Pigs at a Trough - Tax Style

EASTSIDER--Watching the Republican establishment surrounding President Trump, falling all over themselves in a sickening fawning fest,  I was reminded of a group of terrified generals doing the same to Idi Amin Dada or Muammar Gaddafi. 

The difference, of course, is that those real dictators would torture or kill anyone who did not abjectly submit to humiliation. US President Donald Trump can’t do that.  So here, there is no excuse for the disgusting televised video of the leadership of the Republican majority kowtowing to a democratically elected President who is only has a four year term of office.  Jellyfish have more spine. 

Think about the implications of the photo-op.  Each of these elected representatives spent literally millions of dollars to get elected to Congress to ‘do the people’s work’, as they used to call it, and become a really big deal player in our political universe.  And that was just to get there. 

Once elected, its just about Impossible to get voted out of office, so they get used to being flattered and and bought by the myriad lobbyists who swim in the swamp. Over time, the entitlement mentality sets in and they realize that they are there because they are very smart, awsome legislators.  They forget that absent gerrymandered districts branded republican or democrat, they might never have been elected in the first place. 

They become millionaires.  After all they ‘earned it’.  So when an anomoly like Donald Trump comes along and says let’s skim off some more wealth for our buddies, the self delusion is already there. 

So You Think They Were Groveling Just to Trump?

No, they were groveling to their true god -- Mammon.  Trump was just the water carrier. 

These men and women paid off the 1/2 of 1 percent of the population who actually form the big donors, mostly through various lobbying entities from fake ideological think-tanks (talk about an oxymoron) to Political Action Committees (PACs) to probably bags of cash laundered through cutout corporations just like that master of cutout corporate shells,  Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. 

You can read all about how his scam works here. 

Or maybe they all are envious of Treasury Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, aka the California Foreclosure King.

After all, Donald Trump and Steve Mnuchin’s hedge fund have had business dealings in the past. 

We Do Know Two Things

(1) Corporate Money Overseas Isn’t Really Overseas

As I wrote some time ago, huge corporations, including the Tax Dodgin’ Silicon Valley, are excellent at evading taxes, through a technical scam where they register their profits overseas. Of course, that money just happens to be in US stocks, bonds, US Treasuries and such.

Just another legal fiction, created by very expensive corporate attorneys & financial consultants like the Big Four accounting firms. Lordy 

(2) Corporations Are Controlled By the Financial Services Industry

 The myth about the great CEO ‘Captain of Industry’ is just that.  These days, the CEO’s of Corporations  are pencil-pushers.  They get their enormous salaries and personal services contracts by ... 

First, they pay dividends to their shareholders.  These shareholders are the 1/2 of  1 percent that siphon off most of our so-called wealth.  Second, they buy back stocks with their cash.  Again, this benefits the investment community, not you or I.  

What they do not do is hire a bunch of employees and give wage increases.

After all, manufacturing and regular jobs with benefits are increasingly outsourced by these companies anyhow. 

The Takeaway

I usually don’t write about  Washington fiscal DC matters, since there are a lot of CityWatch contributors that cover that beat quite well. Also, economists are like lawyers -- get 12 in a room and there will be 18 opinions. Here I just could not help myself. 

Most of us in LA are either paying something like 50% or more of our income just for rent, or have huge mortgage payments even before you add in the federal, state, and local taxes, fees and assessments.  It’s not pretty, and we know that the bulk of all these housing payments already go to the financial services industry & Wall Street. 

They are the investor class, the 1/2 of 1% that already own most of the wealth in the United States of America, and they simply don’t need tax relief.  They already control most of the country’s wealth through the kind of tax dodges and skimming off of corporate profits that I detailed above.  

I have written to my Congress member, Jimmy Gomez, to obtain a copy of the actual tax bill passed by the House.  So far no response, but that came as no surprise.  If my representative can’t produce a public document in a timely fashion, I will resort to the Internet, because you and I know that in a 500 plus page document, there’s going to be oodles and oodles of slime buried in the details, that will tell us what the game is really all about. 

I’s thinking of doing a Pigs in the Trough quip from the bill at the end of each of my articles, just to remind us how far we’ve come from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Mostly, there just aren’t any more Mr. Smiths. 

While I’m waiting for the full adopted Bill, a few things are obvious. One is that many of the votes in favor were for the personal gain of our elected representatives, like Bob Corker

It should come as no surprise that a lot of members of Congress are themselves members of Bernie’s top 1%, or even the top 1/2 of 1% wealthiest Americans.  So we should believe them that this tax deal is ‘really really good for us’?  C’mon, we may be so disgusted with politics that only 10% or so actually vote, but that doesn’t mean that people are stupid.  Disgusted, yes.  Stupid, no. 

The reality is that you and I have little to do with the Stock Market, as pensions and 401(k)’s go the way of full time employment, even as student debt and the cost of housing skyrocket.  Folks in my neighborhood are too busy just trying to meet their financial obligations and praying that no one loses a job or gets a long term illness. 

Finally, there are signs that the TV electronic flashing video screens we call a stock market is showing cracks.  For one thing, did you know that the Stock Market Is Actually Shrinking in Size?

That’s right.  Even as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has tripled, in the last 20 years the number of publicly listed companies has decreased from about 7300 to 3700. Most of this through Wall Street Mergers & Acquisitions, which pile on even more corporate debt , but create no new jobs.  Usually, just the opposite. 

In a recent (December 17th) press conference, outgoing Federal Reserve Chair gave some sobering comments regarding the Tax Cuts.

Using her cautious, nuanced language, she basically said  that a day of reckoning is going to come as debt increases, and we and our children age and retire. 

So Much for Photo-ops.


(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a regular contributor to CityWatch.)