Saturday, May 14, 2016

Editorial: HRC: Steal This Platform

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ refusal to drop out of the Democratic presidential race will keep Hillary R. Clinton running at least through the California primary on June 7 and might force her to adopt popular positions that ultimately could help her win the White House.

Sanders won the West Virginia primary by 51.4% to 35.8% on May 10. That 15.6-point victory margin got him a 18-11 split of pledged delegates and cut Clinton’s lead among pledged delegates to 283.

To have a shot at overtaking Clinton, Sanders needs to increase his vote share to about 70% in the 11 remaining contests. But that slim chance keeps hope alive for Sanders supporters and prevents Clinton from pivoting to the center, at least until the June 7 primaries that include California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota and the June 14 finale in the District of Columbia.

It is unlikely that either candidate will win the nomination with 2,383 pledged delegates, so the 714 unpledged “superdelegates” will decide the race — and Clinton leads among those Democratic party officials 524-40, with 150 yet to declare their support.

So Sanders is still in the race but Clinton is the odds-on favorite to claim the nomination. She leads Trump in national polls, but Democrats were alarmed that Quinnipiac University polls released May 10 showed very close races between Clinton and Trump in the key swing states of Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.

In the general election campaign, Trump will try to draw off some of Sanders’ supporters by running to Clinton’s left on some issues, such as Trump’s proposal to repudiate trade agreements that have encouraged multinational corporations to move manufacturing overseas, and his proposal to unilaterally impose tariffs on products made outside the United States. Even then, Republicans will need to step up the mudslinging to raise Clinton’s negatives to Trump levels.

To head off Trump, Clinton should adopt much of Sanders’ progressive agenda. On Face the Nation on May 8, Clinton said she was “very heartened to hear [Sanders] say last week that he is going to work seven days a week to make sure Donald Trump doesn’t become president. And I want to unify the party. I see a great role and opportunity for him and his supporters to be part of that unified party, to move into not just November to win the election against Donald Trump, but to then govern based on the progressive goals that he and I share.”

She noted, “We both want to raise the minimum wage. We both understand you have got to rein in bad actors on Wall Street and in corporate America to make sure they don’t wreck Main Street. We have a lot of the same goals. And I hope we can unify around them.”

Clinton and the Democrats might give Trump and the Republicans the drubbing they deserve just because Trump is loathed by women, Latinos, blacks and Muslims. But it would help if she could give those groups, as well as young people and the blue-collar whites who are attracted to Sanders as well as Trump, solid reasons to vote for her by stealing Sanders’ progressive populist agenda. And it could help Democrats regain the Senate and the House.

A nationwide poll of 2,200 registered Latino voters by Latino Decisions and America’s Voice in April found that 79% of Latino voters said they were very unfavorable towards Trump and another 8% were somewhat unfavorable. Clinton and Sanders both were favorable to 61% of Latino voters. The poll also found the Trump’s campaign has severely damaged the Republican brand among Latino voters, as nearly three out of four Latino voters believe the GOP has shunned Latino voters, while 42% say the party “doesn’t care too much about Latinos” and 31% agree the party is “sometimes hostile toward Latinos.”

In 2012, Latinos voted in record numbers and helped President Obama win re-election. In the April poll, 48% said they were more enthusiastic about the 2016 election.

States where a big Latino vote could impact key Senate races as well as the presidential race include Arizona, where Latinos are 21.5% of the electorate and John McCain (R) faces a heated challenge for re-election; Colorado, were Latinos are 14.5% of the electorate and Michael Bennett (D) faces a challenge; Florida, where Latinos are 18.1% of the electorate and there is an open race to replace Marco Rubio (R); Illinois, where Latinos are 10.5% of the electorate and Mark Kirk (R) faces a tough challenge from Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D); and Nevada, where there is an open race to replace Harry Reid (D).

This election also could motivate Texas Latinos to vote in proportion with their numbers. Latinos are 28.1% of the Lone Star State’s eligible voters but in 2012 only 39% of eligible Texas Latinos cast a ballot, compared with 61% of eligible white Texans. Approximately 2.9 million Hispanic Texans who were eligible didn’t vote. And Latinos who vote tend to vote Democratic.

“If Hispanic voter mobilization efforts were successful in the state, Texas would be as competitive as Florida in statewide contests, including presidential elections,” Sylvia Manzano of Latino Decisions wrote in February 2014.

It would help if Democrats raised populist economic issues that would help working-class families — which would appeal to whites, blacks, Latinos and other groups.

Clinton should support raising the minimum wage to $15 or whatever Democrats can get through Congress. She should push for enhancements to the Affordable Care Act that move it closer to universal healthcare, such as allowing people to buy into Medicare as a public option to compete with private insurance companies. On May 10 she moved in that direction, suggesting that people in their fifties be allowed to buy into Medicare.

Clinton also should embrace measures to reduce the burdens of higher education debt, restore Pell Grants and other federal assistance to help middle-class as well as lower-income families defray the costs of colleges and universities. That could be paid by taxing financial transactions, as Sanders has suggested.

Clinton also should embrace Sanders’ plan to expand Social Security benefits by eliminating the cap on the payroll tax on income above $250,000.

Although she was a strong advocate of labor unions in the Senate, blue-collar workers remember that Bill Clinton as president promoted the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Those workers question her recent opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she promoted as secretary of state. She might go a long way toward rebuilding that trust if she called on Democratic members of Congress to stand fast against the pact, even in a lame duck session after the election, when it is expected to be brought up.

Trump has little credibility in his populist pose, but it’s gotten him this far. Trump is a charlatan, a real estate developer who has taken four failing businesses through bankruptcy from 1991 to 2009. Now he suggests that he might try to renegotiate the national debt. He’s also a reality TV show producer and a con man who faces two lawsuits inf federal court and one in state court in New York that accuse him of fraud in his “Trump University” scam. And he said May 11 he won’t release his tax returns because there’s nothing in them that would be of interest.

Trump has been wildly inconsistent in his policy proposals. His criticism of trade pacts is in contrast with his practice of outsourcing of Trump-branded clothing to factories in China and Mexico. His hotels have resisted organizing efforts. Trump also supports “right to work” laws that weaken labor’s ability to organize and collect dues and he said last November that American “wages are too high.” On May 8 he said he would like to see the states increase their minimum wages, but he doesn’t want the federal government to set the standard.

At least one Supreme Court seat will be open going into the election, and three more justices (Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer) will be in their 80s under the next president. That’s enough of a reason to vote Democratic. — JMC

From The Progressive Populist, June 1, 2016

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Selections from the June 1, 2016 issue

COVER/Michael T. Klare
Pandemonium in the Old Oil Order

HRC: Steal this platform


Daniel Berrigan: No regrets

RURAL ROUTES/Margot McMillen 
Democracy needs honesty in media­­

TV hosts won’t call Trump on repeated lies;
Trump biggest liar in PolitiFact rankings;
Trump fraud trial delayed until after election;
Austin won’t back down on Uber, Lyft regs;
Freshman rep.’s misgivings about Social Security;
FCC approves merger to create cable giant;
Thousands of physicians call for single-payer;
VW reverses couse on union at Tennessee plant;
S.C. polluters get huge boost from state;
Charter schools called America's new subprime bubble;
States join TransCanada in suit over KXL pipeline;
Another rough year for honeybees ...

Say it, don’t spray it

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow

Donald Trump’s leftward pull

Marijuana laws — you’ve got to be joking

Higher minimum wage doesn’t cut jobs

Movement to stop fossil fuels keeps winning

Stepping on necks of low-wage workers

HEALTH CARE/Joan Retsinas 
The Decency Chronicles

Democracy needs to be taught

Fatal employment

The Krugman Chronicles

Modelgate revisited

Welcome to Trump World: foreign policy

Another secret ‘trade’ deal leaks

MOVIES/Ed Rampell 
Must-see cinema: When Sammy met Buster

and more ...

Monday, May 9, 2016

Trump’s business techniques would cause a stock & bond market crash and depression

By Marc Jampole

One of the many things that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to understand is that sometimes merely saying something can be hurtful.  The classic case is Trump’s outrageous lie months ago that he knew a child who had gotten autism because of a vaccination. It was a bold-faced lie, the telling of which in and of itself hurt other people, to wit, those children whose parents later used it as part of their case for denying them vaccinations.

Trump just said something else that should disqualify him as president. He said that he would finance his program on debt, and if the country couldn’t pay, he would negotiate new terms with lenders. If Trump were to make such a statement as president, the dollar would sink in value and interest rates would skyrocket. Lenders would be reluctant to loan money to the United States. Other countries would look for another currency to serve as the base of the global economy. The likely result would be a decline in the stock and bond markets, followed by a deep recession. Such a scenario would cause pain and suffering to millions of people.

All because countries and business all over the world have lost faith in the U.S. dollar. All because the president of the United States in a fit of rage, pique or frustration lost control of his emotions and threatened not to pay off our debts in full on a timely basis. 

I know that a large number of business operators, and in particular developers, send companies into bankruptcy as a way of life. They always walk away with some money, but the investors are left with losses. That’s the way Donald Trump has always operated, sending three real estate organizations into bankruptcy. We often see the litany of his failed businesses—Trump Airlines, Trump Steaks, Trump Mortgage, Trump Vodka, Trump Magazine, to many of which he merely provided his name. He walked away with licensing fees and the business failed, leaving employees and investors holding the bag. The New York Times analysis of how Trump destroyed the U.S. Football League by insisting that it compete head-on with the National Football League instead of fielding teams in the NFL off-season is an eye-opener. In failing, Trump University has attracted a number of lawsuits, and the evidence vetted in the news media suggests that Trump himself broke the law in overpromising what students would experience in classes. Other news reports have alluded to the low respect with which long-timers in the casino industry view Trump; they consider him a buffoon. It is true that Trump has found success on reality TV and as a brand licenser, but the foundation of both these accomplishments is the false premise that he is a good business person. Months ago, Forbes did an analysis that demonstrated that if Trump had passively invested the fortune he inherited from his father, his net worth would be twice what it is.

But even if it were good business advice to spend a lot of money, knowing that if things don’t work out you can always go into bankruptcy, it just doesn’t work for a country, and certainly not for a country whose economic well-being depends in large part to being the currency of choice around the globe.

When a company goes into bankruptcy, it will hurt creditors, and often hurts vendors, employees and customers as well. But it doesn’t have to hurt the chief executive officer and other executives. We know many instances of a CEO raiding and raping it, and then sending a company into bankruptcy. But what does a president get when a country defaults on its debt, at least in a democratic country with strong laws against political corruption?  We know what happens in kleptocracies such as Russia and the Ukraine. If we assume Trump is a rational human being, building an authoritarian kleptocracy makes perfect sense as an explanation for Trump’s comment about renegotiating with creditors if the United States couldn’t pay its debt. Of course some would say that there is little difference between what happens in Russia and the kind of crony capitalism Bush II practiced in the Middle East and tried to practice after Hurricane Katrina.

That Trump might enter into negotiations to revise bond terms is scary. The fact that he is willing to say it may be even scarier, because it suggests, once again, that the Donald will say anything and break any deal.

Trump has revised his stand on a number of issues, acts that many who voted for him may consider betrayals. He now is okay with transgendered people using the restroom of the sex with which they identify. He talked hard about tax cuts and put out a plan that gave massive tax cuts to the wealthy, but now he says taxes may rise for the wealthy and businesses. He was adamantly against raising the minimum wage in several debates. Now he says he wants to raise the minimum wage. I agree with his current stands on all these issues, but it must be pissing off all the Republicans who think otherwise and voted for him or now are boxed into supporting his candidacy. But these right-wingers should fear not. Donald Trump is like the weather in spring: He will probably change his mind again on any and all of these issues.

Trump is trumpeting his own duplicity and lack of a moral center as a major selling point. Everything is open for negotiation and everything is on the table, even a first-strike use of nuclear weapons. The horror at his pride at not having political ethics is exceeded only by the horror evoked by thinking about what dropping a nuclear weapon would do to its immediate victims and the Earth’s atmosphere.

Part of Trump’s inconsistency results from the off-the-cuff nature of his campaign and his speeches. He makes it up as he goes along, and then either spends copious words justifying what was a misstatement or changes his mind, sometimes in the next sentence. The fact that he doesn’t mind lying about the facts makes it easy for him to substantiate any statement he makes and therefore say anything that he wants to—at any given moment, for as long or as short a time as makes him feel good.

When we mix Trump’s political and ethical flexibility and his propensity to lie with his fomenting of violence, advocacy of hate politics and love of authoritarian solutions, we get fascism run by an erratic narcissist. It looks like and sounds like the democratic nation of Germany when Adolf Hitler took it over. It’s a good thing that unlike Hitler, Trump does not have the support of his own party.