Category: Donald Trump
‘Why Is the US Even There?’ Anti-War Critics Question American Presence in Niger

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201710201058390465-us-presence-niger-anti-war/

‘Why Is the US Even There?’ Anti-War Critics Question American Presence in Niger

United States Forces Korea (USFK) soldiers line-up during a display of military equipment at Yongsan US military base in Seoul. (File)

‘Why Is the US Even There?’ Anti-War Critics Question American Presence in Niger

© AFP 2017/ CHOI JAE-KU

Opinion

Get short URL
163414541

After a bloody militant attack in Niger that killed four US soldiers and five Nigerien service members earlier in October, US foreign policy critics have questioned why the US has a troop presence in countries like Niger in the first place.

Brian Becker and Walter Smolarek of Sputnik Radio’s Loud & Clear were joined by anti-war activists Rory Fanning and Cindy Sheehan. Fanning is a former US Army Ranger who fought in Afghanistan before becoming a conscientious objector and public speaker, while Sheehan became a vocal opponent of the US military following the death of her son, US Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, in Iraq in 2004.

“It’s not bad enough that our loved ones were killed in one of the many illegal, immoral wars that the US empire wages, but then we get so mistreated,” Sheehan complained. “After we’re used as political cannon fodder, then we are just pretty much just discarded by the country that supposedly is so grateful for our service.”

On Thursday, Trump allegedly told Myeshia Johnson, the pregnant widow of slain Green Beret La David Johnson, that the soldier “knew what he signed up for,” a comment for which he received enormous flak. The White House denied Trump said any such thing, and accused Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL) of fabricating the story.

According to Sheehan, the political mistreatment of Gold Star families spans the political spectrum: the family of Humayun Khan, a US soldier killed in Iraq in 2004, was “used by the Democrats” during the 2016 election, as hers has been.

“My grief and the power of the antiwar movement was used by the Democrats,” she said. “The question nobody is answering is: ‘Why are there special forces in Niger anyway?’ Why is the US even militarily involved there?”

The US military claims that its presence in Niger is to train Nigerien troops and deploy surveillance drone missions in the fight against Islamic terrorist groups in neighboring Mali, where US-ally France has been waging a war against Al-Qaeda affiliates since January 2013. Eight hundred US troops are deployed in Niger, with the permission of Niamey.

Niger is far from the only African nation to have a rarely discussed US troop presence. According to Fanning, the United States has been “conducting military operations in 49 of the 54 African countries since 2011 alone. Sixteen years of this, and unfortunately all these incidents only take away focus from the fact that many thousands of American soldiers have died since 2001, plus hundreds of thousands of people around the world, the majority of them innocent civilians.”

Fanning then turned the topic of conversation to his speaking engagements in schools about his time in the Rangers. “I spend a lot of time, when I can get in front of the students here, in the Chicago public schools talking to them about the military. Chicago has 10,000 students signed up to JROTC [Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a US military program aimed at high school students] which is more than any other school district. I’m in a county that’s 50 percent black, 45 percent Latino. When you talk to them about the military you’d be surprised by how little they can tell you about the last 16 years.”

“When they do say why they’re all wearing a uniform once a week for these JROTC classes, they say that they’re looking for a little bit of structure, they’re looking for opportunities to pay for college. Eventually they’ll say ‘We want to make sure the world is a safer place, fight for freedom and democracy.’ I go in front of them and tell them about my experience, and the world is a far more dangerous place as a result of the last 16 years. Between 1980 and 2001, there were 381 suicide bombings around the world, only 10 percent aimed at the US or US interests. Since 2001 there’s been as many as 3,000 suicide bombs around the world, with up to 90 percent aimed at the US or US interests.”

“The world is a far more dangerous place, so signing up for the military is not necessarily making the world safer, it’ll make it more dangerous,” said Fanning. “As far as freedom and democracy goes, national sovereignty seems to exist just for the United States. It doesn’t really apply to any other country. The fact that the US is conducting military operations in the vast majority of African countries, let alone other places around the world — that’s not freedom and democracy for those people. It’s about making a small percentage of the population wealthier and controlling various regions of the planet.”

“The conversation we need to be having is: Why are people still being killed?” Sheehan asked. “Why is the US still a military empire with Trump threatening North Korea, Iran and Venezuela militarily? We just have to be more vocal, and it doesn’t matter who’s president. Obama bombed seven countries, he was at war every day of his presidency, he dropped almost 27,000 bombs in his last year. We need to stop being partisan politicos and really start opposing US empire as much as possible.”

How Donald Trump poisons American society, weakens our values | Opinion
| October 20, 2017 | 8:47 pm | Donald Trump | No comments

http://www.nola.com/opinions/index.ssf/2017/10/how_donald_trump_poisons_ameri.html

Posted on October 20, 2017 at 6:53 AM

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, upon arrival from a trip to Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, upon arrival from a trip to Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

By Robert Mann, Columnist

Families don’t usually fall apart suddenly. One day, a husband and wife are inseparable. Two years later, they realize they’ve become strangers, after their relationship gradually fell victim to a hundred minor offenses and omissions.

Societies also fray and fail in incremental ways. Like a pot on the stove with a proverbial frog in it, the temperature of societal change inches up. It’s too late to escape when we reach the boiling point.

Perhaps boiling frogs and dissolving families are apt metaphors for what is happening to this country under Donald Trump. It feels we are slowly forsaking values we once treasured and guarded.

It happens. Germany didn’t descend into madness overnight in 1933. Its road to perdition wasn’t an autobahn but a narrow, winding trail of incremental atrocities and compromises that led people to forget and abandon values they once treasured. In different and tragic ways, Thailand, Turkey, Bangladesh and Nicaragua are also abandoning their democracies and betraying their values.

Could the same happen here? Well, it’s already happening.

Every week — sometimes daily — Trump and his acolytes inject the nation’s bloodstream with a drop or two of poison. By itself, each offense does not undermine societal norms or cripple our democracy. Taken together, the accumulation of toxins could render our treasured values meaningless.

Less than two years ago, we could not have imagined a president who would coarsen the nation’s discourse as Trump has in a few months.

Presidents and other public officials once paid a steep price for spewing profanity and racial slurs. Such behavior now feels normal and is applauded by his supporters.

Previous presidents didn’t abuse the bully pulpit to slander American corporations or individuals. They didn’t threaten to prosecute defeated opponents.

Presidents once responded with empathy and compassion to suffering citizens. Can you imagine any previous president attacking the mayor of an American city devastated by a hurricane? Before Trump, it would have been impossible to conceive of a president who would ridicule the mayor of London after a terrorist attack.

Previous presidents didn’t blather about nuclear war. They didn’t insult prisoners of war or Gold Star parents. Before Trump, it was hard to believe a president might have trouble denouncing a violent mob of white supremacists and Nazis.

Politicians have never been known for complete veracity, but speaking truth has usually been an aspiration. Trump belches lies with alarming frequency and stunning boldness. Truth rests in a smoldering heap at his feet.

Trump makes a mockery of our society’s reverence for government transparency, honest differences of opinion and tolerance of dissent. He declares the press — the only occupation mentioned in the Constitution — the “enemy of the American people.” He dreams aloud about trashing the First Amendment by preventing media organizations from broadcasting stories that fail his personal accuracy test.

No president has sought to use the federal government to enrich him, his family and his businesses like Trump. No other modern president — not even Richard Nixon — larded his administration with so many ethically challenged lobbyists, cronies and loonies.

At every turn, Trump attacks and weakens societal norms we hold dear. It’s true he has not altered the nation’s laws in any significant way. (By that measure, thankfully, he is history’s least-effective president.)

But weakening our commitment to democracy, decency and decorum? By those measures, Trump may be our most consequential president.

The proof is this: The brevity of our horror at each offense, the willingness of so many millions to abide and celebrate the obscenity of his presidency and a gradual erosion of support for democratic government. As a nation, we have become numb to Trump’s daily torrent of vulgarity and cruelty.

I wrote last year that our country’s institutions were so durable that Trump couldn’t dismantle them. What I didn’t anticipate, however, was the ease with which he would persuade so many Americans to tolerate the erosion of sacred values. It’s been only nine months since he took office. Who knows what this country will look like after four years of his misrule.

When the constitutional convention ended in September 1787, a citizen approached Benjamin Franklin as he emerged into the street.  “What kind of government have you given us, Dr. Franklin?”

“A republic, if you can keep it,” Franklin replied.

The risk to the nation is now, as it was then, whether “we the people” are committed to keeping and strengthening this experiment we call the United States. A corrupt president, disdainful of democracy and heedless of the rule of law is putting us to the test. The early results are discouraging.

As it was in 1787, and also in 1863, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Robert Mann, an author and former U.S. Senate and gubernatorial staffer, holds the Manship Chair in Journalism at the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. Read more from him at his blog, Something Like the Truth. Follow him on Twitter @RTMannJr or email him at bob.mann@outlook.com.

KKE: Statement regarding the meeting between PM Tsipras and President Trump in the United States

Saturday, October 21, 2017

KKE: Statement regarding the meeting between PM Tsipras and President Trump in the United States

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/10/kke-statement-regarding-meeting-between.html
Source: Rizospastis / Translation: In Defense of Communism.
 
Regarding the recent meeting between Greek Premier Alexis Tsipras and U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington DC, the Press Office of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece issued the following statement:
 
“The Tsipras-Trump meeting evolved into an- unbelievably cynic- confession that the aim of the trip to the United States was the deeper involvement of Greece in the dangerous plans of USA-NATO in the region, as well as into an outrageous “white-washing” of the Trump government’s barbaric policy from the side of Mr.Tsipras.
 
Only the fact that the SYRIZA-ANEL government received credit from the USA for supporting NATO plans and spending the 2% of the GDP for NATO military equipment, is enough for someone to realize that this meeting can only create new dangers for the Greek people and the other peoples of the region. 
The SYRIZA-ANEL government must immediately inform the Greek people regarding all the agreements and commitments it undertook. It is certain that it has agreed to extend and upgrade the US-NATO bases in Greece, especially the one in Souda, as well as to upgrade the F-16 aircrafts, which are related to NATO’s aggressive activities and not the defensive needs of the country, and for which the Greek people will have to pay 2.4 billion, while the government “bleeds” them in every possible way.
 
After all, as the Security Cooperation Organisation for Defense Security of the U.S. Defense Ministry says, the proposed sale will contribute to the U.S. foreign policy, by strengthening the security of a NATO ally, and will enhance the Greek Air Force’s ability to support NATO and continue its operations in the future.
 
Any U.S. investments will involve business corporations which will benefit from the labour jungle, the divestiture of public property and the exploitation of the country’s energy resources. They will be related to the greater dependence of the domestic defense industry on the U.S. war-industrial cluster. They will be related to energy projects, such as the extraction of valuable hydrocarbon deposits, from which the Greek people will have no benefit, as well as the transfer of U.S. natural gas by Greek shipowners.
 
Even the debt issue, to which only a little reference was made, is directly linked to rivalries between powerful capitalist centers (mainly USA-Germany) which do not challenge the antipeople measures and the restructures that are being promoted against the people.
 
It is evident that Greece is “upgraded” as a base for imperialist interventions and wars in the broader region and as a point of reference for U.S. policy in her dangerous competions with other powers, e.g. Russia. That is what the government and the USA mean when they say that Greece is a factor of stability and peace.

It is also evident that the SYRIZA-ANEL government claims- on behalf of the Greek capital- an upgraded role in the share of the prey of wars and interventions in the region, from the bazaars for the energy routes which are paved with the blood of the people, with refugees and poverty. For that reason, the rest of the parties unanimously supported Tsipras’ trip to the U.S., even by bidding for the commitments the government must undertake.

The arguments that the upgrading of the relations with the U.S. can protect the country’s sovereign rights, as well as peace and security, is fake and historically bankrupt. Equally deceptive is the claim that Tsipras’ trip to the U.S. will bring benefits for the country, because the U.S.-Turkish relations are currently being tested. 

Greece’s participation in NATO and the country’s involvement in interventions and wars, all these years, did not protect her sovereign rights. It is not a coincidence that Trump didn’t say a word both about the Cyprus Issue as well as about the Turkish violations in the Aegean, which NATO itself recognizes as a single operations space, without borders. Greece’s modern history has several examples of how alliances have been rearranged within seconds and our supposedly “robust allies” became a source of modern tragedies that the people have paid with their blood. 

The Greek people must react massively against the new agreements of the government with the U.S.; agreements which involve the people deeper in the geostrategic competitions and bring new big dangers. The people must turn their back to the embellishment attempt of U.S. imperialism which proves that the SYRIZA-ANEL government does not hesitate to offend even the historical memory and the struggles of the people in order to serve the interests of the capital and to sow the venom of subordination supposedly as one-way road. The people, with their struggle and solidarity, can open a radically different road, in rupture with the power of the capital and imperialist organisations such as NATO and the EU.
America’s Scramble for Africa
| October 19, 2017 | 9:03 pm | Africa, Analysis, China, Donald Trump | No comments
US flag

America’s Scramble for Africa

CC0 / Pixabay
Columnists

Get short URL
Finian Cunningham
159271
https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201710191058385654-us-africa-trump-china/

The ugly row over whether President Trump disrespected the young widow of a fallen American soldier has overshadowed a bigger issue. That is, the increasing number of US military operations across the African continent.

Two weeks ago, Sgt La David Johnson (25) was killed along with three other US special forces troops when Islamist militants ambushed their patrol in the West African country of Niger. Trump got into hot water this week about reported offhand comments he made to the widow of Green Beret Johnson. The president denies he said anything disrespectful. Although the dead soldier’s family says otherwise.

In all the media controversy over what Trump said or didn’t say, questions about what US troops are doing in Niger are unfortunately overlooked. Not just Niger, but in dozens of other African nations.It is reckoned from US army data that there are thousands of special forces and other military personnel carrying out up to 100 missions at any given time in some 24 African states. That’s nearly half of all the countries comprising the African continent.

US special forces and surveillance drone operations are deployed in Niger, Chad, Mali and Sudan which all run along the southern Sahara desert. Further south in sub-Saharan Africa, US military are operating in Nigeria, Central African Republic, Uganda, Ethiopia and, of course, Somalia, where they are involved in a state of war against Islamist al Shabab militants.

The deployment of US troops in Africa was first stepped up under President GW Bush when his administration formed AFRICOM in 2007, a whole US command dedicated to the continent. Subsequently, under President Barack Obama, the American deployments increased further. Now under President Trump, the US force presence is reckoned to be at its highest level yet.

The official explanation is that American soldiers, Navy and air power, as well as CIA clandestine operations, are there to counter terror groups, who could plan and mount strikes on Europe and North America.True, there are several dangerous terror networks active in various African states, from al Shabaab in Somalia, to Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. The latter has affiliates in Algeria, Mali, Chad and Niger where the US troops were killed recently along with a number of  local forces they were supporting.

But there is more than a suspicion that the US is using the cover of combating terrorism to conceal and project its real objective, which is to exert its influence over African nations. One observation for raising doubts is that the problem of these terror groups has actually grown more rapidly after the US troops started to be deployed in larger numbers under President Bush. Echoes of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria here.

When Trump hosted several African leaders last month in New York during the UN annual congress he told them that his American investor friends were hotfooting it to the continent “to make a lot of money”. Typical of Trump, everything is reduced to filthy lucre. Now he may have been trying to charm his guests with a little light-hearted banter, but there’s much more to the joke. Africa is indeed seen as the continent of the future owing to its prodigious and still largely untapped resources.

The trouble for America and other Western powers is that China has stolen a march on them in terms of cultivating investments and harnessing resources across Africa. Under President Xi Jinping, China has investment projects worth an estimated $60 billion in dozens of African countries. This is way ahead of what the Americans or Europeans have invested.

Earlier this year, China opened its first ever overseas military base, in the East African country of Djibouti. That’s still small news compared with the reported 46 military bases that the US has across the continent.Beijing said its new military facilities in Djibouti are to secure vital shipping routes against piracy in the Gulf of Aden. That may be partly true. But there is also the factor of China wanting a security foothold in a continent where it has staked so much of its future economic growth plans.

The big difference between the US and China is that while Beijing has devoted most of its resources to developing trade and industry with African states, Washington’s emphasis is on military relations.

China has gained much respect from African nations for its genuine commitment to partnership. It is bringing capital and technology to Africa and gaining access to natural resources of oil and gas, metals and other minerals. Unlike the old European colonialism, China’s involvement in Africa is based on partnership and mutual development. For access to raw materials, China has built schools, universities, telecommunications and transport networks, which are all helping the continent reach its huge potential.

The Americans like the Europeans are stuck in an “extractive mentality” when it comes to Africa. But today, American capitalism is broke. It can’t even invest in its own nation never mind Africa.

Trump speaks for American capitalism. Knowing the rich resources possessed in Africa’s earth and its people, Trump salivates over the prospect of making big bucks. But the Americans aren’t prepared to spend the investment money needed to harness the rewards.That’s where the US military muscle comes in. In place of proper economic investment, diplomacy and political partnership, Washington is using its military edge to encroach on Africa — under the guise of “fighting terrorism”.

That’s not to say that American troops aren’t confronting terror groups. They are, as the deadly firefight in Niger shows.

But the real purpose for increasing US military strength in Africa is about securing American strategic economic interests “on the cheap” by using military power as opposed to deploying financial commitment in the way that China has.

The Americans want to have military firepower in place across Africa in the event of a sharp confrontation with China. China is seen as the global rival to failing US economic power. If relations turn really nasty — as they could over any number of issues, from North Korea to territorial disputes in the South China Sea — the US wants to have military ways to cut China off in Africa.

Like the Europeans in a previous century, the Americans are in a “scramble for Africa”. This time the scramble is all about cornering countries and resources from China’s legitimate expanding bilateral interests with African nations.However, America’s militarism in Africa will bring no benefit to the countries. As in other parts of the globe, the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, the pattern clearly shows that terrorism burgeons where US military operations occur.

Besides, American capitalism is not motivated by developing Africa for its people. It’s about making profits for Wall Street and rich investors like Trump.

The real danger is that this militarism will lead to another point of confrontation with China if the latter’s economic interests are threatened, as they were when US and NATO forces bombed Libya in 2011 for regime change.

It’s such a crying shame that American widows are having their hearts broken for a mission that is totally fraudulent — and getting no thanks for it from a callous Commander-in-Chief.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Georgi Dimitrov: An Antidote to False Prophets and Naysayers

A new posting –

Georgi Dimitrov: An Antidote to False Prophets and Naysayers

– from Greg Godels is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

By Zoltan Zigedy (Greg Godels)October 16, 2017

Marxists have been prolific correspondents, engaging others in polemics and collective ideas. The Marx and Engels correspondences, for example, number 1,386 letters! Marxism is, or should be, a collaborative effort.

Thus, I read the recent Sam Webb/Max Elbaum correspondence with some interest. Webb was the National Chairperson of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) for fourteen years until 2014. Elbaum was a sympathetic chronicler and active leader of the so-called “New Communist Movement” (NCM) in the 1970s. It is important to note that the CPUSA and the NCM were bitter rivals at that time.

So, it is strange that they exchange warm emails today, sharing the pleasantries of senior life–swimming, camping, time with grandkids, and marathon running– while adding their voices to the chorus calling for an all-out effort on behalf of the Democratic Party in the 2018 elections.

Or is it strange?

Webb holds the dubious distinction of leading the CPUSA down the rabbit hole of irrelevance. After the death of long-time CPUSA leader, Gus Hall, Webb and his cohorts transformed the CPUSA into a social democratic organization, eschewing both the legacy of the Communist Party and much of its organizational structure. Webb further entrenched the “lesser-of-two-evil” electoral strategy that began with the panic over the Reagan victory in 1980. The final years of Hall’s chairmanship and the Webb era snuffed out the last measures of the CPUSA’s political independence, turning it into a servile handmaiden to the Democratic Party.

Webb resigned from the eviscerated CPUSA the year after he gave up the national chair.

Elbaum’s career emerged very differently, but landed in nearly the same place as Webb’s. Elbaum, like many other veterans from the 1960s student movement, moved away from the radical democratic reformism of that era in the direction of a more anti-capitalist ideology, Marxism-Leninism. Unable to overcome their infection with the anti-Communist virus of the Cold War, many were drawn to the militant rhetoric of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that was simultaneously befriending Nixon’s administration and roundly condemning the Soviet Communists and most of the World Communist Movement. With amazing chutzpah, Elbaum and the New Communist Movement found no contradiction in the two positions. But by the end of the 1970s, the opportunism of the CPC was more than even the most faithful could hold their noses and swallow. China’s Communists had sided with the US against every legitimate liberation movement in Africa, including the ANC. The Red Guard anarchy and the Gang of Four excesses tested the conviction of the devoted, leading to defection for all but the most cultish.

Elbaum’s political journey continued, but swung sharply away from Leninism. The hyper-sectarian model embraced by NCM generated a sharp reaction, an extreme swing away from the classic Leninist notion of a vanguard party with a centralized, but democratic structure. Having little or no experience with Leninism apart from the brief heyday of the NCM, Elbaum began a steady retreat towards social democracy, a trend expressed in the US by investing in the perceived positive, progressive potential of the Democratic Party. Where Webb argues for unquestioned conformity to the Democratic Party leadership, Elbaum opts for a more critical attitude with the hope of steering the Democrats leftward.

Judging by the odyssey of Sam Webb and Max Elbaum, many roads lead disillusioned radicals, Marxist short-timers, and weak-kneed Communists back to the Democratic Party. Of course, many of the privileged (and violence-prone), elite-school New Lefties have been welcomed back to the Democratic Party as well.

In retrospect, two notions have provided excuses for disillusioned Marxists to retreat to the social democratic camp: first, the perceived threat of fascism as present or around the corner and, secondly, the firmly held conviction that resistance to fascism necessitates some kind of broad, anti-fascist front. Both notions, though widely cited, belong to the theoretical legacy of the Marxist-Leninist left. And both were elaborated most clearly and authoritatively by the Communist theoretician of fascism, Georgi Dimitrov.

Dimitrov on Fascism and Anti-fascism
Hardly a day goes by without someone on the left raising the shrill alarm of fascism. As Diana Johnstone reminds us in her brilliant essay on Antifa, “…historical fascism no longer exists.” What does exist, however are movements, formations, and personalities that bear various common features with historical fascism. Of course, we should not diminish the active role of these movements, formations, and personalities in their vicious attacks on the democratic and economic gains won by working people.

But these elements have always been a part of the political landscape of the US, both before, during and after the era of historical fascism– the Know Nothing Party, the Ku Klux Klan, the Liberty League, Father Coughlin, Joseph McCarthy, Barry Goldwater, the John Birch Society, George Wallace, the Tea Party, Trumpets and Trumpettes, etc. It is far harder to identify a time in US history when the fascist-like elements did not exist as a significant force. For that reason, vigilance and militant resistance is always important. But that is a far cry from urging that something identical with historical fascism is now imminent. If the wolf is always lurking in the shadows, is it helpful to cry “wolf”?

This should in no way be construed as a dismissal or underestimation of many of the forces arrayed around and unleashed by President Trump. They, like their predecessors, are present as a reserve army for the ruling class should political matters get out of hand. They should be met with the same resolute resistance as the left has mounted in the past against rabid hate-mongers and right-wing terrorists.

Historical fascism arose as a response to the success of revolutionary socialism, in Dimitrov’s words: “Fascism comes to power as a party of attack on the revolutionary movement of the proletariat, on the mass of the people who are in a state of unrest…” Clearly, there are, with perhaps a few exceptions, no serious threats to capitalist rule today, certainly not in the United States; there are few revolutionary movements contesting state power. There can be no counter-revolutionary “open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital” when there is no revolution to counter.

While Dimitrov warns of the dangers of fascistic tendencies and urges their resistance, he reminds us that: “The accession to power of fascism is not an ordinary succession of one bourgeois government by another, but a substitution of one state form of class domination of the bourgeoisie — bourgeois democracy — by another form — open terrorist dictatorship.” Few of the harbingers of fascism today acknowledge this point. Since the right in the US manages its agenda well within the confines of a corporate dominated two-party system, why would it need to move to an open terrorist dictatorship?

In a real sense, the premature cry of “fascism!” disarms the revolutionary left, the advocates of socialism. Instead of building an alternative to the failed two-party system, a system that demonstrates a constant rightward shift, Webb, Elbaum, and far too many on the left argue for compromise with those who have been fully compliant with this rightward drift. They misunderstand or distort much of what we have learned about historical fascism.

Contrary to the vulgar distortion of Dimitrov’s views, fascism did not come to power in Germany because sectarian Communists refused to work with Social Democrats. Dimitrov is clear on this: “Fascism was able to come to power primarily because the working class, owing to the policy of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie pursued by Social Democratic leaders, proved to be split, politically and organizationally disarmed, in face of the onslaught of the bourgeoisie…” and owing to “…their campaign against the Communists and [failure] to accept the repeated proposals of the Communist Party for united action against fascism.”

Webb and Elbaum neither understand the historical basis of fascism nor grasp the Marxist theory of united front designed to meet the fascist danger when it arises. Rather than viewing the united front as a specific historical response to a specific historical development, they generalize the united front tactic to a universal response to the ascendency of the right.

If fascism is on the horizon, they argue, then we need to adopt a united front policy that brings together any and all forces willing to stand in its way. But that is not the lesson that Georgi Dimitrov– the Communist who stood against and defied the Nazi judiciary when charged with the Reichstag fire– drew from the experience of historical fascism:

Whether the victory of fascism can be prevented depends first and foremost on the militant activity of the working class itself, on whether its forces are welded into a single militant army combating the offensive of capitalism and fascism. By establishing its fighting unity, the proletariat would paralyze the influence of fascism over the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, the youth and the intelligentsia, and would be able to neutralize one section of them and win over the other section.

Second, it depends on the existence of a strong revolutionary party, correctly leading the struggle of the working people against fascism. A party which systematically calls on the workers to retreat in the face of fascism and permits the fascist bourgeoisie to strengthen its positions is doomed to lead the workers to defeat… [my italics]

Both Webb and Elbaum have long given up on building “a strong revolutionary party,” either for its own sake or for a battle against fascism. Instead, they take their lead from the Democratic Party, a pathetic answer to the rightward shift of the last four decades.

They fail to grasp the application of the united front strategy to US conditions. Rather than tail the Democrats, Dimitrov, writing specifically in 1935 about the US, called for the creation of a third party and for a decisive break with the bourgeois parties (the Democrats and the Republicans):
It is perfectly obvious that the interests of the American proletariat demand that all its forces dissociate themselves from the capitalist parties without delay. It must find in good time ways and suitable forms to prevent fascism from winning over the wide mass of discontented working people. And here it must be said that under American conditions the creation of a mass party of the working people, a Workers’ and Farmers’ Party, might serve as such a suitable form. Such a party would be a specific form of the mass People’s Front in America and should be put in opposition to the parties of the trusts and the banks, and likewise to growing fascism. Such a party, of course, will be neither Socialist nor Communist. But it must be an anti-fascist party and must not be an anti-Communist party.

Of course, this was written at a moment when historical fascism was at its zenith internationally. Today, without the imminent threat of fascism, the prescription for a break with the Democrats is even more urgent.

It is not simply a question of stopping fascism, but a question of winning people away from it with a peoples’ program.
Those who confuse the anti-fascist united front with capitulation to the leadership of liberals or social democrats often see the problem of united action as left-sectarianism. Certainly, sectarianism, characterized by Dimitrov as finding “…expression particularly in overestimating the revolutionization of the masses, in overestimating the speed at which they are abandoning the positions of reformism, and in attempting to leap over difficult stages and the complicated tasks of the movement…” was then and remains a significant obstacle to building a Communist Party or a third party.

But Dimitrov gave equal attention to the dangers of right opportunism:
…we must increase in every way our vigilance toward Right opportunism and the struggle against it and against every one of its concrete manifestations, bearing in mind that the danger of Right opportunism will increase in proportion as the broad united front develops. Already there are tendencies to reduce the role of the Communist Party in the ranks of the united front and to effect a reconciliation with Social-Democratic ideology.

Nor must we lose sight of the fact that the tactics of the united front are a method of clearly convincing the Social-Democratic workers of the correctness of the Communist policy and the incorrectness of the reformist policy, and that they are not a reconciliation with Social-Democratic ideology and practice. A successful struggle to establish the united front imperatively demands constant struggle in our ranks against tendencies to depreciate the role of the Party, against legalist illusions, against reliance on spontaneity and automatism, both in liquidating fascism and in implementing the united front against the slightest vacillation at the moment of decisive action.

Thus, it is a mistake to surrender the revolutionary program to appease tactical alliances or coalitions. Joint action is possible, maybe essential at times, but without sacrificing the integrity and revolutionary ideology to tactical partners. This is a nuance lost on those rushing to uncritically embrace the electoral slates of the Democratic Party and to hide the goal of socialism under a basket.

Those abandoning the struggle against capitalism, for socialism, should be honest about their change of heart. They should not hide behind an inflated threat or a misrepresented tactic.

Historical fascism was a mortal, worldwide threat in the 1930s and 1940s. Communists devised special tactics to broaden and deepen the fight against it. They did so without illusions about the commitment of other forces or without corrupting or compromising their principles. They led and won that fight, except, unfortunately, in Spain.

A similar threat may arise again when revolutionary forces present an existential challenge to the conventional rule of the capitalist class.
Or it may not. That will depend, as Dimitrov points out, on the balance of forces between revolutionaries and their adversaries.

But those who imagine a world without capitalism should not be misled by false prophets who pretend to find a road to socialism through the Democratic Party. Those who aspire to socialism should not be seduced by naysayers who insist that the struggle for socialism should be postponed until all of the specters and ghouls of the right are exorcised.

Tillerson’s Wobbly War Assurance
| October 17, 2017 | 8:50 pm | Analysis, China, Donald Trump, DPRK, Russia | No comments

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201710161058289164-tillerson-north-korea-trump/

Tillerson’s Wobbly War Assurance

U.S. President Donald Trump (R), trailed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, arrives to speak to reporters after their meeting at Trump's golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey U.S. August 11, 2017

Tillerson’s Wobbly War Assurance

© REUTERS/ Jonathan Ernst
Columnists

Get short URL
Finian Cunningham
41312181
https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201710161058289164-tillerson-north-korea-trump/

It doesn’t inspire confidence when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted to give assurances that the American government is not seeking war with North Korea.

After weeks of numerous menacing messages from President Donald Trump warning the “total destruction” of North Korea, the White House’s top diplomat was obliged to go public and calm growing concerns about a war breaking out.

Tillerson told American news outlet CNN: “President Trump wants to avoid violence… He is not seeking to go to war.”

He said Trump was committed to diplomacy, contrary to recent comments made by the president saying that Tillerson was “wasting his time” in pursuing diplomatic efforts with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Following that earlier snub to his top diplomat, Trump then added that “only one thing will work!”

Rex Tillerson’s assurances of no war plans are not very convincing. With a curious choice of words, he said at one point in his interview with CNN: “Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.”

Those cryptic words “… until the first bomb drops,” strongly suggest that there are indeed concrete plans for military action by the US against North Korea; and that the diplomacy – the little of it there is up to now – is but a prelude for eventual war.

In the same interview, Tillerson admitted that “military options had been perfected” for the president’s consideration towards North Korea.

That can only mean that the US is ready to deploy military force if “diplomacy” does not succeed. And what does Washington mean by “successful diplomacy”? Trump has said he will not tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea threatening the US or its allies. (North Korea has always maintained its weapons are for self-defense and deterrence.)

In other words, the only “diplomatic” outcome acceptable to the US is the complete capitulation by Kim Jong-un to American demands for dismantling the country’s nuclear weapons program. That is not going to happen, as the North Koreans have repeatedly affirmed, pointing to the examples of Libya and Iraq where defenseless countries are attacked mercilessly by the US.

Randy Martin, a US-based international political analyst commenting for this column, said Washington’s stance is tantamount to “holding North Korea hostage” under the threat of war. “The US is giving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea an ultimatum: either submit to our demands for disarmament or face annihilation,” said Martin.

So far, Washington has spurned appeals from Russia and China for multi-party talks and a “double freeze” on all military actions by the US and North Korea.

That rejection of Russia’s and China’s reasonable appeals for negotiations underlines the deep misgivings about American intentions and why Washington’s assurances on diplomacy and avoidance of war are so wobbly.

For its part, the government in Pyongyang appears convinced that the US is moving towards an all-out war footing. The watershed moment was Trump’s speech before the United Nations General Assembly last month when he threatened to “totally destroy” the northeast Asian nation.

This week, the US is to carry out another major naval exercise off the Korean Peninsula along with its South Korean ally. The previous exercise was only a few weeks ago. This time, a second US aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, has arrived in the region to partake in the drill. So too have two missile destroyers and the nuclear-powered submarine, USS Michigan.

This follows last week’s maneuver when American nuclear-capable strategic B1-B bombers flew over the Korean Peninsula on live practice sorties, accompanied for the first time ever by both South Korean and Japanese fighter jets.

Washington claims these repeated maneuvers are “defensive”. While North Korea has long protested they are rehearsals for war. Pyongyang also points out that the US has moved nuclear weapons into the region in a reversal of policy. The absence of a peace treaty to mark a definitive end to the 1950-53 Korean war – mainly due to American refusal to sign such a treaty – is reasonable grounds for Pyongyang’s concern over ongoing military maneuvers.

Adding to these concerns is that the US drills this week also involve evacuation exercises of non-combatant Americans in South Korea. There are nearly 30,000 US troops stationed in there. Their families are part of the evacuation drill taking place this week. That has reportedly prompted fears among South Koreans that it is “a sign that the United States might be preparing for military action against the North”.

If a war breaks out between the US and North Korea it will be a global catastrophe, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously warned. For, in that event, such a war would quickly escalate to the use of nuclear weapons.

It is imperative for all parties to scale back the rhetoric and commit to exclusively peaceful means to resolve a decades-old conflict on the Korean Peninsula. It is unacceptable that the US refuses to sign a peace treaty with North Korea to mark the end of the 1950-53 war. It is also unacceptable that the US has for decades shirked a genuine diplomatic engagement with North Korea, as Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov remarked this week.

President Trump’s relentless warmongering threats in the context of a massive military buildup by US forces on North Korea’s borders are not just reckless; they constitute acts of aggression which violate international law.

His Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, appears to be lately involved in a public relations exercise of trying to give the impression that Washington is all about diplomacy, and not about war. But this “prettifying” of the grim situation is like putting lipstick on a pig.

Washington is criminally derelict in legal obligations to prioritize diplomacy with North Korea. Are we supposed to believe that Trump’s 3am Tweet-storms mocking North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man” are a serious effort at diplomacy?

No, the truly disturbing thing is that the US is foisting its war plans on North Korea regardless of international law, morality, and the risk of a nuclear war. This in itself is criminal conduct by Washington.

Surely, Russia and China should draft a resolution at the UN Security Council demanding implementation of their diplomatic roadmap. If the US vetoes then it stands to be exposed as an aggressor.

A war with North Korea is completely unnecessary. It is a gratuitous calamity in the making.

The only thing “necessary” about such a war is for the necessity of the US to “justify” its monstrous spending of $700 billion every year on military and weapons. Wars are to the US what a fix is to a drug addict.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

The Trump-Goldman Sachs Tax Cut for the Rich-print
| October 13, 2017 | 9:28 pm | Analysis, Donald Trump, Jack Rasmus | No comments

The Trump-Goldman Sachs Tax Cut for the Rich-print

The Trump-Goldman Sachs Tax Cut for the Rich-print

The following will shortly appear in various blogs and print publications. My detailed analysis of the Trump tax plan announced this past week.
Dr. Jack Rasmus
Copyright 2017

“This past week Trump introduced his long awaited Tax Cut, estimated between $2.0 to $2.4 trillion. Like so many other distortions of the truth, Trump claimed his plan would benefit the middle class, not the rich—the latest in a long litany of lies by this president.

Contradicting Trump, the independent Tax Policy Center has estimated in just the first year half of the $2 trillion plus Trump cuts will go to the wealthiest 1% households that annually earn more than $730,000. That’s an immediate income windfall to the wealthiest 1% households of 8.5%, according to the Tax Policy Center. But that’s only in the first of ten years the cuts will be in effect. It gets worse over time.

According to the Tax Policy Center, “Taxpayers in the top one percent (incomes above $730,000), would receive about 50 percent of the total tax benefit [in 2018]”. However, “By 2027, the top one percent would get 80 percent of the plan’s tax cuts while the share for middle-income households would drop to about five percent.” By the last year of the cuts, 2027, on average the wealthiest 1% household would realize $207,000, and the even wealthier 0.1% would realize an income gain of $1,022,000.

When confronted with these facts on national TV this past Sunday, Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, quickly backtracked and admitted he could not guarantee every middle class family would see a tax cut. Right. That’s because 15-17 million (12%) of US taxpaying households in the US will face a tax hike in the first year of the cuts. In the tenth and last year, “one in four middle class families would end up with higher taxes”.

The US Economic ‘Troika’

The Trump Plan is actually the product of the former Goldman-Sachs investment bankers who have been in charge of Trump’s economic policy since he came into office. Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, and Gary Cohn, director of Trump’s economic council, are the two authors of the Trump tax cuts. They put it together. They are also both former top executives of the global shadow bank called Goldman Sachs. Together with the other key office determining US economic policy, the US central bank, held by yet another ex-Goldman Sachs senior exec, Bill Dudley, president of the New York Federal Reserve bank, the Goldman-Sachs trio of Mnuchin-Cohn-Dudley constitute what might be called the ‘US Troika’ for domestic economic policy.
The Trump tax proposal is therefore really a big bankers tax plan—authored by bankers, in the interest of bankers and financial investors (like Trump himself), and overwhelmingly favoring the wealthiest 1%.

Given that economic policy under Trump is being driven by bankers, it’s not surprising that the CEO of the biggest US banks, Morgan Stanley, admitted just a few months ago that a reduction of the corporate nominal income tax rate from the current 35% nominal rate to a new nominal rate of 20% will provide the bank an immediate windfall gain of 15%-20% in earnings. And that’s just the nominal corporate rate cut proposed by Trump. With loopholes, it’s no doubt more.

The Trump-Troika’s Triple Tax-Cut Trifecta for the 1%

The Trump Troika has indicated it hopes to package up and deliver the trillions of $ to their 1% friends by Christmas 2017. Their gift will consist of three major tax cuts for the rich and their businesses. A Trump-Troika Tax Cut ‘Trifecta’ of $ trillions.

1.The Corporate Tax Cuts

The first of the three main elements is a big cut in the corporate income tax nominal rate, from current 35% to 20%. In addition, there’s the elimination of what is called the ‘territorial tax’ system, which is just a fancy phrase for ending the fiction of the foreign profits tax. Currently, US multinational corporations hoard a minimum of $2.6 trillion of profits offshore and refuse to pay US taxes on those profits. In other words, Congress and presidents for decades have refused to enforce the foreign profits tax. Now that fiction will be ended by officially eliminating taxes on their profits. They’ll only pay taxes on US profits, which will create an even greater incentive for them to shift operations and profits to their offshore subsidiaries. But there’s more for the big corporations.

The Trump plan also simultaneously proposes what it calls a ‘repatriation tax cut’. If the big tech, pharma, banks, and energy companies bring back some of their reported $2.6 trillion (an official number which is actually more than that), Congress will require they pay only a 10% tax rate—not the current 35% rate or even Trump’s proposed 20%–on that repatriated profits. No doubt the repatriation will be tied to some kind of agreement to invest the money in the US economy. That’s how they’ll sell it to the American public. But that shell game was played before, in 2004-05, under George W. Bush. The same ‘repatriation’ deal was then legislated, to return the $700 billion then stuffed away in corporate offshore subsidiaries. About half the $700 billion was brought back, but US corporations did not invest it in jobs in the US as they were supposed to. They used the repatriated profits to buy up their competitors (mergers and acquisitions), to pay out dividends to stockholders, and to buy back their stock to drive equity prices and the stock market to new heights in 2005-07. The current Trump ‘territorial tax repeal/repatriation’ boondoggle will turn out just the same as it did in 2005.

2. Non-Incorporate Business Tax Cuts

The second big business class tax windfall in the Trump-Goldman Sachs tax giveaway for the rich is the proposal to reduce the top nominal tax rate for non-corporate businesses, like proprietorships and partnerships, whose business income (aka profits) is treated like personal income. This is called the ‘pass through business income’ provision.
That’s a Trump tax cut for unincorporated businesses—like doctors, law firms, real estate investment partnerships, etc. 40% of non-corporate income is currently taxed at 39.6% (the top personal income tax rate). Trump proposes to reduce that nominal rate to 25%. So non-incorporate businesses too will get an immediately 14.6% cut, nearly matching the 15% rate cut for corporate businesses.

In the case of both corporate and non-corporate companies we’re talking about ‘nominal’ tax rate cuts of 14.6% and 15%. The ‘effective’ tax rate is what they actually pay in taxes—i.e. after loopholes, after their high paid tax lawyers take a whack at their tax bill, after they cleverly divert their income to their offshore subsidiaries and refuse to pay the foreign profits tax, and after they stuff away whatever they can in offshore tax havens in the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, and a dozen other island nations worldwide.

For example, Apple Corporation alone is hoarding $260 billion in cash at present—95% of which it keeps offshore to avoid paying Uncle Sam taxes. Big multinational companies like Apple, i.e. virtually all the big tech companies, big Pharma corporations, banks and oil companies, pay no more than 12-13% effective tax rates today—not the 35% nominal rate.

Tech, big Pharma, banks and oil companies are the big violators of offshore cash hoarding/tax avoidance schemes. Microsoft’s effective global tax rate last year was only 12%. IBM’s even less, at 10%. The giant drug company, Pfizer paid 18% and the oil company, Chevron 14%. One of the largest US companies in the world, General Electric, paid only 1%. When their nominal rate is reduced to 20% under the Trump plan, they’ll pay even less, likely in the single digits, if that.

Corporations and non-corporate businesses are the institutional conduit for passing income to their capitalist owners and managers. The Trump corporate and business taxes means companies immediately get to keep at least 15% more of their income for themselves—and more in ‘effective’ rate terms. That means they get to distribute to their executives and big stockholders and partners even more than they have in recent years. And in recent years that has been no small sum. For example, just corporate dividend payouts and stock buybacks have totaled more than $1 trillion on average for six years since 2010! A total of more than $6 trillion.

But all that’s only the business tax cut side of the Trump plan. There’s a third major tax cut component of the Trump plan—i.e. major cuts in the Personal Income Tax that accrue overwhelmingly to the richest 1% households.

3. Personal Income Tax Cuts for the 1%

There are multiple measures in the Trump-Troika proposal that benefits the 1% in the form of personal income tax reductions. Corporations and businesses get to keep more income from the business tax cuts, to pass on to their shareholders, investors, and senior managers. The latter then get to keep more of what’s passed through and distributed to them as a result of the personal income tax cuts.

The first personal tax cut boondoggle for the 1% wealthiest households is the Trump proposal to reduce the ‘tax income brackets’ from seven to three. The new brackets would be 35%, 25%, and 12%.

Whenever brackets are reduced, the wealthiest always benefit. The current top bracket, affecting households with a minimum of $418,000 annual income, would be reduced from the current 39.6% to 35%. In the next bracket, those with incomes of 191,000 to 418,000 would see their tax rate (nominal again) cut from 28% to 25%. However, the 25% third bracket would apply to annual incomes as low as $38,000. That’s the middle and working class. So households with $38,000 annual incomes would pay the same rate as those with more than $400,000. Tax cuts for the middle class, did Trump say? Only tax rate reductions beginning with those with $191,000 incomes and the real cuts for those over $418,000!

But the cuts in the nominal tax rate for the top 1% to 5% households are only part of the personal income tax windfall for the rich under the Trump plan. The really big tax cuts for the 1% come in the form of the repeal of the Inheritance Tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax, as well as Trump’s allowing the ‘carried interest’ tax loophole for financial speculators like hedge fund managers and private equity CEOs to continue.

The current Inheritance Tax applies only to those with estates of $11 million or more, about 0.2 of all the taxpaying households. So its repeal is clearly a windfall for the super rich. The Alternative Minimum Tax is designed to ensure the super rich pay something, after they manipulate the tax loopholes, shelter their income offshore in tax havens, or simply engage in tax fraud by various other means. Now that’s gone as well under the Trump plan. ‘Carried interest’, a loophole, allows big finance speculators, like hedge fund managers, to avoid paying the corporate tax rate altogether, and pay a maximum of 20% on their hundreds of millions and sometimes billions of dollars of income every year.

Who Pays?

As previously noted, folks with $91,000 a year annual income get no tax rate cuts. They still will pay the 25%. And since that is what’s called ‘earned’ (wage and salary) income, they don’t get the loopholes to manipulate, like those with ‘capital incomes’ (dividends, capital gains, rents, interest, etc.). What they get is called deductions. But under the Trump plan, the deductions for state and local taxes, for state sales taxes, and apparently for excess medical costs will all disappear. The cost of that to middle and working class households is estimated at $1 trillion over the decade.

Trump claims the standard deduction will be doubled, and that will benefit the middle class. But estimates reveal that a middle class family with two kids will see their standard deduction reduced from $28,900 to $24,000. But I guess that’s just ‘Trump math’.

The general US taxpayer will also pay for the trillions of dollars that will be redistributed to the 1% and their companies. It’s estimated the federal government deficit will increase by $2.4 trillion over the decade as a result of the Trump plan. Republicans in Congress have railed over the deficits and federal debt, now at $20 trillion, for years. But they are conspicuously quiet now about adding $2.4 trillion more—so long as it the result of tax giveaways to themselves, their 1% friends, and their rich corporate election campaign contributors.

And both wings of the Corporate Party of America—aka Republicans and Democrats—never mention the economic fact that since 2001, 60% of US federal government deficits, and therefore the US debt of $20 trillion, are attributable to tax cuts by George W. Bush and Barack Obama: more than $3.5 trillion under Bush and more than $7 trillion under Obama. (The remaining $10 trillion of the US debt due to war and defense spending, price gouging by the medical industry and big pharma driving up government costs for Medicare, Medicaid, and other government insurance, bailouts of the big banks in 2008-09, and interest payments on the debt).

The 35-Year Neoliberal Tax Offensive

Tax cutting for business classes and the 1% has always been a fundamental element of Neoliberal economic policy ever since the Reagan years (and actually late Jimmy Carter period). Major tax cut legislation occurred in 1981, 1986, and 1997-98 under Clinton. George W. Bush then cut taxes by $3.4 trillion in 2001-04, 80% of which went to the wealthiest households and businesses. He cut taxes another $180 billion in 2008. Obama cut another $300 billion in his 2009 so-called recovery program. When that faltered, it was another $800 billion at year end 2010. He then extended the Bush tax cuts that were scheduled to expire in 2011 two more years. That costs $450 billion each year. And in 2013, cutting a deal with Republicans called the ‘fiscal cliff’ settlement, he extended the Bush tax cuts of the prior decade for another ten years. That cost a further $5 trillion. Now Trump wants even more. He promised $5 trillion in tax cuts during his election campaign. So the current proposal is only half of what he has in mind perhaps.

Neoliberal tax cutting in the US has also been characterized by the ‘tax cut shell game’. The shell game is played several ways.

In the course of major tax cut legislation, the elites and their lobbyists alternate their focus on cutting rates and on correcting tax loopholes. They raise rates but expand loopholes. When the public becomes aware of the outrageous loopholes, they then eliminate some loopholes but simultaneously reduce the tax rates on the rich. When the public complains of too low tax rates for the rich, they raise the rates but quietly expand the loopholes. They play this shell game so the outcome is always a net gain for corporations and the rich.

Since Reagan and the advent of neoliberal tax policy, the corporate income tax share of total US government revenues has fallen from more than 20% to single digits well below 10%. Conversely, the payroll tax has doubled from 22% to more than 40%. A similar shift within the personal income tax, steadily around 40% of government revenues, has also occurred. The wealthy pay less a share of the total and the middle class pays more. Along the way, token concessions to the very low end of working poor are introduced, to give the appearance of fairness. But the middle class, the $38 to $91,000 nearly 100 million taxpaying households foot the bill for both the 1% and the bottom. This pattern was set in motion under Reagan. His proposed $752 billion in tax cuts in 1981-82 were adjusted in 1986, but the net outcome was more for the rich and their corporations. That pattern has continued under Clinton, Bush, Obama and now proposed under Trump.

To cover the shell game, an overlay of ideology covers up what’s going on. There’s the false argument that ‘tax cuts create jobs’, for which there’s no empirical evidence. There’s the claim US multinational corporations pay a double tax compared to their competitors, when in fact they effectively pay less. There’s the lie that if corporate taxes are cut they will automatically invest the savings, when in fact what they do is invest offshore, divert the savings to stock and bond and other financial markets, boost their dividend and stock buybacks, or stuff the savings in their offshore subsidiaries to avoid paying taxes.

All these neoliberal false claims, arguments, and outright lies continue today to justify the Trump-Goldman Sachs tax plan—which is just the latest iteration of neoliberal tax policy and tax offensive in the US. The consequences of the Trump plan, if it is passed, will be the same as the previous tax giveaways to the 1% and their companies: it will redistribute income massively from the middle and working classes to the rich. Income inequality will continue to worsen dramatically. US multinational corporations will begin again to divert profits, and investment, offshore; profits brought back untaxed will result in mergers and acquisitions, dividend payouts, and financial markets investment. No real jobs will be created in the US. The wealthy will continue to pump their savings into financial asset markets, causing further bubbles in stocks, exchange traded funds, bonds, derivatives and the like. The US economy will continue to slow and become more unstable financially. And there will be another financial crash and great recession—or worse. Only this time, the vast majority of US households—i.e. the middle and working classes—will be even worse off and more unable to weather the next economic storm.

Nothing will change so long as the Corporate Party of America is allowed to continue its neoliberal tax giveaways, its tax cutting ‘shell games’, and is allowed to continue to foment its ideological cover up.”

Dr. Jack Rasmus, October 2, 2017

Dr. Rasmus is author of the just published book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes?: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’, Clarity Press, August 2017, and the previously published ‘Looting Greece: A New Financial Imperialism Emerges’, October 2016, and ‘Systemic Fragility in the Global Economy’, January 2016, also by Clarity press. More information is available at Claritypress.com/RasmusIII. For more analyses on the Trump and neoliberal taxation, listen to Dr. Rasmus’s, September 29, 2017 radio show, Alternative Visions, on the Progressive Radio Network at http://alternativevisions.podbean.com. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and his website is http://kyklosproductions.com.