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Alternative Visions – Eyewitness Report on the Elections in France + US GDP Report – 04.28.17

The show welcomes back guest, Alan Benjamin, an eyewitness to the recent elections in France last week, to discuss what’s going on in France. Will the right wing, Le Pen party, win in the runoff election coming up in a couple of weeks, or will the candidate backed by the French business and political elite, Macron, win?  What are progressives …

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Alternative Visions – 8 Disturbing Economic Reports + Taming Trump Revisited – 04.14.17

As the euphoria of the false promise of Trump policies stimulating US economic growth continue to fade, host Dr. Jack Rasmus reviews several economic reports indicating not much has changed for the US and global economies since Trump’s election.  Jack reviews the IMF’s report on productivity that continues to slow (US productivity now less than 0.5% annual growth compared to …

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Alternative Visions – Background to Coming Trump-Republican Tax Cuts – 03.31.17

Big tax cuts for rich and corporations are the next big policy offensive around the corner. Jack provides an historical review of tax cuts for rich and corporations in the US over the past century. Major tax reform proposals are summarized since the passage of the corporate and personal income tax in 1913 through Nixon in 1971. Details of the …

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Alternative Visions – Will the ‘Trump Trade’ Fade? – 03.24.17

The US stock markets are recognized by a growing number of analysts as approaching, or already in, bubble territory. Yet stocks have ratcheted up another 15%-20% since Trump won the election. The run-up is sometimes called the ‘Trump Trade’. Investors have been ploughing in even more anticipating another stage of corporate profits subsidization by Trump and Republican fiscal policies—Trump proposed $6.2 trillion in tax cuts, deregulation (Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, EPA, Mergers & Acquisitions encouragement, etc.), shifting hundreds of billions $ from social programs to defense spending, and $1 trillion in Trump proposed infrastructure spending. Jack explains how expectations of the policy shift to fiscal from central bank, monetary policies from 2008-2016, is now the new strategy for subsidizing corporate profits and investor further wealth gains. Central bank monetary policy had run its course and began to develop contradictions. Fiscal policy—tax cuts, deregulation, infrastructure and defense spending—is the new strategy. US stocks surged in anticipation of the new profit opportunities. But signs Trump may not deliver have stopped investors in their tracks this past week. Failure to deliver policy may result in a major stock pullback in 2017. Jack cites various sources that the current stock market bubble has peaked.

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Alternative Visions – The Federal Reserve Hikes Interest Rates—What’s Behind the Decision – 03.17.17

The Fed raised interest rates again this past week. Jack explains it has little to do with it having reached its inflation or employment targets, but represents the major policy shift underway by US economic elites. From Fed low interest policy for eight years subsidizing stock, bond and financial assets—and thereby corporate and investor profits and incomes of the wealthiest 1%–the shift now underway is to subsidize profits and incomes of the 1% by cutting taxes, deregulation, and moderate infrastructure spending. Sustained low Fed rates were beginning to cause more instability in financial markets after 8 years. They played their part in boosting profits and incomes; now another policy ‘mix’ is emerging. Jack shows how Fed 2% inflation and job targets are phony justifications for Fed low rate policy continuation; how and why long term rates which the Fed doesn’t control will continue to rise, and what the global responses and effects in Europe, Japan and China will be to the new Fed direction. Will the Fed be used by the US economic elite to check Trump? Possibly.

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Alternative Visions – Deconstructing the Republican House/Paul Ryan Obamacare Repeal Bill – 03.10.17

Jack Rasmus dissects the Republican/Ryan proposal of this past week to repeal and replace the Obamacare Act. The proposal is first and foremost a $500 billion a year tax cut for corporations and the wealthiest 1%, as they no longer have to contribute anything to the plan. Other provisions of the proposals are described, including the freeze and dismantling of the Medicaid elements, the end of all mandates, the sliding scale of in come for credits, etc. This is a tax cut bill and a further privatization bill, and should be viewed as the first of a sequence of medical related bills that will make everyone ‘pay more for less’. Next target: Medicare. Rasmus reviews the plusses and minuses of the Obama ACA, and why it was doomed from the start due to inability to control health cost increases. The show concludes with an analysis of the origins of escalating health costs since the 1990s, which have their roots in health insurance companies’ and drug companies’ drive to buy out competitors and Wall St.’s penetration of these companies to require more profitability in exchange for loans to buy up their competitors. The trend for a quarter century has been increasing privatization and rationing of health care costs and services. And it’s about to become worse. (Next week: The Federal Reserve’s next interest rate hike next week and its impact)

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Alternative Visions – Trump in Historical Perspective: From Nixon to Breitbart – 03.03.17

In today’s show, Jack puts Trump strategy and policies in historical perspective, showing how his proposed programs are rooted in policies initially proposed by Nixon and Reagan. Trump represents the latest in a series of corporate-radical right initiatives to restructure economic and political relationships periodically with US foreign competitors and to contain domestic challenges.  Nixon’s NEP program of 1971, and …

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Alternative Visions – Old Elites Step Up Attack on Trump – 02.17.17

Dr. Rasmus discusses how the intensifying attacks on Trump administration represent an historic internecine conflict between old and new wings of the US ruling elites and not ‘democracy vs. fascism’. Rasmus offers an analysis of the first month of the Trump regime and its growing conflicts with the Media, the ‘deep state’ 17 intelligence communities, federal state bureaucracies, and political parties of Democrats and moderate Republicans. Revisiting his November article ‘Tameing Trump’, Rasmus explains the meaning of last week’s firing of NSA Flynn, Trump’s backtracking on China, his reassuring Canada and Japan prime ministers on trade, and his revisiting of his muslim country travel bans. How the Flynn affair was a warning ‘shot across the bow’ for Trump to back off his proposed foreign policy changes with Russia and NATO. How the US spends $700billion a year subsidizing NATO and Europe and how US control of NATO is key to control of Europe politically and economically. The policy areas of conflicts between Trump and the old elites. Rasmus explains how old neoliberal elites (media, parties, spy agencies, state bureaucracies) continue to build a case on Trump and either ‘tame’ him or dump him—but only after he delivers on massive corporate-investor tax cuts, deregulation of healthcare and banks, and checking his trade initiatives. The grass roots base of Trump vs. old elites is discussed.

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Alternative Visions – French Elections 2017: Le Pen, Macron or ‘United Left’ -02.10.17

Jack Rasmus invites guest, Alan Benjamin, to discuss the pending April-May elections in France. How goes France goes Europe, the saying goes. Will Le Pen’s right wing National Front Party pull off a ‘Trump Surprise’ and win the elections, pulling France out of the European Union as she promised? Will the independent Macron united the remnants of capitalist parties and right wing social democracy in the Socialist Party and win? What is the ‘united left’ in formation in France? What does it mean by ‘left frexit’. Benjamin provides a ‘on site’ analysis from his work in Europe and France today not available in mainstream media. Rasmus and Benjamin discuss the collapse of traditional social democracy in Europe as it has aligned with European Neoliberalism and the rise of both right wing populist parties and emerging left wing alternatives. The positions of all the major parties in the French election are explained. Comparisons to the UK Labor Party, Germany’s SPD and AfD, Spain’s Podemos, and with US ‘Sanders-Warren’ efforts to ‘reform’ the US Democrat party are discussed.

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Alternative Visions – Trump’s Grand Strategy – 02.03.17

Jack Rasmus describes Trump’s grand strategy that is now beginning to take shape–economic, social and foreign elements, noting how the Trump strategy reveals great similarities with Nixon in the 1970s and Reagan in 1980s. Trump is Nixon-Reagan on steroids. Rasmus reviews similarities with Nixon and Reagan in Trump’s current attack on US trading partners in Europe, Mexico, Japan, Australia, Germany, Australia and soon China—comparing them with Nixon’s New Economic Program in 1971-72 and Reagan’s 1985-86 attacks on Japan and Europe with the Plaza and Louvre accords. Trump is not against Free Trade, but for bilateral free trade instead of Clinton-Obama multilateral free trade. Trump’s protectionism is tactical. The goal is to advance US corporate interests vis a vis foreign competitors, just as Nixon and Reagan did. Rasmus describes Trump Grand Strategy to date as: Congress drives deregulation of ACA and Dodd-Frank and then focuses on corporate-investor tax cuts. Trump meantime paves the way with Executive Orders, while using EOs to attack immigrants, domestic and foreign; Trump goes slow on major foreign policy changes involving Russia, middle east and Asia, while aggressively attacking immigrants, law and order, proposing election reform and advancing religious groups’ interests. Strong similarities between Nixon, Reagan, and Trump on policies involving defense spending, social program cuts, deficits, strong dollar, attacking the liberal media, undermining unions, massive deregulation, cutting pensions and social security, promoting police and law and order attacks on protestors, and domestic spying and surveillance. (Next week: France and the Future of Europe)