Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The US Senate tax bill: The financial oligarchy on the rampage – SEP Newsletter

From WSWS:

The US Senate tax bill: The financial oligarchy on the rampage

By Patrick Martin
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Friday afternoon that he had the necessary 50 votes to pass the tax cut for the wealthy and giant corporations through the Senate. Voting on a series of amendments by Democrats, nearly all rejected on 52-48 party-line votes, culminated in final passage of the measure early Saturday morning by a 51-49 margin.
The undemocratic process by which the tax cut bill has been pushed through the House and Senate testifies to its reactionary and socially criminal character. There have been no public hearings, no witness testimony, no submissions from economists or tax experts about the impact of the massive changes proposed in the federal tax code.
As late as 4:15 p.m. Friday, as debate continued on amendments to the bill, the actual text of the legislation was not available to senators preparing to vote on it, let alone the American people. Handwritten pages were being pasted into the bill after they had been reviewed and approved by corporate lobbyists. Entire chapters accounting for hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue were being rewritten behind closed doors to satisfy the demands of the last few Republican holdouts. Read more »
The public humiliation and destruction of Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine
By David North and David Walsh
The decision by the Metropolitan Opera in New York City to suspend James Levine, its longtime musical director (1976-2016), from any further conducting engagements is the latest victory for the New York Times and the champions of the new repression.
The sexual misconduct campaign in the US is metastasizing and in its reactionary sweep and recklessness borrowing elements from the McCarthyite purges of the 1950s, the New England witch trials of the 1690s and even the Inquisition of the late Middle Ages.
The Times is leading the gutter press in actively soliciting allegations, claims or rumors about alleged sexual misdeeds and heresies—heterosexual and homosexual alike—committed by prominent individuals. The newspaper has devoted considerable resources to tracking down such stories for the purposes of blackening a given personality’s name and eviscerating him or her. The allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein, it is now obvious, merely served as a prelude and a pretext. Read more »
Following passage of Senate tax bill, US ruling class takes aim at Social Security and Medicare
By Andre Damon
The passage by the Senate of the Trump administration’s tax bill is a landmark in the decades-long ruling class offensive against the working class in the United States.
With no serious opposition from the Democrats, and with final passage of a tax bill by the end of the month following negotiations with the House all but assured, congressional Republicans are moving on to the next stage of the class war agenda: the gutting of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
The Senate version of the bill adds $1.5 trillion to the federal budget deficit, triggering automatic cuts in spending for Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly, of half a trillion dollars over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and setting the stage for massive cuts in other social programs. Read more »
US Supreme Court puts Trump travel ban into effect
By Eric London and Norisa Diaz
The United States Supreme Court handed Donald Trump a major political victory yesterday by ordering the administration’s immigration and travel ban to take effect immediately. The orders reverse lower court decisions halting implementation of the revised ban, which bars citizens of Somalia, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Syria, North Korea and many Venezuelans from traveling to the US. The ban will now stay in effect pending litigation at the Fourth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals.
The practical results of the Supreme Court’s orders are devastating. An estimated one hundred million people are now barred from traveling or immigrating to the United States. An untold number of immigrants will die stranded in their crisis-ridden or war-torn countries, unable to acquire visas to fly to the US by plane. Many more will drown in the Mediterranean attempting to cross to Europe. Refugee women will be raped and sexually assaulted on the dangerous, thousand-mile trek they will now be forced to make. Thousands more will be denied the right to vacation, study, work, or join their families in the US.
The court voted 7-2 in favor of implementing the ban, including Obama nominee Elena Kagan, Clinton nominee Stephen Breyer, and all five justices nominated by Republican presidents. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor voted against. Read more »
Warnings of financial crash as stock markets continue to surge
By Nick Beams
As stock markets continue to rise—Wall Street’s Dow Jones index hit a new record high yesterday following the US Senate’s passage of a massive tax cut bill—there are growing warnings that a new financial crisis is in the making.
In its quarterly review of financial conditions, issued on Sunday, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), sometimes known as the central bankers’ bank, said the situation bore similarities to that which prevailed in the lead-up to the 2008 crash.
Increases in interest rates by the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England had failed to choke off risky investments, and financial bubbles were growing, it warned. Financial investors were basking in the “light and warmth” of improving global economic growth, subdued inflation and soaring stock markets, while underlying risks were increasing.
Introducing the BIS review, Claudio Borio, the head of its monetary and economic department, said: “The vulnerabilities that have built around the world during the long period of unusually low interest rates have not gone away. High debt levels, in both domestic and foreign currency, are still there. And so are frothy valuations. Read more »
In wake of Flynn guilty plea, anti-Russia campaign intensifies against Trump
By Patrick Martin
In the wake of the guilty plea filed Friday by retired General Michael Flynn, former national security advisor in the early days of the Trump administration, Trump’s opponents among congressional Democrats, the media and the intelligence apparatus have stepped up pressure on the White House.
Several leading Democrats suggested on Sunday television interview programs that the investigation into alleged Russian intervention in the 2016 US presidential election, headed by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was likely to conclude that Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice, an impeachable offense.
The lenient character of Flynn’s guilty plea to a single felony count of lying to the FBI—with the promise of a sentence of no more than six months in prison and a $9,500 fine—has been universally interpreted to mean that Mueller plans to use Flynn’s testimony against higher-ranking officials in the White House and the Trump campaign: Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr. and the president himself. Read more »
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