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Est. April 5, 2002
July 20, 2017 - Issue 708

Ceo Pay Vs. People Programs
It’s an Easy Guess
Who the Winners Are


"The president comes from a rich and
powerful family, or at least, that class. 
And, even if a groundling should be elected
president, he or she must be vetted by the
rich and powerful and will follow the guidelines
set by those who are the rulers of the realm."

Now that the game of “health care reform” is coming more into sharp focus, it should be clear and enraging to the American people why vital social programs are set to be cut or diminished by the Republican-controlled Congress: It’s to give tax breaks to the rich and the corporations.

That’s not news, you might say, adding that this is not a recent thing. After all, the rich (now, most of the members of both houses of Congress) have taken care of the rich for a very long time and they intend to keep doing it, as long as a sleeping electorate allows them to.

Over this past weekend, The Seattle Times published one of its regular features, an analysis of CEO pay in the Pacific Northwest, but most of those companies are nationwide, so it should be of interest to every wage earner who sees payroll taxes being taken out of paychecks.

And the winner this year is: Mark Parker of Nike, whose total compensation came to $47,615,302. With Senator Mitch McConnell and Rep. Paul Ryan, both Republicans, at the helm of Congress, it’s folks like Mark who are taken care of by the GOP, by planning to give them tax breaks in the coming years. Mark has a lot of company in the CEO compensation department. To accomplish this, the Republicans are planning to cut so-called entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare of every kind, except for corporate welfare. The list goes on.

Why would they even consider cutting the programs that can mean life and death for millions of American families? To give tax breaks to the likes of Mark Parker and his friends and they (McConnell and Ryan) would be quick to tell you that giving money to CEOs and other members of the top 1 percent or 1/10 of one percent would be to stimulate the economy through “trickledown economics,” as has been claimed by the GOP since Ronald Reagan.

Unfortunately, over all of these years, there has been some trickle down on American workers, but it hasn’t been green in color. Expect more of the same, especially when Donald Trump is pushing for deeper tax cuts from his White House position, and you can be sure that his cuts will take care of himself, his family, and all others in the top 2 or 3 percent of the population. As far as knowing who the beneficiaries are, in the past six years, the people’s attention has been guided to the top 1 percent, after the short-lived Occupy movement brought public attention to the vast disparity in wealth and income in the U.S. It was a very important set of numbers that Occupy popularized.

But the top one-tenth of one percent (the very richest and most powerful) is protected by another class of folks that most Americans don’t even think about. The 8 or 9 percent just under the elite are a kind of buffer between the great unwashed and those who generally run the country. They may not take anywhere near as much in pay and perks as the top tier, but the pay of some of these folks make it seem that even the average American could “make it” into that class. Therefore, there is less incentive for the next 10 percent down to seriously take on the inequity and crimes of the rulers because, someday, they might move on up. This is one of the worst problems in combating white collar crime: They think they might get there, too, so let’s do nothing about it.

It’s a general problem of Americans and America, anyway. The idea that “anyone can achieve great wealth” or “anyone can become president.” Basically, that’s not been true. There are certain protocols that must be followed. Essentially, the president comes from a rich and powerful family, or at least, that class. And, even if a groundling should be elected president, he or she must be vetted by the rich and powerful and will follow the guidelines set by those who are the rulers of the realm. That was clear in both the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations. It’s been true in other administrations, when the president comes from another class, the military.

In this year’s report on CEO riches, the Times and the contributing writer, George Erb, gave a list of others from corporations that are headquartered in the Northwest: Satya Nadella of Microsoft, $17,692,031; Adam Selipsky of Tableau Software, $16,488,326; Howard Schultz of Starbucks, $21,815,498; John Legere of T-Mobile US, $20,059, 915, and Parker of Nike. There are many more across the country. These are the people to whom the Trump Administration and the Congress want to give more tax breaks.

An important source of the funding of the tax breaks is the GOP “health care reform,” which for working women and men will be a disaster. For the poor, elderly, and disabled, it will be worse. By a decade out, tens of millions will feel the pain of not being able to afford paying out of pocket for health care and medicine, or not being able to afford the premiums for an insurance policy. The money saved will go for the tax breaks for CEOs and others. Obamacare left much to be desired, but it did add significantly to those who had no insurance, although it did leave millions without access to care. Some Republicans, who control an overwhelmingly large percentage of statehouses and state legislatures, were not going to help and showed their resolve to deprive citizens of care by refusing to expand Medicaid.

Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan explained that his house’s version of the GOP “reformed” health care plan would give people “choices,” which is the American way. In effect, he explained in a short news interview: The plan gives Americans choice. They can choose their insurance company and their doctors and other health professionals. If they find that they don’t want to pay the high premiums, they can choose not to buy insurance. It’s their choice.

It’s only a choice if it doesn’t require taking the money for food for the month and the rent and all the other expenses of living, to pay for a health insurance premium. Hungry children do not understand insurance premiums. They only know they are hungry. What choice is any parent going to make? In recent days, President Trump has been pushing his Congress to repeal Obamacare, even before they can act on the tragedy of their GOP masterpiece. Meanwhile the Senate version of “reform” of the health care law and the repeal of Obamacare has failed to get enough votes to pass. The Congressional Budget Office reported three months ago that, under the House plan, 24 million would be without health insurance. The CBO also reported that the Senate’s “improved” plan would leave only 22 million without healthcare.

Why would the leader of a nation wish to leave so many millions of the most vulnerable without the means to get medical care by repealing Obamacare with no replacement? William Saletan, writing for at the end of June, speculated that Trump is trying to get rid of every trace of Obamacare which, for all its faults (and there are many), is better than the two plans that are offered by Congress, because the president wants to rid the world of any comparison between Obamacare and Trumpcare. If there is no Obamacare, there is no comparison. It’s Trumpthink at its very best.

Speaking to or writing to congressional representatives and senators might be a good exercise, but, for the most part, that’s all it would be, an exercise. If you do that, you will get a form letter thanking you for your “input.” “We’ll take your opinion into consideration,” will be the response from both Democrats and Republicans. What they are moved by (and maybe a little afraid of) is the mass movement in the streets. Remember President Nixon and his well-known paranoia and his own war on the press. Trump has been likened to the only president who has resigned his office, after he was threatened with impeachment over the Watergate scandal and all that preceded it.

Trump, in an opinion piece by Sean O’Grady in the British Independent newspaper last February, noted the similarities between the two: war with the press; identifying enemies, political and otherwise; overwrought concern about what other people think of them; deep-seated insecurities; obsession about leaks, and many more. Ultimately, however, O’Grady, comparing the two as politicians and leaders, summed it up in a short sentence: “…essentially Trump is Nixon without the brains.” Columnist, John Funiciello, is a long-time former newspaper reporter and labor organizer, who lives in the Mohawk Valley of New York State. In addition to labor work, he is organizing family farmers as they struggle to stay on the land under enormous pressure from factory food producers and land developers. Contact Mr. Funiciello and BC.




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Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
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