Where can Trump find a good farm policy?

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower Author, Commentator, America’s Number One Populist

Donald Trump’s idea of a good farm program seems to be “Hee Haw.” On a recent trip to Wisconsin, he drew guffaws from the state’s hard-hit dairy farmers by proclaiming that – thanks to his policies – the farm economy was looking good. “We’re over the hump,” he gloated.

Perhaps The Donald thought that farmers are rubes, unable to do simple math. But those dairy farmers were painfully aware that it costs them $1.90 to produce a gallon of milk, but the processing giants that control the milk market are paying them only $1.35 a gallon. That 55-cent-a-gallon loss quickly adds up to a huge loss of income, and a devastating loss of farm families – Wisconsin lost 638 dairy farms last year and another 551 so far this year.

Far from “over the hump,” farm prices have been further depressed by Trump’s tariff clash with China – US dairy sales to China fell by 54 percent in just the first half of this year. Meanwhile, monopoly power is crushing prices – an $8 billion behemoth named Dean Foods now controls 90 percent of Wisconsin’s milk market, empowering it to commit daylight robbery, blatantly stealing farmers’ product… and farms.

Yet, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue – the one national official who’s supposed to stand up for farmers – nonchalantly kissed them off, smugly declaring it natural that the big devour the small. So, he professes, there’s nothing he can do for family operators except tell them to “go out” of agriculture.

Perdue and Trump are simply inept stewards of America’s farm economy. Time for a change. One who is offering a path to a revitalized, family-farm-based food system that’ll break the corporate stranglehold over US agriculture is Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Download a summary of her comprehensive proposal for “A New Farm Economy” at ElizabethWarren.com/Plans/New-Farm-Economy.

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Retirees discuss why we need the Butch Lewis Act now

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act isn’t working and there’s no reason to think that will change

Hunter Blair

Hunter Blair Budget Analyst, EPI

Proponents of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) made bold claims about the effects that the TCJA’s corporate rate cuts would have on the paychecks of U.S. households. The economic theory rests on corporate rate cuts bringing forth enough additional savings to finance new investment spending. Specifically, higher after-tax corporate profits are passed down to shareholders in the form of higher dividends. These higher dividends attract more savings from abroad and incentivize U.S. households to save more. These extra savings finance new investments in plants and equipment, which boost the productivity of workers, and eventually that increased productivity boosts workers’ wages.

We pointed out at the time that in practice, this theory wasn’t likely to hold. After the TCJA passed, we indicated that by increasing deficits, the specifics of the TCJA didn’t even conform to the economic theory that was supposed to support it.

But that wasn’t enough to stop the TCJA’s proponents from making disingenuous arguments about the effects it was having on the economy. Proponents pointed to corporate claims that they were giving out bonuses or raising wages in the wake of the TCJA. The economic theory above shows clearly how this was nothing but a corporate PR ploy. Even in theory, it takes time for corporate profits to trickle down into worker wages, and we weren’t the only ones pointing this out. Unsurprisingly, data since then show those bonuses didn’t materialize for workers.

Kevin Hassett, then the chair of the Trump administration’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), went so far as to bless the truly economically absurd notion that “retroactive tax cuts” are a way to boost long-term growth, claiming that businesses invested more before the TCJA was passed because they somehow knew that some of the TCJA’s corporate provisions would be made retroactive.

But if you want to know if the TCJA is working as advertised, investment really is the key economic indicator to watch. If the TCJA’s corporate rate cuts are to even have a chance at reaching your paycheck, first investment has to boom. The results have been abysmal for the TCJA.

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Rep. Haley Stevens demands protection for workers' pensions

Amazon's Major Money Dump in Seattle's City Council Election Seen as 'Dangerous and Ominous Development'

Eoin Higgins Staff Writer, Common Dreams

An attempt by Amazon to fill the Seattle city council with members more supportive of the company than the current progressive slate was called a chilling development for city government by critics of the move after Tuesday's election.

Socialist councilor Kshama Sawant, one of the company's top targets, told The Guardian that her race had been uphill and that the power of a massive corporation like Amazon stacked against her campaign had been difficult to overcome.

"We have run a historic grassroots campaign, with working people, community members rejecting Amazon and billionaires' attempt to buy this election, and that doesn't mean we're going to win every battle against the billionaires," said Sawant. "What matters is the political clarity that the billionaires are not on our side and that this is going to be a struggle."

Seattle is still waiting for the final results in the race—Washington has a mail-in voting system that makes final counts unavailable for days after voting—but as of Wednesday, it looked likely that Sawant and fellow socialist Shaun Scott were headed for defeat against Amazon-backed candidates Egan Orion and Alex Pederson, respectively. Neither Scott nor Sawant had conceded at press time. 

Amazon dumped cash into the race via a super PAC, according to Bloomberg:

Amazon, the biggest employer in Seattle, contributed $1.45 million to a business-backed political-action committee to help elect council members Amazon views as more favorable to its interests and those of the business community.

The group, called the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy, backed six new candidates for seven open council seats. Three of them are trailing in early results. It also backed one incumbent, who is leading her race. Two positions were not up for election this year.

In a Medium post from November 1, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), whose district includes much of Seattle, said she was unsettled by the company's involvement in the election.

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