acknowledge it or not nearly all will have some cardiovascular and/or cancer issue in their lifetime, let alone other diseases and accidents.

    You can add to the unfair tax issue, the more favourable treatment of so called capital gains, which are typically taxed at a lower rate than incomes. Even more wealth and power to the rentier class.

    The issue of retirement is horrible, increasing expenses (rentiers at work again) declining wages and, let us not forget, the insanely high unemployment rate for those older than 50 means few can build the assets needed.

    True unemployment rates are 2-3 times the ‘official’ (long redefined) ones and those younger and those older have much higher rates than the average. So over and above the low wages people’s working, and hence wage earning, life is far shorter now than it was in the past. So their total lifetime earnings are even lower than most think. You can add to that far higher expense (such as education, rent, etc) than was in the past. So their net earnings are even worse.

    The neo-liberal/rentier economic model has created far greater impoverishment for the masses than many think. This is quite deliberate, when an RBA official states that average Australian income have to drop by 40% he wasn’t kidding. All that crowd from Friedman onwards have been quite clear that average incomes had to drop ..a lot.

    Of course it is elf destructive, because the high asset values that prop up the wealthy depend on those lower down paying for it, lower their incomes then, eventually, those asset values will drop. Sure zero interest rates and infinite credit means it has been propped up far longer than most thopught.

    The classic example was a Naked Capitalism piece on businesses closing up because their rents skyrocketed and the properties are empty (and will stay so). So how does that make sense? Well the owner values the property on the nominal rent, that then allows them to borrow off that at low or even zero interest rate. They then ‘invest’ that somewhere else to gain a return. Need more borrowings? Increase the rent on the vacant property it now has a higher asset value.
    So they can use, what is in effect a worthless unrentable property to increase their personal wealth. Nothing new in this, many ‘robber barons’ did the same in the 80s ands 90s for example, buy an asset with debt, revalue it, get more borrowings and buy something else, revalue that asset value and so on. The difference is now ALL wealthy people, the finance industry and corporations are doing it .

    Of course it is a ponzi scheme that will eventually collapse, but with infinite credit, near zero interest rates and central banks doing everything to keep asset values up it might take awhile longer.

    For some here to talk about bringing back manufacturing as the answer to everything … no economic improvement can happen until the financial system is fixed. Even infrastructure spending these days is almost always entirely wasted and a little more than transfer mechanisms from Govt (and hence people through taxation) to the finance system, corporations, etc, with little or no tangible benefit happening.

    The financial system is the key core component of wealth transfer, impoverishment, both under and mal-investment and, of course, systemic corruption.

  34. realitychecker permalink
    January 25, 2017

    @ Willy

    “If everybody was as rational and integrous as you’re ‘trying’ to get lefties to be, you never would have had a law career.”

    Please, just shut up, it’s too painful to watch you self-demolish.

    At the least, please don’t direct any more comments to me. People like you never learn anything, anyway.

  35. Lisa permalink
    January 25, 2017

    I hear this all the time: “Peter: It looks as if Reich’s unidentified friend is as butt-hurt about Trump’s victory as some of the snowflakes’.

    Given their endless use of ‘butthurt’ I automatically assume they are all self hating closeted gay men in denial. As has been proven in many scientific studies, the greatest homophobes are nearly all closeted self hating gays.

    The fake macho ‘I’m a man therefore I don”t care about anyone’s feelings, anyone that does it is weak’ is also a dead giveaway of ‘trying too hard to appear all manly and straight’.

    Look Peter come out, it is not that bad accepting your sexuality for what it is, you will be much happier than living in the closet, hiding and denying what you are, acting a part that is not you all the time. You fantasise about ‘butts’, nothing wrong with that.

  36. realitychecker permalink
    January 25, 2017

    @ Lisa

    Can’t help myself, darling, from employing your own logic against you, to wit:

    All you ever talk about is your transgenderedness. That must mean you are secretly straight and have a good idea of what you want to do with your genitalia.

    See the stupid in your pop psychology?

    Stick to data analysis, you actually have some talent for that. This last comment of yours stupidly offensive and is way beneath you, and makes it very hard to respect you. That’s about your mind, not your genitalia.

  37. different clue permalink
    January 25, 2017

    Very few comments here addressed the possible prediction-scenario Ian Welsh wrote about in this comment. If this/ then that predictions are hard to make but interesting to think about.

    It makes sense to me that the Party Republicans would all prefer Pence over Trump as President. If Trump is truly devoted to a few things he talked about several times over the campaign, he will see to those few things first. He will entrench re-normalization of relations with Russia so deeply that no successor can de-normalize those relations yet again. He will help the R + 6 in Syria effectively enough one way or another that the jihadi rebellion in Syria is crushed and the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic is able to exterminate all cannibal liver eating jihadis everywhere within Syria. And he will conclusively reject and defeat all pending Free Trade Agreements such that they stay rejected and defeated.

    If he gives the Party Republicans their wish-list items first, then they won’t need him anymore and they will work to remove him just as Mr. Welsh predicts. I would add my own prediction to Mr. Welsh’s prediction. I predict that IF the system moves to impeach Trump, THEN the Democratic officeholders will join in the impeachment and removal. The Democratic officeholders would also prefer Pence to be President. He supports Free Trade Agreements, serial regime change in different countries and in Syria especially, and the Cold War 2.0 with Russian. On those three things, Pence is a Clintonite, just like the Clintonite Shitocrats are all Clintonites. Really, Pence is just a Clinton Sandwhich with some Evangelical ConservaReactionary gravy on it.

  38. StewartM permalink
    January 25, 2017

    Peter

    The fixation on low wage growth as the cause of the SS shortfall leaves out the equal or more negative effect of the hollowing out of our industrial base and replacing those skilled high pay jobs with low wage service work. A skilled union worker pays in about four times as much into SS as a low skill service worker.

    Low wage growth that failed to keep up with inflation and caused the SS shortfall is largely the result of the “hollowing out of the industrial base” you speak of (there’s other reasons, too, I’d rank outsourcing as #1, union-busting as #2, failure to keep the minimum wage up with inflation #3, and immigration a distant #4).. That “hollowing out of the industrial base” is in turn the result of neoliberal policies pursued and enacted by the top 2 %. Taxing them to make up the shortfall is both smart and fair.

    Besides, why should wage income be taxed at a higher rate than the income sources of capital? (Dividends, interest, and capital gains). I am merely advocating that these be taxed at the same rate, essentially a flat tax on these incomes, which is hardly a “mad taxer’ scheme.

    Many people approaching retirement are not prepared and will spend much of their money servicing the debt they will carry into retirement. The causes of these problems you mention are valid to some extent but many people made bad decisions that didn’t help their position.

    “Bad decisions” have little to do with it. Are the people laid off from good-paying jobs in their 50s or 60s before they are ready to retire to blame because their highly-profitable company decided to replace them with cheap youngsters with no benefits to hand over more loot to Wall Street? Are the workers to blame because highly profitable companies ditched or froze their pension plans to give more to Wall Street? Are workers to blame because the minimum wage (which acts as an “floor” for wages) is even by the government’s dubious inflation calculations at the lowest point since the 1940s? Are workers to blame because the government’s refusal to enact anti-trust laws (in effect, suspended since Reagan) means that they get massively ripped off which diminishes their ability to save?

    All these trends are “bad decisions”, all right, but decisions not made by the victims. They were made at the top, to knowingly transfer wealth from the bottom to the top. Again, it’s only fair to tax and right to tax them because of it.

    And I add–there is a reason why the period from 1948-the early 70s was the good economy, and our high marginal tax rates on the wealthy were an integral part of that. Not the whole part, mind you (Lisa’s comment about financial deregulation is also true, as well as no longer enforcing anti-trust laws) but still a very important part. You punished the rich for rewarding themselves, and because of that more money both flowed into workers’ pockets but also flowed into new capital and to R&D which kept American technology the world’s best. I see that in the history of where I work now.

  39. StewartM permalink
    January 25, 2017

    Lisa:

    For some here to talk about bringing back manufacturing as the answer to everything … no economic improvement can happen until the financial system is fixed. Even infrastructure spending these days is almost always entirely wasted and a little more than transfer mechanisms from Govt (and hence people through taxation) to the finance system, corporations, etc, with little or no tangible benefit happening.

    Agreed. The financial system must not only be fixed, but massively shrunk. To fund the largest expansion and prosperity the world had ever seen (1948-1973 or thereabouts) required a financial sector that was only 4 % of GDP (and I’d argue even that was bloated). Now it’s 10 % of GDP, making 50 % of the profits. An economy where clever schemes (usually ponzi or outright fraudulent) of shuffling paper and/or bribing Congresscritters is more rewarded than doing the hard work of devising new mousetraps or delivering superior services is a sick economy.

    It’s also an inflationary economy. The financial sector itself adds money to the economy without producing any good or service. Add to that all our other bloated non-productive sectors (the military, the police and prison system, our surveillance state, etc.) that likewise produce little of value coupled with our refusal to enforce anti-trust laws and you end up with some inflation even in a crappy economy like ours. By contrast, in the good economy of 50 years ago or so, a much higher proportion of the work force was engaged in producing real goods and services, which is why we could have 3 % unemployment or so with no more inflation than today.

  40. Brian permalink
    January 27, 2017

    Relevant to this topic:

    http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2017/1/22/113420/648

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