Posts Tagged ‘Zephyr Teachout’

The corruption case against Joe Biden

January 22, 2020

Zephyr Teachout, a supporter of Bernie Sanders, wrote an article accusing Joe Biden of corruption.  Sanders disavowed it and apologized. Biden accepted Sanders’ apology.

But I think Teachout was right. She pointed to three things—

Joe Biden

First, Biden’s support for finance over working-class Americans.  His career was bankrolled by the credit card industry. He delivered for it by spearheading a bankruptcy bill that made it harder for Americans to reduce their debts and helped cause the financial crisis.  He not only authored and voted for that bill, he split with Barack Obama and led the battle to vote down Democratic amendments.

His explanations for carrying water for the credit card industry have changed over time.  They have never rung true.

The simplest explanation is the most likely: he did it for his donors.  At a fundraiser last year, Biden promised his Wall Street donors that “nothing would fundamentally change” for them if he became president.  Now the financial world is raising huge money for his campaign.  It clearly thinks he’s going to be its friend if elected.  Most Americans, who get ripped off by the financial sector on a daily basis, aren’t looking for a candidate who has made their life harder.

Second, healthcare. On 25 April, the day he announced his campaign, Biden went straight to a fundraiser co-hosted by the chief executive of a major health insurance corporation.  He refuses to sign a pledge to reject money from insurance and pharma execs and continues to raise money from healthcare industry donors.  His campaign is being bankrolled by a super PAC run by healthcare lobbyists.

What did all these donors get?  A healthcare proposal that preserves the power of the insurance industry and leaves 10 million Americans uninsured.

Third, climate change. Biden signed a pledge not to take money from the fossil fuel industry, then broke his promise. Right after a CNN town hall on climate change, he held a fundraiser hosted by the founder of a fossil fuel conglomerate. He is pushing climate policy that has gotten dismal reviews from several leading environmental groups.

There are plenty of other examples that raise questions, like housing and social security. Big real estate moguls are playing a major role in Biden’s campaign. Unlike his rivals, he has no comprehensive housing plan. When he pushed for cuts to Social Security, was he serving donors or his constituents?

But then President Donald Trump is 100 times worse.  Trump’s whole administration is one giant conflict of interest.  Call this the “lesser evil” defense.

A Biden defender could point out that there’s no reason to think that Biden has broken any laws. And a defender could argue that there’s also no reason to think Biden is any more dependent on corporate interests than the average Senator.  Call this the “average evil” defense.

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The domestic scene: Links & comments 9/11/14

September 11, 2014

Five Reasons for the Zephyr Teachout Phenomenon and Five Reasons Andrew Cuomo Is Still Governor by Matt Stoller for Medium.  (Via Naked Capitalism)

Zephyr Teachout in defeat showed that an outsider can make headway against the Democratic establishment.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo in victory has probably lost any chance to be the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.

The End of Fracking Is Closer Than You Think by Robert Eshelman for Vice News.

David Hughes, a Canadian geologist, studied data from 65,000 U.S. oil and gas well based on hydraulic fracturing.  He concluded that production on average drops 50 percent after the first year, and 85 percent in three years.   Fracking is an exchange of short-term gains for long-term damage.

When unarmed men reach for their waistbands by Radley Balko for the Washington Post.

When police shoot unarmed black men, they almost always say that the black man was moving his hands as if reaching for a gun.  But if the man was unarmed, what would he be reaching for?

Zephyr Teachout gets 34% of the Democratic vote

September 10, 2014

ny_primary-300x241Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu received slightly over 34 percent of the Democratic vote for governor and lieutenant governor in yesterday’s New York primary election.  Andrew Cuomo and Kathy Hochul got virtually all of the rest.

That was an excellent showing against an incumbent candidate, considering Cuomo had the power of incumbency and name recognition, and Teachout and Wu were virtual unknowns with next to no money.

The size of the Teachout-Wu vote will make it harder for Gov. Cuomo to retaliate politically against their supporters.

Click on Zephyr Teachout’s primary election loss has the air of a victory party for more from the New York Daily News.  [via Naked Capitalism]

Send them a message: Vote for Teachout in NY

September 9, 2014

I will vote for Zephyr Teachout in today’s Democratic primary for governor of New York, as a protest against the influence of Wall Street on incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic Party in New York state.

Zephyr Teachout

Zephyr Teachout

While I think the odds are strongly against Teachout winning the Democratic nomination, I do admit that, if nominated, her victory would greatly improve the chances of the Republican candidate, Rob Astorino.

I don’t think the differences between Cuomo and Astorino are so great that this would matter to me. They both represent the same interests.

Cuomo is a liberal only on issues that don’t threaten the interests of his wealthy backers. His economic strategy for New York states consists of tax breaks for Wall Street, casino gambling and fracking for natural gas (although strong public opposition has forced him to hold back on the latter).

Simply not doing any of these things would represent an improvement.

Teachout, if elected governor, would not be able to change New York’s political power structure all by herself. Change could not take place unless people like her were elected on all levels of government, and even then they would have a hard struggle against the monied interests.

A vote for Teachout and for Tim Wu for lieutenant governor are small first steps toward bringing this about.

LINKS

Take a Stand Against Cronyism and Corruption: Vote for Teachout and Wu by Yves Smith on Naked Capitalism.

An interview with Zephyr Teachout, candidate for governor of New York by Yves Smith.

An interview with Tim Wu, candidate for lieutenant governor of New York by Lambert Strether.

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Does the Constitution protect corruption?

August 27, 2014

The Supreme Court ruled in the Citizens United case that campaign contributions are a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment.   On April 2, the Supreme Court ruled, in McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission, that Congress does have the right to legislate against corruption in campaign financing, but, as Jill Lepore pointed out in an article in The New Yorker, only against certain forms of corruption.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the five-to-four majority. “The right to participate in democracy through political contributions is protected by the First Amendment, but that right is not absolute,” he began. 

040614newcoletoonCongress may not “regulate contributions simply to reduce the amount of money in politics, or to restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others.”  But there is “one legitimate governmental interest for restricting campaign finances,” he explained: “preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

That said, the Court’s understanding of corruption is very narrow, Roberts explained, echoing a view expressed by Justice Anthony Kennedy in McConnell v. F.E.C., in 2003: “Congress may target only a specific type of corruption—‘quid pro quo’ corruption.”

Quid pro quo is when an elected official does something like accepting fifteen thousand dollars in cash in exchange for supporting another politician’s bid to run for mayor of New York.  The only kind of corruption that federal law is allowed to prohibit is out-and-out bribery.  The kind of political prostitution that the Moreland Commission was in the middle of attempting to document—elected officials representing the interests not of their constituents but of their largest contributors—does not constitute, in the view of the Supreme Court, either corruption or the appearance of corruption.

via Zephyr Teachout’s Anti-Corruption Campaign.

The Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April, 2013, to investigate corruption in New York state.

The commission was given 18 months to do its work, but in March of this year, Gov. Cuomo shut it down.  He said it was supposed to investigate the legislative branch, not the executive branch.

In the meantime, the commission made a series of preliminary recommendations, including closing loopholes regarding limited liability laws, mandating disclosure of outside spending, instituting public finance and creating an independent election-law enforcement agency.

As Lepore noted, these recommendations, except maybe for public campaign financing, would have had little effect in the light of Citizens United and McCutcheon.

 Zephyr Teachout, who opposes Gov. Cuomo in the coming Democratic primary, is a law professor who says the Supreme Court’s decision is contrary to the intention of the authors of the Constitution.  Even if she’s right, this doesn’t change anything.

Maybe it is necessary to amend the Constitution, as was done after the Supreme Court ruled that slavery was protected by the Constitution and later when the Supreme Court ruled that a federal income tax was unconstitutional.