The issue of income and wealth inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time and it is the great political issue of our time.
– Senator Bernie Sanders, May 2015, announcing his candidacy for president
The driving force behind both the decision of Bernie Sanders to seek the presidency and the firestorm that his campaign unleashed is the same as that of Occupy Wall Street: the 1% vs. the 99%. The unifying theme of Sanders rallies, speeches and policies has been the denunciation of “the billionaire class.” Sanders understands better than most that the obscene level of income and wealth inequality in the U.S. – we’re No. 1 among wealthy countries – makes all other problems more difficult to solve.
Following a June 7th presentation to the Illinois legislature by CPEG members Ron Baiman and Bill Barclay, which occured during a hearing on proposed bills to create a “LaSalle Street Tax”, CPEG has issued additional clarifying comments. The comments are in response to a number of issues raised during the hearing.
CPEG LaSalle Street Tax Additional Comments (PDF)
The attached essay, composed by CPEG members Mel Rothenberg and Bruce E. Parry over the past year, argues that a Marxist materialist analysis is fundamental in understanding and articulating the current international social/economic conjuncture. They note about the essay, “We sketch the theoretical framework underlying such an analysis, apply this framework broadly to describing the key phenomena defining our era, and draw some general strategic conclusions on what political approach and tasks revolutionary Marxists should be currently focusing on. To do all this in a relatively short essay necessitates a necessarily cryptic and schematic presentation, but we felt this was worth doing in view of the absence of such analysis among Marxist activists. There are a number of worthy lengthy and more detailed treatises written by scholars and academics, some of the most relevant of which we reference. Unfortunately these works are often theoretically dense and do not ordinarily find their way to left activists, the primary intended audience of this essay.
On June 7th, CPEG members Ron Baiman and Bill Barclay testified before the Illinois House of Representatives on House Bill 106, Introduced by Rep. Mary Flowers of Chicago, which would create a “LaSalle Street”, or Financial Transactions Tax in the state.
Baiman testified that a LaSalle Street Tax would be fair, feasible, and beneficial, adding billions in revenue to the ailing state budget. Barclay testified that talking points from opponents of such a tax are not grounded in real experiences. Download the powerpoint presentations that accompanied their testimony:
Ron Baiman’s Testimony (.pptx)
Bill Barclay’s Testimony (.pptx)
This response to the Romers’ Critique of Friedman Bernienomics Analysis, authored by CPEG’s Ron Baiman, is a cross-post from the Dollars and Sense blog.
To her credit Christina Romer, one of the four former CEA Chairs who wrote a scathing four paragraph letter dismissing Gerald Friedman’s detailed study of the impact of the Sanders economic program, has acknowledged that Friedman’s estimates warrant a detailed and substantive analysis. Romer has, with her husband and prominent fellow “Neoclassical (NC) Keynesian” Economist, David Romer, produced a more detailed critique that attempts to back up the stridently critical statements of the CEA Chair’s letter.
As Friedman notes, in his detailed rebuttal, the Romers’ major critique appears to be that a stimulus program that ramps up from $300 billion in 2016 to $600 billion by 2021 and then declines to the $300-$400 billion per year range from 2022 to 2026 (Romers, p. 2) cannot produce permanent gains in GDP growth rates via increased emp/pop ratio and productivity rather than a one-time boost in output that tapers off as the stimulus declines. Indeed, the Romers appear so sure of their NC methodological approach that they speculate that Friedman must have made an elementary miscalculation by not calculating multiplier impacts off of an unchanged (for 10 years) CBO baseline.