mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Hold Your Fire, Democrats”: Leave The Party Infighting To The Republicans.

OK. It’s time.

It’s time to prove the legendary Will Rogers wrong when he said, “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” Or to prove, in fact, that the current circular firing squad is the Republican Party and not the Democrats.

After the New York primary, we are at a crucial period in the Democratic race. Sure, we are going to go on until June 7, but the next seven weeks will be crucial in determining whether the Democrats shout at each other or shout at the Republicans. I prefer the latter, thank you.

First of all, there is no need for the Hillary Clinton camp to attack independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and no reason to bait them either. With one week to go before five states decide on April 26, they are in the driver’s seat in this campaign. And there are only a total of five contests during all of May. So work as hard as can be to win the bulk of the primaries on April 26, but don’t have surrogates taking shots at Sanders. No need.

As for Bernie and his supporters, one lesson he has learned from New York and earlier contests is that the more he attacks Clinton, the worse he does. No more attack ads. No more speeches about speeches. No more questioning her “qualifications” or even “judgment.” It simply won’t help the Sanders campaign, and it conflicts with his own message and who he is in this race.

The month of May is important in setting the stage for November. In 2008, Hillary Clinton backed off from the critique of then-Sen. Barack Obama and played out the primaries until June. Bernie should do the same, especially after this week of competing in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland.

Not only is it important to make this race about Democrats v. Republicans and the strikingly different visions for the country, it is also important to have a unified party that will win back the Senate and, possibly, even the House in November. In order for the Democrats to build from this primary season, it is critical that they put the back-and-forth of a contentious campaign behind them. Of course, compared to the Republicans this has been a tame contest – beanbag really. But what the Democrats don’t need is a senseless negative barrage of ads or talking heads who take off after each other. The candidates lose, the Democratic Party loses and the chances increase that we lose a much-deserved advantage come November.

The bottom line here is that what Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have been talking about for the last year can only be accomplished with a resounding victory in November – not just winning the presidency but electing Democrats up and down the ticket, and especially in the House and the Senate. Getting the things done they have talked about means having the bodies in Congress to deliver the legislation. There is too much at stake now – time to avoid that circular firing squad. Leave that to the Republicans.

 

By: Peter Fenn, Head, Fenn Communications, U. S. News and World Report, April 21, 2016

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, Republicans | , , , , , | 3 Comments

“They Haven’t Learned Yet”: Republican’s Love Affair With Voodoo Economics

In a moment of sanity, George HW Bush once called Ronald Reagan’s proposal for tax cuts “voodoo economics.” The idea was that tax cuts for the wealthy would somehow “trickle down” to the rest of us and grow the economy. Bush eventually had to embrace the idea as Reagan’s vice president, but later as president himself, he paid the price when he had to abandon his “no new taxes” pledge because the tax cuts accomplished nothing more than to blow up the federal budget deficit.

Along came President Clinton, who raised taxes on the wealthy (something that seems to have been forgotten in this presidential primary) and we witnessed the first budget surplus in generations. Next came George W. Bush, who cut taxes with the same result – a huge budget deficit compounded by wars and the Great Recession. At that point we were treated to the “wisdom” of VP Dick Cheney who quipped that “deficits don’t matter.” Of course that only lasted until Barack Obama became president and all of a sudden it became a national crisis. Eventually President Obama raised taxes on the wealthy once again, and cut the deficit by two thirds.

At some point, one has to wonder how long Republicans can continue their love affair with trickle-down economics. And yet all three presidential candidates continue to espouse the idea that tax cuts for the wealthy will make the economy grow.

The failure of trickle-down has been demonstrated in states as well as at the national level. We’ve all watched as the Republican governors of Kansas, Louisiana and Wisconsin failed to grow their economies by providing massive tax cuts to the wealthy. The most extreme case for years now has been Gov. Brownback in Kansas.

Brownback took office on a pledge to make Kansas friendlier to business and successfully sought to cut the top personal income tax rate by 29 percent and exempt more than 330,000 farmers and business owners from income taxes. The moves were popular in a Legislature where the GOP holds three-quarters of the seats.

Rather than grow the economy, that resulted in things like the following:

Last month, Brownback ordered $17 million in immediate reductions to universities and earlier this month delayed $93 million in contributions to pensions for school teachers and community college employees. The state has also siphoned off more than $750 million from highway projects to other parts of the budget over the past two years.

With the 2016 election on the horizon and the state budget still in crisis, it looks like some Republicans may be questioning their commitment to voodoo economics.

Now many of the same Republicans who helped pass Brownback’s plan are in open revolt, refusing to help the governor cut spending so he can avoid rolling back any of his signature tax measures.

If Brownback won’t reconsider any of the tax cuts, they say, he will have to figure out for himself how to balance the budget in the face of disappointing revenue.

“Let him own it,” Republican Rep. Mark Hutton said. “It’s his policy that put us there.”

While Rep. Hutton’s remarks won’t win him a “profile in courage” award, the Republican proposal at this point – which Brownback rejected – is to repeal the personal income tax break for farmers and business owners to raise an additional $200 million to $250 million a year.

George HW Bush knew that trickle-down was just another name for voodoo economics. Now it sounds like a few Republicans in Kansas are figuring that out. But I don’t hold out a lot of hope that this kind of awareness will be contagious in the GOP. After all, acquaintance with facts and reality is clearly not their strong suit these days.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, April 19, 2016

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Sam Brownback, Tax Cuts for The Wealthy, Voo Doo Economics | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“On Tax Deductions, Sanders Is No Hypocrite”: Conservatives Confused About How Hypocrisy Works On A Conceptual Level

When Bernie Sanders said his tax returns would turn out to be pretty boring, he wasn’t kidding. After a bit of a delay, the senator’s campaign released his 2014 returns last Friday night, and as expected, there wasn’t much in there of interest.

At least, that’s what I thought. National Review published a piece this week making hay of the senator’s deductions.

Sanders released his 2014 tax return this weekend, revealing that he and his wife took $60,208 in deductions from their taxable income. These deductions are all perfectly legal and permitted under the U.S. tax code, but they present a morally inconvenient, if delicious, irony: The Democratic socialist from Vermont, a man who rages against high earners paying a lower effective tax rate than blue-collar workers, saved himself thousands using many of the tricks that would be banned under his own tax plan. […]

What Sanders did, using every option and advantage available under a Byzantine tax code to minimize his tax payment, is a normal practice for many Americans. But it’s also exactly what the targets of his anger do. You can argue about whether or not that’s greed, but it’s impossible to argue that it isn’t hypocrisy. The paragon of liberal purity is not as pure as he’d like the world to believe.

Actually, it’s quite possible to argue that this isn’t hypocrisy, because, well, that’s not what hypocrisy means.

Current tax laws allow Americans to take a variety of deductions, and Sanders followed the laws as they’re written. Does Sanders hope to change the laws related to deductions? He absolutely does, even if that means he and his family have to pay more. But those changes haven’t yet happened, so the senator continues to do what he’s permitted to do.

As Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum put it, “If you don’t like the designated hitter rule in baseball, does that mean you should send your pitcher to the plate just to prove how sincere you are? Of course not. You play by the rules, whatever those rules are.”

All of which leads me to an ongoing point of concern. When I argue that many conservatives don’t seem to understand what hypocrisy means, I’m not being coy or snarky. I mean it quite literally: some on the right throw around accusations about various figures on the left being hypocrites in a way that suggests they’re genuinely confused about how hypocrisy works on a conceptual level.

A few years ago, for example, President Obama attended a fundraiser with some wealthy donors. The Republican National Committee insisted it was “the definition of hypocrisy” for the president to “run against” the wealthy while seeking campaign contributions from wealthy contributors.

The trouble, of course, is that this wasn’t even close to the “the definition of hypocrisy.” Having a policy agenda that asks more from the very wealthy does not preclude seeking contributions from those who also support that agenda, including accepting donations from the very wealthy.

Last year, Hillary Clinton was accused of being “hypocritical” for criticizing the existing campaign-finance system, even while raising money within that system. But again, that’s not what “hypocrisy” means – there is no contradiction when a candidate plays by the rules while hoping to someday change those rules.

Circling back to an old post, hypocrisy in politics is not uncommon, and it’s worth calling out once it’s uncovered. But can we try to separate legitimate instances of hypocrisy and stuff that looks kind of funny if you don’t give it a lot of thought? They are two very different things.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Madow Blog, April 20, 2016

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Conservatives, Hillary Clinton, Tax Code | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We’ll Never Stop Arguing About It”: Obamacare Is Helping A Lot Of People. Not Everyone Thinks That’s Good News

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Conservatives, Obamacare, Republicans | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“They’re Not An Interesting Story Line”: Hillary’s Army Of Women Conquers New York, Occupies The Democratic Party

We talk endlessly about the youth vote in the Democratic primaries, as Bernie Sanders wins young voters four- and five-to-one. But young voters are typically around one-fifth of electorate; under 30s were 17 percent in New York, according to the exit polls.

But we talk less about the women’s vote, which made up an eye-popping 59 percent of the Democratic vote. That’s three out of five voters, with Clinton winning more than three out of five of those votes (63-37). But hey, they’re not an interesting story line.

Actually that 59 percent number isn’t eye-popping if you’ve done any homework. Women were 58 percent of the Democratic primary vote in New York in 2008, when Clinton beat Barack Obama by one point more than the 16 she topped Sanders by yesterday. And it tracks with other results this year. Women were 58 percent in Florida, 56 percent in Ohio, and 55 percent even in Michigan, which Clinton lost (although she carried women by 51-44 percent). There’s hardly a state where women weren’t at least 55 percent of the vote (in primaries; caucuses don’t have gender breakdowns), and there aren’t many states where Clinton didn’t win among women by double digits.

So what? True, it’s not surprising. But just because something isn’t surprising doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting or that it doesn’t have ramifications. This is, and does.

What’s interesting about it is this: Sanders’s campaign surely knew the 2008 exit-poll data. Don’t you think a candidate might try to craft a message that would appeal more directly to three-fifths of the electorate he’s trying to woo?

Assuming Sanders does lose this nomination, his supporters will complain about the corrupt bosses and the system being rigged and all that. But those who decide to take a slightly more introspective approach to their Monday-morning quarterbacking might ask why their candidate didn’t bother to make any effort to speak more directly to the particular concerns of the groups that are the Democratic Party.

I know, I know—Citizens United affects everybody, health care affects everybody, the big banks affect everybody. You don’t have to tell me. I’m a universalist critic of excessive identity politics going back to the 1990s. At the same time, some measure of identity politics is necessary and good! Different groups of people have actual distinct concerns in life, and politicians are supposed to address them.

When Sanders talks about the Supreme Court, it’s always about Citizens United, and only occasionally about Roe v. Wade. When Clinton went on that riff at the Brooklyn debate about how in all the debates they’d never been asked a single question about Roe, I bet a lot of light bulbs went off over a lot of heads. Sanders didn’t actively alienate women as he did African Americans and their conservative, reality-distorting votes, but he didn’t go out of his way for them either.

As for ramifications, the results tell us a little something about how a general election might play out against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. It should be pointed out that Trump crushed it among women in New York on the Republican side, since after all as we know he cherishes women and will be the best president for women in history, forget about it. He got 57 percent to John Kasich’s 28 percent and Cruz’s 15 percent. But there, women were only 44 percent of the vote. And in terms of raw vote totals, Clinton hauled in almost exactly twice the number of votes Trump did—1.037 million to 518,000. That means about 665,000 women voted for Clinton, while just 215,000 voted for Trump.

The story has been similar in most contests. In Florida, Trump’s best big state outside of New York, Clinton got 675,000 votes from women, and Trump 464,000. It adds up. Of course Trump is going to dominate her among men overall (she’ll beat him, one assumes, among black and Latino men, just because they’re so overwhelmingly Democratic and, in the case of Latinos, she doesn’t want to throw them out of the country).

The big secret questions of whether Clinton can make it to the White House are these: How much sexism is out there in 2016, in terms of men just not wanting a woman president; and how many women will say “I don’t like that Hillary” a hundred times up until Election Day but then get in the voting booth and think, “Well, woman president…” and pull her lever.

We’re not going to know these things until the morning of Nov. 9. We do know that we’re headed toward a real battle of the sexes this fall.

 

By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, April 20, 2016

April 21, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Women Voters, Young Voters | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: