Friday, November 21, 2014

The Democrats are Running on Empty

The Democrats are Running on Empty

According to the Huffington Post, with regards to Obama's recent executive order on undocumented immigrants, "4.1 million will likely be eligible for a new policy that allows undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent children to stay in the country and work legally, if they have been in the U.S. for five years or more and pass a background check ... Undocumented immigrants granted deferred action, including under DACA [the Dreamers], can receive work authorization if they demonstrate an economic necessity for employment. They will be given Social Security numbers and required to pay taxes, but will not be eligible for Obamacare subsidies or most other government benefits."

Paul Krugman writes, "Low-skill immigration probably has some depressing effect on wages, although the available evidence suggests that the effect is quite small." (We can only hope that most of them will form or join a labor union — and if they are ever allowed to vote, they'll only vote for progressive Democrats — and vote in all the mid-term elections as well.)

In the 2014 mid-term elections, the Democrats' only "Hail Mary" hope in Hell had been, not just keeping the Senate, but winning back the House as well. Now (maybe for an entire generation) the Democrats have lost almost any chance at all of getting back any meaningful political power in Washington for a very long time to come — because their messaging during the 2014 elections was such an utter and dismal failure.

Rather than running on a more "populist" message (such as Senator Elizabeth Warren's), most of the Democrats had ran on a "moderate" message — and many just ran away. Robert Reich wrote on his blog, "The midterm elections should have been about jobs and wages, and how to reform a system where nearly all the gains go to the top. It was an opportunity for Democrats to shine. Instead, they hid."

Now with a GOP/Tea Party Congress controlling either:

1) both the Senate and the House,
2) or just the House,
3) or just the Senate,

...what can someone such as Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden (or anybody else as a Democratic President) ever hope to accomplish after 2016? Is there anything they can achieve two years from now that Obama (if he wanted to) couldn't already do today? They would all have to govern almost exclusively by their veto power and executive orders.

The Democrats should have stuck to the same messaging (that worked the last time) that got voters to the polls to defeat Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election:

  • Raising the federal minimum wage, to put pressure on all employers to raise everyone's wages (and reduce the need for government assistance, like food stamps).
  • Taxing the billionaires the same tax rate as Warren Buffett's secretary to help reduce the federal debt.
  • Reforming the tax code so that multinational corporations pay their fair share of taxes (rather than allowing them to hoard trillions in offshore banks).
  • Reforming the financial sector and penalizing bankers for their illegal and unpatriotic behavior, and stop allowing them to continue to manipulate the markets.
  • Reform the way college educations are financed, and supporting public education (as well as trade and skills programs) so that one doesn't have to come from a very wealthy family to attend a private 12-K school or an elite and very expensive University.
  • Saving and strengthening Social Security and Medicare so that younger workers can have something to rely on when they get too old or sick to work any longer (Republicans might require them to work even longer before retiring and then giving them a far lesser benefit — especially if Social Security is ever privatized by the GOP.)
  • Reminding working-class white voters that they use more government assistance than minorities do (and that the Democrats are not just the party for minorities or poor people, but for all working-class Americans — because over 94% of all wage earners make $118,500 or less a year (which is the maximum cap for Social Security taxes).
  • Reminding voters that the XL pipeline will only create 20,000 jobs to build over 2 years, and is said to only create about 40 permanent jobs — and that about 95% of the oil will come from Canada and will be sold on the global market, and will not do anything make the U.S. more "energy independent". The argument is always being made that moving the oil by pipeline is much safer and cleaner than moving it on Warren Buffett's railroads; but why move Canadian oil through the U.S. at all? Can't Canada refine and export their own oil? (Not to mention, the danger of running an oil pipeline over America's largest freshwater aquifer, because the GOP wants LESS government regulation and wants to eliminate the EPA — those who help clean up oil spills.)
  • Blocking bad trade agreements like the TPP that will give corporations even more power and control and will further hurt American workers. (Many Democrats have already learned from past trade deals, and want no more of them.)
  • Remind white voters and our senior citizens how they've been voting against their own best economic interests because of Republican propaganda and fear-mongering (the Democrats don't have their hands on your Medicare, but the Republicans will have their hands all over it with Paul Ryan's budget.)
  • Instead of repealing Obamacare, why not make it better? — or replace it with something such as Medicare for All. The GOP wants to repeal and replace Obamacare with Nothing at All.

The Republicans who are now in Congress are against most things that primarily benefit average American workers. But with the recent Supreme Court decisions favoring money in politics* (and voter suppression laws), how can we ever hope to change the Congress? And how can we reverse those horrible Supreme Court decisions with an amendment to the Constitution (and changing the election laws) with any Congress? We need publicly funded elections on the local, state and federal levels. (* The Supreme Court who ruled in Citizens United vs. FEC and in McCutcheon vs. FEC have effectively allowed the very wealthy and large corporations to steal U.S. elections to get legislation passed that mostly benefits them.)

With congressional district gerrymandering, voter suppression ID laws, and anti-democratic dark money, how can any changes at all ever be made? What would President Elizabeth Warren’s plan be to counter any of this? Harry Reid only belatedly chose her for a leadership position in the Senate...but that's too little, too late. He should have done that right after she was first elected to the Senate on her more populist message. That might have greatly helped the Democrats during the 2014 mid-term elections.

The old school Democrats have proved during the last mid-term elections that they don’t have what it takes to get out the vote on their more “moderate” / “centrist” / “third way” form of messaging. They are too cowardly to run on middle-class and progressive values for fear of being called “socialists” by the Republicans and Fox News (especially in red states). But Democrats have to remind voters that even red states overwhelmingly voted for a progressive Democrat when they voted for FDR in four consecutive elections. Is the current Democratic party ashamed of FDR, the way they apparently were of Obama?

The Washington Examiner (published by MediaDC, a subsidiary of the ultra-neo-conservative Clarity Media, which also includes The Weekly Standard and Red Alert Politics) recently wrote:

"Senate Democratic leaders are quietly cheering Republican senators such as Texas' Ted Cruz, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Florida’s Marco Rubio to run for president in 2016. Their reason: Pulling just three Republicans out of the Senate to campaign essentially eliminates the new GOP majority in the chamber."

But they are off by a count of "1" — because there will mostly likely be 54 Republicans vs. 46 Democrats in the Senate after Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-Louisiana) loses her runoff election. So the GOP would more than likely still maintain control of Senate. And a Senate race analysis of 2015-2016 shows a "tossup" for Harry Reid's State of Nevada, with the remainder being "safe" or "leaning" for Republicans. (Here's the next round of Senators up for re-election).

Going into the next election cycle of 2016, there appears to be no dramatic changes possible in the House and Senate in Congress. And any Democrat that might be elected President would most likely face the same exact political and policy frustrations that President Obama experienced all throughout his presidency — the only difference being, who will "compromise" (give away) more to the Republicans (e.g. Bernie Sanders wouldn't cave in on the TPP trade agreement, whereas, Obama (beholden to his corporate donors) probably would — even though he might use it as a bargaining chip for compromise on some other legislation.)

The Democrats need to, not move more to the supposed "center", but more to the "supposed "left", which is the actual "center" for most Americans — despite what the major media will try and have us believe (90% of the media is owned by 6 large corporations). More Democrats need to join and promote the progressive caucus, who promote the values that most Americans (sometimes, unknowingly) actually agree with — like raising wages and strengthening Social Security.

So the question still remains: What can Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden (or any other Democrat for that matter) ever hope to accomplish in 2016 that President Obama can’t already do today? Especially since the Democrats are now Running on Empty and Living on a Prayer.


  1. UPDATE: Economic Policy Institute:

    President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration Will Improve the Wages and Working Conditions of Unauthorized Immigrants and U.S.-Born Workers Alike

    According to a landmark study and survey of thousands of workers, 37 percent of unauthorized immigrant workers were the victims of minimum wage law violations at the hands of their employers (meaning they were not paid the legally required minimum wage). A whopping 84 percent who worked full time were not paid for overtime, i.e., the legally required time-and-a-half rate for the hours they worked in a week beyond 40 hours.

    The unauthorized immigrants who qualify for Obama’s new, expanded deferred action and work authorization will, for the first time, have the same legal protections as those protected under DACA, and where they’ll count most is in the workplace. Those who qualify will be able to work legally and increase their earnings, either with a better-paying job or by demanding they be paid the minimum wage and for overtime. If their employer fails to comply, the newly-authorized workers will be empowered to complain to authorities without fear of employer retaliation or deportation. The workers would also be able to access the court system in order to compel an employer to pay the amount they’re owed.

    According to the aforementioned study on low-wage workers, U.S.-born workers also suffer disastrously high rates of minimum wage and overtime violations. 15.6 percent of low-wage-earning U.S.-born workers experienced minimum wage violations and 68.2 percent weren’t paid properly for their overtime hours. Those numbers suggest that most low-wage workers in the country are being exploited regardless of their legal status, and the total amounts lost to wage theft are truly staggering. But the bargaining power of U.S.-born workers competing in the low-wage labor market is especially undercut because the millions of unauthorized workers cannot safely complain about workplace violations or file a lawsuit to enforce the law. When the immigrants’ wages are unfairly held down, so are the wages of U.S. workers competing for the same jobs and hours.

    Even after reforms are implemented and millions of workers come out of the shadows and begin exercising their rights, there will still be far too many exploitable immigrants and Americans in the labor market. That still needs to be addressed, but the more workers who have rights and are paid higher wages, the better.

  2. Why Rand Paul is Hilary Clinton’s Worst Nightmare

    The author believes that the Democrats have a strategy to marginalize Elizabeth Warren to better promote Hillary Clinton; but that (to the dismay of the more neo-conservatives) Rand Paul might run to beat Clinton in 2016. (And then maybe the new Congress might obstruct Rand Paul the same way they did Obama.)

  3. Related Post:

    Why do White People Vote Against their Own Best Interests?

  4. Obama in bed with tax dodgers

    As of November 12, Antonio Weiss is President Obama’s pick to oversee the domestic financial system — including the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act and consumer protection agency at the Treasury. Antonio Weiss also put together the deal for Burger King to move to Canada to avoid taxes. Elizabeth Warren proclaimed:“Enough is enough. It’s time for the Obama administration to loosen the hold that Wall Street banks have over economic policy making.”

  5. (The Next New Deal) Chuck Schumer and the Democrats' Identity Crisis: Economic Policy vs. Rhetoric

    "A populist message won't be enough to save the Democratic Party if its leaders continue to serve Wall Street."


  6. The Nation: Are Democrats Trolling the Left?

    "The Democrats are seizing on the opportunity to be progressive at a moment when it’s cheap and easy; being out of power (or in Obama’s case, term-limited) they won’t have to pay the price in campaign dollars or blowback that would come from pursuing [more progressive] policies in an environment in which they could actually become law. After all, when Democrats controlled all of Congress and the presidency, it’s not like they made a move on paid sick leave or a financial transactions tax or any of a host of other ideas that would have helped out the middle class. (Which isn’t to diminish the very real accomplishments of that Congress.) Now they can stoke the fire and garner the goodwill of the left, without having to deal with the downside."

    * In other words, to now hear "Moderate/Third Way/Blue Dog Democrats talk as though they were "progressive", is as usual, total B.S.