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“Revelations Are Absolutely Devastating”: ‘Deadbeat Donald’ Caught Refusing To Pay His Bills

The front page of USA Today’s print edition features an all-caps, above-the-fold headline that Republicans probably didn’t want to see: “Trump’s Trail Of Unpaid Bills.” And while the headline is rough, the article hits like a sledgehammer.

During the Atlantic City casino boom in the 1980s, Philadelphia cabinet-builder Edward Friel Jr. landed a $400,000 contract to build the bases for slot machines, registration desks, bars and other cabinets at Harrah’s at Trump Plaza.

The family cabinetry business, founded in the 1940s by Edward’s father, finished its work in 1984 and submitted its final bill to the general contractor for the Trump Organization, the resort’s builder.

Edward’s son, Paul, who was the firm’s accountant, still remembers the amount of that bill more than 30 years later: $83,600. The reason: the money never came. “That began the demise of the Edward J. Friel Company… which has been around since my grandfather,” he said.

USA Today recently broke some news, noting that Trump and his business enterprises have been involved in “at least 3,500 legal actions in federal and state courts during the past three decades.” But this new report goes one step further, noting much of the litigation involves ordinary Americans – mechanics, plumbers, painters, waiters, dishwashers, etc. – who sent Trump bills for completed work, and the New York Republican simply refused to pay.

The new report added, “The actions in total paint a portrait of Trump’s sprawling organization frequently failing to pay small businesses and individuals, then sometimes tying them up in court and other negotiations for years. In some cases, the Trump teams financially overpower and outlast much smaller opponents, draining their resources. Some just give up the fight, or settle for less; some have ended up in bankruptcy or out of business altogether.”

Adding insult to injury, the Wall Street Journal published a related report overnight, documenting the same problem. In some instances, Trump-owned businesses felt they had leverage over small businesses, so when bills came, Trump’s enterprise would offer part of what was owed – take it or leave it – knowing that the small businesses couldn’t afford to get tied up in a lengthy court fight.

This really is brutal. It’s hard to say whether this news will be overshadowed by the institutional Democratic support Hillary Clinton has picked up over the last day or so, but by some measures, these Trump revelations are absolutely devastating.

Keep in mind, Trump has picked up voter support over the last year in part by touting his private-sector successes. These new reports suggest his business background may actually be the most controversial aspect of Trump’s life.

It’s easy to see the ads: Deadbeat Donald claims to be a successful billionaire, but he doesn’t pay his bills and has repeatedly stiffed small-business owners. How in the world will he respond?

Postscript: Keep in mind, at one point last year Donald Trump had 16 rivals for the Republican nomination, not one of whom did any real opposition research on him. Any of the GOP campaigns could’ve tracked down this information and put it to use during the primaries, but they just didn’t have their act together.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 10, 2016

June 18, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Republicans, Small Businesses | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Squeezing Out Any Would-Be Competitors”: Building Monopolies, One Merger After Another

Corporate World is experiencing a surge in the urge to merge.

Control of market after market — from cable TV to chickens, banking to washing machines — has been seized by less than a handful of enormous corporations. Rather than compete, they collude to set prices, cut quality, shrink service and squeeze out any would-be competitors.

There was a time, not that long ago, when monopolies, duopolies and oligopolies were not only frowned upon by our public officials and watchdog agencies but also aggressively challenged and busted up. In recent years, however, corporate giants feel free to get ever-gianter by gobbling up their competitors, knowing that the watchdogs will barely bark, much less bite. In fact, now that the Supreme Court has turned corporate campaign donations into legalized bribes, our so-called “public” officials — including congress critters, governors, judges and even presidents — have become tail-wagging accomplices to the amalgamation of corporate power.

The Bush-Cheney regime was infamous for cheerleading this consolidation, including allowing the merger of AT&T and Verizon to capture 70 percent of all wireless phone subscribers. But this is not just a Republican phenomenon. Obama’s Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Aviation Administration genially waved through American Airline’s takeover of US Airways and United’s consumption of Continental, effectively leaving air travelers to the brutish mercy of one or two bullies in every major airport — and no service at all in smaller cities.

Now come dominant health-care giants Aetna, Humana, Anthem and Cigna, as well as Walgreens and Rite Aid, demanding to merge into behemoths that would control the availability of health insurance and essential medicines to millions of Americans. Ironically, the very lawmakers, corporate lobbyists and pundits who push and praise each of these mergers are also the noisiest preachers of the virtue of competitive markets, small business and consumer choice.

Oh, they also claim to be champions of the people’s will — even though the clear will of the vast majority of Americans is to stop the merger-mania and anti-consumer monopolization that corporate America and its political servants are hanging around our necks. That’s not just ironic. It’s cynical, hypocritical… and disgusting.

Even our brewskis are falling to monopolists. Belgian conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev is set to swallow South American-owned conglomerate SABMiller. The merger, they gloat, will be the first “truly global brewer.” Indeed, it will control a third of all beer sales in the world and a whopping 70 percent of all U.S. sales.

The monopolizers assert there’s no anti-trust problem because hundreds of small breweries are popping up like dandelions all over America and the world, thus creating wide-open competition. The winner, says the Anheuser-Busch behemoth with a wink and a crooked smile, will be the one that gets the most customers.

How free-enterprise-y! And fallacious. The “winner” will be the one with the key to the marketplace gate. To get customers, you first have to be able to get your beers in the bars and on store shelves, which is mostly controlled in the U.S. by beer wholesalers who distribute beers from various breweries to the retailers. These wholesalers can simply refuse to distribute the brews of smaller “competitors.” Now, guess which big honking beer-maker has been aggressively buying up wholesale distributors in recent years in order to fill the shelves with their brands and lock out the new independents?

If Anheuser-Busch InBev is allowed to become the first global brewery, it won’t be because it makes the best beer but because it’s rigging the marketplace to slam the door on its “free enterprise” competitors. The word “free” in “free enterprise” is not an adjective, it’s a verb; i.e., let’s “free up” the enterprise of small business people by stopping giant monopolists from locking them out of the marketplace.


By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, December 2, 2015

December 2, 2015 Posted by | Corporate Mergers, Monopolies, Small Businesses | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Willful Republican Obfuscation”: The GOP Takes Another ObamaCare Study Way Out Of Context

It’s no secret that Republicans are pinning their midterm election hopes on ObamaCare.

So it should be no surprise that the GOP has tried to cast virtually all news about the health care law as proof that ObamaCare will kill jobs and send insurance costs soaring. The only problem with that strategy is that the underlying arguments are often disingenuous.

In the latest case, a new report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that ObamaCare could raise insurance premiums for nearly two-thirds of small businesses, affecting some 11 million employees. Before ObamaCare, those small businesses were paying below-average rates — often by having younger, healthier workers whom insurers could charge less to cover — but new rules designed to level the insurance marketplace will cause those rates to rise, according to the report.

Naturally, right-wing blogs and Republican lawmakers seized on the report to bash ObamaCare. The report revealed another “broken promise” from the Obama administration, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement, calling it “another punch in the gut for Americans already struggling in the president’s economy.”

The reality of the report’s conclusions, though, are a bit more nuanced.

While the report did find that insurance premiums would probably go up, it did not determine that insurance costs overall would spike. That’s because the report focused only on the impact of ObamaCare’s new rules, and not, crucially, on the impact of its new benefits.

ObamaCare contains a wealth of subsidies, tax breaks, and the like — many of them geared specifically toward small businesses — that are intended to drive down individuals’ insurance costs. When you factor in all the positives, “Obamacare may well be the best thing Washington has done for American small business in decades,” The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote last year.

The CMS report acknowledged that fact, hedging that there was “a rather large degree of uncertainty associated with this estimate” and that the true impact “will be based on far more factors than the three that are focused on in this report so understanding the effects of just these provisions will always be challenging.” And the report specifically mentioned one nongovernmental analysis of the entire law which found that it would have a “minimal” impact on small business premiums.

Moreover, the report estimated that costs would drop for the remaining one-third of small businesses. Why? They’re currently paying above-average rates, so the market-leveling rules will actually benefit them.

The GOP hand-wringing comes on the heels of its failed attempt to claim a separate federal report confirmed that ObamaCare will be a job killer. That nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report actually found that the law would lead to a reduction of labor, not jobs, as incentives made it easier for people to work less or retire early. The GOP’s claim was so bogus, in fact, that the CBO released a follow-up statement thoroughly debunking it as an egregious distortion of the truth.

Republicans understandably want to make the health care law look bad to boost their election prospects. But skewing the findings on ObamaCare only hurts their credibility and reveals the party’s willful obfuscation on the issue.


By: Jon Terbush, The Week, February 25, 2014

February 26, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, GOP, Small Businesses | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP ‘Jobs Agenda’ Revives Ineffective Business Tax Giveaway

This week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) released a memo outlining the House GOP’s supposed “jobs agenda.” In addition to being an assault on organized labor and recommending the elimination of environmental regulations that save tens of thousands of lives every year, the document proposes reviving some of the GOP’s favorite tax cuts, including the so-called “20% Small Business Tax Deduction.”

This particular idea made an appearance in both an “economic plan” that Cantor and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) presented to President Obama in 2009 and the GOP’s 2010 Pledge to America. The policy would allow businesses to deduct 20 percent of their income from their taxes, and in Cantor’s words, “immediately free up funds for small business people to retain and hire new employees, and reinvest in and grow their businesses.”

However, as Citizens for Tax Justice pointed out in 2009, there is little reason to think this tax break would be anything but a boondoggle:

The Republican plan proposes to allow a “small business” to take a tax deduction of 20 percent of its pretax income, whether the small business is a corporation or a sole proprietor. The plan defines a “small business” as one with 500 or fewer employees. It makes no distinction based on income. A “small business” making $100 million would get to deduct $20 million of its income right off the top. (Apparently, a company with slightly more than 500 employees would have an incentive to lay off staff to qualify for the tax break!) […]

A business tax cut is just about the least effective stimulus measure Congress could possibly enact. The tax cuts put more money in the hands of business. But there is very little correlation between a corporation’s cash position and its plans for investment—whether expanding capacity or hiring new employees. Businesses invest in expansion when they believe there will be an increase in the demand for the goods and services they provide. If they don’t anticipate a sales increase, they won’t expand no matter how many tax breaks the federal government gives them.

And the Center for American Progress’ Christian Weller noted in 2010 that, while the credit is restricted to business with fewer than 500 employees, it’s still “an ‘upside-down’ tax break that gives the largest benefits to those who already have the highest incomes” because the amount of the deduction is contingent on which tax bracket a business files in (the higher the tax bracket, the more the deduction is worth):

A deduction reduces the taxable income and thus the taxes that somebody has to pay. A business owner with lots of business and other income will thus get a government subsidy of 35 cents for each dollar in deduction, while a small business owner in the 15 percent tax bracket will get 15 cents for each dollar in deductions…Larger businesses could easily use this windfall to outcompete smaller businesses. A larger business owner with a 35 percent marginal tax rate will get a benefit that is 133 percent greater than the benefit that a smaller business owner with a 15 percent marginal tax rate gets for each dollar in tax deduction.

But for the GOP, this idea is so good that it’s worth bringing up over and over again.


By: Pat Garofalo, ThinkProgress, September 3, 2011

September 4, 2011 Posted by | Big Business, Businesses, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Corporations, Economy, Environment, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Middle Class, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Small Businesses, Tax Increases, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Teaparty, Unemployment | , , , | Leave a comment

Protest Needed To Enforce Full Employment Laws

Marjorie Cohn, immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild, has a post up at Op-Ed News, “Lost in the Debt Ceiling Debate: The Legal Duty to Create Jobs” addressing the federal government’s failure to comply with existing job-creation legislation.

Cohn focuses primarily on The Employment Act of 1946 and the Humphrey-Hawkins Act of 1978, noting also mandates for job-creation in 1977 reforms requiring the Federal Reserve to leverage monetary policy to promote maximum employment. She ads that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sets a global standard of employment as an important right, which, not incidentally, some major industrialized nations have actually tried to honor.

Cohn’s review of the two jobs acts provides a timely reminder of the moral imperative that faces every great democracy, the responsibility to take action to help insure that every family has at least one breadwinner who earns a living wage:

The first full employment law in the United States was passed in 1946. It required the country to make its goal one of full employment…With the Keynesian consensus that government spending was necessary to stimulate the economy and the depression still fresh in the nation’s mind, this legislation contained a firm statement that full employment was the policy of the country.As originally written, the bill required the federal government do everything in its authority to achieve full employment, which was established as a right guaranteed to the American people. Pushback by conservative business interests, however, watered down the bill. While it created the Council of Economic Advisers to the President and the Joint Economic Committee as a Congressional standing committee to advise the government on economic policy, the guarantee of full employment was removed from the bill.

In the aftermath of the rise in unemployment which followed the “oil crisis” of 1975, Congress addressed the weaknesses of the 1946 act through the passage of the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978. The purpose of this bill as described in its title is:

“An Act to translate into practical reality the right of all Americans who are able, willing, and seeking to work to full opportunity for useful paid employment at fair rates of compensation; to assert the responsibility of the Federal Government to use all practicable programs and policies to promote full employment, production, and real income, balanced growth, adequate productivity growth, proper attention to national priorities.”

The Act sets goals for the President. By 1983, unemployment rates should be not more than 3% for persons age 20 or over and not more than 4% for persons age 16 or over, and inflation rates should not be over 4%. By 1988, inflation rates should be 0%. The Act allows Congress to revise these goals over time.

If private enterprise appears not to be meeting these goals, the Act expressly calls for the government to create a “reservoir of public employment.” These jobs are required to be in the lower ranges of skill and pay to minimize competition with the private sector.

The Act directly prohibits discrimination on account of gender, religion, race, age or national origin in any program created under the Act. Humphey-Hawkins has not been repealed.  Both the language and the spirit of this law require the government to bring unemployment down to 3% from over 9%…

This legislation only requires the federal government to take action. The private sector, which employs 85+ percent of the labor force, would be indirectly influenced by monetary policy, but would not be required to do any hiring. Still, full enforcement of existing legislation could substantially reduce unemployment by putting millions of jobless Americans to work in public service projects rebuilding our tattered infrastructure.

The ’46 and ’78 full employment laws have been winked at and shrugged off by elected officials for decades as merely symbolic statutes, despite the fact that they actually do require the President, Congress and the Fed to do specific things to create jobs.

Cohn points out that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has introduced “The Humphrey-Hawkins 21st Century Full Employment and Training Act” (HR 870), to fund job-training and job-creation programs, funded by taxes on financial transactions. But the bill has no chance as long as Republicans control the House.

Cohn urges President Obama to demand that the Fed “…use all the tools relating to controlling the money supply…to create the funds called for by HR 870, and to start putting people back to work through direct funding of a reservoir of public jobs as Humphrey-Hawkins mandates.” Imagine the political donnybrook that would ensue following such action, legal though it apparently would be. It’s an interesting scenario that needs some fleshing out.

The best hope for full employment remains electing strong Democratic majorities to both houses of congress, while retaining the presidency. Under this scenario, full enforcement of the ’46 and ’78 employment acts is certainly doable. But it’s a very tough challenge, given the Republican edge in Senate races next year.

There are signs that the public is tiring of the tea party obstruction of government, and therefore hope that at least some Republicans may have to move toward the center to survive. It’s possible they could be influenced by energetic protest and lobbying campaigns by their constituents.

Like other groups across the political spectrum, we progressives are very good at blaming elected officials when they don’t follow through on their reform promises. But too many progressive Dems fail to realize that finger-pointing, while necessary, is only part of our responsibility. If we really want to see significant progressive change, especially full employment, we simply must escalate our protest activities to compel our elected and government officials to act.

At a white house meeting, FDR reportedly told the great African American labor leader A. Philip Randolph “Make me do it” in response to Randolph’s appeal for racial justice and economic reform. Roosevelt was not being a smart ass; He was underscoring an important law of politics, that elected officials need protest to galvanize them to act, and progressive politicians welcome it because it provides cover, as well as encouragement.

Regarding protest leadership, we have a great role model, whose 30+ foot stone image will be unveiled not far from the Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR Memorials on the National Mall in the capitol August 28th. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial will not only honor the historic contributions of a great African American leader; It will also inspire — and challenge — coming generations of all races to emulate his strategy of militant but dignified nonviolent protest to achieve social and economic justice.

Let’s not forget that the Great March on Washington MLK and Randolph lead in 1963 was not only about racial justice. The twin goals were “Jobs and Freedom,” a challenge that echoes with prophetic relevance for our times. It was FDR who said “make me do it,” and MLK showed us the way, not only with one demonstration, but with a sustained commitment to mass protest. Now let’s make them do it.


By: J. P. Green, The Democratic Strategist, August 13, 2011

August 14, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Capitalism, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Corporations, Democracy, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, Equal Rights, GOP, Government, Human Rights, Ideologues, Ideology, Income Gap, Jobs, Labor, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Small Businesses, Teaparty, Unemployed, Unemployment, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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