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                                                                • Robert Reich's latest book is "THE SYSTEM: Who Rigged It, How To Fix It," out March 24.
                                                                  He is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written 17 other books, including the best sellers "Aftershock,""The Work of Nations," "Beyond Outrage," and "The Common Good." He is a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, founder of Inequality Media, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentaries "Inequality For All," and "Saving Capitalism," both now streaming on Netflix.

                                                                         
                                                                • The Democratic Establishment is Freaking Out About Bernie. It should Calm Down.


                                                                  Thursday, February 27, 2020

                                                                  The day after Bernie Sanders’s big win in Nevada, Joe Lockhart, Bill Clinton’s former press secretary, expressed the fear gripping the Democratic establishment: “I don’t believe the country is prepared to support a Democratic socialist, and I agree with the theory that Sanders would lose in a matchup against Trump.”

                                                                  盘界棋牌Lockart, like the rest of the Democratic establishment, is viewing American politics through obsolete lenses of left versus right, with Bernie on the extreme left and Trump on the far right. “Moderates” like Bloomberg and Buttigieg supposedly occupy the center, appealing to a broader swath of the electorate.

                                                                  盘界棋牌This may have been the correct frame for politics decades ago when America still had a growing middle class, but it’s obsolete today. As wealth and power have moved to the top and the middle class has shrunk, more Americans feel politically dis-empowered and economically insecure. Today’s main divide isn’t right versus left. It’s establishment versus anti-establishment.

                                                                  盘界棋牌Some background. In the fall of 2015 I visited Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, and North Carolina, researching the changing nature of work. I spoke with many of the same people I had met twenty years before when I was secretary of labor, as well as some of their grown children. I asked them about their jobs and their views about the economy. I was most interested in their sense of the system as a whole and how they were faring in it.

                                                                  盘界棋牌What I heard surprised me. Twenty years before, most said they’d been working hard and were frustrated they weren’t doing better. Now they were angry – at their employers, the government, and Wall Street; angry that they hadn’t been able to save for their retirement, and that their children weren’t doing any better than they did. Several had lost jobs, savings, or homes in the Great Recession. By the time I spoke with them, most were employed but the jobs paid no more than they had two decades before.

                                                                  I heard the term “rigged system” so often I began asking people what they meant by it. They spoke about the bailout of Wall Street, political payoffs, insider deals, CEO pay, and “crony capitalism.” These came from self-identified Republicans, Democrats, and Independents; white, black, and Latino; union households and non-union. Their only common characteristic was they were middle class and below.

                                                                  With the 2016 primaries looming, I asked which candidates they found most attractive. At the time, party leaders favored Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush. But the people I spoke with repeatedly mentioned Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. They said Sanders or Trump would “shake things up,” “make the system work again,” “stop the corruption,” or “end the rigging.”

                                                                  盘界棋牌In the following year, Sanders – a 74-year-old Jew from Vermont who described himself as a democratic socialist and wasn’t even a Democrat until the 2016 presidential primary – came within a whisker of beating Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucus, routed her in the New Hampshire primary, garnered over 47 percent of the caucus-goers in Nevada, and ended up with 46 percent of the pledged delegates from Democratic primaries and caucuses.

                                                                  Trump, a 69-year-old ego-maniacal billionaire reality TV star who had never held elective office or had anything to do with the Republican Party, and lied compulsively about almost everything – won the Republican primaries and then went on to beat Clinton, one of the most experienced and well-connected politicians in modern America (granted, he didn’t win the popular vote, and had some help from the Kremlin).

                                                                  盘界棋牌Something very big happened, and it wasn’t because of Sanders’s magnetism or Trump’s likeability. It was a rebellion against the establishment. Clinton and Bush had all the advantages –funders, political advisors, name recognition – but neither could credibly convince voters they weren’t part of the system.

                                                                  A direct line connected four decades of stagnant wages, the financial crisis of 2008, the bailout of Wall Street, the rise of the Tea Party and the “Occupy” movement, and the emergence of Sanders and Trump in 2016. The people I spoke with no longer felt they had a fair chance to make it. National polls told much the same story. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who felt most people could get ahead through hard work dropped by 13 points between 2000 and 2015. In 2006, 59 percent of Americans thought government corruption was widespread; by 2013, 79 percent did.

                                                                  Trump galvanized millions of blue-collar voters living in places that never recovered from the tidal wave of factory closings. He promised to bring back jobs, revive manufacturing, and get tough on trade and immigration. “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing,” he roared. “In five, ten years from now, you’re going to have a workers’ party. A party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in eighteen years, that are angry.” He blasted politicians and financiers who had betrayed Americans by “taking away from the people their means of making a living and supporting their families.”

                                                                  Trump’s pose as an anti-establishment populist was one of the biggest cons in American political history. Since elected he’s given the denizens of C-suites and the Street everything they’ve wanted and hasn’t markedly improved the lives of his working-class supporters, even if his politically-incorrect, damn-the-torpedo’s politics continues to make them feel as if盘界棋牌 he’s taking on the system.

                                                                  盘界棋牌The frustrations today are larger than they were four years ago. Even though corporate profits and executive pay have soared, the typical worker’s pay has barely risen, jobs are less secure, and health care less affordable.  

                                                                  盘界棋牌The best way for Democrats to defeat Trump’s fake anti-establishment populism is with the real thing, coupled with an agenda of systemic reform. This is what Bernie Sanders offers. For the same reason, he has the best chance of generating energy and enthusiasm to flip at least three senate seats to the Democratic Party (the minimum needed to recapture the Senate, using the vice president as tie-breaker).

                                                                  盘界棋牌He’ll need a coalition of young voters, people of color, and the working class. He seems on his way. So far in the primaries he leads among white voters, has a massive edge among Latinos, dominates with both women and men, and has done best among both college and non-college graduates. And he’s narrowing Biden’s edge with older voters and African Americans. [Add line about South Carolina from today’s primary.]

                                                                  The “socialism” moniker doesn’t seem to have bruised him, although it hasn’t been tested outside a Democratic primary or caucus. Perhaps voters won’t care, just as they many don’t care about Trump’s chronic lies. 

                                                                  Worries about a McGovern-like blowout in 2020 appear far-fetched. In 1972 the American middle class was expanding, not contracting. Besides, every national and swing state poll now shows Sanders tied with or beating Trump. A Quinnipiac Poll last week shows Sanders beating Trump in Michigan and Pennsylvania. A CBS News/YouGov poll has Sanders beating Trump nationally. A Texas Lyceum poll has Sanders doing better against Trump in Texas than any Democrat, losing by just three points.

                                                                  Instead of the Democratic establishment worrying that Sanders is unelectable, maybe it should worry that a so-called “moderate” Democrat might be nominated instead.  

                                                                • Tuesday, February 25, 2020

                                                                  5 Ways William Barr is Turning America into a Dictatorship

                                                                  William Barr was installed as Attorney General specifically to turn the Department of Justice into an arm of the Trump Coverup. And we’ve seen him do exactly that. Barr has corrupted and politicized the Department of Justice, working hand in hand with Donald Trump to bend federal law enforcement to the president’s will. Here are some of the ways Barr is helping Trump turn our democracy into a dictatorship:

                                                                  1. He intervened in the sentencing of Roger Stone, Trump’s longtime confidant and advisor, who faced a prison sentence for obstructing Congress and witness tampering in connection with the Russia investigation. The day prosecutors announced they were seeking seven to nine years for Stone’s sentencing, Trump called the sentence “a horrible aberration,” and said that the prosecutors “ought to be ashamed of themselves” and were “an insult to our country.”  A mere 24 hours later, after Trump’s public tantrum, the Department of Justice announced it would change its sentencing recommendation for Stone [CUT TO NEWS CLIP]. Showing more backbone than Barr, four career prosecutors then withdrew from the case, and one resigned.

                                                                  The incident caused such an uproar that Barr was forced to declare that he wouldn’t be “bullied” and that Trump’s tweets “make it impossible to do my job.” But anyone who has watched Barr repeatedly roll over for Trump saw this as a minimal face-saving gesture. For example:

                                                                  2. Barr has green-lit an “intake process” for any information that Trump stooge Rudy Giuliani may dig up about Ukraine and the elections. That’s right. Barr has given Trump’s personal lawyer, who is under a Justice Department investigation that has led to charges against two of his associates, a direct line to the Justice Department to funnel dirt about Trump’s political rivals.

                                                                  3. Barr misled the public about the contents of the Mueller report. Before the report was released, Barr sent a memo to Congress “summarizing” its findings. In his memo, Barr claimed there was insufficient evidence for an obstruction of justice case and supported Trump’s claims of “total exoneration”. Robert Mueller was so infuriated by Barr’s misrepresentation of his findings that he wrote a letter complaining that Barr’s summary “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s investigation. Barr nonetheless held a press conference reiterating his own claims, bolstering Trump’s narrative of “total exoneration,” and shifting the media coverage of the report.  

                                                                  4. Barr refused to accept the findings of the Inspector General report investigating the origins of the Russia probe. In December, Inspector General Michael Horowitz released his report, finding that while the Russia probe was flawed in some aspects, there was no evidence of political bias and it was justified. This, of course, contradicts Trump’s narrative that the Russia probe was launched by deep-state partisan hacks determined to take him down. The day the report was released, Barr called the Russia investigation a “travesty” and claimed that there were “gross abuses …and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI” and that he thought “there was bad faith" in the investigation. It’s unprecedented for the Attorney General to so vehemently disagree with the findings of an impartial Inspector General.

                                                                  5. Barr buried the whistleblower complaint that kick-started the impeachment inquiry and tried to keep it from reaching Congress. His Justice Department investigated the contents of the complaint within a narrow scope and wrapped up its investigation within a mere three weeks, finding no evidence of wrongdoing. Yet again, Barr was running interference to shield Trump from accountability.

                                                                  Trump says he has the “legal right” to meddle in cases handled by the Justice Department.

                                                                  That’s wrong. If a president can punish enemies and reward friends through the administration of justice, there can be no justice. Justice requires impartial and equal treatment under the law. Partiality or inequality in deciding whom to prosecute and how to punish is tyranny. Plain and simple.

                                                                  A half-century ago I witnessed the near dissolution of justice under President Nixon. I served in the Justice Department when a bipartisan Congress resolved that what had occurred would never happen again. But what occurred under Nixon is happening again. Like Nixon, Trump has usurped the independence of the Department of Justice for his own ends.

                                                                  But unlike Nixon, Trump won’t resign. He has too many enablers – not just a shameful Attorney General but also shameless congressional Republicans – who place a lower priority on justice than on satisfying the most vindictive and paranoid occupant of the White House in modern American history.

                                                                  One ABC News interview, conducted only to give the appearance of impartiality, doesn’t make up for the myriad ways Attorney General Bill Barr has corrupted the Justice Department and willfully abetted Trump’s lawlessness. For the sake of our democracy, he must resign immediately.


                                                                • The Humongous Costs of Inaction


                                                                  Monday, February 24, 2020

                                                                   

                                                                  In last Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg charged that Senator Bernie Sanders’ policy proposals would cost $50 trillion. Holy Indiana.

                                                                  Larry Summers, formerly chief White House economic advisor for Barack Obama, puts the price tag at $60 trillion. “We are in a kind of new era of radical proposal,” he told CNN.

                                                                  Putting aside the accuracy of these cost estimates, they omit the other side of the equation: what, by comparison, is the cost of doing nothing?

                                                                  A Green New Deal might be expensive, but doing nothing about climate change will almost certainly cost far more. If we don’t launch something as bold as a Green New Deal, we’ll spend trillions coping with the consequences of our failure to be bold.

                                                                  Medicare for All will cost a lot, but the price of doing nothing about America’s increasingly dysfunctional healthcare system will soon be in the stratosphere. A new study in The Lancet estimates盘界棋牌 that Medicare for All would save $450 billion and prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths each year.

                                                                  盘界棋牌Investing in universal childcare, public higher education and woefully outdated and dilapidated infrastructure will be expensive too, but the cost of not making these investments would be astronomical. American productivity is already suffering and millions of families can’t afford decent childcare, college or housing – whose soaring costs are closely related to inadequate transportation and water systems.

                                                                  盘界棋牌Focusing only on the costs of doing something about these problems without mentioning the costs of doing nothing is misleading, but this asymmetry is widespread. 

                                                                  盘界棋牌Journalists wanting to appear serious about public policy continue to rip into Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (whose policies are almost as ambitious) for the costs of their proposals but never ask self-styled moderates like Buttigieg how they plan to cope with the costs of doing nothing or too little.

                                                                  盘界棋牌A related criticism of Sanders and Warren is that they haven’t come up with ways to pay for their proposals. Sanders “only explained $25 trillion worth of revenue, which means the hole in there is bigger than the size of the entire economy of the United States,” charged Mayor Pete.

                                                                  盘界棋牌Sanders’ and Warren’s wealth tax would go a long way toward paying for their plans.

                                                                  But even if their wealth tax paid a small fraction of the costs of their proposals, so what? As long as every additional dollar of spending reduces by more than a dollar the future costs of climate change, inadequate healthcare and insufficient public investment, it makes sense to spend more.

                                                                  盘界棋牌Republican administrations have doled out gigantic tax cuts to big corporations and the wealthy without announcing specific cuts in public spending or other tax increases because – despite decades of evidence to the contrary – they claim the cuts will generate economic growth that will more than make up for any lost revenue.

                                                                  盘界棋牌Yet when Warren and Sanders propose ambitious plans for reducing empirically verifiable costs of large and growing public problems, they are skewered by fellow Democrats and the press for not having ways to pay for them.

                                                                  盘界棋牌A third line of criticism is that Sanders’ and Warren’s proposals are just too big. It would be safer to move cautiously and incrementally.

                                                                  This argument might be convincing if the problems Sanders and Warren address were growing slowly. But experts on the environment, health, education and infrastructure are nearly unanimous: these problems are worsening exponentially.

                                                                  Young people understand this, perhaps because they will bear more of the costs of inaction. An Emerson poll of Iowa found that 44% of Democrats under 50 support Sanders and 10% favor Warren. In New Hampshire, Sanders won more voters under 30 than the other candidates combined, according to CNN exit polls. In Nevada, he captured an astonishing 65 percent of voters under 30. 

                                                                  The reason to support Sanders’ and Warren’s proposals isn’t because they inspire and mobilize voters. It is because they are necessary.

                                                                  We can no longer pretend that climate change, a wildly dysfunctional healthcare system and a yawning deficit in public investment pose insignificant challenges. Doing nothing or doing too little will make them far worse. 

                                                                  Obsessing about the cost of addressing them without acknowledging the cost of failing to address them is dangerously irresponsible

                                                                • Tuesday, February 18, 2020

                                                                  How Democrats Clean Up the Messes Left By Republicans


                                                                  For decades, Democratic administrations have been cleaning up economic messes left to them by Republican administrations. Thanks to Donald Trump, they’ll have to do so again.

                                                                  Before diving in, we need to understand this one concept: the debt-to-GDP ratio.

                                                                  盘界棋牌 The national debt is a meaningless number on its own. It’s meaningful only as a percentage of the total economy, the GDP. Even if the debt grows, that’s okay so long as the economy grows even faster. But if the reverse is true — if the economy is growing more slowly than the debt — we’re in trouble.

                                                                  With this in mind, let’s go back to the 1980s. When Ronald Reagan took office, the national debt equaled just a little over 30 percent of the total economy. Then Reagan began cutting taxes and spending a huge amount on the military. By the time he left the White House, the debt-to-GDP ratio was nearly 50 percent. He viewed it as a way of “starving the beast” so future Democratic administrations would find it harder to fund programs for the poor and average working people.

                                                                  Reagan’s Republican successor, George H. W. Bush, raised the debt-to-GDP ratio even higher — to 62 percent. Between 1981 and 1992, Reagan and Bush together doubled 盘界棋牌the debt-to-GDP ratio.

                                                                  So by the time Bill Clinton took office, he had to spend his first term cleaning up the mess, finally balancing the budget and even leaving America with a budget surplus — and getting the national debt-to-GDP ratio back down to 54 percent. (I know. I was there.)

                                                                  Then Clinton’s Republican successor, George W. Bush, went back to the Reagan playbook. W passed massive tax cuts that gave the top 1 percent of households an average of over $570,000 each during the next 8 years. He also launched expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

                                                                  Altogether, George W. Bush added a whopping $5 trillion to the national debt, leaving Barack Obama with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 73 percent — as well as a financial sector in the process of melting down, threatening the entire economy. Talk about an economic mess.

                                                                  Obama had to bail out Wall Street and stimulate the economy in order to get us out of the deepest recession since the Great Depression. In other words, the GDP shrank. These two factors pushed the debt-to-GDP ratio to 100 percent by the end of Obama’s first term. By the time Obama handed off the economy to Trump, the economy was growing again, and the ratio of debt to GDP had stabilized at around 103 percent.

                                                                  But now Trump and Senate Republicans are repeating history. In 2016, when Trump was asked about the debt, he claimed “We pay it back so easily.” Then he blew up the debt by passing a giant tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. 

                                                                  So even though Trump inherited the longest economic expansion in history, he increased the ratio of debt to GDP to over 105 percent. And Republicans have reverted to the same, old playbook – threatening to cut Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare because, they say, “we can’t afford” these programs.

                                                                  Time and again, Republicans scream about the national debt when a Democrat is in the White House, cleaning up the mess they caused. But when there’s a Republican administration, they couldn’t care less about the debt. When Mitch McConnell was asked about soaring debt and deficits his response was, “It’s disappointing, but it’s not a Republican problem.”

                                                                  So the next Democratic administration will have to deal with it. 

                                                                  In addition to solving the climate crisis that’s become worse under Trump, passing universal health care that’s become more urgent under Trump, and tackling myriad other problems that have grown larger under Trump, Democrats will once again have to clean up the economic mess left by their Republican predecessor in order to preserve and expand programs that help average Americans survive.

                                                                  Republicans accuse Democrats of being fiscally irresponsible. But time and again, it’s the Republicans who have created economic messes that Democrats have to clean up.


                                                                • Why Trump Justice is an Oxymoron


                                                                  Monday, February 17, 2020

                                                                  “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it sometimes rhymes,” Mark Twain is reputed to have said. 

                                                                  My first job after law school was as an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. I reported for work September 1974, just weeks after Richard Nixon resigned. 

                                                                  In the years leading up to his resignation, Nixon turned the Justice Department and FBI into his personal fiefdom, enlisting his political appointees to reward his friends and penalize his enemies. Reports about how compromised the Justice Department had become generated enough public outrage to force the appointment of the first Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox.

                                                                  Before Nixon’s mayhem was over, his first two attorneys general were deep in legal trouble — John Mitchell eventually served 19 months in prison — and his third resigned rather than carry out Nixon’s demand to fire Cox. 

                                                                  盘界棋牌Watergate also ushered into politics a young man named Roger Stone, who, under the Committee for the Re-election of the President (known then and forevermore as CREEP), helped devise lies and conspiracy theories to harm Democrats.

                                                                  After Nixon resigned, the entire slimy mess of Watergate spawned a series of reforms. During the years I worked at the Justice Department, regulations were put into place to insulate the FBI and DOJ from political interference. 

                                                                  “Our law is not an instrument of partisan purpose,” said Edward Levi, Gerald Ford’s attorney general. 

                                                                  盘界棋牌Now we’re back to where we were 50 years ago. Donald Trump seems determined to finish Nixon’s agenda of rigging elections and making the Justice Department a cesspool of partisanship. In Trump’s 2016 campaign, even Stone was back to his old dirty tricks of issuing lies and conspiracy theories directed at a Democratic opponent.

                                                                  Trump has out-Nixoned Nixon: firing FBI Director James Comey after asking him to “let go” of an inquiry into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interactions with Russian officials; repeatedly calling the Russian inquiry a politically motivated “witch hunt”; launching an assault on special counsel Robert Mueller’s own investigation; and appointing a lapdog attorney general, William Barr, to do whatever the president wishes. 

                                                                  Barr has out-Nixoned Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell: whitewashing Mueller’s conclusions; defending Trump’s phone call to the president of Ukraine seeking dirt on Joe Biden; opening an “intake process” for dirt Rudy Giuliani dredges up on Trump’s political opponents; and continuing to respond to Trump’s every whim, including, last week, suggesting Stone should get a milder sentence than the one career prosecutors recommended. 

                                                                  盘界棋牌In November, Stone was convicted of obstructing Congress and seeking to intimidate witnesses. Last week, prosecutors recommended that Stone be sentenced to between seven and nine years in federal prison.

                                                                  This prompted an enraged Trump to tweet: “Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!” Hours later, Barr decided to seek a more lenient sentence. In response, the career prosecutors withdrew from the case. One decided to leave government altogether. 

                                                                  盘界棋牌The incident caused such an uproar that Barr was forced to declare last Thursday in a TV interview that he wouldn’t be “bullied” and that Trump’s tweets make it “impossible to do my job.”

                                                                  But anyone who has watched Barr repeatedly roll over for Trump saw this as a minimal face-saving gesture. As if to underscore Barr’s subordinate role, on Friday Trump tweeted that he has the “legal right” to meddle in cases handled by DOJ.

                                                                  盘界棋牌That’s as wrongheaded now as it was when Nixon held the same view. If a president can punish enemies and reward friends through the administration of justice, there can be no justice. Justice requires impartial and equal treatment under the law. Partiality or inequality in deciding whom to prosecute and how to punish invites tyranny. 

                                                                  盘界棋牌A half-century ago, I witnessed the near dissolution of justice under Nixon and the enablers then drawn to him, such as Roger Stone. I served in the Justice Department when it and a bipartisan Congress resolved that what had occurred would never happen again. 

                                                                  But what occurred under Nixon is happening again. Like Nixon, Trump has usurped the independence of the Department of Justice for his own ends. 

                                                                  Unlike Nixon, Trump won’t resign. He has too many enablers — not just a shameful attorney general but also shameless congressional Republicans — who place a lower priority on justice than on satisfying the most vindictive and paranoid occupant of the White House since Richard Milhous Nixon.

                                                                • Buying the Presidency


                                                                  Friday, February 14, 2020

                                                                  Bad enough that a tyrant is destroying American democracy. Now an oligarch is trying to buy the presidency. 

                                                                  Michael Bloomberg’s net worth is over $60 billion. The yearly return on $60 billion is at least $2 billion – which is what Bloomberg says he’ll pour into buying the highest office in the land

                                                                  I’m not saying that great wealth should disqualify you from becoming president. America has had some talented and capable presidents who were enormously wealthy – Franklin D. Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, for example. 

                                                                  The problem lies at the nexus of wealth and power, where those with great wealth use it to gain great power. This is how oligarchy destroys democracy.

                                                                  So far, Bloomberg spent over $380 million on campaign advertising. That’s more than Hillary Clinton spent on advertising during her entire presidential run. It’s multiples of what all other Democratic candidates have spent, including billionaire Tom Steyer.

                                                                  Encouraged by the murky outcome from the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries, Bloomberg has doubled his spending on TV commercials in every market where he is currently advertising and is expanding his campaign’s field staff to more than 2,000.

                                                                  That’s not the only way he’s using his billions to co-opt the election. He’s been endorsed by House Democrats and Democratic mayors who were the beneficiaries of his fortune during their campaigns盘界棋牌. He’s also paying social-media “influencers” with large followings to promote his campaign. 

                                                                  His paid staff is already three times as large as Trump’s, five times Joe Biden’s. He’s using his fortune to woo staffers away盘界棋牌 from other campaigns. 

                                                                  Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is putting Bloomberg onto the debate stage by abandoning the individual-donor threshold that it used for the first eight debates盘界棋牌, presumably because Bloomberg – the self-funded billionaire – doesn’t take donations.

                                                                  盘界棋牌To participate in the Feb. 19 debate in Las Vegas, Democratic candidates need to show at least 10 percent support in four national polls. Bloomberg’s wall-to-wall advertising makes that pretty much inevitable. . 

                                                                  盘界棋牌Bloomberg has some attractive policy ideas about gun control, the environment, and a more progressive tax. 

                                                                  But he’s also a champion of Wall Street. He fought against the reforms following the near meltdown of the Street in 2008. His personal fortune is every bit as opaque as Trump’s. Through his dozen years as mayor of New York he refused to disclose his federal taxes. Even as a candidate for president, he still hasn’t given a date for their release.

                                                                  And because he hasn’t taken individual donations, hasn’t appeared on the debate stage, and bases his entire campaign on TV advertising, he isn’t being held accountable for his despicable record on race and criminal justice – the discriminatory stop-and-frisk policy he implemented when he was mayor, or his defense of red-lining.

                                                                  And, remember, he’s trying to buy the presidency. 

                                                                  The word “oligarchy” comes from the Greek word oligarkhes, meaning “few to rule or command.” It refers to a government of and by a few exceedingly rich people.

                                                                  Since 1980, the share of America’s wealth owned by the richest four hundred Americans has quadrupled while the share owned by the entire bottom half of America has declined. 

                                                                  The richest 130,000 families now own nearly as much as the bottom 90 percent – 117 million families – combined. The three richest Americans own as much as the bottom half. Michael Bloomberg is the eighth richest

                                                                  盘界棋牌Big money inevitably engulfs politics, which is why a handful of extremely rich people like Bloomberg have more influence than any comparable group since the robber barons of the early 20th century. 

                                                                  Unlike income or wealth, power is a zero-sum game. The more of it at the top, the less of it anywhere else. And as power and wealth have moved to the top, everyone else has become dis-empowered. Today the great divide is not between left and right. It’s between democracy and oligarchy. 

                                                                  Bloomberg is indubitably part of that oligarchy.

                                                                  If the only way we can get rid of a sociopathic tyrant named Trump is with an oligarch named Bloomberg, we will be forced to choose the oligarch.

                                                                  But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Oligarchy is better than tyranny. But neither is as good as democracy.

                                                                • Wednesday, February 12, 2020

                                                                  5 Ways Donald Trump Has Not Drained the Swamp

                                                                  It seems like forever ago when Donald Trump promised to “Drain the Swamp” if elected president. Well, it turns out this was one of the biggest whoppers in modern American politics.

                                                                  Here are five ways he’s made the swamp even swampier.

                                                                  1.He has packed his administration with former lobbyists and corporate executives. He has installed a former Boeing executive to run the Defense Department; a former pharmaceutical lobbyist to run the Department of Health and Human Services; a former coal lobbyist to run the Environmental Protection Agency, and a former oil lobbyist to run the Department of the Interior. In total, more than 300 lobbyists now work in the Trump administration – many in key positions overseeing the industries they used to lobby for. 


                                                                  2. He and his family are personally profiting from the presidency. Despite Trump’s promise he’d sever all ties with his existing businesses and place all assets in a “blind” trust to eliminate any conflicts of interest, documents show Trump remains the sole beneficiary of his trust and still retains the legal power to revoke the trust at any time. Meanwhile, foreign dignitaries have flooded Trump’s hotels, lining his pockets in clear violation of the Constitution. He even attempted to host the G-7 at his own luxury golf course until he was forced to back down.

                                                                  3. He is catering to billionaires and corporations at the expense of the American people. In the fall of 2017, mega-donors shelled out more than $31 million in political contributions to Trump and Republicans. And in return, they got a massive $2 trillion tax cut. Not a bad return on investment. As Trump told his wealthy friends at Mar-a-Lago just days after the tax bill became law, “You all just got a lot richer.”  

                                                                  4. He is using taxpayer dollars to subsidize his luxurious lifestyle. Since taking office, Trump’s golf trips alone have cost taxpayers more than $110 million dollars. His children have also charged taxpayers for costs associated with business trips around the world that they’ve taken, including India and Uruguay. Taxpayers even footed the bill for Donald Trump Junior’s hunting trip to Canada.

                                                                  5. The Trump administration has been riddled with scandals and ethics violations. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross held on to investments and never divested despite pledging to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has tried to arrange meetings with Chinese officials for her family business. Ethics officials have found Kellyanne Conway broke laws that prohibit government workers from engaging in political activities. The list goes on, and on. This has been the most corrupt administration in American history.

                                                                  Trump is exploiting everything that’s vulnerable in our political system. But in order to truly stop the corruption of our democracy, we have to fix what’s broken. We must get big money out of politics, end the flow of lobbyists in and out of government, and strengthen ethics laws.

                                                                  Trump has enlarged and deepened the swamp, but the swamp was there before he got to Washington. One of the first tasks of the next president must be to drain the swamp once and for all.


                                                                • Wednesday, February 12, 2020
                                                                • The Real State of the Union


                                                                  Wednesday, February 5, 2020

                                                                  I wasn’t going to comment on Trump’s lie-filled State of the Union message but the whoppers were so big – especially on the economy – that I feel compelled. Here, for the record, is the real state of the union:

                                                                  1. JOBS盘界棋牌: Average monthly job creation dropped from 223,000 in 2018 to 176,000 in 2019. The employment rate for working-age adults has increased less than during the Obama recovery, and is still significantly below that of other developed countries. The pace of job creation is also markedly slower than it was under Obama.

                                                                  2. WAGES: Wage growth has slowed, except in states with minimum-wage increases. The typical American household remains poorer today than it was before the financial crisis began in 2007. The median wage of a full-time male worker (and those with full-time jobs are the lucky ones) is still more than 3% below what it was 40 years ago.

                                                                  3. TAXES: The Trump-Republican tax cut has been a huge failure. We were promised an increase in business investment, but business investment has contracted for the third straight quarter—the first time this has happened since the Great Recession in 2009. Instead, the tax cut triggered an all-time record binge of share buybacks – some $800 billion in 2018.

                                                                  If fully implemented, the 2017 tax cut will result in tax increases for most households in the bottom 80 percent. 

                                                                  And it has resulted in record peacetime deficits (almost $1 trillion in fiscal 2019) in a country supposedly near full employment. Even with weak investment, the US had to borrow massively abroad: the most recent data show foreign borrowing at nearly $500 billion a year, with an increase of more than 10% in America’s net indebtedness position in one year alone.

                                                                  Nothing has trickled down to average workers. To the contrary, If fully implemented the 2017 tax cut will result in tax increases for most households in the bottom 80 percent.

                                                                  4. TRADE: The 2018 goods deficit was the largest on record. Even the deficit in trade with China was up almost a quarter from 2016.

                                                                  5 GROWTH:盘界棋牌 Last quarter’s growth was just 2.1%, far less than the 4%, 5%, or even 6% Trump promised to deliver, and even less than the 2.4% average of Obama’s second term. That is a remarkably poor performance considering the stimulus provided by the $1 trillion deficit and ultra-low interest rates.

                                                                  6. WORKERS’ RIGHTS: Trump administration has systematically weakened workers’ rights. More than eight million workers will be left behind by the Trump overtime rule. Workers would receive $1.4 billion less than under the 2016 rule. New Trump administration joint-employer rule has $1 billion price tag for workers.

                                                                  7. HEALTH:盘界棋牌 Millions of Americans have lost their health coverage, and the uninsured rate has risen, in just two years, from 10.9% to 13.7%. US life expectancy, already relatively low, fell in each of the first two years of Trump’s presidency, and in 2017, midlife mortality reached its highest rate since World War II.

                                                                  8. CLIMATE: losses related to climate change have already reached new highs in the US, which has suffered more property damage than any other country – reaching some 1.5% of GDP in 2017.

                                                                • Tuesday, February 4, 2020

                                                                  THE STATE OF THE DIS-UNION

                                                                  An impeached president who was on trial and is up for re-election will be delivering a state of the union address to the most divided union in living memory. He will be giving his address to both his jurors and prosecutors, and most importantly, to the voters that will decide his fate in November.

                                                                  It’s not unprecedented for an impeached president to give a state of the union address. Bill Clinton delivered his State of the Union in 1999 while in the middle of his Senate trial. But that’s where the similarities end.

                                                                  Clinton was not up for re-election when he gave his speech, so he didn’t need to employ any campaign-style rhetoric. Trump is a polarizing, divisive president who is addressing an America that has never been so divided.

                                                                  But this begs the question: why are we so divided?

                                                                  We’re not fighting a hugely unpopular war on the scale of Vietnam. We’re not in a deep economic crisis like the Great Depression. Yes, we disagree about guns, abortion, and immigration, but we’ve disagreed about them for decades. So why are we so divided now?

                                                                  Ferocious partisanship is not new. Newt Gingrich, the Republican Speaker of the House who led the House’s impeachment investigation into Clinton, pioneered the combative partisanship we’re used to today. But today’s divisions are far deeper than they were then.

                                                                  Part of the answer is Trump himself. The Great Divider knows how to pit native-born Americans against immigrants, the working class against the poor, whites against blacks and Latinos, evangelicals against secularists — keeping everyone stirred up by vilifying, disparaging, denouncing, defaming, and accusing others of the worst. Trump thrives off disruption and division.

                                                                  But that begs another question: Why have we been so ready to be divided by Trump?

                                                                  One theory is the underlying tension that an older, whiter, and less educated America, concentrated in rural areas, is losing out to a “new” America that’s younger, more diverse, more educated, and concentrated in urban areas. These trends, while much more prominent these days, have been going on since the start of the 20th century. Why are they causing so much anger now?

                                                                  Another hypothesis is that we are geographically sorting ourselves into Republican and Democratic regions of the country, surrounding ourselves with like-minded neighbors and friends so we no longer talk to people with opposing views. But why are we doing this?

                                                                  The rise of social media sensationalizing our differences in order to attract eyeballs and advertisers, plays a crucial role in exacerbating the demographic and geographic trends I just mentioned. But it alone isn’t responsible for our polarized nation.

                                                                  Together, all of these factors contribute to the political schism we’re experiencing today. But none of them alone point to any large, significant change in the structure of our society that can account for what’s happened.

                                                                  Let me have a go.

                                                                  In the fall of 2015, I visited Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Missouri, and North Carolina for a research project I was doing on the changing nature of work. I spoke with many of the same people I had met twenty years before when I was secretary of labor, as well as with some of their grown children.

                                                                  What I heard surprised me. Twenty years ago, many said they’d been working hard and were frustrated they weren’t doing better. Now, that frustration had been replaced by full-blown anger — anger towards their employers, the government, Wall Street.

                                                                  Many had lost jobs, savings, or homes in the Great Recession following the financial crisis of 2008, or knew others who had. By the time I spoke with them, most were back in jobs but the jobs paid no more than they had two decades before in terms of purchasing power.

                                                                  I heard the term “rigged system” so often I began asking people what they meant by it. They spoke about flat wages, shrinking benefits, and growing job insecurity. They talked about the bailout of Wall Street, political payoffs, insider deals, soaring CEO pay, and “crony capitalism.”

                                                                  These complaints came from people who identified as Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. A few had joined the Tea Party, while a few others had been involved in the Occupy movement.

                                                                  With the 2016 political primaries looming, I asked them which candidates they found most attractive. At the time, Democratic Party insiders favored Hillary Clinton and Republican insiders favored Jeb Bush. Yet no one I spoke with mentioned Clinton or Bush.

                                                                  They talked instead about Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. When I asked why, they said Sanders or Trump would “shake things up” or “make the system work again” or “stop the corruption” or “end the rigging.”

                                                                  In the following year, Sanders – a seventy-four-year old Jew from Vermont who described himself as a democratic socialist and wasn’t a registered Democrat until the 2016 presidential primaries – came within a whisker of beating Clinton in the Iowa caucus, routed her in the New Hampshire primary, and ended up with 46 percent of the pledged delegates from Democratic primaries and caucuses.

                                                                  Trump – a sixty-nine-year-old ego-maniacal billionaire reality-TV star who had never held elective office or had anything to do with the Republican Party and who lied compulsively about everything – won the Republican primaries and then went on to beat Clinton, one of the most experienced and well-connected politicians in modern America (although he didn’t win the popular vote, and had some help from the Kremlin).

                                                                  Something very big had happened, and it wasn’t due to Sanders’s magnetism or Trump’s likeability. It was a rebellion against the establishment.

                                                                  That rebellion is still going on, although much of the establishment still denies it. They have come up with myriad explanations for Trump’s ascendance, some with validity; some without: It was hatred of Obama, it was hatred of Hillary, it was people voting third party, it was racism and xenophobia.

                                                                  It’s important to note that although racism and xenophobia in America date to before the founding of the Republic, they have never before been so central to a candidate’s appeal and message as they’ve been with Trump. Aided by Fox News and an army of right-wing outlets, Trump used the underlying frustrations of the working class and channeled them into bigotry, but this was hardly the first time in history a demagogue has used this cynical ploy.

                                                                  Trump convinced many blue-collar workers feeling ignored by the powers that be that he was their champion. Hillary Clinton did not convince them that she was. Her decades of public service ended up being a negative, not a positive: She was indubitably part of the establishment, the epitome of decades of policies that had left these blue-collar workers in the dust. (It’s notable that during the primaries, Bernie Sanders did far better than Clinton with blue-collar voters.)

                                                                  A direct line connects the four-decade stagnation of wages with the bailout of Wall Street, the rise of the Tea Party (and, briefly, Occupy), and the successes of Sanders and Trump in 2016. By 2016, Americans understood that wealth and power had moved to the top. Big money had rigged our politics. This was the premise of Sanders’s 2016 campaign. It was also central to Trump’s appeal (“I’m so rich I can’t be bought off”), which he quickly reneged on once elected, delivering everything big money could have imagined.

                                                                  The most powerful force in American politics today continues to be anti-establishment fury at a rigged system. Vicious partisanship, record-breaking economic inequality, and the resurgence of white supremacy are all byproducts of this rigged system. The biggest political battle today isn’t between left, right, or center: it’s between Trump’s authoritarian populism  and democratic (small “d”) populism.

                                                                  Democrats cannot defeat authoritarian populism without an agenda of radical democratic reform, an anti-establishment movement that tackles runaway inequality and heals the racial wounds Trump has inflicted. Even though he’s a Trojan Horse for big corporations and the rich – giving them all the  tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks they’ve ever wanted – he still has large swaths of the working class convinced  he’s on their side.

                                                                  Democrats must stand squarely on the side of democracy against oligarchy. We must form a unified coalition of people of all races, genders, sexualities, and classes, and band together to unrig the system. Trump is not the cause of our divided nation; he is the symptom of a rigged system that was already dividing us. It’s not enough to defeat him. We must reform the system that got us here in the first place to ensure that no future politician will ever again imitate Trump’s authoritarian demagoguery.

                                                                  For now, let’s boycott the State of the Union and show the ratings-obsessed demagogue that the American people refuse to watch an impeached president continue to divide us.




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