I wish it were more of a surprise that labor union assets have nearly doubled over the last decade as the number of organized workers (as a percentage of the workforce) has declined, but we’ve known at least since Last Exit to Brooklyn that corruption both petty and spiritual can creep in anywhere, including the movement that gave us the eight-hour workday and the weekend. The worst union executives probably think that folks will tolerate anything to hang on to an ever-slimmer reed of labor power, but that ship sailed well before the pandemic hit. The good news: relatively small investments into organizing and strike funds can turn this thing around. I don’t have to tell you the bad news.
I wish it were more of a surprise that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D?-AZ), who single-handedly killed recent Democratic efforts to get lightly-taxed hedge fund managers to pay more of their fair share, has received almost $1 million in contributions from banksters just in the past year. Nice to hear a Democratic consultant say “there is no universe in which it is politically smart to fight for favorable tax treatment of the wealthiest people in the country,” and if Senator Galaxy Brain is bold enough to ignore virtually all the evidence of the last 15 years, I expect she’ll pay in the 2024 primary, if she doesn’t get a hedge fund lobbying job first.
I wish it were more of a surprise that Rick Scott’s Max Headroom impression from last week was even worse than I had supposed – he actually called $280 billion in Medicare savings a “cut,” which I know isn't your attitude toward getting something good for less money. The surprise there is that Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan pushed back on that twice. But I wish she’d pushed back a little differently on the notion that Medicare paying less for drugs means “(t)here will be lifesaving drugs that seniors will not get” (i.e., it's a tired argument, as we’ll see below). I also wish she’d pushed back on his claim that “companies don't end up paying the taxes. Shareholders pay the taxes. Lower income for the employees paid the taxes. Less investment pays the taxes.” Setting aside that civilized people should never tolerate corporations taking out their higher taxes on everyone else, high corporate tax rates helped create the greatest middle class in history between 1932 and 1980.
Speaking of bad arguments about drug pricing reform, Arthur Allen at Kaiser Health News gives us a little of the history behind the “kills innovation” argument big pharma corporations deploy whenever you try to rein in their evil. Turns out the argument is at least as old as 1906, when our government first forced big drug corporations to list their drugs’ ingredients. Fast-forward 115 years, and drug prices have gone up a staggering 8500 percent over the last dozen years, and big pharma corporations still whine about being made to doing anything that might prevent their executives from gilding the plumbing in their 19th vacation homes.
Finally, what do Republicans plan to do if they win back either House of Congress this year? According to Rep. Chip Roy (E-TX), they’re going to shut down our government on their first day of power and force Democrats to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act! And how does he think that will work, given that Joe Biden will still be President? Make a campaign ad about this, Democrats – if Republicans take back control of the House, they will shut down your government out of pique, which means no air travel, no Social Security checks, no federal small business loans, and no national parks or museums. Show crying babies in that ad.