Having sworn themselves to secrecy, Republicans on the House Ways and Means committee are scrambling to put together a tax bill by next week. But not knowing anything about the details of the plan, as it stands right now, hasn’t stopped an army of lobbyists from mobbing Capitol Hill with one overweening mission: To threaten, cajole or otherwise coax lawmakers into preserving loopholes that benefit their clients. Here’s Bloomberg: The stage was set with the House’s adoption Thursday of a budget resolution designed to speed the course of tax legislation and kick off a three-week sprint toward a House bill. Now, lobbyists representing every corner of the economy are poised to first devour, then attack what may be hundreds of pages of legislation that Brady says he’ll release Nov. 1. Special interests from realtors to dairy farmers will be trying to save their industry-specific tax breaks, said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity. His group, which is backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, supports ending such breaks. ‘It’s pretty fierce,’ Phillips said. ‘We met with Brady on Tuesday and he was saying their offices are swamped with all the special interest groups swarming in asking to be protected.’ The immense pressure to find a source of revenue to compensate for the sweeping cuts to corporate and individual rates has already nearly derailed the tax reform process. Yesterday, House Republicans narrowly approved the Senate version of a $4 trillion federal budget over the objections of 20 blue-state Republicans who oppose the elimination of the state and local tax deduction, which they say would disproportionately raise taxes on middle-class taxpayers in blue states, which tend to have higher taxes. Yet, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady has said the elimination of the SALT deduction will stay in the bill – for now, at least.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 27, 2017.
When the parties do finally implode, the general mood will be: good riddance. History informs us that once something is obsolete, it can disappear far faster than anyone expected. While we generally think of obsoleted technologies vanishing, social and political systems can become obsolete as well. Should a poor soul who entered a deep coma a year ago awaken today, we must forgive his/her astonishment at the political wreckage left by the 2016 election. The Democratic Party, a mere year ago an absurdly over-funded machine confident in an easy victory in the presidential race, is now a complete shambles: its leadership in free-fall, its Fat-Cat donors disgusted, and its demented intoxication with pinning collaboration with Russia on the Trump camp eroding whatever feeble legacy legitimacy it still holds. What the party stands for is a mystery, as its Elites are clearly beholden to insiders, special interests and Corporate donors while glorifying the worst excesses of globalism and the National Security State’s endless war on civil liberties. The newly awakened citizen would also marvel at the chaotic war zone of the Republican Party, in which the Insider Warlords are battling insurgent Outsiders, while the same Elites that fund the Democratic machine are wondering what they’re buying with their millions of dollars in contributions, for it’s unclear what the Republican Party stands for: it’s for Small Government, except when it’s for Bigger Government, which is 95% of the time; it’s for more law enforcement and the militarization of local police, and more intrusion into the lives of the citizenry; it’s for stricter standards for welfare, except for Corporate Welfare; it’s for tax reform, except the thousands of pages of give-aways, loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations all remain untouched, and so on: a smelly tangle of special interests masked by a few sprays of PR air freshener to the millions left behind by the globalization that has so enriched Corporate America and the class of financier-owners, bankers, insiders and technocrats–the same group that funds and controls both political parties.
The only way to rebuild a Common Good is to radically decentralize political, financial and media concentrations of ownership and power. The theory of American civics is that the competitive process of every group advocating for its narrow self-interests will magically generate the Common Good, that is, a political and social order that serves everyone’s common/shared interests. Unfortunately, that’s not how civic life functions in real-world America. We have completely lost any sense of a Common Good. All we have now is a cut-throat competition between entrenched special interests for a fatter slice of the pie while the bottom 95% have essentially no political voice and a rapidly diminishing say in the economy. The problem with the theory that competitive advocacy magically generates the common good is advocacy is horrendously asymmetric: corporations and the wealthy have massively well-funded campaign and lobbying industries as their advocates, while the bottom 95% have no equivalent resources or organized efforts to advocate for their interests.
Noah Smith, writing in Bloomberg, says that middle class America has indeed been fleeced by our national economic policies. We agree. But which policies have been responsible? Smith mentions and immediately dismisses trade, immigration, economic regulation, and welfare policies. The real villain in his view is an alleged turn toward managing the economy on free market lines: ‘Your prosperity was taken by the very people who promised to ensure and enhance it. The decades from 1980 through 2008 were the age of neoliberalism — the ideology of the free market.’ This is a story that we hear more and more. Neoliberals, the favorite new epithet on the left for free market exponents, have ruled the roost for decades ( note how the Obama administration is simply ignored in the preceding quote), and have left the poor and middle class far worse off than they were. The truth is that the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama era had much in common, and it was not free market principles. It was an era of unrestrained crony capitalism, in which special interests formed stronger and stronger alliances with government in order to secure economic monopolies and other privileges.
The special interests that dominate politics dominates to produce a form of economic warfare. The more some can manipulate the political machinery, the more they can feather their own nests. They even use similar propaganda techniques. In wartime, we are always defined as the good guys, ennobled by our moral cause. “They” are the bad guys, to be demeaned and dehumanized, so few will be bothered by what is done to them. Similarly, in domestic politics, representatives of each group paint themselves as particularly worthy or needy, making their advocacy morally superior, contrasted with their opponents whom they tar as selfish or unprincipled. However, advocates for such causes do not always occupy the moral high ground they try so hard to create. They advocate coercing those who have done no harm to others to justify it. Further, the policies proposed often benefit existing members of a group, but harm those who will be members of that group in the future. In such cases, justifying the political plunder to deliver a group’s demands because they are particularly deserving is self-contradictory. If membership in a group justifies special treatment, the same must apply to future members as well. Therefore, policies that benefit current members, while harming equally deserving future members, necessarily violate their own rationale.
Government’s meddling in the healthcare business has been disastrous from the get-go. Since 1910, when Republican William Taft gave in to the American Medical Association’s lobbying efforts, most administrations have passed new healthcare regulations. With each new law or set of new regulations, restrictions on the healthcare market went further, until at some point in the 1980s, people began to notice the cost of healthcare had skyrocketed. This is not an accident. It’s by design. As regulators allowed special interests to help design policy, everything from medical education to drugs became dominated by virtual monopolies that wouldn’t have otherwise existed if not for government’s notion that intervening in people’s lives is part of their job. But how did costs go up, and why didn’t this happen overnight? It wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon restricted the supply of hospitals by requiring institutions to provide a certificate-of-need.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Mar 22, 2017.
The singer Lana Del Rey is attempting to use witchcraft to remove Donald Trump from the Presidency. She Tweeted: ‘At the stroke of midnight, Feb 24, March 26, April 24, May 23… Ingredients can be found online.’ The cryptic message is all about witchcraft. These dates line-up with the ‘waning crescent moon ritual dates’, which are the dates that made headlines as members of the occult claimed they would perform ceremonies to rid the world of Donald Trump each time the event occurs. A representative for Del Rey confirmed to Pitchfork that the singer-songwriter’s tweet was in reference to the occult rituals.
On October 13th of last year, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Donald Trump gave a desperate speech at a desperate moment. A week after the surfacing of the infamous “grab them by the pussy” video, Trump presented himself as the common man’s only defense against a vast conspiracy of global financial interests: “There is nothing the political establishment will not do,” he said, “and no lie they will not tell, to hold on to their prestige and power at your expense.” Including running Donald Trump as an anti-corruption candidate! He went on: “For those who control the levers of power in Washington, and for the global special interests they partner with, our campaign represents an existential threat,” Trump said. “It’s a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class … and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” In conjunction with this speech, which was sold as the “crossroads of history” address (and triggered a new hashtag, #TrumpTheEstablishment), Trump released a 100-day “action plan” that supposedly targeted “special interest corruption.”
Former Gov. Sarah Palin has criticized President-elect Donald Trump’s deal with the Carrier, in which as reported previously the air conditioner company would not outsource 1,100 workers to Mexico in exchange for $7 million in tax incentives over 10 years, saying that it yet another example of “corporate welfare.” The harsh criticism of Trump’s economic policy comes as she is reportedly under consideration to serve as Trump’s secretary of Veterans Affairs. Writing an op-ed in the Young Conservatives blog, Palin said that while he is excited for the Carrier employees whose jobs are staying in Indiana, saying the deal is “a relief for hundreds of workers… Merry Christmas Indiana!’, she then joins Bernie Sanders and other critics in vlasting the deal as ‘crony capitalism” and an example of the “hallmark of corruption” and “socialism“, adding the arrangement could set “inconsistent, unfair and illogical precedent.” Suggesting that the Trump deal is a carryover from the Obama administration’s “crony” ways of doing business, Palin wrote that ‘when government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent. Then, special interests creep in and manipulate markets. Republicans oppose this, remember?’ ‘Instead, we support competition on a level playing field, remember? Because we know special interest crony capitalism is on big fail.’ Palin then made a statement many conservatives and virtually all libertarians would agree with, saying that “however well meaning, burdensome federal government imposition is never the solution. Never. Not in our homes, not in our schools, not in churches, not in businesses.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 3, 2016.
The lobbying game is simple. The first step is to work on “The Hill” for a while to build up your sphere of relationships and influence. Of course, you don’t have to work in an elected capacity, being a high-level staffer for a prominent Senator or Congressman is more than sufficient. Then, after you’ve hobnobbed with enough people on The Hill to be deemed worthy, you get recruited by a lobbying firm just down the road that’s willing to pay you several multiples of your government salary in return for peddling your newly acquired influence. And, so you join the lobbying ranks where your sole mission is to peddle your influence to rake in millions of dollars from wealthy special interests. But, in 2016, there’s just one problem: Trump. For the past 12 months Trump has toured the nation telling his voters that he has every intention to “Drain The Swamp” in Washington D. C. and lobbyists are the epitome of everything that regular Americans see as broken with the system. Needless to say, the prominent lobbying firms of Washington D. C. are in full-on panic mode. As BuzzFeed notes, presidential transitions are typically business as usual for the lobbyist because “normal” administrations are staffed with Washington insiders. But, that’s not the case with Trump.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 18, 2016.
Ive been saying this for a long time, and Ill say it again here ‘ in life there are only two kinds of people: those who know and those who dont. Some might claim there is a third option: those who dont want to know. In any case, if you want to be able to foresee geopolitical and social trends, you have to be one of the people who know. Above all else, in order to know you must be willing to step outside of the confusion and theater of the circus and look at developments from above. If you are biased and retain too many sacred cows you will never understand how the world works. You will be too busy trying to reinforce your own fantasies to see anything else. Beyond this, you must also understand that political and social developments are not random; they are either reactions to deliberate policies of special interests or they are driven by policies of special interests. Therefore, these developments are predictable and can be calculated (to a point). I usually refer to these special interests as global elites, or globalists, because that is how they often refer to themselves. The point is, most of the events you see in the political world are engineered events designed to elicit a specific psychological response from you and the people around you. You are not a human being to these people; you are either an asset to be molded or an obstacle to be disposed of. This is how our world works. Period. And until we fully understand this and accept it, things will never change.
This post was published at Alt-Market on Wednesday, 16 November 2016.
‘Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.’ – The Georgia Guidestones The full-spectrum global attack on human health is quite obvious to see for anyone who is paying attention and in search of wellness. So many of the factors that are negatively influencing public heath could easily be prevented or removed from society, yet the decisions of the ruling class continue to ensure that our food supply is toxic, that our environment is compromised, and that our exposure to chemicals and industrial waste is total. Why? With the stroke of a pen carcinogenic poisons like Monsanto’s Roundup could be banned. Industrial disasters like Fukushima or the Deepwater Horizon could easily get the attention they deserve from world powers, but the will to intervene on behalf of human and environmental health is zero, while the will to intervene militarily in corporate and political affairs is guaranteed. People are suffering more than ever from a host of chronic conditions and illnesses that can wreck even the healthiest and strongest of us. To be sick is the new normal, and to be healthy is outstanding and unusual. Concerned citizens are battling grass roots struggles on all fronts, yet, at the top levels of society the corruption, gross negligence, and seeming incompetence continue unabated, ensuring that important decisions always favor the health of corporations and special interests. With such obvious disregard for life, it would be naive to presume that our national and global leadership have our best interests at heart, and also to assume that any of this could be accidental. And when we look at comments and statements from some of the world’s most influential people, a dark philosophy is uncovered, and a shocking agenda todepopulate planet earth is revealed. See for yourself:
When did America’s establishment ever discuss, in elections or at other times, issues of war and peace for the people’s understanding and consent? Virtually never. There was no mandate for Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, or a dozen other conflicts. Of course, once a war gets going, there is a tendency for Americans to close ranks with flags and ribbons and slogans such as ‘Support our troops’ and ‘Love it or leave it.’ The senior leaders know this psychological pattern, and they count on it, every time. The fundamental problem in America’s government is an elaborate political structure much resembling democracy but with actual rule by a powerful establishment and a set of special interests – all supported by a monstrous security apparatus and a huge, lumbering military, which wouldn’t even know what to do with itself in peace. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any apparent solution to this horrible political reality, and, while once it affected primarily Americans themselves, today it affects the planet. There is an intense new element that has been added to America’s governing establishment: the drive of the neocons for American supremacy everywhere, for complete global dominance, and it is something which is frighteningly similar to past drives by fascist governments which brought only human misery on a vast scale.
To get to the Democratic National Convention, you take the subway to the AT&T Station and walk to the Wells Fargo Center. Along the way, you’ll stroll by the Comcast Xfinity Live complex, where delegates and honored guests can booze it up. You’ll also see the ‘Cars Move America’ exhibit, an actual showroom sponsored by Ford, GM, Toyota, and others. Finally, you’ll reach your seat and watch Democrats explain why we have to reduce the power of big corporations in America. Party conventions have always been collection points for big money. But many major corporations sat out last week’s Republican gathering for fear of Trump contamination. There’s no such reticence here in Philadelphia; in fact, it feels like they’re making up for that lack of investment. It’s hard to ferret out all the special interests at the DNC, because there’s no full public schedule. Invitations are doled out individually, and people whisper about this or that event. But enter any official hotel where a delegation is staying, or any Philadelphia landmark, and you’re likely to have a complimentary drink thrust into your hand. As Politico’s Ben White reported on Monday, private equity firm Blackstone has a meet-and-greet on Thursday. Independence Blue Cross, the southeastern Pennsylvania arm of the large insurer, held a host-committee reception Tuesday; their chief executive is the finance chair of that host committee. The same day, Le Meridien hotel had a private event for Bloomberg LP, and the Logan Hotel hosted ‘Inspiring Women, a Luncheon Discussion.’ The sponsors included Johnson & Johnson, Walgreens, AFLAC, the Financial Services Roundtable (the industry trade lobby), and New York Life. (How many people were they serving, given the number of corporations involved?)
I am a conspiracy theorist. I have been since 1958, when I began to research the question of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I have never accepted the official explanation that the government had no advance warning of the attack. I was the only conspiracy theorist I knew of while a graduate student in history. I was unique. I have kept at it over the years. But, I learned long ago that in order to retain your sanity, and in order to remain productive, you have to accept the official story most of the time unless there is strong evidence to the contrary. If you don’t accept this, you will find yourself in a sea of chaos. You will have no concept of historical cause-and-effect. One of the major problems of conspiracy theory is that the conspiracy theorist can use his conspiracy theories to separate himself from all cause-and-effect in history. Someone who believes that a conspiracy is behind everything, and therefore believes that all official stories are corrupted by special interests or the desire to deceive, is in a position of never being able to understand any aspect of history. That is to say, visible cause-and-effect in history has no effect on his thinking. He cannot come to grips with causality in history, because he interprets all history, whether written or unwritten, as the outcome of hidden forces that never reveal the truth to anyone outside the conspiracy. What if there is more than one conspiracy? Which one was the one behind an event? This creates havoc for conspiracy theorists.
This post was published at Gary North on July 22, 2016.
As Donald Trump prepares for an epic battle with ‘First Enabler’ Hillary Clinton, the media is too focused on party unity and are oblivious to the fact that denunciation of Trump by failed elites like the Bush’s as well as the prevarications of Paul Ryan only fuel his rise, as did the opposition of Mexico’s ex-president, the Chinese Communists, the Pope, David Cameron, the Saudis, and Mitt Romney. The political class is discredited with voters hungry for change. What they are missing are the millions of new voters and donors Trump has brought to the party, with the GOP contest drawing two million more voters than the rather boring Hillary v. Bernie bout. It is important to note that in 2012, a change in just 700,000 votes in five states would have changed the outcome of the election. Analytics show there are 1 million unregistered Trump supporters. In Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, Trump will have the resources to sign them up. This is where elections are won. All successful Republican presidents – Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan – remade the party in their image. Trump is snatching the party back from Wall Street and the special interests. His is street populism, far right on some issues but far left on others. Not a pure conservative by any means, he is the best choice for conservatives on the big four issues – the economy, terrorism, trade, and immigration. Those who worry about his views on eminent domain must realize that there will be no private property rights if we are incinerated by Islamic radicals.
We all know politicians are basically puppets for special interests and lobbyists… but Represent. Us actually went there. In this ad below, candidate Gil Fulbright gets written a big fat check by an elite wealthy donor…
Although the causes of economic crises reoccurring throughout US history and often spreading worldwide can’t be proven using empirical means, oppressive government regulations favoring special interests in relevant industries have preceded every crisis. Typically, cronyism involves support of politicians in exchange for regulations denying others the freedom to compete with the moneyed interests (e.g., monopolies). Less competition leads to higher costs and lower quality. It reduces economic growth, jobs, wages, innovation, and productivity. Attempts to control economic growth through government spending and/or manipulating interest rates (e.g., stimulate growth with low rates) generally leads to more severe crises. None of these things are recent phenomena, but can be found again and again throughout American history. Mercantilism After the Revolutionary War, when the agrarian economy was beginning to industrialize, politicians pursued British-style mercantilism, including colonialism, against natives and regulations blocking competition in banking and manufacturing. Financial panics and depressions resulted under a national bank in 1792 and from 1819 – 21 and state-regulated banks from 1837 – 43 and 1857 – 59.
While the New York Times ridiculed Sarah Palin’s speech endorsing Donald Trump yesterday as ‘mystifying,’ a big portion of it was a non-mysterious, coherent attack on big money politics. It’s worth reading that whole portion: [Trump] is beholden to no one but we the people. … Trump, what he’s been able to do, which is really ticking people off, which I’m glad about, he’s going rogue left and right, man. That’s why he’s doing so well. … The permanent political class has been doing the bidding of their campaign donor class and that’s why you see that the borders are kept open. For them, for their cheap labor that they want to come in. That’s why they’ve been bloating budgets. It’s for crony capitalists to be able to suck off of them. It’s why we see these lousy trade deals that gut our industry for special interests elsewhere. We need someone new, who has the power, and is in the position to bust up that establishment….
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 01/21/2016.