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OpinionUS domestic policy

Biden’s signature bill isn’t that expensive. It’s a drop in the bucket

Ben Davis

Even after passing reconciliation as is, the US welfare state would still be a small investment by world standards

Thu 7 Oct 2021 06.19 EDT

As Democrats continue negotiations in the hopes of saving Biden legislative agenda, one thing has consumed the media and conservative Democrats in Congress: the price tag. Nearly every news item on Biden’s signature Build Back Better reconciliation bill has led with the $3.5tn cost, as if the price were in the title of the bill itself.

The West Virginia senator Joe Manchin issued a scathing critique of the supposedly profligate Biden agenda, calling the reconciliation bill “fiscal insanity” that ignores the “brutal fiscal reality our nation faces”. The Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema claims that she cannot support a bill with a price tag this high. The tone of these conservative senators and the media coverage would lead anyone to think that $3.5tn of additional spending over a decade was an enormous amount of money that would drastically increase the size of government, endanger government coffers, and even “re-engineer the social and economic fabric of this nation”.

This elides the fact that Congress routinely passes bills with fiscal implications this large or larger with virtually no media coverage, debate or public comment. The federal government spends $7.5tn a decade on the military, with little to no serious attempts to reverse this spending or even to curtail its growth. The Trump administration passed $2tn in tax cuts with little comment on the cost.

The selective focus on cost reveals our societal priorities. Spending that reifies the power of business is considered common sense, while attempts to address inequalities in society are bitterly opposed. A dollar that goes toward a missile destined for a wedding in Afghanistan or the offshore tax haven of a billionaire is less objectionable to those in charge than a dollar that goes to feeding a hungry child.

The primary problem with the hyperfocus on cost is that this bill just does not cost all that much. The $350bn a year in increased spending represents just 1.5% of the US GDP. In his statement, Manchin contrasted the $3.5tn price tag over a decade with the $5.4tn the federal government has spent over the last 18 months. This really gives the game away: $520bn over 18 months is just a drop in the bucket compared with the current level of $5.4tn. This all comes in a country that spends comparatively little on social programs in the first place.

Even after passing reconciliation as is, the American welfare state would still be a small investment by the standards of world economies. This is not a radical spending package: it’s the agenda of a moderate president, supported by the moderate leaders of the party, and even by groups like the arch-centrist thinktank Third Way.

Additionally, the package would be paid for while maintaining the United States’ comparatively low tax burden. Indeed, it says a lot that obstructionist conservative Democrats are concerned far more with the official price tag than what is actually in the bill and what will get cut.

In defense budgets, which are passed without the blink of an eye, massive amounts of money end up in boondoggles and lining the pockets of contractors: $1.7tn on a fighterjet that will barely fly, at least $35bn on ships that literally disintegrate when they touch salt water, and more and more. Each of these wasteful programs could pay for huge chunks of the sort of popular and useful social spending that is currently so controversial.

The debate around the Biden legislative agenda shows how clearly our society’s priorities are out of tune with people’s actual needs

So easy is it to raise money for the military, that Congress even uses the defense budget as a backdoor to necessary economic spending: like when it fights to keep open bases the military wants closed, build tanks the army doesn’t want, in order to protect US jobs. This turns defense spending into a constant stimulus package, employing people in makework jobs because it is politically easier than just making sure people have enough money. The same politicians who demand scrimping when providing for needy families are more than happy to spend extravagantly on war.

The debate around the Biden legislative agenda shows how clearly our society’s priorities are out of tune with people’s actual needs. It’s not about spending too much money, deficits, waste or fostering a “culture of dependency”. Rather, this demonstrates once again how much our power structure is aimed at protecting the status quo and the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else.

The provisions in the reconciliation bill are not only a moral necessity and good policy: they are extremely popular. Yet, the elected officials who support unlimited military spending are responding to lobbyists and donors, and opposing social spending on their behalf.

Pointing out hypocrisy on the part of fiscal conservatives is not a winning strategy, but this hypocrisy points to a fundamental contradiction in the way American society is organized. It’s far harder for government to provide help to the weak than it is to protect the powerful, and the choices of our elected officials rarely reflect the preferences of the citizens they represent. This situation is untenable. Now more than ever, we need a transformative movement that will fundamentally reorient our society’s priorities. That starts with passing the reconciliation bill.

  • Ben Davis works in political data in Washington, DC
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The GOP is balking against the proposed spending by the DEMS (who are divided themselves). yet they have gone along with an idiot while using his blustering as a cover for their own budgetary acts. These are the actions of self serving politicians, not leaders. The primary job (supposedly) of elected officials is to administer the government in the best interests of the voters and taxpayers not their party and it’s overall agenda. No matter who you affiliate with politically, it should be noted that weight placed on some is also placed on all in someway or another. The party line is not necessarily what the party leaders do for us or to us. We as taxpayers are left to read between the lines and we need to read carefully. The current fight over budgets and funding is purely political and should not even be happening as the Congress has known for years that our infrastructure and manufacturing has been relegated to unimportant because it costs money. Of course it costs money and that money is why we pay taxes (except for the top 1%). Now the GOP is standing in the way of funding for needed infrastructure. Which they could have and should have done when they were in the majority. The uproar or false information about the burden on future generations neglects the fact that the plan is to cover about 5 to 10 years not one year. The current chip shortage possibly could have been a non issue if the US chip makers were not allowed to put the manufacturing in a foreign country that is our biggest rival in manufacturing and world presence. Thank you Congress for doing the Washington 2 step while whistling Dixie!

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Robert Reich

Sun 13 Jun 2021 01.00 EDT

House Republicans are blaming Democrats for the rise in Chipotle burrito prices.

You heard me right. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a statement on Wednesday claiming that Chipotle’s recent decision to raise prices on their burritos and other menu products by about 4% was caused by Democrats.

“Democrats’ socialist stimulus bill caused a labor shortage and now burrito lovers everywhere are footing the bill,” said an NRCC spokesman, Mike Berg.

It seems Republicans have finally found an issue to run on in the 2022 midterm elections. Apparently Dr Seuss and Mr Potato Head weren’t gaining enough traction.

The GOP’s tortured logic is that the unemployment benefits in the American Rescue Plan have caused workers to stay home rather than seek employment, resulting in labor shortages that have forced employers like Chipotle to increase wages, which has required them to raise their prices.

Hence, Chipotle’s more expensive burrito.

This isn’t just loony economics. It’s dangerously loony economics because it might be believed, leading to all sorts of stupid public policies.

Start with the notion that $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits is keeping Americans from working.

Since fewer than 30% of jobless workers qualify for state unemployment benefits, the claim is that legions of workers have chosen to become couch potatoes and collect $15,000 a year rather than get a job.

Republicans have found an issue to run on. Apparently Dr Seuss and Mr Potato Head weren’t gaining enough traction

I challenge one Republican lawmaker to live on $15,000 a year.

In fact, evidence suggests that workers who are holding back from re-entering the job market don’t have childcare or are still concerned about their health during the pandemic.

Besides, if employers want additional workers, they can do what they necessarily do for anything they want more of but can’t obtain at its current price – pay more.

It’s  called capitalism. Republicans should bone up on it.

When Chipotle wanted to attract more workers, it raised its average wage to $15 an hour. That comes to around $30,000 a year per worker – still too little to live on but double the federal unemployment benefit.

Oh, and there’s no reason to suppose this wage hike forced Chipotle to raise the prices of its burrito. The company had other options.

Chipotle’s executives are among the best paid in America. Its chief executive, Brian Niccol, raked in $38m last year – which happens to be 2,898 times more than the typical Chipotle employee. All Chipotle’s top executives got whopping pay increases.

So, it would have been possible for Chipotle to avoid raising its burrito prices by – dare I say? – paying its executives less. But Chipotle decided otherwise.

I’m not going to second-guess Chipotle’s business decision – nor should the NRCC.

By the way, I keep hearing Republican lawmakers say the GOP is the “party of the working class”. If that’s so, it ought to celebrate when hourly workers get a raise instead of howling about it.

Everyone ought to celebrate when those at the bottom get higher wages.

The typical American worker hasn’t had a real raise in four decades. Income inequality is out of control. Wealth inequality is into the stratosphere (where Jeff Bezos is heading, apparently).

If wages at the bottom rise because employers need to pay more to get the workers they need, that’s not a problem. It’s a victory.

Instead of complaining about a so-called “labor shortage”, Republicans ought to be complaining about the shortage of jobs paying a living wage.

Don’t hold your breath, or your burrito.

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It is reasonable to see that the former administration was twisting in the wind when it came to governing and foreign relations. the twist started with the “border wall”, denying immigrants who are crossing at the proper crossings the ability to apply for asylum and making them stay in Mexico which puts more pressure on Mexico’s resources and with that additional pressure more people in desperation are crossing illegally often to the detriment of the crossers as the Coyotes who facilitate the illegal crossings have no feelings about their chargers since they demand payment upfront. The rhetoric from the Whitehouse was and had been fractured, misleading or just outright lies. The followers of those Neer do wells were enthralled by his attacks on people, laws and the government in general while their own lots were being affected for the worse by these same attacks. We had a similar situation in Europe where our allies were baffled by his actions and words. His lack of knowledge in general was dangerous ,his ego driven actions were in effect crippling for us a nation. The actions with Israel and the Arab emirates leaving the Palestinians and the Iranians out of the discussion has been seen as a first step to a possible middle east struggle which could spread beyond the middle East and leave the door open for Russian and Chinese interference and influence. The responsibly is at once the fault of TOTUS but ultimately the voters. We have become our own nemeses with our enthusiastic support of possibly the worst national leader in our history. At home we have a pandemic allowed by TOTUS because of his ego not his quote: “I didn’t want to start a panic” as a reason while he did nothing when notified of the potential pandemic earlier last year. (it should be noted that He and the first Lady quietly received the vaccine when it became available yet did not use that to promote the vaccine). We as voters allowed that to happen because we were “entertained” by his on line bullying and irreverent rants and actions. TOTUS’ presidency(?) allowed the rise of the extreme elements of our country along with the baser elements of the political parties. The fault if it can be called that is on the shoulders of the voters by being taken in by a consummate con man and abetted by the long serving Congress whose sole objective is their own interests. A similar event occurred in Europe about 75 years ago with the rise of Adolph Hitler during a low period for Germany (who lost the First war and was devastated by it). We (the USA) had no such low period but we thought we did and were persuaded by the base elements of our society that we were worse off. This persuasion allowed the rise of DJT who saw an opportunity to steal more from us while lining his own pockets and mismanaging the government. Behind the curtain of Trump our neer do well Congress was busily altering the courts, voting rights and immigration. The upshot of this was nothing good for us but we (the voters) were told that it was by the administration, Congress, biased media. WE “the Voters” need to inform our selves and be willing to “un elect” legislators who are not acting in our interests. The power of the people is greater than the power of politics only if we become informed voters. Look back at January 6,2021 and consider that it could happen anywhere

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Natalie Colarossi  46 mins ago, Newsweek

So it appears that we (voters and Citizens) are being “Madoffed” by the trump Organization


tOver $3.65 Million in PPP Loans Given to Businesses With Ties to Trump Organization, Kushner Properties

An analysis of data released by the Small Business Administration (SBA) shows that properties owned by the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies were given over $3.65 million worth in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans – raising questions about the fairness and distribution of loans intended to aid small businesses during the pandemic.Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Donald Trump boards an elevator at Trump Tower in New York City on January 16, 2017. According to data released by the SBA, properties owned by Trump's family and the family of Jared Kushner were major beneficiaries from COVID relief loans.© DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Donald Trump boards an elevator at Trump Tower in New York City on January 16, 2017. According to data released by the SBA, properties owned by Trump’s family and the family of Jared Kushner were major beneficiaries from COVID relief loans.PauseCurrent Time 0:28/Duration 1:00Loaded: 50.95%Unmute0Fullscreen500 Delta staff have tested positive for COVID-19 and 10 have diedClick to expand

Following months of litigation, including lawsuits from 11 news organizations, the SBA released a dataset on Tuesday of every small business that received a PPP or Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) loan.https://products.gobankingrates.com/r/d9360ea31bf06ea8b9d0ef49288e28fb

An initial review of the data by NBC News found that a number of businesses with ties to President Donald Trump‘s family and the family of Jared Kushner – Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser – were major beneficiaries of the program.

PPP loans were originally meant to support small businesses and allow them access to funds that could help with payroll, rent, utilities and mortgage interest payments. Over $700 billion worth of the forgivable loans were approved by Congress and the Trump administration under the CARES Act, and rolled out in the Spring.

But the SBA data shows that businesses tied to the president received millions of dollars in aid, and many reported that the money did not go to retaining any jobs.

According to NBC News, over 25 PPP loans were given to Trump and Kushner real estate properties, paying rent to those owners. Among those, only fifteen properties self-reported that they only retained one or zero jobs with the money.

One of those loans included a $2,164,543 loan to the Triomphe Restaurant Corp., at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City. The company reported the loan did not go to keeping any jobs, and later it closed altogether.

A Kushner property in New Jersey called LB City Inc, received a loan for $505,552.50 that it used to keep 155 jobs, while four tenants at a Kushner-owned New York City property received more than $204,000 combined, and retained only six jobs.

Furthermore, two tenants at Trump Tower received more than $100,000 and kept only three jobs.

These figures add to a slew of criticisms from government watchdogs and small business owners who feel the loans were not distributed in a fair and equitable way.

“Many months and broken promises later, the court-ordered release of this crucial data while the Trump administration is one foot out the door is a shameful dereliction of duty and flagrant mismanagement of a program that millions of workers and small businesses needed to get through this pandemic,” said Kyle Herrig, president of the government watchdog group, Accountable.US, according to NBC News.

In response, Christopher W Smith, General Counsel for Kushner Companies said that the notion that Kushner Properties improperly benefitted from the loans is “completely untrue and amounts to nothing more than politically motivated nonsense.”

“Exactly two Kushner Companies’ hotel operations affiliates received PPP loans. Every provision of the PPP program has been comprehensively abided with respect to each of the two loans – and every penny of the funds received from the program was utilized to fund employee payroll and benefits costs to maintain jobs imperiled by the COVID pandemic and associated lockdown measures,” Smith said in a statement given to Newsweek.

The SBA data also suggests that over half of the intended PPP funds went to just 5 percent of recipients, with larger businesses benefitting more than their small business counterparts.

Watchdogs have also warned that several billion dollars may have gone to fraudsters and ineligible businesses, while small businesses owned by people without strong banking relationships faced limited access to funds.

Accountability groups have since set up publicly searchable databases like SearchPPP.com so people can see how the loans were used themselves.

But the SBA defended its handling of the pandemic assistance on Tuesday.

“SBA’s historically successful COVID relief loan programs have helped millions of small businesses and tens of millions of American workers when they needed it most,” an SBA spokesman said in a statement.

Newsweek attempted to reach out to the Trump administration and Trump Organization for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.

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The “sudden” onset of Covid (which is a hoax) on TOTUS is again another part of the con game perpetrated on the voters. This administration is on par with a game of “Liars Poker” with the stakes being the health of the voters and the country. There are too many voters who are caught up in the entertainment of this administration while the miscreants in Congress continue to make deals that benefit themselves and their large money donors. The current National leader(?) is self absorbed and ignorant of the duties of the job but continues to bash real information that allows a leader to really lead instead of following flawed or misguided actions. This not a Drill! This the real world where people die based on the actions of their leaders. One can easily espouse ideas and promises but the follow through is more important than the words. This statement by Noted Conservative columnist George Will sums up this administration and it’s titular head: “Presidential Mortification”. The real story here is 3 years of “faking it until you make it” while the country’s voters are at risk economically and in their health. We cannot afford another 4 years of the same at 1600 Fraud avenue or in the Miscreant Congress.

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Trump Didn’t Disclose First Positive Covid-19 Test While Awaiting a Second Test on Thursday

An example of Presidential Mortification-no regard for anyone other than himself. MA

Michael C. Bender, Rebecca Ballhaus  11 hrs ago

WASHINGTON—President Trump didn’t disclose a positive result from a rapid test for Covid-19 on Thursday while awaiting the findings from a more thorough coronavirus screening, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump received a positive result on Thursday evening before making an appearance on Fox News in which he didn’t reveal those results. Instead, he confirmed earlier reports that one of his top aides had tested positive for coronavirus and mentioned the second test he had taken that night for which he was awaiting results.

“I’ll get my test back either tonight or tomorrow morning,” Mr. Trump said during the interview. At 1 a.m. on Friday, the president tweeted that he indeed had tested positive.

Under White House protocols, the more reliable test that screens a specimen from deeper in the nasal passage is administered only after a rapid test shows a positive reading. Based on people familiar with the matter, the president’s tests followed that protocol.

As the virus spread among the people closest to him, Mr. Trump also asked one adviser not to disclose results of their own positive test. “Don’t tell anyone,” Mr. Trump said, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

Mr. Trump and his top advisers also aimed to keep such a close hold on the early positive results that his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, didn’t know that Hope Hicks, one of the president’s closest White House aides, had tested positive on Thursday morning until news reports later that evening, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Trump campaign said Friday evening that Mr. Stepien had tested positive.

The initial secrecy within Mr. Trump’s inner circle has created a sense of anxiety within the West Wing. Publicly, the White House has issued evolving and contradictory statements about the president’s health that has some officials worried about their own credibility.

“I’m glued to Twitter and TV because I have no official communication from anyone in the West Wing,” an administration official said.

The White House didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

The lack of clear communication about who was getting the virus has extended to reports on the president’s status as he undergoes treatment.

At a press briefing Saturday, the president, who has been hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center since Friday, watched as the White House physician, Dr. Sean Conley, told reporters that his symptoms were improving. Minutes later, Mr. Trump grew alarmed when another person familiar with the situation warned reporters that Mr. Trump’s recent condition had been concerning. An angry president quickly dialed an adviser from his hospital room.

“Who the f— said that?” Mr. Trump demanded, according to a person familiar with the call. The Associated Press later identified the person as White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

The president’s doctors said Sunday that his condition was improving and that he could be discharged from the hospital as soon as Monday, but also said he was taking a steroid typically recommended for serious cases.

That fast-moving revelations began Thursday evening when Mr. Trump confirmed on Fox News that one of his closest aides, Hope Hicks, had tested positive that day, and said: “I just heard about this.” CBS News first reported that by that point, Mr. Trump had received his own positive result on a rapid test.

But Ms. Hicks had learned about her own positive test result that morning, and the information was kept to a tight circle of advisers, according to people familiar with the matter. Ms. Hicks’s positive test results were first reported by Bloomberg News later that evening. The White House offered no official statement on Ms. Hope’s positive test.

Mr. Stepien and the rest of the Trump campaign first learned of Ms. Hicks’ positive test from Bloomberg News, and weren’t consulted on whether to proceed with a Thursday trip to New Jersey, a campaign official said.

The White House has said the operations team deemed the trip safe. The president had tested negative on a rapid test that morning, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Meadows has said the White House learned of Ms. Hicks’ results right as Marine One was leaving for New Jersey, and said the administration pulled some advisers off the trip. The president left the White House just after 1 p.m. that day.

The decision not to cancel the New Jersey trip drew swift criticism from health experts. Lisa M. Lee, a public-health expert specializing in infectious-disease epidemiology and public-health ethics at Virginia Tech University, said “holding the [Bedminster] event in spite of knowing that one of the team was infected and had exposed others was a recipe for spreading disease.”

White House officials said their medical team is conducting contact tracing for staff that have tested positive, but uncertainty has also been infused into that process, people familiar with the matter said. Contact tracing is a crucial step, public health experts have said, to stem the spread of infectious disease.

That process is gaining importance since Mr. Trump and his senior advisers spent most of last week following their normal schedule rarely using other tools—safe distance and masks—to keep the virus at bay. In some instances, protocols were followed. At the New Jersey events, attendees had to test negative, complete a wellness questionnaire and pass a temperature screening. Guests were kept 6 feet from the president.

Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor, said on Friday that he learned about the initial positive tests at the White House on Thursday through news reports. No one had contacted him even though he had spent much of the past week with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Christie tested positive for the virus on Saturday, he said on Twitter, and a few hours later checked himself into Morristown Medical Center.

Mr. Christie was part of a debate preparation team that met with Mr. Trump the morning of Sept. 26, which included Ms. Hicks, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, and Mr. Stepien. All four have since tested positive. The White House typically administers a rapid test to anyone who will be close to the president.

Others who participated in the debate practices have reported negative Covid-19 tests, including former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Jason Miller, a senior campaign adviser. Mr. Giuliani said he learned of Ms. Hicks’ positive test from news reports, though he received a call from Mr. Meadows when the president tested positive.

Mr. Christie and Ms. Conway were among hundreds of guests later that afternoon at a White House event where Mr. Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his latest Supreme Court nominee. Few of the guests wore masks as they were seated shoulder-to-shoulder in the Rose Garden or congregated inside the White House, where an ad hoc reception line emerged at one point as guests waited to meet Judge Barrett or take pictures together. Several other guests have since tested positive.

Minnesota state Rep. Kurt Daudt said Saturday he was awaiting a Covid-19 test after greeting Mr. Trump at the Minneapolis airport on Wednesday. Mr. Daudt and other greeters had been tested before meeting the president, and were instructed not to shake hands with him or get close to him, but when the president came down the stairs from the plane, he offered to take photos.

“You’ve been tested, right?” Mr. Trump said, according to Mr. Daudt.

Several of the greeters posed for photos with the president, with some standing less than a foot away from him, according to photos from the event. None wore a mask. Mr. Trump then attended a fundraiser at the home of Mike Davis, owners of a quartz countertop company, according to his campaign schedule.

Ms. Hicks had fallen ill by the time Air Force One departed Minneapolis for a campaign rally in Duluth, a person familiar with the matter said. She isolated herself from other aides for the short flight and again on the return flight home to Washington that night.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany held a news conference with reporters Thursday morning, unaware that her colleague had tested positive earlier that day, a personal familiar with the matter said. She had traveled with Ms. Hicks on Wednesday and Tuesday.

After she finished the briefing, and around 45 minutes before the president left for New Jersey, she was told she was no longer included in White House entourage flying with the president that afternoon to a fundraiser in Bedminster, New Jersey, but not given a reason why, according to the same person. She didn’t learn until later that afternoon that Ms. Hicks had tested positive, the person said.

Write to Michael C. Bender at Mike.Bender@wsj.com and Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com

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The Tax Cut?- reminds me of the “chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” statement issued by the GOP in the 30’s. Apparently many are still caught up in “buzz words” with no facts. Our future depends on voters who are informed on the issues rather  than the catch phrases that sound good and mean nothing.MA

The White House had predicted the massive fiscal stimulus package would boost business spending and job growth.

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) ― The Trump administration’s $1.5 trillion cut tax package appeared to have no major impact on businesses’ capital investment or hiring plans, according to a survey released a year after the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in more than 30 years.
The National Association of Business Economics’ (NABE) quarterly business conditions poll published on Monday found that while some companies reported accelerating investments because of lower corporate taxes, 84 percent of respondents said they had not changed plans. That compares to 81 percent in the previous survey published in October.
The White House had predicted that the massive fiscal stimulus package, marked by the reduction in the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, would boost business spending and job growth. The tax cuts came into effect in January 2018.
“A large majority of respondents, 84 percent, indicate that one year after its passage, the corporate tax reform has not caused their firms to change hiring or investment plans,” said NABE President Kevin Swift.
The lower tax rates, however, had an impact in the goods producing sector, with 50 percent of respondents from that sector reporting increased investments at their companies, and 20 percent saying they redirected hiring and investments to the United States from abroad.
The NABE survey also suggested a further slowdown in business spending after moderating sharply in the third quarter of 2018. The survey’s measure of capital spending fell in January to its lowest level since July 2017. Expectations for capital spending for the next three months also weakened.
“Fewer firms increased capital spending compared to the October survey responses, but the cutback appeared to be concentrated more in structures than in information and communication technology investments,” said Swift, who is also chief economist at the American Chemistry Council.
According to the survey, employment growth improved modestly in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter. Just over a third of respondents reported rising employment at their firms over the past three months, up from 31 percent in the October survey. The survey’s forward-looking measure of employment slipped to 25 in January from 29 in October.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by David Gregorio)

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The two years of TOTUS has made a mockery of the United States across the world. If some of us feel that it doesn’t matter then you are wrong! No matter what TOTUS says (most of which is hyperbole and lies or alternate facts if you prefer) he has no idea how to lead a country. His business acumen is greatly suspect as shown by reports of his bankruptcies and the business bodies left in his wake. His foreign business deals are equally suspect and in some cases could be construed as treason or at the least quasi legal. This shutdown fomented by ignorance and disinformation is his way of making deals. It is furthered by party politics which is divided along party lines by Congressional members who are afraid of criticism from the “child” rather than doing the work they were elected to do by the often cited “American people”. It is well to note that these long serving Congressional members have for the past 10 years restricted any legislation that would serve the people by offering alternative facts rather than serving in an honorable manner. The current shutdown does not affect the salaries of the Congress due to a law enacted by the Congress along with their exemption from the ACA while changing it for the rest of us in the worst ways. If you ascribe to one political party or another without paying close attention to both then we (as a nation) will continue to have poor governance as we are experiencing now. Voters need to step up, get informed and take back control of the government, this make sound impossible but that’s what voting is for!

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As suspected TOTUS is a draft dodger, recently he was visiting Troops in Iraq and suggested that they could reenter Syria from there, this is after arbitrarily ordering troops out of Syria and prompting an outcry from Congress and our allies. The consummate liar continues his transparent ways. MA

Erin Donnelly
Yahoo December 26, 2018
As President Trump faces criticism for being the first president not to visit U.S. troops on Christmas since 2002 — he chose a to hold a video conference this year — comes a new claim that could inflict further damage on his reputation with the military.
On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that the two daughters of a late Queens podiatrist are going public with a claim that their father diagnosed the future president with bone spurs in 1968 as a favor to his landlord, Trump patriarch Fred C. Trump. The diagnosis allowed Donald Trump to get a medical exemption that allowed him to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.
Dr. Elysa Braunstein and Sharon Kessel — the daughters of Dr. Larry Braunstein, who died in 2007 — say their father was one of Fred Trump’s tenants at the time, setting up his podiatry practice in the Trump-owned Edgerton Apartments in Jamaica, Queens. Though they are unsure whether their dad actually examined the then 22-year-old Donald Trump, the sisters say that he often spoke of signing off on the diagnosis that kept Trump out of the war. The doctor also gave them the impression that Trump didn’t actually have bone spurs, but he said otherwise to help keep him out of the draft, they say.
“I know it was a favor,” Braunstein told the New York Times, noting her father’s cordial relationship with Trump’s real estate developer father.
“What he got was access to Fred Trump,” she added. “If there was anything wrong in the building, my dad would call and Trump would take care of it immediately. That was the small favor that he got.”
The sisters say they recall their father’s friend and fellow podiatrist, Dr. Manny Weinstein, was also somehow involved with the bone spur diagnosis. Weinstein died in 1995.
No medical records corroborate the sisters’ claims, but Trump has been vague about how he got the diagnosis. Though he has hinted that he has records of his medical history, they have not been made public, and he has previously admitted he did not remember his doctor’s name. `The White House has not responded to questions about Braunstein’s alleged involvement.
Trump’s bone spur diagnosis has been mocked by critics, who have accused him of pulling strings to avoid being sent to war. Now, the Times report has set off a new wave of ridicule and speculation.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle

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