Today on The BradCast: Sure, the supply chain was, and occasionally still is, a problem. So is Russia's war on Ukraine, obviously. But it's the greed of billionaires and the cowardice (or corruption) of public officials to do anything about that greed in this country that must be turned around in order to save the U.S. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
But, first, speaking of corruption...New numbers out today from the Labor Department suggest that inflation may have peaked before April. As the Times alerted today, "Inflation moderated slightly in April, though the 8.3% annual gain in U.S. consumer prices remained uncomfortably high." As AP trumpeted in its breaking news iPhone alert: "U.S. inflation slowed slightly last month, a tentative sign that prices may be peaking while still imposing a financial strain on American households." Reuters: "U.S. consumer price growth slowed sharply to 0.3% in April, suggesting that inflation may have peaked." They were all similar....Well, except for Fox "News": "Inflation higher than expected in April, holding near 40-year high."
And you wonder why Rightwingers are so angry? It's still the Fox "News", stupid.
And speaking of stupid...Midterm primaries were held in Nebraska and West Virginia on Tuesday. (Happily, unlike in Ohio last week, we saw no reports of voting problems or voting system breakdowns, so far.) As you may have noticed, pretty much every news report about Tuesday's results focused on what they mean for Donald Trump and his party and the candidates he endorsed. The incumbent U.S. House member that Trump endorsed in WV who ran for the GOP nomination against another incumbent U.S. House member who voted for Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill won on Tuesday. Kingmaker Trump's power over the party is still strong! But the 8-time accused sexual harasser that Trump endorsed and stumped for in NE's GOP Gubernatorial primary lost. Trump's influence may be faltering!
As we discuss today, that framing by the corporate media --- reporting on these critical elections through the lens of Trump --- is wildly unhelpful and ill-serves the public at a time when democracy itself is on the line this November (and in 2024). It's not about Trump. He's already captured and broken the party. And that is true if he drops dead tomorrow and Ron DeSantis --- or anyone else --- takes his place. The damage is done. So, how can we fix it? Much more on that on today's show.
And speaking of failures all around... as the nation's death toll from COVID hits a staggering 1 million... The nation's corporations and rich people are doing just fine, thanks.
Big Oil continues to raise prices at the pump for consumers by pretending that its caused by post-pandemic supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, even as they continue to rake in record profits (not revenue, but profits) in recent months. The profiteering --- under the guise of supply chain-induced "inflation" --- is also seen in other industries, of course, including the food industry, as well as the apparel business. In their latest reports on the industry profiteering, Accountable.us President Kyle Herrig appropriately derides "the industries most unapologetic about charging their customers more during a fragile economic recovery, apparently just because they can." And they can, because we let them develop monopolies and near-monopolies so there is little or no price competition left in the "free market".
And then there are the the nation's 727 billionaires whose growth in net worth over the two-plus years of the pandemic --- while you were struggling to stay employed, housed and fed --- is up $1.71 trillion from March 2020 to May 2022. That's a gain of more than the entire annual GDP of Canada for just those 727 U.S. billionaires. The biggest winner seems to have been Elon Musk, whose personal wealth was valued at just under $25 billion in March of 2020. Now, after two years of a pandemic economy, his wealth is said to be $255 billion as of the beginning of this month.
How did that happen? Why did that happen? What can and should be done about it? And does anyone in D.C. --- any one, from any party --- have the courage and ability to lead the nation to do anything about it?
All of those questions and more are answered today by our guest, OMAR OCAMPO of the Institute for Policy Studies' Program on Inequality and the Common Good, who asks today, "What about the rest of us? The median income, comparing 2020 to 2021, for your average U.S. worker has actually decreased by $2,000. And our median household wealth, comparing 2019 to 2001, has actually decreased. So yes, when you look at it by income or wealth percentile, it has been the top 10%, but especially the top 1%, that have seen impressive gains."
Ocampo helps explain how it happened, and what steps can and must be made to reverse this obscene continuing trend. Among the policy ideas discussed --- several of which have long been pushed by members of the progressive caucus in Congress --- a wealth tax on the assets of the richest Americans; partial student loan forgiveness; establishing a federal Commission on Profiteering, empowered with the ability to claw back some of what has been robbed from American consumers; strengthening organized labor and democracy itself.
And, yes, he explains, that will mean voting for more Democrats in Congress and at all levels of government. Hopefully good ones. Or this is going to continue to get much, much worse.
"The Republicans, from an ideological perspective, they are not interested in having some type of government intervention in order to solve societal problems," Ocampo charges. "They normally pivot towards philanthropy. But now is not the time to pivot to philanthropy, mainly because philanthropy does not scale, and it also denies public accountability for social problems or things that have to deal with the public good. So issues that affect the public should involve public input, and it should be carried out by democratic institutions."
"Economic inequality translates into political inequality. And the greater your material resources, the greater your access to participate in the state," he tells me. "This is very detrimental to democracy, because it makes the democratic institutions unresponsive to what the majority wants. The majority wants increased taxes on the wealthy, but it never seems to happen. That's probably because of their influence they have on both political parties."
"Elections matter, and to alleviate, especially in the short term, it would be best to elect Democrats. Because there is a section of the Democratic Party, specifically those that self-identify as progressives, who care about wealth inequality and know that it has distorting effects across our whole society."
Finally today, speaking of things getting much worse... Democrats held a show vote in the U.S. Senate to codify abortion rights (the Constitutional freedoms about to be taken away by the stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court) after the Women's Health Protect Act was already passed by Democrats in the House. As expected, all Republicans and Joe Manchin voted against it, so the measure failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to do almost anything in the undemocratic Senate.
And, also breaking during today's program, an insane, corrupted federal appeals court in California decided that the state's law restricting the purchase of semi-automatic firearms to those 21 or older is a violation of the Constitution's 2nd Amendment. So, yup, apparently 12-year olds in CA can now buy semi-automatic weapons! Have fun, kids!
Did I mention we need more democracy and fewer corrupted federal judges? Yeah, that also comes with voting. Please get busy. Thanks...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)