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@DavidCayJ

The Failure To Raise The Federal Minimum Wage Is A Moral Outrage

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Very few of the poorest paid workers in America have unions to advocate for them, but many have a proxy for unions: government.

The minimum wage rose in 21 states this month thanks to a combination of ballot measures passed by voters, state laws raising the minimum and automatic inflation adjusters authorized by nine legislatures. These laws set a floor, a minimum standard, of pay.

That’s not as good as it could be. Indeed, it’s a glass-less-than-half-full scenario for the lowest paid American workers in 29 states. For them, the New Year meant continuing to labor for the same old inadequate wages.

Voting out those officeholders who use their power to keep the poor impoverished, especially those who do so while claiming to be Christians, would solve this problem of favoring capital at the expense of labor. It would also save money because people with inadequate incomes use a host of social services that cost taxpayers.

The federal minimum wage increased last in 2009 thanks to legislation signed by President George W. Bush. That law authorized three consecutive annual increases. Since then, Republicans have blocked every effort to raise the minimum wage even as inflation erodes its value.

The $7.25 that took effect in 2009 is worth less than $5.50 in today’s money, the government’s official inflation calculator shows. That calculator tends to understate the effects of rising prices on the poor because they spend so much of their money on food, energy and rent.

Economy Up, Minimum Wage Down

Compare this with1969, when the nominal minimum wage was $1.60. That’s the equivalent of $12.50 today. Our country today is a vastly wealthier country with a Gross Domestic Product per person of $66,144, about three-quarters larger than in 1969. Yet the minimum wage has shrunk dramatically rather than grown in tandem with inflation, the economy or overall worker productivity as lawmakers have bit-by-bit tilted the economic playing field in favor of investors and against workers.

You can check the minimum wage in your state and what effect state law will have on future pay in a report from the Economic Policy Institute, which focuses on the poor and poorly paid workers.


Minimum Wage Workers In 21 States Got A Raise On New Year's Day

States with minimum wage increases effective January 1, 2022 by type of increase

Notes: The New York State increase took effect on December 21, 2021. Source: Economic Policy Institute

Republicans in Congress block every proposal to raise the federal minimum wage. They claim, falsely, that paying higher wages would ruin many small businesses and would mostly benefit teenagers, neither of which is even close to being true.

Studies of counties that share a border at a state line in which one side raised the minimum wage and the other didn’t find strong earnings effects and no employment effects of minimum wage increases.

Bible Belt States

Sixty percent of minimum wage workers are age 25 or older, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. The highest levels of workers being paid the minimum wage or less are found in so-called Bible Belt states, which are also among the poorest states. About 5% of workers in Louisiana and South Carolina earn the minimum wage or less as do about four percent in Mississippi.

Raising the minimum wage, numerous studies have shown, may eliminate one in 200 low-wage jobs. The increased pay to the other 199 workers would be vastly greater than the loss of that one job, increasing overall capacity to buy goods and services. That is, raising the minimum wage is a win for workers, for businesses with products and services to sell. Customers have more to spend; tax more revenue flows in and less is spent on subsidies for the poorest workers among us.

The resistance to raising the minimum wage among politicians who shout that they are Christians is especially appalling given the many teachings in testaments Old and New about paying workers what their labor is worth and the Christian obligation to sacrifice for the poor.

The Baylor University Center for Christian Ethics shows simply and eloquently why actual Christians should support a living wage to protect workers against bad employers:

Since the 13th century, Christians have urged employers to pay a just wage—not the low payment that desperate workers will accept, but the amount they would take for their labor if they were neither coerced nor deceived nor bargaining from a vastly unequal position.

Indeed, “remuneration for labor is to be such that man may be furnished the means to cultivate worthily his own material, social, cultural, and spiritual life and that of his dependents,” wrote Pope Paul VI in Gaudium et Spes [the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World] (1965).

By itself, this appeal is impractical, says [Prof.] Jerold Waltman. “Unless all employers are equally convinced of the rightness of paying a just wage, and all do so in fact, the unscrupulous employer wins a competitive advantage. Therefore, only a law compelling all employers to pay the just wage will level the playing field.”

Moral Duty

Consider this moral duty to pay a living wage in the context of the law on minimum wages for restaurant and bar workers. President Bill Clinton and Congress fixed the minimum wage in 1993 at $2.13. Adjusted for inflation that’s just $1.10 an hour today.

Waitstaff, busboys and the like must apply their tips to fill the gap between $2.13 and $7.25. That means that the first $5.12 in tips they collect each hour is just a subsidy to the restaurant or bar owner who pays only the federal minimum.

To get an idea of just how hard congressional Republicans are making life for the lowest-paid workers consider this: The average cost of a municipal bus to get to work and back was $3.20 – and that was in 2019. That’s an hour and a half of minimum wage restaurant work just for bus fare.

The Informed Critic Locked Up By Trump Files Suit Against Him

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Remember “Lock Her Up,” the wannabe dictator Donald Trump’s rallying cry about Hillary Clinton?

Trump did lock someone up — and in clear violation of the First and Fourth Amendments: Michael Cohen, his longtime lawyer, fixer and the man who paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her barely a minute intimacy with Donald.

Now Cohen is suing Trump, then Attorney General William P. Barr and six other individuals. For all eight of them the facts and circumstances are just awful.

Cohen’s federal lawsuit asserts that Trump “issued specific directives and guidance to his co-defendants that govern the treatment” of Cohen as well as others Trump perceived as enemies.

“At his [Trump’s] direction,” the lawsuit alleges, Cohen “was remanded back to prison and subjected to great indignities when he was unlawfully incarcerated.”

Proving that Trump was personally engaged, while easy to believe, may prove difficult.

Throughout his career as a con artist Trump has avoided email, tossed out calendars at the end of each month and, as president, destroyed official documents in violation of federal law.

The National Archives created a team to recover ripped up papers from the Oval Office wastebasket to piece them back together.

Running Roughshod Over Rights

The suit is a so-called Bivens action, named for a 1971 Supreme Court decision against six unnamed federal agents who violated a suspect’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The high court, voting 5-4, held that since every wrong must have a remedy in law, allowing Bivens and others like him to sue when their Fourth Amendment rights were violated was a remedy implied by the Framers.

Justices Hugo Black and Harry Blackmun, in separate dissents, expressed worries that Bivens actions would flood the federal courts with cases.

Of course, their fears would be realized only if federal agents were routinely running roughshod over Fourth Amendment and other Constitutional rights. Following Justices Black’s and Blackmun’s line of reasoning, had they prevailed, it would have signaled to federal agents that they could indeed run roughshod over constitutional rights.

Cohen has an ironclad First Amendment case for prior restraint of his rights of speech and press even if he can’t prove that Trump personally ordered him thrown into the modern dungeon at Otisville prison, where Jewish prisoners are concentrated.

Forbidden To Speak

Cohen lawyers Andrew Laufer and Jeff Levine describe an extraordinary addition to the boilerplate contract for home release with an ankle monitor. “The very first condition within the agreement specifically forbade Mr. Cohen from speaking to or through all media, including publishing his tell-all book about then President Trump,” Laufer and Levine wrote.

Here’s the exact wording showing irrefutable proof of First Amendment prior restraint:

No engagement of any kind with of the media, including print, tv, film, books, or any other form of media/news. Prohibition from all social media platforms. No posting on social media and a requirement that you communicate with friends and family to exercise discretion in not posting on your behalf or posting any information about you. The purpose is to avoid glamorizing or bringing publicity to your status as a sentenced inmate serving a custodial term in the community.

Lawyers Laufer and Levine call the speak-no-criticism-of Donald language “a prima facie violation of Mr. Cohen’s constitutional rights under the First Amendment as well as in retaliation for his public comments and proposed publication of his tell-all book critical of President Trump.” They are absolutely right about that.

Cohen asked the probation officers who summoned him for some explanation of this extraordinary provision and whether it could be “refined,” his complaint says. Cohen was told to wait while federal probation officer Adam Pakula left to consult with higher-ups. About 90 minutes later Cohen was taken back into custody.

Solitary Confinement

He was held in solitary for 16 days – just for asking a more than reasonable question about an obvious violation of his Constitutional rights. If this case ever gets to trial, you should expect that federal prisons officials will say that solitary confinement was used to protect Cohen from the coronavirus. How convenient for them.

Where are the howls from Fox, Wall Street Journal editorial writers, and those Republicans who rail against tyranny?

Cohen was still in solitary two weeks later when senior U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ordered Cohen’s immediate release from custody. Judge Hellerstein said Cohen’s return to prison was “retaliatory in response” to block Cohen’s “First Amendment rights to publish a book” criticizing Trump.

Federal prison officials and contractor GEO Group, whose top executive was a prominent Trump supporter and seeker of more taxpayer money for private prisons, slow-walked the judge’s order. Cohen spent two more days locked up in solitary the lawsuit asserts. After a Cohen victory at trial or more likely in settlement talks to avoid a trial that implicit contempt for a judicial order will likely prove costly.

But unless a judge, or a settlement agreement, requires the eight defendants to pay out of their own pockets for what they did under the guise of lawful authority we taxpayers will foot the bill for their un-American behavior.

Team Trump’s Lawlessness

Two months after being freed Cohen’s book Disloyal: A Memoir was where he laid out his solid case about Trump’s dishonesty and contempt for the rule of law.

The shut-up condition was totally lawless, but also consistent with Trump’s oft-stated view that no one should be allowed to write about him in ways he dislikes. And then there’s his campaign vow, aimed at journalists who refuse to be sycophants, “to open up libel laws, and we’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.”

While Trump broke that promise, like almost every other one he made to con his way into office, legal attacks on honest journalism in America are growing, as are state laws designed to restrict or even shut down honest reporting, as explained well here.

Trump Fatigue

We have also seen cops, taking their cue from Donald, target reporters for police violence in New York City, Minneapolis and Portland, Ore.

To those with Trump fatigue, me included, it would be easy to just say meh and move on. Who cares that yet another lawsuit has been filed against Donald?

But Trump is still trying to find a way back into power. Worse, people as competent as they are dangerous to liberty are scheming to do what Trump tried and failed to pull off, turning America into a dictatorship.

Cohen’s lawsuit is a reminder of how this isn’t abstract, this isn’t a potential. Cohen’s lawsuit serves as a scary reminder that of a clear and present danger to all of us and to our liberties.

Under Trump's Misrule, The Most Highly Compensated Got Even Richer

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Donald Trump's presidency and the Covid pandemic combined to make 2020 a remarkably enriching year for the highest-paid workers in America. Meanwhile, the numbers for the bottom 99.9 percent are, in a word, awful.

Just one in 900 workers makes $1 million or more, a new Social Security report on wages shows. My annual analysis of this data shows that this thin and rich group made 14 percent more money in 2020 than in 2019.

On average, the pretax pay of the $1 million-and-up workers increased by $305,600. That's after adjusting for inflation.

The other 99.9 percent of American workers got an average raise of just $76 each. But even that overstates how badly most workers did. That's because most of this minuscule pay increase went to the 1/10th of workers making $100,000 to $1 million. The bottom 88 percent, those making less than $100,000, got next to nothing.

The standard measure for worker pay is the median. It illustrates the typical pay situation because at the median, half of workers make more while half make less. Median pay in 2020 rose by a mere $26.

What A Surprise!

Put another way, for each $1 of increased pay going to the typical worker, each worker in the two-comma club collected $11,750.

Suppose $26 is the height of the heel of a shoe worn by a man standing on Fifth Avenue outside Trump Tower. The heel is 1 inch. The height for the highest-paid workers' pay would soar 315 feet above that 58-story high-rise, for a total of 908 feet. That's a lot of heels. Plus one.

Trump has a policy: One for you, thousands for the rich; another for you, thousands more for the rich…

And don't forget, Trump's 2017 tax law gave the most highly paid workers a roughly four percent federal income-tax cut. Also, those workers tend to be the Americans with significant stock portfolios and Trump gave corporations a 40% tax-rate cut. So, they got a two-fer.

Crumbs For The Rest

You didn't get anything like either of those income-tax cuts. You got crumbs in tax savings plus the burden of $2 trillion in federal debt to pay for the Trump/Radical Republican tax cuts.

Indeed, if you live in the states with most of the high-paying jobs – California, Connecticut, New York, Maryland and the like – Trump and congressional Republicans increased federal income taxes for millions of people. That's because Trump and the Radical Republicans took away your deductions for state and local income and property taxes and mortgage interest. The number of Americans who itemize deductions, including charitable gifts, fell by three-fourths after Trump's tax cuts for the rich and the companies they own became law.

More pay going to workers at the top is a long-term trend that began long before Trump. What's significant in the newest data is how much that trend accelerated during the Trump years.

In 2016, just 143 workers made $50 million or more. That number jumped 50% in Trump's first year as president and stayed at that level in 2018 and 2019. But in 2020, Trump's last year as president, the number of workers paid $50 million and up soared to 358, 1.5 times as much as under Barack Obama.

Monthly gross paychecks for those 358 highest-paid workers averaged close to $8 million each. A worker at the median pay would have to labor for more than 225 years to get paid what these workers made in a month.

More For The Top

Even more significant, the share of all pay going to $1 million-and-up workers grew by a fourth during Trump's four years.

Their collective pay rose to 5.2 percent of all worker compensation, up from 4.2 percent of total compensation in 2016 under Obama. That means most workers got a thinner slice of the American wage pie under Trump, the opposite of MAGA pledges to improve most incomes and just as I predicted back in 2015 and 2016.

The median worker in 2020 made just $34,612, or less than $3,000 a month before taxes. During Trump's four years, inflation-adjusted median income rose by five percent.

By far the biggest increase in median pay in this century occurred in 2014 under Obama when Social Security data show an increase of 3.44 percent over 2013.

The average pay for all workers was $53,383.18, or less than $4,500 per month.

More than two-thirds of workers made less than the average. The average is higher than the median because all those very highly paid workers skew the average upward.

One more awful fact: The number of Americans with any work fell in 2020 by more than one percentage point. In 2020, more than 1.7 million fewer people found any paid work than in 2019. That's the first time this has happened in all of Trump's life.

While Trump at his inaugural promised that every act he took would be for the benefit of the "forgotten men and women" of America, it was all just another con.

His actions, again and again, favored the highly paid, the already rich, and, not least of all, the Trump-Kushner family.

David Cay Johnston is the editor-in-chief of DCReport. He is an investigative journalist and author, a specialist in economics and tax issues, and winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting. He is also a former columnist for The National Memo.



Recall Results Show Trumpism On The Run

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

The overwhelming failure in the recall of California Gov. Gavin Newsom should send a powerful message to those Republicans who think their future lies with Donald Trump and Trumpism. It doesn't.

By any measure, the vote to retain Newsom was a landslide. Almost 64 percent of voters cast ballots against recalling Newsom.

That's better than the record margin by which Newsom won in 2018. He won that race with just under 62 percent of the vote. It also equals the share of California votes for Biden against Trump in 2020.

The recall vote is a clear repudiation of the Trumpian tactic of trying to disrupt and delegitimize government when anyone but a Trumper wins the popular vote. Havoc will continue, but it can be defeated – always — if enough sensible Americans cast ballots.

Trumpism isn't dead, not yet. But it's not attracting new adherents, either. That's because all it offers is anger, the lethal rejection of medical science and cultish devotion to a deeply disturbed con artist who just makes stuff up like his very recent delusional claim of being rescued on 9/11 by two firefighters.

Trumpism is not an ideology, just political masturbation.

And no one in America is more captured by self-love than Donald Trump.

General elections, especially when the presidency is on the ballot, draw far more voters than special elections. That's why the Republican Party has long relied on them to put its people in office. The GOP simply does better at turning out the vote than the Democrats, or at least it did until 2020.

In spring, it looked like Newsom could become the third governor in American history to be recalled because rank-and-file Democrats weren't paying attention. Neither were the independents, whose numbers equal those of Republicans in California.

Newsom had loaded himself up with political baggage in the way he handled the worst of the Covid pandemic. His public health emergency order last fall imposed mask and indoor activities limits that infuriated not just the freedumb crowd but some struggling small business owners.

In an act of maddening arrogance and political stupidity, the governor enjoyed dinner in a Napa Valley French restaurant without a mask. He violated other Covid protocols as well. And he got photographed.

"Do as I say and not as I do" has ended the careers of more than a few politicians, yet Newsom is coming out of the recall much stronger than ever.

Newsom got lucky, but that stroke of political luck contains a valuable lesson for defeating Trumpism.

The leading candidate to succeed Newsom if the recall won was Larry Elder, a deranged Trumper radio talk show host. Elder made clear the recall was a referendum on Trumpism, a novice political move that professional Democrats exploited fully.

Under California's century-old populist recall rules, a small minority can force an election. Then if 50 percent plus one voter favor recall, the new governor is whomever gets the most votes the same day. That could, literally, be someone who earns less than ten percent of the vote. Elder polled at about 18 percent but won 45 percent of the vote in a field of almost 50 gubernatorial wannabes. Still, Elder secured far fewer votes than the number of votes favoring recall.

Let us hope the populist California recall, initiative and referendum rules will get modernized to make putting items on the ballot harder.

There is a lesson in what happened between June and September 14.

Elder is a longtime fixture in the Los Angeles radio market, a robust marketplace of music, news, ideas, and nonsense.

A true-red Trumper, Elder spouts crazy, illogical, half-baked, fact-free, absurd, and downright offensive ideas, sometimes contradicting himself just like his hero does.

After Elder complained that Los Angeles Times never reviewed his books, the paper obliged. The devastating result is an object lesson in being careful what you wish for because it may come true. Wrote reviewer David L. Ulin after reading four of Elder's seven books:

Elder is not a writer but a brand. As such, he is always on brand, regardless of the issue: the economy, the unhoused, law enforcement, immigration rights. His columns represent not so much a voice in conversation as a series of diatribes. When it comes to public policy, Elder offers neither subtlety nor nuance, not least because that isn't what his audience wants.

Facts are to Elder just as they are to Trump: They don't matter. Like Trump, Elder creates his own reality.

That goes over well among the American Taliban and their uncouth cousins, the American Yahoos. California is not poor Alabama or Mississippi or home to Covidiocy leaders as in Texas and Florida.

California, where I grew up and lived for 36 years, is rich. It would boast Earth's fifth-biggest economy if it were a nation because of education and science.

Be it growing strawberries year-round, making movies, or splicing genes, California's economy is science-driven. Trumpism rejects science as it preys on the minds of people who didn't pay attention in high school and couldn't explain the function of RNA if their lives depended on it. Among Trumpers, it's OK, indeed more than OK, to be ignorant.

Elder promotes some wildly crazy ideas. He proposed reparations for slave owners because their "property" was taken away by President Abraham Lincoln. He also said he would have voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

By the way, Elder is Black.

On the day before the recall vote ended, Elder posted on his website assertions that the recall vote results were fraud and statistical analysis proved that.

That's a remarkable claim to make before any vote results are known and before the election ends. But it's consistent with the Trumpism practice of just making stuff up. The week before the election, Trump said the election was rigged for Newsom. He reiterated that on election day.

Elder's campaign also made clear that he intended to govern California in pure Trumpian style, by tweet rather than substance. That also alarmed voters in a state whose economy is heavily based on science.

Most Californians had never heard of Elder before the recall. Only when Democratic strategists started to get out the word about what a crazy loon Elder is, Democrats, independents and those Republicans not infected with Trumpism began mailing in their ballots in large numbers.

The lesson: Who votes is all that matters in elections.

Trumpers are a slowly dwindling minority. As a class, they don't understand how the world works, don't embrace logic, think they are smarter than the scientists they denounce, embrace stupidity and incompetence [see Dunning-Krueger Effect] and are easily taken in by slogans rather than substance. Many are as closed-minded as the Taliban.

Those people love Trump because he freed the inner racism of the Republican Party, which has always been there. Witness opposition to civil rights and voting rights. Trump told his followers that it was OK to use racial slurs and that violently attacking those you disagree with meant you were "fine people."

The insurmountable problem for Republicans – unless they steal elections – is that white supremacy continues to slowly fade despite its vicious public displays during the brief Trump era. That's because humans evolved toward cooperation, not Trump's Hobbesian notions of brutal power abused to make life nasty, brutish, and short for the many.

The lesson about building a better America is that to defeat Trumpism its opponents must make sure they get out the story of who Trumper candidates are and what they believe. Letting them hide behind slogans is a terrible strategy.

But most of all, people must vote. All that matters is turning out the vote. Period. Elections are won by those who cast ballots.

That's the whole point of the GOP proposing — and in many states enacting — laws to suppress the votes of people not in line with what's left of traditional Republicanism and politically flaccid Trumpism.

America is home to far more good, decent and caring people than losers drawn to Trump.

Vote. Be an owner of our government, not a renter or, worst of all, a squatter.

What Major Media Got Wrong About That August Jobs Number

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

"Disappointing" is the consensus of newscasters about the August jobs report. They are wrong.

The economy added 235,000 jobs as Covid made a big comeback, especially in the South where governors spurn science and people stay away from bars, restaurants and shopping malls.

Most news reports lacked context about how rare it is to add that many jobs in a month. Most of the reports I read also failed to note that under President Joe Biden jobs are growing at more than triple the rate under Trump before the pandemic began.

Overall, the American economy is growing even faster than the six percent that Trump promised voters. Pre-pandemic, Trump delivered barely half that growth rate.

July was excellent with more than a million jobs added. In June, the economy added 962,000 jobs. That makes the August number seem small, but only by very short-term comparison.

Under Biden, the economy has added an average of 636,000 jobs per month, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics "all employees" report CES0000000001 shows. That's close to 4.5 million jobs added since Biden became president on Jan. 20.

On Donald Trump's watch – before the pandemic – the economy added only 188,000 jobs per month. President Barack Obama did better than that once the collapsing economy he inherited turned around in early 2010; more than 200,000 jobs per month on average were added.

Genuinely Awful

Looking at Trump's entire time in office, his jobs performance was genuinely awful. On Trump's watch, the economy lost an average of 2.8 million jobs per month. That's primarily because in March and April of 2020 the economy lost 22.4 million jobs.

Since Ronald Reagan assumed office four decades ago, only one president has added an average of more than 235,000 jobs a month. That was Bill Clinton. During Clinton's eight years, the economy added an average of 242,000 jobs per month.

Clinton did even better than those figures suggest because there were about 62 million fewer Americans on his watch. Adjust for that smaller population and the Clinton economy added the equivalent of about 297,000 jobs per month with today's population of 333.3 million people.

In August, the economy added 37,000 manufacturing jobs. Under Trump 1,800 more factories closed. Thousands of factory workers lost their jobs, primarily because of his disastrous and ill-informed tariffs.

The most interesting August job developments were in the delivery of goods compared with the traditional retail trade and in services like bars and restaurants.

Jobs in transportation and warehousing, which benefit from the home delivery of products, grew by 53,000 and brought the total to a modestly new high with 22,000 more such jobs than before the pandemic.

Retail employment – think clerks at malls – declined, with 29,000 fewer jobs in August and 285,000 fewer than in February 2020, before the pandemic.

Bars and restaurants shed 42,000 workers, evidently because fear of coronavirus infection is keeping more people at home. That number may worsen in the months ahead as the anti-vaxxers, sheep worm remedy users and mask refusers spread more gratuitous disease and death.

Trump Faltering In 2019

The Trump economy was faltering even before the pandemic, as I reported here citing official government data. Trump's overall economic performance was subpar, as I detailed from official government data in April 2019 when I gave Trump a grade of C for economic performance.

Candidate Trump repeatedly said he would produce 6% annual economic growth. He only got above 4% for one quarter. Even that was only because businesses stepped up purchases ahead of his disastrous tariffs.

After three years in office, economic growth under Trump was worse than every other president after Harry S Truman except for George H.W. Bush.

Under Biden, the economy grew at a 6.5% annual rate from April through June, the second quarter of this year. the Congressional Budget Office estimates that "real GDP will grow by 7.4 percent in calendar year 2021."

Happy Go Magic Land

Many Trump fans refuse to accept that Trump was bad for the economy and jobs even before the pandemic. These Trumpers seek solace in the childish fantasy world of Happy Go Magic Land.

And don't forget, Trump ran in 2016 promising to pay off the entire federal debt in eight years. Instead, during his four years, it grew and grew, in good part due its use to finance tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations.

So read the 235,000 jobs added in context. It's a sharp fall from June and July, but that's mainly due to Covid making a comeback in states headed by Republican governors who deny science and thus kill their own citizens.

Viewed in context, the 235,000 jobs created in August are a clear positive for America.

Trump Makes A Stunning Confession

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

In an astonishing admission, Donald Trump said Thursday that instead of hiring only "the best people," as he promised voters, he hired "garbage."

He also complained Thursday that these former appointees didn't follow his version of omerta after a new book revealed that he wanted to execute an unidentified White House leaker. Omerta is the ancient Sicilian mob tradition of never talking outside their criminal gang, an offense punished by death.

Each day America's beggar-in-chief issues "Save America" statements via email. Most are petty, many deranged, but now and then, truth inadvertently comes through because of his utter lack of self-awareness, his emotional immaturity and his rank incompetence as a leader. I've shown for three decades his failures to his furious denials.

Now the people he chose for his White House team are telling their stories of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the White House years.

Here is what Trump declared at 12:49 on Thursday afternoon:Let's dissect this unintended confession.

First, many of the people Trump says are "all of a sudden" talking to reporters have been talking to them for months and years. Trump doesn't read books nor did he read his Presidential Daily Brief when he was president. Not reading more deeply than the cover of a book often leaves Trump badly, sadly — and when he was president — dangerously misinformed.

If Trump cracks the spines of the bookshelf of tell-alls coming out now, he would know that the authors carefully cultivated these sources and won their trust while he was president.

Second, notice that people who worked with Trump and now speak about him, other than as he wants, are "losers."

The reason Trump made oh so many people sign nondisclosure agreements, even some 2016 campaign volunteers, was that anyone who gets inside could see the truth about Trump: He is and always has been a fraud.

The reality: He's the self-made man who blew daddy's fortune. He's the Don Juan sued repeatedly for groping and allegedly raping women because he lacked the charm to seduce them. And now he's the beggar-in-chief, a faux billionaire reduced to pleading for alms from the people he says he loves, the "poorly educated" whom he hurt so badly while in office.

Third, Trump is back to his "many say" device, as if that lends credence to what he says.

The fact is that many say he is the worst president of all time. Many say he is a Kremlin stooge. If these documents published in The Guardian on Thursday are true, Vladimir Putin owned him. Many say he is a lousy businessman.

I could go on here with enough examples to fill three books—oh, wait, Thursday I finished my third Trump book, The Big Cheat, out September 28.

Fourth, who conflates stars and garbage? There are great metaphors, there are mediocre metaphors, and then there are Trumpian trash metaphors.

But at least this one was honest trash in which Trump admitted, finally, that he didn't hire the best and the brightest, but a bunch of losers.

Weisselberg Dumped As Director Of Trump's Scottish Golf Course

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Allen Weisselberg, the indicted Trump Organization executive, was removed this week as a director of Donald Trump's under par golf resort in Aberdeen, Scotland, public records show.

The move is the first to indicate how the indictment of Trump's longtime chief financial officer is affecting operations of the twice-impeached former president's real estate and resort empire.

Weisselberg's removal comes as Scottish lawmakers and Avaaz, a global public-interest organization, are pushing for an "unexplained wealth" inquiry into how Trump got the money to buy and refurbish both of his money-losing Scottish golf courses.

A 2018 British law lets investigators examine company and personal financial records to determine sources of money and riches that they deem suspicious. It's been called the McMafia law.

Trump's Aberdeen course lost nearly $1.5 million (£1.1 million) in 2019, up slightly from 2018. The property has lost money for seven years in a row.The course also has an interest-free loan from the Trump Organization of $61.1 million (£44.4 million), disclosure documents show. Manipulating interest expenses is a common tax avoidance technique that can justify criminal charges of tax fraud unless executed with extreme care.

There are only two ways Weisselberg could be removed as a director of the Trump International Golf Club Scotland, Ltd.

Weisselberg could have done so on his own. In that case, lawyers may have advised him to do so for reasons not yet clear.

The other way would have been on orders from Donald Trump and executed through his sons Don Jr. and Eric, who remain as the only directors. That, too, may indicate a criminal defense strategic move. Since Weisselberg remains on the Trump Organization payroll it almost certainly does not suggest a split between the interests of Weisselberg and his boss.

Trumps Tighten Grip

The move suggests that Trump may be trying to make sure only he and his family members exercise any legal control over the Trump Organization.

Removing Weisselberg would not block or limit any Scottish inquiry or the investigation by the New York county district attorney's special grand jury, which on July 1 indicted Weisselberg and the Trump Organization.

The New York indictments detailed a calculated 15-year scheme using two sets of books to cheat the federal, state and city governments out of more than $800,000 in taxes.

Larceny, Tax Fraud, Conspiracy

Weisselberg and the Trump Organization face 15 counts of grand larceny, tax fraud and conspiracy. Weisselberg could get 15 years on conviction, but he also could get probation without even home confinement. None of the crimes for which Weisselberg is charged come with a mandatory prison sentence upon conviction.

Weisselberg plead not guilty when brought in handcuffs before a state judge in Manhattan. The judge released the 73-year-old executive on his own recognizance.

The 25-page indictment is the first in what I'm sure will be multiple cases as prosecutors try to persuade insiders that they will be better off turning state's evidence than sticking with Trump.

Those who agree to help prosecutors early on get the best deals, often involving no prison time. Those who hold out may face prison even if they eventually cooperate. The indictment signals that prosecutors have solid evidence against tax cheats in the Trump Organization as well as anyone who took part in manipulating business records.

As I read it, the indictment hints at future charges against Trump's two oldest sons, daughter Ivanka and Weisselberg's son Barry. The latter runs the cash-only ice rink and carousel in Central Park for Trump.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is trying to cancel that lucrative contract and another pact Trump has for a municipal golf course.

'Consultant Fees' For Ivanka

Ivanka was a Trump Organization vice president when she was paid more than $700,000 in consulting fees, which may be a disguised gift subject to tax.

Barry Weisselberg got a free apartment near Central Park, a car and other perks on which his ex-wife Jennifer has said no taxes were paid. Jennifer Weisselberg, following a contentious divorce, is supplying prosecutors with extensive financial documents.

Donald Trump and his lawyers have tried to minimize the criminal charges while not disputing that Weisselberg received $1.7 million in non-cash compensation that was never reported to tax authorities as required by law.

I critiqued Trump's cavalier attitude in this earlier column.

Weisselberg has never been a director of Trump's larger Scottish course, Turnberry, where son, Eric, is the sole director. Weisselberg, however, is listed in British disclosure reports as a person exerting significant control along with Don Jr., while Eric is not listed as having significant control.

Trump's Turnberry golf resort showed a small loss in 2019 after losing $19 million (£13.8 million) in 2018. It has never turned a profit under Trump.

The United Kingdom requires private companies like the Trump Organization to make more disclosures than American law requires. The list includes total revenue (called "turnover") and profits, fees paid to directors, dividends paid to owners and loans outstanding.

In America, only companies with publicly traded stock or bonds must make such disclosures. As Donald Trump's personal property, the Trump Organization and its more than 500 affiliated enterprises are not required to make similar public disclosures.

David Cay Johnston is the Editor-in-Chief of DCReport. He is an investigative journalist and author, a specialist in economics and tax issues, and winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting.

Indictment: Trump Thinks He Can Choose Which Laws To Heed

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

The extraordinary indictment of the Trump Organization last Thursday prompted an extraordinarily awful response from its sole owner and its lawyer.

Trump asserted that he can pick and choose which laws he obeys. His lawyer, Alan Futerfass, says that prosecutors should have settled the Trump Organization tax fraud allegations in secret negotiations, not with criminal charges filed in public.

What's brazen is how Trump and Futerfass reveal support for two systems of justice, separate and unequal, with people like themselves getting special light treatment.

Pay close attention to the last words in this Trump Organization statement: "The district attorney is bringing a criminal prosecution involving employee benefits that neither the IRS nor any other district attorney would ever think of bringing."

The statement is a lie. Tax fraud cases involving unreported compensation get prosecuted.

Still, the Trump Organization statement may serve a useful purpose by awakening the public to how little prosecution there is against what the IRS says is rampant and growing tax evasion at the top of the economic ladder. Such inattention may cost the rest of us more than a trillion dollars a year.

The Trumpian assertion that prosecutors should not bring charges against thieves who steal from our governments reveals the entitled view among too many of the wealthiest and most privileged Americans. Many of the rich think money makes them special, so special that the criminal law shouldn't apply to them.

The 15-count indictments returned by a Manhattan grand jury are only the first in what l likely will be a series of charges. Ultimately, I anticipate that a grand jury will return a state-level racketeering enterprise indictment. That would allow a receiver to take control of the Trump Organization, ending its decades of cheating workers, vendors, governments and investors.

The richly detailed bill of particulars hints at other likely prosecutions.

Prosecutors charged Trump bagman Allen Weisselberg, chief operating office for the organization, only after he repeatedly rejected invitations to flip on Trump and turn state's evidence. Weisselberg, the indictment says, destroyed some evidence and maintained two sets of books to hide transactions from tax collectors.

This indictment is a tool to leverage Weisselberg, to get him to realize the awful fate that awaits him if he clings to Trump.

After 48 years of doing the Trump family's dirty work, Weisselberg has become a wholly owned psychological subsidiary of Trump's criminal mind. Breaking free would be difficult for Weisselberg, who is about to turn 74, but the prospect of dying in prison may clarify his thoughts about his moral and legal duty. Weisselberg could get 15 years, but he also might get probation.

Trump Textbook

Trump has long argued that he himself is above the law.

When Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance was trying to get his accounting, business and tax records, Trump went to the Supreme Court twice. In 2019, Trump lawyer George Consovoy told a federal judge that if Trump actually shot someone on Fifth Avenue, the NYPD could not even investigate the murder.

Years earlier Trump endorsed a textbook for his scam Trump University. This is from Trump University Asset Protection 101: Tax and Legal Strategies of the Rich: "When you own your own business, you determine how much income tax you pay."

That's not true, but it sure tells you how Trump thinks.

Contrast Trump's cavalier attitude about breaking the law with how American law enforcement and the courts treat those born into poverty who commit petty nonviolent crimes.

Willie Simmons is serving life in an Alabama prison for stealing $9 in 1982. Alvin Kennard got the same life sentence for stealing $36 in 1984, though a judge freed him last year.

50 Years For A Pizza Thief

Jerry Dewayne Williams—broke, hungry and turned away when he begged for food—grabbed a slice of pizza from four children in Redondo Beach, California. Williams got 25 years to life, though a judge let him go after five years.

And then there's Leandro Andrade, another penniless man, who stole four videos in one store and five in another. The U.S. Supreme Court held that his consecutive 25-year sentences were "not unreasonable."

Yet the Trump Organization asserts that enabling its chief finance officer to steal $880,000 from the federal, state and New York City governments shouldn't be prosecuted.

Nine bucks, nine videos, one slice of pizza for a hungry man result in life sentences or damn close, but prosecutors should look the other way or allow tax fraudsters to negotiate in secret, pay some money and go on their way? That's Trumpian chutzpah.

Victor Hugo's 19th century novel Les Misérables about Jean Valjean, who stole bread for his starving sister and spent the next 19 years in prison, is not exactly fiction in modern-day America.

One law for peasants and another for the privileged is not in our Declaration of Independence or our Constitution. Still, it dwells in the hearts of a majority of our Supreme Court justices, as well as Donald Trump and his well-heeled white-collar criminal defense lawyers.

Expect More Indictments

You can be sure that the finely detailed case filed Thursday is far from a comprehensive indictment of Trump Organization tax cheating.

Barbara Res, who for many years oversaw Trump construction projects, told Ari Melber on MSNBC just hours after the arraignments about dubious $1,000 a week expense accounts.

"The first time I started working for Trump, one of the first things I encountered was, I was checking expenses of one of our top employees, and they were ridiculous," Res said.

Res said she spoke to Trump about the inexplicable expense money only to discover he was behind it. "Trump told me to just come up with just so much, I forget the amount, a thousand dollars a week or whatever it was in expenses, maybe not that much back then, and they'll be paid. And they'll be off the books."

What Res described is tax fraud, plain and simple. And if we applied to Trump the same standards applied to Simmons, Kennard, Williams and Andrade, then Trump would have started wearing an orange jumpsuit decades ago. But we don't have equal justice for all.

Notice that Trump's statement through the Trump Organization and lawyer Futterfas' statements aren't denials of tax fraud, just assertions that to prosecute for these crimes isn't fair.

How You — And Congress — Subsidize The Richest Americans

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

ProPublica scored a fantastic scoop when it obtained and meticulously analyzed 15 years of raw income tax data on the wealthiest Americans. This leak of Internal Revenue Service records is by far the biggest and most important tax news in the 55 years that I've reported on taxes.

Thanks to the leaker, we now know beyond any doubt that the endless claims that America has a progressive income tax system are bunk. A progressive system means that the more you make, the greater the share of your income you pay in taxes. Back in 2005, I got the George W. Bush administration to acknowledge that the system stops becoming progressive near the top.

But, unfortunately, ProPublica shows that it's even worse than what I reported back then.

Working people pay a larger share of their income in tax than the wealthiest of the wealthy. The top marginal tax rate on labor income is almost double that of capital gains.

Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America, paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011. He doesn't dispute that.

Bezos was not alone. Multi-billionaires Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, Carl Icahn, and George Soros all pulled off the same trick at least once in recent years, ProPublica reported after analyzing the IRS data. Warren Buffet pays less in tax than millions of Americans, something he and Soros have said is wrong.

Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and owner of the financial data and news business bearing his name, paid over five years an income tax rate lower than that of the poorest half of American taxpayers.

Bloomberg Pays Just Three Percent

On his income tax returns, Bloomberg reported making $10 billion. Yet, he paid just three percent .

The bottom half of income taxpayers averaged $17,200 of income in 2017 and paid four percent.

A system in which people who gross about $330 a week pay a much higher tax rate than someone who makes billions each year is not just regressive; it's an outrage. It violates principles of taxation that date to the Old Testament and ancient Athens.

I couldn't help but notice that my wife, a charity CEO, and I pay a higher income tax rate than Bezos, Bloomberg, and Buffett.

By the grace of Congress, those billionaires get to take unlimited losses when they make losing stock investments while Jennifer and I—and you—can deduct only $3,000 a year. So even if my wife and I live into our 90s, we will die with losses we never got to deduct.

That's just the kind of unfairness Professor Dorothy A. Brown compellingly demonstrates in her insightful and readable new book The Whiteness of Wealth.

Until now, the Wealth Defense Industry—armies of accountants, lawyers and wealth managers who specialize in using trusts, tax loopholes, off-shore corporations and foundations to benefit their 0.05 percent clients—tricked people. They pointed to posted tax rates, not actual rates paid by the super-super-super rich, and asserted with cherry-picked data that the rich pay a lot.

Salaried Workers Pay More

The granular data ProPublica obtained proves that the tax rates Congress puts in the law and the tax rates people pay only match up for working Americans in the bottom 99.5 percent.

Congress taxes workers much more heavily than billionaire capitalists who, ProPublica showed, can live income tax-free.

All of the people ProPublica wrote about are white men. Professor Brown of Emory University shows how our existing tax system favors wealth above income and discriminates against Black Americans. The design of our tax system plays a significant role in the vast wealth disparities between white Americans and people of color.

ProPublica's reporting backs her up. It showed that for most Americans, annual income taxes far exceed yearly increases in wealth.

Good Debt

At the apex of American wealth, you can live tax-free, as I showed many years ago. That is thanks to rules favoring the rich, loopholes Congress refuses to close, and minimal enforcement of our tax laws against the plutocrat class.

One simple technique is borrowing against your assets. Congress doesn't count that borrowed money as income.

For example: Let's say you're a 60-year-old founder-CEO holding $10 billion of stock in your company, which grows in value at a modest rate of five percent, or $500 million, a year. You determine that you can live comfortably on $50 million a year.

You then borrow that money, putting that much of your holdings up as collateral.

Do you see where this is going? You can borrow and live on $50 million a year every year for the rest of your life without paying a cent of federal income tax.

It gets better. The IRS determines interest rates on intra-family loans. The current rates are next to zero, less than even our modest inflation rate. Given that, why would anyone sell stock and pay a 20 percent tax rate to buy a yacht or a new jet when they can borrow against themselves almost interest-free and watch their stocks keep rising in value?

Hunting For The Leaker

The Biden White House announced late Tuesday that law enforcement is hunting for the leaker, who faces up to a decade in prison.

Whoever dared to do this should be hailed as a national hero on a par with Darnella Frazier, the fearless teenage girl with a steady hand who last summer recorded the slow, agonizing murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

We should be building statues to honor this leaker, if he or she is ever identified, just as we should erect one to honor Remy Welling, the IRS corporate auditor whose leak to me 17 years ago proved corruption in the Silicon Valley stock options system.

Thanks to ProPublica and its source, maybe Americans will at long last wake up and realize that our federal income tax, as currently designed, is a massive subsidy system for the super-rich.

And the source of those subsidies for Bezos, Bloomberg, Buffett, Musk, and other multibillionaires? That would be you.

It’s Time For Corporate America To Step Up And Defend Democracy

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

As the Senate minority tries to kill H.R. 1, which would add many more Americans to the voting rolls, there is a simple and effective mechanism to build support for the bill to expand the franchise.

Corporate America needs to step up or face a serious reputational risk for not supporting the For The People Act.

That bill would ensure voting by mail, which, despite fact-free Trumpian claims of fraud, works as well or better than in-person voting, It would make sure people are not limited to Tuesdays to cast ballots, a practice enacted early in America's history when men with property voted, but few working men cast ballots.

Passage in the Senate requires a 60-vote majority. How absurd. A minority of senators hold the power to prevent majority rule. Repealing or revising the filibuster rule would allow a majority vote to pass H.R. 1, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote if Republican resolve endures against popular voting.

But imagine if Corporate America comes out for H.R. 1 as strongly as it did recent efforts to oppress Latinx and LGBTQ Americans, which it would if pressure is brought to bear hard and credibly.

The most powerful economic force in America is corporations. Fewer than 3,300 companies control more than 80% of all business assets. This tiny slice of America's nearly six million companies rings up more than half the total corporate sales each year. And if there is one thing many of these corporation's CEOs have said again and again is that discrimination is bad for business.

Limiting the franchise is rank discrimination at its most base level, a threat to the strength of our democracy. Blocking voting is exactly what is sought by the Russian president and meddler, Vladimir Putin, who says democracy is a joke and less bluntly that dictators should rule. Putin, the man Trump said he admires and trusts, knows that over time a narrower voter base will divide and weaken the United States. Deny people their right to vote or impose barriers to casting ballots and America represents the privileged, not the people.

What could be more un-American than to keep people from voting? We literally fought a war over this since enslaved people, who by law were not human, could not vote. America spent more than seven decades seeking suffrage until women, at least nominally, got the right to vote a century ago in the 19th Amendment.

I can't imagine that a single one of those 3,266 big companies would publicly take a stand against enabling citizens to vote. That doesn't mean they don't practice racial, gender, and religious bigotry with their workers and customers, good intentions or not. All of the many formal complaints and lawsuits tell you that many of them do discriminate.

What you don't see is major companies proclaiming, as many did before the Civil Rights, Feminist and Gender equality movements, "bigots are us."

A Stain On America

Bigotry, especially racial and gendered bigotry, has been a stain on our country from before its founding. It's a stain that millions of people want to protect from the political solvent of government by the people because of their own prejudice and the benefits they perceive flow to them from limiting who votes.

Putting big companies on the spot can help change that. In the past, we've seen how as the dominant force in American life, the biggest corporations, can influence the law to reduce discrimination. These moves have not always been successful. But on the whole, they have been tremendously positive in moving America toward a society of equal justice for all.

In 2015 nearly 400 companies joined in asking our Supreme Court to strike down state laws barring same-sex marriage. The firms ranged from Aetna, Amazon, and Apple to Northrup Grumman to Zoom and Zynga. By a 5-4 vote, our Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges held that denying same-sex marriage violated a fundamental Constitutional right and violated the 14th Amendment due process and equal protection clauses.

That post-Civil War reform amendment has been under attack by Donald Trump, GOP leader Mitch McConnell, and a few senators because it grants citizenship to anyone born in American territory. Some people such as anti-taxers want to repeal the entire amendment, an argument I've heard at national gatherings. Some conventioneers believe our federal government is a criminal organization.

Proposals to repeal the 15th Amendment, which guarantees the right to vote regardless of race, have been under way among conservatives for more than a century. The libertarian Cato Institute has published in favor of enabling states to discriminate by effectively ignoring parts of our Constitution.

Corporate Interventions

Corporate America intervenes when it is smart for business. And that means when the public makes clear they will move their dollars to a competitor. Here are some examples of Corporate America doing the right thing to oppose bigotry laws.

Consider the silly bathroom bills that discriminated against people whose sexual orientation isn't binary. Republicans in North Carolina said their discriminatory legislation wouldn't cost the state a dime. In fact, the state suffered $3.8 billion in lost business over a dozen years, according to a richly detailed Associated Press investigation.

Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, North Carolina's biggest company, was front and center in saying discrimination is bad for business. He told a March 2017 World Affairs Council meeting in Charlotte, just after a loudmouth bigot became president:

"Companies are moving to other places because they don't face an issue that they face here. What's going on that you don't know about? What convention decided to take you off the list? What location for a distribution facility took you off the list? What corporate headquarters consideration for a foreign company — there's a lot of them out there — just took you off the list because they just didn't want to be bothered with the controversy?"

A year earlier, Disney took a public stand against bigotry in Georgia. "Although we have had great experiences filming in Georgia, we will plan to take our business elsewhere should any legislation allowing discriminatory practices be signed into state law." The company said the legislation would permit religious groups and organizations to discriminate based on sexuality.

The legislature passed that law, but Republican Nathan Deal, at the time Georgia's governor, vetoed it. "Our people work side by side without regard to the color of our skin, or the religion we adhere to. We are working to make life better for our families and our communities. That is the character of Georgia. I intend to do my part to keep it that way," the governor said.

Arizona Discriminates

In 2010, after Arizona passed what amounted to a "show me your papers" law designed to discriminate against Latinx people, numerous companies, trade associations, and individual businesses canceled conventions, sales meetings, and other events in the Copper State, which as a territory was part of the Confederacy.

The companies were not alone. Cities from St. Paul to San Francisco adopted policies that banned most official travel to Arizona.

In 2012 our Supreme Court struck down most of Arizona's anti-Latinix law. It upheld only the section requiring police officers who lawfully stop someone for an unrelated reason to determine immigration status.

That surviving provision created a zone of bigotry so wide that one of my middle-aged children was caught in it. She looks as Latinx as I do, which is to say not at all. An Arizona patrol officer stopped and questioned her for 20 minutes. His grounds? Oregon license plates were on her car.

Repeatedly he asked where in Mexico she grew up, ignoring her New York driver's license, proper registration, and insurance documents and her careful civil statements that she was born in Northern California and had never been to Mexico. Such harassment under the pretense of law in Arizona remains commonplace.

Corporate pressure doesn't always work.

Indiana still has a bigotry law signed by Mike Pence more than a decade ago.

In 2016 more than 80 CEOs sent a letter to North Carolina's governor telling him they would invest and spend their money elsewhere if a bill barring any future protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people became law. Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill anyway.

Politicians depend on donations from PACs, which in good measure are funded with corporate money. Money talks, especially in the Senate.

The smart move for those who want universal voting would be to put the heat on Corporate America and its trade associations. Organize friends in phone call chains and dial up the "stand up for America" U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers or these Digital Age trade associations.

The Senate Must Convict Trump

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

Anyone who believes that it doesn't matter whether the Senate convicts Donald Trump because the former president has no political future hasn't examined the razor-thin margins that produced Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

Biden beat Trump by eight million votes, but when you look closely at the state-by-state results the race was much closer.

Had Trump won just 43,921 more votes in three states–Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin—the Electoral College would have been tied at 269 each for Trump and Biden. That would have thrown the election to Congress where Trump almost certainly would have been awarded a second term under Constitutional rules.

Switching 33,597 votes in a fourth state would have given Trump a victory in Nevada with its six Electoral College votes. And that would have given Trump 275 votes, five more than needed to win the Electoral College.

Think about that—just 76,518 votes were the difference between Biden or Trump in the White House.

Are you willing to bet our democracy on a margin that thin?

Proved Beyond Doubt

Now think about that in terms of what the House managers prosecuting the second impeachment of Trump showed in their masterful presentation in the Senate. They proved beyond any doubt, even unreasonable doubt, that Trump knew his followers planned to assassinate Trump's own vice president, Mike Pence, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the next two people in the line of succession to the presidency.

During the siege, Trump did nothing to stop the attack. He did, however, egg on the murderous mob hunting for Pence, Pelosi and others. Indeed, after it was over, he never inquired about the safety of his runningmate, and he has never shown remorse for the attack.

Five people died on Jan. 6. Since then, two Capitol Police officers who engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Trump's mob have taken their own lives.

If The Mob Had Succeeded

Had the mob that Trump spent months courting and encouraging succeeded think of where America might well be today.

Trump would've been in a position to take a whole series of actions to seize power including the suspension of habeas corpus, which is the right to be brought before a judge instead of being tossed in a dungeon and the keys thrown away.

Trump could have declared martial law, forcing senior military commanders into an agonizing decision about whether to follow his orders.

It's important to remember here a crucial but not widely known fact about one of the bulwarks of our civilian control of the military. Enlisted men and women take an oath to follow the orders of the president and to defend our Constitution, but military officers take an oath only to uphold our Constitution.

Nonetheless, had the vice president and the speaker been assassinated it may have augured in favor of the Pentagon chiefs agreeing to temporarily do as Trump ordered.

Slaughter in the Capitol

Imagine if there had been wholesale slaughter of lawmakers, Capitol Police, staff, and journalists. Trump could have seized power, claiming it was for the good of the republic—and the Congressional approval of Biden's Electoral College victory that the mob temporarily blocked might never have occurred.

In that event to complete his goal of becoming our dictator Trump would only have needed to find a way to make temporary emergency support from our military permanent.

It matters greatly for the future of our nation and its standing in the world that Trump be convicted. That requires two-thirds of senators present in the chamber when the vote is taken.

Senators Walking Out

About 15 Republican senators walked out of the proceedings, pool reporters allowed into the chamber reported Thursday.

If those 15 and just one more stay away when a vote is taken, it would require only 56 senators to convict Trump. That's 48 Democrats, two independents who caucus with the Democrats and only six Republicans.

Public comments by some senators suggest six of them can be persuaded that Trump must be convicted and then, by a simple majority, barred from public office for life.

We can only hope that 16 Trumpist senators decide, since they don't think the entire proceeding is legitimate, to boycott it when it's time to vote on conviction or acquittal.

Trump Signals That His Coup Plotting Isn’t Really Over

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

The violent mob Donald Trump sent to attack and loot our Capitol receded during the night, but his efforts to overthrow our government continue. Trump signaled in a Tweet that even after he leaves office his criminally seditious behavior will persist.

This is "only the beginning of the fight to make America Great Again!" Trump declared at 3:49 a.m. Thursday. (An aide tweeted his message after Twitter locked Trump's own account for spreading dangerous lies.)

While Trump's middle of the night statement also promised a peaceful transition of power when Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20, it came without a critical word about the chaos and violence Wednesday by fanatical Trumpists in California, Kansas, Georgia, Oregon, Washington, and Utah.


Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, among others, defended or excused Trump's solicitation of mob violence. Eight senators and a majority of House Republicans voted to reject the certified election results from two states. Hawley should be ousted by the rest of the Senate, not the least because Hawley gave a raised fist in solidarity with the mob as he entered the Capitol Wednesday.

Support for Rioters

Trump's baseless claims that he won by a landslide in November—for which he produced no evidence in 60 failed lawsuits—are believed by a large share of Republicans. A poll during the siege found that 45% of Republicans support the mob attack while more than two-thirds of the GOP believe the violence and looting pose no threat to our democracy.

If other polls support this finding it is a powerful measure of how much enduring damage Trump has inflicted on our democracy by promoting disrespect for the rule of law. That Republicans, of all people, would support lawlessness and violence after decades of "law and order" sloganeering shows their fervor for authoritarian rule.

Propaganda favoring Trump plays a major role in the willingness of many Republicans to excuse Trump's criminal behavior and contemptuous violation of his oath of office.

Primetime hosts on Rupert Murdoch's Fox News repeatedly told the lie Wednesday evening that Capitol invaders were not Trumpist thugs, but Antifa posing as Trump supporters or at least some of them were Antifa. Fox News even posted a story excusing Trump's attempted coup. Fox politics writer Brooke Singman wrote:

"Trump said 'these are the things and events that happen,' referring to violent protests that sent the U.S. Capitol Building into lockdown when a 'landslide victory' is 'vicously [sic] stripped away from great patriots,' while urging America to 'remember this day forever'. "

Trump's Felonies

Trump's remarks at the rally, where he told the mob to go to the Capitol while he headed in the other direction to the security of the White House, make him liable for prosecution for at least three federal crimes: inciting insurrection, sedition and advocating the violent overthrow of the government. He could be liable for criminal conspiracy charges and local District of Columbia criminal charges.

Adding to the liability for criminal charges over the attack were the words used to rile up the crowd by his son Don Jr. and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who called for "trial by combat."

While some Capitol Police engaged in combat with the attackers, and one lone uniformed agent was forced to retreat up stairways as a menacing crowd closed in on him, some Capitol Police held doors open for the invaders and others smiled at them, video showed.

Had the invaders been Black instead of white it is likely the attack would have been met with batons, handcuffs and even indiscriminate gunfire by Capitol Police. As CNN reporter Omar Jimenez tweeted: "I saw more arrests during protests in Minneapolis this summer than I have watching people storm the US Capitol."

Racists In The Capitol Police?

That conduct raises questions about whether racist and fascist groups have infiltrated the Capitol Police, just as they have many local and state police agencies.

Extensive video, including Congressional security cameras, can be used to identify the perpetrators of the first sacking of our Capitol since the British attacked in 1814. Every one of these insurrectionists must be identified, arrested, indicted, tried and if convicted given long prison sentences.

The most important question that should be asked of Merrick Garland, the federal appeals court judge Biden is nominating to be attorney general, is whether he will commit to ensuring the prosecution of every one of these criminals.

Other than making deals to leverage some perpetrators into admitting guilt to the most serious crimes in return for very slight reductions in sentences, these enemies of America should be shown no mercy by our Justice Department. They also should all be tried in Washington, D.C., where they committed their many felonies.

Beyond D.C.

A variety of actions by Trumpists from Atlanta to the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday showed how deeply their desire to overthrow our government permeates American society. Posing as patriots, these people spout conspiracy theories, make remarks showing they lack even a junior high school civics understanding of our Constitution, and many call for violence against minorities, notably Muslims and Black Americans.

Some of what these American brown shirts did Wednesday:

  • Armed Trumpists marshaled outside the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City.
  • In Sacramento police arrested 12 Trumpists for illegal possession of pepper spray during protests at the California State Capitol.
  • In Salem, Ore., Trump's Proud Boy thugs fought outside the state Capitol, prompting police to declare an unlawful assembly. A woman burned in effigy Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat.
  • In Olympia, Wash., Trumpist thugs broke down the fence at the governor's official mansion while Gov. Jay Inslee and his family were inside.
  • In Atlanta, armed Trump thugs gathered outside the Capitol, prompting state police to hustle Brad Raffensperger, the top state elections official, out of the building, partly out of concern about the presence of a former KKK leader who now directs one of Trump's faux patriot support groups. Officials in Fulton County, which surrounds much of Atlanta, suspended vote counting because of safety concerns.
  • Trump's thugs also harassed random people. In Los Angeles, a Black woman walking down the street was surrounded by a score of Trump's thugs who menacingly demanded she declare who she voted for in the November elections.
  • In Topeka, Kansas some demonstrators, echoing Trump's baseless claims he really won the November election by a landslide, entered the state Capitol, but were peaceful.
  • On an American Airlines flight from Texas to Washington, "flight attendants are struggling to control a plane full of Trump supporters as they display a pro-Trump projection and harass others passengers bound for D.C.," freelance journalist Maranie R. Staab reported, posting a video to authenticate her story.

That a poll found many Trumpers support the insurrection Wednesday is not surprising if they rely only on supposed new organizations that act as propaganda arms of Team Trump.

Fox News hosts on Wednesday evening described the violent mob not as Trump supporters, but leftists posing as Trumpists, a conspiracy theory with even less factual basis than Trump's delusional claims of election fraud.

What Trump made clear early Thursday morning is that after his term ends on Jan. 20, he will continue his efforts to overthrow the government he swore on oath to defend.

The question of the day is what Democrats, now that they control the House, Senate and White House, will do to protect our democracy? Will they decide to let bygones be bygones and move ahead, or will they do their duty and bring Trump and those who committed crimes on his behalf to justice?

Trump’s Abuse Of Pardon Power Reveals That He’s Just A Crime Boss

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

The 41 pardons Donald Trump granted last week drew a lot of attention, but few seemed to notice the message Trump sent by not pardoning some.

Trump's choices made clear he is a crime boss.

Four Blackwater mercenaries who, working for Trump ally Erik Prince murdered Iraqi civilians, were pardoned. But there was no pardon for Jeremy Ridgeway, the soldier-for-hire who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, testified against the others and was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison.

Roger Stone, dirty trickster confidant; former General Michael Flynn, national security adviser who was on the Kremlin payroll; and 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort were pardoned. But Trump didn't pardon Manafort deputy Rick Gates, who turned state's evidence and confessed.

Earlier, Trump pardoned Rod Blagojevich, the former Illinois governor convicted of trying to sell a Senate seat. But there was no pardon for lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump's longtime fixer who confessed to committing felonies at the direction of unindicted co-conspirator "Individual 1," identified in federal court as Trump.

In true mobster fashion, Trump once referred to Cohen as a "rat" for confessing. He praised Manafort for not "flipping" to testify against him.

A future president could use the pardon power to protect elaborate criminal schemes, to subvert the Bill of Rights, to frame political opponents and even to direct political murders.

The names of those pardoned, and sometimes the names of those not pardoned, have appeared in news reports and opinion columns, but there was no connecting the dots to show the pattern and its meaning. The pattern reveals a crystal clear message to lawyers for those considering ratting out Trump or already working with authorities to rein in the Trump crime family:

The boss takes care of friends and allies if they lie for the boss or keep silent, but does nothing for those who cooperate with law enforcement.

Given Trump's many attacks on the FBI and other law enforcement, this should surprise no one, especially journalists. Yet my fellow journalists didn't point this out.

Missing The Story

How is it that none of our major news organizations figured this out? Hint: They rely too much on the official version of events, official announcements, and access instead of thinking and exercising reportorial authority.They are afraid they will be seen as biased or tendentious.

If Trump declared the sun rises in the West, many news organizations would avoid reporting that as false, crazy, or nonsense. Some would focus on how the sun only appears to rise, never mind that it appears to rise in the East.

The pardons issued so far raise grave questions about the future of our democracy. The actions have received less comment than outrage over the brazen abuse of the pardon power, especially as part of a scheme to obstruct justice.

Think about what will happen if someone as lawless as Trump ever again becomes president. Imagine a president with much more skill, smarts, and vigor, and one with better lawyers. A future president could use the pardon power to protect elaborate criminal schemes, to subvert the Bill of Rights, to frame political opponents, and even direct political murders so long as they were committed in federal jurisdictions. The presidential pardon, remember, applies only to federal crimes.

Trump behaved last week exactly as any crime boss would act if he could exercise the powers of the American presidency:

Show mercy to criminals, especially criminals who have aided your crimes or whose supporters may be useful to you in the future, but do nothing for those who did the right thing once they were caught and helped bring others to justice.

Trump Helped Cocaine Trafficker Buddy

This is exactly what Trump, as a private citizen, did in a series of extraordinary favors for a major international cocaine and marijuana trafficker with whom he had extensive, close business ties.

In that case, Trump sought mercy for three-time felon Joseph Weichselbaum. The trafficker managed and piloted Trump's helicopter in the 1980s, supplied Trump with a fleet of helicopters to ferry high rollers to Atlantic City, and rented a luxury Manhattan apartment from Trump under a lease that obscured rent costs.

In a 1986 letter to the sentencing judge, Trump called Weichselbaum "a credit to the community." Trump wrote Weichselbaum should serve no prison time for a long-running scheme in which 20-year sentences went to the mules—people who drove cars and vans loaded with drugs from Miami to Cincinnati.

Carefully read, Trump's letter was really directed not at the judge, but at Weichselbaum.

Trump's clear message to his buddy: Don't rat me out and I'll take care of you.

Cocaine trafficker Weichselbaum spent just 18 months in a Manhattan prison. He paid only a token sum on his $30,000 federal fine because he said he was broke. Yet, he moved from prison to a $2.4 million double apartment at Trump Tower. The Trump Organization also gave him a new job—as Trump's helicopter consultant.

Now is the time to demand that Congress act to protect us from a future lawless president so the pardon power cannot be a balm to criminal pals and an ax to eviscerate our liberties and our control of our government.

Trump Insists That You Taxpayers Pick Up His Lunch Tab

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

Buried near the end of the 5,593-page law granting new coronavirus relief is a special interest tax favor of the kind that Republican saint Ronald Reagan cut in half when he waged war on the "three-martini lunch."

This new special interest tax break is worth a lot more to business owners than the long-delayed and miserly $600 or smaller checks for most people. The Trump administration and Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, once again favor business over people.

The law doubles the tax deduction for most business meals from 50 percent to 100 percent.

'It just doesn't seem right for a wage earner carrying his tuna fish sandwich to work to subsidize exorbitant business lunches at luxury restaurants.' —President Ronald Reagan

Ever since Reagan's 1986 Tax Reform Act, as a general rule, Section 274 of our tax code allowed only a 50 percent deduction for meals while traveling on business, meeting with customers, partners or associates or attending a business seminar. Employees got fully reimbursed, but employers could only deduct half, which prompted personnel policies restricting how much all but the most highly paid workers could claim for meals while on company business.

This new favor benefits most businesses, but few as much as Donald Trump, who will enjoy a double benefit. The change was introduced at the last minute at the insistence of the Trump White House. There has been no public hearing or even public debate about its merits.

Three Benefits

The 12 lines of revised tax law on Page 4,956 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 provide these tax benefits:

  1. Businesses with a lot of employers on the road or many meetings can deduct the full cost of such meals, the equivalent of a slight tax rate cut.
  2. Sole owners, like Trump, who bear the full burden of spending by their enterprises, will feel concentrated benefits. Had the provision been in effect during the last decade it would have saved me thousands of dollars in income taxes because of extensive global travel for investigations and lectures.
  3. Restaurant owners benefit because businesses will be more liberal in expense allowances.

That third point matters because as many as 85 percent of small, individually owned restaurants may go broke due to COVID-19 shutterings, restaurant industry advocates say. But these mom-and-pop operations will benefit far less overall than the kind of expensive dining establishments favored by corporate executives, sales executives and other highly paid workers.

Trump as owner of golf, hotel and restaurant businesses will benefit every time he or his employees wine and dine a customer, vendor or potential customer because he will get to deduct the entire cost of meals instead of just half.

Then he benefits again when others spend money dining at his golf resorts, hotel and restaurants because full deductibility should result in more spending on meals.

But wait, there's more.

This complete deductibility of business meals will continue from New Year's Day until the end of 2022. The pandemic is likely to be history sometime early in 2022, making clear that this tax break is not targeted at the beleaguered restaurant industry but at a return to the era of the three-martini lunch. Expect lobbying to extend the tax break.

Reagan's Tax Policy Killed

Republicans voted to level the playing field when it comes to restaurant meals in 1986. That's when Reagan championed a tax code that actually raised levies on business and reduced deductions for extravagances. Trump, who often claims Reagan's mantle, consistently promotes tax policies that would infuriate The Gipper.

Reagan said this during a June 7, 1985 meeting with economics writers at the White House:

"Why not find smarter ways to put our money to work than investing so heavily in executive lunches? It just doesn't seem right for a wage earner carrying his tuna fish sandwich to work to subsidize exorbitant business lunches at luxury restaurants.

"We'd still allow for legitimate expenses, but to those who complain they can't live quite so high off the corporate account, we can only ask: Why not brown-bag it once in a while?"

Business lobbyists, from the get-go, have been gutting the many level-the-playing field provisions Reagan championed, loading up on favors for themselves and shifting the burden onto working Americans. That includes the massive borrowing required under Trump's 2017 tax law to shower tax savings on the richest among us.

Also, under the 2017 tax law that Trump signed, his only significant legislative achievement, 20 percent of taxpayers lost the ability to deduct mortgage interest, state income tax, local property taxes and other tax breaks. The changes mostly affected married couples with three or more children, especially among the upper-middle class.

This year only about one in ten taxpayers, and perhaps as few as one in 20, will itemize deductions. But those who own their own businesses – from people operating on the scale of Trump to freelance graphic artists – will get benefits. Under Trump the tax code has become more favorable to the self-employed and business owners and less so for employees.

Until He’s Out Of Office, Trump Will Be Very Dangerous

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

America is entering a very dangerous time. For his next 11 weeks in office, Donald Trump will be in a position to exact revenge, a word that by his own account is his entire life philosophy. We should all hope that he goes into one of his down emotional periods for an extended time so that lethargy, not blind rage, dominates his behavior until Jan. 20.

Through phony charges of ballot-box stuffing, firing officials, issuing pardons to friends and family and other acts Trump can do great damage between now and Inauguration Day, when his shield against criminal prosecution vanishes. He can also hobble the transition to a Biden administration.

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Trump Claims Dictatorial Power Over Top Government Appointees

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

In a major power grab, Donald Trump signed an executive order on Oct. 21 that asserts he has vast new authority to punish federal employees with demotions or firing without cause. It's a Trumpian assertion of a right to cronyism and personal fealty to him.

This executive order purports to grant Trump dictatorial-like power over thousands of career federal managers and executives. They are now at risk of losing their jobs and careers unless they blindly follow Trump's agenda with abject loyalty to his whims.

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