Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Last Call For The GOP's Race To The Bottom, Con't

As I informed you all on Sunday, the NY Times has made a valuable and powerful contribution to the discussion of race in America that is ongoing with the 1619 Project.  It's taken me most of the last two days to digest the multiple articles, and the screaming rage from the right over even having that conversation on anything other than 100% their terms has driven them into paroxysms of thunderous verbal flatulence, as Slate's Ashley Feinberg notes.

Conservative pundits were not happy to see this. Right-wing intellectual heavyweights such as Newt Gingrich or right-wing intellectual junior middleweights such as Erick Erickson spent the past few days obsessively tweeting or yelling at you from your TV screens to make sure America knew that the New York Times was trying to—well, that part was not entirely clear.

For white conservatives, accepting that the United States wouldn’t exist without slavery would mean acknowledging that the Founders were not the creators of an infallible civic religion, which sets the limits on all modern claims for justice. It would mean that liberty was, in practice, as much a matter of exclusion as inclusion, and that success and prosperity owe more to centuries of exploitation than to God’s blessing of an exceptional people.

But their political project depends on not even considering those possibilities. And so their response was equal parts furious and vague, a barrage of arguments that discussing this country’s history is the last thing this country needs: the Times was being divisive, or it was being nihilistic, or it was implementing a secret scheme to make Americans vote against Trump by claiming that racism was an ongoing problem.

Mostly, they wanted to express that they were very personally angry. The fact that they took a wide-ranging examination of slavery’s lasting ills as an attack on themselves was a fairly obvious confession.

And that's where we are right now, the anti-intellectual modern Know-Nothings bleat about how America will be made great again if we can just get those people to stop talking about how maybe a country that did everything it could to keep black America down might be an ongoing, systemic issue while convincing themselves that they've already done enough.

I see this on social media, too.  Very "clever" (and 99.98% of the time, white) people simply respond with how being black in America is better than being black anywhere else on Earth, and I laugh and say "Would you be black for even a day in this country?"

It's amazing.

Down And Out In Elkhart, Again

Remember Elkhart, Indiana?  I've talked about the RV Capital of the World before, where many of the nation's recreational vehicles are manufactured.  President Obama went there to kick off his stimulus package and the people of Indiana rewarded him with "economic anxiety".

Mr. Obama, whose four trips here during 2008 and 2009 tracked the area’s decline, is expected to return for the first time in coming weeks, both to showcase its recovery and to warn against going back to Republican economic policies. Yet where is Mr. Neufeldt leaning in this presidential election year? He may keep a photograph of himself and Mr. Obama on a desk at the medical office he cleans nightly, but he is considering Donald J. Trump
“I like the way he just won’t take nothing off of nobody,” Mr. Neufeldt said, though days later he allowed: “He scares me sometimes.” 
Billboards proclaim, “Hiring: Welders. Up to $23/hour,” but for all the progress, many people here — like Americans elsewhere — harbor unshakable anxiety about stagnant wages, their economic future and the erosion of the middle class generally. 
Antigovernment resentments over past bank bailouts linger, stoked by candidates in both parties (though taxpayers got their money back, with dividends). And social issues such as abortion, gun rights, same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act and immigration loom larger than any other for some voters. 
The enduring wounds of the Great Recession, together with discouraging economic trends that long predated it, have fueled anger on the left but especially on the right, thanks to Mr. Trump, the maverick Republican front-runner. Mr. Obama is not getting the recognition historically accorded a president who presides over economic revival, but then again, neither are divided Republicans seen as offering a positive alternative.

Obama's policies got Elkhart's unemployment from over 20% in 2009 to under 5% in 2016.  The RV business came roaring back. But Elkhart Indiana picked Trump, along with enough of the country to put him in power, because "economic anxiety".  But last summer, things started to get dicey thanks to Trump's stupid tariffs.

Shipments of motor homes were down 18.7 percent in June compared with a year ago, and shipments of smaller trailers and campers were down 10.5 percent, according to the RV Industry Association. Motor home shipments were down 6.5 percent in July, but overall shipments were up 10 percent compared with the same month last year. Some companies have cut back to four-day workweeks. Amid strong job gains nationally, hints of rising wages and solid overall economic growth, Elkhart’s health is decidedly ambiguous. 
“I think it’s a yellow light,” said Richard Curtin, a University of Michigan economist who is a consultant to the R.V. industry. “Depending on how things evolve in six months, it could be a red light, getting to the end of the expansion.”

Well guess what Trump's tariffs have done to the place three years later?

Shipments of recreational vehicles to dealers have fallen about 20% so far this year, after a 4.1% drop last year, according to data from the RV Industry Association. Multiyear drops in shipments have preceded the last three recessions. “The RV industry is better at calling recessions than economists are,” said Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University, in Muncie, Ind. Mr. Hicks says softening consumer demand for RVs coupled with rising vehicle prices due to tariffs suggests the economy is either in a recession or soon headed for one.

Yep.  You wanted Trump, Elkhart, and boy howdy, did you get Trump.

RVs can range in price from about $12,000 for a folding camping trailer to $212,000 for a high-end motor home, according to average retail prices collected by the RV Industry Association. The prices have been sensitive to the U.S. tariffs imposed on some Chinese goods. The industry estimates that as many as 523 items could be hit by the tariffs, everything from the toilet-seat covers that go into RV bathrooms and cow hides for leather furniture to the aluminum or steel used throughout the vehicles. 
Divya Brown, the president of Houston.-based TAXA Outdoors, a small RV manufacturer, said her company bought most of its parts from Elkhart. Her suppliers are raising their prices to account for the hit they are taking from imported goods such as aluminum and steel. Ms. Brown said the company saw a 22% jump in the cost of steel and a 9% jump in the cost of aluminum.

It was bad for Elkhart last year.  This yeah it's a bloodbath.  The yellow light is now flashing red and the signal poles are on fire.  In the last seven days we've seen an inverted yield curve and now Elkhart's economy is starting to crumble.

Do you think Donald Trump is going to get us out of this coming shitstorm?

Trump Trades Blows, Con't

Trump regime: The gloom and doom talk on the economy is a plot to harm Dear Leader!

Also Trump regime: So, since the economy needs stimulus, how about a payroll tax cut?

Several senior White House officials have begun discussing whether to push for a temporary payroll tax cut as a way to arrest an economic slowdown, three people familiar with the discussions said, revealing growing concerns about the economy among President Trump’s top economic aides.

The talks are still in their early stages and have included a range of other tax breaks. The officials also have not decided whether to formally push Congress to approve any of these measures, these people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to disclose internal discussions. But the White House increasingly is discussing ideas to boost a slowing economy, they said.

Even though deliberations about the payroll tax cut were held Monday, the White House released a statement disputing that the idea was actively under “consideration.”

“As (National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow) said yesterday, more tax cuts for the American people are certainly on the table, but cutting payroll taxes is not something under consideration at this time,” the statement said.

The statement and the internal discussions over the payroll tax cut are part of a rapidly evolving effort by the White House to both exude confidence about the economy’s strength while simultaneously hunting for ways to bolster business and consumer confidence. Business spending already has pulled back, in part because of fears about the trade war, but consumer spending has remained robust. If ordinary Americans begin to tighten their belts later this year, the economy could suffer new strain.

Millions of Americans pay a “payroll tax” on their earnings, a 6.2 percent levy that is used to finance Social Security programs. The payroll tax was last cut in 2011 and 2012 during the Obama administration to 4.2 percent, as a way to encourage more consumer spending during the recent economic downturn. But the cut was allowed to reset back up to 6.2 percent in 2013.

Workers pay payroll taxes on income up to $132,900, so cutting the tax has remained a popular idea for many lawmakers, especially Democrats, seeking to deliver savings for middle-income earners and not the wealthiest Americans. But payroll tax cuts can also add dramatically to the deficit and – depending on how they are designed – pull billions of dollars away from Social Security.

The issues are two as I see it, first the "talks have included a range of other tax breaks" at the top there, and the fact that is designed badly, payroll tax cuts can harm Social Security.  Republicans tried to claim President Obama was doing just that in 2012 before they caved for several extensions, but in 2013 when the payroll tax cut expired, the GOP slammed him hard and rode that towards a 2014 wipeout of House Democrats.

My worry is that any payroll tax cut will be a mess that the Democrats will have to fix.  Again.


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