Friday, December 22, 2017

Trump Another JFK? - Total Delusionary Balderdash

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Seems some addle-pated conservo bloggers with too much time on their hands have taken the fake news idiom even further - to fake history. That is, actually trying to argue (presumably with straight face) that Donald J. Trump and John F. Kennedy are both cut from the same cloth. Not bloody likely!

Let's start with some basics: namely the god-forsaken tax cuts just passed by the Repukes which will gut the poor and middle classes (taxes set to increase by 2025, and ACA repealed - tossing 13 m off healthcare) and amount to a ransom paid to the GOP donor class (e.g. the Koch brothers). In other words, these tax cuts are supply side bunkum on steroids.

JFK at NO time supported "supply side" tax cuts, because technically these did not even exist until Arthur Laffer (with his "Laffer curve") invented it ca. 1974 on a napkin.   Laffer's curve  (below)became the basis of Reagan's tax cuts and the whole supply side definition which meant cutting taxes more for the wealthy than the lower or middle class to enable "trickle down" effects.

Laffer argued that higher tax rates on the rich would only cause them to work fewer hours, or if REALLY rich, invest in fewer projects, enterprises, hence create fewer jobs.

Thus was born "voodoo economics" or supply side theory as it has come to be known. Now it's more rightly called "trickle down" because the crumbs from the richest are forecast to fall on our respective tables to enrich us too. Well up to a point! A meager one in the case of this latest GOP iteration. (By way of comparison, the middle class tax cuts in 2009, as part of the Obama stimulus package, were 5 times greater for those earning less than $75, 000 than Dotard's "greatest cuts" deliver now.)

In their examination of supply side tax cuts,  authors James Medoff and Andrew Harless in The Indebted Society, 1995, found, p. 23:

"For the health of the economy, Reagan's policies turned out to be just about the worst thing that could have happened: investment did not increase, growth continued to stagnate, and the federal deficit ballooned to new dimensions....In 1981, the year Reagan took office, the public debt was 26.5 % of the gross domestic product (GDP)....In 1993, the year that Bush left office, the public debt was a staggering 51.9 percent of the GDP." 

In contrast JFK's tax cuts were 180 degrees from supply side or trickle down. Why? Because  JFK's tax cuts were overly weighted (by 60%) to the working and middle classes while Trump's are weighted (according to recent scoring) by 83 percent to the top one percent.  In  addition, JFK only advocated lowering the top tax rate to 65 % from 91 %. And note that 65 % is still 63 percent higher than the top rate today.

Seldom mentioned in conjunction with JFK's tax cut proposals were the other aspects he had in mind, including:

-the elimination of all tax breaks set up in the form of foreign investment operations or companies

- the repeal of all tax advantages by corporations operating in low tax countries, such as Switzerland

- the repeal of the 100% charitable contribution write-off by the wealthy

- Withholding tax on the investments, dividends and capital of the wealthy to ensure revenues could not be lost by too many shelters or at the 'end point'.

- Tax on investment dividends so that all those earning in excess of $180 k would pay a much higher rate.

-Devices that would prevent 'high bracket taxpayers' from concealing income from 'personal holding companies'.

(Source: 'Battling Wall Street - The Kennedy Presidency', by Donald Gibson, Sheridan Square Press, 1994, pp. 22-23)

Don't take my word for it, just consult the published accounts in the  financial press at the time, to see how they actually felt about JFK's proposed policies and initiatives. One of these, which appeared in Fortune accused him of an attempt to "manipulate the tax level against the business cycle". ('Activism in the White House', June, 1961, p. 117). Two years later, Fortune implored Congress to stop JFK from using tax policy "as instruments to manage the economy". ('The Dream Businessmen Are Losing', Sept. 1963, p. 91).

These aren't just fiction, but historical records of the press of the JFK era and what THEY actually thought of his tax proposals. They are available to anyone with the diligence to seek them out.

Along the same lines, the "central organ of finance capital" - The Wall Street Journal, launched various articles and diatribes accusing JFK of being a "statist" and other things. Some of those articles include:

- 8/6/62 'No Cause for Celebration'; p. 6;

- 3/26/63 'Too Much Money, Too Little Thought', p. 18;

- 8/15/63 'When Friends Become Foes', p. 8

Meanwhile, Henry Hazlitt, contributing editor at Newsweek (The Washington Post's sister publication) was airing many of the same complaints against JFK. These polemics, appearing regularly in Hazlitt's 'Business Tides', included taking JFK to task for his tax policies - including the proposed tax on U.S. business earnings abroad while he also chastised Kennedy for "welfare spending".

Do you think Donnie Dotard would ever be accused of "welfare spending"? Give me a break!

Other Differences:

JFK, like my dad, served in the Pacific Theater in WW II and actually helped save a number of his men. Trump, by contrast, used "bone spurs" to evade military service five times.  (He did spend some time at a New York Military Academy, basically because his parents couldn't keep control of him., after being notified he was testing switch blades on alley cats in Queens.)

Further, there is the handling of nuclear tensions - where one can compare Trump's unhinged "fire and fury" response to Kim Jong Un to Kennedy's vis-√†-vis Castro and Cuba in October, 1962.   JFK's impulse control was tested most severely when the Joint Chiefs, especially Gen. Curtis Lemay, implored him to invade and bomb Cuba.  A move that would have triggered a release of at least 93 IRBMs and initiated a nuclear exchange. Kennedy refused.

Would Trump have done the same? I doubt it. This is the asshole who asked during the campaign last year "If we have nuclear weapons why can't we use 'em?"  DOH!  Trump also displayed no rational control in his over the top engaging with Kim, only succeeding in making matters worse. Kennedy would never have acted like such a goddamned spoiled, imperious,  impetuous braggart and clueless numbskull narcissist - risking 25 million lives in Seoul as he tweeted like a troll.

Psychologist (Bill Eddy) has noted Trump's inherent instability and fractious nature makes him a “more dangerous politician  than Adolf Hitler”.  In other words, unlike with JFK, we can only assume Trump will make exactly the opposite decision in a nuclear game of high stakes poker.  Little wonder that even Trump toady Lindsey Graham estimated a probability of 30 percent for a nuclear war with North Koreas next year.

Additionally, Kennedy was vastly more equipped to deal with a complex, multi-threat world. He read profusely, up to twenty complete newspapers a day. In addition, he read books - whole books - not comics like Trump, or National Enquirer gossip pieces.  JFK could do this because he read at a rate exceeding 1200 words per minute. This compares to Trump's 50 words per minute, which is why he must stick to tweets.

JFK also  held full news conferences, more than any other president where he took on the press, media openly and ably. His vocabulary and wit never failed to astound the gathered press corps. Trump has yet to call a major press conference in the past 6 months, and if he did is unlikely to say anything more than "Yeah that there idea sounds good".

The extent of Trump's  vocabulary runs to about 200 words, as captured by his twaddle-filled tweets.  His own (rare) "press conferences" are more exercises in egotistic doggerel, aimless, unfocused  babble, and attacks on imagined enemies. More akin to what we'd expect from  a dyspeptic five year old, also suffering from colic.

Don't take my word. See JFK's press conferences  below

And compare them to this one of Trump's, e.g.

In particular, note the respect conveyed to the press by JFK, and the boundless wit and intelligence with which he delivers his responses, compared to Trump's petulant, self-absorbed and accusatory exhibition .

I'd say 'case closed' on the batshit crazy notion Trump is a  latter day version of JFK. "Disruptor"? Don't make me laugh! If you are going to disrupt you have to do it in the context of the nation's betterment, not its cynical destruction - especially when you only govern for 30 percent of the country - the dolts that voted for you.

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