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“All Hands On Deck!”: A Trump Presidency Would Sink All Boats

Hello, investors. Come join the foreign policy experts in daily panic attacks over what a President Donald Trump would mean for your world. What does one do about a candidate whose tax plan would send America into the fiscal abyss — who flaps lips about not making good on the national debt?

Should we be investing in the makers of Xanax and Klonopin? And on the personal side, are there enough benzodiazepines to go around?

We’re not talking just about the very rich. Anyone with a retirement account or a small portfolio has something to lose. The economic consensus is that a Trump presidency would sink all boats. And that certainly applies to Trump’s own economically struggling followers in the least seaworthy craft.

“Most Rust Belt working-class Americans don’t get it,” Bob Deitrick, CEO of Polaris Financial Partners in Westerville, Ohio, told me. “The working class thinks he’s going to stick it to the elites.”

The facts: The Trump tax plan would deliver an average tax cut of $1.3 million to those with annual incomes exceeding $3.7 million. The lowest-income households would get $128. (No missing zeros here.)

Folks in the middle would see federal taxes reduced by about $2,700, which sounds nice but would come out of their own hide. Medicare and other programs that benefit the middle class would have to be slashed. So would spending on science research, infrastructure and services essential to the U.S. economy.

Or we could skip the very deep spending cuts and see the national debt balloon by nearly 80 percent of gross domestic product, calculation courtesy of the Tax Policy Center.

Some might think that Trump’s tax plan — including the repeal of the federal tax on estates bigger than $5.43 million — would impress the income elite, but they would be wrong. In a recent poll of Fortune 500 executives, 58 percent of the respondents said they would support Hillary Clinton over Trump.

Most in this Republican-leaning group are undoubtedly asking themselves: What good is a fur-lined deck chair if the ship’s going down?

Then there are the others.

“Do middle-class Americans have any idea what could happen to the economy or the stock market if our president ever vaguely suggested defaulting on the national debt?” Deitrick asked. (His clients tend to be upper-middle-class investors.)

He recalls the summer of 2011, when a congressional game of chicken over raising the federal debt ceiling led to the possibility of a default. The Dow lost 2,400 points in a single week. And taxpayers were hit with $1.3 billion in higher borrowing costs that year alone.

Trump said on CNN that he is the “king of debt,” which in practice means he frequently doesn’t honor it. That’s why many major lenders shun him, talking of “Donald risk.”

Speaking of, Trump famously said in a Trump University interview, “I sort of hope (the real estate market crashes), because then people like me would go in and buy.”

But he also predicted that the real estate market would not tank — shortly before it did. Perhaps he never figured out there was a housing bubble. Or it was part of a clever scheme to peddle real estate courses with brochures asking, “How would you like to market-proof your financial future?”

Imagine a whole country taking on “Donald risk.”

The business community runs on stability. It can’t prosper under a showman who says crazy things and denies having said them moments later. A Trump presidency promises more chaos than a Marx Brothers movie — and you can believe it would be a lot less fun.

 

By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, June 7, 2016

June 7, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Economic Policy, Economy | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Dramatizing The Truth About Trump”: Trump University Is A Devastating Metaphor For The Trump Campaign

When Donald Trump became the heavy favorite to win the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, news leaked out of Clinton world that the campaign against him would resemble the 2012 campaign Democrats ran against Mitt Romney. “The emerging approach to defining Trump is an updated iteration of the ‘Bain Strategy’—the Obama 2012 campaign’s devastating attacks on Mitt Romney’s dealings with investment firm Bain Capital,” Democratic operative and campaign aides told Politico. “This time, Democrats would highlight the impact of Trump’s four business bankruptcies—and his opposition to wage hikes at his casinos and residential properties—on the families of his workers.”

That idea was puzzling to some liberals because, for all the superficial similarities between Trump and Romney, they represent very different kinds of oligarchs: Trump, a tribune of the working class, versus Romney, a champion of capitalism and big business. Trump’s everyman-billionaire political identity, taken at face value, is much harder to weaponize than Romney’s was. The fear was that if Democrats set about reprising the 2012 campaign against a self-styled populist, it would fail or backfire. Trump, after all, acknowledges his personal avarice— “I‘ve been greedy, greedy, greedy.” His promise now is to turn that greed outward on behalf of us.

Fortunately, the steady pace of disclosures from the civil case against Trump University—including testimony from Trump employees who say his business-education program scammed the vulnerable out of tens of thousands of dollars a head—provides Democrats a way to repurpose the Romney strategy against a very different kind of foe. The Trump University scam undermines the very notion that a man of Trump’s greed can ever be trusted to advance the interests of others. If exploited properly, it will be Trump’s undoing.

The Democrats can capitalize on lessons they learned from 2012. Early in that campaign, they ran up against a problem they hadn’t planned for. When they pressed voters in focus groups for their views on Romney’s economic platform, it didn’t rate as negatively as they expected, because voters literally couldn’t believe the premise of the questions: Why would anyone who wanted to be president propose privatizing Medicare and giving rich people enormous tax cuts? For a scary number of voters, it just didn’t compute.

Trump University will dramatize the truth about Trump for those voters in the same way Bain Capital dramatized Romney’s stone-heartedness.

The sustained attack on Romney’s private equity career and his capital worship—the ads featuring people whose lives were ruined by the “creative destruction” Bain Capital rained down on their places of employment, and quoting Romney telling a voter, “Corporations are people, my friend”—allowed Democrats to dramatize the story they were trying to tell about Romney’s political agenda.

“[O]nce people have learned that Romney was willing to fire workers and terminate health and pension benefits while taking tens of millions out of companies,” a prominent Democratic pollster told The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent four years ago, “they are much more ready to understand that Romney would indeed cut Social Security and Medicare to give tax breaks to rich people like himself.” If the Republican nominee is a heartless capitalist who cares naught for working people, then perhaps he really does want to serve the rich in office.

Trump University will serve the same purpose for a campaign aimed at exposing a phony populist for what he is:

Trump U is devastating because it’s metaphor for his whole campaign: promising hardworking Americans way to get ahead, but all based on lies

— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) June 1, 2016

Fallon is the Hillary Clinton campaign’s secretary, so consider the source, obviously, but his argument holds up to the 2012 test case exquisitely.

Democrats won’t want to attack populism per se, and will have a hard time convincing certain voters to take them at their word that Trump’s promises are fraudulent. He’s incredibly successful, after all! But Trump University will dramatize the truth about Trump for those voters in the same way Bain Capital dramatized Romney’s stone-heartedness. Trump says that he—and only he—has all the answers for the ailing middle class. That he will ply his business acumen on behalf of the everyman and turn his good fortune into theirs. All they have to do to secure his beneficence is fork over their votes. But it’s all a scam. All lies. And when his victims and former employees testify to this for the country, it will be devastating.

 

By: Brian Beutler, The New Republic, June 1, 2016

June 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Trump University | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Vainglory And Cult Of Personality”: Bernie Sanders’ Campaign Isn’t About Ideas Anymore. It’s About Him

Bernie Sanders made a huge mistake this week. It’s one that, if not soon corrected, could squander the sizeable influence he has over his party’s platform, and, more indelibly, create for the eventual Democratic nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a schism in the party that she does not have the means to reconcile.

The error: Bernie’s campaign became a vehicle to advance Bernie Sanders’ vainglory and cult of personality. His staff responded irresponsibly to violence at the state caucuses in Nevada. He compounded their tone deaf responses by wrapping a muted condemnation of the chaos inside a long justification of the complaints that caused it.

Clinton won Nevada by six points on Feb. 20. The rules for delegate selection are clear. They are complex but they are not opaque. Sanders knew them going in to the race, and by accepting delegates, he has signed on to their legitimacy. He can protest them and try to revise them, but he cannot, in good conscience, urge his supporters to ignore them — or to find them unfair, inter alia, as the stakes change.

But before you accuse me of not understanding what really was at stake, let me explain for you the reason why Sanders’s supporters got so angry.

The rules say that the chairperson of the state convention can call for a voice vote to approve the adoption of the credentials report — basically a list of delegate identities submitted by each campaign. The chairperson of the Nevada State Convention, Roberta Lange, did just that. The room erupted. Sanders’s supporters were angry that the credentials report had enshrined the selection of many more Clinton supporters than Sanders supporters, and they loudly tried to “no” vote the approval process. Lange reasoned — reasonably — that the volume of the nays did not reflect the size of the nay vote. (Indeed, there were more Clinton supporters in the room.) Only Lange can decide whether to call for a roll call vote, or some other mechanism. Those are the rules. Even as Sanders supporters screamed at her, spitting cusses in her direction, she decided not to. That’s her prerogative. Those are the rules.

A responsible answer to this chaos from the Sanders campaign would have been to say: “We think the rules are unfair and did not give voice to our supporters, and we will try to revise the rules to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

That is not the answer that Sanders’s campaign gave. Instead, they (once again) questioned the legitimacy of the party. Questioning the legitimacy of the institution that you’ve chosen to work inside of is tantamount to a call for a revolt. If the DNC and its proxies are not legitimate, then, indeed, the election IS being stolen from Bernie Sanders, and since a hell of a lot IS at stake, then agitation verging on violence is pretty much the only alternative short of going home and giving up.

It’s fine for Sanders supporters in the heat of battle to believe this, but it is beyond irresponsible for Sanders’s campaign to encourage the provenance of this view. Why? Because it’s not true. It simply isn’t. The rules are not rigged in favor of or against any particular candidate. They can’t be. They were set long before the candidates entered the race. They haven’t been capriciously changed. Indeed, they are skewed in FAVOR of Sanders: He has received more delegates than his popular vote totals should see him allocated, assuming that, as he does, the only real form of democracy is direct. Or maybe not: He has repeatedly said that the party does a disservice when it doesn’t allow independents to vote in its primaries. And he has also said that he represents the “working people” — the “working people” only vote for him. (Do Clinton supporters not work?)

His campaign is descending into semiotic babble. He is creating unrealistic expectations for his supporters. If those expectations cannot be met by a reconciliation, and if the party truly cannot convince a large number of Sanders delegates that they have been treated fairly, then his delegates could cause real trouble at the convention. They could prevent Clinton from uniting the party. They could prevent Sanders from keeping the party accountable for its promises to voters. They could nullify the very real power Sanders has right now to remold the party in the image of the type of candidate who is independent and more attentive to working class voters.

In other words, his blinders, put upon him by campaign staff and other hangers-on, are hurting his cause right now. I’ve vacillated about whether a responsible Democrat should want Sanders to stay in the race, given that his chances of winning the nomination by accumulating delegates are vanishingly small, and that his arguments that superdelegates should follow the expressed will of their state’s voters have fallen largely on the back of necks — ears have turned away. For me, it came to down to the future of the party. If Sanders’s movement was best served by his presence in the race, he should stay in. If not, he should bow out. For a while, his victories in demographically appropriate states, his willingness to tone down his attacks against Clinton, his musings about building the party’s bench down the ballot — all of these pointed to a man with mature instincts for a tempered use of his considerable power.

Even his supporters know: Bernie’s campaign isn’t about them. It’s about policies. It’s about removing the influence of big money in politics. It’s about fairer trade. It’s about an American manufacturing renaissance. It’s about, in other words, stuff for other people. The moment it becomes about him is the moment he needs to make it about that other stuff again. Time is running out.

 

By: Marc Ambinder, The Week, May 20, 2016

May 22, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Sanders Supporters | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Working Class Isn’t All That White Anymore”: It’s Inaccurate To Talk About Trump’s “Working-Class Appeal”

From the point of view of the attention being paid to it in analysis of both parties’ presidential contests and the general election as well, you could possibly call 2016 the Year of the White Working Class. Self-styled populists of the left and the right are arguing that Democratic and Republican party elites are reaping the whirlwind from years of sacrificing white-working-class interests to upper-class economic and cultural preoccupations, as evidenced by the strength of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

There are good reasons for this preoccupation. Among Democrats there is a sort of moral obligation to ask why a category of voters once fundamental to the New Deal coalition has strayed so far. And the conflicting interests of the white-working-class and big-business branches of the GOP have been evident for a good while and have this year finally blown up into a shocking presidential nomination and a potentially deep party split.

But it’s important to remember, as Jamelle Bouie reminds us at Slate this week, that while the white working class is interesting, the working class as a whole is a lot less white than it used to be. And ignoring the views and interests of the black and brown elements of the working class is as big a mistake empirically and morally as ignoring non-college-educated voters generally. Marshaling data from the Economic Policy Institute, Bouie notes the trends that are steadily eroding the stereotypes of “blue-collage” wage earners as white folks:

As recently as 2013, more than 60 percent of working-class Americans between 25 and 54 years old were white. If you extend the age bracket to 64, that increases to nearly 63 percent. But in 2014, those numbers—for the first category—dropped to 59.6 percent. In 2015, it was 58.8 percent. This year, non-Hispanic whites are 58 percent of the working class, a historic low.

The idea of the “working class” being composed of the horny-handed sons of toil is a bit archaic as well:

[C]lose to half of all working-class people—across all races and ethnic groups—are women working in service jobs as well as traditional blue-collar professions.

So loose talk about Trump cutting deeply into the working-class vote misses much of the picture:

The truth is that it’s inaccurate to talk about Trump’s “working-class appeal.” What Trump has, instead, is a message tailored to a conservative portion of white workers. These voters aren’t the struggling whites of Appalachia or the old Rust Belt, in part because those workers don’t vote, and there’s no evidence Trump has turned them out. Instead, Trump is winning those whites with middle-class incomes. Given his strength in unionized areas like the Northeast, some are blue collar and culturally working class. But many others are not. Many others are what we would simply call Republicans.

I’d add that a myopic approach to the working class that limits it to white people sometimes infects analysis of Democratic primaries as well. Bernie Sanders gets a lot of props for his appeal to the white working class, and is sometimes viewed as Donald Trump’s primary competitor in this demographic. While Sanders has (by my back-of-the-envelope calculation) carried non-college-educated white voters in 14 of the 24 primaries and caucuses with exit polls (Hillary Clinton won them in six states, and they were basically tied in the other four), he’s lost non-white non-college-educated voters just about everywhere. That shouldn’t be a footnote. Nor should the frequent comments on the political left about Clinton betraying “the working class” and now suffering the electoral consequences go unchallenged without some attention being paid to her robust support among working folks who happened to be non-white or non-male.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, May 6, 2016

May 9, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Republicans, White Working Class | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Liberal Silent Majority”: A Passionate Vote Counts No More Than One Cast With Quiet Consent Or Even Resignation

A few days before Bernie Sanders lost badly in the New York primary, 27,000 souls filled Washington Square Park, many wildly cheering him on. The political media consensus interpreted the scene as evidence of surging support for the senator from Vermont. It did not occur to them that:

–The crowd almost certainly included many Hillary Clinton supporters just out to hear what Bernie had to say — not to mention some stray Republicans.

–It included tourists who, on a pleasant spring evening, happened on an exciting event and hung around.

–Some attendees were Bernie backers who had neglected to register as Democrats in time for the Democratic primary.

–The numbers at Washington Square were dwarfed by the battalions of working-class New Yorkers juggling two children and three jobs. These mostly Clinton voters were unable to attend any rally.

This last group is the subject here. It is the silent liberal majority.

Richard Nixon popularized the term “silent majority” in 1969. He was referring to the Middle Americans appalled by the Vietnam-era protests and associated social chaos. They didn’t demonstrate, and the so-called media elite ignored them.

Today’s liberal version of the silent majority is heavy with minorities and older people. Its members tend to be more socially conservative than those on the hard left and believe President Obama is a good leader.

Obamacare has brought medical coverage to 90 percent of the population, with the greatest gains among Latinos. Thus, a politician who repeatedly complains that this is “the only major country that doesn’t guarantee health care to all people as a right” sounds a bit off.

Many political reporters belong to the white gentry that has fueled the Sanders phenomenon. Nothing wrong with that, as long as they know where they’re coming from. But some don’t seem to know about the vast galaxies of Democratic voters beyond the university and hipster ZIP codes.

In so many races — including those of the other party — reporters confine themselves to carefully staged political events and a few interviews with conveniently placed participants. From the atmospherics, they deduce the level of support for a particular candidate.

It can’t be repeated often enough that a passionate vote counts no more than one cast with quiet consent or even resignation. Here are three examples of political analysts forgetting this:

Commenting on the lively debate in Brooklyn, columnist Frank Bruni concluded that the Sanders camp is “where the fiercest energy in the party resides right now.” How did he know? “It was audible on Thursday night, in the boos from the audience that sometimes rained down on Clinton.”

So, how many people were booing? Three? Four? Who were they? They possibly could have been Hillary people trying to summon sympathy for their candidate (which the booing undoubtedly did).

The day after the packed Sanders rally in Greenwich Village, CNN looped videos contrasting that massive turnout with the much smaller group listening to Clinton in the Bronx. That’s as deep as this story went.

Early this month, New York magazine posted a piece titled “In the South Bronx, Bernie Sanders Gives Clinton Cause for Concern.” The reporter’s evidence was a sizable and “raucous” Sanders rally headlined by a handful of black and Latino celebrities.

We await the magazine’s follow-up analysis on how Clinton won 70 percent of the Bronx vote. Someone must have voted for her.

This is not to chide the Sanders campaign. Its job was to create an impression of mass support for its candidate — and job well-done. Rather, it’s to remind the media that there’s a huge electorate outside the focus of managed campaign events. And silent majorities, by their very nature, tend not to get noticed.

 

By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, April 21, 2016

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Political Media | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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