Insights from Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader: While Americans Sleep, Our Corporate Overlords Make Progress Impossible

Posted on  by Jerri-Lynn Scofield

By Ralph Nader, a consumer advocate and the author of “The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future” (2012). His new book is, “Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lies and Lawbreaking Betray All” (2020, co-authored with Mark Green).Originally published at Common Dreams

“Polarization” is the word most associated with the positions of the Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The mass media and the commentators never tire of this focus, in part because such clashes create the flashes conducive to daily coverage.

Politicians from both parties exploit voters who don’t do their homework on voting records and let the lawmakers use the people’s sovereign power (remember the Constitution’s “We the People”) against them on behalf of the big corporate bosses.

The quiet harmony between the two parties created by the omnipresent power of Big Business and other powerful single-issue lobbyists is often the status quo. That’s why there are so few changes in this country’s politics.

In many cases, the similarities of both major parties are tied to the fundamental concentration of power by the few over the many. In short, the two parties regularly agree on anti-democratic abuses of power. Granted, there are always a few exceptions among the rank & file. Here are some areas of Republican and Democrat concurrence:

1. The Duopoly shares the same stage on a militaristic, imperial foreign policy and massive unaudited military budgets. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Pentagon budget was voted out of a House committee by the Democrats and the GOP with $24 billion MORE than what President Biden asked for from Congress. Neither party does much of anything to curtail the huge waste, fraud, and abuse of corporate military contractors, or the Pentagon’s violation of federal law since 1992 requiring annual auditable data on DOD spending be provided to Congress, the president, and the public.

2. Both Parties allow unconstitutional wars violating federal laws and international treaties that we signed onto long ago, including restrictions on the use of force under the United Nations Charter.

3. Both Parties ignore the burgeoning corporate welfare subsidies, handouts, giveaways, and bailouts turning oceans of inefficient, mismanaged, and coddled profit-glutted companies into tenured corporate welfare Kings.

4. Both Parties decline to crack down on the nationwide corporate crime spree. They don’t even like to use the phrase “corporate crime” or “corporate crime wave.” They prefer to delicately allude to “white-collar crime.”

Trillions of dollars are at stake every year, yet neither party holds corporate crime hearings nor proposes an update of the obsolete, weak federal corporate criminal laws.

In some instances, there is no criminal penalty at all for willful and knowing violations of safety regulatory laws (e.g., the auto safety and aviation safety laws). Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is trying to find just one Republican Senator to co-sponsor the “Hide No Harm Act” that would make it a crime for a corporate officer to knowingly conceal information about a corporate action or product that poses the danger of death or serious physical injury to consumers or workers.

5. Both Parties allow Wall Street’s inexhaustibly greedy CEOs to prey on innocents, including small investors. They also do nothing to curb hundreds of billions of dollars in computerized billing fraud, especially in the health care industry. (See, License to Steal by Malcolm K. Sparrow and a GAO Report about thirty years ago).

6. The third leading cause of death in the U.S. is fatalities from preventable problems in hospitals and clinics. According to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine study in 2015, a conservative estimate is that 250,000 people yearly are dying from preventable conditions. Neither Congress nor the Executive Branch has an effort remotely up to the scale required to reduce this staggering level of mortality and morbidity. Nor is the American Medical Association (AMA) engaging with this avoidable epidemic.

7. Both Parties sped bailout of over $50 billion to the airline industry during Covid-19, after the companies had spent about $45 billion on unproductive stock buybacks over the last few years to raise the metrics used to boost executive pay.

8. Both Parties starve corporate law enforcement budgets in the Justice Department, the regulatory agencies, and such departments as Labor, Agriculture, Interior, Transportation, and Health and Human Services. The Duopoly’s view is that there be no additional federal cops on the corporate crime beat.

9. Both Parties prostrate themselves before the bank-funded Federal Reserve. There are no congressional audits, no congressional oversight of the Fed’s secret, murky operations, and massive printing of money to juice up Wall Street, while keeping interest rates near zero for trillions of dollars held by over one hundred million small to midsize savers in America.

10. Both Parties are wedded to constant and huge bailouts of the risky declining, uncompetitive (with solar and wind energy) nuclear power industry. This is corporate socialism at its worst. Without your taxpayer and ratepayer dollars, nuclear plants would be closing down faster than is now the case. Bipartisan proposals for more nukes come with large subsidies and guarantees by Uncle Sam.

11. Both Parties hate Third Parties and engage in the political bigotry of obstructing their ballot access (See: Richard Winger’s Ballot Access News), with hurdles, harassing lawsuits, and exclusions from public debates. The goal of both parties is to stop a competitive democracy.

12. Both Parties overwhelmingly rubber-stamp whatever the Israeli government wants in the latest U.S. military weaponry, the suppression of Palestinians and illegal occupation of the remaining Palestinian lands, and the periodic slaughter of Gazans with U.S. weapons. The Duopoly also supports the use of the U.S. veto in the UN Security Council to insulate Israel from UN sanctions.

13. Continuing Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich’s debilitating internal deforms of congressional infrastructures, the Democrats have gone along with the GOP’s shrinking of committee and staff budgets, abolition of the crucial Office of Technology Assessment’s (OTA) budget, and concentration of excessive power in the hands of the Speaker and Senate leader. This little noticed immolation reduces further the legislature’s ability to oversee the huge sprawling Executive Branch. The erosion of congressional power is furthered by the three-day work week Congress has reserved for itself.

14. Even on what might seem to be healthy partisan differences, the Democrats and the GOP agree not to replace or ease out Trump’s Director of the Internal Revenue Service, a former corporate loophole tax lawyer, or the head of the U.S. Postal Service, a former profiteer off the Post Office who will shortly curtail service even more than he did in 2020 (See: First Class: The U.S. Postal Service, Democracy, and the Corporate Threat, by Christopher W Shaw).

Right now, both Parties are readying to give over $50 billion of your tax money to the very profitable under-taxed computer chip industry companies like Intel and Nvidia, so they can make more profit-building plants in the U.S. These companies are loaded with cash. They should invest their own money and stop the stock buyback craze. Isn’t that what capitalism is all about?

Both Parties vote as if the American middle-class taxpayer is a sleeping sucker. Politicians from both parties exploit voters who don’t do their homework on voting records and let the lawmakers use the people’s sovereign power (remember the Constitution’s “We the People”) against them on behalf of the big corporate bosses.

Sleep on America, you have nothing to lose but your dreams.

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This entry was posted in Banana republicGuest PostIncome disparityLegalPoliticsRegulations and regulatorsRidiculously obvious scamsThe destruction of the middle class on  by Jerri-Lynn Scofield.

‘No Excuses’ Charter Schools

The sacred and the profane: A former D.C. charter school board member calls for change

By Valerie Strauss, Washington Post Reporter

September 23, 2021 at 10:29 a.m. EDT

Steve Bumbaugh is a former member of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, having served on the seven-member volunteer panel from 2015 until early this year. During that time, Bumbaugh visited numerous charter schools and attended many board meetings where questions of whether schools should be authorized, sanctioned or closed were discussed.

Charter schools are publicly funded but operate independently from the school systems in the areas where they are located. In the nation’s capital, charters enroll nearly as many of the city’s schoolchildren as the system does. Supporters of charters say that they provide families with a necessary alternative to schools in traditional districts. Critics say they do not, on average, provide better student outcomes than traditional districts and steer public money away from districts that educate most schoolchildren.

Bumbaugh is a big supporter of charter schools. In this unusual post, he writes about his experience on the charter board and makes recommendations for change that he said will be bring better representation from the community.

Bumbaugh has worked in the education field for several decades in various roles. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science at Yale University and an MBA at Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

By Steve Bumbaugh

Let’s travel back to September 2017. I was in Southeast Washington, D.C., scheduled to tour a school in an hour. I remember visiting 25 years ago when it was part of the D.C. public school system. That school was closed in 2009 — one of dozens closed in the last 15 years — and now several charter schools occupy the campus.

At the time of this visit, I was a member of board of the D.C. Public Charter School Board (PCSB), having started my tenure in 2015 and serving until early this year. In that capacity, I visited dozens of D.C.-based charter schools. Sometimes, I left those visits saddened, even defeated.

This was one of those times.

Over several decades of work at the intersection of education and poverty, I have learned that much of a school’s character can be divined through its start-of-the-day ritual. So on that day in 2017, I arrived early and sat in my car, far enough away that no one seemed to notice me, but near enough so that I could observe the comings and goings. Several young Black women arrived at school with their children who look to be 5 or 6 years old. They were greeted by staff members, and I observed them having what appeared to be tense conversations with the women. Some of these women left with their children in tow. Others handed their children over to staff members and departed.

When I entered the school for my scheduled visit, I was greeted by one of the founders, a 30-something man with energy and charm. He was joined by the school’s board chair, a distinguished senior partner from one of D.C.’s blue-chip law firms. They took me on a tour of several classrooms. I noticed that the leadership of the school was entirely White as were many of the teachers. All of the students were African American, most from families that struggle financially.

For the most part, the school looked like most other “no excuses” charter schools in the nation’s capital, dotting low-income African American neighborhoods, and in other places across the country.

These schools start with the belief that there is no good reason for the huge academic gaps between privileged and poor minority students — and that strict discipline, obedience, uniform teaching methods and other policies could erase the gaps. A feature of many of these schools, and one evident on this site visit, are lines painted on the hallway floors. Students are expected to walk on these lines as they move from classroom to classroom. Any deviation is likely to result in punishment. The only other places I had seen this before was at correctional facilities.

I entered a preschool classroom where students were gathered in a semi-circle on a rug. Like curious 4-year-olds everywhere, the students turned their heads to scrutinize us. Many smiled widely and some even waved. The teacher snapped at the children, demanding their attention. I was startled by her aggression. They were, after all, 4-year old children engaging in age-appropriate behavior.

That evening I called a staff person from this school who I’ve known for several years. I asked her to translate the scenes I witnessed outside the school. The conversation went something like this:

–“Those scholars probably had uniform violations. The staff persons were probably telling the moms to go home to have the kids change.”

–“I didn’t notice that they were wearing anything different from the other children.”

–“Well, they may have had the wrong color shoes. Or maybe they had the correct color shirt, but it didn’t have the school’s insignia on it.”

–“They have to go back home for that?”

–“Unless they want to spend the day in a behavior support room.”

Incredulous, I pressed my friend for details. I discovered that children as young as 3 years old could spend an entire day in seclusion, away from their classmates, if they were wearing the wrong color shoes. I am dumbstruck. Is this even legal?

This sort of interaction between students and staff was not uncommon in no-excuses charter schools I visited over the years.

Occasionally I did visit schools that combine academic rigor and kindness with student bodies that are mostly Black and low-income. But those schools were the exception. I’ve seen schools where children are taught to track the teachers with their eyes, move their mouths in a specific way, and engage in other humiliating rituals that have little educational value.

I visited a school that suspended 40 percent of its 5-year-old children who had been diagnosed with disabilities. At some schools, when children are sick, their parents were forced to produce a doctor’s note because school leaders believed the parents were lying. But some of these parents were uninsured and there weren’t — and still aren’t — many doctors in their neighborhoods. Obtaining a doctor’s note required them to take their children onto packed public buses so they could go to public health clinics or emergency rooms.

Schools that still do this are telling these parents that they are not trusted. And while children in these schools are taught computational math and textual analysis, they also learn that they are congenitally profane.

Charter schools arose a generation ago in Washington, D.C. when the city was poor and in the grips of a decade-long homicide epidemic. I was part of a group of 20-somethings frustrated with the lack of progress in the city’s long-troubled public school system. We had been creating programs for the D.C. Public Schools system that dramatically outpaced the district’s regular academic outcomes, and we wanted to turn these programs into actual schools.

We talked about forging solutions with parents and students, working to retain every single student, exhorting patience about building the infrastructure from which improved academic outcomes would spring.

But little of this vision was attractive to an emerging cadre of funders and policymakers who placed huge bets on charter schools. They submitted to a vision, not based on a shred of evidence, that Black and Brown children would thrive if they were taught “character” and “grit.” The way to do this, apparently, was to create an assembly-line model of instruction with rigid rules. Children who could not abide by these rules were “counseled out” to return to traditional public schools. Now about one-third of D.C. charter schools are in the no-excuses category, enrolling at least half of the charter student population. (Some of these schools say they are changing, but I haven’t seen real evidence of that.)

Some ‘no-excuses’ charter schools say they are changing. Are they? Can they?

Remember, this was a time when Black communities were ravaged by an epidemic of crack cocaine and criminal justice laws that sent Blacks to jail for far longer sentences than Whites arrested for using essentially the same drug. Hillary Clinton, then first lady, warned against “the kinds of kids that are called super predators, no conscience, no empathy” — which many of us took to mean low-income Black children. In this context, powerful people not familiar with low-income communities were easily seduced by plans to tightly control children who might otherwise grow into dangerous adults.

The D.C. Public Charter School Board was created in 1996, at a time when homicide rates in the District were so high the city was dubbed the “murder capital.” It is no wonder the D.C. Public Charter School Board jumped on the “no-excuses” bandwagon.

What have we gained from this system? As of 2018-19 — the latest data available on the website of the charter school board — only 8.5 percent of Black high school students (about 80 percent of the student population) in charter schools were deemed proficient in math and 21 percent in English Language Arts, according to scores on the standardized PARCC exam.

There are some charter schools that are doing amazing work, but the system itself is ineffective. The vast majority of our students are not remotely ready for the rigors of college coursework.

After untold millions of dollars of investment and the creation of scores of schools — there were 128 operating this year — it is time for us to admit that this experiment is not working as it should.

So what must be done?

The District must rethink its charter schools, and more specifically, charter schools must be integrated. “Chocolate City” has been replaced by a city where upper-income White residents and a more diverse spectrum of Black residents exist in equal numbers.

One of the few scalable policies that dramatically improved academic outcomes for Black students was the integration of American public schools in the 1970s and ’80s. The Performance Management Framework that ranks the quality of each charter school should ensure that schools reflect the demographics of the city as it is today, particularly given that charter schools are not constrained by neighborhood boundaries that enforce segregation in traditional public schools.

New York City provides a replicable, legal model to enact a charter school system that prevents the proliferation of a worrying trend in D.C’s charter schools: elite charters that essentially shut out vulnerable, low-income Black children. (Though the city also has some of the most egregious no-excuses charters.)

What we have now, with some notable exceptions, is a system where highly resourced families crowd into a handful of desirable schools that have impossibly long waiting lists, and students from poor families attend no-excuses schools or charters that struggle to remain open. A school that serves a student body where 6-8 percent of the students meet the definition of “at risk” should not be considered top tier when 51 percent of the students (a statistic confirmed by a charter board staff member) in the entire system are at risk.

Similarly, schools should not be penalized or subtly encouraged to move out low-performing students when they serve student bodies that are overwhelmingly at risk.

“Separate and equal” should not stand in one of the most liberal cities in the United States.

Moreover power needs to be distributed more evenly. At first glance, the concentration of institutional power is not evident at the Public Charter School Board.

Most of the board members, including the current executive director, are Black or Latino. A closer look — and I am including myself in this observation — reveals that we are not remotely similar to most of the families with children attending D.C. public charter schools. Fully 80 percent of these families are African Americans who qualify for free and reduced lunch, which is not the same as at risk, but which is generally seen as a proxy for school poverty.

The people who are on the charter school board are highly educated professionals. Since I began serving on the panel — which has seven rotating volunteers, all appointed by the D.C. mayor — there have been 10 sitting members, half of whom attended Yale, Stanford or Harvard universities, or some combination of the three. We are well-versed in the contours of institutional power and know how to operate inside of its rarely articulated but clearly delineated boundaries. We’ve been rewarded for decoding these rules and abiding by them, which is precisely why we are selected for these coveted roles. We provide cover through optical diversity.

But if we really want to embrace equity, it’s time to rethink the make-up of the Public Charter School Board. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will have a unique opportunity to reshape this board over the coming year as five of its seven members will be termed out.

We need a board with members who reflect the communities served by D.C. charter sector. As cities move away from elected school boards to mayoral appointments, it’s critical that the voices that used to represent low-income communities continue to be present.

In the District, 80 percent of families attending charters are eligible for free and reduced lunch, but the charter school board has not in its 25-year history appointed a single board member who lives in poverty. Why not adjust the PCSB’s contours to reflect the communities in which these schools are located instead of incessantly asking poor Black people to acclimate?

Continuing to govern charter schools without input from low-income parents robs them of agency. This one-way flow of power is precisely the mistake this movement has made at the student level. Involving parents in the co-architecture of the sector would signal an evolutionary step forward.

Lastly, “no excuses” schools must be banned outright. The central failure of the education reform movement is the mimicking of carceral institutions, established and often celebrated by highly resourced outsiders. The idea that low-income Black and Latino students need to be tightly controlled in order to do well is a relic of Jim Crow.

My parents were Protestant ministers whose doctrine was best reflected in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. In their theology, elites look askance at the most vulnerable even though it is the most vulnerable — the poor, the outcasts — who can redeem a flawed world. It is the poor who are sacred. Their unearned suffering is both incessant and redemptive. This inversion of what is truly sacred and what is genuinely profane is a persistent theme in religion because the human spirit is so inclined to side with power; the path of least resistance. The education reform world is no different in this regard.

When I was teaching at Eastern High School in the early 1990s, we forbade our students from wearing T-shirts popular with their generation that sported curse words and gun imagery. Teenagers being teenagers, they pushed back against this restriction accusing us of violating their rights.

Over lunch one day, we put the dress code on trial. In my closing argument I asked the defendant if he would wear an offending T-shirt to his grandmother’s house or to church. “No” he responded. Somewhat theatrically I leaped: “Of course you wouldn’t! Your grandma’s house and church are sacred spaces.” I pulled the snare tightly across the throat of his argument, asking him in a whisper: “Why isn’t my classroom a sacred space?”

Then as now, the sacred places don’t exist in their neighborhoods. Where are the bookstores and the movie theaters and the art studios? They are in the wealthier neighborhoods where the people are sacred.

This hoarding of the sacred expresses itself in remarkable fits of paradox. In the education reform world, those of us who can retreat to our own sacred places sometimes expect to be praised for the simple reason that we take notice of the profane at all.

So even though the education reform world is replete with leaders whose own children are too sacred to attend the schools they found or fund or otherwise support, we are expected to ignore the contradiction when we tout these schools to the general public.

This is because there is an understanding at an almost cellular level that some children deserve sacred spaces and others should gratefully accept what the sacred give them.

In an era when Black Lives Matter signs are ubiquitous and a national conversation is underway about how to untangle our historical caste system, the PCSB has a role to play.

We can create a system that sees every child as sacred, regardless of ethnic stripe or socio-economic status.

And because effective social movements are not led by outsiders, we must create a system where families who attend these schools fully participate in the institutions of power. This is the beautiful, messy contract required by democracy.

Don’t Give Employers a COVID Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card!

This is by David Sirota and Julia Rock, published in The Guardian.

“Support from Democratic lawmakers for the liability shield legislation comes after the same healthcare lobby group that drafted New York’s law has poured more than $11m into House and Senate Democratic Super PACs.

“The party, though, doesn’t seem to want its own voters to know the details of the deal it is cutting with the Republican party: in a comically on-the-nose attempt at a bait-and-switch, the Democratic senator Joe Manchin touted the legislation as only financial aid for communities – leaving out the fact that it includes a liability shield for corporations.

“US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the few Democratic lawmakers to spotlight what’s really going on. Last week, she tweeted: “If you want to know why Covid-19 relief is tied up in Congress, one key reason is that Republicans are demanding legal immunity for corporations so they can expose their workers to Covid without repercussions.”

“The bipartisan initiative aims to obscure its Dr Evil level of depravity by superficially depicting the liability shield as merely temporary. But that seems like a ruse, as indicated by private equity mogul and senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who said the federal Covid-19 liability shield provision “provides a temporary suspension of any liability-related lawsuits, state or federal level associated with Covid-19, giving states enough time to put in place their own protections”.

“Though full legislative language has not been released, the goal seems clear: to give state legislatures more time to permanently prevent workers from suing employers who endanger them, and to permanently block their families from mounting such lawsuits when the workers die.”

Notably, lawmakers announcing the proposal did not point to a spate of frivolous wrongful death lawsuits that corporations have been warning about as a rationale for the liability shield. Instead, as the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense recently noted, “of more than 4,100 Covid-19 related lawsuits filed, only 75 are for wrongful death or injury as a result of getting sick at work. Two-thirds fall into three categories – insurance disputes, prison cases and civil rights cases, including challenging shelter-in-place orders.”

Liability shields, laundered as a necessary Covid-19 salve, are really designed to permanently remove the last remaining deterrent to corporate abuse

“The liability shield legislation is not some standalone cause – it should be understood as the culmination of a much larger, long-term campaign to remove countervailing force and give capital supreme power over labor.

“Over the last few decades, the government – through legislation and court rulings – has weakened unions, which have used collective bargaining to protect workers rights; limited class action lawsuits and punitive damages, which are designed to punish corporate misbehavior; and gutted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is supposed to enforce the weak workplace safety laws still on the books.”

How Will We Pay For This?

This question is never really asked about all the extremely expensive surveillance spyware and high-tech munitions. It’s only asked about things that will HELP people and the planet, such as the Green New Deal.

The following essay, from Forbes, argues that ‘we’ can pay for all of the suggested GND infrastructure improvements the old fashioned way: printing money. And that no, it won’t lead to inflation – in fact, we have now had 40 years of DEflation, which is much worse.

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90,142 views|Jan 16, 2019,07:15pm EST

The Green New Deal: How We Will Pay For It Isn’t ‘A Thing’ – And Inflation Isn’t Either

Robert Hockett

Robert HockettContributor

Markets

I cover law, justice, money, finance and economics.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s announcement of an ambitious new Green New Deal Initiative in Congress has brought predictable – and predictably silly – callouts from conservative pundits and scared politicians. ‘How will we pay for it?,’ they ask with pretend-incredulity, and ‘what about debt?’ ‘Won’t we have to raise taxes, and will that not crowd-out the job creators?’

Representative Ocasio-Cortez already has given the best answer possible to such queries, most of which seem to be raised in bad faith. Why is it, she retorts, that these questions arise only in connection with useful ideas, not wasteful ideas? Where were the ‘pay-fors’ for Bush’s $5 trillion wars and tax cuts, or for last year’s $2 trillion tax giveaway to billionaires? Why wasn’t financing those massive throwaways as scary as financing the rescue of our planet and middle class now seems to be to these naysayers?

The short answer to ‘how we will pay for’ the Green New Deal is easy. We’ll pay for it just as we pay for all else: Congress will authorize necessary spending, and Treasury will spend. This is how we do it – always has been, always will be.

The money that’s spent, for its part, is never ‘raised’ first. To the contrary, federal spending is what brings that money into existence.

If years of bad or no economic education make that ring counterintuitive to you, you’re not alone: politicians and pundits who ought to know better are with you. But the problem is readily remedied: just take a look at a dollar (or five dollar, or ten dollar, or … dollar) bill. The face you see is George Washington’s – a public official’s – not yours or some other private sector person’s. The signatures you’ll find, for their part, are those of the Treasurer and the Treasury Secretary, not yours or some other private sector person’s. And the inscription you’ll read across the top is ‘Federal Reserve Note,’ not ‘Private Sector Sally’s Note.’

‘Note’ here, note carefully, means ‘promissory note.’ Money betokens a promise. Hence money’s relation to credit. We’ll come back to this later. The money that Treasury spends is, in any event, jointly Fed- and Treasury-issued, not privately issued. That is to say it’s the citizenry’s issuance, not some single citizen’s issuance. It’s like a promise we make to each other. Hence the term ‘full faith and credit’ you’ll hear about when asking what ‘backs’ our currency and our Treasury securities.

This fact of public finance bears real consequences. Chief among them for present purposes is that ‘raising the money’ is never the relevant question for federal spending, any more than ‘finding the promises’ is a question for people who make and keep promises to one another. The relevant question, rather, is what limits, if any, there are on the promises we can make and fulfill. How many promissory notes, in other words, can Fed and Treasury issue without ‘over-promising’?

This is, effectively, the question of inflation – the question of promises’ outstripping capacity to redeem promises and hence losing credibility as promises. (The ‘cred’ of ‘credibility’ is the ‘cred’ of ‘credit,’ not to mention of ‘credo’ – or ‘faith.’) This is precisely why lawyers, accountants, and economists schooled in the simple mechanics of public finance always tell you the relevant constraint upon spending is not some non-existent ‘fundraising constraint,’ but ‘the inflation constraint,’ also known as ‘the resource constraint.’

The truth of the resource constraint is that money usually can be publicly issued and spent only at a rate commensurate with new goods and services supply. If the money supply grows too rapidly for goods and services to keep up, you get the old problem of ‘too many dollars chasing too few goods’ – inflation. If the money supply grows too slowly to keep up with productive capacity, you get the opposite problem – deflation, a far more serious threat, as we’ve seen since the crash of ‘08.

Over the past four decades or so, inflation in consumer goods markets – so-called ‘Consumer Price Inflation,’ or ‘CPI’ – has been by and large nonexistent in the ‘developed’ world. Our problem has been just the opposite – deflation. That is what slow, ‘anemic,’ and even ‘negative’ growth rates across the ‘mature’ economies in recent decades have been about. What inflation we’ve had has been concentrated in financial markets, where the ever-more rich in our ever-more unequal societies gamble their winnings. Meanwhile those below the top have had to spend less and borrow more, bringing deflation and, worse still, debt-deflations after the financial crashes inevitably brought on by asset price hyperinflations in our financial markets.

Which takes us to the Green New Deal. Representative Ocasio-Cortez, whose educational background is in economics, understands as few leaders seem to do that our problems of late have been problems of deflation, not inflation. She also knows well that both inequality and the loss of our middle class have both caused and been worsened by these deflationary trends, along with their mirror images in the financial markets: our asset price hyperinflations – ‘bubbles’ – and busts. Her Green New Deal aims to do nothing short of reversing this slow-motion national suicide – and end our ongoing ‘planet-cide’ in the process.

Because the Green New Deal aims at reversing undeniable long-term deflationary trends in our national economy, there is reason already to deem inflation fears, sure to be stoked by conservative pundits and scared politicians, a silly canard. But we can go further than this. We can catalogue theoretical, empirical, and policy instrument reasons to laugh such fears off.

The theoretical case against inflation worries is straightforward and comes in two parts. Recall the popular ‘too much money chasing too few goods’ adage above. What this slogan captures is that inflation is always a relational matter. It’s about money supply in relation to goods and services supply.

The Green New Deal aims to stoke massive production of a vast array of new products, from solar panels to windmills to new battery and charging station technologies to green power grids and hydroelectric power generation facilities. The new production and new productivity that renewed infrastructure will bring will be virtually unprecedented in our nation’s history. This will be more than enough to absorb all new money spent into our economy. It will also distinguish the Green New Deal starkly from pseudo-stimulus plans of the recent past, none of which flowed to production or infrastructure and nearly all of which simply inflated financial markets.

The second theoretical reason not to fret about Green New Deal inflation is related to but distinct from the first. It is that our economy now is operating at far below capacity even as is, before the Green New Deal adds to capacity. Labor force participation rates still languish at historic lows, and wages and salaries have yet to catch up even to such little growth as we’ve had since our crash of ten years ago. Indeed they have stagnated for decades. These are classic indicators of slack – slack which by definition is opportunity-squandering, and which the Green New Deal now aims to ‘take up.’

The empirical case against inflation worries corroborates the theoretical case, and can also be made from a number of angles. Note first that billions of dollars in tax cuts flowed into the economy during the Reagan years, while multiple trillions more in both tax cuts and war spending flowed during the George W. Bush years. The tax cuts of December 2017 pumped yet more trillions – two of them – into the economy just a bit over a year ago. And still we have seen nothing – nothing – in the way of undesired price inflation in consumer goods and services markets. Indeed no ‘developed’ economy has seen significant CPI inflation for some forty years. Why do inflation ‘Chicken Littles’ think ‘this time [or place] is different?’

My referring to ‘undesired’ price inflation just now hints at another empirical reason to scoff at inflation scolds. Since 2012, the Fed has formally aimed at a 2% inflation target that it has informally targeted even longer. Yet in only a few quarters during all of these years has

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, and Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., stand together on the House... [+] floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, on the first day of the 116th Congress with Democrats holding the majority. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, and Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., stand together on the House… [+]

 ASSOCIATED PRESS

it managed, just barely, to reach it. If the Fed with its massive balance sheet cannot get our inflation rate up to its very low 2% target even while trying to do so, why does Chicken Little think things will grow scary even should the Fed seek one day to tamp prices down?

The final empirical reason to dismiss the inflation Scaredy Cats comes from investors themselves. For years now the Treasury Department has issued ‘inflation-protected’ securities along with traditional ones. The ‘spread’ between prices of the former and prices of the latter is effectively a measure of investors’ inflationary expectations: if they are willing to pay substantially more for inflation-protected than for ordinary Treasurys, they have substantial inflation fears; otherwise not. So what is that spread? It is virtually nil, and has been for years.

But what if the Green New Deal works so well that inflation comes anyway, Chicken Little now asks, notwithstanding all the theoretical and empirical reasons to discount such worries? Here we find even more reasons for comfort. For the ‘toolbox’ of counter-inflationary policy instruments is filled to near overflowing. Let’s consider a few of them.

We can begin with the familiar. Targeted taxes and bond sales, long familiar to most of us, have long been employed to absorb ‘excess money’ during times of high growth. This is precisely what they are for. Because money is issued by citizenrys rather than citizens as noted above, sovereign taxes and bond sales are never about ‘raising money,’ but about ‘lowering money aggregates.’ If inflation should one day emerge, we shall use them accordingly. Once again: always have, always will.

We should note also that such tools can be targeted at specific sources of inflation. A financial transaction tax such as that favored by Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders, for example, would operate on financial market inflation – asset price ‘bubbles’ – of the sort that have plagued us in recent years. A ‘value added tax’ – a ‘VAT’ – on particular items that become objects of speculation would work similarly. Such are the real aims of taxation – to act on incentives and press down on price pressures – not to ‘raise money’ we already issue. We know how to use them, and can use them again should it ever prove necessary.

Similar truths hold of the other familiar anti-inflationary policy instrument just mentioned – sovereign bond sales. Treasury already offers a variety of these instruments, classified by time-to-maturity and yield. Such classification offers the option of soaking up money from different sectors of society, from those seeking short-term yield to those seeking longer-term yield. These sales are swaps of unspendable instruments for spendable instruments – dollars, a.k.a. ‘legal tender.’ The New York Fed trading desk does this daily to fine-tune the money supply – we call its activities ‘open market operations.’ It would do likewise, save in the opposite direction, were inflation ever again to become ‘a thing.’

Turning now to less familiar policy instruments, note next that much of financial regulation both can be and should be deployed in the cause of what I call money modulation – that is, inflation- and deflation-prevention. Banks ‘create’ – they generate – money by lending; any banker will tell you that. So do most other financial institutions – especially those of the so-called ‘shadow banking’ sector. This is the sense in which credit is money, or what smart economists call ‘credit-money.’

Regulations that we impose upon credit-extension are accordingly regulations on money-creation. Require banks to raise more equity capital per dollar’s worth of credit that they extend, and you effectively lessen the amount of dollar-denominated credit, hence money, that they can generate. Place greater limits on what kinds of lending or investing they can do, and you do likewise.

We call these things ‘capital’ (or ‘leverage’) and ‘portfolio’ regulation, respectively. And though we initially developed them to protect individual institutions and their depositors or investors, we now use them also to modulate credit aggregates economy-wide. It’s called ‘macroprudential regulation,’ and its rediscovery post-crash in the last decade is one of the signal achievements of the post-crisis era. But its importance for Green New Deal purposes is that it’s a powerful anti-inflationary as well as anti-deflationary tool, all thanks to money’s relation to credit.

As if these tools were not enough, there are yet others we could use but don’t use as yet, presumably because we’ve not needed to yet. I’ve proposed these in other work. One is for the New York Fed trading desk to buy or sell not only Treasury securities of varying maturities and yields, but also other financial instruments – in order to target specific prices of broad economic significance when they grow too low or too high (what I call ‘systemically important prices’).

During the Fed’s experiments with ‘quantitative easing’ (‘QE’), for example, commodity prices ended up rising in ways that harmed lower income Americans. I therefore proposed the Fed ‘short’ commodities in its open market operations to put downward pressure on their prices. Though I worked at the Fed at the time, the central bank didn’t take me up on my suggestion. But it could have done so. And it can in the future, in as narrowly targeted a manner as necessary, if ever inflation emerges. And with a balance sheet of its size, it can influence prices quite massively.

A final way we might combat inflation, should it ever emerge, is by use of a new infrastructure that I’ve proposed elsewhere. Suppose, for a moment, that the Fed offered what I call interest-bearing ‘Citizen Accounts’ for all citizens, instead of just offering ‘reserve accounts’ to privileged banks as it does now. Were it to do so, we’d not only eliminate our nation’s ‘financial inclusion’ problem in one swoop, we’d also gain a most powerful money modulation tool.

During deflations like that after 2008, for example, the Fed could drop debt-free ‘helicopter money’ directly into Citizen Accounts rather than giving it to banks in the hope that they’ll lend (which they didn’t – hence the notorious ‘pushing on a string’ problem of the post-2008 period). And were inflation ever to emerge, the Fed could likewise simply raise interest rates on Citizen Accounts, thereby inducing more saving and less spending.

I believe that the ‘fintech’ revolution renders something like what I’m proposing here all but inevitable. The point for present purposes, though, is simply that once this thing happens we’ll have yet another quite powerful anti-inflationary and anti-deflationary policy tool – and therefore yet more reason not to be timid about moving ahead energetically with the Green New Deal.

Have I succeeded, then? Have I convinced you both that there isn’t a ‘pay for’ challenge and that there isn’t, thanks to a multitude of theoretical, empirical, and policy lever reasons, an ‘inflation’ challenge either? If you are bold, know finance, and care about our future, you probably didn’t need much convincing. If instead you are frightened, financially untutored, or cavalier about our economy or our planet, please buck up, wise up, and suit up. It is time to say game on for the Green New Deal.

Robert Hockett

Robert Hockett

I teach legal, financial and some philosophical subjects at Cornell University in New York, where I am the Edward Cornell Professor of Law and a Professor of Public Policy. I also am Senior Counsel at Westwood Capital, a socially responsible investment bank in midtown Manhattan, and a Fellow of The Century Foundation, a think tank near Battery Park in lower Manhattan. My principal research, writing, and practical concerns are with the legal and institutional prerequisites to a just, prosperous, and sustainable economic order. I have worked at the International Monetary Fund and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and continue to serve in a consultative capacity for a number of U.S. federal, state, and local legislators and regulators. I grew up mainly in New Orleans, America’s most wonderful city (sorry, New York), and return to it often. I was educated at Yale, Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar), and the University of Kansas.

 

Warnings from Erich Martel

I am reposting the entirety of a sobering and warning letter from my former DCPS colleague, Erich Martel, about the current political situation, which he posted on the Concerned4DCPS list-serve. I am positive he wants it disseminated. — GFB

==========================================================

ehmartel@starpower.net [concerned4DCPS] <concerned4dcps@yahoogroups.com>UnsubscribeTo:ehmartel@starpower.netSat, Oct 31 at 7:33 PM

FYI – There are links to a number of articles.  Be sure to recommend to friends in Pennsylvania and North Carolina – and other states – to vote in person, if possible. 

Republicans have launched over 300 lawsuits to challenge mail ballots arriving after November 3rd.

The anti-democratic forces that have periodically threatened to tear this country apart. What Pres. Trump is threatening has happened before.  I don’t mean slavery.  I mean the unleashing of white nationalist terror to purge the South of biracial state governments after Reconstruction and the evisceration of the 14th and 15th Amendments by the Supreme Court. 

In 1896, 126,000 Black men were registered to vote in North Carolina; six years later, in 1902, only 6,100 remained registered: https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/11/19/wilmington-american-pogrom/  

I hope everyone agrees that every legitimate vote should be counted. I have linked a number of articles, all very unsettling. 

Erich

By now, I hope everyone is aware of and understands the seriousness of President Trump’s threats that, if he loses his re-election bid, he will not accept the results. 

On the other hand, if he wins, he will remove all restraints on autocratic power (think: Orban, Putin, Xi, Kim, Bolsinaro)

I assume everyone shares these concerns:

Trump’s Threats to the Election (as is his pattern, he signals his intentions, in part to test the loyalty of his base):

  1. The potential turmoil threatened by Trump bears some resemblance to the violence during the Election of 1876 and the consequences of the Compromise of 1877:  

Contested election results in 3 states (FL, LA, SC) + a replaced elector from Oregon led to The Compromise of 1877: https://www.270towin.com/1876_Election/ that gave the election to Republican Hayes (Democrat Tilden won the popular vote) in return for ending federal military supervision of those states to protect the biracial Reconstruction governments from White nationalist terror. This led to so-called “Redeemer” (White supremacists Democratic) takeovers and passage of “Jim Crow” laws disenfranchising and segregating Black citizens that lasted until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed.  The spate of voter suppression laws passed after the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision makes clear that voting rights are threatened.

  1. The Barrett nomination:

If Trump loses, he and his allies will attempt to create confusion in order to find a technicality that will open a path to the Supreme Court. Barrett will be the third SC justice (in addition to CJ Roberts & Justice Kavanaugh) who was on the 2000 legal team that oppose a recount of the Florida votes in question:  https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/17/politics/bush-v-gore-barrett-kavanaugh-roberts-supreme-court/index.html .  With all the qualified judges available for SC nomination, even among those who are conservative, how is it possible to have put three veterans of the 2000 election on the SC?  Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) explains the role of the Federalist Society.

10/13/20 (Senate Judiciary Comm.): Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse explains how Trump and his Senate allies used judicial candidate lists prepared by the Federalist Society, funded by anonymous money, to pack the Supreme Court with reliable right wing allies: https://twitter.com/i/status/1316126029522575363 and 10/14/20: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5-Snk_thAs&feature=emb_rel_end  

https://www.startribune.com/barrett-ads-tied-to-interest-groups-funded-by-unnamed-donors/572873311/

  1. Two Trump comments:
  2. July 30th, Trump tweeted:

“With Universal mail-in voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history.  It will be a great embarrassment to the USA.  Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

On August 1st, Brian Williams asked Yale historian Timothy Snyder, specialist on the Holocaust, authoritarianism & fascism, to analyze that tweet (https://twitter.com/TimothyDSnyder):

It is troubling to see the term “fascist” used to describe the behavior, words and actions of an American president.  It shouldn’t; fascism takes many authoritarian forms, all anti-democratic; the Holocaust was the most extreme.  In fact, German Na zi lawyers saw American race laws as a model: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/11/what-america-taught-the-nazis/540630/ and James Q. Whitman, “Hilter’s American Model” (2017).

  1. On Sept 23rd, Trump said,“We’ll want to have — get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very — we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2020-election/trump-peaceful-transition-if-he-loses-get-rid-ballots-there-n1240896

  1. “The Election That Could Break America” by Barton Gellman

The most thorough and dire account of the many ways that Trump and his allies could throw the election into confusion is in The Atlantic:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/

If the vote is close, Donald Trump could easily throw the election into chaos and subvert the result. Who will stop him?    Excerpt:

Let us not hedge about one thing.

Donald Trump may win or lose,

but he will never concede.

Interview with Gellman: https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/10/15/the-elections-threat-of-political-violence

https://www.salon.com/2020/10/18/historian-timothy-snyder-warns-that-america-is-already-in-its-own-slow-motion-reichstag-fire/

Wash Post columnist E.J. Dionne explains the role of Roe v. Wade in judicial nominations (excerpts):

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/capitulating-to-the-right-wont-end-the-judicial-wars/2020/09/23/5402f378-fdd5-11ea-9ceb-061d646d9c67_story.html

[[Why do President Trump and the Republican majority in the Senate feel empowered to launch a right-wing judicial coup? They can do so because the mainstream media have largely accepted the false terms of the Supreme Court debate set by conservatives — and because progressives and moderates have utterly failed to overturn them.

As a result, we face a crisis moment. The Supreme Court could fall into the hands of activist reactionaries for a generation or more. Preventing a political minority from enjoying indefinite veto power over our democratically elected branches of government requires getting the facts and the history right.

This polarization is the conservatives’ doing. And it did not start with Robert Bork. The current incarnation of Supreme Court warfare began in the early 1960s when the far right launched its “Impeach Earl Warren” campaign against the chief justice who presided over the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision and other liberal victories. /…/

Yes, liberals were very tough on Bork when President Ronald Reagan nominated him. But … Bork got a hearing and a floor vote. In the end, 58 senators, including six Republicans, voted against him. /…/

Conservatives use Roe v. Wade as a decoy. Of course Roe will continue to matter. But conservatives have brilliantly used the abortion question to distract attention from the core of their activist agenda: dismantling regulation, gutting civil rights laws, narrowing voting rights enforcement giving moneyed interests free rein in our politics, strengthening corporate power, weakening unions, undercutting antitrust laws — and, now, tearing apart the Affordable Care Act.

Conservatives would much rather talk about abortion than any of these other questions. Why? Because they don’t want the public to hear about issues related to democracy and economic justice on which the right takes the unpopular side. What they can’t win in Congress, they want to win through the courts. That is the dirty secret of conservative judicial activism that McConnell and his friends would love to keep under wraps.]]

Erich   ehmartel@starpower.net

Further reading:

Before I took leave from Kto16, there was a discussion about the president’s comments on the teaching of American History.  In response, the American Historical Association (AHA) released a statement (46 organizations have signed on as of mid-October):  https://www.historians.org/news-and-advocacy/aha-advocacy/aha-statement-on-the-recent-white-house-conference-on-american-history-(september-2020) 

Fauci  60 minutes  He describes death threats against him.  10-18-20

THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PATTERN OF POLITICAL INTERFERENCE IN THE NATION’S CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE:

“USPS documents link changes behind mail slowdowns to top executives”: 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/09/24/usps-delays-dejoy-documents/

Nancy MacLean, “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America” (2017)

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/03/08/democracy-chains-interview-author-nancy-maclean

Timothy Snyder, “Not a Normal Election: The ethical meaning of a vote for Donald Trump”:

https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/not-normal-election (Commonweal is a Catholic magazine)

Timothy Snyder, “On Tyranny:  20 Lessons from the 20th Century”:

Below are a few of the 20 chapter titles and his commentaries on Trump. Some are relevant right now:

1.       Do not obey in advance

2.       Defend institutions (notice how Trump wants to reduce the federal civil service to personal loyalists)

6.       Be wary of paramilitaries (Where was Trump’s condemnation of “militia” threats in Michigan?)

8.       Stand out

10.     Believe in truth

“To abandon facts is to abandon freedom.  If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. If nothing is true, then all is spectacle. The biggest wallet pays for the most blinding lights.”

11.     Investigate – “Figure things out for yourself. … Subsidize investigative journalism …”

16.      Learn from peers in other countries

17.      Listen for dangerous words__._,_.___


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Suggestions on what to do about the Supreme Court nominee, redux

Remember the list of suggestions by Bill Svelmoe for what to do about Amy Coney Barrett’s illegitimate nomination to the US Supreme Court?

The list went viral, as you may be able to read below.

I hope that Harris and other senators are taking those suggestions seriously.

DA Never Gave Grand Jury the Option of Indicting Cops for Murder

Notoriously corrupt, convicted ex-judge Sol Wachsler once said that he could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, if that’s what the powers that be wanted the DA to do.

But as the case of Breonna Taylor shows, DA’s really, really don’t like indicting cops. As you can see by reading these details in Salon:

==========

Breonna Taylor case grand juror: We weren’t given the option of indicting the two cops who shot her

Grand juror said AG Daniel Cameron misrepresented the deliberations. Cameron agreed to release grand jury recording

IGOR DERYSH

SEPTEMBER 29, 2020 3:25PM (UTC)

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he would comply with a judge’s order to release the grand jury recording in the Breonna Taylor case after a grand juror alleged that Cameron had misrepresented the deliberations.

The juror filed a motion calling for the release of the transcripts on Monday so that “the truth may prevail.”

“The Grand Jury is meant to be a secretive body. It’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen,” a spokesperson for Cameron said in a statement. Despite the concerns over the release, the attorney general’s office said it would comply with the order to release the recording on Wednesday in response to the juror’s complaint.

An attorney for the juror told The New York Times that Cameron “misrepresented” the deliberations and “failed to offer the panel the option of indicting the two officers who fatally shot the young woman.”

The attorney general’s office said it is “confident” in the case they presented but acknowledged that jurors were not given the option of indicting Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove in Taylor’s shooting.

“The evidence supported that Sergeant Mattingly and Detective Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Taylor’s boyfriend, the statement said. “For that reason, the only charge recommended was wanton endangerment.”

Former Det. Brett Hankison, the lone officer fired after the shooting, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment after some of the bullets he “blindly” fired into Taylor’s home struck a wall adjoining her neighbors’ apartment. None of the three officers who fired their weapons were charged in Taylor’s death, even though the city of Louisville agreed to pay Taylor’s family $12 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.

Hankison pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Kevin Glogower, the juror’s lawyer, told the Times that the juror approached him after Cameron claimed during a news conference that state law prevented him from charging Mattingly and Cosgrove.

“While there are six possible homicide charges under Kentucky law, these charges are not applicable to the facts before us because our investigation showed — and the grand jury agreed — that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon,” Cameron said during the news conference last week.

Glogower told the outlet that the juror was “unsettled” by the fact that they were only presented with possible charges for Hankison. He said in the petition that it was “patently unjust” that Cameron “attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision.”

“Using the grand jurors as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for these decisions only sows more seeds of doubt in the process while leaving a cold chill down the spines of future grand jurors,” the petition said.

According to Walker, the lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family, and more than a dozen neighbors, the officers serving a “no knock” search warrant, part of a narcotics investigation targeting Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, did not announce themselves. Cameron claimed at the news conference that a lone witness corroborated the officers’ statement that they made an announcement, arguing that it was not a “no knock” warrant.

Walker opened fire on the officers, claiming he believed someone was breaking in. Mattingly and Cosgrove returned fire, hitting Taylor six times. An FBI analysis determined that Cosgrove fired the fatal shot. Hankison ran into a parking lot and shot into Taylor’s home through a sliding door and bedroom window, resulting in charges against him. Unlike the other officers, he was not shot at by Walker.

Cameron claimed at the news conference that ballistics showed that the bullet that struck Mattingly during the gunfire was Walker’s. But Vice News reported last week that the initial ballistics report did not prove the bullet was Walker’s and found that “due to limited markings of comparative value, [the bullet] was neither identified nor eliminated as having been fired from” Walker’s gun.

Vice News also published a video of body camera footage showing Hankison entering Taylor’s apartment as investigators were working the scene in an apparent violation of department protocol.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family, called the grand jury process a “sham proceeding that did nothing to give Breonna Taylor a voice.”

“I never had faith in Daniel Cameron to begin with,” Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said after the decision. “I was reassured Wednesday of why I have no faith in the legal system, in the police, in the law. They are not made to protect us Black and brown people.”

IGOR DERYSH

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Tips/Email: iderysh@salon.com Twitter: @IgorDerysh

The List of Trump’s Accomplishments

Have you seen that long list of DJT’s accomplishments during his first three years in office? I did, and I began fact-checking some of them.

Here is number 3: “Trump signed a law to make cruelty to animals a federal felony so that animal abusers face tougher consequences.” It’s true that he signed this law. It’s also true that you probably never heard of this action, because it was completely bipartisan and uncontroversial: it passed both houses unanimously. (see here, here, and here) So no Presidential jaw-boning or arm-twisting or preaching from the bully pulpit was needed.

Is that something for a list of greatest hits?

Farah Stockman of the NYT did a much more complete job of fact-checking of all of the over 100 supposed Trump administration ‘accomplishments’. Here it is, but I think it understates the maliciousness of this list. So I am adding a few remarks in red. If I can get this online wordpress editor interface to stop fighting me every step of the way.

==================================

A Fact-Checked List of Trump Accomplishments

It’s been circulating on social media for months. Here’s what I [Farah Stockman – gfb] found when I looked into these claims.

By Farah Stockman

Ms. Stockman is a member of the editorial board of the NYT.

  • Sept. 11, 2020
    • This list of President Trump’s accomplishments has been circulating on social media for months and has most likely been viewed by millions of people. I examined each claim to the best of my ability, reaching out to people and institutions who had special insight to see if they considered the claims accurate.

Some takeaways: Few items are outright false, which is something to celebrate in the age of QAnon conspiracy theories. Some are misleading and some are absolutely true. About a quarter relate to Mr. Trump’s signing of bills that Congress passed, many of which he had little to do with. A large portion of items on the list credit Mr. Trump for a booming economy, which is no longer booming because of the coronavirus pandemic.

You can read my piece about what I learned from the experience of fact-checking this list here. But I decided to post the full list as written, including the original emojis, to give readers a chance to examine it for themselves and see what Mr. Trump’s supporters are touting as his biggest achievements.

1. Trump recently signed 3 bills to benefit Native people. One gives compensation to the Spokane tribe for loss of their lands in the mid-1900s, one funds Native language programs, and the third gives federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana.

True, but tribal leaders credit bipartisan efforts in Congress for those bills. In 2019, Mr. Trump signed the Spokane Reservation Equitable Compensation Act for the loss of land that was flooded by the Grand Coulee Dam. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visited the reservation and pledged to support the bill. But Carol Evans, chairwoman of the Spokane Tribal Business Council, said most of the credit for the law goes to two members of Congress from Washington, Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican. Mr. Trump also signed the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act, which revises an existing grant program. That bill was introduced by Senator Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico. Lastly, Mr. Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, which included a provision that gave long-overdue federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe. Tribal Chairman Gerald Gray credits the bipartisan efforts of Senators Jon Tester, a Democrat, and Steve Daines, a Republican, both of Montana, for tucking the tribal recognition provision into the military spending bill.

See More

2. Trump finalized the creation of Space Force as our 6th Military branch.

True. But senior military leaders publicly opposed its creation, including Mr. Trump’s secretary of defense, James Mattis, because they argued it would create further complicated bureaucracy and counteract the Air Force’s work to defend the country’s space assets.


3. Trump signed a law to make cruelty to animals a federal felony so that animal abusers face tougher consequences.

True. A bipartisan group in Congress also deserves credit for the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act. “Deserves credit?” Heck, it was unanimous in both houses. Why should this be controversial at all and why does DJT deserve any credit?


4.) Violent crime has fallen every year he’s been in office after rising during the 2 years before he was elected.

The violent crime rate has dropped steadily since 1999, from 523 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1999 to 432 in 2009 to 369 in 2018. The rate rose slightly in 2015 and 2016, but the general trend has been a long downward slide that predated his election.

[Let’s see this in a single graph going back 60 years. While I am not exactly sure where the cutoff is between the various Republican and Democratic presidential terms over this time, Bush1 was president during the high point. If you see a tremendous decrease in crime during the term of The Great Prevaricator, you are sorely deluded.]

Trump Wrong on Crime Record - FactCheck.org

5. Trump signed a bill making CBD and Hemp legal.

True. Congress also deserves credit for the inclusion of this measure in the 2018 Farm Bill, which Mr. Trump signed.

“McConnell (R-KY), along with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), introduced the bill earlier this year. It was wrapped into the broader farm bill, which mostly deals with agriculture subsidies and food assistance programs, and passed with that legislation. Trump signed the bill into law on Thursday, after Congress passed it last week. – gfb. If a President really wanted to do something great, he or she could use the ‘bully pulpit’ to advocate the complete decriminalization of all forms of this plant, to free and/or expunge the record every single person who has ever been harmed by police action for owning, using, selling, or growing it. And give back all fines and seized property WITH INTEREST AND PENALTIES. And to reimburse all those who were imprisoned at some set rate. Also – all subsequent convictions or fines… Not gonna happen, is it, Donnie?}


6. Trump’s EPA gave $100 million to fix the water infrastructure problem in Flint, Michigan.

Both President Barack Obama and Mr. Trump deserve credit for this allocation, which was set in motion before Mr. Obama left office.

7. Under Trump’s leadership, in 2018 the U.S. surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of crude oil.

True. Domestic oil production has been expanding since 2010, predating the Trump administration.


8. Trump signed a law ending the gag orders on Pharmacists that prevented them from sharing money-saving information.

True. Mr. Trump tweeted in support of this law and deserves credit for using the bully pulpit of the presidency to demand transparency in drug prices. But Congress deserves most of the credit for the unanimous 2018 passage of this transparency law, which prohibits gag orders that prevent pharmacists from sharing prescription drug prices with customers.


9. Trump signed the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” (FOSTA), which includes the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” (SESTA) which both give law enforcement and victims new tools to fight sex trafficking.

True. The bill was crafted and pushed through Congress by Representative Ann Wagner, a conservative Republican from Missouri, who thanked Ivanka Trump for advocating its passage.


10. Trump signed a bill to require airports to provide spaces for breastfeeding Moms.

True. Congress also deserves credit for the Friendly Airports for Mothers Act of 2017, which was championed by Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, and former Representative Stephen Knight, Republican of California.

[Actually, Stockman’s fact-checking is a little sloppy here; she got the year wrong. In that Congress (#115) of 2017, when the Republicans controlled both houses, the bill actually died, which means that some powerful Republican(s) decided to shelve it and to refuse to take action, for reasons I can’t really understand. I mean, breast feeding is by far the cheapest, most sanitary, and most nutritious way to feed an infant, and measures like these sound like an absolute no-brainer. Now, the version of the bill that passed, was re-introduced in the new 116th Congress (you have to start from “Go” all over again, at least in theory) that we are still in. Note that it was voted unanimously by the now-Democratic House, and confirmed unanimously by the Senate. How exactly does Trump take credit for this? Sheesh.]


11. The 25% lowest-paid Americans enjoyed a 4.5% income boost in November 2019, which outpaces a 2.9% gain in earnings for the country’s highest-paid workers.

Probably true. Before the pandemic struck, low-wage workers saw wage increases.


12. Low-wage workers are benefiting from higher minimum wages and from corporations that are increasing entry-level pay.

It is grossly misleading to claim this as a Trump accomplishment. Higher state and local minimum wages are results of state and local laws increasing the minimum wage, not federal law. Mr. Trump has flip-flopped on raising the federal minimum wage.


13. Trump signed the biggest wilderness protection & conservation bill in a decade and designated 375,000 acres as protected land.

This is misleading. While Mr. Trump did sign the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act of 2019, he has stripped protections from far more land than he has preserved. Most notably, he removed some two million acres in Utah that had been part of the Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah. According to a study published in May 2019 in Science, Mr. Trump is responsible for the largest reduction in the boundaries of protected land in U.S. history.

14. Trump signed the Save our Seas Act which funds $10 million per year to clean tons of plastic & garbage from the ocean. 👀👀

True. The credit for the passage of this legislation goes to a bipartisan group in Congress, namely Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, and Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey.


15. He signed a bill this year allowing some drug imports from Canada so that prescription prices would go down.

President Trump has signed a series of executive orders aimed at making it easier for states to import cheaper drugs from Canada. But it is far from clear whether these executive orders will succeed in that aim. This proposal bears no resemblance to Mr. Trump’s 2016 promise to use the buying power of the federal government to negotiate lower prices for drugs for Medicare patients, which would save hundreds of billions of dollars over a decade. Mr. Trump has not kept that promise. If he were serious about doing so, he would push Republicans in the Senate to pass the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which Democrats passed last year. There’s no evidence that he has done so.


16. Trump signed an executive order this year that forces all health care providers to disclose the cost of their services so that Americans can comparison shop and know how much fewer providers charge insurance companies.

True. Hospitals are now required to publicize their prices, which was also required by a little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act, signed by Mr. Obama. But enforcement has been spotty, and there has been little effort to hold hospitals to uniform standards, so it is still difficult if not impossible for consumers to compare costs, according to the journalism project Clear Health Costs.


17. When signing that bill he said no American should be blindsided by bills for medical services they never agreed to in advance.

Mr. Trump did say this. Unfortunately, people are still getting blindsided by medical bills.


18. Hospitals will now be required to post their standard charges for services, which include the discounted price a hospital is willing to accept.

See No. 16.


19. In the eight years prior to President Trump’s inauguration, prescription drug prices increased by an average of 3.6% per year. Under Trump, drug prices have seen year-over-year declines in nine of the last ten months, with a 1.1% drop as of the most recent month.

The data is mixed on whether drug prices are going up or down.


20. He created a White House VA Hotline to help veterans and principally staffed it with veterans and direct family members of veterans. 👀👀

True. Mr. Trump fulfilled this campaign promise by creating a West Virginia-based call center. It has limited powers to solve the problems of the veterans who call in from around the country.

21. VA employees are being held accountable for poor performance, with more than 4,000 VA employees removed, demoted, and suspended so far.

Many Department of Veterans Affairs employees have been demoted, removed or suspended during the Trump era, although there have been allegations that some of them were being punished for their political affiliations, not poor performance.


22. Issued an executive order requiring the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to submit a joint plan to provide veterans access to access to mental health treatment as they transition to civilian life.

True.


23. Because of a bill signed and championed by Trump, In 2020, most federal employees will see their pay increase by an average of 3.1% — the largest raise in more than 10 years.

This is grossly misleading, at best. Far from being a champion of pay raises for federal workers, Mr. Trump proposed pay freezes for federal employees three years in a row; he was overridden by Congress. For 2020, Mr. Trump initially proposed a pay freeze, but then changed his proposal to a 2.6 percent increase. Congress raised that further, to 3.1 percent. Mr. Trump signed that pay raise into law when he put his signature on an omnibus budget bill, according to Jacqueline Simon, policy director of the American Federation of Government Employees.


24. Trump signed into law up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for millions of federal workers.

True. Tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act was a provision that gave all federal workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave for the first time in history.


25. Trump administration will provide H.I.V. prevention drugs for free to 200,000 uninsured patients per year for 11 years.

True. The drugs are being donated by Gilead, a drug-development company. But the cost of patient visits and testing are not covered, and the Trump administration opposes expanding Medicare in the Southern states where H.I.V. infection rates are rising.


26. All-time record sales during the 2019 holidays.

Unclear what data this item is referring to.


27. Trump signed an order allowing small businesses to group together when buying insurance to get a better price

True, but a federal judge struck down the plan.

28. President Trump signed the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act that provides funding for states to develop maternal mortality reviews to better understand maternal complications and identify solutions & largely focuses on reducing the higher mortality rates for Black Americans.

True. Congress passed this act with broad bipartisan support, including 190 co-sponsors in the House.


29. In 2018, President Trump signed the groundbreaking First Step Act, a criminal justice bill that enacted reforms that make our justice system fairer and help former inmates successfully return to society.

True. The Trump administration championed these reforms. Credit also goes to criminal justice reform advocates from across the political spectrum who pushed these changes for years.


30. The First Step Act’s reforms addressed inequities in sentencing laws that disproportionately harmed Black Americans and reformed mandatory minimums that created unfair outcomes. 👀👀

True.


31. The First Step Act expanded judicial discretion in the sentencing of nonviolent crimes.

True.


32. Over 90% of those benefiting from the retroactive sentencing reductions in the First Step Act are Black Americans.

True.


33. The First Step Act provides rehabilitative programs to inmates, helping them successfully rejoin society and not return to crime.

It is true that the First Step Act calls for the Bureau of Prisons to significantly expand these opportunities, but because of a lack of funding, around 25 percent of people who spend more than a year in federal prison have not completed any program, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which backed the bill.


34. Trump increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) by more than 14%.

Krystal L. Williams, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama College of Education who has studied federal funding of H.B.C.U.s, points to publicly available data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System on this matter. The data suggest an increase of about 6 percent in federal appropriations, grants and contracts from the 2016-2017 academic year to 2017-2018, the most recent year for which such data is available.

35. Trump signed legislation forgiving Hurricane Katrina debt that threatened HBCUs.

True.


36. New single-family home sales are up 31.6% in October 2019 compared to just one year ago.

This appears to have been true at the time.


37. Made HBCUs a priority by creating the position of executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs.

True. This previously existing position was moved from the Department of Education to the White House. Experts disagree about its impact.


38. Trump received the Bipartisan Justice Award at a historically black college for his criminal justice reform accomplishments.

True. Students protested.


39. The poverty rate fell to a 17-year low of 11.8% under the Trump administration as a result of a jobs-rich environment. 👀👀

This appears to have been true, according to census data, although economists disagree on the reason for the drop.


40. Poverty rates for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans have reached their lowest levels since the U.S. began collecting such data.

This was true before the coronavirus pandemic struck.


41. President Trump signed a bill that creates five national monuments, expands several national parks, adds 1.3 million acres of wilderness, and permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water, Conservation Fund.

See No. 13.

42. Trump’s U.S.D.A. committed $124 Million to rebuild rural water infrastructure.

This is true, though in 2016 Mr. Trump pledged to spend more than $800 billion on infrastructure.


43. Consumer confidence & small business confidence is at an all-time high.

False. The all-time high for the Consumer Confidence Index is 144.7, which was reached in January and May of 2000, according to Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators and surveys at the Conference Board, which puts out the index.


44. More than 7 million jobs created since the election.

In January of 2020, there were about 152 million nonfarm jobs in the country — about seven million more than existed in January of 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But the number of jobs has been growing since 2010. In fact, the country gained more jobs — about eight million — between 2014 and 2017, the last years of the Obama administration. And since the pandemic began, between 10 million and 20 million jobs have been lost.


45. More Americans are now employed than ever recorded before in our history.

Given that there are more Americans alive now than ever in history, this would not be surprising. Regardless, it’s no longer true, because of the pandemic.


46. More than 400,000 manufacturing jobs created since his election.

It was true, but since the pandemic, the Trump administration has seen a net loss of about 200,000 manufacturing jobs, wiping out the past six years of growth, according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing. More than 900,000 manufacturing jobs were added between 2010 and 2016 during the Obama administration.


47. Trump appointed 5 openly gay ambassadors.

True.


48. Trump ordered Ric Grenell, his openly gay ambassador to Germany, to lead a global initiative to decriminalize homosexuality across the globe.

Richard Grenell is leading an effort to decriminalize homosexuality around the globe. Mr. Grenell has said that Mr. Trump supports this effort, though its existence appeared to take Mr. Trump by surprise.

49. Through Trump’s Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) initiative, Federal law enforcement more than doubled convictions of human traffickers and increased the number of defendants charged by 75% in ACTeam districts.

Convictions of human traffickers have not doubled. The number of convictions rose from 439 during Mr. Obama’s last year in office to 499 during Mr. Trump’s first year. In 2018, they rose again to 526 but then dropped back down again, to 475 in 2019.


50. In 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) dismantled an organization that was the internet’s leading source of prostitution-related advertisements resulting in sex trafficking.

True. But the sting against Backpage was years in the making. Authorities have had the website in their cross hairs since at least 2016.


51. Trump’s OMB published new anti-trafficking guidance for government procurement officials to more effectively combat human trafficking.

This is true. But the anti-trafficking community gives the Trump administration low marks because the administration’s harsh treatment of undocumented immigrants has caused victims of human trafficking to fear turning to authorities for help. The administration has made it harder for victims to obtain the special T visas they used to get when they turned to authorities for help and provided information about their abusers.


52. Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations arrested 1,588 criminals associated with Human Trafficking.

See No. 51.


53. Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services provided funding to support the National Human Trafficking Hotline to identify perpetrators and give victims the help they need.

True. The hotline, which was founded in 2002, was also supported by the George W. Bush and Obama administrations.


54. The hotline identified 16,862 potential human trafficking cases.

See No. 51.


55. Trump’s DOJ provided grants to organizations that support human trafficking victims — serving nearly 9,000 cases from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018.

See No. 51.


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56. The Department of Homeland Security has hired more victim assistance specialists, helping victims get resources and support.

See No. 51.


57. President Trump has called on Congress to pass school choice legislation so that no child is trapped in a failing school because of his or her ZIP code.

Calling on Congress to do something is not really an accomplishment.


58. The President signed funding legislation in September 2018 that increased funding for school choice by $42 million.

Mr. Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on eliminating or drastically reducing the size of the Department of Education, tried to slash federal funding for public schools and dramatically increase funding for school choice and voucher programs. Congress overrode him. The $42 million is a small amount compared to the $400 million his administration initially proposed to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools.


59. The tax cuts signed into law by President Trump promote school choice by allowing families to use 529 college savings plans for elementary and secondary education.

True. This is a tax break for those who send their children to private schools. Only a fraction of American families have these savings plans.


60. Under his leadership, ISIS has lost most of its territory and been largely dismantled.

American-led strikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq began in 2014, predating the Trump administration. In 2018, Mr. Trump claimed in a tweet that ISIS had been defeated and ordered a withdrawal of U.S. troops within 30 days. He eventually gave military leaders more time after their objections. By 2019, the Islamic State had lost nearly all of its territory, but the group remains a threat.


61. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is said to have detonated a suicide vest during a 2019 raid by United States Special Operations forces.


62. Signed the first Perkins C.T.E. reauthorization since 2006, authorizing more than $1 billion for states each year to fund vocational and career education programs.

True.

63. Executive order expanding apprenticeship opportunities for students and workers.

True. Attempts to expand and modernize apprenticeships, a goal shared by Democrats, are widely seen as a bipartisan bright spot in the Trump administration.


64. Trump issued an Executive Order prohibiting the U.S. government from discriminating against Christians or punishing expressions of faith.

Mr. Trump signed an executive order that called for the vigorous enforcement of federal laws protecting religious freedom. Christians were not singled out.


65. Signed an executive order that allows the government to withhold money from college campuses deemed to be anti-Semitic and who fail to combat anti-Semitism.

True, though the American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern that the order could be used to punish constitutionally protected criticism of Israel or the Israeli government. [Let me add that almost any criticism of the policies of the Israeli state seems to be called ‘anti-semitic’. Gfb]


66. President Trump ordered a halt to U.S. tax money going to international organizations that fund or perform abortions.

True. Every Republican president has adopted a version of this policy since Ronald Reagan.


67. Trump imposed sanctions on the socialists in Venezuela who have killed their citizens.

True. The U.S. government has imposed sanctions on Venezuela for more than a decade. Additional sanctions imposed by the Trump administration have increased economic pressure on the government of Nicolás Maduro, who remains in power.


68. Finalized new trade agreement with South Korea.

Mr. Trump signed a revised version of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement, which had been in place since 2012. In 2017, Mr. Trump threatened to terminate the deal, which he said “should’ve never been made.” But the new version is considered similar to the old version, with a few tweaks.


69. Made a deal with the European Union to increase U.S. energy exports to Europe.

True.


70. Withdrew the U.S. from the job-killing TPP deal.

Mr. Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major change in U.S. trade policy. Experts disagree about the impact of the withdrawal on Americans jobs.


71. Secured $250 billion in new trade and investment deals in China and $12 billion in Vietnam.

This is true. China agreed to increase agricultural purchases by $12.5 billion in 2020 and $19.5 billion in 2021, compared with 2017 levels, but China is under no obligation beyond 2021.


72. O.K.’d up to $12 billion in aid for farmers affected by unfair trade retaliation.

The Trump administration announced a total of $28 billion in aid for farmers in 2018 and 2019, and another $23.5 billion through the coronavirus stimulus package passed in March.


73. Has had over a dozen U.S. hostages freed, including those Obama could not get freed.

This is true. Mr. Obama amended a longstanding U.S. policy not to negotiate with hostage-takers, making it more flexible. Mr. Trump continued to push the envelope on what could be done to release hostages, earning praise from those who view his efforts as a major foreign policy success and criticism from others who accuse Mr. Trump of authorizing the payment of de facto ransoms, incentivizing terrorists to take more American hostages.


74. Trump signed the Music Modernization Act, the biggest change to copyright law in decades.

True.


75. Trump secured Billions that will fund the building of a wall at our southern border.

Mr. Trump promised in 2016 that Mexico would pay for the wall. What happened?


76. The Trump Administration is promoting second-chance hiring to give former inmates the opportunity to live crime-free lives and find meaningful employment.

See No. 77.


77. Trump’s DOJ and the Board Of Prisons launched a new “Ready to Work Initiative” to help connect employers directly with former prisoners.

This is true, though it is unclear how many people have been able to participate in it.


78. President Trump’s historic tax cut legislation included new Opportunity Zone Incentives to promote investment in low-income communities across the country.

True. Experts disagree about whether these zones will benefit low-income communities, or just wealthy developers.


79. 8,764 communities across the country have been designated as Opportunity Zones.

True. See No. 78.


80. Opportunity Zones are expected to spur $100 billion in long-term private capital investment in economically distressed communities across the country.

See No. 78.


81. Trump directed the Education Secretary to end Common Core.

Mr. Trump promised in 2016 to end Common Core, but according to PolitiFact, 37 states still use some version of it.


82. Trump signed the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund into law.

True. Members of both political parties in Congress deserve much of the credit.


83. Trump signed measure funding prevention programs for Veteran suicide.

True. And congressional supporters of these programs say the White House has been supportive.


84. Companies have brought back over a TRILLION dollars from overseas because of the TCJA bill that Trump signed.

True. TCJA refers to the president’s 2017 overhaul of federal tax law.


85. Manufacturing jobs are growing at the fastest rate in more than 30 years.

According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, the rate of growth of manufacturing jobs in 2018 was impressive, but similar rates were achieved in 1994, 1997, 2011 and 2014.


86. Stock Market has reached record highs.

The highest closing record of the Dow Jones industrial average, the index of 30 top U.S. companies, was reached in February, after investors appeared to be encouraged that the trade wars initiated by Mr. Trump were being resolved. Recent interest-rate cuts in 2019 also contributed. This March, the Dow fell a record 2,013.76 points to 23,851.02, after it became clear that the U.S. economy would lock down because of the pandemic. That drop was followed by two more record-setting point drops.


87. Median household income has hit the highest level ever recorded.

This is true.


88. African-American unemployment is at an all-time low.

See No. 40.


89. Hispanic-American unemployment is at an all-time low.

See No. 40.


90. Asian-American unemployment is at an all-time low.

This was true before the coronavirus struck.

91. Women’s unemployment rate is at a 65-year low.

This was true before the coronavirus struck.


92. Youth unemployment is at a 50-year low.

This appears to have been true, before the coronavirus struck. But the labor force participation rate for young Americans is not as high as it was in 1989.


93. We have the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded.

This is false. Unemployment rates were lower in the 1950s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


94. The Pledge to America’s Workers has resulted in employers committing to train more than 4 million Americans.

In 2018, President Trump launched the Pledge to America’s Workers, aimed at boosting the private sector’s role in training American workers. Companies signed on, to much fanfare. But there is evidence that resources for training are actually going down.


95. 95 percent of U.S. manufacturers are optimistic about the future — the highest ever.

This was true in 2018, but since the pandemic that number has dropped to 34 percent.


96. As a result of the Republican tax bill, small businesses will have the lowest top marginal tax rate in more than 80 years.

Not really. According to the Tax Foundation, the lowest top marginal rate in the past 80 years was 28 percent in the 1980s, although a “claw back” provision in the 1980s increased the top marginal rate to 33 percent for taxpayers with incomes over certain thresholds. Under current law, the top marginal rate is 37 percent, but pass-through businesses can receive additional tax breaks to lower their top marginal rate to 29.6 percent.


97. Record number of regulations eliminated that hurt small businesses.

This appears to be true. Mr. Trump has made reducing regulations a signature part of his legacy. He signed an executive order directing all agencies to repeal at least two existing regulations for each new regulation issued in the 2017 fiscal year and thereafter. A list of regulations that have been removed is being compiled by the Brookings Deregulation Tracker.


98. Signed welfare reform requiring able-bodied adults who don’t have children to work or look for work if they’re on welfare. 🙌🙌

The Trump administration released guidance in January 2018 that lets states take away Medicaid coverage from people who aren’t working or engaged in work-related activities. Tens of thousands of people have been affected. For instance, in Arkansas over 18,000 Medicaid beneficiaries lost coverage in 2018, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.


99. Under Trump, the FDA approved more affordable generic drugs than ever before in history.

True. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, was praised for his efforts to streamline the process of drug approval before he left the administration.


100. Reformed Medicare program to stop hospitals from overcharging low-income seniors on their drugs — saving seniors 100’s of millions of $$$ this year alone. 👀👀

It’s true that the Trump administration changed the rules for how Medicare pays for prescription drugs through the 340B program, lowering the rate that hospitals are reimbursed for drugs, which in some cases lowers co-payments for seniors, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. It is not clear how much seniors have saved through this change.


101. Signed Right-To-Try legislation allowing terminally ill patients to try an experimental treatment that wasn’t allowed before.

TrueSome argue that a similar program that existed previously under the Food and Drug Administration was less risky.


102. Secured $6 billion in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, $9 billion in new grant funding was awarded to states and local communities to help increase access to treatment and prevention services during the first three years of the Trump administration.


103. Signed VA Choice Act and VA Accountability Act, expanded V.A. telehealth services, walk-in-clinics, and same-day urgent primary and mental health care.

Mr. Trump has signed a number of bipartisan bills that call for improvements to medical care for veterans, including more access to walk-in clinics.


104. U.S. oil production recently reached an all-time high so we are less dependent on oil from the Middle East.

True. (Duplicate of No. 7.)


105. The U.S. is a net natural gas exporter for the first time since 1957.

True. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States began ramping up its exports of liquefied natural gas in 2016, and became a net exporter of natural gas during the Trump administration.


106. NATO allies increased their defense spending because of his pressure campaign.

True. Although NATO countries were already modestly increasing their military spending before Mr. Trump took office, there is evidence that his public complaints led to a deal that allowed the United States to decrease its own spending, while some other countries increased their share each year that he has been in office.


107. Withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord in 2017 and that same year the U.S. still led the world by having the largest reduction in carbon emissions.

It is true that Mr. Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Experts disagree on whether the accord would have created American jobs or destroyed them.


108. Has his circuit court judge nominees being confirmed faster than any other new administration.

It is not clear how to measure this across every U.S. administration, but it is an ironic thing to highlight, given that Republicans systematically blocked Mr. Obama’s judicial nominees.


109. Had his Supreme Court Justice’s Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh confirmed.

True.


110. Moved U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

True.


111. Agreed to a new trade deal with Mexico & Canada that will increase jobs here and $$$ coming in.

The Trump administration updated the North American Free Trade Agreement, fulfilling a campaign promise.


112. Reached a breakthrough agreement with the E.U. to increase U.S. exports.

True. The agreement aims to resolve a longstanding dispute about a European Union ban on hormone-fed U.S. beef. But tensions over Mr. Trump’s 25 percent tariffs on some European goods remain.


113. Imposed tariffs on China in response to China’s forced technology transfer, intellectual property theft, and their chronically abusive trade practices, has agreed to a Part One trade deal with China.

True, though China has reportedly pulled back from its commitments in that deal amid the pandemic.


114. Signed legislation to improve the National Suicide Hotline.

See No. 83.


115. Signed the most comprehensive childhood cancer legislation ever into law, which will advance childhood cancer research and improve treatments.

The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research Act has been called the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill taken up by Congress. It was championed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and passed unanimously in 2018.


116. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law by Trump doubled the maximum amount of the child tax credit available to parents and lifted the income limits so more people could claim it.

True. According to the Tax Foundation, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act doubled the maximum child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000, while the phaseout threshold was increased from $75,000 to $200,000 for single filers and $110,000 to $400,000 for married couples filing jointly.


117. It also created a new tax credit for other dependents.

True. There is now a nonrefundable $500 credit for certain dependents who do not meet the child tax credit eligibility guidelines.


118. In 2018, President Trump signed into law a $2.4 billion funding increase for the Child Care and Development Fund, providing a total of $8.1 billion to states to fund child care for low-income families.

It is true that Mr. Trump signed this bill. Congress should also get the credit for passing it.

119. The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC) signed into law by Trump provides a tax credit equal to 20-35% of child care expenses, $3,000 per child & $6,000 per family + Flexible Spending Accounts (F.S.A.s) allow you to set aside up to $5,000 in pre-tax $ to use for child care.

According to the Tax Foundation, this is an accurate description of the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, but it’s important to note that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not directly change the rules for the credit. Those rules existed before the Trump administration. So did the $5,000 dependent care Flexible Spending Accounts.



120. In 2019 President Donald Trump signed the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act (CARES) into law, which allocates $1.8 billion in funding over the next five years to help people with autism spectrum disorder and to help their families.
👀👀

It is true that Mr. Trump signed this bill into law. Congress deserves the credit for passing this legislation, which received such broad support that 173 House members and 41 senators were co-sponsors.



121. In 2019 President Trump signed into law two funding packages providing nearly $19 million in new funding for Lupus specific research and education programs, as well an additional $41.7 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the most Lupus funding EVER.

True. The measure was championed by the bipartisan Congressional Lupus Caucus.



122. Another upcoming accomplishment to add: In the next week or two Trump will be signing the first major anti-robocall law in decades called the TRACED Act (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence.) Once it’s the law, the TRACED Act will extend the period of time the FCC has to catch & punish those who intentionally break telemarketing restrictions. The bill also requires voice service providers to develop a framework to verify calls are legitimate before they reach your phone.

True. Congress gets credit for passing this law with bipartisan support. Even under the TRACED Act, the power of the F.C.C. to punish robocallers is limited.


See No. 86.

123. US stock market continually hits all-time record highs.

Gangsters Like Trump Don’t Like Written Records, but they DO Expect to Get their Cut

The point being, Donald Trump is acting like a gangster. As usual. Pay attention to what this criminal actually says.

From The Bulwark (so I, Guy Brandenburg did NOT write this.)

1. A Piece of the Action
My favorite movie of the 2000s (non-Dark Knight division) is a British gangster film called Layer Cake.

I highly recommend it.

Layer Cake is a lot of things: It’s about class and ambition and history and generational conflict. 

But as much as anything else, it’s about business. I say this with all sincerity: Layer Cake is probably the best business movie ever made.

Please permit a digression from the movie.

Layercake revolves around a drug dealer called Mr. X who is a middle-tier operator. He buys from wholesalers and then sells the product to the regional distributors, who then split the parcels up and get them to local dealers. Who finally punt it to the end users.

At each step along on the chain, one of the middlemen takes a bite.

At the top of the pyramid is semi-respectable mogul named Jimmy Price. And Jimmy is the supplier who puts Mr. X in touch with the wholesalers. For this, Jimmy gets a cut of every transaction.

At the start of the movie, Jimmy puts Mr. X together with a gangster called the Duke, who has one million tabs of ecstasy. When Mr. X discovers that the Duke has stolen those pills from a Serbian gang run by war criminals—who are trying to get them back—he decides that he should walk away from the deal, because it’s going to get him killed.

And at this point, Mr. X tries to tell Jimmy’s right-hand enforcer, Gene, that the deal with the Duke is off. At which point Gene explains to him the facts of life:
 Gene: Between you and the Duke, you promised Jimmy a bumper payday. So you better get busy.Mr. X: I said I’d try and offload—Gene: He put you together. You and Duke. That’s his job. If you two can’t make music? He’s gonna want his whack out, either way. That’s business.
I mention all of this because on Tuesday the president of the United States held forth on the prospective sale of the Chinese spyware engine TikTok to Microsoft. Here is what the president said: We set a date, I set a date, of around September 15th, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States. But if somebody, whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else, buys it, that’ll be interesting.I did say that if you buy it, whatever the price is, that goes to whoever owns it, because I guess it’s China, essentially, but more than anything else, I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States. Because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen. Right now they don’t have any rights, unless we give it to ’em. So if we’re going to give them the rights, then it has to come into, it has to come into this country.
I mean, this isn’t exactly what Gene tells Mr. X in Layer Cake. But it’s . . . close?

The president of the United States has set a deadline for a sale and told the prospective buyer and seller that he expects to get his whack out. And that he believes he is entitled to do this because neither the buyer nor seller “[have] any rights unless we give it to ’em.”The only thing Trump isn’t doing here is telling Microsoft that they’re going to have to pay whether or not the deal gets done, because he did his job of putting them together.

This is not normal.

This is not how first-world governments work.

It is, however, how gangsters operate.

Do you remember the scene in the Mueller report where Trump flips out at his lawyer, Don McGahn, about his note-taking?
 The President also asked McGahn in the meeting why he had told Special Counsel’s Office investigators that the President had told him to have the Special Counsel removed. McGahn responded that he had to and these conversations with the President were not protected by attorney-client privilege. The President then asked, “What about these notes? Why do you take notes? Lawyers don’t take notes. I never had a lawyer who took notes.” McGahn responded that he keeps notes because he is a “real lawyer” and explained that notes create a record and are not a bad thing. (page 117)
Or do you remember when Trump wanted to communicate a message to his attorney general, but instead of calling him, or drafting a memo, or dispatching his chief of staff, he called in a private citizen (Corey Lewandowski), dictated a note to him (insisting that he write it down), then dispatched him to deliver the message to his own AG, and the messenger refused to give the message to the AG over the phone or at DoJ, since either of those methods of communication would leave a trail.

Again: This is not normal.

America is being run like a banana republic. A kleptocracy. A criminal enterprise.

And keep in mind this TikTok stuff is a subject where, as I said on Monday, Trump is right on the merits!

But even when he’s right, his corruption is so total that everything he touches is toxified.

DC Charter Schools that took PPP money

As you know, Congress set up a Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses to use during the COVID shutdown, so that they could continue to pay their workers. Public and Charter schools are still paying their employees, and their funding has not (yet) been cut.

However, the national charter school lobbying group recommended that charter schools should take out these loans anyway, because, uh, they want more good government dollars. And many, many did just that.

How many charter schools in DC took the money, we don’t know, because only those who “borrowed” over $150,000 are listed, plus, the list doesn’t say exactly how much they got, but just a range (eg from $1 million to $2 million).

Will they have to pay it back? That depends on the citizens.

However, here are the charter schools that ‘borrowed’ a large amount of $$ here in Washington, DC.

Thanks to Mercedes Schneider and the Network for Public Education for making this data easily findable.

DC Public Charter Schools that took over $150,000 in PPP ‘loans’minmax
ACADEMY OF HOPE ADULT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
ACHIEVEMENT PREPARATORY ACADEMY$1,000,000$2,000,000
APPLETREE EARLY LEARNING PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL$1,000,000$2,000,000
BREAKTHROUGH MONTESSORI PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $150,000$350,000
BRIDGES PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
CENTER CITY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS $2,000,000$5,000,000
CREATIVE MINDS INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC CHAR $1,000,000$2,000,000
D.C. HEBREW LANGUAGE CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
DC SCHOLARS PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL INC $1,000,000$2,000,000
 DIGITAL PIONEERS ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER $350,000$1,000,000
EAGLE ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $2,000,000$5,000,000
EARLY CHILDHOOD ACADEMY $350,000$1,000,000
ELSIE WHITLOW STOKES COMMUNITY FREEDOM PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $1,000,000$2,000,000
HARMONY DC PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOLS $150,000$350,000
 HOWARD UNIVERSITY PUBLIC CHARTER MIDDLE SCHOOL OF MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE $350,000$1,000,000
INTEGRATED DESIGN AND ELECTRONICS ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
KINGSMAN ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
LATIN AMERICAN MONTESSORI BILINGUAL PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $1,000,000$2,000,000
LAYC CAREER ACADEMY $150,000$350,000
 LEE MONTESSORI PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL$350,000$1,000,000
MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE DAY ACADEMY PCS$1,000,000$2,000,000
MAYA ANGELOU PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $1,000,000$2,000,000
MONUMENT ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
MUNDO VERDE PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $1,000,000$2,000,000
NATIONAL COLLEGIATE PREPARATORY PUBLIC CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
 PAUL PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL INC $2,000,000$5,000,000
PERRY STREET PREPARATORY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $150,000$350,000
RICHARD WRIGHT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
ROOTS PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL, INC $150,000$350,000
SEE FOREVER FOUNDATION $350,000$1,000,000
SEED PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL OF WASHINGTON DC $1,000,000$2,000,000
STATEMENS COLLEGE PREPATORY ACADEMY FOR BOYS PCS $150,000$350,000
THE MERIDIAN PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $1,000,000$2,000,000
THE SEED FOUNDATION INC $350,000$1,000,000
THURGOOD MARSHALL ACADEMY $1,000,000$2,000,000
WASHINGTON GLOBAL PUBIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
WASHINGTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL $350,000$1,000,000
RANGE TOTALS $24,500,000$57,100,000
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