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“Up-And-Running Now”: Hillary’s “Establishment Politics” Has Already Delivered Some Of The Paid Leave Sanders Promises

The negative reviews of and cascading events from Bernie Sanders’ less-than-deft Q&A with the New York Daily News earlier this week continue. But there is one additional passage from that interview that deserves, but has largely escaped, notice (emphasis mine):

Alright, I believe that in the midst of the kinds of crises that we face with a disappearing middle class and massive levels of income and wealth inequality, the only major country on earth not guarantee to healthcare to all people, only major country not to provide paid family and medical leave, it is time to get beyond establishment politics. So to put your question in maybe a simpler way, is she a candidate of the establishment? The answer is, of course she is.

This is an astonishing thing for Sanders to say for a couple of reasons. First because, as he surely knows, it was the “establishment” Bill Clinton who, as one of his first acts as president in 1993, signed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) after it had twice been vetoed by his predecessor. Second (and maybe Sanders doesn’t know this; few do), having signed the FMLA providing up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to workers to care for a newborn or a sick family member, Clinton, with the active help of his wife, became the first president to use federal power to provide paid leave to American workers.

I know this because I wrote the speech in which he unveiled the policies. It was a commencement address delivered on May 23, 1999 at Grambling State University, an historically black college in norther Louisiana that boasts, among other things, one of the best marching bands in the country. In the speech, Clinton announce two executive actions. First, federal workers would be allowed to use the sick leave they’d earned to take time off to care for other sick family members. Second, and potentially more important, states would be allowed to let public and private sector workers who have paid into the state’s federally regulated unemployment insurance systems to collect payments from those systems while they’re on leave caring for a newborn or a newly adopted child. Having attended the meetings where these policies were hashed out, I can assure you that they were a joint East Wing/West Wing initiative. The main person behind them was Nicole Rabner, who was the First Lady’s senior domestic policy adviser as well as a special assistant to the president.

The first policy (paid leave for federal workers) is still in place today. The second (allowing states to tap their unemployment insurance systems for paid leave) was overturned by George W. Bush, who deemed it a harmful imposition on businesses. But four states (California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington) that have separate Temporary Disability Systems, which are not federally regulated, used those systems to create basically the same voluntary family leave programs the Clintons were trying to incentivize. A major study of California’s, the largest and longest running paid leave program, found that it improved children’s health outcomes without measurably harming business productivity.

So the “establishment” politician Hillary Clinton can rightly claim a share of the credit for the paid leave programs that exist in the United States. They’re far from universal, but they’re real, up-and-running programs that seem to be working as advertised. And the reason they’re not more wide spread is not “establishment politics”–they are in fact the result of establishment politics–but Republican resistance.

Both Clinton and Sanders sponsored bills in the Senate to expand family leave that didn’t pass, and each has put forward plans to do so if they’re elected president (though the plans differ in how they’re financed). So both are, for progressives, on the “right side” of the issue. But only one of them has actually accomplished anything on this, and it isn’t Bernie Sanders.

 

By: Paul Glastris, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Bill Clinton, Family and Medical Leave Act, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Sanders Over The Edge”: Starting To Sound Like His Worst Followers

From the beginning, many and probably most liberal policy wonks were skeptical about Bernie Sanders. On many major issues — including the signature issues of his campaign, especially financial reform — he seemed to go for easy slogans over hard thinking. And his political theory of change, his waving away of limits, seemed utterly unrealistic.

Some Sanders supporters responded angrily when these concerns were raised, immediately accusing anyone expressing doubts about their hero of being corrupt if not actually criminal. But intolerance and cultishness from some of a candidate’s supporters are one thing; what about the candidate himself?

Unfortunately, in the past few days the answer has become all too clear: Mr. Sanders is starting to sound like his worst followers. Bernie is becoming a Bernie Bro.

Let me illustrate the point about issues by talking about bank reform.

The easy slogan here is “Break up the big banks.” It’s obvious why this slogan is appealing from a political point of view: Wall Street supplies an excellent cast of villains. But were big banks really at the heart of the financial crisis, and would breaking them up protect us from future crises?

Many analysts concluded years ago that the answers to both questions were no. Predatory lending was largely carried out by smaller, non-Wall Street institutions like Countrywide Financial; the crisis itself was centered not on big banks but on “shadow banks” like Lehman Brothers that weren’t necessarily that big. And the financial reform that President Obama signed in 2010 made a real effort to address these problems. It could and should be made stronger, but pounding the table about big banks misses the point.

Yet going on about big banks is pretty much all Mr. Sanders has done. On the rare occasions on which he was asked for more detail, he didn’t seem to have anything more to offer. And this absence of substance beyond the slogans seems to be true of his positions across the board.

You could argue that policy details are unimportant as long as a politician has the right values and character. As it happens, I don’t agree. For one thing, a politician’s policy specifics are often a very important clue to his or her true character — I warned about George W. Bush’s mendacity back when most journalists were still portraying him as a bluff, honest fellow, because I actually looked at his tax proposals. For another, I consider a commitment to facing hard choices as opposed to taking the easy way out an important value in itself.

But in any case, the way Mr. Sanders is now campaigning raises serious character and values issues.

It’s one thing for the Sanders campaign to point to Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street connections, which are real, although the question should be whether they have distorted her positions, a case the campaign has never even tried to make. But recent attacks on Mrs. Clinton as a tool of the fossil fuel industry are just plain dishonest, and speak of a campaign that has lost its ethical moorings.

And then there was Wednesday’s rant about how Mrs. Clinton is not “qualified” to be president.

What probably set that off was a recent interview of Mr. Sanders by The Daily News, in which he repeatedly seemed unable to respond when pressed to go beyond his usual slogans. Mrs. Clinton, asked about that interview, was careful in her choice of words, suggesting that “he hadn’t done his homework.”

But Mr. Sanders wasn’t careful at all, declaring that what he considers Mrs. Clinton’s past sins, including her support for trade agreements and her vote to authorize the Iraq war — for which she has apologized — make her totally unfit for office.

This is really bad, on two levels. Holding people accountable for their past is O.K., but imposing a standard of purity, in which any compromise or misstep makes you the moral equivalent of the bad guys, isn’t. Abraham Lincoln didn’t meet that standard; neither did F.D.R. Nor, for that matter, has Bernie Sanders (think guns).

And the timing of the Sanders rant was truly astonishing. Given her large lead in delegates — based largely on the support of African-American voters, who respond to her pragmatism because history tells them to distrust extravagant promises — Mrs. Clinton is the strong favorite for the Democratic nomination.

Is Mr. Sanders positioning himself to join the “Bernie or bust” crowd, walking away if he can’t pull off an extraordinary upset, and possibly helping put Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in the White House? If not, what does he think he’s doing?

The Sanders campaign has brought out a lot of idealism and energy that the progressive movement needs. It has also, however, brought out a streak of petulant self-righteousness among some supporters. Has it brought out that streak in the candidate, too?

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Bros, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Where Will It All End?”: Trump’s New Mexico Proposal Is Much Crazier And More Nightmarish Than You Thought

Donald Trump’s new proposal — if you can call it that — to force Mexico to fund a border wall by threatening to cut off money transfers into that country could prove even crazier and more nightmarish than it first appears.

In particular, it could require literally every person anywhere in the country who wants to transfer money abroad to present proof of lawful presence — or, if not, it could force private businesses to potentially discriminate against Mexican immigrants, several immigration policy analysts with varying specializations on the issue tell me. And it could also fuel an explosion of black-market money-transferring activities.

Under the proposal, which was outlined to the Washington Post in a two-page memo, President Trump would threaten to change a rule under the U.S.A. Patriot Act, to require that “no alien may wire money outside of the United States unless the alien first provides a document establishing his lawful presence in the United States.”

Once apprised of this threat, which would cause tens of billions of dollars in remittances to Mexico to dry up, Mexico would instantly cave and cough up $5-10 billion to build a Great Trumpian Wall on the border, his memo boasts.

The Post story about this proposal points out that there are major legal obstacles to actually achieving such a rules change, and also notes that the prospect of a major confrontation with Mexico over the idea could prove prohibitive.

But just as bad or worse than any of that, the practical on-the-ground consequences of actually implementing this proposal could be quite dramatic and nightmarish. It raises possibilities that (you’d think) Trump’s opponents could use to persuade GOP voters that he is less-than-prepared for the presidency, to put it charitably.

For Trump’s proposal to work, one of two things would have to happen, these analysts tell me: Either every transfer of money abroad would require the agent carrying out the transaction to demand documentation of lawful presence from the person looking to send money. Or the agent would only have to run such a check on those who are sending money to Mexico in particular. Trump’s proposal seems to require this of every “alien” looking to transfer funds abroad, which would seem to mean anywhere outside the U.S. But the memo’s broader aim — forcing Mexico in particular to its knees — suggests he may mean the latter.

“Under Trump’s proposal, every individual sending money outside of the United States would first have to establish his legal authority to be in the U.S.,” Fernand Amandi, a principle of Bendixen and Amandi International, which has studied remittances for decades, tells me.

“The dog whistle that one can interpret or decipher from the memo is that it’s targeting Mexican undocumented immigrants only,” Amandi adds. “The implication of this is that it would require lawful proof of residence in the U.S. only from people who are transferring money to Mexico. Until Trump is explicit about this policy, we can’t know for certain which of these he means.”

Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst for the libertarian Cato Institute, agrees. “The only way to do this is to force every Western Union or bank employee to ask for proof of lawful presence,” Nowrasteh tells me. “Unless you want to patrol every transaction, it would have to stereotype specifically against Mexican Americans and Mexicans in the United States.”

In other words, this would impact “$125 billion in annual remittances from the U.S. to the entire world,” or it would require those carrying out transfers to “profile all their customers, determine which are sending money to Mexico, and block that,” Nowrasteh says. Either way, this would be an “expensive government regulation that would impact global capital flows,” he adds.

“The agents would provide this service upon presentation of proof of lawful presence in the United States,” says Manuel Orozco, an expert on remittances at the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank in Washington that focuses on western hemispheric policy. “None of this is feasible in any way.”

Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute also sees the possibility that Trump’s proposal could cause a rise in criminal money-transfering activity — and an increase in illegal immigration.

“Black market channels would be quickly utilized for funneling money abroad,” Nowrasteh says. “Immediately it would all go underground.” He predicts that this business might flow into already existing underground money-transfer channels, such as to people who literally “haul cash across the border on their backs.” Or people might buy stocks and transfer those, to be sold in Mexico. Or, if the restriction were only on money being transferred to Mexico, as opposed to all money transferred abroad, some might send money to a third party in another country who would then send the money on to Mexico.

And there’s still more! “Blocking remittances could create more incentives for Mexicans to come here and stay here longer, because income flows are cut off,” Nowrasteh says. “That’s clearly not Trump’s goal.”

Trump has shown a talent for offering up proposals that seem ever more batty than the ones that came before, no matter how crazy the previous ones seemed. Trump launched his campaign amid a vow to carry out mass deportations and build a border wall. He then followed that with a promise to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country. Now he’s somehow managed to make the initial border wall proposal — which has been the lodestar of his whole candidacy — seem even more outlandish still.

As nutty as some of these previous proposals have seemed, his GOP rivals have at times responded with surprisingly mute criticism combined with movement in his direction. Trumpism has compelled Marco Rubio to call for stepped up surveillance of mosques and it has driven Ted Cruz to rule out legalization of the 11 million and to call for increased patrols of Muslim neighborhoods. At this point, it’s impossible to even venture a suggestion as to where it will all end.

 

By: Greg Sargent, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 5, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Border Wall, Donald Trump, Mexico | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“True America And Those Alien Regions”: Republicans Sneer At ‘New York Values.’ That’s Their Problem

When we look back on the 2016 primary campaign, few images will be as bizarre and amusing as Ted Cruz visiting a matzo bakery in Brooklyn and singing a few rounds of “Dayenu” with a bunch of kids. But that’s hardly been the only bit of weirdness coming out of the campaign in the last couple of days. “This is like being so alive, being in New York,” said John Kasich after chowing down on some Italian food in the Bronx.

For a few days, Republicans will pretend to be smitten with the Big Apple; it’s like a foreign trip, where the candidates come to a strange and unfamiliar land to behold the natives and sample their exotic culture.

But as we watch, remember this: If someone other than Donald Trump wins the nomination, he will not be returning to New York after its primary a week from Tuesday, unless it’s to raise money. And that’s another indication of Republicans’ fundamental weakness when it comes time to try to assemble a national majority in order to win the White House.

You might object that this isn’t just a Republican problem; there are many places in this great and diverse country of ours where Democrats are not competitive. And that’s absolutely true. In a general election, the Democratic candidate isn’t going to be campaigning in Mississippi or Oklahoma.

But there’s a difference in the way politicians in the two parties approach those alien regions. Democrats always insist that they’d love to have the support of voters in the South or conservative parts of the Midwest and West. They don’t attack those places as fundamentally un-American. Theirs may be just as much a regional party as the GOP, but they won’t ever say so.

Republicans, on the other hand, regularly assert that the places where they’re strongest are the true America, where the most virtuous people live and the real heart of our country resides. When Ted Cruz attacked Donald Trump for having “New York values” back in January, it wasn’t anything we hadn’t heard before. Indeed, Republicans everywhere (and a few Democrats, but this is mostly a Republican thing) will say they have “[insert our state] values,” as a way of charging that their opponents are strangers who see the world in fundamentally different ways than we do.

The truth, though, is that Cruz was absolutely right when he said that “New York values” are not what Republican voters are looking for, no matter how much support Trump has. When pressed on this point Cruz will say that he was talking about liberal ideology, but it’s much more than that. It’s the fact that New York is urban, young, constantly changing, and perhaps most of all, dominated by immigrants and minorities (more than a third of New York’s population was born outside the U.S. and two-thirds are non-white).

Like many other big cities, New York reflects the diverse coalition Democrats count on to push them over 50 percent, much more so than the nearly all-white GOP. That’s what makes it a threatening place to the typical Republican voter who wants America to go back to being the country it was when they were kids.

And interestingly enough, it’s the New Yorker Donald Trump who seems to have the strongest hold on the Republicans who feel that kind of threat most acutely. In a recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, 64 percent of Trump supporters agreed with the statement, “it bothers me when I come in contact with immigrants who speak little or no English,” something that your average New Yorker experiences just about every day. A much smaller (though still substantial) 46 percent of Cruz supporters and 38 percent of John Kasich’s supporters agreed. Trump may hail from Queens and live in Manhattan, but it’s his ability to tap into the fears and resentments of people whom you couldn’t pay to come to New York that has put him in the lead.

One might argue that the long primary campaign discourages regionalism and divisiveness by forcing candidates to pander to all kinds of Americans from all over the country. It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t actually work out that way in practice. Cruz is on the defensive a bit right now over the “New York values” comment (Kasich has a new ad  attacking him over it, featuring a vaguely New York-ish-sounding narrator talking about how Kasich is in touch with “our New York values”). But he knew exactly what he was doing when he said it.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, New York Values, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Recognizing The Human Rights Of All”: Bravo, Bruce: Springsteen’s Stand Against North Carolina Law

When the forces of intolerance and bigotry prevail, as they have lately in Southern states that passed laws institutionalizing discrimination against gay and transgender Americans, it can be tempting to think they are impervious to argument. There is, however, one thing that lawmakers like those in North Carolina do heed – money.

After North Carolina passed a law last month perpetuating discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, PayPal canceled its plans to build a large presence in that state, costing North Carolina 400 jobs at the planned office and countless dollars.

Today, Bruce Springsteen, a champion of social justice in his public and personal life, announced that he was canceling a scheduled concert in Greensboro, N.C., on Sunday and will refund tickets.

“North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the ‘bathroom’ law,” he said in a statement. The law, he explained, “dictates which bathrooms transgender people are permitted to use. Just as important, the law also attacks the rights of LGBT citizens to sue when their human rights are violated in the workplace. No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden.”

Mr. Springsteen said the law was “an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress.” He noted that some people and groups in North Carolina were fighting to have the law repealed. “This is a time for me and the band to show solidarity for those freedom fighters,” Mr. Springsteen said, adding: “Some things are more important than a rock show.”

He said that this was “the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band deserve a huge round of applause, as does Charles Barkley, the basketball great, who has urged the National Basketball Association to move its All-Star Game next year away from Charlotte, N.C., unless the law is repealed. The N.B.A. should do that without hesitation.

Remember, the NCAA’s president, Mark Emmert, said he would move the collegiate sports association’s events out of Indiana unless it deleted a similar law, and other business organizations actually did cancel events in Indiana. The law, which was signed by Gov. Mike Pence with great fanfare, was later “fixed” in a foolish and ineffective way, but should simply have been repealed.

In South Carolina, the intervention by big companies like BMW and Bridgestone Tire helped force the hands of racists in the state government who had resisted removing the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state Capitol.

Mr. Springsteen is taking to heart the adage that all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to remain silent. What are others who do business in and with North Carolina waiting for?

 

By: Andrew Rosenthal, Taking Note, The Editorial Page Editor’s Blog, The New York Times, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Bigotry, Bruce Springsteen, Discrimination, LGBT | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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