Trump hands

Cutting the Crap on the Trump Economic Speech

Donald Trump gave a speech about the economy Monday. It was a funny speech. Really funny. And no, it’s not because he tripped when he tried to say “cities” and it came out “titties.” I stopped being 12 many years ago. No, I laughed at it because it followed the same Trump speech pattern that made him the most popular Klown in the 2016 GOP Klown Kar. That should ultimately spell his doom in the general election. The fact that I have to qualify that with a “should” is bothersome, to say the least.

This speech, before the Detroit Economic Club, kind of reminded me of a typical Bush speech, which usually went, “Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit… thank you and God bless America.” Like a Bush plan, there were few details about what he planned to do, just a whole lot of crap about how bad things are and empty pleas to trust him because he alone has the answers. In other words, nothing anyone could possibly take seriously.

He started lying at the beginning when he became nostalgic about what Detroit used to be like and how he’d return it to its glory car days, which is as empty as promises get. He tried to imply that he would turn Detroit into what it once was, with thousands of people making a lot of money making cars and other businesses thriving by selling them goods and services. Of course, he failed to mention that the city’s downfall was the fault of the Republican Party that he represents.

The downfall of the American auto business was largely created by Republicans. First, it was GOP policy to try to break the unions beginning in the 1960s, which they did by instituting “right to work” laws in states they controlled. How does anyone reconcile that? It was the unions that made Detroit one of the greatest cities in the nation. On the other hand, it was the GOP that undermined the unions and offered tax breaks to encourage manufacturers to move plants overseas. While Trump likes to whine about “bad trade deals” like NAFTA, the fact of the matter is, by the time NAFTA was ratified, the damage had largely been done. Oh, yeah; NAFTA was also negotiated and signed by Republican President George H. W. Bush, not Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton just happened to be in office when Congress ratified it.

I would also point out that, while General Motors is once again the largest car maker in the world, the Republican Party was prepared to let that die a few years ago. When the choice had to be made to either bail out GM and Chrysler and save a million or more jobs, Trump’s Party chose to let them die. Trump also failed to note that Detroit is in the midst of a pretty phenomenal comeback and it is actually getting better as we speak, with new investment in the center city and a business climate that now encourages growth and diversity. Their real estate market is one of the strongest in the country. Of course, it’s fair to note that it had nowhere to go but up, but it is improving. Again, the hellscape that Republicans are counting on to win this year is not reality.

That was just the beginning of the falsehoods. What’s telling about him is that every single lie he told has no purpose, other than to instill fear in people. In true Republican form, he doesn’t posit solutions to problems; he just plain lies. Like when he tells the audience that Hillary Clinton would raise their taxes.

Hillary Clinton – who has spent her career voting for tax increases – plans another massive job-killing $1.3 trillion-dollar tax increase. Her plan would tax many small businesses by almost fifty percent.

Recently, at a campaign event, Hillary Clinton short-circuited again – to use a now famous term – when she accidentally told the truth and said she wanted to raise taxes on the middle class.

While Hillary Clinton has not yet released her full tax plan, two relatively conservative groups that advocate on tax policy, the Tax Policy Center and the Tax Foundation, both found that almost all of her proposed tax cuts would affect those in the top 10% of incomes, especially those who make more than $5 million per year. The Tax Policy Center even notes that she plans to reduce the tax burden on small business. Put simply, this “outsider” is essentially parroting the same tired GOP tax policy as ever.

Trump invoked another Republican standard line of crap when he talked about eliminating the estate tax, which he dutifully referred to as the “death tax” because no one should be taxed when they die. Of course, he forgot to mention that almost no one pays the estate tax any longer, since the first $5 million per individual and $10 million per couple is not taxed at all. According to the Tax Policy Center, of the 2.5 million people who died in 2011, only 9,500 people even filed estate tax returns and only 4,400 of them wound up paying an estate tax. That means roughly 499 out of every 500 people who die pay ZERO estate tax. (Source) The image of the tax man “Declar(ing) the pennies on (their) eyes” (H/T George Harrison) is simply non-existent.  Oh, yeah, and the part about Hillary Clinton saying she will raise taxes on the middle class? Trump himself was called out on this “Pants on Fire” lie just last week. (Source)

He also lied about corporate income taxes, while promising to reduce them.

The United States also has the highest business tax rate among the major industrialized nations of the world, at 35 percent. It’s almost 40 percent when you add in taxes at the state level. In other words, we punish companies for making products in America – but let them ship products into the U.S. tax-free if they move overseas. This is backwards. All of our policies should be geared towards keeping jobs and wealth inside the United States. Under my plan, no American company will pay more than 15% of their business income in taxes. Small businesses will benefit the most from this plan.

First of all, though the posted corporate tax rate is 35%, because of deductions and subsidies and the like, the average corporations pay right around 27%, which is about on par with the corporate tax rates in other OECD countries. However, when only the most profitable businesses are taken into account, the effective tax rate is 12.6%. (Source) In other words, he will offer yet another tax break for the rich, while offering nothing to small businesses, quite the opposite of what he claims. And once again, he will throw us into another debt spiral.

Look, no one in his right mind would say that the tax code doesn’t need revamping, but reducing rates won’t cut it.

Trump also dug out a Republican perennial lie about Obamacare, that it will cost the economy two million jobs. How many times does this have to be debunked before people drop it? That “two million” number refers to the fact that people won’t have to work as many hours to get health insurance. It has nothing to do with jobs being eliminated altogether.  Republican mouthpieces have been called out on this lie repeatedly. (Source)

Another lie he repeats constantly:

There are now 94.3 million Americans outside the labor force. It was 80.5 million when President Obama took office, an increase of nearly 14 million people. The Obama-Clinton agenda of tax, spend and regulate has created a silent nation of jobless Americans.

The only way you can come to that number is to include a lot of people who are never part of the labor force. PoliticFact rated this Trump lie false, too, although, to his credit, they did that a year ago, so maybe he forgot. (Source) This has become a major right wing lie that demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how labor works. It’s along the same lines as the complaints about the “labor participation rate,” which is another Republican favorite, which Trump also touts in this speech. As PolitiFact wrote a year ago,

“Once you strip out full-time students, senior citizens, the disabled, and those who have chosen not to work to take care of their children, a more reasonable estimate of ‘out of work’ Americans is somewhere in the neighborhood of 21 million, or less than a quarter of Trump’s figure.”

See, here’s the problem. “Labor force participation rate” would be a great measure if it only included people actively looking for work. But with the record baby boomer generation retiring in droves and more people participating in the gig economy and a marked increase in the number of stay-at-home dads, it just doesn’t work.

He also repeated another misleading claim when he said,

“Home ownership is at its lowest rate in 51 years.”

That number is incredibly misleading, especially when you consider that, at the time our home ownership rate hit its peak, tens of millions of people were living in homes they couldn’t afford and they crashed the economy. Also, as young people go out on their own, they largely don’t go straight into owning their own homes, they rent first, and that cuts into the home ownership rate. The New York Times wrote on this a while back. (Source)

Being a dutiful Republican, he also lied about the unemployment rate, another lie that he repeats constantly:

1 in 5 American households do not have a single member in the labor force. These are the real unemployment numbers – the five percent figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in modern politics.

First of all, note that Trump used the same BLS statistics at the beginning of his speech to claim that Detroit’s unemployment rate was unacceptable, making him a true cherry-picking Republican. But it actually gets better. Is the unemployment rate perfect? No. But it’s not at all a “hoax.” The current 4.9 percent unemployment rate refers to only one of SIX measures of unemployment and is only the most commonly cited. (Source) However, that “1 in 5” statistic is from another BLS report. (Source) In other words, to set up his “BLS numbers are a hoax” claim, he cites another BLS number. Like any true Republican, Trump lacks an irony gene. He also lied about what the report says. The report notes that 19.7 percent  of families had no employed family members in 2015. What he failed to note is that the BLS number does not refer to “the labor force” anywhere in the report and “families” includes retired couples, who are hitting record numbers as the populace ages and baby boomers retire.

He also lied about Food Stamp recipients, another Republican tradition. When he claims that,

“Nearly 12 million have been added to the food stamp and these people are growing and growing do rapidly since President Obama took office,”

he is not only showing a disregard for the English language, he’s also lying. When President Obama took office, the economy was in freefall, so yes, there are more people on SNAP than in 2009. However, that number has been dropping since 2013. (Source)

I could go on and on and on, but I’m not out to bore you. The point is, how the hell is Donald Trump supposed to fix what is wrong with the economy if he doesn’t know what’s actually wrong with the economy and if his only plan seems to be to reduce the number of tax brackets from seven to three and cut corporate tax rates to what most of them are already paying? For such a great businessman, his lack of knowledge of basic economic policy is breathtaking. With every day, we know more about how little Trump knows.

By the way, what is that thing he does with his hands? It’s creepy.

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