Posts Tagged ‘Election 2022’

Maybe I didn’t give Biden enough credit

November 11, 2022

Krystal Ball, writing for The Lever, said the Democrats were stronger than expected in the Rustbelt states because the Biden Administration actually did things that benefitted working people.  Half a loaf, or even crumbs, are better than no bread.

President Joe Biden’s economic policy has been a genuine break from the market fundamentalism of the Clinton and Obama White Houses.  Instead of pushing terrible new trade deals that ship jobs overseas, the Biden administration has challenged China with an export ban on semiconductors and signed executive orders to encourage American manufacturing.

In fact, companies are on track to reshore 350,000 jobs this year alone.  This is a huge reversal of what happened under the Trump administration when offshoring actually increased to the tune of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

What’s more, instead of tax cuts for the rich à la Bill Clinton, or bailouts for Wall Street like Obama, Biden hiked taxes on corporations with a 15 percent minimum tax rate passed through the Inflation Reduction Act.  This is, of course, a giant break from the tax-cuts-for-the-rich giveaway, which was the main accomplishment of Trump.

Biden’s union policy also deserves credit.  Rather than abandon unions or actively union bust like plenty of Clinton-era Democrats and every Republican, Biden appointed a genuinely pro-worker National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and a fantastic General Counsel who has set about trying to reinterpret the horrible labor law that has let so many workers down over decades.

The recent organizing wave at Starbucks, REI, Amazon, Apple and more could have been stopped dead in its tracks without this pro-worker NLRB.

Biden’s infrastructure package and his Inflation Reduction Act both contain significant investments in the region and are especially vital for automakers trying to compete in the new electric car era.

Like the entire nation, the Industrial Midwest will also benefit from the new antitrust direction of the Biden Administration led by Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan.

I don’t want to oversell Biden’s populist wins. He’s still no FDR and his policies fall far short of what’s actually required to revitalize the Industrial Midwest and deliver for the working class.

The CHIPS Act, which was heralded as the beginning of a new era of industrial policy, may just end up being a corporate giveaway, because it contained no labor standards or job-creation requirements.

Having a strong NLRB is great, but workers are still severely hampered by labor laws rigged to benefit corporations.

The Inflation Reduction Act was better than nothing, but came nowhere close to the transformational change of Democrats’ original Build Back Better proposal.

In fact, what’s astonishing is the size of the political response to the Biden administration accomplishing the bare minimum.

[Added Later]  Even giving the Biden Administration the benefit of the doubt, none of this offsets his dangerous and self-destructive war policy.

LINK

The Real Reason For Dems’ Rust Belt Revival by Krystal Ball for The Lever.  [Hat tip to Steve from Texas]

Why Biden Is Not a Transformational President by Thomas Neuberger for God’s Spies.  From 2021.  The other side of the coin.

Election 2022 results: first impressions

November 9, 2022

Nothing will fundamentally change.  

==Candidate Joe Biden, to donors, in 2020

The complete results aren’t in, but we know enough to see that this election settled nothing.

Republicans probably gained, but not as much as they had hoped or Democrats had feared, and so the balance of power is roughly the same.

Republicans have enough power to block Democratic initiatives, such as they are, but not enough to enact a program of their own.

The result is that the USA will stay on economic pilot for undeclared war against Russia, along with the Covid pandemic, climate-related disasters, economic stagnation and racial tensions, until the multiple crises become too great to be ignored—which is a very real possibility.

The end of the mid-terms are the start of the 2024 Presidential election campaigns.

In the Republican Party, Ron DeSantis, thanks to the size of his victory for reelection as Florida governor, is the chief possible alternative to Donald Trump.

Both stand for the same things, but DeSantis is more self-disciplined and a better political strategist.  From the standpoint of Democrats, he is much more dangerous.  It would be better for Democrats if Trump stayed in the race than if he dropped out..

Joe Biden said he was running as a “transitional” President, but it now looks as if he will run again in 2024.  If he does, barring the unexpected, he will lose.  No Democrat emerged in today’s election who seems like a possible replacement.

I was told, for the fourth national election in a row, that it was duty to vote because democracy is in peril

I voted, but democracy is still in peril, just as it was in 2016.  Democracy is in peril from election tampering by Republicans and by censorship of dissenting opinion and reporting, coordinated by Democrats, in the news media and social media.

By the standards of most countries, differences between Democrats and Republicans are small, and yet many in each party see members of the other party as a dangerous threat.

There is a great sense of foreboding in the USA about the future and I think that fear drives voting.  It would be comforting to think that all the danger comes from an opposition political party, because that means the danger is manageable.

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Forget Trump! It’s the economy, stupid!

September 27, 2022

If the November election were held on the issues, there’s a good chance the Republicans would win.  But as it is, there’s a good chance the Democrats will win.

Click to enlarge

That’s what I conclude after reading a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist National Poll.

  • 30 percent of polled voters think inflation is the most important issue.
  • 40 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of independents agree, but only 13 percent of Democrats.
  • 62 percent of polled voters think the United States is in a recession.
  • 57 percent say President Biden’s decisions have hurt the economy, and 41 percent strongly disapprove of his job performance overall.
  • 39 percent think Republicans would do a better job of managing the economy, while 26 percent think Democrats would do better.

Concern about inflation is slowly declining.  I think that is because President Biden is helping to drive down gasoline prices by releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

I don’t think most Americans realize how much of the price increases are due to blowback from the economic sanctions war against Russia.  Supplies of Russian oil and gas are being cut off from Europe, and this drives up the market price not only in Europe, but worldwide.

I don’t think the Republicans have a good plan, or any plan at all, for dealing with inflation.  The Federal Reserve Board’s plan is to slow down the economy, but that only works to slow down an overheated economy, not to bring down price increases due to scarcity.

The Democrats are the incumbents and the Republicans are the opposition, so the issue favors the Republicans.  Also, the Republicans talk more about deindustrialization, tariffs and other key economic questions, so they at least indicate concern, while Democrats are inclined to downplay these issues.

Click to enlarge.

The next most important issue is abortion.

  • 22 percent of the public think abortion is the most important issue.
  • 35 percent of Democrats think so, too, and so do 22 percent of independents, but only 10 percent of Republicans.

The repeal of Roe v. Wade has energized abortion rights advocates, but most voters take a middle position.  Only a minority support the extreme restrictions on abortions proposed by Republican state legislatures, but a majority are opposed to allowing abortions without any restrictions at all.

The poll also indicates that a lot of Democrats choose the Jan. 6 hearings as their top issue, but few Republicans or independents do.  A lot of Republicans choose immigration as their top issue, but few Democrats or independents do.  The other important issue is health care, but it’s a lesser issue than inflation or abortion.

All that would lead me to think that Republicans have the advantage, but the poll results indicate that the Democrats have an edge of 4 percentage points.  I think the Republicans are hurt by their internal conflicts and by the focus of news coverage on Donald Trump and his many battles.

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Forget the issues: It’s all about Trump!

September 27, 2022

Three to six months ago, the conventional wisdom was that the Democratic Party was headed for disaster in the coming elections. The reason given was President Biden’s failure to cope with inflation and other serious national problems.

Now the conventional wisdom is that the Democrats have an even chance or better of holding on to their majority. Why? The change is due to the focus on Donald Trump.

Overall, many political observers and Democratic leaders think Trump-backed candidates in the Republican primaries are wackos that will be easy to defeat.

Operating on this theory, Democrats reportedly donated $53 million to Trump-backed candidates.

Here is the Washington Post’s rundown how the Democrat-backed pro-Trump candidates fared and the amounts the Democrats contributed.

WON.  Illinois Governor.  $34.5 million spent.

LOST.  Colorado U.S. Senate. $4 million spent.

LOST.  Nevada Governor.  $3.9 million spent.

WON.  New Hampshire U.S. Senate.  $3.2 million spent.

LOST.  Michigan Governor. $2 million spent.

WON.  Maryland Governor. $1.7 million spent.

LOST.  Colorado Governor.  $1.5 million spent

WON.  Pennsylvania Governor $1.2 million spent.

WON. Michigan 3rd District, U.S. House. $425,000 spent.

LOST.  Virginia 2nd District, U.S. House.  $300,000 spent.

LOST.  California 22nd District, U.S. House.  $200,000 spent.

LOST.  Colorado 8th District, U.S. House.  $250,000 spent.

WON.  New Hampshire 2nd District, U.S. House.  $100,000 spent.

Total $53,275,000.

I don’t want to overstate the significance of this.  Democrat money wasn’t necessarily the deciding factor in any of these races.  

And Trump endorsed nearly 200 candidates in all.  BBC News reported 92 percent of them won.

What the contributions reflect is that Democrats think that focusing on Trump is a winning victory strategy.

Of course this strategy could backfire.  The Clinton campaign in 2016 tried to “elevate” Trump, figuring that he would be easiest to defeat in the general election.  It didn’t work out the way they thought it would.

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Billionaire power in the 2022 election

August 1, 2022

The expected backlash against Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership is well-deserved.  But it’s unlikely that the Republican leaders will do anything to improve the lot of ordinary Americans.  They are even more dependent than the Democrats on campaign contributions from the billionaire class.

Judd Legum wrote in Popular Information:

Are the 2022 midterm elections for sale? A handful of billionaires are trying to find out. 

Two primary super PACs seek to establish Republican majorities in the Senate and House — the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) and the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF). Those two groups, which can accept unlimited donations, collectively raised $188.3 million through March 2022. Nearly half of the money, $89.4 million, has come from just 27 billionaires, according to a new report from Americans for Tax Fairness. 

This figure understates the influence of billionaires pushing to restore Republican majorities in Congress. An additional $40 million in funding to the SLF and CLF has come directly from corporations. Some of these corporations are controlled by billionaires. Koch Industries, for example, has donated $1.75 million to the SLF and CLF and is controlled by billionaire Charles Koch. 

Another $35 million in donations to the SLF and CLF comes from entities organized as non-profits that do not disclose their donors. $18.7 million in funding comes from the American Action Network, a non-profit run by the same group of leaders, including former Republican Senator Norm Coleman, that run the CLF. The source of these funds is entirely opaque. 

The Democratic counterparts to the SLF and CLF, the House Majority PAC (HMP) and the Senate Majority PAC (SMP), raise significant funds from billionaires — but it is a smaller percentage of their total receipts. According to Americans for Tax Fairness, the HMP and SMP have collectively raised $154 million in the 2022 cycle. About $25 million, around 17%,  has come from billionaires. 

The reliance on billionaire dollars by Republicans and Democrats in 2022 reflects an acceleration of an alarming trend in American politics. Since the Supreme Court eliminated limits on so-called “independent” expenditures by corporations and the wealthy in Citizen’s United (2010), political spending by billionaires on federal races has exploded. 

During the first two years of the pandemic, the net worth of the 44 billionaires who donated this cycle to the main Democratic and Republican Super PACs increased by $168 billion. These billionaires are now using a small percentage of their extraordinary wealth to shape the federal government to meet their economic and ideological interests. 

LINKS

Bank of America Memo: “We Hope” Worker Power Worsens by Ken Klipperstein and Jon Schwartz for The Intercept.

Billionaires Buying Elections: How the Nation’s Wealthiest Translate Economic Power Into Political Clout by Americans for Tax Justice.

The billionaires buying the midterm elections by Judd Legum for Popular Information.

How corporate cash could make an extremist the next Governor of Pennsylvania by Judd Legum and Rebecca Crosby for Popular Information.

The expected backlash against the Democrats

July 29, 2022

By all accounts, the Democrats are about to be crushed in the elections this fall.

That is because the Democratic establishment is on the side of elites and not on the side of ordinary Americans.

Because they are on the side of a cultural elite, they are failing to curb the excesses of the “woke” cultural revolution.

Because they are on the side of economic elites, they are failing to do anything to address the growing economic distress and U.S. decline generally.

The problem is that the Republican establishment also is on the side of economic elites.  There is a clash of economic elites.  Democrats generally align with Silicon Valley and the Republicans with the fossil fuel industry, but neither represents the interests of the majority of Americans.

On the cultural front, the Republican leadership can be as wrong-headed as the Democratic leaders.  At the one extreme, there are Democrats who favor gender reassignment surgery, including castrations and mastectomies, for teenage children.  At the other, there are Republicans who want to go after a physician for giving an abortion to a 10-year-old victim of rape.

The best possible outcome on the cultural front would be a return to the old live-and-let-live liberalism, which many people now consider conservatism, without the extremes of the radical right.

The best possible outcome on the economic front would be victory for the economic nationalists who represent domestic business interests, over the free traders who represent the global tech and financial firms.  And also victory for the few scattered pro-labor populists.

Both parties are war parties—the Democrats now even more than the Republicans.  I see little hope on that front.

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