Posts Tagged ‘Democrats and Republicans’

Did Senate Dems trade ACA for Russia sanctions?

June 15, 2017

Senate Democrats reportedly made a deal to allow Republicans to gut Obamacare in return for their support of tougher sanctions against Russia.

The Republicans have a 52 to 48 majority, so they have the power to force through their plan.   We the public don’t know what it is going to be, but, in order to be reconcilable with the House bill, it will include denying government health care benefits to millions of people in order to enable tax cuts for the very rich.

There are procedural tactics that the Democrats could use to delay action until public opposition has time to build, but they reportedly have agreed not to do this.

So the public loses a program that, despite its many flaws, has saved lives in return for the increased possibility of war with Russia.

Reports of a deal may be false or exaggerated and, if there is a deal, not all Democrats may be on board with it.

But it is an indisputable fact that the Democratic leadership in Congress is putting much more energy into investigation, so far fruitless, of Trump’s ties with Russia than into opposing the Republican political agenda.

(more…)

Thomas Frank on Trump’s nationalist populism

May 24, 2017

Nobody alive has a better grasp of American politics than Thomas Frank.

Above is a video I came across of a talk he gave in April at the Kansas City Public Library.   It’s a bit long, especially to watch on a computer screen, but Frank is an entertaining speaker, as he is a writer, and I recommend listening to him if you have time.  His talk ends a little short of an hour and a question-and-answer period runs for about 30 minutes.

Frank sees Donald Trump as the latest of a line of Republican nationalist populists—his predecessors being Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, George W. Bush and the leaders of the Tea Party.

A populist is someone who claims to speak in the name of the people against the elite.   The old Populist Party, which dominated Kansas politics in the 1890s, represented farmers and laborers and fought against bankers and railroad CEOs.

The Democratic Party used to be this kind of populist party, Frank said, but it no longer is.   Instead it represents a professional class defined by educational credentials.

In the days of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, Democrats spoke in the name of the common people against greedy Wall Street bankers and power-hungry corporate CEOs.   But the present generation of Democratic leaders regards bankers and CEOs as classmates—members of the same college classes and same social class.

This has given an opening to nationalist populists who claim to speak for the common people against meddling bureaucrats, unpatriotic intellectuals and out-of-touch journalists.

The vast majority of Americans are either treading water economically or going under.   They are justifiably angry, and right-wing talk radio tells them a story that explains their plight and channels their anger.

The Republican populists offer no real solution, but Democrats no longer offer an alternative story.  That’s why they’ve been in decline for 50 years.  They will have a hard time coming back, Frank said, even if Donald Trump self-destructs.

I found Frank’s whole talk interesting.  Maybe you will, too.

(more…)

A choice of evils: links November 5, 2016

November 5, 2016

Trumponomics, Taxes and the American Worker by David Cay Johnston for the Washington Spectator.

It Didn’t Have to Be Hillary by Andrew Levine for Counterpunch.

The GOP’s Stealth War Against Voters by Greg Palast for Rolling Stone.

Barrel Bomb: the Cataclysmic Close of Campaign 2016 by Chris Floyd for Empire Burlesque.

The Places Left Behind by Lily Geismer for Jacobin.  About the Clintons’ “New Markets” initiative.

Could the GOP become the pro-worker party?

August 15, 2016

My parents were New Deal Democrats, and I was brought up to revere the memory of Franklin Roosevelt and to believe that the Democrats were the party of working people.

DCdivided-300x253But a strange thing happened in American politics during the past 20 years.  Blue-collar workers and high school graduates have become the base of the Republican Party, while college-educated professionals are now the base of the Democratic Party.

As recently as 1992, when Bill Clinton ran against George H.W. Bush, he had a huge lead among workers earning less than $50,000 a year, and high school graduates and dropouts.  The elder Bush won by a similarly large margin among workers earning $100,000 a year or more, and narrowly carried college graduates.

In contrast, a CNN poll conducted right after the 2016 conventions gives Hillary Clinton a 23 percent lead among college graduates and an 18 percent lead among voters earning more than $50,000 a year.  Donald Trump is competitive among voters earning less than $50,000 a year and has a 26 percent lead among whites with high school educations or less.

This isn’t because Republicans actually represent the interests of working people.  Leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan—and including Donald Trump—still believe that the key to prosperity is deregulation and tax cuts for rich people, policies which have been tried and failed for the past 25 years.

But Trump, in his saner moments, at least talks about the concerns of working people.  Hillary Clinton at the moment seems more interested in reaching out to conservatives and anti-Trump Republicans.

My guess is that she will win in November, probably in a landslide, based on an alliance of racial and ethnic minorities, women and college-educated white professionals, plus the disgust of middle-road voters with Trump’s antics.

But if she governs in the interests of Wall Street, as her political record and donor list indicate she will, Republicans could reinvent themselves as champions of the working class.

(more…)

Trump woos workers, Clinton woos Republicans

July 29, 2016

Donald Trump is going after the vote of blue-collar workers who, rightly, feel abandoned by the Democratic leadership, while Hillary Clinton is trying to woo anti-Trump Republicans.

For struggling American workers, Clinton is like a physician who says your terminal illness is incurable, and also charges bills higher than you can pay.  Trump is like a quack who offers you a treatment that probably won’t work, but you may be willing to try for lack of an alternative.

Thomas Frank, writing in The Guardian, summed up the situation well:

Thomas-Frank_250

Thomas Frank

Donald Trump’s many overtures to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders were just the beginning.  He also deliberately echoed the language of Franklin Roosevelt, he denounced “big business” (not once but several times) and certain of his less bloodthirsty foreign policy proposals almost remind one of George McGovern’s campaign theme: “Come home, America.”

Ivanka Trump promised something that sounded like universal day care.  Peter Thiel denounced the culture wars as a fraud and a distraction.  The Republican platform was altered to include a plank calling for the breakup of big banks via the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.  I didn’t hear anyone talk about the need to bring “entitlements” under control.  And most crucially, the party’s maximum leader has adopted the left critique of “free trade” almost in its entirety, a critique that I have spent much of my adult life making.

It boggles my simple liberal mind.  The party of free trade and free markets now says it wants to break up Wall Street banks and toss NAFTA to the winds.  The party of family values has nominated a thrice-married vulgarian who doesn’t seem threatened by gay people or concerned about the war over bathrooms.  The party of empire wants to withdraw from foreign entanglements.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Obama extends overtime pay over GOP objection

May 18, 2016

overtimepay30-b2-a8-1571-1454141881Give credit where credit is due.   The Department of Labor’s new rule on overtime pay for salaried workers would benefit millions of American workers.  Such a rule would not have been proposed under a Republican administration.

But why is the rule being introduced now, and not years ago?  I suspect, although I cannot prove, that this is a response to the Bernie Sanders campaign.

A Republican administration would not have done what Obama just did.  Conservative Democrats are not advocates for working people, but they can be pressured into appeasing working people.  This is not true of conservative Republicans, who oppose high wages and pro-labor legislation.

If Hillary Clinton and other conservative Democrats are elected this fall, the lesson for labor unions, civil rights organizations and consumer advocates is to keep the pressure on to support their interests.

They should follow the example of the LGBT movement.  President Obama originally opposed gay marriage, but changed his position after LGBT supporters withheld campaign contributions.

This is the way to play politics.  Don’t support anybody unless they give you a positive reason to support them.

Politicians who depend on campaign donations from large corporations and rich people will never go against the vital interests of their donors, but they can be forced to strike a balance between donors and their core voters unless the voters passively support them.

LINKS

Obama Is Bringing Overtime Pay to Millions of Workers by Dave Jamieson for the Huffington Post.

The new overtime rule will directly benefit 12.5 million working people: Who they are and where they live by Ross Eisenbrey and Will Kimball for the Economic Policy Institute.

Republicans Move to Block New Overtime Rules by Connor D. Wolf for the Daily Caller.

The seeds of America’s culture wars

April 29, 2016

David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America is a ground-breaking 946-page book I never got around to reading, and probably won’t.  But I think I got the gist of it by reading a review by Scott Alexander on his Slate Star Codex blog.

Fischer’s argument is that basic patterns of American culture were set by migrations of four very different groups of migrants from the British Isles:

  • Albion'sSeedhek32xef_largePuritans to New England in the 1620s.
  • Cavaliers to Virginia in the 1640s.
  • Quakers to Pennsylvania in the 1670s.
  • Borderers (aka Scots-Irish) to the Appalachians in the 1700s.

Those who came after, he said, had to adapt to social systems established by these four groups—the moralistic Puritans, the aristocratic Cavaliers, the tolerant Quakers and the warlike Borderers—even though the biological descendants of these groups ceased to be in the majority.

It’s interesting and, I think, at least partly true.   Alexander’s review is long for a blog post, but much shorter than the book, and even those uninterested in his basic theme will enjoy reading his lists of fun facts about each group.

(more…)

Clintonism, Trumpism: a win-win for the 1%

April 28, 2016

In American politics today, there are three main factions and only two parties to represent them.  One faction has to lose and, if Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are nominated, it will be the Bernie Sanders progressives.

fatcatHillary Clinton represents the Washington and Wall Street elite, committed to perpetual war and crony capitalism.  Wall Street bankers have made her and her husband rich, neoconservative war hawks praise her and Charles Koch has said she may be preferable to either of the possible GOP nominees she may be preferable to either of the possible GOP nominees.

Donald Trump speaks to the concerns of working people—especially pro-corporate trade deals and deindustrialization—but he has no real solution.

His economic nationalism, while not a complete answer to U.S. economic problems, is preferable to the corporate trade deals of the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

But by pitting white working men against Hispanics, blacks, immigrants and feminists, he prevents the working class as a whole from ever having enough clout to defend their interests.

Thomas Frank wrote an excellent book about how the Republicans may be the party of the wealthy elite, representing the upper 1 percent of American income earners, but the Democrats are the party of the educated professional elite, representing the rest of the upper 10 percent.

This year’s political realignment may change this, as he himself implicitly acknowledged in a new article in Vanity Fair.  Under Hillary Clinton, Democrats are becoming the party of the upper 1 percent as well.  Here is the meat of what Frank wrote.

Rich Americans still have it pretty good. I don’t mean everything’s perfect: business regulations can be burdensome; Manhattan zoning can prevent the addition of a town-house floor; estate taxes kick in at over $5 million.   But life is acceptable. Barack Obama has not imposed much hardship, and neither will Hillary Clinton.

And what about Donald Trump?  Will rich people suffer if he is elected president?  Well, yes.  Yes, they will.  Because we all will.  But that’s a pat answer, because Trump and Trumpism are different things.  Trump is an erratic candidate who brings chaos to everything.  Trumpism, on the other hand, is the doctrine of a different Republican Party, one that would cater not to the donor class, but rather to the white working class.  Rich people do not like that idea.

(more…)

Elites focus on what they themselves want

April 12, 2016

Elites of both parties focus on the things they want for themselvesRepublicans offer tax cuts and deregulation, as if everyone in America were going to become an entrepreneur.  Democrats offer free college tuition and paid maternity leave, as if these things were a great benefit to people who don’t have the ability, preparation or inclination to sit through four years of college, and … can’t find a decent job from which to take their leave.

Source: Megan McArdle – Bloomberg View

Hat tip to Mike the Mad Biologist

This is true, but it’s not enough to get my vote

February 29, 2016

democraticimperfectbut notnutsimage001Hat tip to Bill Elwell

In 1991 election for Governor of Louisiana, the Democratic candidate was the corrupt Edwin Edwards and the Republican candidate was David Duke, a Nazi sympathizer and leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

I’m told that billboards read: VOTE FOR THE CROOK, NOT THE KOOK.

Now Democrats are making the same argument on a national level.  Yes, they say, the Clinton-Obama faction of the Democratic Party is in bed with Wall Street, committed to perpetual war and unable to unable to advance the interests of working people, but at least we aren’t totally disconnected from reality, like the Republicans.

That’s not a good enough argument to get my vote.  I probably would have voted for Edwards if I had been a Louisianan in 1991, but that was because this was a one-time situation.  In the long run, I’m not going to support anyone without a positive reason.

Frederick Douglass said, “Find out just what any people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.”  If all that’s needed to get people to vote Democratic is not being a Republican, that’s all the Clinton-Obama Democrats will offer.

(more…)

The four main factions in U.S. politics

January 6, 2016

Going into the 2016 elections, I think the differences between the populist and establishment factions of the two largest U.S. political parties are as big as the differences between the two parties.  Here’s how I see the divisions:

REPUBLICANS

Right-Wing Populists.  These consist largely of socially conservative white working people who think (with some justification) that government has turned their back on their moral values and abandoned them in favor of minority groups.  They’re against government bailouts and subsidies of big corporations, but their animosity is against the government, not the corporations.  They want to preserve Social Security, Medicare and other traditional New Deal programs, but they’re against governmental programs primarily aimed at helping minorities and the undeserving poor.  They are against the Trans Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements that limit American sovereignty.  Donald Trump and Ted Cruz purport to speak for this faction.

Right-Wing Establishmentarians.  These consist of rich and powerful people, and their dupes, who embrace what Les Leopold calls the better business climate model of economic policy.  They want lower taxes on upper bracket payers, fewer governmental programs for the poor and less government regulation.  Ultimately they’d like to cut back on Social Security, Medicare and other New Deal programs.  They favor the Trans Pacific Partnership and other pro-corporate trade agreements.  Jeb Bush speaks for this faction.

DEMOCRATS

Left-Wing Establishmentarians.  These consist of rich and power people, and their dupes, who are a kinder, gentler version of the right-wing establishmentarians.  They want to govern basically in their own interest, but less harshly.   They are open to affirmative action, gay marriage, abortion rights and any other rights (except gun rights) that do not threaten the existing structure of economic and political power.  Hillary Clinton speaks for this faction.

Left-Wing Populists.  These consist of blue-collar workers, and their advocates.  Like the right-wing populists, they feel their government has abandoned them, but their animosity is directed against large corporations and Wall Street banks, whom they think (with some reason) have captured the government.  While they favor equal rights and opportunities for women, gays and racial minorities, they think the main issues are economic.  Bernie Sanders speaks for this faction.

(more…)

Why is there no real party of the people?

October 12, 2015

A conservative Christian writer and blogger named Rod Dreher is disgusted with how the Republican Party serves the interests of Wall Street and the military-industrial complex.  But he won’t vote for the Democrats because he is opposed to gay marriage and abortion rights.

He wonders why there can’t be a party that represents the interests of the common people on economics and the views of the common people on social issues?

The reason why economic and social issues are aligned the way they are is the power of big money in politics.

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and the other Democratic leaders are strongly pro-business.  But they can never be as pro-business as George W. Bush, Mitt Romney or the other Republican leaders.

So in order to appeal to rich people, the Democratic leaders have to differentiate themselves on non-economic issues.  A Wall Street banker or Silicon Valley CEO who was gay or female or an immigrant or a marijuana user, or had relatives or friends who were, would prefer Democrats to Republicans unless the Democrats were an actual threat to their wealth and power—which Democrats have not been for decades.

Social issues work the other way for Republicans.   Abortion, gun rights, immigration and gay marriage are issues that enable the GOP to appeal to middle-income voters who might otherwise vote Democratic.  And, in fact, many Democrats would prefer to campaign on these issues than press for raising the minimum wage, breaking up the too-big-to-fail banks or preserving Social Security and Medicare.

(more…)

The political scene – August 25, 2015

August 25, 2015

The Do-Something-Else Principle by Doug Muder for The Weekly Sift.

The simple-minded populism that controls the GOP by Paul Waldman for The Washington Post.

teaparty.GOP.USA.worldDoug Muder and Paul Waldman wrote about how the leading Republican candidates operate on the principle that “ignorance is strength”.

They not only are uninterested in the details of policy.  They lack understanding of how a Constitutional government works.  They seem to think that Presidents can do anything they want by decree, and the only qualities needed are decisiveness and average common sense.

Dr. Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump have no experience or interest in government.  Senator Ted Cruz, although he holds public office, also manifests no interest in actually governing.  The popular appeal of such candidates is a measure of the frustration of the American public with the present bipartisan consensus.

One-party system: What total Republican control of a state really means by Herman Schwartz for Reuters.

The Republican Party has much more grass roots strength at the state level than the Democrats.  But except for those who think gun rights and the suppression of abortion are more important than anything else, they’re not governing in the interest of American working people.

The Age of Imperial Wars by James Petras.

Insouciance Rules the West by Paul Craig Roberts.

The establishment Democrats and Republicans understand the workings of government better than the Tea Party Republicans do.  But in their overall policies, they, too, are either disconnected from reality or powerless to change the direction of a government that is on automatic pilot for drone warfare, covert warfare and proxy warfare.

(more…)

Why presidential candidates ignore most voters

August 3, 2015

The Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns will ignore most voters in 2016.  They will focus on a few voters in a few swing states.

Frank Bruni in the New York Times wrote about how a Republican insider thinks the Republicans can win by nominating Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, for President and Frank Kasich, the current governor of Ohio for Vice-President, and thereby carrying those two states.

26bruni-master675And a Democratic insider thinks the key to winning Ohio and thereby the presidential election is racking up a huge majority Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland.

Neither party’s strategists bother with California, Texas or New York, states in which they think the outcome is a foregone conclusion.  Only a few states – Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina and maybe one or two others – are in play.

This is something new, and in part a self-fufilling prophecy.   In the 1976 election, as Bruni noted, there were 20 states, including California, Texas and New York, where the margin of victory was less than 5 percentage points.

Polarization between red states and blue states has grown since then, and one of the reasons has to be that Democrats cede Texas and the Deep South to the Republicans, and Republicans cede California, New York and New England to the Democrats.

When I tell my Democratic friends I am disgusted with both parties and plan to vote for the Green Party candidate, they bring up the vote for Ralph Nader in Florida in 2000 and ask me whether I want Donald Trump to be President.   I would vote my conscience in any case, but why even think about this question if it is a foregone conclusion that New York will go Democratic in any case?

LINK

The Millions of Marginalized Americans by Frank Bruni in the New York Times.  (Hat tip to Steve Badrich)

How job choices correlate with political choices

June 3, 2015

20150602_jobsHat tip to zero hedge.

This chart was created by Verdant Labs.  If you click on that link, you can find the original chart, plus an additional interactive chart with information about more occupations.  For example, it shows that, in my own former job of journalist, there are 88 Democrats for every 12 Republicans.

This by the way does support the claim of conservatives that reporters tend to be liberals, but I’m not sure what, if anything, could be done to change this.  An affirmative action program for journalists who claim to be conservatives?  I don’t think that would work.

I often hear that Americans prefer political centrists, but Americans classified by occupation are strongly polarized.   Interestingly, though, if you go to the original Verdant Labs article, you will find that some of the top corporate and business positions are more evenly divided between the two parties than many of the middle-class and working-class jobs.

I can understand while environmental protection workers would tend to be Democrats while oil field workers would tend to be Republicans.  But some of the other political polarizations seem to based on people deciding to fit stereotypes than the actual positions of the two parties.

Politics and the 1 percent of the 1 percent

June 3, 2015

2015_0601ls3Hat tip to occasional links and commentary.

The top 1 percent of the top 1 percent of the U.S. population—fewer than 32,000 people—are increasingly the gatekeepers of American politics.  As elections grow more costly, super-rich campaign contributors grow more powerful.

Last year, according to a report by the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Responsive Politics, this small group of people accounted for 29 percent of all campaign donations.

Within this group, there were 135 who gave $500,000 or more, 63 who gave $1 million or more, and three who gave $10 million or more.  The top giver was Tom F. Streyer, a liberal San Francisco hedge fund manager and environmentalist, who put more than $73 million into anti-Republican PACs.

While most individuals gave mainly to one political party or the other, the elite donors are fairly bipartisan as a group, as the chart above shows.

Wealthy lawyers, environmentalists and executives of non-profit institutions give mainly to Democrats, while oil and gas industry employees give mainly to Republicans.  Wall Street gave more than any other industry, with substantial amounts to both parties but more to the Republicans..

LINK

The Political One Percent of the One Percent in 2014: Mega Donors Fuel Rising Cost of Elections by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Sunlight Foundation.

Paul Krugman makes a case for the Democrats

April 14, 2015

Paul Krugman, whom I respect, thinks that Americans will have a real choice in 2016 between the Republicans, who represent the wealthy, and the Democrats, who represent the public interest.

I think he’s right about the Republicans, but I’m not so sure about the Democrats.  Here’s what he wrote:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman

As we head into 2016, each party is quite unified on major policy issues — and these unified positions are very far from each other.

The huge, substantive gulf between the parties will be reflected in the policy positions of whomever they nominate, and will almost surely be reflected in the actual policies adopted by whoever wins.

For example, any Democrat would, if elected, seek to maintain the basic U.S. social insurance programs — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — in essentially their current form, while also preserving and extending the Affordable Care Act.

Any Republican would seek to destroy Obamacare, make deep cuts in Medicaid, and probably try to convert Medicare into a voucher system.

(more…)

Americans are sick to death of both parties

December 23, 2014

Americans are increasingly disillusioned with both Democrats and Republicans.  That’s why only 36 percent of registered voters cast ballots this year—a drop of 22 percentage points from 2012.

The national turnout was the lowest in 70 years in spite of the fact that more money was spent in the campaign than in any off-year election in American history.

fatcatPolitical scientists Walter Dean Burnham and Thomas Ferguson said Americans have good reason for their disillusionment.

They explained in an article on Alternet how neither Democrats nor Republicans can represent the interests of working Americans because they are financed a tiny elite of wealth, and Americans are starting to catch on to this.

The Democrats rely instead on appeals to cultural liberalism, the grievances of women and minorities and memories of the New Deal.  The Republicans rely on appeals to cultural conservatism and prejudice, a big turnout of upper-income voters and hindrances to voting by lower-income voters.

But neither party has a convincing program for dealing with globalization, financialization, de-industrialization and the erosion of good jobs.

Average Americans may not understand the subtleties of economic policy, but they understand what is happening to them.  As John Dewey once wrote, you don’t have to be a shoemaker to know your shoes are a bad fit.

Burnham and Ferguson didn’t speculate as to what will happen if this goes on indefinitely.  My own opinion is that the USA will experience an upheaval worse than the labor violence of the 1890s and 1930s.

The militarization of American police and NSA surveillance of ordinary Americans then will be used by government in league with corporations to protect the social order from the masses.

Radical change would not necessarily be change for the better.  If there is a public uprising, it is likely to be led by someone like Huey Long or Joe McCarthy as by a great statesman.  But I don’t see how things can go on as they are.

∞∞∞

Here are key paragraphs of Burnham’s and Ferguson’s article.

(more…)

Welfare for big banks gets bipartisan support

December 15, 2014

Conservatives are opposed to government welfare, and liberals are opposed to big business, so you would think that one thing they would be able to agree on is opposition to government welfare for big business.

But Democrats and Republicans in Congress are just the opposite.  They just enacted a budget bill stuffed with benefits for big business, including a provision that allows big banks to gamble on  with government-insured deposits.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, in a speech recorded in the video above, told how Citicorp leveraged its influence in Congress and the executive branch to bring this about.

Letting a bank such as Citicorp put insured deposits into inherently risky speculations, such as swaps and derivatives, is the equivalent of me wanting to bet my saving Las Vegas casinos and expecting the government to compensate me for my losses.

This is not was federal deposit insurance was intended to do.   Deposit insurance was intended to cover normal banking activity in the real economy, such as home mortgages, auto insurance loans and business loans.

Federal deposit insurance never was intended to cover swaps and derivatives, which are just bets on which way the markets will go.  They are not backed by real collateral and they do not contribute to the real economy.

(more…)

Which side are they on?

December 9, 2014

The Republican Party leadership is explicitly anti-union because they recognize that unions are a key support for the Democratic Party and a key opponent of the right-wing corporate agenda.

It would seem logical to think that President Obama and the Democratic leaders would defend organized labor, one of the pillars of their party, but they don’t.

RTW_protestAs Thomas Edsall pointed out in his New York Times column, the Democratic leadership has been not only indifferent to labor’s goals, but sometimes actively hostile.

Republicans such as Scott Walker and Chris Christie have persuaded the public that low wages, job insecurity and lack of benefits are normal, and that a policeman who gets a pension enjoys an unfair privilege at the public expense.

Democratic leaders do little or nothing to counteract this.

The problem is not that Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi or the other Democratic leaders are naive or weak, or that the Republicans are obstructionist (they are, but that’s not the problem).

The problem is that the goals of the Democratic leaders are different from what they say and from what their core supporters want.

(more…)

The naming of Democrats and Republicans

November 22, 2014
Double click to enlarge

Double click to enlarge

Here’s an interesting chart showing the most common American first names, and the likelihood someone of that name will be a Democrat or a Republican.

People named Jasmine, Caitlin or Abigail are almost certain to be Democrats, and people named Duane, Brent or Troy are very likely to be Republicans.

Yes, there is a gender gap, with more women’s names on the Democratic side and men’s names on the Republican side.

Men named Dylan are the ones most likely to be Democrats, and women named Tammy most likely to be Republicans.

Vickie (with an “ie”) is on the Republican side of the chart, but Vicky (with a “y”) and Victoria are on the Democratic side.

Men named Philip (who spell their names with one “l”, like me) are near the middle, but slightly on the Republican side, but less so than people named Phillip (with two “ll”s).

I’m not sure of the significance of this—if any.

(more…)

Something to ponder

November 22, 2014

Twenty-five years ago, Rick Perry was a Democrat and Elizabeth Warren was a Republican.

via GOPLifer.

The people have spoken: What did they say?

November 5, 2014

I think the Democrats (with some exceptions) deserved to lose the last election, but I don’t think the Republicans (with some exceptions) deserved to win.

Election2014.155806_600Rather than bringing about change we can believe in, the Obama administration and its supporters in Congress committed to perpetual warfare, Big Brother surveillance, bailouts for the banks and austerity for everybody else.

But the Republicans did not win by proposing a constructive alternative.  Rather they won by stoking fears of Ebola, ISIS, immigrants and gun confiscation, by attack dads financed by dark money, and by suppressing and discouraging the votes of minorities, poor people and young people.

I don’t think the American people are committed to the Republican Party, but I think they are willing to give the Republicans a chance to show what they can do, just as they were willing to give the Democrats a chance in 2006 and 2008.

If the Republicans can put the USA on the path to peace and prosperity, they will deservedly make their majority permanent.  If they fail or make things worse, which I think is highly probable, their sweep will be as ephemeral as the Democrats’ victories of six or eight years ago.

Old white guy power, and other election topics

November 4, 2014

Who’s Buying the Election? A Bunch of Old White Guys by Zoe Carpenter for The Nation.

Speaking as an old white guy, I do not feel represented by the rich people who finance the election campaigns.  And I can say the same is true of my old white male circle of friends.

The problem with our system of campaign financing is that it is dominated by a tiny group of super-rich people, less than 0.1 percent of the population, whose economic interests run counter to the rest of us, including the vast majority of us elderly white males.

Making this elite more diverse will not change this.  What’s needed is to reduce its power.

Two Charts on Why the Obama Economy Sucks by Ian Welsh.

Ian Welsh points out that the percentage of working-age Americans with jobs fell and remained low all through the Obama administration, as did median household income.  Although the election is influenced by many factors, Republicans would not have a shot at controlling the Senate if economic conditions were better for most Americans.

Now the Democrats did not create the recession, nor are they responsible for the fact that it is much worse than a normal economic downturn.  And it is true they face obstruction from Republicans in Congress and on the Supreme Court.  But what have they done, or tried to do, or talked about doing, aside from a modest economic stimulus plan, that would make things better?  It seems to me they’ve swallowed the meme that reducing the budget deficit takes precedence over putting Americans to work.

(more…)