Usher's News & Analysis, Mar. 12, 2020


Meteorologist Ari Sarsalari says the World Health Organization said Wednesday that COVID-19 is now a pandemic. Just what does that mean?

Coronavirus Is Now a Pandemic – What Does That Mean?

The reason right-wing capitalists want to cut the payroll tax is to weaken Social Security and Medicare so they can be more easily privatized. Rather than reduce the payroll tax to increase demand, we should issue money directly to the people, who will still pay their payroll tax and still use the extra money where most needed: buying necessities and then paying down debts and increasing savings and investments.

The payroll tax generated $1.17 trillion – or 35.2 percent of all federal revenues – in the fiscal year 2018, according to a recent study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Most of the revenue from the tax goes to fund Social Security, Medicare, and other social insurance benefits.

The suspension of the payroll tax would drop the tax rate from 14.2 percent down to zero, with the Trump administration hoping the extra money in people’s paychecks will spur spending and boost an economy that has been on shaky ground since the outbreak of coronavirus in the U.S.

House to move on coronavirus-related stimulus package, but Hoyer says payroll tax cut a nonstarter

Here are the ones I like most.

Increased SNAP benefits
Additional funding for food banks ... and [certain] nonprofits
Emergency mortgage and rental assistance
Additional financial assistance to housing providers

Senate Democrats unveil relief proposal in response to coronavirus outbreak

Unfortunately but predictably, they didn't suggest to simply issue money.

Civil liberties advocates were disappointed, however.

“It’s a weird political moment. Because of the Carter Page surveillance, Republicans are on board with civil liberties protections,” said Elizabeth Goitein, director of the Liberty and National Security program at the Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy institute at New York University School of Law. “And yet, what came out of it was something that frankly gave the Republicans more of what they wanted and gave progressive lawmakers very little of what they’ve been pushing for.”

Congress missed a chance to limit the government’s ability to siphon off the electronic data of Americans, she added. “This is a wasted opportunity. It’s that simple.”

The American Civil Liberties Union called the legislation a “half measure.”

“With only minimal improvements over current law, the reforms in this backroom deal fall far short of what is needed to protect our privacy rights,” Christopher Anders, its deputy political director, said in a statement. “This proposal will continue to allow secret courts to issue secret orders and the federal government will continue spying on Americans without the kind of oversight and adversarial process that all Americans should expect of our government and our courts.”

It’s unclear whether libertarian conservatives in the Senate, notably Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), will decide to stall the debate and allow the surveillance powers to expire. “Weak sauce reform,” he tweeted after the House vote. “This doesn’t fix the problem! Let’s do real reform now!”

FBI power to eavesdrop on Americans likely to be curtailed

Please note that the article is misinformation concerning Michael Horowitz's report. He did not dismiss the concern. He simply said he didn't have proof but that it could have been the case. The misinformation is referred to as the Big Lie tactic. It means to repeat a lie over and over and over no matter how often or how well it is shown to be a lie.

For awhile, the tactic stopped working. However, the MSM censored the truth-tellers and can now get away with the tactic again.

A whole generation is beginning to fade out of the Progressive Movement for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is censorship.

This next link focuses on the impeachment, but Bernie supporters and other progressives have also been becoming more fed up with the Democratic establishment for reasons in addition to the impeachment, which establishment has doubled down on Clintonism via Biden.

Democratic Party's image takes a hit in approval ratings: Gallup poll

Lumumba quotes Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1961 remarks: "Call it democracy or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God's children."

"That's right on point," Lumumba says.

'The same old thing has failed my people': Why this black mayor in Mississippi is endorsing Bernie Sanders

... the policies we adopt certainly do influence inequality. Steeply progressive income taxes and estate taxes shaped income distributions during those Trente Glorieuses. Consider, for that matter, how corporations and the very rich are indulged by the current taxation regime in the West. Tax-collection agencies are resigned to the fact that the biggest fortunes also tend to be the most mobile. In the U.S., many states compete to provide rich people with advantageous tax rates, in order not to lose them. But whatever revenue is gained by holding on to some fortunes is more than undercut by the diminished rates. Since Congress passed its 2017 package of tax cuts—which Republican sponsors justified on global-competition grounds, and claimed would “pay for itself”—corporate-tax collections have fallen by a third. The U.S. is now running trillion-dollar deficits, during a period of long-lasting economic growth, no major military engagements, and no ramp-up in social spending.
... During the Trente Glorieuses, he notes, countries in the West had very high marginal tax rates, the lowest levels of inequality observed in human history, and high growth rates. From 1980 to the present day, growth and stability seem to have stalled, at the same time that inequality has skyrocketed. The trends look suggestive—if inequality and growth are reduced, stability should reappear.

Thomas Piketty Goes Global

Israeli Spyware Firm NSO Seeks Court Sanctions Against Facebook

I like Norman Solomon, a lot.

Movements that have been propelling the Sanders campaign are here for the long haul—as determined to keep fighting for social justice as top corporate executives are determined to keep collecting huge paychecks. (And that’s saying something.)
Candidates who rushed to endorse Biden after his big victory in South Carolina—Michael Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker—each personify, in their own way, what’s so corrosive about standard-issue Democratic Party leaders. Their backgrounds and personalities vary widely, but they share a political space of opportunism and ultra-coziness with corporate power. (Meanwhile, during the crucial aftermath of her withdrawal from the race after Super Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren shed new light on her political character when she decided not to endorse Sanders.)

The antidote to anti-democratic poisons has nothing to do with cynicism, passivity or defeatism. The solutions will come from realism, activism and ongoing insistence that a better world is possible—if we’re willing to keep fighting for it.

'In a Dark Time, the Eye Begins to See': The 2020 Bernie Campaign Represents a Fight That Must Continue

Editorial: China has reported some 80,000 to 90,000 total Wuhan virus cases, and China has had the virus in the public since approximately November-December of 2019. They've been reporting a reduction in new cases for some time now. In fact, they're saying that most new cases are coming in rather then homegrown (strange). Why then are so many in the US projecting 150 million cases here? That's nearly 50%. What are we not being told?

Even though I'm an opponent of term limits, I don't think Putin should run again or will. I think he wants to keep people guessing so they'll remain focused on getting done what he wants accomplished.

In January, he told a veteran of the second world war that he was worried about a return to the 80s, when Kremlin leaders “stayed in power until the end of their days” and did not provide for a transition of power.

On Tuesday, he walked back that statement, saying that modern Russia’s elections made it impossible to return to a Soviet-style procession of leaders-for-life. “I won’t hide that I was wrong,” he said. “It was an incorrect statement because during the Soviet Union there were no elections.”

Putin backs proposal allowing him to remain in power in Russia beyond 2024

The central bank has become the only game in town, and its hammer keeps missing the nail. A recession caused by a massive disruption in supply chains cannot be fixed through central-bank monetary easing alone. Monetary policy is a tool designed to deal with “demand” – the amount of money competing for goods and services, driving prices up. To fix a supply-side problem, monetary policy needs to be combined with fiscal policy, which means Congress and the Fed need to work together. There are successful contemporary models for this, and the best are in China and Japan.

The Chinese Stock Market Has Held Its Ground

While US markets were crashing, the Chinese stock market actually went up by 10 percent in February. How could that be? China is the country hardest hit by the disruptive COVID-19 virus, yet investors are evidently confident that it will prevail against the virus and market threats.

In 2008, China beat the global financial crisis by pouring massive amounts of money into infrastructure, and that is apparently the policy it is pursuing now. Five hundred billion dollars in infrastructure projects have already been proposed for 2020 – nearly as much as was invested in the country’s huge stimulus program after 2008. The newly injected money will go into the pockets of laborers and suppliers, who will spend it on consumer goods, prompting producers to produce more goods and services, increasing productivity and jobs.

The Fed’s Baffling Response to the Coronavirus Explained

What China has been deliberately hiding, and doing so for political reasons, is that it doesn't care about borrowing. It knows it actually isn't lending or borrowing anything. It's just issuing money as needed, no matter how chaotically or no matter how poorly targeted.

If the Chinese Communist Party were to do things straight up, the People would come to understand that things could be vastly better than they are and that the elitism of the Party is actually a hindrance. They'd come to the only logical conclusion. Grassroots-driven economic-democracy without borrowing or lending is right there for the taking if they overthrow the obstacle: the Chinese Communist Party, the dictatorship, the overlords.

Of course, the same thing applies to all currency-issuing nations of substantial size. The US government definitely never needed to borrow a dime and shouldn't have. It should issue the money, pay it all off, and never borrow again.

Where does money come from? Imagination.

New poll provides a clue, will young Bernie voters show up for Joe?

Jake Gaba gives insight on data among young voters including what issues matter most to young people.

GOP establishment FREAKS after domestic policy expert appears on Rising

Executive director of American Compass Oren Cass responds to the Wall Street Journal’s negative coverage of his analysis on America’s economic challenges.

Great Idlib Rebranding And Turkish Victories Over Russian Air Defense