Saturday, July 30, 2016

Editorial: Dems Move Toward Unity

If Republicans were hoping that the Democratic National Convention would outdo the dumpster fire that was Donald Trump’s Republican National Convention, they were bound to be disappointed.

The first day of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia had a rocky start as Bernie Sanders was booed by his own supporters when he asked them to support Clinton. “We have got to defeat Donald Trump, and we have got to elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine,” Sanders told his delegates in a meeting before the start of the convention. “Brothers and sisters, brothers and sisters, this is the real world that we live in. Trump is a bully and a demagogue. Trump has made bigotry and hatred the cornerstones of his campaign. Throughout this campaign he has insulted Mexicans and Latinos, he has insulted Muslims, he has insulted women and African Americans.”

After the convention was gaveled to order Monday evening, the crowd was roused by Sen. Cory Booker, First Lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren boosting the presumptive nominee.

Finally, closing out the night, Sanders gave a full-throated endorsement of Clinton. Some “Bernie-or-Bust”ers still made noise in the background, but the rest of the crowd roared as Bernie noted that Hillary agrees with him that if someone in this country works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. “She understands that we must raise the minimum wage to a living wage. And she is determined to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – our roads, bridges, water systems and wastewater plants,’ he said.

Donald Trump, in contrast, “does not support raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour – a starvation wage. While Donald Trump believes in huge tax breaks for billionaires, he believes that states should actually have the right to lower the minimum wage below $7.25. What an outrage!”

Clinton also supports overturning the Citizens United decision which allows the wealthiest people in America to buy elections, he noted. “Hillary Clinton will nominate justices to the Supreme Court who are prepared to overturn Citizens United and end the movement toward oligarchy that we are seeing in this country. Her Supreme Court appointments will also defend a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect our environment.”

He added, “If you don’t believe that this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.”

Sanders and Clinton have agreed on a proposal to guarantee tuition-free college education for most students, action on climate change, moving toward universal health care, with a public option in their health care exchange and providing access to primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs through a major expansion of community health centers.

The Democratic platform also calls for breaking up the major financial institutions on Wall Street and the passage of a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. It also calls for strong opposition to job-killing free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. “We’ve got to make sure that the TPP does not get to the floor of Congress in the lame duck session,” he added.

“Our job now is to see that strong Democratic platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, by a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do all that I can to make that happen.”

Many Sanders supporters still haven’t accepted that Bernie has lost, but a Pew poll in June found that 85% of Sanders backers will support Clinton, while just 9% said they’ll back Trump. That’s a lot quicker reconciliation than Democrats saw after the 2008 primary, when 22% of Clinton backers said in a June 2008 Washington Post/ABC News poll they’d vote for John McCain instead of Barack Obama. By October 2008, 14% of Clinton supporters still planned to vote for McCain.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., was a solid choice for Clinton’s running mate. Some progressives were hoping for a more left-wing choice: perhaps Elizabeth Warren or even Sanders. But Sanders was going nowhere and, with the Senate majority likely to be close, other popular choices, such as Warren, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, would have been replaced by a Republican. Virginia has a Democratic governor to name Kaine’s replacement.

Kaine grew up in Kansas City and graduated from the University of Missouri, then earned a law degree from Harvard. Moving to Richmond, Va., he specialized in fair housing law and represented clients who were discriminated against on the basis of race or disability. He served two terms as mayor of Richmond before being elected lieutenant governor in 2001 and governor in 2005. Since he was elected to the Senate in 2012, he has been considered a center-left mainstream Democrat. The liberal group Americans for Democratic Action gave him a 90% score for 2014, slightly better than the Democratic average of 87%. He has a lifetime score with the AFL-CIO of 96%. The main concerns of progressives with Kaine are his support for free-trade agreements, as he voted to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and his personal opposition, as a Catholic, to abortion. But Kaine reportedly has reversed his support for the TPP, committing to Clinton that he would oppose the free trade bill in line with her opposition to the trade deal. Planned Parenthood noted that despite his personal views, he has maintained a 100% pro-choice voting record in the Senate. And his fluency in Spanish will help the ticket appeal to a crucial demographic.

Hillary Clinton can close the deal if she can convince working-class whites that she cares about their economic troubles. Republicans had a night during their convention where they promised to outline their plans to “Make America Work Again,” but Dave Johnson of Campaign for America’s Future noted that it was “all about tax cuts for the rich and corporations, deregulation of oil and coal companies (and other paying corporate clients) and austerity cuts in the things government does to make people’s lives better.”

There was nothing about how to actually make America “work again,” Johnson noted.

When President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 the country was losing 850,000 jobs a month. The unemployment rate was 7.8% and topped out at 9.8% in September 2009. But Democrats controlled the House and Senate and broke a Republican filibuster to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, known as the “stimulus.” Since then the economy has seen six and a half years of job growth, the unemployment rate has dropped below 5%, despite Republican obstruction of other attempts to stimulate the economy and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. Many people are still working part-time and/or at minimum-wage jobs and median household income has dropped from $55,313 in 2008 to $53,657 in 2014. But the stagnation in wages is due largely to the movement of manufacturing jobs overseas and a 40-year decline in the power of labor unions to force industry to increase wages and benefits to keep up with increases in productivity. Trump, who has offshored his own manufacturing of his clothing lines to China and Mexico, would do nothing to correct that

If Republicans really want to make America work again, Americans for Tax Fairness say, Congress should make US corporations pay the $700 billion they owe in taxes on their $2.4 trillion in profits stashed offshore.

“That kind of revenue would help us invest in our country’s future – creating economic opportunity for all of us and millions of good-paying jobs by improving schools, making college affordable, rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges, building a green energy economy, researching new medical cures and so much more!” — JMC

From The Progressive Populist, August 15, 2016

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