How much does the US owe
By Christopher R Rice
The year was 1982 and America was the largest creditor nation on earth. By 2005, the U.S. was the largest debtor nation on earth. In 1980, the national debt had yet to eclipse the $1 trillion mark and had accumulated around $850 billion during the first 204 years of this republic.
By 2007 or 24 years later, our debt had risen to more than $7 trillion and continues straight up. Today, The U.S. government reports its debt at more than 19 trillion dollars, China alone purchases in excess of $1 billion per day of our debt. Japan owns billions and billions of U.S. debt instruments as do the Arabs and so on. But, these are reasonable countries and I believe that they would understand that we are broke and just forgive all of those billions; right after we gave them California and Yellowstone Park.
So far, I have been talking about funded debt. Unfunded debt is $127 trillion at current levels…and rising hourly. This is the debt that we owe to ourselves in the way of Medicare, Social Security, government retirements and so on. In other words, promises that can’t be kept and so they won’t. As a reminder, the unfunded debt is greater than the total wealth of all American households. Many people want to blame one administration or another because that’s easy. It isn’t true, it's not any one administration, the system isn't broke, it's rigged.
AMERICA'S BEEN ROBBED
The U.S. was the largest creditor in the world. Now the debt is in the trillions of dollars. Trillions of dollars transferred from the worlds richest and most powerful country. This is a form of destructive economic management at a level of graft and corruption that has NO parallel. There’s nothing comparable to that in history.
It’s not the result of mysterious global forces, or technology, or China, or structural problems concerning the skills and education of our workforce. Rather, it is the direct result of policy choices made by Democrats and Republicans alike.
The bailouts resurrected high finance and the inequality it inevitably spawns. Instead of putting our foot back on the neck of finance, we’re talking about slashing social programs. Rather than dramatically increasing taxes on the super-rich through a wealth tax, we’re debating how to slash Social Security and Medicare benefits.
The U.S. policy (includes tax policy, financial deregulation, trade policy, anti-labor policy, and much more.) for the past 30 years has been aggressively dedicated to shifting income share away from the poor and middle class and into the pockets of the already rich.
During an era in which the rich were getting richer anyway, we deliberately set out to reduce their tax burdens so that they could become even richer.
• In 2010, the top hedge fund manager earned as much in one HOUR as the average (median) family earned in 47 YEARS.
• The top 25 hedge fund managers in 2010 earned as much as 658,000 entry level teachers.
• In 1970 the top 100 CEOs made $40 for every dollar earned by the average worker. By 2006, the CEOs received $1,723 for every worker dollar.
As Citizens for Tax Justice and USPIRG reported, 280 large and profitable corporations contributed $216 million to Congressional campaigns over four election cycles and got nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars in tax breaks.
That’s a terrific investment for them – a return of more than a thousand to one – but it’s a bad deal for the American people.
The official, or “statutory,” corporate tax rate is 35 percent. But the actual rate paid by American corporations is only 12 percent, less than that paid by many middle-class Americans.
In fact, US Corporations pay less tax as a percentage of the GDP than corporations in Canada. Or Japan, South Korea, Norway, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Israel, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, and Italy.
(Source: OECD StatsExtract interactive database.)
Tax breaks for Exxon Mobil: $4.1 billion between 2008 and 2010. The company paid no taxes at all in 2009.
In 2010, corporate giant GE made a profit of $14.2 billion but it paid not a penny in taxes because the bulk of those profits, some $9 billion, were offshore. In fact, GE got a $3.2 billion tax benefit.
The 10 most profitable U.S. companies paid an average federal tax rate of just 9 percent last year. The group includes heavyweights Exxon Mobil, Apple, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase and General Electric.
WHO ROBBED AMERICA?
I was in Iraq 2004-2005 and traveled a bit. I was shocked at the size and scope of the KBR footprint. They were into everything, feeding the troops, rebuilding infrastructure etc. I remember thinking that if the average tax payer saw what I saw, they would be pissed...I was.
Cheney's Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion on Iraq War
By Angelo Young, International Business Times
The accounting of the financial cost of the nearly decade-long Iraq War will go on for years, but a recent analysis has shed light on the companies that made money off the war by providing support services as the privatization of what were former U.S. military operations rose to unprecedented levels.
Private or publicly listed firms received at least $138 billion of U.S. taxpayer money for government contracts for services that included providing private security, building infrastructure and feeding the troops.
Ten contractors received 52 percent of the funds, according to an analysis by the Financial Times that was published Tuesday.
The No. 1 recipient?
Houston-based energy-focused engineering and construction firm KBR, Inc. (NYSE:KBR), which was spun off from its parent, oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. (NYSE:HAL), in 2007.
The company was given $39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the past decade, with many of the deals given without any bidding from competing firms, such as a $568-million contract renewal in 2010 to provide housing, meals, water and bathroom services to soldiers, a deal that led to a Justice Department lawsuit over alleged kickbacks, as reported by Bloomberg.
Related article: 1.6 million homeless children living in the United States
Who were Nos. 2 and 3?
Agility Logistics (KSE:AGLTY) of Kuwait and the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp. Together, these firms garnered $13.5 billion of U.S. contracts.
As private enterprise entered the war zone at unprecedented levels, the amount of corruption ballooned, even if most contractors performed their duties as expected.
According to the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the level of corruption by defense contractors may be as high as $60 billion. Disciplined soldiers that would traditionally do many of the tasks are commissioned by private and publicly listed companies.
Even without the graft, the costs of paying for these services are higher than paying government employees or soldiers to do them because of the profit motive involved. No-bid contracting - when companies get to name their price with no competing bid - didn't lower legitimate expenses. (Despite promises by President Barack Obama to reel in this habit, the trend toward granting favored companies federal contracts without considering competing bids continued to grow, by 9 percent last year, according to the Washington Post.)
Even though the military has largely pulled out of Iraq, private contractors remain on the ground and continue to reap U.S. government contracts. For example, the U.S. State Department estimates that taxpayers will dole out $3 billion to private guards for the government's sprawling embassy in Baghdad.
The costs of paying private and publicly listed war profiteers seem miniscule in light of the total bill for the war.
The Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University said the war in Iraq cost $1.7 trillion dollars, not including the $490 billion in immediate benefits owed to veterans of the war and the lifetime benefits that will be owed to them or their next of kin.
ENDLESS WAR = ENDLESS PROFITS
Source: OpenSecrets, April 3, 2008
Title: “Strategic Assets”
By Lindsay Renick Mayer
When you’re the world’s sole superpower, and you’ve been bogged down for over twelve years by pismire adversaries who don’t have an air force or a navy or an army or even a defense budget, you’re not fighting a “war on terror”, you’re getting fleeced by war-profiteers in Congress and crooked private contractors who are opposed to any “exit strategy”.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers invested $161.3 million in companies under contract with the DoD
An investigation by Ralph Forbes from American Free press reported on May 05, 2008 that more than a quarter of US senators and congressmen have invested at least $196 million of their own money in companies doing business with the Department of Defense (DoD) that profit from death and destruction.
The report also edifies that 151 members of congress invested close to a quarter-billion dollars in companies that received defense contracts of at least $5 million in 2006. These companies got more than 275.6 billion from the government in 2006, or $755 million per day, according to Fedspending.org.
In 2004, the first full year after the current Iraq war began, Republican and Democratic lawmakers-both hawks and doves invested between $74.9 million and 161.3 million in companies under contract with the DoD. No wonder the Democratic congress kept approving the enormous spending bills on the war, since a significant portion of it happens to end up in their deep pockets.
The report elucidates further that investments in these contractors yielded Congress members between $15.8 million and $62 million in personal income from 2004 to 2006, through dividends, capital gains, royalties, and interest.
Certainly, as the war went on and escalated, so did the increase in profits.
Interestingly, the report also mentioned that members of the senate foreign relations and armed services committees which oversee the Iraq war had between $32 million and $44 million invested in companies with DoD contracts.
Per example, war hawk Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the defense-related Senate Homeland security and Governmental Affairs Committee, had at least $51,000 invested in these companies in 2006. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), who voted for Bush’s war, had stock in defense companies such as Honeywell, Boeing and Raytheon, but sold them in May 2007.
THIS IS NOT ACCIDENTAL...
By Gary North
During the Clinton administration — they put out the fiscal gap studies for a couple of years on the President’s budget. The Clinton administration then censored it. The guy who’s now head of the National Economic Council, the Chief Economic Advisor to President Obama, was the one who did the censorship back in 1994. President Bush’s Treasury Secretary O’Neil wanted to do a fiscal gap accounting for the President’s budget in 2003 and he was fired in December 7, 2002, and that study was censored two days after he was fired.
There is no question that the following policy is bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are completely agreed that the following information should not get out to the American people, namely, that the present value of the United States government’s off-budget liabilities is over $200 trillion.
…the government needs $205 trillion… to invest in the private sector, in order to fund its legal liabilities.
The man who has followed this for the longest time is Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University. He has created a great deal of embarrassment for the government by his relentless pursuit of the statistical implications of the statistics released by the Congressional Budget Office.
The Congressional Budget Office has a way to avoid this, namely, to cease publishing the statistics that Kotlikoff has used to expose the real condition of the United States government.
Kotlikoff referred to this suppression of information in an article that appeared in Forbes.
The CBO has two sets of books. This is what any Ponzi scheme requires. It releases one set of books to the rubes in the financial media, who are perfectly content to quote from it, when they are even aware of it. This is called the Extended Baseline Forecast or EBF.
The second set of books is called the Alternative Fiscal Scenario or AFS. Here’s how Kotlikoff describes the difference.
In past years, the CBO simultaneously released what it calls its Alternative Fiscal Scenario. This forecast is what CBO actually projects future taxes and spending to be given not just the laws in place, but also how Congress and the Administration have been bending and changing the laws through time. In short, the Alternative Fiscal Scenario (AFS) is what the CBO thinks we’re facing absent a truly dramatic and sustained shift in fiscal policy.
Because of Kotlikoff’s ability to get news coverage for the AFS, the CBO decided this year not to publish it.
Those of us who track U.S. fiscal policy eagerly await each year’s release of the AFS. But this year, the CBO’s long-term forecast included only the EBF. The AFS was nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t mentioned in the CBO’s lengthy report. Nor was it included in the downloadable data CBO provided on its website.
The national media, which generally “covers” fiscal affairs by repeating what it’s told, missed this omission entirely. Indeed, it spent an entire news cycle discussing the EBF figures as if they had real meaning.
The CBO did not get away with this, at least not to the extent that it had hoped. There were complaints. Kotlikoff says that enough people did complain to persuade the CBO to release a summary of the projections in an obscure spot in the CBO’s spreadsheet. The CBO posted this information, but it did not alert the financial media to the update.
He predicted that the link would soon be removed. This was in early October 2014.
The EBF and AFS projections differ dramatically, yet the AFS is hidden away in one tab of one spreadsheet called Supplementary Data, the small link to which will shortly disappear from the CBO’s homepage, making it even harder for we taxpayers to find.
He was correct. It’s gone. It’s “page not found.”
[Ed. Note: We tried accessing the link, but nothing came up.]
He points out that the CBO’s projections on the deficit which it has posted in full public view, namely, the ESB, has the fiscal gap at $47 trillion. Now, just between you and me, $47 trillion is a large chunk of change. But it is such a low-ball estimate that the public has no real conception of how big the liability really is. Of course, the public doesn’t care one way or the other, because the public has never heard of the CBO, let alone the ESB. When I say “public,” I mean the financial media.
Using the AFS figures, the unfunded liability is $205 trillion. This is the figure that the CBO does not want the general public, meaning the financial media, to be aware of.
TRUTH to POWER
“It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error.” in American Communication Association v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382, 442
“Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation [of power] first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.” Thomas Jefferson (1821)
The media was suppose to be our watchdog, but under Clinton they were allowed to consolidate and become the governments lapdog.
Media are essential. We depend upon the news and information we get from the media. Our media system was not created by the free market. It’s the direct result of policies made by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Washington.
Bill Clinton signed the disastrous Telecom Act of 1996 creating today’s oligopoly. Now 6 giant corporations sell us all our movies, TV, radio, magazines, books, music and web services.
The laws and regulations do not benefit the public. They only benefit big companies that can afford high-priced lobbyists. For decades, communications policies have been made behind closed doors, in the public’s name. Without our informed consent.
Contrary to the promised "peace dividend," the U.S. has maintained its military arsenal and used it to enforce its agenda with successive and intensifying military interventions--from the use of conventional troops in Iraq, to "humanitarian intervention" in Haiti, to Obama's drone wars in Central Asia.
Inequality in America grows more extreme each day. Even the great financial crash didn’t derail this trend. The richest 400 Americans, for example, increased their wealth by 54 percent between 2005 and 2010, while the median middle-class family saw its wealth decline by 35 percent.
In '06 we voted out the republican congress to end the war, and yet, instead we got a surge. We dutifully called our Senators during the first bailouts in opposition 100 to 1, and yet, instead we get even more bailouts for automakers.
We've allowed our country to be taken from us, for the benefit of the few and the total decimation of the vast many.
Americas great wealth was first reliant on imported slaves. But America decided it was more cost efficient to leave them where they were. Produce the products overseas, then ship them to market, keep all the profits, tell everyone their free and laugh all the way to the bank. When the locals complain they send in American tax payer funded goon squads, people are tortured and people disappear. We call it Capitalism but it's really Fascism.
Then when domestic help was required, what did they do? Turn a blind eye at the border and you can have all the cheap labor you want. No problems right?
But our government didn't build new roads or hospitals or schools to accommodate all the new immigrants. Instead they just crammed us all together and turned our freeways into parking lots, turned our ERs into an all day project, where you might die waiting and turned our schools into zoos where no one learns anything.
FACT: Corporations move our jobs overseas to take advantage of slave labor wages, lax environmental laws and no taxes. Yes, no taxes! “Free trade” allows giant multinational corporations to pay zero taxes overseas and zero taxes in America. In 2010, corporate giant GE made a profit of $14.2 billion but it paid not a penny in taxes because the bulk of those profits, some $9 billion, were offshore. In fact, GE got a $3.2 billion tax benefit.
If corporations paid taxes our government could have a surplus – roads, dams, hospitals and schools would not be in disrepair or overcrowded because the government would have plenty of money for all these things as they once did and would not be looking for ways to cut social security or other social programs.
FOLLOW THE MONEY
The reason US shale took the amount of time that it did to takeoff was because it would not be worth it unless oil prices were above $40 a barrel for a sustained period. Only a disruption in the oil-supply such as an invasion of Iraq would do.
By mid-2008, the Iraq war drove oil up to $140 a barrel. It was ExxonMobil (XOM’s) most profitable year ever. The destruction in Iraq made profitable the plunder of Canada’s tar sands, the Keystone XL pipeline and the Anglo-US-owned Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline from former Soviet Central Asia to the Mediterranean.
The oil industry has prospered over the past decade, thanks to high oil and gasoline prices. The five largest companies -- BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell -- earned more than $1 trillion during this time. In the first nine months of 2013, these five companies realized a combined $71 billion in profits.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that the United States will replace Russia this year as the world’s top hydrocarbon energy producer. The U.S. produced more oil than Saudi Arabia in 2015.
This development is possible because U.S. companies have invested more than $1 trillion over the past 10 years in fracking — the hydraulic fracturing of oil and natural gas from shale rock.
XOM, now the largest U.S. natural gas producer, Phillips66, Valero, Berkshire Hathaway, General Electric, Koch Industries, KKR and Halliburton are among the giant firms betting billions on the super-profits they hope fracking will bring. Every major bank is also involved.
But these environment-destroying investments would not be profitable without the triple-digit oil prices of the last decade. These record oil prices were made possible by the armed and bloody suppression of Arab and Iranian oil production by the Pentagon.
Oil prices of $60-$80 a barrel are needed for most fracking projects to break even.
As things stand now, with federal taxes, state taxes, county tax, sales tax, property taxes, car tax, gas tax, phone taxes, etc. “They” take 4 months of our wages every year in taxes. For that kind of money we should have the best schools on the planet, right? But every year 30 to 50% of our kids get left behind. Let me repeat, taxes take 4 months of your wages away from you every year. That’s true under Republicans or Democrats!
It really doesn't matter who wins in November because our government is no longer "of the people, for the people, by the people" and neither candidate plans to return our rights to us. Our rights were not won because some Congressmen or woman wrote them down in a law. Our rights were won by struggle. And we can only regain our rights and our country through struggle. Only by blood, sweat and tears. If you want to be a soldier, I'm here to raise an army. Welcome to the Underground.
We can not vote ourselves out of this mess. Only militant, 24/7 wide-spread non-violent resistance can save liberty and freedom from the dystopia that Washington has created in order that a handful of mega-billionaires can enjoy lording over the planet.
Our strategy is simple:
1. If you do any banking with BofA, Wells Fargo or other large banks close those accounts now. Move all banking to small local independent banks or Credit Unions.
2. BOYCOTT CORPORATE MEDIA
3. Send this URL to all your friends, post it to forums, put it on your personal pages,
There will be ZERO mainstream media discussion of this General Strike BEFORE it happens. ZERO.
So, we must BE OUR OWN MEDIA and promote it. Link to this site from sites and blogs. Mention it with links in your comments on blogs. PROMOTE IT.
General Strikes a brief history
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On this page:
How Much Does the US Owe
Cheney's Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion on Iraq War
Endless War = Endless Profits (How Congress Profits from War)