The Weiner Component V.2 #16 – The Great Presidential Cover-up(s)

In 1968 former Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon ran for the presidency of the United States on the Republican ticket.  It was the second time he attempted to attain that position.  In 1960 he had run against John Fitzgerald Kennedy and lost by less than one percent of the vote.

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the U...

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Lyndon B. Johnson had announced that he would not run for another term as President.  After a tumultuous Convention the Democrats had chosen Hubert Humphrey and the Southern states of America also ran a third party candidate, George Wallace, whose platform tended to be against integration of the public schools and civil rights for Blacks.  Nixon’s platform, among other things, was that he would end the Viet Nam War and the United States would withdraw with honor from Viet Nam.  Nixon also campaigned as the law and order candidate.  Martin Luther King Jr, and Robert Kennedy while campaigning for the presidency, had been assassinated.  It was a highly dramatic time in the history of the nation, with the anti-Viet Nam War Movement having reached a high point.

 

Nixon carried 32 states with 301 electoral votes, and a popular vote of 31,783,783; Humphrey had 13 states plus Washington, D.C., 191 electoral votes, and 31,271,839 popular votes; and Wallace had 5 states, 46 electoral votes, and 9,901,118 popular votes.  This was the first election after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that had led to the mass enfranchisement of racial minorities throughout the country.  It was about this time that the South would switch its voter majority to the Republican Party.

 

Nixon’s presidency, for the next four years would be rather dramatic.  He actually increased the pressure of the Viet Nam War, enlarging it beyond its borders in order to get the U.S. out of the war with honor.  Protest grew in this country.  Protest movements exploded, particularly at universities.  By 1972, when it became time for reelection Nixon, even though he had the support of the majority of the American people, became frantic to get reelected.

 

The Republican Party secretly supported, with funds, the most radical of the Democratic candidates, George McGovern, helping him to get nominated as the Democratic candidate.  And a small group of five men, both directly or indirectly, connected with the Republican Reelection Committee broke into Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., bugging two of the telephones and searching for assorted information as to what the Democrats were doing or planning.  They broke in more than once and were finally caught and arrested for burglary.

 

Watergate occurred shortly before the Presidential Election of 1972.  Nixon won the election by an overwhelming majority.  He received 520 electoral votes, carried 49 states with a popular vote of 47,168,710.  McGovern received 17 electoral votes, carried 1 state and Washington, D.C. with a popular vote of 29,173,222.  It was an embarrassing defeat for the candidate and the Democratic Party.

 

Even with the election over and the new Presidential term beginning the Watergate investigation continued.  In addition over the next two years an eighty-five page indictment was developed against Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro Agnew, the former governor of Maryland.  He was involved with bribery and extortion, as Vice President, governor, and even going back to before he became governor of Maryland.

 

Because of the turmoil of Watergate the country was undergoing at that time Agnew was offered a deal by government law enforcement.  He could plead “no contest” and resign from the Vice Presidency and he would not be prosecuted.  Agnew took the deal, left Washington, and, from what I remember, settled in Palm Springs, California.  Nixon, while the investigation was going on appointed a new Vice President, Senator Gerald Ford, who would become President after Nixon resigned.

*******************************

In January of 1972 G. Gordon Liddy, the Finance Council for the Committee for the Reelection of President Richard Nixon and former aide to John Ehrlichman, presented a campaign intelligence plan to the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP) which consisted  of Acting Chairman Jeb Stuart Magruder, Attorney General John Mitchell, and Presidential Council John Dean that involved extensive illegal activities against the Democratic Party.

 

Mitchell viewed the plan as unrealistic.  Two months later he was alleged to have approved a reduced version of the plan.  This included burgling the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate Complex in Washington, D.C.  The burglars were to photograph campaign documents and install listening devices in telephones.  G.Gordon Liddy was in charge of the operation, but has insisted, after being arrested, that he was duped by Dean and two of his subordinates. These were former CIA officers E. Howard Hunt and James McCord.

 

The first burglary was on May 28.  Two phones were wiretapped, that of the executive director and that of the DNC secretary.  Apparently the listening devices had problems and a second burglary was planned.

 

Shortly after midnight on June 17, 1972 a security guard at Watergate noticed tape covering the locks on some of the doors in the complex leading from the underground garage to several offices.  This allowed the doors to close but remain unlocked.  He removed the tape.  When he returned an hour later the locks had been re-taped.   He called the police.  Five men were arrested inside the DNC headquarters.

 

On September 15, a grand jury indicted them, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy for conspiracy burglary and violation of federal wiretapping laws.  The five burglars were tried by a jury and were convicted on January 30, 1973,

 

On the morning of June 18, 1972, G. Gordon Liddy called Jeb Magruder in Los Angeles and informed him the “the four men arrested with McCord were Cuban Freedom Fighters, whom Howard Hunt had recruited.”  The White House immediately began a cover up of the crime and any evidence that might damage the President and his reelection.  The Presidential Election would be the first Tuesday in November.

 

(Somehow the burglary and arrests sounds like a scene from the Silent Era series of films on the keystone cops, totally ridiculous.)

*****************************

Shortly after the arrest the FBI would discover the name of E. Howard Hunt in the address books of two of the burglars.  Dean was later ordered by top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman to “deep six” the contents of Hunt’s White House safe.  The evidence from Hunt’s safe was destroyed by Dean and the FBI’s Acting Director, L. Patrick Gray.  On June 19, 1972, the press reported that one of the Watergate burglars was a Republican Party Security aide.  On August 1, a $25,000 cashier’s check earmarked for the Nixon re-election campaign was found in the bank account of one of the Watergate burglars.  The FBI investigation would reveal that the burglary team received thousands of dollars in the months leading up to their arrests.  In essence multi-thousands of dollars in certified checks which the burglars had received could be traced back to the CRP, connecting the oncoming Presidential Election with the five burglars.  All five Watergate burglars were directly or indirectly tied to the 1972 CRP.  This in turn caused the Judge who tried their case to suspect a conspiracy involving higher-echelon government officials.  On September 29, 1972, the press reported that John Mitchell, while serving as Attorney General, controlled a secret Republican fund used to finance intelligence gathering against the Democrats.  On October 10, the FBI reported the Watergate burglary was part of a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage on behalf of the Nixon re-election committee.  Still, Nixon’s campaign was never seriously jeopardized.  On November 7, the President was overwhelming re-elected.

 

Watergate lingered between the press and the White House, with more and more information gradually coming out.  In fact it haunted Nixon’s second term as president.  A special council outside the government for the Watergate investigation was appointed.  Archibald Cox headed it.  The Senate held public hearings on Watergate which were publically broadcast on national television.  It came out that Nixon was recording all conversations in the oval office.  Both Cox and the Senate attempted to subpoena these recordings.  Nixon refused and ordered Cox to drop his subpoena.  Cox refused.  Nixon ordered the Attorney General to fire Cox.  The Attorney General refused.  Nixon fired the Attorney General and ordered the assistant to the Attorney General to fire Cox.  He also refused.  Nixon also fired him and appointed a third Attorney General, Robert Bork, who did fire Cox.

 

The public was incensed.  In a speech on October 20, 1973, Nixon stated, “I am not a crook.” Then the new Attorney General, Robert Bork, appointed a new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, to continue the investigation.

 

The question had become: When did the President learn of the Watergate break-in?  On March 1, 1974 seven of the President’s close aides were indicted by a Grand Jury.  They also secretly named the President as an unindicted co-conspirator.

 

The Nixon administration released an edited version of the tapes.  Expletives, which Nixon freely used and confidential information were removed from the tapes.  The tapes implied that Nixon knew about the burglary from the beginning and that the initial burglars had been paid to keep silent.  Later another tape appeared that proved Nixon was aware of Watergate from the beginning.

 

In July 27, 1974, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee by a vote of 27 to 11 voted to recommend a Bill of Impeachment against the President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon.  On August 8, 1974, Nixon was told of the Bill of Impeachment by the House and that there were no more than 15 votes in the Senate that would support him.  On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned from the Presidency; the day a bill of impeachment was to be passed in the House of Representatives.

 

The Cover up had failed.  The process had taken a little under two years.  The Vice President, Gerald Ford became the new President.

He would serve out the balance of the presidential term.  Nixon was still liable to criminal prosecution by both state and federal laws.  On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford issued a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes Nixon may have or did commit as President.

****************************************

Today, early in May of 2017, President Donald J. Trump and his administration face a similar problem.  Is or has it undergone a cover-up for collusion with Vladimir Putin and Russia over the Presidential Election of 2016 or are Trump and his staff amateurs that don’t really know what’s going on as they attempt ineptly to run the United States?

 

According to James Clapper, the former head of the National Intelligence Agency there is “overwhelming” evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.  The FBI began its counterintelligence investigation in July of 2016, well before the November Presidential Election.

 

What I find interesting here is why the FBI Director, James Comey, disregarded policy about an ongoing investigation and publically commented about the Clinton emails shortly before the November Presidential Election but followed FBI procedure and kept quiet about the Trump investigation.  He spoke about the Trump investigation in early May of 2017, well after the election.

 

On May 9, 2017, Trump fired James Comey, the Director of the FBI.  Did that act of Trump using his favorite phrase, (which, I understand, was his favorite term when he was hosting “The Celebrity Apprentice.”  Presumably he copyrighted the phrase).  Does this end the FBI investigation of Trump and Russia?  It would seem that he is actually encouraging both the investigation and the appointment of an independent prosecutor.

 

Trump and his team have continually denied that they have had any improper contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign.  Representative Adam Schiff, the highest Democrat on the Intelligence Committee has verbally pointed to a number of people who are or have been part of Trump’s team that have had contact with Russians.  There is Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from the committee investigation.  National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who Trump fired eighteen days after discovering he had had contacts with the Russian Ambassador prior to the election.  Trump’s  former campaign manager, Paul Manafort; campaign aides J.D. Gordon and Carter Page, as well as longtime Trump confidant Roger stone.

 

Representative Schiff stated that it was possible that all of their contacts had nothing to do with the election.  “But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt U.S. persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere.

 

An election was also held early in May in France and the same techniques were used by the Russians to try to subvert that election to the far-right candidate who Putin preferred.  Unlike Trump, she lost the election.  The French are apparently far more sophisticated than the Americans.

 

On May 7, 2017, the former temporary Attorney General, Sally Yates, and the former head of the National Intelligence Agency, James Clapper, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  President Trump did not emerge in any positive fashion from what was said about him.

 

Donald Trump has been President of the United States for a little over 100 days.  Much of what he has done in that office or what he has stated or tweeted has not shown him in a positive light.  It is still early in his tenure in office.  Remember it took about two years for the evidence against Nixon to come together after his illegal acts.  There is a distinct possibility that it may take as long for the same thing to happen to Trump.

 

Investigation are ongoing now.  While Jeff Sessions has recused himself as the chief law enforcement officer in the nation it is still his assistant who is heading up this investigation.  Pressure is currently building for an independent investigator outside of Trump’s circle.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, sees no reason for an independent investigator.  The New York Times is suggesting that there are a lot more of Trump’s people involved with Russia.  What will happen is anyone’s guess.  The probability is that Trump may not survive four years as President of the United States.

The Weiner Component #169 – Part 2: The Presidencies & Political Parties in the United States

English: Partisan makeup of the Senate at the ...

English: Partisan makeup of the Senate at the beginning of the 107th United States Congress, January 3, 2001. Democratic Party – 50 Republican Party – 50 Tie broken by the Vice President of the United States (Al Gore to 2001-01-20, Dick Cheney thereafter) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

If you draw a horizontal line across a sheet of paper and put a mark in the center then the right side proceeding to the end of the line tends to be conservative getting more reactionary as you move farther toward the right end and the left side tends to be liberal, getting more radical as it moves to the left end.  Today the left side represents the Democratic Party and the right side is the Republican Party.

 

This model of right and left was initially created by the way the Chamber of Deputies placed themselves in the hall during the period of the French Revolution in late 18th Century.   The difference then was that the legislative body was divided into three groups, the right were the reactionaries who wanted to bring back the king and his form of government; the left were the radicals who wanted to get rid of the king and brought about the “Reign of Terror.”  They wanted a representative government, essentially led by a dictator.  The majority of the Chamber was called the Mountain.  It was the center which contained the majority of delegates.  They were the moderates.  France would eventually become a Representative Democracy.

 

Today in the United States legislature there is no center.  We have a right, the Republicans and a left side, the Democrats.  And between the two major groups, in the center, there is an empty space, which, in turn, makes it difficult for any type of compromise to be reached or even for any real communication to occur.  As far as the far right is concerned compromise is giving in to their position.

*********************************

In 1797, when the Constitution was written, there were no thoughts of political parties.  By 1789, when it took effect, Alexander Hamilton, the First Secretary of the Treasury, had organized the Federalist Party, which basically supported the tidewater mercantilist groups rather than inland yeoman farmers.  Thomas Jefferson, who supported the latter group at the very tail end of the 18th Century organized the Republican Party as a solution to the Federalists and ran as its first candidate for the presidency in the year 1800.  The Federalists, as an insult, rechristened it as the Democratic-Republican Party.  This first name has stuck through the years and is still used today.  The Presidential campaign in the year 1800 was a very raucous one with Jefferson being denounced, among other things, as an atheist.

 

Jefferson won the election and the Federalists were never again able to win a Presidential Election.  They ceased to exist as a political party after the War of 1812.  In that war with England they had refused to support the government against Great Britain.

 

President Thomas Jefferson, following his philosophy of leading a country of small yeoman farmers, in 1803 bought the Louisiana Territory from France for $11,250,000, adding 828,000 square miles to the new United States and doubling its size.  He calculated that he had added enough land to allow it to freely grow with small farms for at least one hundred years.

 

The Federalist position had been favoring a strong central government, close ties with Great Britain, a centralized banking system and close links between the government and men of wealth.

 

What followed after the War of 1812 was the Era of Good Feelings which ended in 1824 when John Quincy Adams was appointed to the Presidency by the House of Representatives after an election in which none of the four regional candidates achieved enough of a majority to win the election.

 

In 1828 the Democratic-Republican Party split into Jacksonian Democrats and the Whig Party.  The Jacksonian Democratic Party became the modern Democratic Party.  They supported the primacy of the President over the other branches of government.  The Whig Party advocated the primacy of Congress over the executive branch.  In the 1850s the Whig Party declined.  Its leaders had died out and it split over the issue of slavery.  The Democratic Party also split into two section, Northern and Southern, anti-slave and pro-slave.

 

In the Election of 1860 the remnants of the Whig Party and remnants of other third parties like the Abolitionists and other dissatisfied groups coalesced into the new Republican Party while the Democrats split into two separate political parties, one Northern and Western and one Southern.  The Northern Democrats ran Stephen A. Douglas while the Southern Democrats put forth John C. Breckenridge.

 

Douglas and Breckenridge had over 50% of the vote together but neither one had as much as Lincoln.  Lincoln won the election with under 50% of the popular vote.  No one Southern State had his name on their ballot.  It was as though two totally separate elections had occurred.  In point of fact one can easily say that the Civil War actually began with this election.

 

At the end of the Civil War Radical Republicans dominated both Houses of Congress.  The President of the United States was a former Southern Democrat, Andrew Johnson.  He had been a senator from Tennessee who remained in Washington and refused to join in the Secession from the Union.  Johnson ran with Lincoln during his second term as the Vice-presidential candidate under the slogan of the National Unity Ticket.

 

Lincoln was assassinated early during his second term and Andrew Johnson became president from 1864 to 1867.  The Radical Republicans had a super majority in both Houses of Congress; consequently they were able to do whatever they wanted.  Johnson was unsuccessfully impeached toward the end of his term.  In 1868, the Republican, former General Ulysses S. Grant, became the 18th President of the United States.

 

In the election of 1876 the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes ran against the Democrat, Samuel J. Tilden.  The Republicans desperately wanted to retain the presidency.  Tilden had the greater number of popular votes.  Several states ended up electing two sets of electors, both Democratic and Republican.  The crisis was not resolved until the night before the new President was to take office.  A back-door deal was made by which the Republicans got the presidency and the Southern States had the Northern armies of occupation removed and became independent states again, ending all the remnants of the Civil War.  The United States reemerged as a two party nation.  At this time the Blacks systematically lost their rights as freedmen, although they kept that title.

 

The Republican Party adopted many of the economic policies of the Whigs: national banks, railroad expansion, and high tariffs.  They were the businessman’s political party.  Their anti-slave policy and the Civil War had brought the Black population, the freedmen, into their party and kept them dominant in Congress until this time.  The Southern States returned to the Democratic Party which maintained its traditional values.  The Republicans also attracted shop owners, skilled craftsmen, clerks, and professionals who were attracted to the party’s modernization policies.  These political coalitions lasted almost to the end of the 19th Century.

****************************

The Civil War expedited economic change in America.  From its end through the 1920s there was a rush of new immigration into the United States, mainly from Eastern Europe and Ireland.  The Industrial Revolution in all forms of rapid economic growth took hold of the country at this time generating a rapid settlement of the entire continental United States.  The late 19th Century was the period of the Gilded Age, rapid industrial growth, the confluence of money into the hands of a few brought about the rise of the “robber barons,” monopoly and oligopoly; phenomenal affluence for a small number and sweat-shops and twelve to fifteen hour shifts for large groups of children, women, and men in factories.  The country went from a rural nation to an urban one during this period.

 

Small towns became cities virtually overnight with almost no understanding or regulations about supplying clean water to large populations and housing or sewerage or food regulation laws.  The government performed no social services.  Political machines developed by both political parties in the urban areas.  Epidemics became common, particularly in warmer weather.  Death tolls, particularly in slum areas were inordinately high, especially among infants and young children.

 

Among this environment, within the urban areas, individual states, and the Federal Government the Progressive Movement developed and grew.  It would continue until the United States got involved in the Great War (World War I).  Both major political parties would at different times lead this movement, which, to a large extent, would be fed by magazine articles and books demonstrating the horrific conditions that existed in the factories, slums, and cities.

*******************************

All the presidents from Lincoln’s death until Teddy Roosevelt’s accession were decent men but weak presidents.  They and Cabinet members were continually hounded by jobseekers and political machine operators looking to collect on campaign promises.

 

The major issues of this period were the protective tariff, currency reform, and civil service reform.  President James A. Garfield was shot by a dissatisfied job seeker.  Even with this civil service reform came slowly over the course of the late 19th Century.

 

Tariff and currency reform lasted throughout this period and led to the Progressive Movement.  Business interests supported protective tariffs and tight or hard money (gold).  They lobbied and spent freely to achieve these goals, which the Republicans tended to support.  The Democrats largely backed a loose money policy, using both gold and silver.

 

From 1876 through 1900, Congress was known for being rowdy and inefficient and the Presidents as more or less capable of doing their jobs but not much more.  The two major political parties tended to be similar in their outlook with the exception that the Republicans favored business and the Democrats vied slightly toward farmers.  And the government was considered highly corrupt.

 

With one exception, and that was Grover Cleveland, the Democratic candidate, who was twice elected to a four year term in 1884 and in 1892, all the other presidents had been Republicans.  All of them, from both political parties had served in the Civil War.

 

In addition, among the farmers, at this time, the Granger Movement gradually developed and it in turn become part of the Populist Movement, which pushed for Agrarian Reform in the United States.  The Populist Movement and urban conditions and corruption throughout the country gave birth to the Progressive Reform Movement which existed on the both the state levels and on the national level.

 

The early Progressive Movement rose on a grass root level.  It was supported by the farmers who wanted a loose money policy.  This would allow them to pay back their debts with less expensive currency.  The businessmen and bankers preferred a tight money policy.  They wanted the debts paid back with more expensive money than they had initially spent or loaned out.  Into this mix came magazine and book writers, the muckrakers, who tended to expose the corruption that existed on all levels of society.  Also at this time the giant industrial cities came into existence with no initial rules or regulations on how they had to be governed or function, in areas like hygiene, sanitation, and city government and social services to the newly arrived immigrants.

 

All this gradually ended with the accession of Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency after the assassination of William McKinley by an anarchist in 1901.  Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, would be the first of the Progressive Presidents.  He would be followed by William Howard Taft, another Republican.  The third Progressive President would be Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat.  This period would end with the First World War

 

During this period corruption was exposed in numerous aspects of the nation and a certain amount of regulation was promulgated throughout the various levels of the society: local, state, and national.  The Senate up to 1913 had been appointed by the different state legislatures and had become, usually by bribery, largely an extension of large corporations like Standard Oil’s attorneys.  It thereafter, through the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, was directly elected by the people within the individual states.  Oregon introduced in 1902 the initiative and the referendum process, which, in turn, was copied by numerous other states.  The recall election was also introduced whereby an elected official could be unelected from his office.  In addition Women Suffrage (the vote) came about at this period.  The tide of reforms ended with the World War.

*************************************

At the end of the war Woodrow Wilson went to Europe to develop the Treaty of Versailles.  He brought the treaty to Washington where it was rejected by the Republicans in the Senate.  There was a struggle to pass the Treaty, and, during that time, President Wilson suffered a heart attack from which he never totally recovered.

 

The Treaty could have been modified to satisfy the Republicans but Wilson refused to compromise.  The United States never signed it.  Instead they eventually signed a separate treaty with Germany.  The major item in the Treaty was the establishment of a League of Nations, which the United States never joined.

 

At the end of his term the invalid, Woodrow Wilson, was replaced by the Republican, Warren Harding, who died in office after a number of corruption scandals emerged.  He was replaced by his Vice President, Calvin Coolidge, who later ran on his own and won.  He, in turn, was replaced by Herbert Hoover.  These three Republican presidents fully believed Adam Smith’s theory that the market-place would make all the proper economic decisions for how the country should be run.

 

The motivating force according to Adam Smith was the “invisible hand,” the profit motive.  This brought the country in 1929 to the Great Depression.  Neither Hoover nor his staff knew how to really deal with this situation.  The United States and numerous other industrial nations went through periods of unbelievable misery with the governments trying to function in periods of massive unemployment and chaos.

 

In 1933, four years later, the new President, the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, working on almost an experimental basis saved capitalism and the country by adopting socialistic principles.  He called his policy “The New Deal,” a term taken from poker.  The Federal Government assumed responsibility for those who could not care for the mselves.  They created jobs and projects like Hoover Dam, which was originally called Boulder Dam, throughout the United States and he brought about social security.  It was a time of rapid experimentation, anything that worked and solved problems was utilized.

 

But even with all this many of the aspects of the Great Depression remained.  The country was better off but many still suffered.  What ended the last remnants of the Great Depression was World War II.  The spending required to fight and win the war and the army the U. S. raised ended the last remnants of the massive economic turndown.  In point of fact, the country entered the war in December of 1941 with the majority of the population being in the lower class and ended the war in 1945 with the majority of the population belonging to the middle class.  The economy had changed considerably.

***********************************

During the Second World War both political parties concentrated on fighting the war.  Roosevelt died during the last year of the fighting and was replaced by his Vice President, the Democrat: Harry S. Truman.

 

Truman in 1945, after the war ended, sponsored, what he called, the Fair Deal, as a continuation of the prewar New Deal.  The Republicans derided Truman and his program as a poor man’s version Roosevelt’s politics.  In 1948 they ran Thomas E. Dewey against him.  They also passed the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which limited presidential tenure to two terms in office.  While the Amendment did not affect Truman; it would come into being with the next president; still it gave him a strong hint.  Franklin D. Roosevelt had died in office during his fourth term in office.

 

In 1948 the Republicans were positive that they would win the election.  At that time, before television, victory celebrations were held on radio.  On the night of the election there was a victory celebration for Dewey.  The Chicago Tribune headline the next morning was “Dewey Wins.”  But when the votes were counted Harry S. Truman had won and was still President of the United States.  All the polls had predicted Dewey as the winner; they all ate crow that year.

 

For the next four years there were a lot of frustrated Republicans in both Houses of Congress; but Congress still worked.  The fear after the war was that with the massive return of the military to civilian life the country would go into a deep recession with massive unemployment as it did directly after World War I.  But with intense rationing, the continual sale of war bonds, and unlimited employment during the war there was lots of money available.  All the automobile factories had been producing only for the war effort for the last four years; they now converted to civilian production, everyone wanted a new car.  A new industry, television came into being.  Other positive things happened.  There was no recession.  The returning veterans found jobs, started their own small business, returned to school: finishing high school and colleges.  The country smoothly went back to peacetime.  In fact, veterans received a government allowance if they went back to school.

 

Unfortunately, even with the new Organization, The United Nations, to which all the allied nations now belonged, peace did not come.  On June 25, 1950 until July 27, 1953 the United States and other United Nation countries were involved in the Korean War, which ended at the 38th Parallel, where it had begun.  This was the line splitting Korea into two parts: Communist in the North and non-communist in the South.  It would seem that almost every succeeding president from Truman on would have their own specific war.

***************************************

Truman was followed in the presidency in 1953 by Dwight David Eisenhower, the general who had led the war in Europe.  Eisenhower, initially had never voted in a presidential election.  He did not know which political party he belonged to.  Finally he decided he was a Republican and ran as their presidential candidate.

 

Eisenhower ended the Korean War by threatening to use atomic weapons.  It ended in a draw, which still continues to this day.

 

As a replacement for Truman the Democrats came up with Adlia Stevenson, the governor of Illinois.  Stevenson ran against Eisenhower twice and lost both times.  Eisenhower considered himself a middle-of-the-road Republican, that is, a moderate or liberal Republican.  The two parties functioned well together during his eight years in office.

 

In 1960 Richard M. Nixon, Eisenhower’s Vice President, ran against the Democrat, John F. Kennedy, who was a member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts.  Kennedy won that election by less than one per cent of the vote.  The two parties were able to function together and more or less pass all the necessary legislation.  /there were problems with his civil rights reform attempts.  In Viet Nam There was action, but not a major crisis.  It was during Kennedy’s presidency that the Bay of Pigs debacle occurred and later the Cuban Missile Crisis came about.  The Soviet Union had installed atomic missiles in Cuba.  Kennedy, short of war, got Russia to remove them.  His frustration came about in being limited in passing civil rights legislation.

 

Kennedy, while getting ready to run for a second term in 1963, was in a motorcade in downtown Dallas, Texas, when he was shot by an assassin.  His Vice President, Lyndon B. Johnson became the next President of the United States.  President Johnson was reelected in 1964.  He ran against the arch-conservative Barry Goldwater and overwhelmingly defeated him.  Johnson attempted to force the war in Viet Nam toward an American victory by massively increasing U.S. forces there.  He was not successful.  In the United States he declared War on Poverty.  Again he was not successful.  As an essentially defeated man Johnson announced that he would not run for the presidency in 1968.

 

Where Johnson was eminently successful was in pushing through Congress both his and John F. Kennedy’s plan for civil rights reform in the nation.  Segregation was essentially legally ended throughout the South and in other parts of the country.  The statement that “all men are created equal” in the Declaration of Independence was expanded to include Blacks and Women.  It was a major achievement.

**********************************

In the 1968 Election the Republican Richard M. Nixon ran against the Democratic Vice President, Hubert Humphrey.  A third party candidate, former Alabama Governor, George Wallace, ran representing the American Independent Party, which supported separation of the races in public education.  Nixon won with 43.4% of the vote; Humphrey got 42.7%, and Wallace received 13.5%.

 

The election year was tumultuous, being marked by the assassination of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy.  The Democratic Convention had open warfare between Viet Nam protestors and the Chicago police.  Nixon won the popular vote by .07 percentage points and the Electoral College vote by 301 to 191 for Humphrey.

 

Besides economic problems Nixon faced a massive protest throughout his presidency over the Viet Nam War.  He presumably had a secret plan to end the war.  This came down to a return of American prisoners of war and withdrawing with honor.  That was making a defeat in war not look like a defeat.

 

Negotiations were begun.  The initial problem was the shape of the Negotiating Table.  There were people from North Viet Nam, from South Viet Nam, and from the United States, and there was also the National Liberation Front, who were from South Viet Nam but favored the North.  The issue was resolved by using a round table with two smaller ones nearby.

 

Nixon’s strategy was to bring increasing pressure on Communist North Viet Nam by increasing the war so they would be willing to compromise.  He expanded the war to Cambodia and bombing along the Ho Chi Minh Trail.  Supplies were being brought into North Viet Nam into the South over this route.  There was both warfare and peace negotiations that would be going on during Nixon’s term as President.

 

In 1972 Nixon ran for a second term as the Republican candidate.  The Democratic candidate was the highly liberal senator from South Dakota, George McGovern.  The Republicans were so sure he could not win that they contributed money secretly to his campaign wanting to make sure he was the Democratic candidate.

 

McGovern ran on an Anti-War Campaign against the incumbent, Richard Nixon.  McGovern was perceived by many voters as a left-wing extremist.  Nixon won in a landslide, gaining 60.7% of the popular vote.  He received 18 million more votes than McGovern, carrying 49 states.

 

Unfortunately, during the election, because of some paranoid tendencies of Nixon, a group of his employees called the plumbers  burgled Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. several times in order to find out what the Democrats were doing and planning.  The final time they did this they were caught and arrested.

 

The question became: What did Nixon know?  And when did he know it?  It took two years for this to unravel.  And then the answer was that he knew about the burglary from the very beginning.  Nixon resigned from the presidency two years after being elected for a second term.  He resigned the day before a Bill of Impeachment was to be voted upon in the House of Representatives.

 

Interestingly his vice president, Spiro Agnew, had resigned earlier.  The government had an 80 page inditement against him for extortion, going back to when he was governor of Maryland.  Because of the Watergate controversy the Justice Department allowed him to plead, no contest, and resign from the vice-presidency.

 

The irony was that Nixon chose a new Vice-President, Senator Gerald Ford, who assumed the Presidency in 1974.  President Ford later issued a Proclamation on September 8, 1974 pardoning Richard Nixon from any crimes he may have committed.

 

President Gerald Ford ended the Viet Nam War.  This was the first war that the United States lost.  Today Viet Nam trades with the United States and is a relatively inexpensive tourist attraction.  It cost a lot less to visit Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) than to go to a city in Hawaii.

 

In 1978 Republican President Gerald Ford ran against the Democratic contender, James Earl (Jimmy) Carter.  Jimmy Carter won by a margin of 57 Electoral votes.  He had a Democratic majority in both Houses of Congress during both congressional terms.  On his second day in office President Carter pardoned all evaders of the Viet Nam War.  He created the Departments of Energy and Education.  He brought about the Camp David Accords between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

The country suffered from Stagflation at this time, a combination of both high inflation and high unemployment.  Carter could not bring himself to allow the Draconian program that would solve this problem.  The next President, Ronald Reagan would do this and bring about a large homeless problem throughout the United States which still exists today.

 

President Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaties, giving the canal to Panama.  It was during his term in office that the Iranian Revolution occurred and the American Embassy personnel were held as captives by the new government of Iran.  They were returned to the U.S. shortly after the next president took office.  Carter was defeated in the 1980 Election by Ronald Reagan.

 

Ronald Reagan was elected to the presidency on January 20, 1981 and served two terms through January 20, 1989.  He was a Republican and a conservative, bringing about changes that the conservatives had wanted for years.  He was also the oldest man elected to the presidency.

*****************************************

Forgetting the post-Civil-War Period when the Radical Republicans, wanting to punish the South and controlled Congress from 1865 to 1878 when Rutherford Hayes stole the presidency from the Democrat, Samuel Tilden.  At that time the Republicans had a super majority in both Houses of Congress and could and did pass any law they put forth without the President’s signature.

 

Outside of this relatively short period in the nation’s history the two major political parties essentially got along and, more or less, cooperated with one another in passing the necessary laws for the nation.  The point has been made in an earlier blog that Democratic President Jimmy Carter was more conservative that Gerald Ford’s Republican Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller.  On the political line mentioned at the beginning of this blog Rockefeller would be placed left of center and Carter would go right of center.

 

This was true of many Congressmen.  There have historically been many conservative Democrats and moderate or liberal Republicans.  There was no separate void between them in terms of political positions.  There was always a slight difference in basic philosophy but there was always open communication and the possibility of compromise.

 

This has been a fact of United States history.  There was generally cooperation between both political parties.  The Conference Committee, which met after a bill was passed in slightly different versions in the two Houses of Congress, has been able to continually come up with a compromise bill for both Houses of Congress to successfully vote upon.

 

This system has existed until Barack Obama became President of the United States.  What has occurred from that time on has essentially been the development of the Tea Party, an extreme right arm of the Republican Party that is largely uneducated in the function of government and modern economics.  In the House of Representatives they are the Freedom Coalition.  In point of fact their aim seems to be to do away with the Federal Government

[b1]

The Weiner Component #157 – Taxes & the American Public & the Negative Income Tax

The United States of America is a Federal Republic with separate state and local governments.  In order to function each of these governments tax, in some or various fashions, the general public.  These include income, payroll, property, sales, excise taxes and capital gains, dividends and interest, import tariffs, estate taxes, and gifts, as well as various fees.  In 2010, for example, the amounts collected by federal, state, and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of the Gross National Product (GDP).

 

In the United States most taxes are regressive; that is, the less one earns the higher a percentage of their income they pay.  This would include those who earn too little to even pay an income tax.  There are a multitude of taxes: local, state, and federal that everyone pays equally regardless of their income level.  This means that most of these taxes are paid by virtually everyone from the homeless person to the multimillionaire or so-called billionaire like Donald Trump.

 

There are excise taxes on such items as gasoline or tobacco, sales taxes on most purchases, property taxes on homes and business buildings, social security and Medicare taxes that are deducted directly from the business and employees’ wages, unemployment insurance which is deducted from one’s income.  In addition license fees are a form of taxation that allows individuals to practice certain occupations.

 

Taxes fall more heavily on labor income than on capital income.  A larger percentage is taken out of every employees income that out of every employers profits or dividends.

 

If we ask ourselves what is the major economic problem in the United States today, besides the current 5% unemployment rate, the answer we get is the distribution of the National Income.  More and more money keeps going to the upper echelon and less and less of the National Income is being acquired by everyone else.

 

We are the richest country in the history of the world but the distribution of the National Income is such that an ever-growing, percentage of the population is having a harder and harder time surviving.

****************************

If we consider the 2015 tax table for a married couple filing jointly:

 

0 – 18,450         10%

18,451 – 74,900         $1,845 plus 15% of amount over 18,450

74,901 – 151,200       $10,312.50 plus 25% of amount over 74,900

151,200 – 230,450       $29,387.50 plus 28% of amount over 151,200

230,451 – 411,500       $51,577.50 plus 33% of amount over 230,450

411,501 – 464,850       $111,324 plus 35% of amount over 411,500

464,851 – Or more       $129,996.50 plus 39.6% of amount over 464,850

For a single individual you can half the above table and for a head of household drop it down about a quarter.

 

There are, of course, numerous deductions for the number of people in the family and numerous other assorted items. The upper two categories, I suspect, will cover most American taxpayers.  Within the decade or less, as money become less valuable, a larger and larger number of people will slip into the third category.

 

The person earning $18,450 with a family of four is not going to pay any income taxes since the 2016 poverty level for that group is $24,300.  But everyone else with pay 10% of the first $18,450 they earn; then from $18,451 up to $74,900 they pay 15%, and from $74,901 to $151,200 they pay 25%.  This process continues until they reach $464,850, paying the amount in each category until that amount is reached.  Up to this point the income tax has been graduated, the more one earns the higher a percentage of their income they pay.

 

After the last category, $464,851 onwards into the multimillions the amount paid is $129,996.50 plus 39.6% of the income.  This is a regressive income tax favoring the upper percentage of the population. These people’s percentage of income decreases as their earnings increase above the $464,851 mark.  These people pay a far lower percentage of their incomes in taxes than the average citizen.

 

It should be noted that CEOs of fairly large to very large corporations and their leading executives do earn anything from one million dollars a year to one million dollars a month to even one million dollars a week.  The CEO of Hewlett Packer earns 15 million dollars a year.  The current                            CEO of Ford earned 50 million dollars in 2015.  The Bank of America has a CEO, who I imagine can be called the emperor and each section of this international organization has a president for that section of the company.  All of these executives and their leader’s salaries are in the millions of dollars.

*******************************

In addition to all this there are two forms of income.  One is regular income which is the only one most people have.  It is taxed as shown above, after deductions are taken out of the total.  The other is passive income.  This is monies earned from investments or increases in value of property.  It could be an apartment house, a home, a piece of art; mostly anything that is owned and increases in value when sold.

 

In addition, specific properties that are rented for profit can legally be depreciated in value over a period of time and any money spent on maintenance of these properties can be deducted from passive income.  Donald Trump, in all probability, pays nothing in income taxes; all his maintenance costs for all his buildings would be deducted from his income leaving him legally and theoretically with no income.

********************************

The major problem that exists today in terms of the distribution of the National Income or Gross National Product is that most people still think of money as they did in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  At that time the worker exchanged his labor for a precious metal, gold or silver coins.  The value of the labor equaled the value of the coins.  The laborer or a member of his family would then exchange the precious metal coins for the goods and services needed to live: housing, food, clothing, medicine when needed, whatever.

 

Today money is paper, printed by each government and coins are copper sandwiches, having token value.  Currency today has no intrinsic value.  It is used as a means of exchanging services for goods and services: housing, food, clothing, medical care when needed, etc.  Money has not been a precious metal since the early 1930s.

 

General thinking and emotions today about currency by most people, particularly the Republicans in Congress, goes back to the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  They still feel that money is basically gold.  Some Congressmen have even, from time to time, mentioned going back on the gold standard.  If this were to be attempted it would cause unbelievable economic disruptions because there isn’t enough gold available to back the amount of business being done either nationally or internationally.  Also gold is currently valued somewhere above $1,200 an ounce.  If the Federal Government were to start buying gold it would quickly shoot up to over $2,000 an ounce.  In 1929 that was a $20 gold one ounce coin.

*******************************

How could the distribution of the GDP be done more fairly?  Or can it be done more fairly?

 

About 25 to 30 years ago my wife and I took a vacation in Estes Park, Colorado.  We visited the Rocky Mountain National Park for a week.  While there, I met a gentleman from Holland who was also on vacation.  He and his family were also visiting this site.  Among other things we spoke about unemployment, both in the United States and in Holland, two different political systems, both democracies.  In the U.S. then and today the unemployed person received an inadequate stipend for a matter of 26 full weeks.  It used to be for a slightly shorter period of time.  This is supposed to hold the individual over financially until he/she finds a new job.  In Holland the unemployed person continued to maintain his/her regular standard of living.  The difference being that the unemployed individual could not afford vacations, but otherwise his standard of living would be the same as the other employed individuals.  Both the man I spoke to and his wife worked; it was expensive to come to the U.S. on vacation.

 

There were no negative connotations applied to the unemployed individuals like there often are in the United States.  The entire population of the country took on responsibility for one another.  Anyone, at some time or other, could be unemployed through no fault of their own and everyone was equally responsible for everyone else.

 

They pay heavier taxes than people in similar circumstances in the United States but they get far better coverage.  In addition to far more reasonable unemployment insurance the people of Holland get free medical care, free education through college if they prove capable of going there, plus numerous other services.

 

The difference between the two countries is that the Hollanders take a much more mature attitude than we do in the United States about the welfare of all their citizens.

 

As a footnote it should be noted that today just prior to the 2016 Presidential Election we see large sections in both political parties, demonstrating through their choices of candidates their revulsion at being taken for granted by the powers that be who have been wanting their votes, but have given a goodly percentage of the people very little in return.  This is particularly true of the Republican Party which now seems to be stuck with Donald J. Trump as their presumptive candidate.

*******************************

 

Is there a way to deal with this problem?  The answer is obvious, if Congress and the American people can come to a rational understanding of the function of money and group responsibility.

 

Traditionally the economic formula is:

Demand equals production of goods and services.

There are two factors that determine Demand.  They are the amount of money in the National Income or GDP that is distributed to the general population.  The more money that goes to the top few percent of the population the less there is available for everyone else.  Since most of these excess incomes are invested in old productivity like stocks and bonds they are removed from the general cash flow, decreasing the amount needed for demand, decreasing the level of productivity and consequently, sooner or later, bringing about a recession or even the possibility of a depression.

 

This behavior is a consequence of traditional beliefs and values.  All this, generally speaking, is how the Great Depression came about in 1929 and all the recessions and depressions before and since.  They are based upon the unreal myths about money that most people feel are absolute truths.

 

Is there a way to avoid this continual economic inequality?  A suggestion was first made in England during the 1940s by a British politician named Juliet Rhys-Williams and later also picked up in the U.S. by the free-market economist Milton Friedman.  This was for a negative income tax.

 

The negative income tax (NIT) is a progressive income tax system where people earning below a certain amount receive supplemental pay from the government instead of paying income taxes to the government; that is, every citizen living within the country is guaranteed a certain minimum standard of living.  Just as today there is a poverty level set for everyone living within the country in both rural and urban areas for individual living alone, married couples, married couples with children, and heads of households.

 

This poverty level or slightly above it would probably be the minimum level these individuals or group or families would be guaranteed as their minimu m standard of living.  It would probably be paid weekly.  Those earning more than this level would be paying income taxes according to their level of compensation.  The tax would be graduated so that the more earned the higher the rate of taxation would be.  There would be no cutoff point where the tax stopped being progressive.

 

It should be noted that the current income tax cutoff point of 39.6% of any amount over $$464,850 where the taxes stop being progressive and become regressive.  This limit was incorporated just a few years ago under President Barack Obama by a staunchly Republican majority in the House of Representatives and by a filibustering Republican minority in the U.S. Senate.

 

During World War II, 1944 – 1951 the cutoff point was set at 91%, from 1952 – 1953 it was 92%, during 1954 – 1963 it was 91% again, in 1964 it became 77%, and from 1965 – 1981 it was 70%.  During the Reagan years: 1981 – 1989, the tax rate dropped to 50%.  But during these same years Reagan raised taxes twelve times and took back 50% of his 1982 tax act.  In 1987, under George H.W. Bush they were 38.5%.  In 1991 – 92 they dropped to 31%.  In 1993 they were raised to 39.6%.  In 2001 under George W. Bush in stages the maximum income taxes were dropped to 35%.  Under President Obama they were raised to 39.6%.

 

It should also be noted that inflation raised most persons into tax brackets formerly reserved for the wealthy.  And that income taxes now applies to 2/3 of the nation.

**********************************

In a land of free opportunity for all, the income taxes should be high enough to include former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ current goals of free medical care for all, free education from pre-school through college for anyone capable of achieving a degree, and other social programs including eventually a dignified burial.

 

The effects of a negative income tax would create a single system that would fulfill the social goal of making sure that there is a minimum level of incomes for all.  With a NIT the need for a minimu  m wages, food stamps, welfare, possibly social security programs, Medicare, and other government programs could be eliminated.  This would reduce the administration costs to a fraction of what they are currently.  These costs and administration wages could be directly applied to the people receiving the funding.

 

In the 1972 Presidential Elections the Republican candidate, Richard Milhous Nixon ran for a second term.  His Democratic opponent was George McGovern who proposed a guaranteed minimum income for a family of four of $4,000 a year.  Nixon proposed a guaranteed minimum yearly income of $2,500.  While neither of these level was a significant amount they bought a lot more than they do today.

 

Nixon was reelected and his proposal came up in both the Houses of Congress.  What I remember about the debate in both Houses of Congress was the pain in the voices of the legislators.  It was the level of pain that a boor would make if a sow accidentally stepped on his scrotum.  It was, apparently, in the minds of the national lawmakers as though their own money was about to be forcibly taken from them.  The Negative Income Tax was virtually killed before it could be born.

 

But times have changed since the 1970s.  Money, to the government, is a tool that begets productivity.  It is printed by the Federal Government and can be and has been used by the Federal Government to enhance the economy.

 

If we reexamine the formula we considered earlier:

Demand equals production of goods and services or to restate it more simply:  Amount of money available in the economy equals the level of employment.

We can rewrite the formula to also read: Extent of Production of Goods (employment) equals extent of Demand (money available).

 

The amount of the National Income that goes to the majority of the people determines the amount they can spend on the purchase of goods and services.  The more they can spend fulfilling their basic needs and wants the higher the level of employment in the nation.

 

Currently the nation is geared to allow the rich to get richer and for everyone else to have less and less of the GDP or National Income.  The NIT would not only reverse the current process it should also satisfy all the voters who feel they are left out of the system and are supporters of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.  This process could be a way of giving the country back to the general public.

 

There is, after all, just so far a populace can be pushed against its own interests.  Donald Trump has emerged as the floored hero of the exploited blue collar Republicans.  His existence, as the hero or potential candidate of the Republican Party is a national disgrace.  He will not solve the national problems, and were he elected could disrupt the balance of power or safety that now exists in the world by his presumptuous erratic actions and basic beliefs..

 

Bernie Sanders is the Democratic side of the current voter rebellion.  While most people agree with his goals, his methods of achieving them are totally unrealistic.  He wants to make the rich pay for his program by having taxes placed on Wall Street profits.  The term “Wall Street” is an abstraction.  Taxing Wall Street would be taxing all purchases or sales made on the stock market, plus all profits made on capital gains.  It would be an easy way to cause an instant recession or possible depression that would negatively affect everyone in the nation.

*****************************************

Another factor affecting the money supply in the country is the population.  Every ten years the population of the United States is counted.  The number of the population in each state is needed to allocate seats in the House of Representatives.  The number of members in the House is fixed at 435, but seats are reallocated to each state on the basis of changes in the states’ population.

 

The last official census was taken in 2010, the next one will occur in 2020.  In 2016 the population was estimated at 322,762,018 people.  The country has added 2.4 million people or .77% to the overall population in this year 2016.  It does so every year.

 

In the introduction of virtually every census that is taken the then head of the Census Bureau apologizes for the people who he estimates were not counted.  In 2010 a goodly percent of the homeless in the U.S. were missed, leaving the estimate of the population low.  The probability is that the overall population then was over 350 million people.  Add 246 million people to that number and you’re probably close to today’s population.

 

According to the Census Bureau’s population clock one person is born every 8 seconds; there is one death every 13 seconds; and one immigrant enters the U.S. every 29 seconds.  This gives the population a net gain of one person every 13 seconds.  It’s from these figures that we get an increase of 2½ million people a year or a .77% increase in the general population.  That, incidentally, is higher than the current population of 27 of the 50 states.

 

The issue or problem here is that the money supply in order to stay even has to keep up with the ever growing population.  The FED is the agency that is supposed to deal with this issue by adding currency to the Nation Cash Flow as needed.  The FED can easily do this by using the National Debt and buying back more bonds than it sells.  After all the Federal Government through the FED owns over 50% of its own debt.

 

But banks can also create currency by their lending policy and the banking houses like J.P Morgan-Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, to name just a few, did this through their purchase and sale of home mortgages from the Reagan Administration on to 2008 when their excesses brought about the Real Estate Crash of 2008.  The FED, under Chairman Alan Greenspan, was either not paying attention or was overly conservative in its actions.  Instead from the Reagan Era on to the crash, everything was left to the Free Market.  The Free Market, by the actions of the banks, made all the decisions at that time.  The FED kept its hands off everything until the Federal Government had to step in to avoid a massive depression greater than that of 1929 during the last year of the George W. Bush administration.

***************************************

A solution for many of our current economic problems would be the incorporation of the negative income tax into our system.  It probably will take a while for it to become fully incorporated and functioning but it would solve many of the problems that now exist in the United States.  It is time we all took positive responsibility for one another.

 

[BW1]

[BW2] Wage, food stamps, welfare, social security programs, M

[BW3]