Friday, October 21, 2011

Fluffing The 1%-- Last Night's Senate Vote Against Recovery


I doubt many senators read Andy Coghlan's and Debora MacKenzie's enlightening feature in New Scientist this week about the capitalist network (i.e., a manifestation of the 1%) that runs the world... runs it primarily to benefit not society but themselves, their families and their circles. And this isn't some kind of political polemic; it's science... so, right, conservatives can stop reading right now.
An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy.

...The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York's Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere. But the study, by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the first to go beyond ideology to empirically identify such a network of power. It combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world's transnational corporations (TNCs).

...The work, to be published in PloS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What's more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world's large blue chip and manufacturing firms-- the "real" economy-- representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a "super-entity" of 147 even more tightly knit companies-- all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity-- that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network," says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

Wednesday night Harry Reid filed cloture to break the Republicans' filibuster of the first piece of President Obama's jobs legislation-- this bill to authorize $35 billion to keep teachers, policemen and firefighters employed and to pay for it with a pathetically small and inadequate tax on millionaires. Only money above a million dollars in annual remuneration would be subject to the tax, but, needless to say, even that's too much for the Republicans. Miss McConnell deceitfully referred to it as "a proposal to raise taxes on 300,000 business owners in order to send money down to states so they don’t have to lay off state employees."

Over half the members of the Senate-- probably close to 60% now-- are millionaires themselves and aren't eager to raise their own taxes... not even a tiny little bit. Wouldn't the decent thing be for the millionaires in the Senate to recuse themselves for voting on legislation that would have a significant effect on their own wealth? Among the super-rich decamillionaires in the Senate, 11 are filibustering the jobs bill, 10 Republicans and one quasi-Democrat:
Bob Corker (R-TN)- $96 million
Jim Risch (R-WY)- $87 million
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)- $45 million
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)- $40 million
Miss McConnell (R-KY)- $32 million
John McCain (R-AZ)- $26 million
Ben Nelson (D-NE)- $18 million
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)- $13 million
Dick Shelby (R-AL)- $10 million
John Barrasso (R-WY)- $10 million
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)- $10 million

As Jamison Foser pointed out, narrowing in on fake moderate Olympia Snowe, "when Sen. Olympia Snowe explained her vote against the Senate jobs bill last week, she identified only one provision of the bill she disagreed with: the surcharge on taxpayers who earn more than $1 million in adjusted gross income." Not counting herself, that's 374 people in the state of Maine, a state suffering immense unemployment. "Snowe's vote against a jobs bill that would greatly help Maine simply because it would raise taxes on about 375 of the state's richest residents doesn't make much sense-- but it's certainly easier to understand if Snowe and her husband [a notorious crook] are among those fortunate few," Foser concludes. Greg Sargent was just as straight to the point at the Washington Post before the vote.
Let’s be as clear as possible: Any Democratic or Republican senators who vote this week against the $35 billion package of aid to the states are putting the very narrow interests of an infinitesimal few over the interests of many thousands of their own constituents.

The Senate vote is on whether to send billions to the states to avert teacher layoffs and to facilitate the hiring of more teachers and first responders-- a key provision of Obama’s jobs plan. This would be paid for by a 0.5 percent surtax on millionaires. As of now, it’s unclear how a handful of moderate Senators in both parties will vote, because they have “stimulus spending” and they oppose hiking taxes on the rich.

So here’s a way look at this: How many people would be impacted by this proposal in each state represented by each on-the-fence senator? And how does that compare to the number of constituents in each of those states who would pay that 0.5 percent surtax? And keep in mind, the impact of one teaching job is far vaster and affects far more people than the impact of the surtax on one constituent, which is only paid on income over one million dollars.

Sargent singles out 7 wealthy senators who his sources told him were on the fence:
* Snowe and fellow-Mainer Susan Collins, where $117 million in aid to the state will be lost so that 374 people (+ Snowe) wouldn't have to pay an extra 0.5% on income over a million dollars a year.

* Tennessee's two multimillionaire senators, Alexander and Corker, who had to think about turning down 9,400 education jobs and over $596 million for their state to help out the 2,450 people who make over a million dollars a year-- like themselves.

* Ben Nelson, who was willing to snub 2,800 education jobs in Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney, North Platte and across the state ($176 million) so that himself and 1,049 Nebraskans making over a million dollars a year won't have to pay a pittance more for the public good-- even though Nelson's wealthiest constituent, Warren Buffett, has endorsed the idea.

* John Tester, who once billed himself as a populist-- but that was when he was running for the Senate 5 years ago-- was looking at turning down 1,400 education jobs ($90 million) so that 340 millionaires wouldn't have to pay the tiny tax.

* And, of course, West Virginia's right-wing Democrat, Joe Manchin, always eager to screw working people on behalf of the wealthy, had to balance 2,600 education jobs ($162 million into West Virginia's hard-pressed economy) against 580 who make over a million dollars a year in his state.

The Senate voted at 10 last night and the Republicans managed to block allowing the debate to proceed. Reid's motion to end their smarmy filibuster lost 50-50, Lieberman plus 2 ultra-conservative Democrats-- Pryor (AR) and Nelson (NE)-- voting with Miss McConnell to keep the filibuster going. Tester, at least, had seen the light, but not one Republican-- not Scott Brown and not Olympia Snowe (both of whom are up for reelection next year)-- crossed the aisle to support teachers, policemen, firemen or their own states' economies. President Obama's statement (which rings unauthentic since it singles out Republicans instead of Republicans + Lieberman, Pryor and Nelson):
For the second time in two weeks, every single Republican in the United States Senate has chosen to obstruct a bill that would create jobs and get our economy going again. That’s unacceptable. We must do what’s right for the country and pass the common-sense proposals in the American Jobs Act. Every Senate Republican voted to block a bill that would help middle class families and keep hundreds of thousands of firefighters on the job, police officers on the streets, and teachers in the classroom when our kids need them most.

Those Americans deserve an explanation as to why they don’t deserve those jobs-– and every American deserves an explanation as to why Republicans refuse to step up to the plate and do what’s necessary to create jobs and grow the economy right now.

We must rebuild the economy the American way and restore security for the middle class, based on the values of balance and fairness. Independent economists have said the American Jobs Act could create up to two million jobs next year. So the choice is clear. Our fight isn’t over. We will keep working with Congress to bring up the American Jobs Act piece by piece, and give Republicans another chance to put country before party and help us put the American people back to work.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers sounded more authentic in her outrage:
The senators who voted “no” late Thursday night on the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act have once again squandered the chance to help our kids, communities and the economy by putting teachers back in the classroom, and ensuring that police officers and firefighters protect our neighborhoods.

The 50 senators who voted against the jobs measure showed a callous disregard for our kids’ futures and the safety of our neighborhoods. The no-voters are more concerned about protecting the wealthiest Americans from a half-cent-per-dollar tax increase than about helping our kids and ensuring safe communities. These senators are clearly out of touch with the American people. This week’s CNN/Gallup poll found that 75 percent of Americans support the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act.

Our nation is in a state of economic emergency that requires an immediate response. The unrelenting layoff of teachers and first responders is putting educational quality and the safety of our cities and towns at risk. The $35 billion jobs bill would support nearly 400,000 education jobs and keep thousands of police officers and firefighters on the job. By asking millionaires and billionaires to pay an extra one-half of 1 percent, the jobs plan would strengthen the economy without adding to the deficit.

With a deep and grinding recession causing disinvestment in our schools, the American people are sick and tired of having their concerns about the future ignored by some members of Congress. It’s time to set aside the political gamesmanship and do what is right for our students, for the safety of our communities, and for our country.

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At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Barry Brenesal said...

Very true, Howie--but in all fairness, this president only cares about jobs when his advisers tell him its a good buzzword for his next campaign. He's going through the motions so as to generate votes. Kabuki theater at its finest.


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