Saturday, August 29, 2015

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at DNC Summer Meeting 2015

The DNC Summer Meeting gives candidates a chance to address DNC members and state party chairs who will have voting spots at next year’s Democratic National Convention.

Here's what CNN had reported yesterday about the speeches from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee and former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley. (Senator Bernie Sanders had not yet spoken at the time — and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb did not attended the DNC meeting).

Hillary Clinton acknowledged the importance super delegates, party activists, leaders and elected officials whose support counts to the eventual delegate that decides the party's nominee. The campaign is already hyper-focused on the number of super delegates, and Clinton's top aides receive daily briefings that tally their super delegates — and they feel very confident in their super delegate strength.

Lincoln Chafee spoke before Clinton, delivering a far more subdued speech that was not that well received. Chafee noted during his speech that in 30 years of public life, he "has had no scandals." Many of the DNC members took that at a shot at Clinton, who has been dogged by controversies and scandals for much of her career. There were audible boos from the audience. (Chafee told reporters after the speech that the line was not aimed at Clinton.)

Martin O'Malley charged the Democratic party with "circling the wagons" around Clinton. "Until we start having debates, our party's going to be defined and branded by questions like: What did Secretary Clinton know, when did she know it, and when will the FBI conclude its investigation?" DNC officials say it is highly unlikely that the party will sanction any more debates, even with O'Malley's complaints. It is also unlikely, they say, that the party will lower their strict rules about participating in unsanctioned DNC debates.

Not speaking at the event was Senator Jim Webb. His spokesman, Craig Crawford, said: "We saw no plan offered by DNC officials for meaningful interaction with their members. Time-limited 10 minute speeches and a hospitality room? Direct mail vendors probably get more exposure." Candidates like Webb and O'Malley have openly complained about the DNC's ties to the Clinton campaign. Those complaints grew louder on Thursday when the DNC and Clinton's team signed a joint fundraising agreement, allowing the current Democratic frontrunner [Hillary] to raise money for the party.

VP Joe Biden also didn't attend the DNC Summer Meeting. The National Review's headline reads: Biden Buzz Fizzles at DNC Summer Meeting.

Bernie Sanders was the last to speak. Embedded below is a short edited version of Bernie Sanders' speech — followed by a short edited version of Hillary Clinton's speech.

After listening to both Bernie and Hillary speak, I had asked myself two questions:

  1. What did Bernie say that the vast majority of the American people wouldn't also agree with?
  2. Was there anything at all that Bernie had said that any supporter of Hillary Clinton (or any of the other attendees at the DNC ) would have disagreed with? In other words (and despite the "baggage" Hillary carries, and ignoring her and her husband's past and current controversies), would any of the DNC attendees prefer Hillary over Bernie simply because she is a woman? (Personally, if Bernie hadn't ran and Warren did, I would have supported Warren.)

I also noticed that the mainstream media was mostly reporting about Hillary's speech, and particularly about her comments on Donald Trump. But then again, that's the mainstream media for you — always sensationalism over issues.

The Star Tribune offered some more insight:

Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Keith Downey criticized Clinton and the other Democrats in town for their summer meeting: “This is a disaster scenario unfolding for the Democrats. Hillary Clinton is crumbling; they know the concept of a Joe Biden candidacy is far better than its reality, and the only one generating enthusiasm is the [democratic] socialist, Bernie Sanders.”

Below are the C-SPAN links for all the candidates full speeches:

The HuffPost pollster is currently tracking 120 polls from 22 pollsters for the 2016 National Democratic Primary (updated August 27, 2015):

Poll: Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton

Bernie Sanders Fiery Speech Amps Up Crowd at DNC

2016 Presidential Candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), addressed the Democratic National Committee summer meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 28, 2015. He covered everything — from corporate America to mass incarceration to immigration reform — while delivering a blistering speech hammering income inequality in America and stating that the Democrats will not hold the White House if they continue to deliver “establishment politics and establishment economics.”

“What we need is a political movement which is prepared to take on the billionaire class and create a government which works for all of us and not just corporate America and a handful of the wealthiest people in this country,” Sanders said.

Hushing the crowd as they began chanting, “Bernie! Bernie!” Sanders continued, “In other words, we need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one that is part of that establishment.”

“We will end the obscenity of living in a country where the top one tenth of one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent,” he stated. “That is not the kind of economy that we want. We need a movement that tells Wall Street that when a bank is too big to fail, that bank is too big to exist and we’re gonna break ’em up!”

Sanders also called for defeating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying: “Corporate America has got to start investing in our country, not just countries all over the world,” before adding, “We need a movement in this country that says every worker deserves a living wage that understands that the current minimum wage of $7.25 is a starvation wage and that we are going to raise that wage — over a period of a few years — to 15 bucks an hour.”

Friday, August 28, 2015

Growth — What is good for? Absolutely Nothin'

Unless of course, you're a wealthy investor.

Real gross domestic product (GDP: the value of the goods and services produced by the nation's economy, less the value of the goods and services used in its production) increased at an annual rate of 3.7 percent in the second quarter of 2015.

A former member of the Fed was on Fox News yesterday and had said "increased productivity" and "tax cuts" were very important for "growth" — and that more growth would best resolve the matter of "wealth redistribution" and "income inequality".

But isn't that called "trickle-down economics" — when a rising tide is supposed to lift all boats? And isn't that what we've had for the past 35 years — all while wages have remained stagnant?

Haven't we had any "growth" at all for the past 35 years? Let's look at the stock market and see...

35 years of growth for the DOW

Hmmmmmm. That looks like "growth" to me. Now let's have look at "wealth redistribution" and "income inequality" during that same period of time (when we've had all that "growth")...

productivity vs. wages

Hmmmmmm. Over the past 35 years, did more "growth" resolve the matter of "wealth redistribution" and "income inequality"?

And if not, then does it really matter to most people if the economy grew by 3.7 percent in the second quarter of 2015 — or if it grew at 1% or 5%? Does it really matter if "productivity" went up (or down) if all the increases in growth and profits just mostly goes to wealthy investors, rather than partially (and fairly) redistributed into higher wages for workers?

What if the "job creators" paid NO TAXES AT ALL — (and for that matter, had no regulations imposed on them) — would that be a guarantee that they'd all be paying their workers fair and living wages? Would that eradicate the problem of "income inequality"? Or is more "growth" only good for rich investors, and nothing more — and that more tax breaks would only put more cash in their pockets?

Prominent economist and Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz (and a Fellow of the progressive Roosevelt Institute), said: “An economy that doesn’t deliver for most of its citizens is a failed economy.” From his new paper:

America has not been doing well in either equality of outcomes or opportunity. We have obtained the dubious distinction of being the country with the highest level of inequality of outcomes, and among the lowest levels of equality of opportunity, compared to other advanced economies ... the American dream today is to a large extent simply a myth. The life prospects of a young American are more dependent on the income and education of his or her parents than in almost any of the other advanced countries. Wages and benefits for American workers grew at the slowest pace in 33 years in the second quarter this year..."

Yesterday at the L.A. Times Stiglitz also wrote:

Despite a headline unemployment rate of 5.3%, the true labor market situation faced by working families in the United States remains dire. Millions remain trapped in disguised unemployment and part-time employment ... The true unemployment rate, including those working part time involuntarily and marginally attached, is more than 10.4% ... Poor labor market conditions are also reflected in wages and incomes. So far this year, wages for production non-supervisory workers, which tracks closely to the median wage, fell by 0.5%. Median household income — a better indicator of how well the economy is doing as seen by the typical American than GDP — at last measure was lower than it was a quarter-century ago ... Quantitative easing was yet another instance of failed trickle-down economics — by giving more to the rich, the Fed hoped that everyone would benefit. But so far, these policies have enriched the few without returning the economy to full employment or broadly shared income growth.

(* David Dayen at the Fiscal Times tells us why conservatives are so desperate to debunk the chart above regarding workers' wages.)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bernie Sanders is gaining on Hillary — and fast!

The HuffPost pollster is currently tracking 120 polls from 22 pollsters for the 2016 National Democratic Primary (updated August 27, 2015):

Poll: Bernie Sanders vs. Hillary Clinton

* I'm not sure if all or most of these polls only reflect the opinions of registered Democrats, or if they also include opinions from Independents who aren't (yet) registered to vote.

The newest Quinnipiac Poll shows match-ups among ALL registered American voters, and we can see that Bernie Sanders is in very strong contention — not only among Democrats, but also against Republican rivals:

Joe Biden beats Trump 48-40 percent (+4)
Joe Biden beats Bush 45-39 percent (+6)
Joe Biden beats Rubio 44-41 percent (+3)

Hillary Clinton beats Trump 45-41 percent (+4)
Hillary Clinton beats Bush 42-40 percent (+2)
Hillary Clinton beats Rubio 44-43 percent (+1)

Bernie Sanders beats Trump 44-41 percent (+3)
Bernie Sanders beats Bush 43-39 percent (+4)
Bernie Sanders beats Rubio 41-40 percent (+3)

But the mainstream media is making it only look like a race between Hillary and Biden if he runs. Many times they act as though Bernie doesn't even exist!

Now, if Uncle Joe doesn't run, will those votes then go to Hillary or Bernie? Remember, Biden is more like a Third Way Democrat (such as Hillary and Obama on trade deals, etc.) than a progressive Democrat (like Bernie, who opposes offshoring more jobs). So why has the CEO of the AFL-CIO met with Biden? Why hasn't the largest labor union in the U.S. already endorsed Bernie Sanders? And for that matter, why hasn't Elizabeth Warren? What's wrong with these people? Whose side are they REALLY on?

RECENT BERNIE NEWS...

Washington Post: A possible Biden run puts the Obama fundraising network on high alert. A wide swath of Democratic party financiers are convinced that Biden will make a late entry into the race, and a sizable number are contemplating backing him, including some who have signed on with Clinton.

The Nation: Even though Senator Warren has already made it perfectly clear she's not running, and with speculation about Joe Biden entering the race, some are still urging Warren to run (Maybe it shows that the Democrats and the Hillary campaign are running scared after seeing Bernie's surge.)

New York Times: Former Senator Tom Harkin (who supports Hillary Clinton) said the vice president should not risk ending his career with what would be a third bid for the presidency. “He has served the country so well and been a good friend of mine — I love Joe,” Mr. Harkin said in a phone interview. “I just don’t think this would be a wise move.”

Washington Post: Hillary Clinton's supporters have grown more nervous about the changing primary landscape, which also includes an unexpectedly vigorous challenge by Senator Bernie Sanders and the campaign’s handling of the widening e-mail problem. Washington Post: Bernie Sanders to Democratic Party elite: "Consider me, not Hillary Clinton."

CNN: "In a CNN/ORC Poll in August, 49% of Democratic voters said the former first lady would do the best job in tackling race relations, well ahead of Sanders or Biden." Oh really? If she's "well ahead" of Sanders and Biden, then the other 51% must be divided between Sanders and Biden among "Democrats" --- but what do the "Independents" (the majority) think?

In other BERNIE NEWS: Bernie Sanders said the Postal Service’s biggest financial obstacle is a Bush administration mandate that the agency prefund future health-care costs for retiring postal workers...To cut costs, postal officials have closed about 150 mail-sorting plants since 2012. In January, they relaxed delivery standards by eliminating overnight delivery for local first-class letters that used to arrive the next day. And up to half of mail that is traveling longer distances was given an extra day to reach its destination. Washington Times: Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband cashed in selling old post offices... [And speaking of "mail"...]

BONUS: A re-mixed Bernie Sanders hip-hop song: "Feel the Bern" is here at YouTube —> and visit Bernie's "Feel the Bern" store at his website here.

Bernie Sanders says the billionaires "can't have it all". But yet, they still keep trying: The billionaire owners of the Milwaukee Bucks threatened to leave the State of Wisconsin if they couldn't get $400 million of taxpayer money to build a new stadium. So naturally, Republican Gov. Scott Walker complied. The top 0.01% always uses financial blackmail to get subsidies and tax breaks from State governments — playing one State against another to get the best deal possible. The super-rich owners always use "jobs" as carrots to sell their proposals — usually paying the lowest wages possible, while charging $10 for hotdogs to pay players millions a year. Oh, and what about those tax breaks they get from the federal government -- especially the NFL.

What's with the big war on Bernie? What to the very rich and powerful, and the established political party machines, have to fear? Are they afraid to "Feel the Bern"?

Bernie Sanders at Washington Post

I'm not so sure Bernie is really "left-leaning", unless FDR was also "left-leaning" —> Bernie Sanders Could be the Next FDR —> And what's worse, a Democratic Socialist, or a hardcore Libertarian? Like Bernie Sanders, the libertarian-owned newspaper also hates Donald Trump, maybe because he too would raise Jeff Bezo's taxes — because he is one of the billionaires that wants it all.

Bernie Sanders on Fox News

Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado (a pro-Koch brothers Democrat) also love billionaires, and called on Hillary Clinton to take a position on the Keystone XL Pipeline, a pipeline that he supports. Senator Bennet was also one of thirteen Democrats to switch their votes in favor of allowing fast-track authority for the TPP trade agreement to offshore jobs, make American taxpayers beholden to foreign-owned multi-national corporations, and raise prescription drug prices.

TIME: Hillary Clinton's campaign wants to register you to vote — but only if you're a Hillary supporter. "We don’t want to make our focus be voter registration, because then we have to, like, register everyone regardless of whether they’re supporters or not,” the Clinton organizer is shown in a video as saying. [Bernie Sanders wants EVERYONE to vote, and to let the chips fall as they may...like in a REAL democracy.]

We're still waiting for #BlackLivesMatter to get up real close and personal into Hillary Clinton's face (and with hate in their eyes) threaten to shut down a Hillary rally if she doesn't allow members of BLM to speak first. We're still waiting...

As an aside, from The Center for Public Integrity: 'Deez Nuts' puts Federal Election Commission on bozo patrol. "A rash of bogus presidential candidates is taxing government resources ... Since a poll propelled the fake U.S. presidential candidate into national headlines, 249 copycats, clowns and pranksters have inundated the Federal Election Commission with paperwork launching "official" White House campaigns.

Income Inequality and Immigration

My response to Mark Thoma at the Fiscal Times (The Politics of Income Inequality) where he writes that American workers "sense rising economic insecurity due to globalization, digital technology, and the constant chatter about robots taking their jobs."

But all that is true, so how can anyone blame them for feeling economically insecure? Many people will argue that robots (and other forms of automation and technology) HAVE indeed displaced many workers. Automation replaced many U.S. workers in manufacturing before many of those jobs were offshored to China. Then the "job creators" attempted to use robots in China to replace those manufacturing workers. Now that the U.S. is left with a service economy, the fast food industry is also considering using robots — just as McDonalds plans to use robots. The "job creators" will always do everything possible NOT to create jobs to increase their profit margins.

But Mark Thoma (an economist that I admire and respect) says that this is just "chatter". But how so?

Maybe a few union cashiers were laid off...
Self-check-outs laid off cashiers.

Then Thoma's article goes on to say, "They want someone to blame. For some, the natural tendency is to blame others for their problems. They turn to explanations, rightly or more often wrongly, such as immigrants are taking jobs, lowering wages, and placing a burden on social insurance programs."

But many people will argue that immigrants ARE taking jobs [via guestworker visas and illegal hiring], thereby depressing wages in an over-saturated labor force. And they are also placing a burden on social insurance programs and the schools.

Thoma goes on to write: "Presidential nominees from both political parties are attempting to tap into the sentiment that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and those who blame the 'others' for their problems are receptive to the Republican message."

But it's not just a "Republican message" — even progressive/liberal Democratic voters and Independents are concerned about illegal immigration, expanding immigration quotas and guestworker visas. (Read Senator Bernie Sanders' take on this issue)

Those "others" that Mister Thoma mentions aren't the problem, not so much as the politicians who are the real problem (on both sides of the aisle, and for different reasons), because it is the politicians who allow those "others" to immigrate here and work here if they aren't legal citizens. They say we "need" them to fill jobs, or that they create jobs. But if picking fruit paid $50/hour, many people might consider those really great jobs, and not "jobs that Americans don't want to do."

Recently Senator Lindsey Graham, who was bashing Donald Trump and defending Jeb Bush's "anchor babies comment", told CNN's Kate Bolduan (At This Hour With Berman and Bolduan):

What Jeb was talking about is birth right tourism. Millionaires from China and other Asian nations — as well as the Middle East — buy tourist visas for the express purpose of having their wife deliver a baby in the United States. There are people who market to rich people in Asia and the Middle East: "Come here for your vacation, we'll get you a tourist visa with a maternity ward." I think that cheapens citizenship ... That's all Jeb was talking about ... When he [Jeb] said "Asian people", he wasn't being derogatory. Birth-right tourism is an industry that's created to take advantage — people literally do buy tourist visas. They're marketed where you can come here, have the child, a maternity ward in the resort ...

Jeb Bush had previously said: "They crossed the border because they had no other means to work to be able to provide for their family. Yes, they broke the law, but it's not a felony. It’s an act of love." CNN has done a number of stories on the manipulation of tourism visas and investor visas (link, link, link, link, link). So, maybe not all immigration is through "an act of love", but also for exploitation and profit.

Rightly or wrongly, the GOP is opposed to open borders and birthright citizenship; but maybe not against tourist and investor visas. And the GOP is definitely not opposed to H-1B visas to offer lower wages to foreign workers with STEM skills (Read about the STEM skills myth). And all while putting domestic college grads out of work, or forcing them to take jobs that high school graduates once worked, who in turn, displace high school dropouts. Now we have women with law degrees working as strippers and men with PhDs driving cabs.

And many people will argue that Democrats want open borders, sanctuary cities, birthright citizenship and paths to citizenship just for political votes, because they lack the strong support from labor unions (due to GOP right-to-work laws) that they once enjoyed before the 1970s (Union membership peaked in 1979, and has been in decline ever since.) And bad trade deals led to the offshoring of many good-paying tech and union manufacturing jobs, leaving us with an under-paid non-union service industry.

This lack of union membership (which has been the GOP plan all along) has left a weaker political base for the Democrats, who now have to rely more and more on minority voters to stay in power — and so therefore, tend to pander to them more (although sometimes, a bit condescendingly) — and that's why it's so difficult to get the white working-class to support Democrats, because they perceive a lack of interest for their needs by the Democratic party (even though, when compared to GOP policies, they would fare much better economically).

That's why Senator Bernie Sanders' new press secretary said at a recent rally, "We need to commit ourselves to a new multi-racial political revolution" — one that benefits ALL of us, not just the wealthy few.

The majority of increased productivity (ever since the Powell Memo) went to the top income earners as our politicians in both parties were also giving tax cuts to them (starting with Jimmy Carter, by lowering the capital gains tax rate from 40% to 28%) — which was a double whammy for lowering our tax base. Dual-household incomes weren't enough anymore (nor multiple household incomes — as Senator Elizabeth Warren pointed out in her book: The Two Income Trap), forcing many people to rely on food stamps and other government programs — a "redistribution of wealth" that the top income earners don't want to pay for.

But as Senator Bernie Sanders says, "They can't have it all!" The economic pie in the U.S. gets bigger and bigger with each passing year; but as the population grows, our little slices of the pie have been getting smaller and smaller — all while those at the very top of the income ladder have engorged themselves on more and bigger slices: Bigger beachfront mansions, sleeker yachts and faster private jets. Their conspicuous consumption has been so excessive that, it goes far beyond what one can simply describe as "morally obscene".

Rather than investing in infrastructure, or creating on-the-job-training for the unemployed, or building factories in economically plighted areas, or raising wages in America, our most wealthy "job creators" would rather hoard their money and/or maintain perpetual dynasty trust funds, providing wealth for their family's generations well into the future. Why would 6 human beings (the Walton family heirs of Wal-Mart) need over $150 billion in the bank? They hoard their cash, rather than pay their employees living wages. In a recent interview Thomas Piketty said, “Over a certain wealth level, particularly if you are Bill Gates, if you have several dozen billion dollars, you know it’s not very useful for society if you keep it forever."

And there's also corporate hoarding: A football field double-stacked with standard-sized pallets packed with $100 bills five-feet high is about $2 trillion (image below). That's how much cash corporations are hoarding in offshore banks from overseas earnings because they don't want to pay tax on it — even though, they have no other use for the cash, other than to stuff it into their pockets. As it is now, 95% of corporate profits last year were spent on stock buybacks and dividends, to increase stock values for stock-option grants for corporate executives.

Not only are jobs are offhored, but the cash is too...
$2 trillion dollars in corporate profits offshore

Politicians on both side of the aisle (The D's and R's) have always showed the most favoritism to the most wealthy people in this nation (just look at the tax code.) When the American people look for people to blame, the politicians are the ones they blame — not necessarily the very rich or illegal immigrants, but the politicians who allowed the very rich and the illegal immigrants to do what they do (dodge taxes and work illegally) — and that's most likely why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been fairing so well in their respective parties against both of the establishment political party machines.

It has been unchecked greed that has hurt America the most (in our "un-sharing economy"). Higher wages would have done far much more to grow the economy than just increasing the incomes of those at the very top. If the job creators won't pay living wages, then they should be taxed accordingly to compensate for the lost revenue to the economy. If their companies use "tax inversion" to escape taxation, then don't allow them to do business in this country (e.g. shut down Burger King). If companies like Ford move their factories to Mexico or China, charge them stiff tariffs as Donald Trump has suggested. Sure, the American people won't pay 30% more a car, but that's the whole point — to punish the so-called "job creators" for not creating jobs in the United States for American citizens!

Or, as the Facebook co-founder did, having laws allowing him to renounce his U.S. citizenship to escape paying income tax: Maybe he should have been hunted down and hanged for treason. Our tax laws shouldn't have allowed for his tax evasion! He made a mockery of our immigration laws: "Come on in to our great country and take advantage of our great economy, and then skip town while flipping us the bird without paying your fair share of taxes."

Politicians on both side of the aisle (The D's and R's) have allowed this.

And the GOP is also still going after Social Security — even after workers have already been getting totally screwed for the past 40 years. But as Bernie Sanders says, "They can't have it all" — but yet, these billionaires (aka job creators) will always want it all; and only the "government" (we, the people) can check their lust, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy, narcissistic pride, and excessive greed. They all should be made to "Feel the Bern" — ;)

* As an aside from TIME: How the Democratic National Committee (the Democrat's establishment Third Way pro-corporate political machine) and its chairwoman (Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz) is rigging the Democratic primary debates to benefit Hillary Clinton over Senator Bernie Sanders.

Undocumented workers (from all foreign countries) do take jobs and depress wages for legal immigrants and natural born Americans alike. And going forward, more immigration will also deprive current illegal immigrants of jobs as well. Today a record 93.7 million working-age people in the U.S. are not in the labor force. Job creation is not keeping up with the all the high school and college grads we have every year. Technology and the offshoring of jobs has indeed been taking a toll on the number of jobs we need to support those who are already living within the U.S. borders.

Immigration just isn't a problem for the U.S. — it is in Europe on other parts of the world as well. If governments (democracies and dictatorships) had managed their economies better, and redistributed their nation's wealth in a more fair and equitable manner (rather than starting wars), then millions of people wouldn't have the need to flee their own home countries to escape poverty, famine, political persecution, prison and death.

But let's get our own house in order first, and show our current natural-born citizens (and legal immigrants) "an act of love" by giving them a means to work to be able to provide for their families first, before extending the generosity of our great country to more foreign-born citizens...whether they're "the best and brightness" or not.

* The graphic below is not a scientific breakdown of the demographics, just a rough estimate. The immigrants depicted are not from any specific country — or are not of any specific ethnicity and include Canadians as well — so "race" has no bearing on the issue. It's just "math". Even if the U.S. allowed more legal immigrants into the country, it could put illegal immigrants (who are already here) out of work as well.

Population-to-jobs-ratio

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I read the News Today, oh Boy...

Thomas Piketty from a recent interview:

“Over a certain wealth level, particularly if you are Bill Gates, if you have several dozen billion dollars, you know it’s not very useful for society if you keep it forever. So you should return part of it each year. In a way, it’s like permanent land reform. It’s like a permanent revolution, but it’s a quiet revolution because it takes place within the rule of law.”

Not that I would ever compare myself to the brilliant Piketty, but common sense has always led me to believe that people hoarding cash is bad (corporations hoard cash too) — because it doesn't circulate within the economy; and why, if the job creators won't raise our wages, we should raise their taxes. Of course, Third Way Democrats (like Hillary) and the GOP don't want to raise taxes on the rich — to either invest in infrastructure or to shore up the Social Security trust fund.

In other news...

Progressives are by no means certain to rally around VP Joe Biden. Elizabeth Warren, who met with Biden over the weekend, could not realistically endorse him as long as Senator Bernie Sanders is in the race. In fact, her advisers went out of their way to downplay the significance of their meeting, stressing that she also met privately with Hillary Clinton earlier this year (who voted to change the bankruptcy law). Representing Delaware, Biden supported the bankruptcy bill that Warren made her name crusading against. NPR notes: “Warren called Biden out in her autobiography as one of several high-profile Democrats who championed bankruptcy legislation.”

Huma Abedin, a top adviser to Hillary Clinton and wife to Rep, "sexter" Anthony Weiner is part of the corruption in government. Abedin was granted permission by the State Department (under Hillary) to work as a “special government employee” (and getting paid more) while also performing other "work for certain outside clients." Of course, just like her husband and Hillary's husband, she denies any wrongdoing by either herself or Hillary Clinton.

When do guilty politicians ever admit to any wrongdoing? Only when they have no other choice, and then just apologizes for a lapse in judgment. Between 2009 and 2013, with Hillary Clinton guiding American foreign policy, the Clinton Foundation accepted large donations from foreign governments, including several that abuse human rights. The e-mail case is, so far, a more ambiguous tangle.

Why do GOP voters also approve of people that always screws them? A Quinnipiac poll out this morning puts Gov. John Kasich’s approval rating at 61 percent in the Buckeye State, with only 28 percent disapproving. He’s the only incumbent Republican governor running for president who is popular back home. Those 61% who think he's so great should show their faith in him and voluntarily accept his proposal for Social Security retirement.

Gov. John Kasich spent nearly eight years as an investment banker with Lehman Brothers, the now-defunct Wall Street firm. Mr. Kasich’s career at Lehman, neatly tucked between his time as a congressman and his election as governor, coincided with the bank’s messy collapse in September 2008, a downfall that helped throw the American economy into free fall. And he still wants you to invest your Social Security funds into the stock market.

As of this morning, DOW is still down over 2,000 points from it May 19th high, but today the media is making a big deal that the market has "rebounded" since yesterday's losses. I mean...the media is REALLY playing it down hard, as though everything was now honky-dory. We heard all about these "market corrections" in the Fall of 2008, remember? Is the media pimping confidence in the market?

The Next Great Depression (by Roger Farmer):

The stock market crash is screaming out for the Fed to lower interest rates, but that option is closed as the interest rate has reached its lower bound [already near 0%]. Some economists are calling for a huge fiscal stimulus. That is not the answer [Why not?]. Although I have stated publicly that I don't believe in fairies ... I DO believe in the confidence fairy. Pessimistic beliefs about the value of private wealth are as destructive to the economy as a hurricane ... [Here comes the scare tactic...] If we raise interest rates now, the stock market will fall further. The U.S. market correction will turn into a full scale rout. Unemployment will soar. What should we do? First: Give the Fed the power to buy a value weighted Exchange Traded Fund that contains every publicly traded stock. Commit to support the ETF by buying stocks. Pay for the shares by borrowing, or by trading Social Security Trust Fund."

(But isn't that also a form of "fiscal stimulus" that he opposes? That's always their answer: Instead, raid our retirement funds — and enrich the hedge-fund managers like Gov. John Kasich.)

New York Times: A Stock Market Rout in a Month That Hedge Funds Would Sooner Forget...

One hedge fund-manager (the top fundraiser for Gov. Scott Walker) told Donald Trump to stop bashing hedge-fund managers (Those poor rich hedge-fund mangers! Who, by the way, pays a very low tax rate.)

The GOP Party Machine, just like the Democratic Party Machine (e.g. Clinton vs Sanders), is trying to derail their more "populist" candidate (because they are also the most popular). Amid mounting concerns about Donald Trump’s candidacy, Republican leaders in at least two states have found a way to make life a lot harder for him. The Virginia and North Carolina parties are in discussions about implementing a new requirement for candidates to qualify for their primary ballots: that they pledge to support the Republican presidential nominee — and not run as a third-party candidate — in the general election.

Presidential candidate Ben Carson (who is Black) slams #Black Lives Matter in a new op-ed at USA Today:

“The idea that disrupting and protesting Bernie Sanders speeches will change what is wrong in America is lunacy. The BlackLivesMatter movement is focused on the wrong targets ... Let’s confront the entertainment industry that lines its pockets by glamorizing a life where black men are thugs and our women are trash.” [And the media, where people like Mike Brown are also glamorized as "unarmed" heroes.]

Great Recession Job Losses Severe, Enduring (The jobs never returned to re-employee most of those that lost theirs...and the jobs that were created after the recession officially ended were mostly low-paying part-time jobs.)

The NRA sued Seattle over a new tax on firearms and ammunition sales, arguing that it violated state law. "The Seattle ordinance is nothing but a 'poll tax' on the Second Amendment and an effort to drive Seattle's firearms retailers out of business," said National Sports Foundation General Counsel Lawrence Keane. (This is just the very tip of the iceberg. If Obama's TPP trade deal goes through, foreign corporations will be suing us for lost profits if we pass laws such as worker or environmental laws.)

China's ghost towns...[Too much infrastructure spending on a massive scale.]

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hip Hop song "Feel the Bern" - Bernie Sanders

Rapper Tony Tig does a very cool "Feel the Bern" hip-hop theme song for Senator Bernie Sanders (I created the video.)

In other news...

Over the course of the last 3 months the DOW was briefly down 2,895 points today (or down 15.8% from 3 months ago.) Those privatized Social Security accounts would have taken a big hit today.

18,351 The record all-time high on May 19, 2015
-15,456 When the DOW opened on August 24, 2015
= 2,895 (Down 15.8%)

VP Joe Biden chose Kate Bedingfield — a former spokeswoman for John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign — as his new White House communications director.

Vote totals from Iowa straw poll:

Donald Trump.........1,830
Hillary Clinton.........1,338 (rats!)
Bernie Sanders........1,217
Ben Carson.............1,185

Donald Trump blamed Jeb Bush for his problems with Univision. He thinks Jeb and his wife (Columba) are close with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim (the 2nd richest person in the world behind Bill Gates) — and that Univision got pressure from Slim's operatives. In a move that further confirmed Trump’s suspicions, Univision has hired Miguel Estrada, a Washington lawyer with deep Bush ties. (Also, Jeb's father-in-law was an "undocumented immigrant").

Fox News and Wall Street Journal owner Rupert Murdoch tweeted: "With Trump becoming very serious candidate, it's time for next billionaire candidate, Mike Bloomberg to step into ring. Greatest mayor."

ISIS militants destroyed a temple at the historic Palmyra ruins in Syria. ISIS believes anything built before Islam’s birth (c. 570) represents paganism. [These criminally insane and evil monsters are a cancer on God's human race and must be eradicated like plague-infested rats.]

Wow! Talk about a dedicated big government worker! A recent Kentucky GOP rule change now allows Rand Paul to run for the Senate during his presidential campaign.

Who is this guy? Deez Nuts, the 15-year old rising Iowa sophomore high school student otherwise known as Brady Olson, has endorsed Ohio Governor John Kasich (R) and Bernie Sanders (D) in their respective primaries. But why? They have totally opposite political ideologies. I endorsed Trump for the GOP and Sanders for the Democrats because of their stand on trade agreements, H-1B visas and Social Security (I don't wish to express my views on immigration at this time because the issue is too divisive.)

Bernie Sanders delighted a South Carolina rally of more than 3,000 people Saturday with his assertions that the Koch brothers and other greedy billionaires are destroying American democracy by infusing huge sums of cash into campaigns and election. (The South can rise again with progressives like Bernie.)

ON THE LABOR FRONT:

I'm so glad I'm not 18 years old now.... via Robert Reich:

Independent contractors, temporary workers, the self-employed, part-timers, freelancers, free agents, on-demand and on-call — in the “share” economy, the “gig” economy, or, more prosaically, the “irregular” economy — the result is the same: no predictable earnings or hours. It’s the biggest change in the American workforce in over a century, and it’s happening at lightening speed. It’s estimated that in five years over 40 percent of the American labor force will have uncertain work; in a decade, most of us ... Almost a quarter of American workers worry they won’t be earning enough in the future. That’s up from 15 percent a decade ago.

Huffington Post: The union-backed Fight for $15 and its allies have roiled the service sector with intermittent strikes over the past three years, demanding a $15 wage floor and union recognition. But Labor Secretary Perez' support of the workers shouldn't be read as an endorsement of a federal $15 wage floor -- because Obama's White House and Labor Department instead back a $12 proposal recently put forth by Congressional Democrats -- but the labor secretary said he views the Fight for $15 as a model for how workers can boost wages by banding together.

New York Times: Prompted by a spurt of new minimum wage proposals in major cities, an expanding number of restaurateurs are experimenting with no-tipping policies and raising prices as a way to manage rising labor costs. (Why can't the owners just buy a smaller yacht or mansion?)

A POLITICAL DIATRIBE...

As much as we all like and respect uncle Joe Biden (who has recently been privately meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren), how can Joe oppose Obama's policies on the TPP trade deal, the keystone pipeline or chained-CPI for Social Security (and a host of other issues) if he's still the sitting VP for Obama — while also campaigning for President of the United States?

During the Democratic debates, he would have to bash Obama while he’s still his VP! (Awkward!!!)

And personally, I thought it was very tacky to be using the death of Joe's son and his "last dying wish" as a reason for his father to run.

But how could Senator Elizabeth Warren either run as VP for Joe Biden (or endorse him for President) when his and Obama's polices clash so much with Warren's own views?

It would seem that Warren's secret meeting with Hillary Clinton last year was an effort by the Democratic Party Machine (Third Way Democrats) to keep Warren out of the presidential race to politically neutralize Warren to benefit Hillary, while also getting some "progressive" talking points for the Clinton campaign.

But why would Warren be meeting with Joe Biden? Shouldn't she really be meeting with Bernie Sanders instead?

And because Warren's previous supporters now back Bernie, shouldn’t she have endorsed Bernie a long time ago? Will Warren just end up being another empty and false and disingenuous politician?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The GOP will only screw young Republicans on Social Security

...and anyone else under the age of 55 years old. So don't vote against your own economic best interests. Older Republicans don't give a crap about you, because: They already got theirs!

In a recent town hall meeting Ohio's Republican John Kasich referenced his 1999 Social Security plan that would base future Social Security payments on the Consumer Price Index, which reflects increases in prices, rather than the current formula that reflects increases in wages. The result would be that the average worker beginning to collect Social Security in 2020 would receive almost $4,000 less in their first year of retirement than he/she would have expected to receive under the current formula. The difference also increases with time. By 2070, newly retired workers would receive almost half as much as they would receive under the current program.

And almost all the career GOP politicians are STILL pushing for this (including some ambitious newbies who are towing the old GOP line, just to advance their own careers to get ahead within the GOP party machine).

John Kasich had claimed those workers could make up the difference by investing (gambling) part of their payroll taxes in the stock market. Could you imagine retiring during the last recession when the first Baby Boomer retired — after the DOW had dropped from a high of 14,164 points in October 2007 before bottoming out at 6,547 in March 2009? All those old folks (Republicans and Democrats alike) would have been so screwed!

Kasich's plan (then and now) would have allowed workers under age 55 to voluntarily divert some of their Social Security taxes into private accounts. The lowest-wage workers would be allowed to divert the largest portion of payroll taxes (up to 3.5 percent of their wages) into private accounts. Workers earning more than the maximum income taxed by Social Security (capped at $72,600 in 1999) would have been allowed to divert only 1 percent. His proposal would not affect current retirees, nor those workers 55 and older — or as he currently says: "At or near retirement."

In other words: He and the GOP would just screw younger Republicans (and everybody else under 55) — and that older workers would have nothing to fear but fear itself.

In the video below is the Republican Ohio Governor (now as a 2016 Presidential contender) at a recent town hall meeting in Salem, New Hampshire. Jane Lang, a vice president of the Alliance for Retired Americans, asked whether he would look at expanding Social Security and scrapping the "cap" on earnings that are subjected to Social Security payroll taxes (currently capped at $118,500 a year — the income subjected to this tax).

As John Kasich sought to wrap up her question, reaching for the microphone, she said she wasn't done. Kasich: "How about a handshake and a little hug?" he condescendingly asked her as he leaned in for a brief embrace. Then he said, "Listen, she's steamed up, and I don't blame her." Then he launched into a long-winded and meaningless response to her original question — a political tactic that Hillary Clinton and most other politicians often use when they don't want to honestly answer someone's question. Or as W.C. Fields was quoted:

“If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”

John Kasich never really gave Jane Lang a direct answer. Later she said, "I thought the whole meeting, the whole thing was danced around." And the same thing happens whenever someone specifically asks for a "yes" or "no" question. The politician always feels the need to bloviate, pontificate and elaborate on a litany of issues that isn't even related to the one simple question that was initially asked by someone (also known as "Clinton Speak").

(* The full unedited video of Kasich's town hall meeting is here at C-SPAN)

John Kasich's views on Social Security are similar to almost ALL Republicans — with the exception of Donald Trump. Via ThinkProgress:

Trump has strongly criticized the rest of the Republican field for advocating deep cuts to programs relied upon by the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. In April at the New Hampshire Republican Leadership Summit Trump said that he was “disappointed with a lot of the Republican politicians.”

“Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that. And it’s not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut,” Trump said.

Jeb Bush, a favorite of the Republican establishment, quietly proposed [last month] that Medicare — a program relied upon by millions of people — be “phased out.” Virtually the entire Republican field supports reducing entitlement programs through cuts, privatization, or both.

Here's the Democrat's different opinions on Social Security

The pro-Hillary Clinton Huffington Post (which is part of the 6 corporations that controls 90% of the media) recently headlined this in their daily email newsletter:

O'MALLEY RESORTS TO BRIBING OLD PEOPLE. Non-Bernie-Sanders Democratic presidential "hopeful" Martin O'Malley (who was governor of Maryland or something) wants to fatten Social Security checks, which the actual Bernie Sanders has already said. The plan would boost monthly Social Security benefits for retirees, though O’Malley’s campaign did not say precisely by how much.

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland announced a proposal to expand Social Security, enhancing its benefits while holding the retirement age steady (not raising it to 70 as the GOP would like to do).

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont [who caucuses with progressive Democrats] has expressed a similar view — but Hillary Clinton has yet to weigh in on the issue, and progressive groups that are closely aligned with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s wing of the party have been pressuring her for more details on her plan.

The New York Times did a recent post on this, noting that progressive Democratic groups want to hear more from Hillary Clinton on Social Security:

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America and MoveOn.org all pressed her to join her rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination in promising to, not just protect Social Security, but expand the program. “Any candidate who wants to secure the Democratic nomination must commit — clearly — to not only defending but expanding the social safety net,” said Nick Berning, a spokesman for MoveOn.

Jim Dean, of Democracy for America, also asked Mrs. Clinton to show solidarity on the issue: “With Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders proudly campaigning on the popular idea of Social Security expansion, the only question is whether the other major candidate in the 2016 race is going to join them.”

The centrist Third Way group (who Hillary Clinton is very much a part of) panned O’Malley’s plan as "political pandering". [Third Way also attacked Senator Elizabeth Warren's plan for expanding Social Security.]

TIME writes: "O’Malley will set himself apart from frontrunner Hillary Clinton by calling for increasing the number of Americans with access to adequate retirement funds by 50 percent over two terms in office" — then the article goes on to say: "The plan would boost monthly Social Security benefits for retirees, though O’Malley’s campaign did not say precisely by how much. For Americans who have been in the workforce for 30 or more years, the plan would increase minimum payouts to 125% of the poverty line, and it would also well increase benefits for minimum wage and lower-income workers. It would tie benefits to the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, which O’Malley’s campaign sees as a more accurate basis for determining payouts.

A number of Republican presidential contenders have called for reducing Social Security benefits (except Donald Trump), either by raising the retirement age or privatizing the program. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has promised to “protect” and “enhance” Social Security, while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has promised to expand it with a more detail plan than O’Malley’s. (Sanders’ plan would increase Social Security by a modest $65 a month for most recipients.)

In an op-ed published in the Quad-City Times in Iowa (first, you have to answer an annoying survey question to read the post) O’Malley makes his case with an implicit jab at Clinton, whose call to “enhance” Social Security is seen by some progressives/liberals as intentionally ambiguous. Just like Bernie Sanders, O’Malley writes that Democrats should expand Social Security benefits, “not cutting or merely ‘enhancing’ them.”

As a nation, we must do far more to ensure the retirement security of American families. And we should start by expanding Social Security benefits — not cutting them or merely “enhancing them” — to provide a foundation for a more secure retirement to all those who have worked hard to achieve it ... Social Security is not in crisis. It is not bankrupt, and it would not be better off if it were privatized and run by Wall Street ... We collect the payroll taxes that fund Social Security. Right now those taxes are capped, so that they only apply to the first $118,500 of a worker’s income. This essentially means that millionaires stop paying into Social Security in mid-February, while middle class workers contribute a portion of their wages all year. I am proposing to lift the payroll cap for the highest earners, starting at income above $250,000*. In this way, only wealthier Americans would be asked to pay additional payroll taxes, and we could still raise enough revenue to shore up Social Security’s finances for generations to come ... I would also reform Social Security to support, rather than penalize, caregiving. Women who take extended time off to care for their families should not receive lower Social Security benefits when they retire ... It is especially important that we raise wages for all workers, because when 70 percent of us are making the same or less than we were 12 years ago, fewer and fewer of us will be able to save enough for a secure retirement."

In a post at the Economic Populist, I noted how stagnant wages has affected the funding of the Social Security trust fund, and why raising or eliminating the cap should be implemented to make up for the shortfall (something the GOP won't do because it only taxes the rich) — and where I also point out via the economist Dean Baker at the Center for Economic Policy Research (per the 2015 Social Security trustees report) where he wrote:

Wage growth is the key to the program's solvency for two reasons. The first is that the upward redistribution of wage income over the last three decades has played a large role in the projected shortfall. As income has been transferred from ordinary workers to those at the top of the wage distribution, a larger share of wage income has escaped taxation. When the Greenspan Commission set the cap for taxable wages in 1983, it covered 90 percent of wage income. Currently the cap only covers around 82 percent of wage income. If the cap had continued to cover 90 percent of wage income, the projected shortfall would be roughly 40 percent less than it is now.

The other reason why broadly based wage growth is key to the program's continuing solvency is that the burden of possible future tax increases would be much less consequential if most workers will share in the gains of economic growth. The Social Security trustees have projected that real wages will rise by more than 34 percent over the next two decades. (They are projected to rise by another 30 percent over the following two decades.) Even if the payroll tax is increased by three percentage points, it would take back less than one-tenth of the projected rise in before-tax wages if wage growth is evenly shared. On the other hand, if most of the gains from growth continue to go to those at the top end of the distribution, any tax increase will be a major burden.

Currently about 94% of all wage earners pay Social Security tax on 100% of their incomes of $118,500 or less a year. Some Democrats want to raise the cap to $250,000 — almost 99% of all wage earners make $250,000 or less a year — so the top 1% still escapes paying this tax, and the top 0.01% (the multi-millionaires and billionaires) are exempt from paying this tax on ANY of their capital gains — where the majority of their income originates (because they aren't paid a "wage" per se).

Representative Mike Honda (CA) is introducing legislation (CPI-E Act of 2015, or H.R. 3351) that will require Social Security Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) to be based on the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). This index more accurately reflects the actual cost of living for older Americans which can sometimes be higher because seniors spend more on housing and health care than the general population. This is NOT what the GOP or Third Way Democrats want to do (Obama and other Third Way Democrats actually proposed cutting COLAs with chained-CPI — which Bernie Sanders was against.)

The progressive Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal wrote a piece at Democracy Journal titled The Voluntarism Fantasy: "Conservatives dream of returning to a world where private charity fulfilled all public needs. But that world never existed—and we’re better for it." In the wake of the Great Recession, charitable donations fell at the moment people needed it the most. Konczal says that a public social insurance state can manage risk better than individual donors. Note the big difference between a privatized program for Social Security vs. a government-backed program. (His podcast is here at Talk Poverty at the 46-minute mark of Episode #015). Maybe he should have also noted that, of the charities we do have, many (such as Bill Gates and the Clinton's foundations) does it's charity on a global scale, and doesn't just concentrate it's efforts on fallen Americans. For example, they wouldn't have paid millions of people unemployment benefits.

Here are the different plans for Social Security proposed by some Democrats to compare to Ohio's Republican John Kasich's plan and the rest of the GOP:

Elizabeth Warren: Protect, expand Social Security (December 2013)

Bernie Sanders Files Bill to Strengthen, Expand Social Security (March 2015)

Hillary Clinton Wants To Improve Social Security Benefits For Women, Low-Income Seniors (August 2015)

Martin O'Malley: Expanding Social Security so ALL Americans can retire with dignity (August 2015)

Friends don't let friends vote for Republicans — or for Third Way Democrats, who are EXACTLY the same as "moderate" Republicans on economic issues. Vote for either Bernie Sanders (as a Democrat) or Donald Trump (as a Republican) to save Social Security, raise wages and to stop outsourcing our jobs. Even Donald Trump thinks the rich should pay their fair share of taxes. We need a political revolution, not more of the same old B.S. that we've been getting for the past 35 years.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

This is what government corruption looks like...

Via a Credo petition (August 20, 2015) When Treasury Secretary Jack Lew left Citigroup for the Obama administration in 2009, his contract with the megabank guaranteed him a $1 million bonus for taking any “full time high level position with the U.S. government or regulatory body.”

The Nation (May,4 2013) The Reverse Revolving Door: How Corporate Insiders Are Rewarded Upon Leaving Firms for Congress. Disclosures reveal that corporations and lobbying firms award six-figure bonuses to staff who leave to take powerful positions on Capitol Hill.

Senator Elizabeth Warren calls this “paying people off to remember their Wall Street friends while they run our government” — and she’s right. First Look (July 17, 2015) Elizabeth Warren Pushes To Slow Revolving Door Between Business and Government.

Corporate insiders regularly get big bonuses to take government jobs. And the problem goes even deeper. The Treasury Department and regulators like the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission routinely hire former Wall Street bankers, and staffers at these agencies leave their posts for cushy Wall Street gigs. For Effective Government (July 24, 2015) Throwing a Wrench in the Revolving Door

A Credo petition was launched to keep President Obama from nominating banker Antonio Weiss to an official position with the Treasury Department when the public learned that Weiss was due to receive $21 million in handouts for taking a government job. CNN (December 2, 2014) Want $20 million to work for the government? Just quit a Wall Street job first.

Majorities of Americans in both major political parties support cracking-down on the revolving door between Wall Street and government. The revolving door between government and Wall Street helps the wealthiest few hijack our democracy for their own gain. That is why progressive champions Rep. Elijah Cummings and Sen. Tammy Baldwin have introduced a tough new bill to crack down on the revolving door – and Sen. Warren is calling for all of us to get behind it.

Via Senator Baldwin's website (July 15, 2015) Baldwin and Cummings Introduce Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act. Baldwin and Cummings joined by AFL-CIO and Public Citizen at press conference unveiling bill to slow revolving door between Wall Street and Washington. The Baldwin-Cummings bill will strike a blow against the revolving door by:

  • Banning golden parachutes for taking government jobs. New government employees should not be allowed to take bonuses from their former companies when they are supposed to be serving the public.
  • Limiting conflicts of interest. Bank and corporate regulators need to recuse themselves from any official work that would benefit their former employees.
  • Toughening up lobbying rules and increasing “cooling off” times. More federal employees should be barred from lobbying their former colleagues and all of them must wait two years, not one, before they do so.

As Senator Elizabeth Warren put it, “Laws matter. But it also matters who interprets those laws, who enforces those laws.” New Republic (July 17, 2015) Elizabeth Warren Challenges Hillary Clinton to Stop the Revolving Door

The head of the Treasury Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative are both former Citigroup employees. The Hill (July 15, 2015) Reforming the financial services revolving door

Securities and Exchange Chair Mary Jo White’s new chief of staff is a former Goldman lawyer. Bloomberg (May 28, 2015) Goldman’s Donohue to Become SEC Chair White’s Chief of Staff

Attorney General Eric Holder just recently returned to his old corporate law firm under a cloud of questions about the firm holding an office for him before he left the government. Salon (July 7, 2015) Why Eric Holder’s new job is an insult to the American public. The former Attorney General who made "too big to jail" a national joke now re-joins his old corporate law firm.

The list could go on and on...

All over the government, former Wall Street employees fill important positions, bringing with them a biased worldview and the ability for their former co-workers to influence them with a well-placed phone call. Countless more treat Wall Street with kid gloves to preserve the possibility of cashing in on a job in the future, or leave government and use their connections and expertise on behalf of their new employees.

Baldwin and Cummings' new bill — The Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act — won’t end the revolving door, but it will strike a potent blow against it — and rallying behind this legislation will send a powerful message to leaders in both parties. To help fight the Wall Street revolving door, you can sign Credo's petition.

Related Legislation

Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Al Franken (D-MN) also introduced a bill (Close the Revolving Door Act of 2015) that would shut the revolving door of lobbyist influence in Washington by banning Members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists.

A study by the Center for Responsive Politics found that about 45 percent of former members of the 113th Congress who are currently employed are employed at lobbying firms, and close to 12,000 registered federal lobbyists actively lobbied in Washington in 2014.

To solve for the problem of outsized lobbyist influence and to close the revolving door, Bennet and Franken have proposed aggressive lobbying reform, which would:

  • Place a lifetime ban on current members of Congress from becoming lobbyists;
  • Increase the statutory staff restrictions on lobbying from one year to six years;
  • Ban lobbyists from joining Congressional staffs or committee staffs that they lobbied for six years;
  • Create a more accessible website for public reporting of lobbying activities;
  • Require substantial lobbying entities to report on the non-lobbyist employees they have who are former members of Congress or former senior congressional staff, and describing those employees' job responsibilities; and
  • Increase the maximum penalty for violating the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

The bill improves disclosure requirements and promotes greater accountability. Through increased transparency, not just by federal lobbyists, but also by firms and companies that may have former members of Congress who are skirting the lobbyist line, the public will be better informed, and the lobbying profession will be deterred from acting below board. It also provides the public greater with better information and takes an important step towards cleaning up the culture in Washington.

Sign the petition: Tell Congress to pass the Close the Revolving Door Act to ban Senators and Representatives from ever becoming lobbyists.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hillary Clinton: Another Cookie-Cutter Politician

Bernie is not, but here's why he hasn't attacked Hillary — with some artistic editing ;)

After Bernie Sanders had been previously leading Hillary Clinton in the Iowa straw poll, the Iowa Secretary of State reports that after day 6 Hillary has pulled slightly ahead. Why? Because of her supposedly "evolving" positions further to the left?

DEM: Hillary Clinton 47.96% -- Bernie Sanders 46.07%
GOP: Donald Trump 28% -- Ben Carson 20%

Hillary Clinton has always been a pro-corporate/pro-banker "Third Way" Democrat. So who really believes she "evolved" to be more progressive since 2008? It's so obvious that she's only borrowing ideas from Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to get votes. And who really believes she'll try to initialize those ideas if she ever gets elected?

Boston Globe: "Third Way, backed by Wall Street titans, corporate money, and congressional allies, is publicly warning against divisive soak-the-rich politics voiced by populist Democrats. Its target: Elizabeth Warren." But because Warren's not running, her supporters are backing Senator Bernie Sanders, so we can now say it's a battle between Third Way Democrats and Progressive Democrats (who Bernie caucuses with). So it would be a travesty if Senator Warren didn't also endorse and campaign on behalf of Senator Sanders.

Hillary supports the TPP trade agreement and the Keystone pipeline (although she won't publicly say so). And unlike Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, she doesn't support expanding Social Security — although she says she supports expanding benefits for low-income seniors and women (the largest part of her voting base). And she says she would "consider" raising the cap on the amount of earnings taxable for Social Security — but otherwise, she has said very little about the program.

She also won't raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, but might gradually raise it to a measly $10.10 after several years. And she won't repeal the law (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) that her husband Bill passed in 1999 to gut the Glass–Steagall Act which deregulated the banks.

And who thinks she believes in #BlackLivesMatter issues more so than Bernie Sanders — and that she's not just pandering for black votes (and woman's votes) just to get herself elected? Members of the group recently met with Hillary Clinton (watch both videos at The Hill, and read an article about the exchange at the Washington Post). Later BLM member Julius Jones said Clinton "was ducking personal responsibility for the role that her and her family played" in laws pushed by the Bill Clinton administration that affected mass incarceration. BLM member Daunasia Yancey added that the "targeting on policy wasn't sufficient for us."

National security must be a big joke to Hillary. She told a 2,100-person audience at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding dinner of her recently-created account on Snapchat, the popular picture and video app where users’ messages are automatically erased after they’re seen. “I love it,” Clinton joked. “Those messages disappear all by themselves.” The inspector general found an additional 300 emails in Hillary's email system that likely contain classified materials, after inspecting 20 percent of the communications turned over by Clinton. That's one in every 20 emails. More at the Washington Post:

Hillary Clinton tangled with reporters over her email server yesterday on a visit to Las Vegas, telling them she had no idea if she’d wiped it clean of data. “What, like with a cloth or something? Look, my personal e-mails are my personal business. Right?” When Fox News’ Ed Henry pressed, Clinton shrugged and walked away: “Nobody talks to me about it other than you guys.” [Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley were in Las Vegas to court the union vote — which the AFL-CIO is waffling on..]

As usual, and only after-the-fact, Hillary Clinton only now came out against Obama's arctic drilling plan. Hillary Clinton has agreed with the vast majority of President Barack Obama's policies (such as the Keystone pipeline and the TPP trade agreement), but in a Tweet on Tuesday she expressed her disapproval with one: letting Shell drill for oil in the Arctic.

After the Keystone pipeline is built, she'll say she was against it. After the TPP trade agreement is passed, she'll say she was against it. After drilling permits are issued, she says she's against it. And now our politicians want to export domestic oil. So what about all that political B.S. talk about making America "energy independent" if America's natural resources will be sold on the global market?

All along cookie-cutter politicians like Hillary have very much been the biggest part of the problem that we've had with the POLITICAL MACHINE in this country for the past several decades. Just like Obama's false "Hope and Change" campaign, Hillary is trying to "talk the talk" of a progressive; but just like Obama, she is more like a Republican on economic issues, more so than a progressive like Bernie Sanders. Hillary and Obama are really "phony Democrats". As President Harry Truman said in 1952:

"The people don't want a phony Democrat. If it's a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat."

GALLOP:

"Democratic candidates for the 2016 presidential nomination face a significantly more left-leaning party base than their predecessors did over the last 15 years. Forty-seven percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents now identify as both socially liberal and economically moderate-or-liberal [compared to 39% in 2008 and 30% in 2001] ... Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton faces a more liberal base than she did when she last ran for president in 2008, and no doubt will be calibrating her positions accordingly."

No doubt, that's why Hillary sought a secret meeting with Warren last year to — 1) politically neutralize Warren, and 2) to dig up some good "progressive" talking points to use on the campaign trail.

That's why Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been doing so well in the polls (Trump is well on top among the GOP candidates), because they are both "genuine" — and the American people want real change (not just a change in faces). If the Democratic Party Machine nominates Hillary (depriving me of my vote for Bernie), maybe I'll vote for Donald Trump out of spite as a protest vote (if the GOP nominates Trump as their candidate). But if it's only a choice between Hillary and any other GOP candidate, then I'm screwed again — and will once again have to vote for the better of two evils.

Hillary be like: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Hillary should do the country a big favor and just drop out on the race instead of forcing herself and her "Third Way" pro-corporate/pro-banking policies upon us. We need a real political revolution, not another Clinton or Bush (or some other corrupt cookie-cutter politician like them).

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fast-Food Worker's Ultimatum

Washington Post: Minimum-Wage Offensive Could Speed Arrival of Robot Powered Restaurants

Now a major motion picture, coming soon to a theater near you!

The Ultimatum

McDonald’s To Open 25,000 Robot-Run Restaurants By 2016
http://newsexaminer.net/food/mcdonalds-to-open-25000-robot-run-stores-by-2016/ 

I wonder when McDonalds will use tax inversion the way Burger King did to avoid taxes.
http://www.americansfortaxfairness.org/burger-king-inversion-report/