Posts Tagged ‘Bernie Sanders’

Fear and loathing of Bernie Sanders

October 14, 2016

Swat Team: The media’s extermination of Bernie Sanders and real reform by Thomas Frank for Harper’s magazine.  What the Washington Post’s coverage of the Sanders candidacy reveals about the liberal establishment mentality and the future of American journalism.

Jill Stein’s strange choice for Green VP

August 10, 2016

What was Jill Stein thinking when she picked Ajamu Baraka as the Green Party’s vice presidential candidate?

I don’t entirely disagree with Baraka.  It is true that Sanders isn’t as eager for war as Clinton, but he does not challenge the basic assumptions behind U.S. war policies.

The problem is that mere denunciation will not change anybody’s mind.  Baraka’s rhetoric will appeal only to those who already agree with him.

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Clinton conceded next to nothing to Sanders

July 28, 2016

Pearls Before Swine - pb160724comb_ts.tif

When Barack Obama was nominated for President in 2008, he offered Hillary Clinton, as the price of her support, a Cabinet post and the promise to back her candidacy in 2016.

Bernie Sanders asked much less in return for his support of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy—merely a non-binding Democratic platform that supported his progressive agenda.   He didn’t even get all of that.  The Democrats have come around to a $15 an hour minimum wage, but refuse to take a stand on fracking or the odious Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

The difference between 2008 and 2016 is that Obama and Clinton were both candidates of the status quo (which I didn’t realize then) whereas the Sanders candidacy was a real threat to the moneyed interests that who support Clinton.

It is not that Sanders supported anything radical.   Although he called himself a socialist, he ran as a Hubert Humphrey Democrat.  He supported restoration of New Deal programs that worked well in the past and a few programs, such as Medicare for all, that have worked well in foreign countries, while having little to say about foreign policy.

But to enact these modest reforms would require a real political revolution because they are unacceptable to the kind of  bankers and billionaires who made Bill and Hillary Clinton rich.

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Bernie Sanders’ strength and weakness

June 17, 2016

Transcript of Bernie Sanders’ speech in Burlington, Vermont, on Thursday, June 16, 2016.

∞∞∞

Bernie Sanders, in (sort of) conceding the primary election campaign to Hillary Clinton, gave an excellent speech Thursday night about what Americans need from their government.

And the decision to give priority to defeating Donald Trump is an honorable decision.

The problem with this speech is that he said nothing whatsoever about military intervention, the threat of nuclear war or the quest for peace.

I think that Sanders might be more hesitant than Clinton or Trump to go to war.  But he said nothing, and nothing during his campaign, about the war system.

He criticized Clinton for voting to authorize President Bush to use military force against Iraq—which, by the way, was also supported by Al Gore and John Kerry.   But Sanders has been much less critical of military interventions conducted under Democratic administrations.

I don’t oppose Clinton because of her vote on Iraq intervention, but that she has not learned anything from that mistake.  She replicated the mistakes of Iraq in Libya, she supported radical jihadists trying to overthrow Assad in Syria, she supported the coup in Honduras, and she brought the United States into confrontation with Russia in Ukraine.

The main innovation of the Obama administration is to carry on the Bush administration policies without large scale use of American troops, by means of special operations teams, flying killer robots and subsidies to foreign fighters.

The killing of harmless people in foreign countries continues.   Brown lives matter.  All lives matter, not just American lives.

I don’t mean to deny Sanders credit for his courageous campaign, for rallying support for important domestic reforms and for enabling all sorts of disparate reform groups to join in a common cause.  I am proud that I voted for Sanders in the New York primary.  I recommend listening to the full speech, or reading it, because it sets forth the domestic agenda that Americans need.

But unless there is peace, it is hard to push domestic reform.  If there is war with Russia, domestic issues will not matter.

Bernie Sanders 2016 and Gene McCarthy 1968

June 10, 2016

Bernie Sanders’ insurgent campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination has the same significance as Eugene J. McCarthy‘s in 1968.

McCarthy was a moderate Democrat from Minnesota who chose to run against incumbent Lyndon Johnson on a platform of opposition to the Vietnam War.

Eugene J. McCarthy

Eugene J. McCarthy

He didn’t have an especially distinguished record, and he wasn’t the best possible candidate.  But he was the candidate who had the nerve to run while all the other war opponents held back.   He provided an outlet for all the pent-up anti-war sentiment.

He won a plurality of the votes in the New Hampshire primary, against two slates of delegates both pledged to President Johnson.   His victory emboldened Senator Robert F. Kennedy to run, and Johnson decided not to seek re-election.

Even if Kennedy had not been assassinated, he probably would not have been able to defeat the entrenched Democratic Party organization or to prevent the nomination of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.

What McCarthy and then Kennedy did do was to open the door for a peace faction which was a continuing force in the Democratic Party independent of McCarthy himself.   I think, or at least I hope, Bernie Sanders has opened the door for a Democratic Party social justice faction that will outlive the Sanders campaign.

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Sanders, Millennials and the future

June 7, 2016

Millennials for Sanders

If Donald Trump is the candidate of angry white men and Hillary Clinton is the candidate of women, Bernie Sanders is the candidate of the young.

Across demographic groups, public opinion polls show a majority of voters under 30 support Sanders.

This is partly because younger Americans live in a more unforgiving world than I did when I was their age, and they have a stronger desire for change.

I think there is another reason.  Someone who is 19 or 29 should have a longer time horizon than I do at age 79.

My circle of friends consists mostly of liberal Democrats in my age group.  For them, the big question is: What would happen if Donald Trump is elected?

A younger person might ask: What would happen if we have eight more years of war and economic decline?  What if things go on as they are now for decades?

I think of global climate change as a problem for a future I probably won’t live to see.  Millennials can expect to see California run out of water and Miami sink beneath the waves in their lifetimes.

A Millennial voter would be more concerned than somebody in my generation—I feel silly calling myself a member of the Greatest Generation—about building the long-range future than about winning the next election.

Clinton is a defender of the status quo.  Trump is a voice for anger and frustration.  Of the three, only Sanders represents hope for the future.

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What Sanders should demand from Clinton

June 6, 2016

hillary-clinton-bernie-sandersBernie Sanders would be a fool to endorse Hillary Clinton in return for concessions in the Democratic platform.

Voters don’t pay any attention to the platform, and candidates don’t, either.  The important thing for Sanders to demand is appointment of members and staff of the Democratic National Committee who will support pro-worker candidates instead pro-Wall Street candidates for Congress and state offices.

Hillary Clinton would be a fool to put Sanders people on the Democratic National Committee in return for his endorsement.

Sanders’ endorsement of Clinton wouldn’t mean that much.

Most of the Sanders supporters whom I know think of Sanders as a bold reformer and Clinton as an overly cautious reformer.  They’d vote for Clinton, regardless of what Sanders says, because they think of her, not as a lesser evil, but as a lesser good.

Sanders supporters like me, who think there is a fundamental difference between pro-worker and pro-Wall Street candidates, would not be swayed by a Sanders endorsement.  Our opinions were formed before Sanders entered the race.

What Sanders can offer Clinton that is of value is his mailing list of small donors.  That is a treasure of enormous value for any candidate or slate of candidates.  The only circumstance it which it would be worth handing over, would be if the Democratic National Committee and its staff were replaced with Sanders’ people.

Arguably such a deal would both improve Clinton’s chances of winning in November, and be in the long-range interest of progressives and working people—a win-win for both sides.  But it wouldn’t be in the interest of Clinton’s big donors, and I’d be amazed if she agreed to it.

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The Republican wing of the Democratic Party

May 27, 2016

When Howard Dean ran for President in 2004, he said he represented “the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.”

What I took him to mean was that he represented the traditional Democratic constituencies, especially  labor, in opposition to the Republican wing, which favored big business.

rwb-donkeysplitAs chair of the Democratic National Committee, he famously said that the Democrats ought to be able to get the votes of men who drove pickup trucks with Confederate flags because they benefit from affordable health insurance and other liberal programs as much as anybody else.

He had a 50-state strategy in which he sought to built the Democratic Party everywhere, not just in the so-called swing states.  During his tenure, 2005 through 2009, Democrats recaptured control of Congress and built their strength across nationwide.  Democrats lost ground under his more conservative successors, Tim Keane (2009-2011) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (2011- )

The case for the Republican wing for the Democratic Party is that the interests of working people are compatible with the interests of Wall Street bankers and Fortune 500 executives, and that the goal of party leaders should be to seek consensus, as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama attempted to do.   The blame would rest with the Republican Party for refusing to respond to their overtures.

The problem with this is that it provides no answer to the growing concentration of wealth and power the past 25 years, at the expense of all Americans except a small elite.

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One victory Bernie Sanders has already won

May 23, 2016

160321221404-bernie-sanders-israel-aipac-the-final-five-election-special-5-00011615-large-169The most significant thing that Bernie Sanders has done is to prove that it is possible to carry out a credible national political campaign without depending on corporate and billionaire donors and without being rich himself.

This deprives establishment politicians of their excuse that they have no choice but to cater to big-money donors.   It also shows other progressive that they don’t have to compromise with the donor class in order to win.

Even if Sanders loses, which now seems likely, he has shown the way for future, better-prepared candidates.

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Where political change comes from

May 19, 2016

Keenanga-Yamahhta Taylor, a Bernie Sanders supporter, wrote this for the Boston Review:

When activists recall a Democratic Party that cared about ordinary people, what they really have in mind are the social movements and revolts that forced the party to respond to the needs and demands of those on the streets. 

RTW_protestThere would have been no New Deal without the Hoovervilles, rent riots, sit-down strikes, and Communist Party activism of the 1930s. 

There would have been no Great Society without Civil Rights protests in the South and rebellions in more than two hundred cities across the country during the 1960s. 

Even Richard Nixon, who won office appealing to a racist “silent majority,” waited out his first term before he began dismantling Lyndon Johnson’s welfare state, lest he provoke protests.

As the great activist and historian Howard Zinn put it, “What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but ‘who is sitting in’—and who is marching outside the White House, pushing for change.”  He didn’t mean that elections are irrelevant, but he emphasized what citizens do to shape their world. 

The anger about inequality and injustice in the United States, which has been given some voice by the Sanders campaign and most certainly by the Black Lives Matter movement, should not be stifled by the pressure to organize through the Democratic Party.  It can’t be done.

Source: Boston Review

Sometimes the art of compromise is necessary, but nobody is going to compromise with you unless you represent something powerful enough that the other person feels they have to compromise.

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Hillary Clinton is not an incremental reformer

May 16, 2016

It is Bernie Sanders who is the incremental reformer.  Hillary Clinton is a defender of the status quo.  Too many people are fooled into thinking their disagreement is about the pace of change.

It is not.

Their disagreement is about whether there should be any change at all and, if so, in what direction.

He wants to limit corporate power.   She depends on corporate power, both for her campaign and her personal income.

acceptchange

Nothing Bernie Sanders advocates is radical.   Everything he proposes has been tried and worked, either in the USA or abroad.

He wants to enforce anti-trust laws and laws against financial frauds.  He wants to restore worker protections and corporate regulations that worked well in the late 20th century.  He wants to adopt a version of Canada’s popular and successful Medicare-for-all plan.

He does not—for better or worse—advocate drastic redistribution of wealth and power, only a halt to the growing concentration of wealth.  He is not a peace candidate nor a civil liberties candidate, although I think he would be less eager than Clinton to go to war or hunt down whistle-blowers.

Even though the reforms Sanders proposes are popular, Hillary Clinton says they are impossible.   She says Sanders is doing people a disservice by encouraging them to hope for the impossible.

Universal health care is “never, ever” going to happen, she says; restoring free tuition at state universities is an example of foolish “free this and free that”, and young people who hope for something better haven’t done the research.

Clinton depends for her income and her campaign funds on the corporate establishment.  That establishment is so dead set against even minor reforms that pushing them through will require the equivalent of a political revolution.

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Election fraud charged in Democratic primaries

May 13, 2016

lawsuit-book-and-paperAn organization called Election Justice USA has filed a lawsuit charging election fraud in New York state’s primary election.  A reporter for Counterpunch obtained the complaint and the exhibits.  Here is what was charged:

According to Stewart McCauley, who helped collect the data and analyzed it by affidavit for Exhibit I, EJUSA has found that “[t]here are four broad methodologies that were used” to disenfranchise New York voters, the first two of which were also present in Arizona.

“Two by hackers (possibly), and two that had to have been carried out by BoE [Board of Elections] officials and/or employees:

1) Logging in (most likely after identifying the voter’s candidate of choice) to the BoE database remotely and tampering with registration records, including back-dating of changes

2) Crudely forged hand signatures to alter party affiliation via paper forms

3) BoE “nuclear” approach: actively purging eligible voters through a variety of methods, including intentional bouncing of maintenance letters (but note that the majority of our respondents/plaintiffs could not legally be removed as it has been less than five years since they registered)

4) BoE officials and employees actively neglecting to register new voters.”

Source: Counterpunch.

The whole U.S. civil order rests on public acceptance of the outcomes of elections as legitimate.   It is possible for a reform candidate to mobilize people power to overcome the built-in advantages that the rich and powerful have in the electoral process.  But that is only true if citizens can register to vote and the votes are counted.

The right to vote, and have your right counted, is the only way you have of ensuring your other rights are respected—short of revolution.

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Can economic growth overtake rising inequality?

May 5, 2016

The French economist Thomas Piketty has a strong and obvious argument as to why the rich usually get richer and the rest of us not.

He points out that so long as the return on assets—of whatever kind—is at a higher rate than the rate of economic growth, wealth and income will flow to owners of capital, not to wage-earners.

If you see gross inequality as a problem, there are two possible solutions:

  1.  Raise the top tax brackets to reduce the share of the capitalists.
  2.  Increase the rate of economic growth to increase the share of the workers.

An economist named Gerald Friedman concluded that Bernie Sanders’ economic policy would produce 5.3 percent annual economic growth.  Other economists say that is over-optimistic to the point of being crazy.  But even if Friedman is right, it would still be less than the historic rate of return on capital.

If Piketty is right, it means economic growth alone will not stem the growth of economic inequality.  It will be necessary to reduce return on capital, not to zero, but to a rate less than the rate of economic growth.

One way to do this is to raise upper-bracket taxes to 1950s levels.  Regulation of interest rates and subprime lending would help.  Prosecution of financial fraud and enforcement of antitrust laws might have an effect.

Historically, as Piketty noted in Capital in the 21st Century, there have been other ways in which concentrations of wealth have been destroyed.  They have been destroyed by means of wars, revolutions and devastating economic depressions.

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What are Bernie Sanders’ options if he loses?

May 2, 2016

What could Hillary Clinton offer Bernie Sanders if she wins?  What could he accept?  Above all, will he turn over his list of 2 million small donors and on what terms?

Peter+Daou+on+Twitter_+_THE+CAUSE_+If+Bernie+Wants+Real+Progress+He%E2%80%99ll+Align+HisSome of Clinton’s supporters say they aren’t willing to modify the Democratic platform in order to placate Sanders.  From their standpoint, that makes sense.

Sanders already has done immense damage to Clinton by raising peoples’ hopes.  The whole argument for Clinton is that nothing much good can be done, and she is the one qualified to keep things from getting worse.

I think Clinton’s election strategy will be try to persuade corporate conservatives that she is preferable to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz—which, from their standpoint, she is.  She will treat progressives and Sanders supporters as an embarrassment—which, from her standpoint, they are.

What she could offer Sanders is the promise of not trying to block him from retaining his Democratic Senate committee assignments and seniority rights.  This would be important to him carrying on the progressive fight from the Senate.

His endorsement of Clinton wouldn’t help her much, but the lack of an endorsement, or a lukewarm endorsement, would hurt.

Sanders’ core supporters back him because of his positions on important issues.  Some still are under the illusion that Sanders and Clinton stand for the same things, except that he is a bold idealist and she is a cautious pragmatist.  The first group would not be influenced by his endorsement or lack of endorsement; the second group might.

The big thing that Sanders has to offer is his donors list—the 2 million people who kept him in the race, mostly with donations of less than $200 each.

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Bernie Sanders: nice guys finish second?

May 2, 2016

Bob Kerrey, a former Nebraska governor and senator who ran for the Democratic nomination in 1992 and who has endorsed Mrs. Clinton in the current race, said Mr. Sanders might be winning now if he had relentlessly pressured Mrs. Clinton since last fall over her closed-door speeches to Wall Street banks, her role in the finances of Clinton Foundation programs, and other vulnerabilities.

Mr. Sanders did not raise the paid-speech issue, after long resistance, until late January.

“Making the transcripts of the Goldman speeches public would have been devastating” to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Kerrey said. “When the G.O.P. gets done telling the Clinton Global Initiative fund-raising and expense story, Bernie supporters will wonder why he didn’t do the same.”

Source: The New York Times

Two New York Times reporters wrote last month that Bernie Sanders would have done better in his campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination if—

  • He had been harder-hitting in his attacks on Hillary Clinton
  • He had spent more time on the campaign trial and less time tending to his duties in the Senate.

Measured by the standards of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, I think the campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been relatively genteel.

LINKS

Early Missteps Seen as a Drag on Bernie Sanders’ Campaign by Patrick Healy and Yamiche Alcindor for the New York Times.

Sanders’s Strength of Character Hurt His Campaign by Russ Baker for Newsflash.

This Is What Will Happen at the Democratic Convention by John Laurits for Nation of Change.  How Bernie Sanders could still win.

The difference between Trump and Sanders

May 2, 2016

Bernie Sanders promises to address the grievances of American working people.

Donald Trump promises to address the grievances of white American working people.

Sanders started too late—or too early

April 20, 2016

I don’t think Bernie Sanders became a candidate for President with the idea that he could actually win.

I think he filed in order to make progressive ideas part of the national political debate.

Bernie SandersI think he filed only because he saw that no other progressive Democrat was going to enter the race.

I think he would have been perfectly happy to support Elizabeth Warren or some other progressive Democrat.

As it was, he started late and started from behind.

Every American knew who Hillary Clinton was.  Hardly anybody outside Vermont had heard of him.

He had to build a campaign organization from scratch.  Hillary Clinton already had a network of campaign supporters in place from 2008 and had been working for the nomination since 2013.

She began with an enormous head start, with a campaign staff already in place, a strategy already prepared, millions of dollars in campaign funds and support of established leaders of the Democratic Party.

If Sanders had decided to run in 2013 instead of 2015, he would have better name recognition and a better organized campaign than he does now.  He wouldn’t have to be learning as he goes.

But he has been catching up.   The fact that he is a real contender may be as big a surprise to him as it is to most people, including me.

I hoped he would do better in New York state than he did, but, when he filed, nobody would have dreamed he would have done as well as he did.

The reason he is a stronger candidate than Jesse Jackson, Dennis Kucinich and progressive insurgents of the past is that the USA is now ripe for such a candidate.

Sanders was the catalyst for bringing together people who participated in the Fight For Fifteen, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street and the anti-Walker protests in Wisconsin.

Such movements will grow and multiply as long, but this may not be their year.  At this point it is unlikely Sanders will catch up, although it is still possible – as I will explain below.

I don’t think Sanders is under any obligation to drop out, any more than Clinton was in 2008 when she was trying unsuccessfully to catch up with Barack Obama.  His obligation now, as hers was then, is to his supporters.

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Front-runners in the money primary

April 16, 2016

The first third of your campaign is money, money, money.

The second third is money, money, money.

The final is votes, press, and money.

Source: Rahm Emanuel

In American presidential nominating process, there are two primaries.  One is to determine who can get the most votes.  The other is to determine who can raise the most money, it is virtually impossible to campaign for votes without money.

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Hillary, Bernie and TrumpI visited the Open Secrets web site to learn how the candidates are faring in the money primary, and where their money support is coming from, which is a better indicator of where they stand than their campaign rhetoric.

Hillary Clinton is the front-runner in the money primary, having raised $222.6 million as of the end of February.  She received $48.7 million from just 20 donors, representing a range of financial institutions, labor unions and charitable foundations.

Her top contributor was Soros Fund Management, headed by the billionaire speculator George Soros, which gave her campaign $7 million.

Organizations aren’t permitted to give directly to candidates.  The Soros donation, and all the organization donations I mention in this post, are totals of donations by Political Action Committees and by officers, employees and their families.

Bernie Sanders is the runner-up.  He raised $140.2 million, of which $92.6 million came from small donations, which are defined as donations of $200 or less.

His top contributor was Alphabet Inc. (formerly known as Google).  Sanders doesn’t accept PAC money, so Alphabet’s $254,614 contribution was all from officers and employees.  His other top contributors were the University of California, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.

Ted Cruz is the front-runner among Republicans.  He raised just under $120 million.  Just three companies contributed $36.1 million of that.  His top contributor was Wilks Brothers, a fracking company, which gave $15,069,000.  Its owners are strong supporters of the religious political right.

Donald Trump hasn’t bothered much with fund-raising so far.  He received $36.7 million, which included a $24.7 million loan – a loan, not a gift – from his personal funds.  His top contributor was Manchester Financial Group, a real estate developer, which gave $50,000.

John Kasich raised $22 million, including $1 million from the Boich Companies, a coal marketing and trading business.

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Who do lower-income families favor?

April 11, 2016

CfEhN4mUsAEmPH1Source: Matt Karp on Twitter.

Donald Trump is the candidate of people who think they’re losing ground.  Evidently they aren’t necessarily the same as the people with below-average income.

Nearly half of all American families have incomes of under $50,000.   The U.S. Census Bureau reported that median family income in the United States was $69,910 in 2014, and median household income (which includes single persons) was $53,657.

LINKS

U.S. Household Income by the Department of Numbers web site.

The Economist / YouGov poll for March 26-29.

Super-delegates and super Tuesdays

April 6, 2016

Bernie Sanders’ strong showing in the Democratic primaries is remarkable because today’s primary system was set up specifically to prevent somebody like him from winning the nomination.

Bernie_Poster_Large_Web_Graphic_72dpiSuper-delegates are Democratic party and elected officials who automatically get a seat in the convention, but are un-pledged.  They have the power to tip the balance against any undesired upstart grass roots candidate.  About 15 percent of this year’s delegates will be super-delegates.

Super-Tuesday is a day early in the election year in which a large bloc of states, mainly Southern and Midwestern, hold primary elections on the same day.  The expected result is for the front-runner to lock in a lead before New Yorkers and Californians vote.

The super-delegate system was set up in 1982 and the first Super Tuesday was in 1984.  The avowed purpose, which was frankly stated at the time, was to prevent the nomination of another George McGovern, an anti-war, left-wing candidate who swept the primaries in 1972 but only carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia in the general election.

mcgovernbd74cdee16334b204b22d6ece81699c2It’s almost forgotten now that 1972 was the first year that all delegates to Democratic or Republican national conventions were chosen in primary elections.  From 1832 to 1908, there were no presidential primaries, and presidential candidates were nominated at conventions, usually after many ballots.  From 1912 to 1968, some states held primaries, but the results were frequently disregarded.  The Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey in 1968 even though he did not win a single primary.

Things changed in 1972 when George McGovern was nominated against the virtually unanimous opposition of the Democratic Party establishment.  Under party rules of that year, there was guaranteed minimum representation of racial minorities, women and youth, but not of Democratic governors, senators and congressional representatives, many of whom failed to win election as delegates.

McGovern went down to ignominious defeat—which was partly, but probably not mainly, due to lack of support from Democratic regulars.   Moderate, business-friendly Democrats founded the Democratic Leadership Council to steer the part away from what he stood for.

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U.S. has free trade pact with tax-haven Panama

April 5, 2016

Revised and updated.

ofshorefirmsarticle-doc-9c974-1Hf8o1PFQk6fd5ff048dd08d6c36-547_634x334.

In the light of the Panama Papers leaks of a Panama law firm’s files on tax havens, it is interesting to note that the United States signed a free trade agreement with Panama in 2012.

According to Senator Bernie Sanders, the agreement restricted the right of the United States to crack down on abusive tax havens.

Sanders voted against the agreement.  Senator Hillary Clinton voted for it.  Ted Cruz wasn’t yet a member of the Senate at the time.

Tax havens were a serious concern even before the trade agreement was signed, and the concern went far beyond Panama.  Still, the agreement with Panama didn’t help.

As the chart above shows, the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca registered most of its shell companies in countries other than Panama.  Keep in mind that Mossack Fonseca is not the only law firm that registers shell companies in tax havens.  It is not even the largest such firm in Panama.

Here is what Sanders said about the free trade agreement.

Panama’s entire annual economic output is only $26.7 billion a year, or about two-tenths of one percent of the U.S. economy.  No-one can legitimately make the claim that approving this free trade agreement will significantly increase American jobs.

Then, why would we be considering a stand-alone free trade agreement with this country?

Well, it turns out that Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade U.S. taxes by stashing their cash in off-shore tax havens.   And, the Panama Free Trade Agreement would make this bad situation much worse.

Each and every year, the wealthy and large corporations evade $100 billion in U.S. taxes through abusive and illegal offshore tax havens in Panama and other countries.

According to Citizens for Tax Justice, “A tax haven . . . has one of three characteristics: It has no income tax or a very low-rate income tax; it has bank secrecy laws; and it has a history of non-cooperation with other countries on exchanging information about tax matters.  Panama has all three of those. … They’re probably the worst.”

Mr. President, the trade agreement with Panama would effectively bar the U.S. from cracking down on illegal and abusive offshore tax havens in Panama.  In fact, combating tax haven abuse in Panama would be a violation of this free trade agreement, exposing the U.S. to fines from international authorities.

In 2008, the Government Accountability Office said that 17 of the 100 largest American companies were operating a total of 42 subsidiaries in Panama.  This free trade agreement would make it easier for the wealthy and large corporations to avoid paying U.S. taxes and it must be defeated.  At a time when we have a record-breaking $14.7 trillion national debt and an unsustainable federal deficit, the last thing that we should be doing is making it easier for the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in this country to avoid paying their fair share in taxes by setting-up offshore tax havens in Panama.

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Voters divide on issues mostly along party lines

April 4, 2016

voters-2016-pew

I think the current crisis of American politics is the inability to fit three radically different political movements—for change in our capitalist system (Bernie Sanders), for change in our democratic system (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz) and defenders of the status quo (Hillary Clinton, John Kasich).

Evidently voters see things differently.  Recent Pew Research polls, summarized in the chart above, show that the opinions of American voters on most issues are divided very clearly along party lines.

I was surprised that fewer Sanders supporters said they are angry at the government than are supporters of any of the Republican candidates.

I was not surprised that Trump supporters are more united in opposition to free trade than supporters of any other faction, but I was surprised that Sanders supporters favor free trade in almost the same numbers as Clinton supporters.

The only big difference among the candidates that overlaps party lines is that more Sanders and Trump supporters think that U.S. global involvement makes things worse than Clinton, Cruz or Kasich supporters do.

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Bernie Sanders and the Israel lobby

March 29, 2016

Bernie Sanders is the only major-party Presidential candidate of Jewish heritage, the only one to have worked on an Israeli kibbutz and the only one to be eligible for Israeli citizenship.

160321221404-bernie-sanders-israel-aipac-the-final-five-election-special-5-00011615-large-169He also is the only one to separate himself, even a little, from the war policy of the present Israeli government.

He was the only candidate to decline to appear before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last week, and the only one to attempt to discuss the Israel-Palestine situation objectively.

Criticizing the Netanyahu government is, of course, far different from being anti-Israel, much less anti-Semitic, but you wouldn’t think so from the responses of the other candidates.

LINKS

Speech in Salt Lake City on March 21, 2016 by Bernie Sanders.

What They Said: Candidates double down on Israel at AIPAC by Philip Giraldi for The Unz Review.

Photo Credit: CNN

Can college education be free for everyone?

March 25, 2016

I think it is feasible to provide college education with free or affordable tuition, as Bernie Sanders advocates.  Foreign countries do so, and the United States once did, too.

I have long been in favor of free or affordable college education for everybody who has the desire and ability to do college work, but this is different from providing free tuition for everybody.

collegekids97944673-copyRon Unz, the maverick political editor and writer, has proposed that Harvard University offer free tuition.  As he says, it can easily afford it because of the tax-free revenues of its huge endowment fund.  He also advocates for a fairer admissions process, especially for Asian-American students.

Those are excellent proposals.  But they wouldn’t get everybody who wishes into Harvard.

Sanders’ plan is for the federal government to pay for two-thirds of the cost of college education at state universities that offer free tuition and meet other conditions.  I expect that many state governors would turn down this generous offer.  Most states are cutting the budgets of their state university systems.  And after all, many states refused to expand Medicaid even though the Affordable Care Act offered to cover nine-tenths of the cost.

Germany is frequently cited as an example of a country that provides free college tuition for everyone, including foreigners, who can pass an entrance examination.

But only about 28 percent of young German adults are college graduates, compared to 43 percent of Americans.

During the golden age of American public higher education, college education was much less common.  As recently as 1990, only 23 percent of young American adults were college graduates.

Higher education in Germany also is much more bare bones than it is in the USA.  German colleged generally offer a rigorous academic program without the extra-curricular amenities that Americans typically regard as a part of the college experience.

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Bernie Sanders’ share of the youth vote

March 17, 2016

Bernie SandersCdwo4iCWoAAPqVcVia The Fix | The Washington Post.

The good news for Bernie Sanders is that he gets a larger share than any other candidate of votes of people under age 30.  The bad news is that younger voters do not turn out in large numbers, compared to older voters, and that Sanders’ advantage with voters under 30 is shrinking as the primary season goes on.