The nation’s top labor leader Tuesday morning blasted GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants as “dangerous,” “racist” and “un-American.”
Speaking at a press breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was – no surprise – critical of the entire GOP field, but he used his harshest language for Trump, the real estate magnate/reality TV star who has stunningly risen to a dominant position in the GOP presidential field powered at least in part by his offensive rhetoric about immigrants in this country without legal status, asserting that Mexico is “sending people” who are criminals, drug mules and “rapists.”
“What Donald Trump started with immigration is dangerous,” Trumka said. “I think it’s un-American and I think it’s racist. It’s saying that one group of people is superior to another group of people. And look what it’s done to the other candidates.” He noted former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s ongoing use of the term “anchor babies,” that former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has referred to illegal immigrants as a “disease” and that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie suggested that immigrants into this country be tracked like FedEx packages. (Ummm, how would that work exactly? Would everyone coming into the country have RFID transponders implanted in them? Bar code tattoos – aka the “mark of the beast“?!?)
Trumka said that the danger of Trump lies in mainstreaming his toxic views. “When the leading candidate for one of the parties talks in an un-American, racist way it starts to become mainstream. Racism can never become mainstream. … All of them are talking about it in the same way now because in order to pander to the right they have to go so far to the right beyond what – probably – most of them genuinely believe, but if they intend to govern that way, that’s bad for this country.” He added: “Someone has to stand up and say, ‘Enough, knock it off.'”
Trumka was also unsparing in his criticism of the rest of the GOP field, calling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker a “national disgrace” and saying that “one can only pray” that Walker or Perry is the GOP nominee. (Tough talk given the track record, but hey – maybe fourth time’s the charm?) He said that when Bush talks about income inequality he’s just “mouth[ing] words” and said that Ohio Gov. John Kasich – who loves talking about how his father was a mailman – abandoned his working class roots. “His dad’s sweat and his mom’s sweat put him in a position” where he could side with Main Street or Wall Street, Trumka said, and Kasich chose Wall Street.
On the Democratic side, Trumka warned that Hillary Clinton needs to stop avoid taking a stance on trade deals and trade promotion authority. “Candidates that try to skirt the issues, not talking about where you are on [the Trans-Pacific Partnership] hurts you when it comes to activating the membership and the general populace,” he said. “They want to know where you are, even when they disagree with you.” He added that if she can produce a credible pro-worker narrative, “she could catch fire too.” Speaking of how pundits view the former first lady, Trumka said, “Hillary Clinton needs to do A+ work in order to get a C. And do you know why? Because she’s a woman.”
Trumka said that Obama’s strong support of fast-track trade authority has hurt his standing among workers, though they still support him overall. Asked about a new Gallup poll showing a decline in Obama’s approval rating among union members to essentially its lowest point (the difference between his current 52 percent and his previous lows of 51 percent is statistically insignificant) Trumka replied that “what you’re seeing is the residuals” of Obama’s push for Trade Promotion Authority and a Pacific trade deal. “He supported it firmly, still does and we oppose it,” Trumka said.
And Trumka vowed a huge labor push over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal that’s still being negotiated: “You asked me if I intend to run a campaign against TPP? Yes. Is it going to be intense? Yes. Is it going to roll out everything we have? Yes.” He noted that the union is still working on specific issues involved in the agreement, such as procurement rules and rule of origin details that labor is still working to influence. He also said that China’s recent devaluation of its currency had raised old issues about currency manipulation rules being in the agreement. “If it’s an acceptable bill we’ll run a campaign to pass it, if it isn’t we’ll run a campaign to defeat it,” he said. “I suspect it’ll be a campaign to defeat it.”
By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, September 1, 2015
“Marco Rubio; Let Me Be Your Front Man, Republicans”: To Continue To Advocate The Fiscal And Regulatory Policies The GOP Craves
Today, Marco Rubio delivers a speech in Detroit, where he will again make the case to Republicans that the solution to their economic vulnerabilities lies in nominating Marco Rubio. “If I’m our nominee … We will be the party of the bartenders and the maids, of the people that clean our rooms and fix our cars,” Rubio promises. The choice of working-class occupations is hardly an accident — Rubio is describing the occupations held by his parents when they came to the United States. Rubio’s idea of a “party of” is quite literal — he means the party would be identified with the classes of the parents of its candidate rather than, say, its policies.
Many Republicans blame Mitt Romney’s defeat on his personal wealth, and there has been a renewed vogue for the always-popular appeal to personal working-class authenticity. Scott Walker has a story about buying a really cheap sweater. John Kasich is the son of a mailman. (National Review’s Kasich profile begins, “Have you heard that John Kasich’s dad was a mailman? If not, then you’ve probably never been around Ohio’s Republican governor.”) Hillary Clinton, too, reaches back to her mother to cast herself as the child of working-class toil. But Clinton grounds her appeal to hard-pressed Americans primarily in terms of her policy platform, which she has emphasized in a series of detailed speeches.
Rubio is unusually clear about his strategy to respond to Clinton’s arguments about policy with appeals to his background. “If I’m our nominee, how is Hillary Clinton gonna lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck?” he said at the first Republican debate. “I was raised paycheck to paycheck. How is she — how is she gonna lecture me — how is she gonna lecture me about student loans? I owed over $100,000 just four years ago.” This is Rubio’s plan. Clinton will attack the Republican economic program, and Rubio will talk about his life story.
Rubio’s platform is not entirely devoid of appeals to the working class. He emphasizes an expanded child-tax credit, which would provide benefits to families of modest means. George W. Bush, likewise, portrayed his tax cut as a plan aimed primarily at people like a low-income waitress mom, even though the overall impact was to make the tax code much more regressive. Rubio’s program would have the same effect, but more so. Even Rubio’s tax-cut plan, the most allegedly moderate aspect of his platform, would overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy. Other elements would compound the impact. Rubio would raise the Social Security retirement age, a change with little impact on white-collar workers, but a punishing blow to people who work on their feet or in some other physically demanding way. He would repeal Obamacare, whose benefits are heavily tilted toward low-income workers:
Rubio has sketched out a vague concept that would replace Obamacare, which — to the extent its effects can be defined — would shift much higher costs onto low-income workers, like bartenders and maids.
Rubio has voted for the Ryan budget, which would effect the largest upward redistribution of resources in American history. Indeed, he has set himself to Ryan’s right, criticizing the chairman’s compromise to slightly ease the impact of budget sequestration. He was also an early supporter of the 2013 government shutdown.
Rubio promises to repeal Dodd-Frank, a position that finds immense favor on Wall Street. Rubio may be the most forthrightly pro–Wall Street candidate in the race. His undiluted attack on Dodd-Frank prompted a grateful Richard Bove to write a column headlined “Thank You, Marco Rubio.” Bove is the author of Guardians of Prosperity: Why America Needs Big Banks. Some critics of Dodd-Frank favor (or like to position themselves as favoring) even more stringent regulation. Bove makes no such pretense. His book’s own summary begins, “Since the financial crisis, amid outrage at the likes of Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase and Washington’s rejiggering of the financial system, the banking industry has had one major defender: Richard X. Bove.”
It is positions like this — along with his past, retracted but perhaps still secretly held support for immigration reform — that have endeared Rubio to his party’s donor class. “At the American Enterprise Institute’s annual donor retreat in Sea Island, Ga., one attendee says Rubio got rave reviews from a crowd that included several billionaires,” reported National Review’s Eliana Johnson. “And in late January, the senator impressed the libertarian-leaning crowd at the Koch brothers’ donor conference in Palm Springs, Calif., and came out on top of an informal straw poll conducted there.”
In 2004, Democrats did not think they could frontally attack the Bush administration’s hawkish policies, so they wanted to use their candidate’s biography instead. That was the all-but-explicit message of John Kerry, who promised Democrats his military background would insulate him from attacks. Republicans who favor tax cuts for the rich, cuts in social benefits for working-class Americans, and deregulation of Wall Street face a similar dilemma. What these donors want is a candidate who will continue to advocate the fiscal and regulatory policies they crave, but can sell it to the public. Rubio is all but explicitly making the case for himself as the front man to make that sale.
By: Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, August 20, 2015
In the early months of his candidacy, Jeb Bush fumbled whenever he faced extremely predictable questions about his brother’s foreign policy. When asked about Iraq again at last week’s debate, he said that, knowing what we know now, “it was a mistake,” then inelegantly pivoted from praising veterans to blaming Obama for the current situation in the Middle East. This week Bush debuted a new stance: Whatever mistakes President George W. Bush made along the way, the Iraq War ultimately turned out for the best (at least until President Obama and Hillary Clinton messed it all up).
On Thursday in Iowa, he even used one of the most notorious lines from his brother’s presidency. “I’ve been critical and I think people have every right to be critical of decisions that were made,” Bush said at a Q&A hosted by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security. “In 2009, Iraq was fragile but secure. [The] mission was accomplished in the way that there was security there and it was because of the heroic efforts of the men and women in the United States military that it was so.”
Bush also declared, “Taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal.” He said it was a mistake to stop the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ metadata because there’s no evidence that “civil liberties were violated, that people’s privacy was violated.” He defended the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, saying he’s been there and “this is not a torture chamber.”
Torture is one point where Jeb slightly disagrees with W. He thinks “torture is not appropriate,” and he credited his brother with ending enhanced interrogation techniques (which the George W. Bush administration initially authorized). “The change of policy that my brother did and then was put into executive order form by [President Obama] was the proper thing to do,” he explained. But Bush wouldn’t commit to keeping that executive order in place, saying, “I don’t want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement.”
In a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Tuesday, Bush argued that President Obama and Hillary Clinton should be blamed for the current situation in Iraq, not his brother. “Why was the success of the [2007 troop] surge followed by a withdrawal from Iraq, leaving not even the residual force that commanders and the joint chiefs knew was necessary?” Bush said. “And where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge, then joined in claiming credit for its success, then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away.”
Trying to turn one of his biggest liabilities into a problem for Clinton is a bold strategy, but so far there isn’t much evidence that it’s working. Following Bush’s remarks, a number of people pointed out that the withdrawal was his brother’s idea. “I remind everybody that us leaving at the end of 2011 was negotiated in 2008 by the Bush administration. That was always the plan, we had promised them that we would respect their sovereignty,” said U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno, an architect of the surge.
And TheNew Yorker‘s Dexter Filkins argued that, while Clinton “played a supporting role in a disastrously managed withdrawal,” that stemmed from a “disastrously managed war itself.” Plus, she wanted to leave some troops in Iraq:
By all accounts, she was one of the people inside the Administration who advocated for keeping a residual force in Iraq. “Hillary very much wanted to keep troops in the country,” James Jeffrey, the American Ambassador to Iraq at the time, told me. This does not amount, in Jeb’s words, to “standing by” while Iraq burned.
When asked about that point on Thursday, Bush called it an “aggressive effort to rewrite history,” saying it was obvious that Obama needed to renegotiate the Bush administration’s agreement.
Bush’s nuanced (or rather, factually shaky) argument may win over some Republicans, but convincing America that Obama and Clinton deserve more blame for the Iraq War fallout than the president who started it is a tall order. It seems the only mission Jeb accomplished this week was providing sound bites for attack ads linking him to his brother.
By: Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, August 14, 2015
As you may recall, in the days just prior to his annual Red State Gathering, Erick Erickson went into what can clinically be called an apoplectic hate-rage aimed at the Republican Party for its failure to immediately promise to shut down the government if necessary to produce the de-funding of Planned Parenthood. We don’t have to review his hissy fits in detail, but he did specifically say this after fulminating for a good while:
If Abraham Lincoln’s Party cannot go to war against that where war is not bullets, just a government shut down until the President relents, then Abraham Lincoln’s Party needs to be put on the ash heap of history. It really is that simple.
Now Erick’s dealing with a sea of hyperbolic emails and tweets from people unhappy with his decision to disinvite Donald Trump to the Gathering, and he’s begging them to “recalibrate” and get a grip:
Conservatives have a real and legitimate reason to be pissed off at the GOP. Polling suggests conservatives hate the Republicans in Washington more than Democrats hate the Republicans in Washington. That anger has galvanized conservatives and pushed them toward Donald Trump. To his credit, he has capitalized on that anger.
But folks, this is anger at an unhealthy level. It is anger that has gone beyond the righteous anger of repeated betrayals from Washington. It is an anger that has become unhinged and is potentially uncontrollable. Anger at that level is more often destructive than constructive.
I want to beat Hillary Clinton next year. I want to beat her with a Republican who is not just another party apparatchik surrounded by lower level party apparatchiks within the Republican Party.
But I know we cannot beat Hillary Clinton with this level of anger. We won’t be able to draw people to our side and our cause like this.
Gee, Erick, I’m confused. A few days ago you were ready to blow up the Republican Party forever if it did not do your bidding on a single issue. Now you want people to calm down so they can beat Hillary. Correct me if I’m wrong, but an exploded GOP that has lost its base isn’t going to beat Hillary, is it? So which is your current opinion? Your temper tantrum or your sermon against temper tantrums?
Truth is the Republican Party has been juggling dynamite for years in paying tribute to people like Erickson who claim to speak for the “angry base.” Now there’s an “angrier” base. Where are you going to draw that line?
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 14, 2015
Hillary Clinton fielded some questions from campaign reporters yesterday, and not surprisingly, she was asked about Donald Trump. But the Democratic frontrunner clearly had a different group of Republicans on her mind.
“I think if we focus on [Trump’s antics], we’re making a mistake,” she said. “What a lot of the men on that stage in that debate said was offensive.” Highlighting Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) recent comments on prohibiting all abortions, regardless of circumstances, Clinton added, “[T]he language [Trump uses] may be more colorful and more offensive, but the thinking, the attitude toward women, is very much the same.”
She went on to say. ‘What Marco Rubio said has as much of an impact in terms of where the Republican Party is today as anybody else on that stage.”
It’s an important point. Rubio has now argued, more than once, that if a woman is impregnated by a rapist, the government has the authority to force her to take the pregnancy to term, regardless of her wishes. For Clinton, this matters every bit as much – if not more – than Trump’s ugly remarks about Fox’s Megyn Kelly.
For his part, Rubio seems to think he has a winner on his hands. Yesterday, the far-right Floridian, using social media and his campaign website, even launched a new initiative, alongside a big picture of a cat:
“Watch this video and sign this petition if you know that a human life won’t become a donkey or a cat.”
Yes, Marco Rubio, who last week seemed to adopt the posture of some kind of wonk, is now pushing a bold, new campaign message: fertilized human eggs don’t develop into cats.
As for the video Rubio is eager for the public to see, Slate’s Amanda Marcotte has the backstory:
When Rubio appeared on CNN after Thursday night’s Republican debate, he kept insisting that this vague entity called “science” has declared that human life begins at conception. (Actual biologists, for what it’s worth, argue that life is continuous and that a fertilized egg is no more or less alive than a sperm or an unfertilized egg.) CNN host Chris Cuomo vainly tried to point out that “science” says no such thing, and Rubio got a little excited.
“Let me interrupt you. Science has – absolutely it has. Science has decided… Science has concluded that – absolutely it has. What else can it be?” he asked. Then Rubio reared up for what he clearly intended as his wowza line: “It cannot turn into an animal. It can’t turn into a donkey. The only thing that that can become is a human being.”
Rubio, clearly pleased with himself, added, “[If scientists] can’t say it will be human life, what does it become, then? Could it become a cat?”
When Rubio’s website says “watch this video,” it shows the interview in its entirety.
Just so we’re clear, not even the most ardent pro-choice advocates believe fertilized human eggs could become a cat. They do believe, however, that there’s a difference between people and fertilized human eggs that might someday become people – in much the same way we differentiate between acorns and trees. What something is and what something may become under the right conditions are not identical.
Nevertheless, the far-right Floridian seems quite excited about his argument. He’ll have to hope it’s persuasive to a broad audience – Rubio’s no-abortions/no-exceptions position is further to the right than any Republican presidential nominee in the modern era.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, August 11, 2015