557 Comments
Apr 30Liked by Robert Reich

The media should really be blamed for this. For example, Dana Bash on CNN interviewed Tennessee Congressman Tim Burchett, tax cutter and darling of the Heritage Foundation, the guy who is said to have had his kidneys punched by Kevin McCarthy. They were discussing his willingness to shut down the government because of the budget deficit. He kept repeating, in a drawling southern monotone, a very reasonable-sounding proposition: “Ma’am, you can’t keep spending 7 trillion dollars a year when you’re only taking in 5 trillion.” To which the obvious response might have been: “Well Congressman, the deficit was created by a $2 trillion gift to the wealthy by Donald Trump. Jeff Bezos pays less in taxes than a corporate secretary. You could eliminate the deficit by raising taxes to their original levels, instead of shutting down the government.” But not so much as a murmur from Ms. Bash. Is Dana dim, or is someone pulling her strings? I suspect the latter.

Expand full comment

Michael, I agree with your assessment that our media are to a great extent responsible for the general ignorance among the public about how the debt works, particularly as related to the tax cuts. When a journalist does not ask the follow-up question or point out the facts as you suggest, it is essentially letting a lie stand and they do it so often it is appalling. I guess keeping silent about the truth is one way to keep one's job, but not an honest day's work.

Expand full comment

Ruth, it did occur to me that Dana and her CNN bosses are all benefitting from investing in government bonds. It takes guts - or stupidity - to bite the hand that feeds you.

Expand full comment

Trump loved our national debt, in fact he did more to increase it than any other President in history. And because of his love for our debt, he constructed a grand total of 54 miles of new border wall in 4 long years. Mr. Bannon is to thank for that accomplishment. He sold bricks and kept the money. Just another 5th.

Expand full comment

So true, but MAGA Republican followers and politicians are still using the wall as a campaign weapon and MAGA followers are dumb enough to believe it!

Expand full comment

Sandra--That they are.

Expand full comment

Although people confuse deficit with Debt. Krugman is good on this. As I understand it, deficit is kitchen sink simple, it's the difference between what the government takes in in taxes and what it spends. National Debt is a somewhat more nebulous concept, which includes the deficit, but is usually much larger. It includes indebtedness in general. For example, if you buy a building for $1,000,000 and you take out a loan from a US bank, the national debt goes up by $1,000,000 even though the money is owed by an American to an American bank. If the building is a factory, for example, this increase in national debt is a sign of economic activity - a good thing not a bad thing.

For example, throughout the 19th Century, at the peak of its wealth and power, the British Empire maintained a debt of 150% of GDP (more in percentage terms than the current US Debt), which in large measure represented an intense amount of economic activity.

The problem is, people always conflate the debt and the deficit, very dangerous and misleading. The deficit is easy, if you cut taxes on zillionaires, the deficit goes up. Simple.

Expand full comment

Michael--It may be simple in theory, however, it's the application where the difficulty lies.

Expand full comment

Thought provoking, good point about conflating debt and deficit, but one big thing: Commercial and personal debt is *not* in the federal debt, as defined by the Treasury and the US Fed. ( Links, including voluminous tables of individual and corporate assets and liabilities here, summarized on excellent interactive graphical web pages, via the US Fed: <uswealthclock.com> )

US households have $147 Trillion in net wealth, net of all household / personal obligations that is; our federal debt is about $35 Trillion as shown -- hth, b.rad

ps somebody owns all corporations, and their debts, so the US share of that ownership is counted and tabulated in the net household wealth

Expand full comment

When they are talking deficit Michael, it is the trade deficit, they are talking about, meaning we import more than we export. We suffer a huge trade deficit, because since America has been greened, the only substantial exports are timber, wheat, maize and petroleum products. Before Clinton signed NAFTA and GAAT we exported cars, appliances, even clothing, now they are made in Mexico, Central America and Asia., and imported to the U.S.

We don't make automobiles we assemble autos made by Korean, Japanese and German plants, we sell our public roads to Spanish corporations, and the profits from these foreign corporations don't stay in America but are exptriated, either to the home country or Switzerland or the Bahama's.

Expand full comment

I usually think of deficit as budget deficit. If the govt. spends more than it budgeted for, there is a deficit. That deficit adds to the federal debt each year.

Expand full comment

William, I notice you don't mention exports of the military-industrial exports. This is huge, and may be one reason we don't have a sensible, two-state solution, to the Palestine problem.

I'm not an economist, but I'm sure you know, that if you run an economic system where you owe the world a lot of money, you will soon be shut down. Ask Argentina.

Expand full comment

Why shouldn't he love debt? He's built up his own ship of fools by piling up a Titanic-sized one on his own back and he just shrugs it off and says, "Go ahead, sue me."

Expand full comment

A misspent youth--

Donald Hodgins <silencenotbad@gmail.com>

4:12 PM (0 minutes ago)

It's a shame the kids who are demonstrating around this country didn't wait until after they had graduated, that way the intelligence they are evidently lacking might have had a chance to have been acquired.

Expand full comment

Steve--It isn't so much that he does, it just appears to be that way.

Expand full comment

Michael, While some might defend a person’s reluctance to bite the hand that feeds her or him, the benefits these days of an electorate able to make reasoned and informed decisions, in my view, would outweigh the costs.

Expand full comment

Indeed many in the press have begun making contingency plans in case Trump gets re-elected. They will have targets on them. And yet…

Expand full comment

Dana and CNN have not changed. It takes real work and time to find news that does not protect the rich. One of those places is here. (Thank you Robert!) We need more non-profit news media and it needs to be more accessible. I know nothing about government bonds, but they sure are invested in CNN.

Expand full comment

Perhaps, she doesn’t want to go against the CNN CEO! That is why that I quit watching CNN!

Expand full comment

I get the Guardian for news and insights. CNN iand MSNBC are enabler posing as serious and committed, just short of sensationalist enterprises.

Expand full comment

Stephan, CNN has changed since their new CEO came on board... but Dana should still have used her journalistic chops to go deeper. Boy, do I miss Tim Russert....

MSNBC has opinion shows and also offer in-depth shows that are fact checked and host a wide spectrum of great experts. They challenge people like Ari Melber interviewing Peter Navarro and Peter defending himself and describing the coup we had on January 6th. The sensational pieces are often riveting, factual and informative because they take the time to dig into it. That's just my opinion. I can listen to Canadian news here in the Pacific NW and I also read the wonderful Guardian, Robert Reich's substack, Steve Schmidt The Warning substack, and more.

Expand full comment

Have found that the CNN journalists/moderators most of the time are READERS not reporters. Many times have not done their “home work” and are unprepared!

Expand full comment

I would appreciate hearing more of the 'trusted' information that you came upon that moved you from CNN.....and then where did you go? Thanks.

Expand full comment

MSNBC is miles ahead with skilled and talented reporters! They have terrific staff and call on very informed people.

Expand full comment

I don't watch TV for news, I get a wide variety of news letters in my inbox daily, most require a subscription to comment or to read the whole article, but usually the headline and a few lines will do, if I need more info I s imply google and find other sources.

Expand full comment

You can get a lot more information from reading than from watching TV.

Expand full comment

It's interesting to see people on the left accusing CNN of conservative bias.

Expand full comment

You've messed the past few years. They had a makeover, a purge and competed for Fox viewers.

Expand full comment

A wolf in sheep's clothing, or a Trojan horse?

Expand full comment

We like the truth, as opposed to the other side.

Expand full comment

well andrew the CNN radio hostess and her guest "expert" are reliably right wing [in DC, 90.1 FM]. but the listeners that call in from all over the US generally are well worth listening to. Its a strange contrast between the right wing dogmatic propaganda people at CNN and the callers who are usually very unhappy with the log jam in the Duopoly.

Expand full comment

It takes doing her job as a journalist.

Expand full comment

Guts. It’d be easy to chime in on the press-bashing, and there is much that is deficient about our modern press corps, chief of which would have to be fully exercising the guaranteed freedom of the press. So many media outlets engage in cheap & tawdry tabloid journalism. There are exceptions and alternatives.

Expand full comment

Guts or ignorance Michael. I go for ignorance, ideological and financial ignorance, the number of people who really understand how the fractional reserve monetary system works numbers probably in the thousands and 99% of those are people who are the direct managers and beneficiaries of the system.

In a way, all of us are beneficiaries of the system, because it is the system that puts money in our pockets.The more debt (public, corporate, private) the more money, the more money, the greater the demand for goods and services, the greater the demand, the more employment and investment.

Contract the money supply, by balancing the budget, and paying off all debts, public,corporate and private) and you create a depression.

That is how the fractional reserve system, managed by the Fed, works.

The engine which drives it all is debt, interest on the debt is the primary cause of inflation. inflation is unavoidable in a fractional reserve, debt money system, the primary driver of the fractional reserve system is government debt, consumer or personal debt is next as is corporate debt.

There are two alternatives. a system totally dependent on some scarce resource, but that limits the money in circulation as happened to the USSR which had a 100% gold standard and thus a perpetual depression.

Or Fiat Money, printing press money, but the real money in circulation is put in circulation in a fiat money system, by the government to pay it's bills, and most money in the 21st Century is in the forms of 1's and O's transmitted over twisted pairs of copper and the aether.

Fiat money is an alternative, but that also means a revamping of the banking system, and no more credit as we know it now, certainly no credit cards, because there will no longer be a fractional reserve system managed and controlled by a central authority, Local banks will, as they did prior to the depression, issue their own bank notes, and that is when the printing presses gin up.

A Fiat money system also requires a stable and honest government, but we need to look no further than south America, and in particular Argentina, to see how that works.

Or Germany in 1922, when the Government authorized corporations to over print the Reichsmark, creating a hyper inflation, the government led the way as a means to pay off the exorbitant reparations demanded of Germany by the Treaty of Versaille and the result of that led to the rise of the National Socialist German Workers Party.

Anyway the Republican solution is monetary and economic contraction, in other words a depression or recession, for which the Democrats get the blame.

This whole play is nothing but Jude Wanniskis, Two Santa Claus theory it has worked and apparently still working

https://hartmannreport.com/p/the-shutdown-is-the-two-santa-clauses-a95

Expand full comment

Ruth; another huge addition to the national debt is the Bush/Cheney wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the long occupation of both countries that provided nothing substantial for the American people. That added trillions to the debt. This needs to be in the discussion as well as the Reagan, W.Bush and Trump tax cuts.

Expand full comment

somebody should lay it out in numbers. All the big reasons why we got to our current debt going back x years. The simple version.

The simplest explanation behind those numbers is people just went along. No political courage or independence of mind. Think how the Dems kept authorizing monies for Afghanistan. and Greed.The usual.

It's like our failed response to climate change.

Expand full comment
May 1·edited May 1

It was stunning when Bush Jr was re-elected in 2004, despite the fact that by then the facts were out that the Iraq was was entirely based on lies. But don't forget that much of the swing vote in the US can be rather ignorant.

Expand full comment

Steve, I couldn’t agree more. The fecklessness of the Democrats enabled a lot of this.

Expand full comment

Of course I get more upset at Democrats because I've already written off Repubs. Intranecine conflicts the worse they say. Every time I see McCaskill on TV I think about how her fecklessness along with so many others has contributed to our many problems today.

Expand full comment

And the Republicans are innocent babes. David?

Hardly, this is the system at work it is neither red nor blue but green and red, What color do you get when you mix green and red? Brown.

What color is shit? Brown.

Expand full comment

William, I never implied the Repugs are “innocent babes”in my comment.

Just wanted to clear that up.

Expand full comment

Yep, I call it the Taliban relief plan. The Taliban are living large on the hundreds of millions of dollar spent and the pallets of 100 dollars dropped on the Baghram Ramp.

Expand full comment

“The government IS the problem” and republicans made it so 🤬.

Expand full comment

in foreign affairs it's both------------> the infamous Duopoly

Expand full comment

Yes, the corporate (Fascist) media is partially responsible for creating the politics of corporate rule. But what created that, and what created corporate rule in the first place?

Corporate personhood (corporate constitutional rights) and money as speech are the root causes of all of our troubles, including the deregulation of our media that enables fake news propaganda!

HJR54, the We the People Amendment will establish that only humans are entitled to constitutional rights and powers! It will require that money in politics be regulated, and it’s gaining traction in the House!!!

MoveToAmend.org exists to advance the We the People Amendment, but we can’t do it alone. Sign on at movetoamend.org/motion Get your favorite justice organization to join over 800 orgs by having them sign on at movetoamend.org/organizations . And get all of your favorite candidates for public office to sign on at movetoamend.org/pledge

Si Se Puede! All Power to We the People!

Expand full comment

And what is responsible for the consolidation of the media, and the official end of the Fairness Doctrine?

The Telecommunications Act of 1996, and who signed that act, as well as the Omnibus Crime bill (creating the school to prison pipeline for POC, the Defense of Marriage act, which criminalized gay marriage, Don't ask don't tell, NAFTA and GATT which created the rust belt/swing states, repeal Glass Stegall, which led to the bank bailouts? A Republican in Democrat clothing named William Jefferson Clinton, oh and he played the Saxophone which in stereotype, made him the "first black President" or so some claimed. as if only blacks played the Saxophone.

Expand full comment

So true! Again, it’s all enabled by SCOTUS rulings that say that corporate money is constitutionally protected free speech, and that corporations have constitutional rights! Please help out at movetoamend.org

Check it out!

Expand full comment

William; And Clinton ain’t no Charlie Parker!

Expand full comment

I do not claim to understand the underlined suggestions, as I have never heard of them, I wonder if you have heard of Ambassador J. Wanta and his problems. First Regan handed him 3,000,000 dollars and said "Break the Rubel. He proceeded to invest buying low and selling high and turned that 3 million into 31 trillion dollars USSR fell and when the Feds said give us the money he said NO you will just p--- it away and it was given to me. The courts cases make for good reading and can be looked into for info. So the Feds just barged into his residence and took all that was left and he is still fighting and losing that 27 trillion. The Feds are not federal and no one elected them and so we are once again believing that we have a government which does not exist. Rich people deciding what is becomes the standard and not many people ever find out the truth of any matter discussed in the U.S.A. until a minimum of 60 to 100 years have passed by and also do not actually believe these things are done . We are not really a nation at all. We are a bunch of ignorant winners and losers.

Expand full comment

MoveToAmend is a Republican Trojan Horse.

Expand full comment
Apr 30·edited Apr 30

Ruth : True: then those who hired the "journalist" can claim that the topic was 'covered,' or aired! When the lie was left standing, or unchallenged.

Expand full comment

Laurie, you're right about the lie being left standing. A problem, among many, a whole lot of people don't realize it's a lie and if it is done by a "credible" news source, that silence lends a lot of weight to the lie.

Expand full comment

A "sin by omission"!

Expand full comment

Omission is a grave and dangerous sin. Yet what happens abroad and in own poor communities is regularly omitted in the media, because they assume that most of us don't care. Are they right?

Expand full comment

Victor Kamendrowski ; I don't know how anyone can make such a broad assumption about "most of us don't care". Maybe some are too busy just trying to survive. Depends on what is being omitted. Often it is what is left out of a story that is most important. And who is harmed by the omission and who may benefit from it.

Expand full comment

I find myself getting irate over unasked questions a LOT, but in this instance, I’m wondering …

I think a reporter may think that reflecting the reality of this particular situation — the tax levels, for instance — is taking sides. Since the discussion {controversy?} is about where the deficit stands and how it got there, pointing to the tax side of the argument could be seen as demonstrating a lack of objectivity … maybe.

Oh, seriously, though, I don’t want to make up excuses for the press — They know damned well they could ask the question, “How do you square your position on the deficit with the Republican choice to take the country to war in the Iraq without a means to cover the cost? How to you square it with massive tax cuts that ONLY benefit the wealthy? Isn’t taxation the people’s way of supporting their own government, for the good of those very same people?”}

Of course, the Republican would come out against taxes altogether as “taking”people’s money”…which would also resonate with the Right. And they might now suggest we are helping Ukraine by sending money without a way to cover the expense, so … The discussion could become a debate over the issue of taxation….OR Bash could have raised the issue and given the Republican another avenue to attack Liberal policies {tax and spend} … It’s not all as easy as people might think to reveal reality without taking sides or opening doors to more spin.

I do still think the press should speak of reality, making it well-known that the deficit has been ballooned by Republicans who insist on cutting government revenues [with tax cuts AND underwriting corporations in other ways, as well] and then complaining about it. But it’s a nuanced discussion, and it’s less “news” and more “commentary.”

So, we don’t get enough solid perspective where it counts, like in interviews with Republicans.

We do see analysts and commentators talking about these things from time to time, though not so much on Fox News or OAN.

{Oh, and … sure … I also think there IS a dampening effect on what news people will choose to talk about, based on being in the employ of a huge corporation, even if that corporation ostensibly doesn’t put pressure on how their news people report the news … Yeah, right.}

Expand full comment

Pat, Reporters and TV hosts don't ask the right questions nor do they follow up, because they know that the will get fired.

Rachel Maddow in one of her first appearances when she had a five day show, had Rand Paul on as a guest, she called him out,on the spot, and he and no other Republican poliitician would show on her program. He was almost let go at that time, but changed her format to pedantically bloviating over a single subject. Not that I am dissing her, her book Prequel is a must read for anyone concerned at all about how we cot her on the verge of fascism., and her Monday appearances are less bloviating and more substance and she hauls in high profile guests, albeit none of the right wing kind

Expand full comment

Pat, you are right about the start of a debate, but that is really what we need. When the journalist is silent, we do get just one side and often it is the wrong side, the one with the lies attached, like the Democrats drove up the national debt. The rich not paying their fair share of taxes, driving up prices for their own profit, "lending" money to the government while they collect enormous interest while they don't pay taxes, and more should be known by all Americans, but somehow it isn't. Journalists could correrct some of that if they asked the right questions.

Expand full comment

Oh, I do agree, Ruth. That’s why my dad is always hollering at me to stop hollering at the TV news when they let opportunities for good questions just fade into misinformation.

I especially become enraged when the lost opportunity to ask would correct a solid error of fact — like so much that is addressed in today’s post …

I’d like to see a lot more news analysis and context, too. That is where the facts become real and we recognize their relevance. News we can use. But people are so suspicious of the media, its legitimacy rides a knife’s edge these days.

It happens far too often — iit seems like the interviewer has a list of questions, a time frame in which to ask them, and the devil take the unanswered verities …

It’s painful for me to know that the press is, in very large part, complicit in becoming what the popular culture has made it out to be. Shallow, mostly after the clickable headline, and … shallow again.

Expand full comment

How old is your Dad Pat? , He must be a centenarian, you told ,me that you are a 70 some year old grandmother. Congratulations I hope I live long enough to see my 63 year old son reach 70.

Expand full comment

I hope you do, too, W.

Dad is doing great for a guy of 97. Needs a little help around the house and doesn’t drive any more, but he’s doing terrifically. We just lost Mom in September. She was five months shy of her 100th. Makes me mad that she was doing great [we took a walk up the hill out front that afternoon, and had a super evening. But a tiny bit of blockage in a tiny, hard-to-reach artery in her heart finally did it. Damn! ]

Yeah, I hope I reach those ages in as good shape as they have been, too!

Expand full comment
May 11·edited May 11

Pat, you seem to think that Trump's tax cuts ONLY benefited the wealthy. Which talking head told you that?! You couldn't possibly have looked up the IRS data on your own, otherwise you'd know that it's false. You're fooled because they only tell you the dollar cost for each group, but since the top 20% (above $100,000) pays over 85% of income taxes, of course they're going to get a bigger dollar cut. However, you should look at the percentage of cuts that each received, and the wealthy got lower percentage cuts, by far.

IRS tax data, one that includes the effects of tax credits and other reforms to the tax code, shows tax cuts based on adjusted gross income (AGI):

$1 - $14,999 = 39% to 87%

$15,000 - $49,999 = 16% to 26%

$50,000 - $99,999 = 15% to 17%

$100,000 - $499,999 = 11% to 13%

$500,000 - $999,999 = 8%

$1-10 million or more = 3% to 7%

*IRS link - you have to download the Excel files for 2017 (pre-cut) & 2018 (post-cut) & compare the difference:

https://www.irs.gov/statistics/soi-tax-stats-individual-statistical-tables-by-size-of-adjusted-gross-income

As far as the deficit spending, BOTH SIDES spend way too much. But if you look at the actual data on the deficit spending, Obama spent $5.084 trillion in his first term, and Trump was only $476 billion higher at $5.56 trillion. It's NOT a tax revenue issue, it's a huge SPENDING issue, and if we don't get a handle on it soon, it's going to destroy our economy!

Expand full comment

Great book, mandatory reading by my undergrad Statistic 101 professor. How to lie with statistics.

The problem is that the states don't show percentage of income of tazes paid.

For instance Bezo's if he pays any tax at all, (Trumpdidn't except for 2020 and he only paid $725. [pay about .o1 percent of their income.

Whereas the average tax rate is 24.2%

The concentration on Deficit spending is a libertarian/right wing ruse. We owe to it ourselves.

Ours is a fractional reserve system, in which all money's in circulation or in accounts is created by debt, public, corporate, private) public means government securities,. If the budget were truly balanced, and there was no deficit, there would be no money in circulation and we would be in a perpetual depression.

Don't take my word for it, try the organization which is responsible for managing the credit of the nation, and it's money supply. The FRBNY

/https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Modern_Money_Mechanics.pdf

Expand full comment
May 12·edited May 12

William, you're just as blind as Pat, and you don't want to look at the actual data on the amount of taxes that are paid by ALL taxpayers, not just the cherry picked Bezos and Buffet examples that are always bandied about in order to show the ignorant masses how the "rich" don't pay their fair share. I gave the link to the IRS website and you can download the Excel files and you can see the ACTUAL amounts collected from all of the 153+ million individual taxpayers. It shows that the top 20% of taxpayers (which is just over 30 million people), who are making more than $100,000 AGI (meaning AFTER all deductions) paid 85% of total income taxes ($1.287 trillion), which is 6.5 times as much as the bottom 80% of taxpayers (those making less than $100,000 AGI, which is just over 123 million people) who paid 15% of total income taxes ($192 billion). This is based on the actual IRS data of taxes that were collected, not some nonsense from talking heads like Reich who are always trying to make folks blame the "evil rich" or "corporations" for all of the bad monetary policies that have been taking place for many decades.

If you were right, and the rich weren't paying their "fair share" (considering that they actually paid $1.287 trillion), do you really think that the U.S. could run on the $192 billion that the bottom 80% of taxpayers paid for their taxes?! Of course, there's the remaining approximately $2.5 trillion in revenue that is collected from foreign taxes, excise taxes, and taxes on businesses and corporations, unless you also believe that they don't pay their fair share either! You said that you took an undergrad statistics course, so you're probably familiar with the saying, "There are three kinds of lies: there are lies, damned lies, and statistics." What I presented was NOT statistics, it's hard data from the IRS on actual income tax revenue from each income level based on AGI. Since I have a business degree with a focus on accounting, bookkeeping, business math, and other pertinent courses, I know how to analyze data based on actual money collected, and what the percentages mean across each income level.

The folks pushing MMT come up with a lot of drivel like saying the debt isn't really debt since we owe it to ourselves, which you also said, so I guess you bought into their nonsense. If it was true, then how do you explain that China and other countries own over $8 trillion of our debt?! Finally, I know that you're not as knowledgeable about the economy as you think you are since you said that all money in circulation is created from debt, and if the budget was truly balanced, and there was no deficit, there would be no money in circulation and we would be in a perpetual depression. If that was the case, then would you care to explain why we weren't in a perpetual depression from 1998-2001, when there were not only no deficits, but there were billions of dollars in surplus?! There are trillions of dollars spent each year that are in accounts that have absolutely nothing to do with debt or credit. Keep that in mind when you're reading the MMT nonsense in the future. Cheers!

Expand full comment

The issue is not the amount of taxes paid, but the percentage of taxes paid by taxpayers.

The Tax burden is intolerable, because the lower brackets actually pay a greater percent of their income than the upper brackets. If the upper brackets paid even the average tax rate of the middle class, then a billionaire would pay $244,200, 000 dollars in taxes, because a person earning just $100,000 a year pays #24,200 in federal income taxes.

And the debt really isn't a debt, because in fact we do owe it to ourselves.

If you don't pay your car payment, mortgage what happens? The Sheriff repossesses them?

If America doesn't pay it's debt, what sheriff is going to repossess, much less collect.

Tell me, who?

I tell you what. This argument goes nowhere. Because.

Every Dollar in circulation was created out of debt, federal, state, local, corporate, private even your credit cards.

If there were no federal debt, there would be no dollars. Period. And you, my friend, would not have a pot to piss in, much less a computer, cell phone, ISP or carrier.

Expand full comment

Actually, Joe, you are wrong about my argument. Yours is as specious as saying we should all pay the same PERCENT in taxes, instead of having a progressive system in which those who earn more pay a larger share. I’ve been looking at the dollar value of the percents. A three-to-seven percent reduction on taxes in the ten million bracket is more than the entire amount the lowest earner makes in a year, never mind how much they actually pay in taxes. People in the top earning brackets have MANY ways to lower their supposed income, as well, putting much of their earning out of reach of the tax man, using those “loopholes” we hear about, many of which don’t even COUNT money they earn, giving them even greater boons than some guy whose entire income is based on the sweat of their brow to earn in the lowest brackets. Your little number game is more an exercise in logical legerdemain than a reasoned argument about the real subject of taxation.

And talking about the DEFICIT is NOT only about how much we SPEND (anyone who knows me can tell you, I have problems on the spending side, as well — not only the actual dollars, but what they are spent ON} — talk about exploding the deficit is not only a discussion of spending, but reflects how the tax cuts reduced the amount the government RECEIVES to cover its costs, thereby RAISING the SHORTFALL {aka, “deficit”}, thereby RAISING that deficit.

So, basically, you seem to have fallen for some statistical b-s used to create a false case for the tax cuts, which have been grossly unfair, and have exploded the deficit more than Democratic presidents did. Which is my point and is accurate.

Expand full comment

As we get closer to November the number of libertarian and MAGA trolls will appear geometrically.

Expand full comment

Pat, you're right, we do have a progressive tax system, which is why you're wrong about the way you're looking at this, because the top 20% of taxpayers (those making more than $100,000, which is just over 30 million people) paid 85% of total income taxes ($1.287 trillion), which is 6.5 times as much as the bottom 80% of taxpayers (those making less than $100,000, which is just over 123 million people) who paid 15% of total income taxes ($192 billion). This is based on the actual IRS data of taxes that were collected in 2018, which is the first year that the Trump tax cuts were put into place. This means that those making $50,000 - $74,999, who paid an average of $4,177 in 2018 got more than twice as much of a tax break (17%) from when they paid $5,041 in 2017, and those making $75,000 - $99,999, who paid an average of $7,100 in 2018 got almost twice as much of a tax break (15%) from when they paid $8,362 in 2017, compared to someone who made $500,000 - $999,999, who paid an average of $156,270 in 2018 got less than half as much of a comparable tax break (8%) from when they paid $171,230 in 2017. Like you said, we have a progressive tax system, and that means that they paid a much higher rate, percentage wise, than those in the lower income brackets but they got they got a smaller tax cut, percentage wise, and if you look at the ACTUAL data from the IRS, this is ACTUAL taxes paid, AFTER all deductions. You can't say that we have a progressive tax system, where those making more money pay a higher PERCENTAGE in taxes, and then not use a comparison of the PERCENTAGE of cuts when looking at how each tax bracket is affected. You're trying to make an apples to oranges comparison in order to make it seem like Reich is correct, and that the "rich" aren't paying their fair share, which is bogus if you're honest with yourself and look at the data from the IRS, instead of relying on talking heads who are trying to push an agenda.

People like Reich are hoping that folks won't look at the ACTUAL data from the IRS to see what the "rich" pay compared to the middle class, and try to pit us against each other, instead of holding BOTH SIDES accountable for the out of control SPENDING that is on an UNSUSTAINABLE upward rise! Cheers!

Expand full comment

The story you are telling and the stats you provide, are what are in Islam called Taqiyya, obfuscation, partial truths. Joe

As a percentage of income the wealthy pay less than a secretary.

A billionaire Warren Buffet, even said so, he paid less than his secretary, legally, because of deductions and pass throughs.

Expand full comment

Nope.

You are still looking at the percentage of taxes paid and not the actual amount. And you are still seeing a tax on how much TAXABLE income people are paying, and NOT seeing how they finagle the system to set a GREAT AMOUNT of their actual annual income beyond the reach of the tax man by categorizing it as something else, or breaking it up into multiple years, or discounting it by hook or by crook, so they are paying those “percentages” that you are talking about on only a portion of their ACTUAL income ….

Oh, please, you think <I> am trying to juggle numbers to make it look like Reich is correct. I think YOU are trying to juggle numbers to make it look like YOU are correct.

I personally think that most people who have super-large incomes are making that money on the back of labor [and not uncommonly, on the backs of poorly-paid labor], and I think they should pay a far larger share of keeping the system going that undergirds their huge annual incomes.

Onward and upward, Joe

Expand full comment

Bash would be accused of engaging in class warfare. "How unjournalistic of you. How, how unprofessional!" A typical ploy. It works.

The ultimate sin, engaging in class warfare by a journalist. So topics like this don't usually get discussed enough.

Expand full comment

It’s their job to present the facts and ask tough questions especially when inflation is being represented to be a problem bc of a party or person who did not cause that to be so. Billions of dollars worth of profits to a company who is paying less taxes than a nurse or teacher or ditch digger is not right. If they are going to let the lie stand why even talk about it? That shows favoritism, not questing the lie and calling it what it is.

Expand full comment

I have become resigned to a press that largely does not do their job---for whatever reasons.

Neither Amazon nor the MSM are going to save us. On the contrary..

Expand full comment

Steve, the conservatives have a whole host of short phrases that sound good to them and their cult, but mean nothing, "class warfare" being one. They throw out those phrases and so many journalists are cowed either by the term and accusation or by the time limit for the "interview." I don't want to see a lot of gotcha moments, but I do want some more intelligent confrontation and information disseminated. Otherwise, in the visual media, the conservatives get the last word and phrases that resonate. Truth for Conservatives is a luxury they do not wish to have or share because they can't win when people really understand what they are doing to our democracy and to our economy, so honest discussion will be sabotaged if journalists permit it.

Expand full comment

my to do list includes writing a short book that translates Republican phrases and slogans into what they really mean---like Bierce did for common words

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil%27s_Dictionary

Expand full comment

George Lakoff talks about this. For example: The term "entitlements" is thrown around by the GOP.... those costly entitlements. OMG they are Protections, they are your set aside dollars - taken our of your paychecks and payments AS protections. Dems should TAKE BACK THE NARRATIVE. George Lakoff has many more than just this small but HUGE example. The other person to check out in how to reframe things - Check out Politicsgirl! She's a canadian posting from her kitchen calling it straight and very strong in reframing what is what.

Expand full comment

I have read his books. Part of the problem is who sets the narrative. They are typically the ones who have power in the media. But it's not a compete lockout . Dems have long accepted the Repub framing language publicly in their remarks which is a mistake. I have watched politicsgirl and liked what I saw.

Expand full comment

Steve, one good thing is that most of the time, the phrases or terms mean exactly opposite of what they say: Freedom Caucus means group of nuts who want to take away every freedom they can get away with; inflation means what our corporate donors can get away with in price gouging while blaming the Democrats, in this case, Biden. They do not have to have an agenda because it would be in writing and they couldn't change it on a dime or come up with more fake terms. Good luck with the Republican dictionary.

Expand full comment

Ruth Thom Hartmann covers this weaponizing of the language, in Cracking the Code: https://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Code-Restore-Americas-Original/dp/1576754588/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1199391644&sr=8-1

IIRC it can be traced back to Frank Luntz and karl rove. Luntz weaonized, (Orwellianized) the English language and Rove came up with the tactic of attacking a person at his strengths, he made a war hero, Max Clelland, who lost three limbs in VN, into a coward and traitor for not supporting Dubya's war.

The problem is that Republicans can put their crap on a bumper sticker, but Democrats don't know how to, and when they do, they wind up antagonizing the people that they want to reach.

Like shutting down bridges and free ways, pisses off the people whose minds they want to reach.. the voters.

Expand full comment

Thom Hartmann is great!

Expand full comment

MSM can do a better job in informing the public as to all the Biden Administration has done, but as long as RW media fills the ears of that X% of trump supporters with BS, Biden's accomplishments will be ignored. Unless they wake up and realize they have a job and it is paying better and the roads and bridges are getting fixed, and internst acess has been increased, not to mention lower drug costs, etc - they might realize who they should support. (I can dream can't I?)

Expand full comment

Silence has always been understood as consent.

Expand full comment

Does CNN allow their commentators to counter the guests? Have my doubts?

CNN tends to attempt to show both sides! Not well but actually tries!

Expand full comment

I am skeptical that things left unsaid by our media is intentional. They just do not do well when they go off script. Deer in the headlights kind of thing.

Expand full comment

Michael, Thank you for your example. It effectively amplifies, 6 months out from the election, that if everyday people are to engage in the kind of reasoned and informed deliberation that democracy requires, we must act together to put pressure on journalists to correct the record when people in high places misrepresent important information.

Expand full comment

Tough to do before the fact. We can write letters to editors, etc. Threaten to quit our subscriptions to MSM.

Plus we can use social networks like this to male the point. Forward Robert's message through "social storming". I recommend FT6 social storm or through the DNC "social ambassador" program. I do both.

Just to give you an idea, Taylor Swift has about 280 million followers on Instagram and about another 80 million on X - formerly on twitter. One link to Robert's essays in the comments, could arguably reach all those folks.

https://share.fieldteam6.org/campaign/F6DDBE84-04F4-4C96-A5FA-7E22A07FEDDB

https://democrats.org/share/

I'm attending Field Team 6's event, “Text Bank: Register Dems in Florida! With partners Forward Blue, FL Dems, Zo Mitchell, & The Union!” - sign up now to join me!

https://www.mobilize.us/ft6/event/618579/?referring_vol=1545579&rname=Daniel&share_context=schedule-modal&share_medium=mailto&timeslot=4232221

Hope to see you there,

Expand full comment

Daniel, My thanks for your sound suggestions. Still, I would note, in response to your opening remark “Tough to do before the fact,” that the point of calling out journalistic dereliction is to try and change the behavior.

Expand full comment

You don't understand this budget stuff.

Expand full comment

"Undocumented commentator" from Vladivostok.

Expand full comment

I'll wipe the floor with you on this topic.

Expand full comment
Apr 30·edited Apr 30

Why don't you use your "flamingo" for that!? It probably messed it in the first place!

Expand full comment

UnCo evidently likes to wipe floors.

Expand full comment

You can't even wipe your ass, much less the floor. Come on mother eff'er take me on,on this topic.

Expand full comment

You better go wipe your butt first, Russki!

Expand full comment

And you, apparently, don’t do specifics.

Expand full comment

I did write a columnist at the St Louis Post Dispatch who wrote a glowing article about the Missouri budget the Republicans passed that quoted Republicans who thought the budget was great. I told her she should report to readers why every Democrat, and a few Republicans, voted against it. But I think its pretty hard to pressure journalists.

Expand full comment

Steve, While I would acknowledge, as in most struggles, the odds are not in our favor, I also believe that must not stop us from calling out the inaccuracies and distortions that are regularly served up in newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and the like.

Expand full comment

I agree. Better would be to have more of our own media outlets. Alas.

Expand full comment

Michael, thanks for explaining how the cable networks are involved with the Republicans scams and lies. So many times I find myself screaming at the interviewers for not asking the most obvious follow-up questions, never asking for the interviewee to support their statements with facts or even gently challenging blatant lies. Especially when Republicans talk about abortion at 9 months, or killing babies at birth, Never heard the interviewer ask them to cite cases, provide statistics, etc. The media is complicit in their failure to expose the truth.

Expand full comment

I found it disturbing that even Bill Maher let's things drop. He was interviewing RFK Jr., last Friday, and asked RFK about why he didn't like vaccines. To my astonishment, the presidential candidate talked numbers and pointed out that in the Pfizer trial of their Covid vaccine, there were 44,000 people. 22,000 got the treatment vaccine, 22,000 got placebo. In the vaccine arm there were 56% more deaths than in the placebo arm.

Astonished, I looked it up. In fact, in the vaccine arm there were 16 deaths and in the placebo arm there were 15. No statistical difference, and exactly what you would expect if you followed 44,000 people over 6 months.

So in fact there was no difference in the rate of deaths in the two arms. Conclusion, within any reasonable scientific doubt, the vaccine does not cause death. So, this "56%" or whatever it was, was just a number picked out of RFK's ass. And this guy is running for President? There's something terribly wrong here.

Expand full comment

The definitive test of the mRNA vaccines was during the pandemic. The unvaccinated died at a much higher rate.

Expand full comment

Agree, but that's not the point here.

Expand full comment

Bill Maher didn't really call him out, though he did say that he got the Moderno Vaccine (so have I , two initial shots and five boosters).

Bill Maher is pissed because the COVID quarantine and masking cost him money and public adulation. He is a selfish libertarian prick, but I do like his New Rules and do agree with so many, but he is still a selfish libertarian, trans phobic prick., whose "girlfriend" is a woman with an Adams apple, Ann Coulter

Expand full comment

Also sounds like the vaccines are useless to prevent death as well.

Expand full comment

A good point but incorrect in practice. The stats show that in the clinical trials of 44,000 people the vaccine was no better than placebo. at preventing deaths of all causes. You're quite correct.

However, the 44,000 people all started off asymptomatic from Covid, and also included a lot of younger people who are relatively immune to Covid. If you look at the subset of people who got sick enough from Covid to require hospitalization, they were entirely in the placebo arm, none in the treatment arm.

Even more importantly, outside of this study, if you look at all the people who actually died from Covid and they were overwhelmingly those who were not vaccinated. This shows beyond reasonable medical doubt, that vaccination prevents deaths from Covid, by an overwhelming margin.

Put another way, over a million Americans died from Covid, and almost all of them were unvaccinated.

So, although what you said is technically true, it's highly misleading.

The shocking thing about RFK is that he's not even abusing statistics. He (or his staff) is actually lying. So this creepy guy, this heroin addict, could actually destroy America by making Trump President.

Expand full comment

Were all of them unvaccinated? Take a close look at how people were classified as unvaccinated. Also take a close look at what constitutes a covid death. This is not the first time pharma has designed a study to succeed or fail to boost sales.

Expand full comment

1) Yes, they were all unvaccinated (I think the numbers were 11 unvaccinated and 0 vaccinated, highly significant statistically).

2) This was a double blind placebo-controlled study, very difficult for Pharma to twist.

3) The proof is in the pudding. Almost all the million or so Covid deaths in the US were in the unvaccinated.

Expand full comment

If you mean that hundred percent of us, sooner or later, will die, I must agree. Yours is a witty remark.

Expand full comment

Yes, Mary : It is baked in misinformation and disinformation!

Expand full comment

Here is a chart of the growth in of the Federal Debt since around 1970. This growth is unsustainable! The debt is expected to reach $ 54 trillion by 2034! If the media showed this graph to the average American, they would demand that the government do something. I agree that raising taxes on the wealthy is the way to go.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GFDEBTN

Expand full comment

Federal debt is not household debt. Don;t pay your mortgage or car payment and the sheriff comes a knocking. What Sheriff is going to knock on the door of USA Inc.?

Expand full comment

My concern is with the interest payment on the debt. As the debt grows, so does the interest payment (assuming the interest rate remains constant). The increasing interest payment consumes a greater share of tax revenue, making it harder for the government to finance important items such as defense, social net benefits, etc. The government may need to borrow even more to fund these services, creating a vicious cycle of an ever increasing debt load. What happens to the US? I don't pretend to know the outcome, but note that other countries with a large debt load, like Greece and Japan, have suffered serious economic problems as a result.

Expand full comment

Yes, the corporate (Fascist) media is partially responsible for creating the politics of corporate rule. But what created that, and what created corporate rule in the first place?

Corporate personhood (corporate constitutional rights) and money as speech are the root causes of all of our troubles, including the deregulation of our media that enables fake news propaganda!

HJR54, the We the People Amendment will establish that only humans are entitled to constitutional rights and powers! It will require that money in politics be regulated, and it’s gaining traction in the House!!!

MoveToAmend.org exists to advance the We the People Amendment, but we can’t do it alone. Sign on at movetoamend.org/motion Get your favorite justice organization to join over 800 orgs by having them sign on at movetoamend.org/organizations . And get all of your favorite candidates for public office to sign on at movetoamend.org/pledge

Si Se Puede! All Power to We the People!

Expand full comment

MoveToAmend is a Republican Trojan Horse.

Expand full comment

How so? It’s nonpartisan. Check it out at movetoamend.org

Expand full comment

Why do so many folks just rely on the talking points that they hear, rather than looking for the actual IRS data?! The $2 trillion cost of the tax cuts are over a 10-year period, NOT for each year! The $2 trillion deficit is a SPENDING problem NOT a tax problem. You could actually confiscate 100% of ALL ASSETS from EVERY billionaire, which is about $2.9 trillion, and it would fund the U.S. government for LESS THAN 6 months! Where would the money come from for the next year, and the year after that?!

Here are the ACTUAL results of the Trump tax cuts:

IRS tax data, one that includes the effects of tax credits and other reforms to the tax code, shows tax cuts based on adjusted gross income (AGI):

$1 - $14,999 = 39% to 87%

$15,000 - $49,999 = 16% to 26%

$50,000 - $99,999 = 15% to 17%

$100,000 - $499,999 = 11% to 13%

$500,000 - $999,999 = 8%

$1-10 million or more = 3% to 7%

*IRS link [you have to download the Excel files for 2017 (pre-cut) & 2018 (post-cut) & compare the difference]: https://www.irs.gov/statistics/soi-tax-stats-individual-statistical-tables-by-size-of-adjusted-gross-income

Doesn’t really look like a tax cut for the wealthy to me. To quote Ronald Reagan: “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

Expand full comment

You're half right. The $2 trillion deficit is for this year, and includes about $0.5 trillion from the Trump tax cuts (incidentally that's $5 trillion over 10 years, not $2 trillion) and $1.5 trillion for Covid-related payments.

Here's where you go astray. Obama left a budget SURPLUS, but under Trump, by 2019, before Covid hit, that had turned into a deficit, which continued to grow (after subtracting out the Covid part) by $0.5 trillion per year due to the Trump tax cuts.

So, thanks for correcting me on this, but the Trump tax cuts are a really big contribution to the deficit. They amount to $2 trillion over a four year term.

Incidentally, Reagan was demented when he said what you quoted. It remains true that Republicans (Reagan, W, Trump) routinely run up large deficits when in office, Democrats (Clinton, Obama) are stuck with the job of paying them down.

Poor Joe Biden, he got stiffed with the bill for Covid.

Expand full comment

Michael, I'm sorry to tell you, but I'm not half right, I'm 100% right, AND the cost of Trump's tax cuts were slightly less than $1.5 trillion over 10 years, not $2 trillion over 4 years as you stated. I gave you the $2 trillion figure that you used originally just to offset any inflation that may have increased the cost of the tax cuts, but it's NOT $5 trillion over 10 years by ANY means.

Also, the budget doesn't reflect the cost of the tax cuts as a dollar amount, as in your example of $0.5 trillion because it's not an actual cost in that manner, but it's calculated as lost revenue compared to if the cuts were never enacted. Plus, the majority of the 2024 deficit is not "Covid related" since the majority of those costs were in the 2020 $3.132 trillion and 2021 $2.772 trillion deficits, which were the highest ever. The huge ongoing deficit spending is because of Congress acting like drunken sailors, and if it's not curbed soon, they're going to totally destroy our economy.

Finally, I'm not sure where you got the idea that Obama left a SURPLUS, but there hasn't been a SURPLUS in the federal budget since 2001. Here's a link to the U.S. Treasury site with the actual budget numbers for each year. Cheers!

https://fiscaldata.treasury.gov/americas-finance-guide/national-deficit/

Expand full comment

I urge everyone here to read the Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton to get an understanding of how macro economics really works and what the so called deficit is.

Expand full comment

I’m curious if you have seen a reasoned critique of this theory? I admit to having to challenge my paradigms, but I’m having a hard time refuting it-admittedly as a non-economist.

Expand full comment

Here is a beginning video of it. I've read quite a bit about it to fully understand it. I believe they are the only people around who truly understand how our economy works.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FATQ0Yf0Fhc

Expand full comment

Another blog full of lie slurping commie pieces of Leftist shit. Awesome.

Expand full comment

We are not in debt.

That is the simplest and strongest ready reply in my quiver.

We the People have $147 Trillion in net household wealth. Trillions, capital T !

That has grown about $70 Trillion in the past 10 years. Not in the GDP.

Our federal debt is about $35 Trillion. It has grown about $17 Trillion in the past 10 years.

$147 Trillion - $35 Trillion is more than $100 Trillion, net. Net!

$70 Trillion - $17 Trillion is still more than $50 Trillion to the good. Debt? Pay it, tomorrow!

Many in the traitor party have repeatedly threatened to 'declare insolvency.'

Imagine petitioning the bankruptcy judge and saying 'Judge, I got $147 in my right pocket, and an IOU for $35 in my left pocket. I must declare bankruptcy!' The judge would render judgment swiftly, I would hope, right in the pants out the door!

Ratings agencies ( Moody's ? ) have also threatened to downgrade the rating for US Treasuries. Really? But they don't say, well, you're not in debt -- which is what they should say.

( Source links, US Fed <uswealthclock.com> or if you don't like to click links, search 'US Fed net household wealth chart' )

There are a lot of comments in this thread, but I will keep trying until I hear our progressive leaders pound on our wealth when unpatriotic jerks continue to impugn our financial position and strength. Professor, you have published that the top 1% have $44 billion, same source, good on you. Makes the same point, with only 1% of the population!

The wealthiest are not paying wealth tax, like the rest of us, and sticking us with the bill, in the form of growing federal debt. We have to vote against that!

best luck to US! -- b.rad

Expand full comment

I was referring to the deficit not the debt. However, I agree we are not in debt the same was as a family or an individual can be in debt. Family debt is usually a bad thing, national debt can be a sign of good economic activity.

Expand full comment

Yep. I am recommending that we shift focus, with gusto, as Prof Reich has occasionally done in part, to our wealth, rather than the debt. As you say, there is good debt and bad debt.

But what is missing from our national conversation is a simple, ‘#1 - We are not in debt!’

Regular voters don’t know this. All they hear about is debt and deficits, so we must be broke. No! Not even close.

Making regular voters see that we are not in debt, not even close, should come as a shock to all of them. How many in the Chump party would change? Some.

[ Fill in billionaire ] has loans. He is not in debt.

We have a mortgage. Our household is not in debt.

So then what is the issue? The issue is that some of the wealthiest people in our country haven’t paid their share for decades, and still don’t. None of the wealthiest people have worked hard to get the rest of that cohort to pay. Buffett, Gates Sr, Nick Hanauer have made some efforts. Nada.

Some of the wealthiest have worked overtime to pervert and subvert our country, in contrast. The Feudalist society comes to mind first, but there are so many more.

Renters pay wealth tax. Renters pay *all* of the property tax owed by the owner on their unit. Homeowners pay wealth tax. The wealthiest people don’t pay wealth tax on the bulk of their wealth, in any sane accounting.

1% on an unaudited $147 Trillion would be $1.5 Trillion, per year. Per year. Less actual property taxes paid, maybe $600 Billion, we still get close to $1 Trillion. Per year. As a curious point, this is about what we pay in interest on our federal debt, so now we could talk about spending, and the deficit.

thanks again for your fine comment , hope some of this is useful — b.rad

Expand full comment

Brad, you do realize that there's a difference between personal resources and government resources, right?!

Private citizens have the $147 trillion in assets, and the government has the $35 trillion in debt. To say that the government isn't in debt because the citizens have enough to cover the debt is apples and oranges.

That would be like me saying, yeah, I've got all this debt that I've accumulated, but I'm not really in debt because my rich neighbor has enough to cover it. Just like private wealth isn't fungible between private citizens, it's also not fungible between private citizens and the government.

I'm not sure if odd ideas like this are due to schools not teaching basic economics, or if you read something and misunderstood what they were trying to say, or if there are so-called "experts" who are actually saying crazy stuff like this.

Expand full comment

I have met the government, and it is us.

Wealth is responsibility.

Expand full comment

More likely she is too uneducated to know what’s happening.

Expand full comment

Both.

Expand full comment

Unquestionably this country is being fun on the backs of the working Poor…

Expand full comment

Jeff Bezos pays a hell of a lot more in tax than a secretary. You been duped, the upper 20% who received the 65% rebate Robert Talks about ignores the fact that the upper 10% supply more than 70% of the actual dollar's that fund the government. They deserve a break. The lower 50% of peeps literally supply ZERO dollars to fund government. They are takers, not makers!

Expand full comment

Since when have facts infiltrated the minds of those deficit hawks, who are the themselves to blame for the deficit? Facts are so irrelevant to those who are vested in staying ignorant.

Expand full comment

Were you finding REASONS or BLAME? All your reasons are good, and your blame justified. That said, blame and reason have failed us in our present situation. We are a mob today guided by EMOTION. We are participants and enablers of a failed economic and political system. Our problem is SYSTEMIC!! We exist in a state of CHAOS! PLUTUS has failed us as a god. We have a much bigger problem than a Republican or a Democrat, a Trump or a Biden, a democracy or a plutocracy. We are a people searching for something to value, a different god than Plutus. We need to quit talking politics and policy and start talking about a minor Greek goddess, Arete. Virtue is a forgotten word in today's vernacular. Propagandist have destroyed our virtues and replaced those virtues with blame. Blame is simple, concrete, and fast, politicians love it. Virtue and Arete are abstract, complex, and difficult for the individual to deal with, colored with failures. Our default button is BLAME. REASON is DEAD! We are what we despise! We must FIRST reclaim VIRTUE via ARETE as individuals, not as a nation. It's the same old battle. When we picked Plutus and Plutocracy, we picked the wrong god and the wrong government. FATE has robbed us of our denial, almost!

Expand full comment
founding

Yes the press never asks the tough questions for fear of being ostracized or unable to get the interview next time.

Expand full comment
Apr 30Liked by Robert Reich

5. The Republican's Big Donors are very, very happy not only with their trillions, but that their politicians and their media have fooled a lot of the peasants into believing it's all the Democrats fault. They're laughing at us.

Expand full comment

M Tree ; and praying that we don't find out the truth!

Expand full comment

Plus they have Jerome Powell hiking interest rates again?

Expand full comment

you only have to fool most of the people most of the time

Expand full comment

Fools Errand 101: Course description: We try to explore ways and means of explaining to Republicans that in fact they are responsible for a growing national debt. Grades based on effort not success.

Expand full comment

Will this course explain that each congressperson gets paid $174,000 plus benefits plus office and staff and pension and big bucks for hearings and they are so often on recess and when in congress do almost nothing. It’s millions wasted.

Expand full comment

Clearly not . This is an entry level 101. The course you are describing is part of the Advanced Understand Congresspersons program, the benefits and the benefits included in the syllabus for the Masters Degree.

Expand full comment

Please reconsider. The congressional budget (salaries and cost of pointless hearings) needs to be part of “waste in government spending.” We are having some light hearted fun, but I am seriousish . I suggest a meter on the screen showing the cost of each hearing. Like being in a taxi stuck in traffic seeing my money evaporate.

Expand full comment

Then I suggest you sign up for the deep dive PHD program which challenges students to understand who is doing the wasting and who is trying to govern.

Expand full comment

Emiky Kirk, thanks for the good laugh. Much needed!

Expand full comment

Thank you for explaining this in a way that even an economyphobe like me can understand. If I understand it, they increase the debt by cutting taxes to mostly themselves, then get more money from the interest paid on the govt debt with the taxes the rest of us pay, then they complain about the increasing debt (that they profit from), and when they can, decrease THEIR taxes again, and the cycle continues, and the rich get richer, and richer, and richer... Do I have that right?

Expand full comment
founding
Apr 30·edited Apr 30

Reckon so. Many of the morbidly wealthy subscribe to an ideology which blames those fleeced by them for their own misery. An anachronistic philosophical revenant of Puritan colonialism.

Expand full comment
Apr 30·edited Apr 30

Monnina ; and all thanks to a lack of information for the masses. It would probably be considered "controversial" to teach this in public schools, or even most colleges. and we see how pundits like Dana Bash stay in 'their lane'....

Expand full comment

revenant---an undead being, one who returns from the dead.

Expand full comment

Terry, Wow! That was a great description. I wonder if that could be animated in some way it could get through to the folks who think all their troubles are caused by Democrats while they keep voting in the folks who do so much damage to them and their lifestyle. It could work?

Expand full comment

Maybe Inequality Media/Civics Action could put that together sometime! It would be worth extra donations!!!!

Expand full comment

I wonder if one of the many videos Reich has lays out the debt issue by the numbers. He has a few videos on US debt like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuG_2SSNj-o where tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy are blamed but I'm looking for the whole story.

Expand full comment

It's like a hamster on a spinning wheel isn't it, Terry?

Expand full comment
Apr 30·edited Apr 30

At least for the hapless middle class and lower/earning taxpayers! We are being spun and wrung! Even over the counter necessary meds not "covered" by insurance are taxed!

Expand full comment

Yes you do! A+

And BTW the aid to Ukraine? Who makes the weapons that the US government BUY$ and gives to Ukraine? The good old military industrial complex.

Expand full comment

Yes, Miriam, much of the "aid" we give to our allies goes to our arms manufacturers. Maybe that is one reason why we have so many allies. Since these manufacturers are mostly monopolies perhaps they should pay more in taxes. They certainly are costing a lot to tax-payers.

Expand full comment

In recent years, some GOP confessed they only care about the debt when Dems are in charge.

Expand full comment

Not only true, but start dates and sunset dates are timed to make democrats look bad and to protect the guilty.

Expand full comment

So true, Sam!

Expand full comment

Sam: because there is little accountability or "legal exposure" for them!

Expand full comment

I don't know about the rest of you, but I've never been able to convince ANY Republicans of ANYTHING, no matter how many Facts or how much evidence I can cite. I suppose that if they were the kind of people that _could_ be swayed by Facts and evidence, they wouldn't be Republicans.

Expand full comment

CaptainPatch ; The "Republicans" are deliberately obtuse ; They refuse to see it, even if they 'listen'!

Expand full comment

Try "Trump hates dogs."

Expand full comment
Apr 30·edited Apr 30

Like his would be VP choice. who kills puppies who are too rambunctious and bark too much! " That dog can't hunt!" Especially after I shot it! (For not being 'hunting material'). Where are the consequences for cruelty to animals? Is she allowed to get another one?

Expand full comment

Laurie - people who kill animals are psychotic. people who brag about it are worse. it's fascinating and terrifying what these women are doing to pander to drumpf. why?

Expand full comment

Paul : I don't know what state she lives in, but she should not be allowed to own or buy any more dogs. She should face some kind of penalty for what she did. Sadly, some of those who breed animals for certain characteristics have the "less desirable" euthanized. Jeffrey Dahmer abused animals and look what he did to humans...

Expand full comment

Paul: women And men have pandered to tRUMP. : He seems to have an uncanny ability to hypnotize otherwise intelligent people. He creates this fantasy, as one judge described his wild rationalizations. The temptation of unlimited power and glory is hard to resist for some.

Expand full comment

This is NOT to defend Noem, but I have an anecdote about dog-killing farmers:

My aunt and uncle owned and operated a small dairy farm in northern WI which was eventually passed on to my cousin, their oldest son. (This was back in the 1970s.) The farm had several dogs trained to help round up the dairy herd twice a day. Being short-lived compared to humans, dogs would have to be "retired" periodically and replacements acquired and trained. These dogs were in no way pets. They were just animals being used by the farmers the same way the dairy cows were animals. The cows, once they were no longer useful for the dairy business would be sold off to become hamburger at the nearest meat-packing plant. As for the dogs, if they "didn't get it" quickly, they would become a drain on the family finances, having to be fed and treated by a vet occasionally. Being "untrainable", none of the neighboring dairy farms would have an interest in acquiring such an animal. And giving the animal to the nearest Animal Shelter -- 50+ miles away -- (for a fee) would just be delaying the inevitable because after two weeks with no one interested in adopting such an animal, the shelter would "put the animal down" anyway. Nor could the dog just be turned loose because inevitably, in order to survive, the dog would become a chicken-killer terrorizing a county of farmers. (Which would make whoever turned the dog loose terribly unpopular with his neighbors.) My cousins "solution" (which was probably a continuing practice by my uncle and my uncle's father) was to shoot the dog. Which made the dog of at least _some_ use as it became fertilizer out in the hay fields. Not particularly cruel and unusual as the execution was over before the dog ever knew what was happening. Not like living on Death Row for years on end.

When my cousin told me about this, my first thought was "What a waste." But my cousin patiently laid it all out to his city-boy cousin about why farmers have to be cold-heartedly practical. As occupations go, being a smalltime farmer has to be one of the lowest financially rewarding jobs in America. Like so many factory workers are living "paycheck to paycheck", farmers and ranchers are living harvest to harvest, herd-culling to herd-culling. A drought, extended flooding, crop infestation, whatever, and there goes the family farm that has been in the family for generations. So farmers CAN'T afford to get too attached to their farm animals. Those creatures are _tools_. They serve a function and when they can no longer serve their function, they need to be replaced ASAP.

As a consideration, he added in, "Why do some animals get preferential treatment? Why are no tears shed for the ones that end up as the guest of honor on the dining room table?" The majority of Humanity are omnivores (with a greater number trending towards carnivore rather than vegetarian). Isn't wailing about discarded dogs and NOT about the millions of animals processed through slaughterhouses each year rather hypocritical? Given that America is a Democracy, and the clear majority of Americans are meat-eaters, is it really surprising that slaughterhouses are NOT being shut down because of the "cruel and unusual" manner in which the animals are treated and killed? Is EVERYONE that is associated with meat-packing plants "psychotic"? Since they ARE in the clear majority, couldn't they contend that Animal Rights people are the "psychotic" ones?

Like most cases, there are usually two sides to every story.

Expand full comment

Not all animals are the same. There is a reason why the dog is often referred to as "man's best friend."

Expand full comment

But not all dogs are "Man's best friend." Pit bulls, for example. And it would be reasonable to look at each dog on an individual basis to ascertain just how tolerable it is. (Which would likewise be a reasonable practice for evaluating humans -- which pretty much ALL racists do NOT do.) [If some/many/possibly most people won't automatically cut their fellow human beings some slack, it's not surprising that they wouldn't cut pets the same amount of slack.]

Expand full comment

CaptainPatch ; I am not nor have I claimed to be a psychiatrist, nor could I say that anyone is 'psychotic.' I know about managing predators on a farm. It just seemed cruel to not try to find someone looking for a puppy who did not need to be a hunting dog. I lived with those who raised running hounds for hunting. If a dog was not a good candidate, it was offered as a pet while still young enough. Some were kept as pets. With all the talk from Donald Trump's lawyers about his immunity from being prosecuted for killing an opponent, I could not help but comment on the story of Noem, as a possible Vice Presidential candidate, listing her ability to make "hard choices' when having to decide what to do with her puppy. What if a human was a liability in any way? or a group of humans? Since She is not trying for a farm job, I was looking at this story in context of the insanity unfolding at the "top'" of our government, and her possible role as a competitor for Donald Trump's Veep spot. She would be a heartbeat away from the Presidency, if she was chosen and they won.

Expand full comment

I can't seem to pull up the entire thread, but my reference was to someone that was labeling ALL dog-killers "psychotic" after your post. Noem's story is what got me to recall my 1970s anecdote. I was wondering how long ago Noem's story dated back to. She's about 30-40 years younger than me, so if her story was from when she was a teenager (can't imagine she has been working a ranch while working her political career) the incident would most likely have been in the 1990s. Access to Animal Shelters _might_ have been less than a 50 mile jaunt from the ranch. But there are a couple of factors that most critics are not taking into account. 1) 14 months is NOT a "puppy". That's about 10% of the dogs entire lifespan. Young, yes, but certainly not a cute, adorable puppy a few months old. 2) This is the important item: the dog had started killing chickens. Once that starts, it's next to impossible to stop it from happening again. For the sake of the ranch, and to avoid the acrimony of any neighboring ranchers by NOT killing a chicken-killing dog, it really needed to be put down. Giving the dog to a shelter would be like knowingly selling a used car that you KNOW is a lemon that WILL cause the next owner a lot of grief.

If anything, the Bad Thing about Noem telling the anecdote was in how poorly she explained why, in her (and undoubtedly her family's) opinion, the dog _needed_ to be put down. (And I suppose, writing "I really hated that dog" was a really, really bad and unnecessary admission.)

Expand full comment

Noem is also responsible for the death of farm workers in her state during the pandemic.

Expand full comment

I would like your comment, but it is sad news. How did she become responsible for farm workers' deaths?

Expand full comment

failure to protect workers from Covid-19.

Expand full comment

I'd say that if you could be convinced of anything with facts and evidence you wouldn't be a member of any political party. 2 wings of the same evil bird.

Expand full comment

Thanks for the laugh!

Expand full comment

Professor Reich: the way i see things, there's only 2 solutions to this national-debt/massive-tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy problem: we either jack up the tax rate to where it was in the 1950s, or we eat the rich.

is anyone out there on board with a texass style BBQ, fried green tomatoes style?

Expand full comment

Hahahahahahaha!! That was a great movie, GrrlScientist; however, I don't even think BBQ sauce would hide that horrible taste!!!

Expand full comment
Apr 30·edited Apr 30

Yeccch! Just tax them already!

Expand full comment

I’d prefer the first suggestion, the second would lead to a bad taste in the mouth that no amount of bbq sauce could cure.

I do have another idea, borrow the chipper from Fargo. I couldn’t exactly say that was “my buddy”, but you get the idea.

Expand full comment

In 2022 the revenue was 19.02315% of the GDP. Which is close to a record. Federal spending was 24% of the GDP during 2024.

The USA has a spending problem.

Expand full comment

They'd probably poison us if we ate them LOL

Expand full comment

Love it. Eat the rich!

Expand full comment

Dawg food maybe?

Expand full comment

It would be appropriate to use Kristi Noem for that.

Expand full comment

Don't eat putrefaction!

Expand full comment

Some of the Fat Cats deserve to be "roasted."

Expand full comment

The bottom line is that the people who can afford to pay taxes that would reduce the deficit pay little or nothing! They want the people who can least afford to pay taxes to bail out the debt.

Expand full comment

Keith, that's how it works, and when those who can least afford to do it can't do it, the rich whine and whine some more, then reluctantly dip into their huge pile of gold and buy a few candidates who will do their bidding. Thanks Johnny Roberts and your Supreme Court!

Expand full comment

Keith, what I don't understand is that the oligarchs and their republican puppets know this and simply do NOT care about any of the rest of us so long as they get their money!! Geez, you can't take it with you when you go - why is there such a need among the rich to have more, more, more!?!

Expand full comment

ego. self-image and control needs

Expand full comment

I think it’s a sickness like gambling or alcoholism. They cannot stop their cravings for more. It doesn’t matter how much they have they still want more! It’s a shame that they don’t want to help those who are struggling to make ends meet. We are all in this together.Humans are a strange quantity!

Expand full comment