Ignore corporate whining

Joe Biden is proposing to finance his badly needed infrastructure program by raising corporate taxes. Business mostly likes the infrastructure program—everything works better when the basics aren’t falling apart—but it doesn’t want to pay for it. Nobody likes paying taxes (well, maybe some oddballs do, but to each their own), but over the last few years, Corporate America has been enjoying the lightest tax burden in history. That needs to change. Graphed below is the effective tax rate—the share of income that’s paid in tax, not the rate that’s on the books,… Read More

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): May 14, 2020 Thea Riofrancos, co-author of this book, on why the Green New Deal is more urgent than ever • Alexander Zaitchik, author of this article, on how the profit-driven drug industry is an obstacle to developing a vaccine

Explaining the rot

In my article about fighting the coronavirus and economic crises yesterday, I said: We also need to invest in the physical and social infrastructure of this country. For decades, civilian public investment net of depreciation has hovered just above 0, meaning that we’re doing little better than replacing things as they decay. Here’s some more detail on that, which updates a September 2017 post. Graphed below are histories of net public investment in the US, from the national income accounts. (The source is table 5.2.5, here.) “Net” means after accounting for depreciation, aka… Read More

A few ambitious points on fighting the crisis

We are facing two crises at once, health and economic, that are related in very important ways. The covid-19 epidemic has done major damage around the world, but it’s highlighting some serious structural problems with the US social model that better-run countries are not so afflicted by. We are plagued by a deep economic polarization complicated by minimal social protections; severely diminished state capacity, with eroded institutional structures and extremely debased quality of personnel at the highest levels; years of underinvestment in basic infrastructure, both broadly and in health care particularly; and… Read More

Why the USA is falling apart

If I were a debased purveyor of clickbait, I’d call this “Everything that’s wrong with America in two charts.” But I’m not, so I won’t. But still…. Hurricane Harvey is only the latest reminder that the U.S. infrastructure is falling apart—a situation that become more urgent as the climate crisis bites harder. Here’s a data series that goes a long way to explaining why. In simple English, the public sector is barely investing enough to keep up with normal decay, let alone doing anything to improve things. The series is net civilian… Read More

The limits of easy money

[I delivered a condensed version of this as my July 16 radio commentary. It’s a rewrite, with some additional material, of the easy money vs. jobs program debate presented in fragments below.] I’ve been involved in some internet polemics—remember internet polemics, back before the Facebook “like” button made everyone sweet and nice?—that I thought might be worth recounting here. It all started when my friend (and occasional Behind the News guest) Corey Robin, a professor of political science at Brooklyn College, asked for comments on a piece by the liberal blogger Matthew… Read More

Radio commentary, January 29, 2009

How about that for bipartisanship? All that seduction from our new president, sweetened with tax cuts and lubricated with cocktails at the White House, and still the stimulus package didn’t get a single Republican vote in the House. They won’t play bipartisan. They’re stubborn as hell and stick to their cretinous principles. You’ve got to respect them for that. It may be because they have some principles, as nutty as they can be. Meanwhile, the infrastructure component of the stimulus bill has shrunk, and is really not up to the task. According… Read More