Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category
Here are some very interesting posts that I won’t blog in detail. But I will say that they are well worth teh click:
Three Studies Confirm: Obamacare Isn’t a Job Killer (important because the GOP repeatedly claimed that Obamacare will kill jobs. It didn’t.)
The Iran Deal Benefits U.S. National Security: An Open Letter from Retired Generals and Admirals (no better deal is possible, and this deal is in fact good—most of those criticizing have never read it, and none of them have a better alternative to propose.)
Whatever happened to that sequester thingy? (another example of the dysfunctional, nonproductive, self-indulgent, and corrupt US Congress)
Rare Octopus’s Mating and Preying Habits Have Cephalopod Fans Psyched (I feel close to the spirit of Stephen Maturin in this article.)
Radley Balko has his own excellent collection of links, to wit:
- Two journalists, one from the Huffington Post and one from the Washington Post, who were arrested during last year’s Ferguson, Mo., protests have been charged with what essentially amounts to “contempt of cop.” That isn’t and shouldn’t be a crime, but it isn’t even clear they did that. Certainly doesn’t do much to dispel the accusation that St. Louis County prosecutors are petty, vindictive, and use their power as a weapon.
- On the importance of jury nullification, and why informing jurors of their rights can never be a crime.
- Joe Biden has a long and sordid record supporting policies that led to mass incarceration.
- Prisoners in New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility say they were subjected to indiscriminate beatings after the high-profile escape last month.
- Amnesty International formally endorses the decriminalization of consensual sex work.
- Albuquerque police department refuses to release body camera footageof the critical moments before its SWAT team shot and killed a man.
- The threat to free speech on campus and “the coddling of the American mind.”
- Federal judge strikes down Idaho’s ridiculous “ag gag” law.
One Congressman Has The Courage To Admit The True Consequences Of His Vote For The Iraq War (quite striking: a GOP Congressman from NC, who states,
“I did not do what I should have done to read and find out whether Bush was telling us the truth about Saddam being responsible for 9/11 and having weapons of mass destruction,” Jones said during an interview on The Tyler Cralle Show. “Because I did not do my job then,” Jones continued, “I helped kill 4,000 Americans, and I will go to my grave regretting that.”
This Deep-Sea Creature is Creepy As Hell (creepy, but also very interesting)
Scott Walker Finally Finds a Big-Government Subsidy He Loves (directing $250 million of taxpayer money to a professional sports team: certainly that’s more important than education or the pensions of state workers)
Obama Is Playing Hardball, and Guess Who Doesn’t Like It? (cute column by Kevin Drum—not to spoil his surprise, but do you notice that the initials W.P. can stand either for Washington Post or “whining putz”?)
Democrats Continue to Delude Themselves About Obama’s Failed Guantánamo Vow (Obama made a serious vow and then ignored it—and that seems to happen a lot with him)
That’s via this report in Salon by Scott Eric Kaufman:
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was none too pleased with Republican’s attempt to grandstand on the issue of women’s health as the first GOP primary debate approaches, and she voiced her displeasure to her senate colleagues in no uncertain terms on Monday.
“I come to the Senate floor today to ask my Republican colleagues a question,” she began. “Do you have any idea what year it is? Did you fall down, hit your head, and think you woke up in the 1950s? Or the 1890s? Should we call for a doctor?”
“Because I simply cannot believe that in the year 2015, the United States Senate would be spending its time trying to defund women’s healthcare centers. On second thought, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. The Republicans have had a plan for years to strip away women’s rights to make choices over our own bodies.”
Warren explained that in 2013, the GOP threatened to shut down the government if they couldn’t change the Affordable Care Act in a way that would allow employers to deny access to birth control. In March 2015,they stopped a bill that would’ve curtailed human trafficking because it could have allowed for the private funding of abortions. In June, Republicans passed a budget that eliminated Title X.
Moreover, she said, . . .
See this report by David Dayen:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren publicly challenged presidential candidates two weeks ago to support a bill intended to limit the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street.
The Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act would prohibit government officials from accepting “golden parachutes” from their former employers for entering public service.
Within days, Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley endorsed the legislation, and Sen. Bernie Sanders became a co-sponsor. But presumed Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has not said where she stands.
One possible explanation for Clinton’s lack of interest in banning golden parachutes is that she tolerated them when she ran the State Department — for two of her top aides. Robert Hormats and Thomas Nides previously worked as executives for financial firms Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, respectively. Both received benefits tied to their Wall Street employment contracts for entering public service.
Hormats, who served as undersecretary for economics, energy and agricultural affairs from 2009 to 2013, was a managing director for Goldman Sachs for over 25 years. As he wrote in his 2009 letter to the Office of Government Ethics, “Before I assume the duties of the position of Under Secretary, Goldman Sachs will accelerate and pay out my restricted stock units, pursuant to written company policy.” Those unvested restricted stock units, which would have been forfeited had Hormats left Goldman for another Wall Street firm, are valued at between $250,000 and $500,000 on Hormats’ disclosure form.
Nides, a six-figure bundler in Clinton’s past and present presidential campaigns, worked for Fannie Mae, Credit Suisse and as a top executive at Morgan Stanley from 2005 to 2010. He became deputy secretary of state for management and resources in January 2011, replacing Jack Lew, who had himself received a golden parachute from Citigroup for entering government service. Nides received a payout on Morgan Stanley restricted stock units worth between $5 million and $25 million, according to his financial disclosure. His Morgan Stanley compensation plan “allows for acceleration of payout … if employee is required to divest of interest in order to comply with federal, state or local government conflict of interest requirements.”
Nides and Hormats are not alone in what has become a depressingly standard practicein recent years. But Clinton’s unusual control over staffing at the State Department makes her directly responsible for these particular golden parachutes, at a time when she wants to gain control over staffing of the entire executive branch.
“I would say these are textbook examples,” said Michael Smallberg of the Project on Government Oversight, which has closely followed this issue. “I would raise concerns on how these payments affect the officials’ views, not only toward their former employers but the industry more broadly.” . . .
Interesting post by Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:
The Wall Street Journal reports that Hillary Clinton’s tax plan is starting to take shape:
Hillary Clinton will propose a sharp increase in the capital-gains tax rate for the highest earners for investments held only a few years, a campaign official said Friday. Under the Clinton plan, investments held between one and two years would be taxed at the normal income-tax rate of 39.6%, nearly double the existing 20% capital gains rate.
….The rate for top-bracket taxpayers would be set on a sliding scale, with the lowest rate applied to investments held the longest. To qualify for the existing 20% rate, one would have to hold an investment for at least six years.
This change would apply only to high-income taxpayers and only to short-term investments. Lower-income workers would continue to get a break on capital gains taxes compared to the rate they pay on ordinary income. This is mostly for show, however: low-income workers barely have any capital gains income in the first place. The chart on the right from the Tax Policy Center shows the breakdown. Anyone making less than a six-figure income pays virtually no capital gains taxes, so changing their rates serves no purpose. It’s only at the high end of the income spectrum that the preferential capital gains rate matters.
Hillary’s proposal will enrage conservatives, who are convinced that capital gains rates are the magic key to prosperity. Since there’s virtually no evidence linking capital gains rates to economic growth, the cynical among you might think that what really motivates their tireless advocacy of low rates is that it benefits the rich enormously. But that’s only for the cynical among you.
In any case, folks who make more than a million dollars a year are going to be pretty exercised about this, even though Hillary’s proposal allows them to keep a modestly preferential rate for investments held longer than two years and the current super-preferential rate for investments held for six years or more. Still, details aside, the rich account for virtually all the capital gains taxes paid, and raising that rate in any way would hurt them considerably. These are also the folks who are donating vast sums to the Republican candidates, so you can be sure they’ll be insisting that their favored candidate goes after this proposal hammer and tongs. But Hillary is right. There’s little evidence that higher capital gains rates do much harm, and a fair number of reasons to actively prefer a higher rate. Jared Bernstein has more here.
Michael Tomasky reviews a timely book in the NY Review of Books:
Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich
by Peter Schweizer
Harper, 243 pp., $27.99
As Hillary Rodham Clinton pursues the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, we face a situation that is wholly without precedent in modern American electoral history. There have been presumptive nominees before, usually sitting vice-presidents—Al Gore in 2000, George H.W. Bush in 1988, and Hubert Humphrey in 1968, to name three. But even they faced competition from candidates who were certainly from the “first tier”—Bill Bradley, Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, Bobby Kennedy, and Gene McCarthy.
Clinton faces no such opposition within her party. It’s good that Senator Bernie Sanders has decided to enter the race. Clinton will have to debate him, and his mere presence will force her to take positions she could otherwise get away with not taking. But it’s rather unlikely that a socialist from Vermont can capture a major-party nomination. Similarly, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley probably doesn’t arouse much concern at Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters. He has a solid record of achievement in Annapolis and intriguing credentials as a Catholic committed to social justice. But he comes with baggage, too—the extremely incompetent implementation of Obamacare in his state and, now, the mere fact that he was once the mayor of the sad, segregated city of Baltimore, perpetually suspended in a kind of bitter aspic of deindustrialization, disinvestment, and broken promises. Sometimes governors exude clear presidential potential, as did Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. O’Malley, so far anyway, does not.
And that’s about it. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is out; she plainly does not want to be president. Although she’s been active in opposing Obama’s proposed Pacific trade agreement, she’s never shown a deep interest in foreign policy, which is a rather important part of any president’s job, particularly so at this point in history. Short of incapacitating illness or a scandal of enormous proportions, Clinton will almost certainly be the Democratic nominee.
This puts her in a strong position, but it also places a special burden on her. It means that the nation’s liberals and Democrats, millions of people who usually have a choice to make, in essence don’t have one here. There is much at stake in next year’s election. For a start, a new president who serves two terms may well nominate three or even four justices to the Supreme Court, meaning either that the Court’s conservative majority will be solidified and enlarged, with more allies of Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, or that it will be reversed, giving the country a liberal Supreme Court majority for the first time since the 1980s. Such a Court could spend a generation or two reversing the precedents set by the Courts of William Rehnquist and John Roberts.
So Clinton, who leads in national polls and will benefit from an Electoral College map that favors any Democratic candidate, has a special obligation as a candidate. She has to run a better race than she ran in 2008. She needs to show—as she already has on issues like immigration, criminal justice, and the tax rates of hedge fund managers—that she is attuned to where the electorate is today. And she needs to take all reasonable steps to avoid taints of scandal. If a late-breaking controversy over Clinton’s record and character propels someone like Scott Walker to the White House, the sense of betrayal and despair will be ferocious.
The Clinton Foundation—until recently the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation—has done a lot of good in the world since its founding in 2001. By far its largest program—$128 million spent in 2013—is the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which facilitates the provision of, and negotiates price reductions for, AIDS and malarial drugs to millions of people in Africa and elsewhere. It does other work to expand access to health care in developing countries.
The second-largest of the foundation’s seven major programs ($23.6 million in 2013) is the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which “convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges,” according to the foundation’s website. In early May, the CGI hosted a meeting in Marrakesh where regional leaders were introduced to experts on youth unemployment, innovation, entrepreneurship, and kindred topics. The foundation also funds work related to domestic poverty and the effects of climate change both in the United States and around the world.
Some critics have raised questions about several of the foundation’s programs. For example, does anything constructive actually happen in poor countries once those regional leaders go back home after getting to hobnob with Bill Clinton for a few days? The foundation often operates at the intersection of the nonprofit, public-sector, and management-consulting worlds, and it is hard to discern clear results of some of its activities. Yet at the same time, there can be little doubt that Bill Clinton’s work has saved and improved lives. Back when the foundation still used to get good press, anAtlantic article described in detail how Clinton and his old friend Ira Magaziner, then working with the foundation, succeeded in negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for lower anti-AIDS drug prices:
So the foundation went to governments in Africa and the Caribbean and organized demand for AIDS drugs, obtaining intentions to place large orders if prices could be cut. It simultaneously went to drug companies, offering them a much larger and less-volatile market for AIDS drugs in return for lower prices based on the projected higher volume. Although the foundation asked for aggressive “forward pricing” to kick-start demand, it pointedly did not ask for donations or charity. “To be sustainable,” says Magaziner, “this can’t be a charitable act.” Rather, the foundation was offering a business proposition: If we get you the demand, can you get us the supply?
It’s hard to argue with that, and no one outside of the right-wing fever swamps really does.
What people argue with are two things: the donations the foundation accepts from foreign governments and individuals, and the speaker fees paid to Bill and Hillary Clinton. For the most part those payments are not specifically related to the foundation; but they are given much emphasis by the Clintons’ numerous opponents. There is palpable fear among them that she will win the presidency, serve eight years, reshape the Supreme Court, and pursue the other lamentable goals one might expect from the Clintons. . .