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“Rubio’s Blast From The Past”: More Like A Paean To The Gilded Age Than A Plan For The Future

Marco Rubio, 43, kicked off his campaign yesterday by telling voters that he is the future and Hillary Clinton is the past. He is young, she is old. He is 21st century, she is 20th century.

But there is one very basic and glaring flaw with his argument: His views fit well into the 1800s, while Clinton’s views are modern and look very much like the America of today and tomorrow. Age isn’t everything, Marco.

Let’s try equal pay for equal work. Rubio is against the Lilly Ledbetter Act, while Clinton co-sponsored it. He voted twice against the Paycheck Fairness Act. Clinton is a strong supporter and became the lead sponsor when Tom Daschle left the Senate.

How about equal rights for the LGBT community and support for gay marriage? Rubio is solidly against gay marriage and supported not only the recent Indiana law on “religious freedom,” but even the Arizona version in 2013. He is consistently out of step. Clinton, of course, supports gay marriage and equal rights.

On the minimum wage, Rubio is not only opposed to it being raised but has said, “I don’t think the minimum wage law works.” Clinton favors raising the minimum wage.

On tax policy, Rubio has consistently supported the late 19th century, Gilded Age tax policy that benefited the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. Once again, his answer is to cut taxes for the wealthiest of Americans. According to the Washington Post, “If he wins his party’s nomination, though, Rubio will have to defend a tax plan that, while said to address the challenges of the middle class, includes a huge break that all-but bypasses the middle and greatly boosts the rich. It was a tax plan that was even too large for Romney himself to run on.” Rubio would eliminate all taxes on dividends and capital gains. That sounds like it was written by the robber barons of old to me. Clinton, of course, believes that kind of tax policy is the way of the past, not the wave of the future.

On one of the most critical issues of our time, climate change, Rubio again has his head in the sand, along with most of the other Republican candidates for president. Last May, he told ABC News that “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. And I do not believe that laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy.” Clinton, as we all know, supports efforts to combat climate change, such as the president’s Clean Power Plan.

So, who really has a vision for the future – on equal rights, on equal pay, on tax policy, on the environment – on where this country should be headed? And who does not learn the lessons of history, but seems condemned to repeat them, as if he were back in the 1800s?

If Rubio truly believes his views are appealing, maybe his slogan should actually be “Back to the Future.”

 

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, April 14, 2015

April 15, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Make A Difference For President Obama”: No Matter Where You Live, Voting Really Matters This Time

Lately I’ve traveled with Bill Clinton as he barnstorms the country to elect Democrats — especially including President Obama. On Sunday night, the former president and the man he is trying to re-elect together addressed the largest crowd ever recorded in New Hampshire’s political history when they drew 14,000 people to a rally in Concord.

On Monday, I watched Clinton speak before thousands of energized, cheering voters at rallies in Pennsylvania, where the presidential race seemed to grow tighter in the final hours before Election Day. He landed first in Pittsburgh, flew to Montgomery County, then drove down to Philadelphia and ended the day in Scranton – always with the same message:

“I want you to go out tomorrow and make Barack Obama president for four more years!”

Unlike some of the president’s more reluctant supporters — who affect a fashionable disenchantment with the bruised champion of “hope and change” – Clinton says he feels far more enthusiastic this year than in 2008. That difference might reflect the years elapsed since Obama defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in a tough primary battle, although Clinton certainly worked hard to elect him in the general election last time.

Whatever he felt four years ago, Bill Clinton can readily articulate why Obama earned his fervent backing this year – and why he finds Mitt Romney utterly unacceptable. (See his detailed essay rebutting the Des Moines Register’s Romney endorsement.) In Pennsylvania, he repeatedly mocked Romney for refusing to say whether he would sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. “It’s a simple yes or no answer,” chortled Clinton. “But he says, ‘I had a binder full of women.’” Laughter, catcalls, and applause exploded from the audience.

Clinton scolded Romney for advertising lies about Jeep moving American jobs to China that were so blatant they evoked protests from the presidents of General Motors and Chrysler. “You don’t have to be from Ohio to want a president who tells you the truth when it comes to jobs for the future,” he roared.

For two months, Clinton has jetted across the swing states from Florida, Virginia, and Ohio to Nevada and Colorado, talking himself hoarse. During the campaign’s closing hours, however, he recorded dozens of robocall messages to voters in the non-swing states, specifically in New York and New Jersey — promoting Democratic Senate and Congressional candidates, and simply encouraging voters in the storm-wracked Northeast to find a way to cast their ballots.

In what pollsters predict will be such a close contest, Clinton’s message is not just another civics lecture, but terribly urgent. Whether you live in a blue state, a red state, or a purple state, it is vital for you to vote in this election. The reason is simple. Although President Obama appears likely to win enough electoral votes for a Constitutional victory, he could quite conceivably receive fewer popular votes than Romney. That prospect is more likely now because Superstorm Sandy has badly damaged voting sites and processes in New York and New Jersey, where the president may be deprived of hundreds of thousands of votes as a consequence.

If President Obama wins the electoral vote but loses the popular vote, nobody should expect the Republicans to behave as magnanimously as Al Gore and the Democrats did in 2000, when George W. Bush lost the popular vote but was awarded the electoral vote — and the presidency — by a partisan, truth-twisting Supreme Court majority of one.

There is a danger, in fact, that a popular vote margin for Romney, no matter how small, might embolden a Republican governor in a state where Obama had won — perhaps Ohio or Florida — to instruct his Republican-dominated legislature to choose electors committed to Romney rather than the president. The right has rarely hesitated to violate Constitutional and democratic principles for the sake of power. Indeed, the Ohio secretary of state — like Republican officials across the country – has already sought to deprive citizens of that state of their voting rights.

So wherever you live, do not fail to vote. Make sure that your family and friends and neighbors vote. The focus on swing states is understandable, but it is only half the story of this election. Every ballot cast, in every state, is certain to make a difference this time.

By: Joe Conason, The National Review, November 6, 2012

November 6, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Women Don’t Like To Be Lied To”: Mitt Romney’s Case To Women Fails To Convince

Mitt Romney may be a perfect husband. He’s clearly devoted to Ann Romney. Their storybook relationship began as blushing teenagers, and 43 years and five sons later, Mitt is still smitten with Ann. Lovely.

The problem for Romney is that most women don’t live such fairytale lives. And the candidate’s obvious devotion to one woman doesn’t have a great deal of relevance to them as voters. Women are increasingly the household breadwinners, and more women now graduate from college than men. Yet women still earn less then men do, even in comparable positions. They tend to do more of the caring for elderly parents and are more likely to leave the workforce temporarily or limit their hours to see to the needs of young children.

The challenge for both the Romney and Obama campaigns now is to court undecided female voters, a large enough demographic that they could swing the election. To that end, let me make a suggestion: Stop viewing us as a needy constituency and treat us more as equals.

In this, Obama has the edge so far. He shows it in the words he chooses when discussing issues that affect women more directly than men, such as unequal pay and contraception. He also walks the talk, as when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

The candidate who will win the undecided women’s vote will be able to honestly discuss inequities that face women, especially in the workplace, yet not talk down to them or only to their wombs. It’s about including women as equals without pandering.

Both Romney and Obama can point to strong, intelligent women who were influential in their lives — both of their mothers qualify. Each man has lived through an era in which women’s roles in the home and workplace changed dramatically.

Many female voters are looking for a candidate who understands the difficult choices women are compelled to make with respect to family and work, who understands the pressure women feel from society’s often-outmoded notions of gender roles. They want a candidate who can show he has learned from women’s experiences during his lifetime, and empathized and stood alongside them when necessary.

Romney’s awkward debate gaffe about “binders full of women” only highlighted what many suspect: that he’s not comfortable discussing the problems many women face. In fact, Romney offered the much-parodied comment while trying to sidestep a question about equal pay. Instead of answering it directly, he boasted about making extra efforts to hire women as cabinet members when he was governor of Massachusetts.

What went unexplained was whether Romney understands why such extra efforts are still needed to ensure a range of qualified people are considered. It’s because the deck is still often stacked against women, with unequal pay and promotion for equal work and by attitudes that continue to see their input as extraneous.

It also raised the question of how a man could rise as high as Romney had in private and public life and not have a Rolodex full of women who had proven their value in his most trusted circles.

The regrettable thing for Romney is women will never know which is his true self. Is it moderate Mitt of years past who conceded that abortion should be legal, not so much as an endorsement of the procedure but as a safeguard of women’s health and safety? That’s the sort of nuanced position many women value. Or is it the “severely conservative” Mitt who pandered to the GOP’s right wing throughout the party’s primaries by mimicking its threats to Planned Parenthood? Romney is forever suspect as a flip-flopper. Women don’t like to be lied to, and many of us know how to listen for clues to that end.

Is Romney the type of man who is respectful in a woman’s presence, but wholly different when he gets back with a huddle of guys? Like many politicians, he holds certain women in places of honor. No arguments there. But it’s not clear that he will have all women’s interests in mind when it counts.

As a prospective steward of public policy that affects all women, he fails to inspire confidence. This is the nearly insurmountable hurdle that Romney now faces.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, The National Memo, October 23, 2012

October 24, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Another Miscalculation”: Romney’s Odd Insistence On Using Bill Clinton As A De Facto Spokesperson

I’ve written before about the Romney campaign’s odd insistence on using Bill Clinton as a de facto spokesperson. Every so often, Team Romney highlights a comment by Clinton as a critique of President Obama, as if Clinton wasn’t an avowed and enthusiastic supporter of the president. The rationale, I suppose, is to be able to claim bipartisan discontent with Obama. The problem is that this does nothing more but boost Clinton’s credibility by turning him into a nonpartisan figure of repute. And as we saw during the Democratic National Convention, he can use this “referee” status to effectively hammer Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.

Indeed, it was after Clinton’s devastating speech that I expected Republicans to leave the former president out of the election. Turns out, they couldn’t resist: Today, Team Romney is distributing a clip of Clinton in Ohio, where he said that the economy has not been “fixed” under President Obama.

In their eagerness to use Clinton against Obama, it’s obvious that the Romney campaign failed to listen to what came after that statement.

Here’s the transcript:

“This guy ran Bain Capital and is a business guy, and he’s hiding his budget? That ought to tell you something. Well, he’s hiding his taxes, too, but he’s hiding his taxes in the years when he earned ordinary income. He’s given us two years when he was just running for president. And, he’s hiding whether he would have signed the Lilly Ledbetter act. He’s hiding everything. He doesn’t want you to think about him. He wants you to think, ‘Oh this economy is terrible. I’m a jobs guy.’ And as President Obama said in the debate, if I brought you a deal to Bain Capital and I said, fund my new business, I’ll give you the budget sometime in the future, just trust me on that, you wouldn’t give me one red cent, and we should not give him one vote on that.”

This is a potent message—it’s a variation on the “sketchy deal” language adopted by Obama—and by giving credibility to Clinton, Romney is making it stronger.

By: Jamelle Bouie, The American Prospect, October 19, 2012

October 20, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Wonderland Of Employers”: Binders Full Of Women Aren’t Enough To Solve Pay Inequality

After two debates with almost no mention of women—even the abortion question in the vice presidential debate framed the issue as one of men’s personal beliefs instead of women’s rights—we finally got a solid question about equal pay from an audience member in the town hall presidential debate.

QUESTION: In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?

Mitt Romney knows this is a weak spot for him. He took a beating on his campaign’s unwillingness to offer support for equal pay legislation earlier this year, and his running mate, Paul Ryan, voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act to secure a woman’s right to sue after she’s suffered pay discrimination. Even though Romney’s been showing off his moderate shtick at the debates, he wasn’t going to go far enough to say that equal pay is a right. Instead, he framed it as a matter of employer largess:

ROMNEY: … Important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.

And I went to my staff, and I said, “How come all the people for these jobs are—are all men.” They said, “Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.” And I said, “Well, gosh, can’t we—can’t we find some—some women that are also qualified?”

And—and so we—we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.

I went to a number of women’s groups and said, “Can you help us find folks,” and they brought us whole binders full of women.

Romney’s phrase “binders full of women” is what immediately grabbed the attention of the online hordes, enough so that a Tumblr collecting mockery of it has already been created. And while it was an amusingly daft turn of phrase (and the Internet never ceases to amaze), the real problem with Romney’s answer is that his only solution to the obstacles women face when seeking fair pay is that employers need to volunteer to pay it.

Romney went on to correctly observe that inflexible work schedules disproportionately affect women, but that’s a different issue from the wage gap, and even then, his only real solution is to leave it up to employers to decide if they care enough to offer flex time. He tried to soften this laissez faire approach to discrimination against women by promising that employers will be so desperate to hire when he’s president they’ll pretty much be forced to take women: “We’re going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I’m going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they’re going to be anxious to hire women.”

Even if Romney really could create the wonderland of employers begging for employees that he imagines here—a claim that earned him four Pinocchios from the Washington Post—there’s no reason to believe that new economy would somehow force employers to start treating female employees fairly. If the free market alone could fix the problem, then women during boom times would have, according to Romney’s logic, achieved equal pay. They did not. That’s because the problem is far more complex than Romney lets on here. A little bit more flex time is nice, but it doesn’t do enough to make up for the yawning gaps in affordable child care, for instance. Plus, Romney completely breezed by the continuing problem of discrimination, which is all the Lilly Ledbetter Act addresses.

He also breezed by his position on contraception, side-stepping his campaign’s support of another type of employee discrimination: employers who want to deny their employees the contraception coverage those employees have paid for. The reality, ugly as it may be to some, is that we need more aggressive government intervention to overcome the various social obstacles that prevent women from achieving true equality with men in the employment market. “Binders full of women” is an evocative image, but Romney’s utter unwillingness to address the true causes of inequality is the real story here.

 

By: Amanda Marcotte, XX Factor, Slate, October 17, 2012

October 20, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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