How The U.S. Dictatorship Works

Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,
A recent article in the Washington Post described how the current US tax-‘reform’ bill is being shaped; and it describes, basically (at least as far as tax-law changes are concerned), the operation of a US dictatorship by the super-rich.
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First of all, however: there is no longer any realistic question as regards whether the US in recent decades has been a dictatorship, or instead a democracy. According to the only scientific analysis of the relevant data, that has been done in order to determine whether the US is a dictatorship or a democracy, the US is definitely a dictatorship that’s perpetrated by the extremely richest, against the public-at-large; in other words: the US Government functions as an aristocracy, otherwise referred-to as an oligarchy, or a plutocracy, or a kleptocracy; but, in any case, and by whatever name, it’s ruled by a tiny number of the extremely wealthiest and their agents, on behalf of those few super-rich, against the concerns and interests and needs of the public (everyone else). So: instead of being rule by the public (the ‘demos’ is the Greek term for it), it’s rule on behalf of a tiny dictatorial class, of extreme wealth – by whatever name we might happen to label this ruling class.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 5, 2017.

WaPo Reporter Caught On Hidden Camera Being A Bit Too Honest; Admits “No Evidence” Of Trump-Russia Collusion

After exposing the shocking, yet predictable, political bias of journalists at CNN and New York Times, Project Veritas has now set their sights on the Washington Post. In a candid conversation with an undercover Project Veritas journalist, the Post’s National Security Director, Adam Entous, put himself in danger of being a bit too honest, at least by his employer’s standards, by admitting that “there’s no evidence of [Trump-Russia collusion] that I’ve seen so far.” Entous goes on to admit that “it’s a fucking crap shoot” and that he has no idea how Mueller’s investigation might turn out.
Entous: “Our reporting has not taken us to a plcae where I would be able to say with any confidence that the result of it is going to be the president being guilty of being in cahoots with the Russians. There’s no evidence of that that I’ve seen so far.”
PV Journalist: “There has to be something, right?”
Entous: “Maybe, maybe not. It could just be lower-level people being manipulated or manipulating, but it’s very hard to, it’s really…It’s a fucking black box.”
“We’ve seen a lot of flirtation, if you will, between them but nothing that, in my opinion, would rank as actual collusion. Now that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, it just means we haven’t found it yet. Or maybe it doesn’t exist.”
“I mean it’s a fucking crap shoot. I literally have no prediction whatsoever as to what would happen, and I do all the stuff for the Post on this so…”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 29, 2017.

Eliminating the State and Local Tax Deduction Is a Terrible Idea

The tax “reform” currently being discussed in Washington is mostly a political exercise for politicians who can use the process to extract more campaign contributions from supporters, and punish non-supporters. The actual tax burden imposed on Americans overall will change little.
The proposed elimination of the deduction for state and local taxes (SALT) is an excellent illustration of how the tax reform is really about playing political games. Forever in pursuit of “revenue neutral” tax reform, the GOP is simply turning to the elimination of the SALT deduction so it can raise federal revenues, and this allows for a tax cut for some other well-heeled special interest group. Using bizarre “logic,” supporters of the deduction’s elimination claim that an increase in the federal tax burden will somehow lower state and local taxes – some day. Why? They imagine that if they raise federal taxes for people in states with high taxes (i.e., California, New York) then the majority of voters in those states will then be clamoring for a cut in state and local taxes. The GOP also relies on the tired claim that that a tax deduction (e.g., the home mortgage interest deduction) “subsidizes” those who claim the exemption. But only in the Orwellian world of Washington doublespeak is a tax break a “subsidy.”

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on 11/29/2017.

Millennials Saved Thanksgiving Weekend

While online spending surged, the overall picture for Thanksgiving weekend spending was more mixed as the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers continued to struggle. Nevertheless, overall spending was about 4% higher. The National Retail Foundation (NRF) estimated that 174 million Americans shopped online or in stores over the period (Thursday to Monday), versus 164 million the previous year, although the latter excluded Cyber Monday. According to Bloomberg.
‘The big takeaway here is: Gone are the days you could measure the success of this weekend by looking at a single metric,’ NRF Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said on a conference call.
It’s also difficult to tell from the NRF data how e-commerce sales compared with brick-and-mortar shopping. But other surveys have indicated that physical chains saw smaller crowds this year. The research firm ShopperTrak found that shopper visits declined 1.6 percent combined on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
Overall spending in the holiday season is expected to rise as much as 4 percent from last year, helped by low unemployment and rising home values. The purchases will amount to about $680 billion in November and December, the Washington-based NRF has estimated.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 29, 2017.

LIBERAL ORGANIZERS INCENTIVIZE PROTESTERS TO GET ARRESTED DURING TAX REFORM PROTESTS

NOVEMBER 29, 2017
Organizers with the left-leaning group Housing Works told protesters they must ‘risk arrest’ in order to be reimbursed for airfare to Washington, D. C., according to an internal email obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
‘We will transport, house and feed you, and deal with all legal support. Caveat: if you are far away from DC and expensive to transport, we can probably only fly you if you can risk arrest,’ the internal email told supporters.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on PHILLIP STUCKY, THE DAILY CALLER NEWS FOUNDATION /.

Dollar Jumps As Yellen Goes Full Bernanke: Warns “Asset Valuations Are High” But Risk Is “Contained”

Yes, departing Fed chair Janet Yellen used the ‘c’ word…
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in prepared remarks ahead of what may be her last appearance before Congress as head of the central bank, somewhat gloated at the steadily brightening picture for the U. S. economy she has left behind for Jay Powell (while downplaying the risks of financial instability).
‘The economic expansion is increasingly broad based across sectors as well as across much of the global economy,” Yellen said in prepared testimony to the bicameral Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday in Washington. ‘I expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, the economy will continue to expand and the job market will strengthen somewhat further, supporting faster growth in wages and incomes.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 29, 2017.

Trump Wins: Judge Denies Obama Holdover’s Suit Against Mulvaney Running CFPB

In a somewhat unsurprising decision, President Trump won a legal fight over who gets to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (at least for now).
As Bloomberg reports, Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney can remain as temporary head of the agency, a federal judge ruled in rejecting a request to block the move fromLeandra English, who was named to the role by the departing director.
U. S. District Judge Timothy Kelly in Washington rebuffed English, who sued to Nov. 26, contending she is entitled to the provisional post.
Kelly, who has been on the bench since only September, is a Trump nominee who previously worked for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and also served as a federal prosecutor.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 28, 2017.

How Do We Really Cut the Burden of Government? Cut Spending!

In all of the talk about tax reform, nobody is considering the more fundamental problem facing America – the size and scope of the federal government.
Peter Schiff has described the Republican tax plan as ‘tax cuts masquerading as reform.’ When it’s all said and done, Americans aren’t going to get tax relief. They are going to get big government on a credit card. The balance will come due down the road.
The real issue is the total cost of government. In an article originally published on the Mises Wire, Ryan McMaken argues that if Republicans really want to ease the burden of government, they need to cut spending.
Washington, DC is currently in the middle of the ‘tax reform’ process, which as Jeff Deist, points out, is ‘ a con, and a shell game.’ Tax reform proposals, Deist continues ‘always evade and obscure the real issue, which is the total cost – financial, compliance, and human – taxes impose on society.’
Tax reform is really about which interest groups can modify the current tax code to better suit their own parochial interests. The end result is not a lessened tax burden overall, and thus does nothing to boost real savings, real wealth creation, or real economic growth. It’s just yet another government method of rewarding powerful groups while punishing the less powerful ones.
Not surprisingly then, the news that’s coming out of Washington about tax reform demonstrates that the reforms we’re seeing are only shifting around the tax burden without actually lessening it. The central scam at the heart of the matter is that DC politicians are more or less devoted to ‘revenue neutral’ tax reforms. That means if one group sees a tax cut, then another group will lose a deduction, or even see an actual increase in tax rates.
This is why many middle-class families may be looking at a higher tax bill. David Stockman explains:

This post was published at Schiffgold on NOVEMBER 28, 2017.

Senator Franken Addresses Sexual Misconduct Allegations: “I’ll Be Much More Careful In The Future”

Following allegations from multiple women (and photographic evidence of at least one) of sexual misconduct, Senator Al Franken returned to work today and told reporters he was ’embarrassed’ and ‘ashamed,” while giving no indication that he would consider resigning.
‘I am tremendously sorry,’ the Minnesota Democrat, 66, told reporters at a news conference in Washington on Monday, repeating earlier apologies. ‘It’s going to take a long time for me to regain people’s trust.’
And in a somewhat odd statement of admission and contrition
‘I know I’m going to have to be much more conscious in these circumstances, much more careful, much more sensitive, and that this will not happen again going forward.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 27, 2017.

All The Old World Systems Are Being Deliberately Torn Down

As we approach the holiday season many people turn to thoughts on tradition, heritage, principles, duty, honor and family. They consider the accomplishments and even the failures of the past and where we are headed in the future. For most of the year, the average American will keep their heads in the sands of monotony and decadence and distraction. But during this time, even in the midst of the consumption frenzy it has been molded into, people tend to reflect, and they find joy, and they find worry.
What perhaps does not come to mind very often though are the institutions and structures that provide the “stability” by which our society is able to continue in a predictable manner. While many of these institutions are not built with the good of the public in mind, they often indirectly secure a foundation that can be relied upon, for two or three generations, while securing power for the establishment. The problem is, the establishment is never satisfied with a static or semi-peaceful system for very long. They are not satisfied by being MOSTLY in control, they seek total control. Thus, they are often willing to create chaos and crisis and even tear down old structures that previously benefited them in order to gain something even greater (and more oppressive for the rest of us).
The official Thanksgiving holiday, for example, did not really begin as a homage to the colonial settlers and pilgrims of America’s birth and their struggles to build a new life. While George Washington did proclaim a “Day of Thanks” in 1789, the model for Thanksgiving began far later, in 1863 as the Civil War was raging. It was the Civil War that upset the traditional balance of power between the states and the federal government, nearly annihilating the nation and asserting federal power as unquestionable for decades to come. A moment of great chaos which destroyed old institutions (like the 10th Amendment) but gave establishment elitists even more control in the end.

This post was published at Alt-Market on Wednesday, 22 November 2017.

Yellen Confirms She Will Step Down When New Fed Chair Sworn In

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says she will step down once her successor is sworn into the office, resolving a key question as to whether she would stay on in a diminished role.
Yellen could technically stay on as a governor even after stepping down as the institution’s leader, because her term as governor does not end until January 31, 2024.
Her decision to leave will give Trump an additional spot to fill on the Fed’s seven-person Board of Governors in Washington, which already has three openings.
Yellen resignation letter – notably proclaiming everything is awesome…
Economy ‘is close to achieving the Federal Reserve’s statutory objectives of maximum employment and price stability,’Yellen says in letter.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 20, 2017.

Doug Noland: Not Clear What That Means”

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Credit Bubble Bulletin . To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
November 15 – Bloomberg (Nishant Kumar and Suzy Waite): ‘Hedge-fund manager David Einhorn said the problems that caused the global financial crisis a decade ago still haven’t been resolved. ‘Have we learned our lesson? It depends what the lesson was…’ Einhorn said he identified several issues at the time of the crisis, including the fact that institutions that could have gone under were deemed too big to fail. The scarcity of major credit-rating agencies was and remains a factor, Einhorn said, while problems in the derivatives market ‘could have been dealt with differently.’ And in the ‘so-called structured-credit market, risk was transferred, but not really being transferred, and not properly valued.’ ‘If you took all of the obvious problems from the financial crisis, we kind of solved none of them,’ Einhorn said… Instead, the world ‘went the bailout route.’ ‘We sweep as much under the rug as we can and move on as quickly as we can,’ he said.’
October 12 – ANSA: ‘European Central Bank President Mario Draghi defended quantitative easing at a conference with former Fed chief Ben Bernanke, saying the policy had helped create seven million jobs in four years. Bernanke chided the idea that QE distorted the markets, saying ‘It’s not clear what that means’.’
Once you provide a benefit it’s just very difficult to take it way. This sure seems to have become a bigger and more complex issue than it had been in the past. Taking away benefits is certainly front and center in contentious Washington with tax and healthcare reform. It is fundamental to the dilemma confronting central bankers these days.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on November 18, 2017.

“Beyond Resistance” – Soros, Pelosi Headline Left’s Biggest Dark Money Conference

A secretive three-day conference where big money liberal donors are plotting the next steps of the “resistance” will be headlined by Friday speeches by billionaire George Soros and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, according to internal documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The Democracy Alliance, a donor club of deep-pocketed liberal donors that each pledge to direct hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to approved left-wing groups, descended on California’s posh La Costa Resort on Wednesday morning for its fall donor summit. The group continued its tradition of secrecy, promising all members and guests of the summit their participation would “remain confidential.”
The first page of the conference agenda, which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon and can be viewed in its entirety below, lays out “participation guidelines,” explaining that the Democracy Alliance is a “safe place” for donors and activists to meet.
Guests are instructed not to share members’ names with the press and not to post to any social media sites, to contact Democracy Alliance if “the media or a blogger” contacts them, and to “refrain from leaving sensitive materials out where others may find them.”
This latter directive was ignored.

This post was published at Zero Hedge by Brent Scher and Joe Schoffstall via FreeBeacon.com, Nov 17, 2017.

Watch Live: Trump Makes “Major Statement”

Two days ago, President Trump tweeted that he would make a “major statement” upon his return from Asia. That time has come. Today at 3:30pmET, President Trump will let us all know… Is it war with North Korea? Rejoining TPP? Denouncing Roy Moore? Declaring victory over tax reform and healthcare repeal? Celebrating his relationship with China? Banning NYT and CNN? Admitting he really did collude with Putin?
Of course, there’s a lot happening in Washington right now, and Trump’s hinted-at announcement could be in reference to one of any number of issues. Will he deliver an update on the administration’s position regarding tax reform as two bills that differ in dramatic fashion wend through Congress? Perhaps some type of security announcement? Or the revelation that the US has finally entered into talks with North Korea after Trump adopted a notably softer tone toward his favorite Asian antagonist over the weekend?


This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 15, 2017.

Key Events In The Coming Week: Taxes, Inflation, Yellen, Draghi, Kuroda And Brexit

This week’s economic calendar features several key data releases and Fedspeak. The main data release in US include: CPI inflation, retail sales, industrial production, housing data and monthly budget statement. We also get the latest GDP and CPI reading across the Euro Area; the employment report in the UK and AU, Japan GDP, China IP, retail sales and FAI. In Emerging markets, there are monetary policy meetings in Indonesia, Chile, Egypt and Hong Kong.
Market participants will also want to pay close attention to tax reform progress in Washington. The House Ways and Means Committee had voted along party lines (24-16) to deliver its bill to the full House. The Senate Finance Committee’s proposal was also revealed last week and is slated for markup this week. Both versions are essentially opening gambits by the two chambers and the hard work begins when the two bills are ‘reconciled’. As a reminder, the Senate version is likely to be closer to the final version. In our view, there is a decent chance that some version of tax reform can be achieved, but this is likely to be a Q1 event and there are numerous potential stumbling blocks along the way.
With respect to the data, October inflation and retail sales reports are the main focus. Tuesday, DB expects headline PPI (+0.1% forecast vs. +0.4% previously) to moderate following a spike in gasoline prices last month due to hurricane-related supply disruptions. However, core PPI inflation (+0.2% vs. +0.1%) should firm. Analyst will focus on the healthcare services component of the PPI, as this is an input into the corresponding series in the core PCE deflator – the Fed’s preferred inflation metric. Recall that healthcare has the largest weighting in the core PCE.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 13, 2017.

Hey GOP, Want to Cut the Burden of Government? Cut Spending.

Washington, DC is currently in the middle of a the “tax reform” process, which as Jeff Deist, points out, is ” a con, and a shell game.” Tax reform proposals, Deist continues “always evade and obscure the real issue, which is the total cost – financial, compliance, and human – taxes impose on society.”
Tax reform is really about which interest groups can modify the current tax code to better suit their own parochial interests. The end result is not a lessened tax burden overall, and thus does nothing to boost real savings, real wealth creation, or real economic growth. It’s just yet another government method of rewarding powerful groups while punishing the less powerful ones.
Not surprisingly then, the news that’s coming out of Washington about tax reform demonstrates that the reforms we’re seeing are only shifting around the tax burden without actually lessening it. The central scam at the heart of the matter is that DC politicians are more or less devoted to “revenue neutral” tax reforms. That means if one group sees a tax cut, then another group will lose a deduction, or even see an actual increase in tax rates.
This is why many middle class families may be looking at a higher tax bill. David Stockman explains:
[O]n the eve of the House Ways and Means committee vote on the tax bill—-which will then be barricaded by a no amendments “closed rule” when it goes to the full house—–the smoking gun is already apparent. By 2027 (after the temporary $300 adult tax credit gimmick expires and all provisions of the Brady mark become fully effective), the middle quintile US family ( about 30 million filers between $55,000 and $93,000 of AGI) would find itself in a crap shoot.

This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on November 13, 2017.

NFL Boycott Intensifies On Veterans Day Weekend After Goodell Announces No Change To Anthem Policy

The NFL announced Saturday that there isn’t going to be any change to its national anthem policy, despite an escalating boycott of games over Veterans Day weekend.
The Facebook page ‘Boycott the NFL’ has asked all its followers to celebrate Veterans Day weekend by refusing to watch NFL games ‘in solidarity with veterans around the country,’ given that players are still engaging in national anthem protests and NFL policy remains the same, The Washington Times reports.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 12, 2017.

The Stock Market Has Gone Up More Than 5 Trillion Dollars Since Donald Trump Was Elected

One year ago we witnessed the greatest miracle in political history, and since that time we have also witnessed one of the greatest miracles in financial history. On November 8th, 2016 the Dow closed at 18,332.74. On Wednesday, it closed at 23,563.36. U. S. stocks have increased in value by about 5.4 trillion dollars since Donald Trump was elected, and I don’t think that we have seen anything quite like this ever before. So does Donald Trump deserve the credit for this unprecedented stock market run? Many experts are at least giving him part of the credit…
Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments, says outgoing Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen deserves ‘much of the credit’ because the Fed’s policy of low interest rates has helped maintain a good economy and ‘favors stocks over other investments.’
But Trump, he adds, ‘gets some credit for establishing a pro-business climate in Washington.’ Trump also gets kudos for rolling back business regulations and pushing for a big tax cut for U. S. corporations, which investors say will boost corporate profitability.
Without a doubt, a Trump victory was a good thing for the financial markets, but politicians need to be careful not to take too much credit for soaring stock prices.
Because if they take credit when stocks go up, then they also have to be willing to take the blame when they go down.

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on November 8th, 2017.

The Thrill Is Gone! Treasury Curve (10Y-2Y) Remains Under 70 BPS As 10Y Term Premium Remains Negative

This is a syndicated repost courtesy of Snake Hole Lounge. To view original, click here. Reposted with permission.
BB King sang it best with ‘The Thrill Is Gone.’
Now that hopes for tax reform are gone (probably for a year), the US Treasury 10Y-2Y curve slope remains below 80 basis points. Far below where it was when Trump was elected President when optimism of something new (like tax reform) in Washington DC breathed life into the bond market.

This post was published at Wall Street Examiner on November 8, 2017.

Bank Stocks, Dollar Slide Hit By Fresh Tax Reform Doubts

U. S. equity futures are little changed as European and Asian shares retreated, led by sliding bank stocks and a drop in the dollar as doubts over republican tax cuts and ongoing bond curve flattening hurt sentiment and prompted fresh questions over the viability of the US expansion.
Investor concerns also returned to geopolitics as Trump continued his tour of Asia with a mission of rallying the world to stand up to the North Korean threat. Calling out by name Russia and China, he said Wednesday that all responsible nations must join forces to deny Kim Jong Un’s regime any form of support. As Bloomberg reports, Trump is also expected to discuss trade with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. But the biggest overnight catalyst was a renewed fear about the fate of GOP tax cuts, as fresh doubts emerged about tax reform progress after the Washington Post reported Senate Republican leaders were considering holding cuts back by a year, while they are also said to be considering repealing deductions for state and local taxes.
Derek Halpenny, head of research at Mitsubishi UFJ in London told Reuters he was dubious over the progress of the tax cuts program being urged by U. S. President Donald Trump’s campaign. ‘The initial phases of discussions within the House (of Representatives) have brought up a lot of divisions and problems … If the story is true that they’re considering a delay of one year to the corporate tax cut, those big differences will need to be sorted,’ he said. Francois Savary, chief investment officer at Prime Partners, said the doubts over the tax issue reinforce the case for some consolidation in the market, which has been fully priced for good news. ‘It’s something that would impact the domestic stocks in the U. S. and would be a setback for the market in general (and) it’s more than stock specific as people would reassess earnings growth expectations to the downside,’ he said.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 8, 2017.