With a ‘false right populism’ of Trump replacing the previous ‘false left populism’ of Obama, Jack Rasmus raises the question ‘What Can Be Done’? Arguing against ‘inside-outside’ strategies to reform the two dominant political parties, against spontaneous rebellions from below that dissipate with little gained, and the dead-end of fragmenting identity politics—all of which go nowhere in terms of change—Jack interviews long time union and community activist, Steve Early, whose just published book, “Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of an American City”, documents the past 12 year history of Richmond, California where a progressive alliance of ethnic, environmental, union and socialist activists took over city government and achieved meaningful gains in rent control, policy accountability, labor standards, housing, environmental safety and other progressive goals. How the activists formed a new, democratic and accountable grass roots organization and membership based ‘party’, the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), and beat back the oil giant Chevron Corp. Author Steve Early explains ‘how it was done’ in the new book and how the RPA continues the struggle, not just focusing on elections but on continuous social, economic and class issue oriented politics. How to build a progressive organization, with dues membership and matching funds to defeat big corporations, as a ‘template’ for organizing progressively from the ‘ground up’, without relying on corporate money or becoming integrated with corporate political parties. Everyone interested in real change should definitely read Early’s book for its lessons and recommendations.
As the euphoria of the false promise of Trump policies stimulating US economic growth continue to fade, host Dr. Jack Rasmus reviews several economic reports indicating not much has changed for the US and global economies since Trump’s election. Jack reviews the IMF’s report on productivity that continues to slow (US productivity now less than 0.5% annual growth compared to 2% average before 2008). The World Bank report of global trade slowest since 2009 and now at 1.9% less than global GDP for first time. Credit Suisse Bank’s global wealth report, showing top 1% net assets at $4.5 million average, but almost twice that in the US. OECD report of real disposable income declining. Princeton University Survey showing high school educated, 25-55 year old white working class in US death rates soaring, worse than blacks, rooted in job despair. US low interest rates since 2008 have shifted more than $1 trillion from retirees to bankers. Labor’s share of total income now 8% less than before and the various reasons for it. And H1-B visa proposals by Trump are ‘cosmetic’ according to Tech companies. Jack reviews his predictions of last November 30 that the economic and political elites will ‘tame’ Trump. Growing evidence this has been occurring and will continue, from the recent boot to radical, Steve Bannon, to Trump policies in Syria, NATO, China, trade deals, Russia, Export-Import Bank, etc.
Big tax cuts for rich and corporations are the next big policy offensive around the corner. Jack provides an historical review of tax cuts for rich and corporations in the US over the past century. Major tax reform proposals are summarized since the passage of the corporate and personal income tax in 1913 through Nixon in 1971. Details of the Reagan 1981 and 1986 tax acts, including hikes in the payroll tax and Reagan’s $752 billion tax cuts in 1981 massively benefitting corporations and investors. Clinton era tax policies are reviewed that paved the way to Bush era three major tax cuts for corporations, investors, and wealthiest households in 2001-2003. Bush’s tax cuts of $3.4 trillion, 80% of which went to wealthiest investors and households. Bush tax cuts and bailouts of 2008-09 extended under Obama 2010-12, and then $5 trillion more extended 2013. More than $10 trillion in tax cuts under Bush-Obama. Trump’s proposed $6.2 trillion more now coming.
The US stock markets are recognized by a growing number of analysts as approaching, or already in, bubble territory. Yet stocks have ratcheted up another 15%-20% since Trump won the election. The run-up is sometimes called the ‘Trump Trade’. Investors have been ploughing in even more anticipating another stage of corporate profits subsidization by Trump and Republican fiscal policies—Trump proposed $6.2 trillion in tax cuts, deregulation (Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, EPA, Mergers & Acquisitions encouragement, etc.), shifting hundreds of billions $ from social programs to defense spending, and $1 trillion in Trump proposed infrastructure spending. Jack explains how expectations of the policy shift to fiscal from central bank, monetary policies from 2008-2016, is now the new strategy for subsidizing corporate profits and investor further wealth gains. Central bank monetary policy had run its course and began to develop contradictions. Fiscal policy—tax cuts, deregulation, infrastructure and defense spending—is the new strategy. US stocks surged in anticipation of the new profit opportunities. But signs Trump may not deliver have stopped investors in their tracks this past week. Failure to deliver policy may result in a major stock pullback in 2017. Jack cites various sources that the current stock market bubble has peaked.
The Fed raised interest rates again this past week. Jack explains it has little to do with it having reached its inflation or employment targets, but represents the major policy shift underway by US economic elites. From Fed low interest policy for eight years subsidizing stock, bond and financial assets—and thereby corporate and investor profits and incomes of the wealthiest 1%--the shift now underway is to subsidize profits and incomes of the 1% by cutting taxes, deregulation, and moderate infrastructure spending. Sustained low Fed rates were beginning to cause more instability in financial markets after 8 years. They played their part in boosting profits and incomes; now another policy ‘mix’ is emerging. Jack shows how Fed 2% inflation and job targets are phony justifications for Fed low rate policy continuation; how and why long term rates which the Fed doesn’t control will continue to rise, and what the global responses and effects in Europe, Japan and China will be to the new Fed direction. Will the Fed be used by the US economic elite to check Trump? Possibly.
Jack Rasmus dissects the Republican/Ryan proposal of this past week to repeal and replace the Obamacare Act. The proposal is first and foremost a $500 billion a year tax cut for corporations and the wealthiest 1%, as they no longer have to contribute anything to the plan. Other provisions of the proposals are described, including the freeze and dismantling of the Medicaid elements, the end of all mandates, the sliding scale of in come for credits, etc. This is a tax cut bill and a further privatization bill, and should be viewed as the first of a sequence of medical related bills that will make everyone ‘pay more for less’. Next target: Medicare. Rasmus reviews the plusses and minuses of the Obama ACA, and why it was doomed from the start due to inability to control health cost increases. The show concludes with an analysis of the origins of escalating health costs since the 1990s, which have their roots in health insurance companies’ and drug companies’ drive to buy out competitors and Wall St.’s penetration of these companies to require more profitability in exchange for loans to buy up their competitors. The trend for a quarter century has been increasing privatization and rationing of health care costs and services. And it’s about to become worse. (Next week: The Federal Reserve’s next interest rate hike next week and its impact)
In today’s show, Jack puts Trump strategy and policies in historical perspective, showing how his proposed programs are rooted in policies initially proposed by Nixon and Reagan. Trump represents the latest in a series of corporate-radical right initiatives to restructure economic and political relationships periodically with US foreign competitors and to contain domestic challenges. Nixon’s NEP program of 1971, and the Powell Memorandum announced at the same time, represent a policy shift to restore US hegemony globally and check and rollback domestic popular challenges by unions and protestors demanding social programs. Nixon’s foreign policy shift was to split China-Russia by courting the former to pressure the latter. Reagan’s ‘neoliberal’ policies shifted the emphasis, to court Russia and isolate China. Trump in foreign policy is returning to a more Nixonian focus on deals with Russia to pressure China. Trump’s economic nationalism also has parallels with Nixon and Reagan. Reagan attacked Japan and Europe forcing new trade accords with both. Trump’s new targets are Mexico,China and Germany. Listen to a program by program comparison of Nixon, Reagan, and Trump for the deep consistency between Trump and his predecessors. Trump has reorganized the corporate-radical right movement. Breitbart is new and a more extreme variant of a theme that has been growing since the 1970s.
Dr. Rasmus discusses how the intensifying attacks on Trump administration represent an historic internecine conflict between old and new wings of the US ruling elites and not ‘democracy vs. fascism’. Rasmus offers an analysis of the first month of the Trump regime and its growing conflicts with the Media, the ‘deep state’ 17 intelligence communities, federal state bureaucracies, and political parties of Democrats and moderate Republicans. Revisiting his November article ‘Tameing Trump’, Rasmus explains the meaning of last week’s firing of NSA Flynn, Trump’s backtracking on China, his reassuring Canada and Japan prime ministers on trade, and his revisiting of his muslim country travel bans. How the Flynn affair was a warning ‘shot across the bow’ for Trump to back off his proposed foreign policy changes with Russia and NATO. How the US spends $700billion a year subsidizing NATO and Europe and how US control of NATO is key to control of Europe politically and economically. The policy areas of conflicts between Trump and the old elites. Rasmus explains how old neoliberal elites (media, parties, spy agencies, state bureaucracies) continue to build a case on Trump and either ‘tame’ him or dump him—but only after he delivers on massive corporate-investor tax cuts, deregulation of healthcare and banks, and checking his trade initiatives. The grass roots base of Trump vs. old elites is discussed.
Jack Rasmus invites guest, Alan Benjamin, to discuss the pending April-May elections in France. How goes France goes Europe, the saying goes. Will Le Pen’s right wing National Front Party pull off a ‘Trump Surprise’ and win the elections, pulling France out of the European Union as she promised? Will the independent Macron united the remnants of capitalist parties and right wing social democracy in the Socialist Party and win? What is the ‘united left’ in formation in France? What does it mean by ‘left frexit’. Benjamin provides a ‘on site’ analysis from his work in Europe and France today not available in mainstream media. Rasmus and Benjamin discuss the collapse of traditional social democracy in Europe as it has aligned with European Neoliberalism and the rise of both right wing populist parties and emerging left wing alternatives. The positions of all the major parties in the French election are explained. Comparisons to the UK Labor Party, Germany’s SPD and AfD, Spain’s Podemos, and with US ‘Sanders-Warren’ efforts to ‘reform’ the US Democrat party are discussed.
Jack Rasmus describes Trump’s grand strategy that is now beginning to take shape--economic, social and foreign elements, noting how the Trump strategy reveals great similarities with Nixon in the 1970s and Reagan in 1980s. Trump is Nixon-Reagan on steroids. Rasmus reviews similarities with Nixon and Reagan in Trump’s current attack on US trading partners in Europe, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Germany, Australia and soon China—comparing them with Nixon’s New Economic Program in 1971-72 and Reagan’s 1985-86 attacks on Japan and Europe with the Plaza and Louvre accords. Trump is not against Free Trade, but for bilateral free trade instead of Clinton-Obama multilateral free trade. Trump’s protectionism is tactical. The goal is to advance US corporate interests vis a vis foreign competitors, just as Nixon and Reagan did. Rasmus describes Trump Grand Strategy to date as: Congress drives deregulation of ACA and Dodd-Frank and then focuses on corporate-investor tax cuts. Trump meantime paves the way with Executive Orders, while using EOs to attack immigrants, domestic and foreign; Trump goes slow on major foreign policy changes involving Russia, middle east and Asia, while aggressively attacking immigrants, law and order, proposing election reform and advancing religious groups’ interests. Strong similarities between Nixon, Reagan, and Trump on policies involving defense spending, social program cuts, deficits, strong dollar, attacking the liberal media, undermining unions, massive deregulation, cutting pensions and social security, promoting police and law and order attacks on protestors, and domestic spying and surveillance. (Next week: France and the Future of Europe)