Bush Gave Go-Ahead to Corporate Lawbreakers
Buzzflash picked up on my previous blog piece pointing out that Bush gave corporate lawbreakers the go-ahead back in March, 2001. (Had to write to them a few times, though.) Back then Bush reversed a Clinton rule prohibiting corporate lawbreakers from getting government contracts. Now Bush gives speeches about how corporate lawbreakers need to be punished.

Bush puts lax regulators in the EPA and his crony corporations know they are free to pollute. He puts lax regulators on the FERC, and his crony corporations cause power blackouts in California so they can jack prices through the roof. He puts lax regulators on the SEC because his crony corporations have been complaining that they're getting flack for doing what Bush and Cheney did. (I think I could develop quite a long list of how many oversight boards and commissions Bush has gutted. Labor, removing the Bar Assoc. from approving judges, civil rights...)

And then he says if somehow you get convicted of CRIMES, the government is going to GIVE THEM CONTRACTS!!!

A while ago I wrote, "Republicans delegitimized government, and act surprised when corporate executives act as if government were not legitimate."


Tax Cuts Don't Raise Revenue
I’m so tired of hearing Republicans claim that cutting taxes increases tax revenues and that Reagan's cut taxes caused revenue to double by the end of his term.

Here’s the numbers. In 1981 the on-budget (not from Social Security) tax receipts were $469 billion which was a 16% increase over the prior year. Then the Reagan tax cuts started. 1982 tax receipts were $474.3 billion, 1.1% over 1981, and the on-budget deficit shot up to $120 billion, an increase of 62% in a single year!. 1983 receipts were $453.2 billion, a DROP of 4.4% creating a deficit of $208 BILLION, an increase of 73%!

Tax Increases - Revenues Went Up (Duh!) This huge jump in deficits panicked Congress enough to pass the 1984 Deficit Reduction Act, the largest tax increase in our history. Tax receipts climbed to $500.3 billion, a 10.4% increase, and the deficit shrank almost 11% to $185.6 billion.

In 1985 Congress passed the Gramm-Rudmann-Hollings Anti-Deficit Act. In 1985 tax receipts were $548 billion, a 9.5% increase. But now the huge military spending increases AND the debt interest were kicking in and the deficit rose to $221 billion, and increase of 19%. That's another story - the TAX RECEIPTS were climbing again, leading to the doubling Republicans claim was brought about by cutting taxes, conveniently leaving out that the largest tax increase in the history of the world occurred in between.

An Aside. Also during this time Congress passed the huge Social Security tax increase, dramatically increasing a tax ONLY paid by poor and middle class working people. This is the largest tax item in most people's paychecks and is not counted when we're told that the rich pay a large share of taxes. In 1984 and 1985 Social Security tax receipts jumped 12%!, and continued to increase through the 80’s, generating huge surpluses which were used to make the huge deficits look lower. This money collected from the poor and middle class workers went out to pay for Reagans's tax cuts for the rich. (And now it is being used to pay for Bush's huge tax cuts for the rich.)

See for Yourself. You can look at the numbers here. It's table 1.1, in Excel file format, so I'm not linking directly to it.

So when they say that Reagan's tax cuts led to tax revenue doubling, IT'S A TRICK! Why they constantly use tricks to get support for their policies is a good topic for another piece.


Who Is Our Economy For?
William Greider has a piece in The Nation talking about the "cult of the CEO" and what to do about it. It's long but he has some interesting observations and I urge you to read it or perhaps bookmark it for later. "The fundamental perversion is a doctrine that encourages managers to squeeze the other constituent contributors to a corporation's success--taking away real value from employees, suppliers, supporting communities and even customers--in order to reward the absentee owners. That twisted logic explains the internal destruction familiar to those who work for many (though not all) major corporations, from the researchers to middle managers to assembly-line workers. If this false doctrine survives reform, then CEOs may no longer be ripping off the shareholders so boldly, but society's larger long-term interests will continue to be sacrificed on the altar of "shareholder value."

My thoughts? The government should require that representatives of the public be given seats on corporate Boards of Directors.

Let me pose a question: Who is our economy for? I think it's a dangerous question that leads to lots of useful places. We should get more people asking who is our economy supposed to be for, anyway?
Crucified in the Blogosphere
Nathan Newman wants all of us webloggers to beat up Bush for backing off from the corporate crime law within hours of signing it. As he puts it, "Bush should be crucified in the blogosphere for this."


What Bush Says Now - What Bush Did Then

Today President Bush SAID, "Every corporate official who has chosen to commit a crime can expect to face the consequences," he said. "No more easy money for corporate criminals, just hard time." NYTimes version here.

This is what President Bush previously DID about corporate criminals. "The Bush administration Friday ordered the suspension of a Clinton rule that would have significantly strengthened the government's ability to deny contracts to companies that have violated workplace safety, environmental and other federal laws."

A good story about this can be found at Mother Jones. "The government continues to award federal business worth billions to companies that repeatedly break the law. A Mother Jones investigation reveals which major contractors are the worst offenders."
The Pension Problem - "at least 50 WorldComs"
I've been writing about corporate pension funds, the "other" accounting problem (here and here).

Today Paul Krugman in the New York Times talks about the issue, "As the current issue of Business Week explains, the pension time bomb involves large numbers; I'd say it's the equivalent of at least 50 WorldComs."

From the Business Week piece, "Amid the wreckage of the worst bear market in at least three decades, hemorrhaging corporate pension plans are rapidly becoming Wall Street's biggest new worry. They have lost hundreds of billions of dollars, and now companies face the end of their long-running holiday from writing checks to the plans. Over the next 18 months or so, companies ranging from General Motors to United Technologies face having to pump billions into their plans to comply with federal laws to protect pensioners."

"The squeeze on U.S. pension funds has the potential to be the defining U.S. financial crisis of the 2000s, like the savings and loan squeeze of the 1980s," says Bob Prince, director of research and trading at money manager Bridgewater Associates."


Well Worth Reading
Dick Cheney's Brilliant Career - From the Toronto Star. "There was nothing illegal about the decision by Cheney and four other Halliburton insiders to dump their shares in the company in August, 2000, about two months before Halliburton stunned investors with news that its engineering and construction business was spiralling downward, and that a grand jury was investigating charges it had overbilled the government."
Dick Cheney's Brilliant Career - From the Toronto Star.
Paul Krugman - "If you want to see the smear machine at work..."

As I would word it, the Robert Rubin stuff is a tree. See the Forest.
Only 200 Al-Queda?
I haven't seen any follow-ups to Saturday's story in which the FBI and CIA said there are really only 200 members of Al-Queda. It seems this should be the biggest story in the news. We're at "war", the government is being reorganized, Constitutional protections are being disassembled, the budget is shot - but it's all about only 200 people, many of whom are already in custody? Can someone tell me what is going on?

Maybe this is why Bush feels like he can slip away on vacation for a month.
Stock Market
The current PE (Price to Earnings) ratio of the S&P 500 is 23.8. This is where the stock market usually falls FROM, not TO. Click here to see some charts. (Two links at the top of the page: Still Overvalued and Another Perspective.)


Bush Scorecard
Scroll down to the item titled "Bush Scorecard" over at the blog called Bush Impeachment Countdown. It's a table listing some of Bush's campaign promises, and how he's doing at keeping them.