Friday, July 19, 2019

Understanding Donald Trump and The GOP


We originally published this article in December 2015. It seems the right time to again move this article front and center.

The GOP finds itself trapped in its southern strategy that has not only gone bad, but has left it exposed naked in full public view.

Starting in the 1960s, the Republican Party made a conscious effort to win votes in the South by appealing to racists. As Kevin Phillips, a political strategist for Nixon, explained in 1970: "The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats."

The cynical strategy has, sadly, often paid off. However, by appealing to the lowest common denominator, Republicans have become the party of white identity politics. Donald Trump has taken that to the next level.

After five decades of racially coded dog whistle messaging, Donald Trump is stripping bare in ugly rhetoric the coalition Richard Nixon put together in 1968 - welcoming the segregationist white South into the Party of Lincoln - and expanded by Ronald Reagan in 1980 - welcoming socially conservative evangelicals into the Neo-Republican Party.

From post civil war reconstruction to the 1960's the south was solid Jim Crow Dixicrat Democrat. And then the Civil Rights Movement happened. President Johnson, a Democrat, pushed through the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Because of that, Dixicrats began to flee the Democratic Party across the Southern confederate states to the Republican Party. Republicans, led by Richard Nixon, saw the chance to take the South from the Democrats with a "Southern Strategy" of appealing to racism against African Americans to make the South the base of a new Republican party. And that, in fact, has been the case consistently from the 1960s to Pres. Reagan's, Pres. G.H.W. Bush's and Pres. G.W. Bush's campaigns, and ultimately onto the 2016 election cycle.

In the 1970s, evangelical Christians were alarmed by rapid social changes, including legal abortion, LGBT rights, the legal availability of contraceptives for women, court ordered school desegregation busing, equal rights for women, and a ban on public school prayer. To the New Christian Right these changes constituted a crisis that threatened the Christian American nation. In 1980, presidential candidate Ronald Reagan forged a partnership with the Christian Right to help him win election. Messaging to the Christian Right has held an equal place hand in hand with southern strategy messaging every since.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

It’s Time For Democrats To Drive A Stake Through The Heart Of Reaganomics

Donald Trump today awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Republican economist Art Laffer, the ‘godfather’ of supply-side trickle down Reaganomics. Laffer’s contributions have built a streak of unbroken Republican policy wrongness over a time and scale few policy entrepreneurs in history can match. Trump is giving Laffer the award because last year he coauthored a fawning tribute to President Trump and his agenda. Trump is known to habitually reward his most slavish supporters.

Reaganomics is President Ronald Reagan's conservative economic policy that promised to subsantially shrink the federal government and government spending, and reduce the government's influence on the economy.

Reagan’s legislative agenda implemented an era of laissez-faire economic policy that promoted unregulated “free markets” and untaxed “capitalism” where corporate tax rates and capital gains rates for individuals were effectively diminished, as near as possible, to zero.

Dubbed supply-side, or trickle-down, economics, President Reagan’s economic policy was to reduce, and where possible, elminate taxes on businesses and the wealthy in society as a means to stimulate business investment. Reagan’s theory of trickle-down economics held that corporations and the wealthy would directly invest the money they don’t pay to the government in taxes into business development, which creates jobs, and supports social institutions, which benefits society at large. The theory says that as companies get more cash from tax cuts, they will hire new workers and expand their businesses. It also says that income tax cuts to workers give them more incentive to work, increasing the supply of labor.

The idea of Reaganomics began in 1974, when Art Laffer walked into a bar with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who were working for the Ford administration at the time. Out of it came the “Laffer curve,” a U-shaped graph illustrating the relationship between tax rates and revenue.

The ends of the curve are basic enough – at a tax rate of 0, the government will raise $0 in revenue, and at a tax rate of 100, the government will still raise $0 in revenue because people won’t work without take-home pay. The curve connecting these numbers indicated that a lower tax rate could produce higher revenue. At the extremes, the Laffer curve is correct, but that doesn’t tell us anything about the points in the middle. Laffer’s idea, however, was that a “tipping point” existed on the continuum in between, where people’s incentives to work and invest in business development decreased because tax rates were too onerous.

From Laffer’s graph, Reagan and the Republican Party had the academic justification to justify slashing tax rates for corporations and the rich, who held “excess” money which they could directly invest in business development and altruistic social institutions and programs.

President Ronald Reagan adopted Laffer’s supply-side theory wholesale in his deregulatory and low-tax agenda. In the decades since, Laffer has clung to relevancy, appearing on cable news to vehemently defend the alleged benefits of slashing taxes, even when the evidence proved otherwise.

The conceptual flaw underlying Laffer’s entire premise is that people are not, in fact, utility-maximizing robots. They choose to work for reasons other than maximizing their incomes on the margin: habit, pride of craft, and so on. Tax rates below 100 percent probably produce the higher revenue at rates, but the curve does not resemble Laffer’s, and it does not increasingly approach zero as tax rates are raised.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

No Centrist Middle Ground for Democrats

Who said: “Socialism is a scare word (the corporate special-interest lobbies) have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years. Socialism is what they called public power. Socialism is what they called social security. Socialism is what they called farm price supports. Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance. Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations. Socialism is their name for anything that helps all the people…”? It wasn’t Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Who said: “We are rightly proud of the high standards of medical care we know how to provide in the US. The fact is, however, that most of our people cannot afford to pay for the care they need. I have often and strongly urged that this condition demands a national health program. The heart of the program must be a national system of payment for medical care based on well-tried insurance principles. This great nation cannot afford to allow its citizens to suffer needlessly from the lack of proper medical care”? It wasn’t Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Who said: “The people don’t want a phony Democrat. If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign…”? It wasn’t South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

No, no, and no. These are all quotes from then–President Harry Truman, who today is generally imagined as the embodiment of a traditional mainstream Democrat. When he spoke to the 1952 national convention of Americans for Democratic Action, he had some advice to those who shared his partisanship: “The first rule in my book is that we have to stick by the liberal [FDR] principles of the Democratic Party. We are not going to get anywhere by trimming or appeasing. And we don’t need to try it.”

Moderate (centrist) Democrats in the running for the 2020 presidential race are calling the party back to the centrist path Democrats have traveled since 1992. They are proposing a strategy that Truman correctly identified as a recipe for defeat.

It’s time for Democrats to heed to Truman’s advice. We have got to make it clear that when the future of every American, and the planet, is at stake, there is no centrist middle ground path.

When it comes to Social Security, there is no middle ground. When 1 out of 5 seniors is trying to get by on less than $13,500 a year, we must expand Social Security so that every American can retire with dignity and security. The House should pass legislation to expand Social Security benefits and extend its solvency for the next 60 years by requiring that the wealthiest Americans — those making more than $250,000 a year — pay their fair share of Social Security taxes.

When it comes to health care, there is no middle ground. Health care is a human right, not a privilege. And we will guarantee health care to all of our people through a Medicare-for-all single-payer system.

When it comes to providing our children with the opportunities for a better life, there is no middle ground. Making public colleges, universities and trade schools tuition-free. In a highly competitive global economy, we must have the best-educated workers in the world. Every young person in America, regardless of income, must have the opportunity to receive the education they need to get a decent job and make it into the middle class. The House should pass the College for All Act to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. Congress must also act to lift the heavy burden of student debt many Americans continue to carry 20, 30, and 40 years after they graduated.

When it comes to the massive and growing inequality in both income and wealth in America, there is no middle ground. Congress must pass legislation which requires wealthy people and large corporations to begin paying their fair share of taxes. It is unacceptable that there are large, extremely profitable corporations in this country that do not pay a nickel in federal income taxes.

When it comes to the nation’s crumbling social infrastructure, there is no middle ground. Every day, Americans drive to work on potholed roads and crumbling bridges, and ride in overcrowded buses and subways. Children struggle to concentrate in aging and overcrowded classrooms. The infrastructure that America depends on is in disrepair and crumbling — from spotty phone and broadband service and an outdated electric grid, to toxic drinking water and dilapidated levees and dams. Congress should pass a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to address these needs while creating up to 15 million good-paying jobs in the process.
When it comes to abortion, there is no middle ground. A woman has the right to control her own life, not the government.

When it comes to prescription drugs, there is no middle ground. The pharmaceutical industry can’t be allowed to continue to gouge Americans on their purchase of lifesaving drugs.

When it comes to mass shootings — with 40,000 people killed last year with guns — there is no middle ground. We must take on the NRA.

When comes to climate change, there is no middle ground. The nation must engage in bold action to combat climate change. The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made it clear we have just 12 years to substantially cut the amount of carbon in our atmosphere, or our planet will suffer irreversible damage. Congress must pass legislation that shifts our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward energy efficiency and renewable energy. We can lead the planet in combating climate change and, in the process, create millions of good paying jobs.

When it comes to a living wage there is no middle ground. We must increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour and indexing it to median wage growth thereafter.
When it comes to criminal justice reform, the right for every citizen to vote, equal rights and opportunity for all, Black Lives matter, ending privatized for profit prisons, immigration reform, ending endless wars undeclared by Congress, no middle ground.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Afraid of Democrats

The 2020 presidential candidate has a long track record of opposing lobbyists, billionaires, the Republicans—and her own party’s centrists. When Senator Elizabeth Warren declared that she was running for president in February, she described Donald Trump’s administration as “the most corrupt in living memory.” But she didn’t stop there: “Even after Trump is gone, it won’t be enough to do a better job of running a broken system,” she said. Warren’s speech was centered around the notion that political corruption is not a uniquely Republican problem. “To protect their economic advantages, the rich and powerful have rigged our political system as well,” she continued. “They’ve bought off or bullied politicians in both parties to make sure Washington is always on their side.”

Anyone who’s followed Warren’s career knows she’s been making statements like this for years. These are all implicit criticisms of the Democratic Party’s centrist policies charted by President Bill Clinton and adopted as party orthadoxy over the last quarter century. But her position is suddenly mainstream.

Read the rest of the story at: The Nation: Elizabeth Warren Is Not Afraid of the Democrats

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Green New Deal

In very broad strokes, the Green New Deal resolution offered by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. asks members of Congress to recognize the duty of the Federal Government to set goals to slow and stop global warming. In that vein, the resolution stresses that it aims to meet its ambitious goals while paying special attention to groups like the poor, disabled and minority communities that might be disproportionately affected by massive economic transitions like those the Green New Deal calls for.

Importantly, the resolution is nonbinding, meaning that even if it were to pass, it wouldn't itself create any new programs. Instead, it would affirm the sense of Congress that carbon output should be cut in the coming years to slow global warming and the ravages of climate change.

The resolution is simply a statement of intent, explaining the justification and goals of an infrastructure program to transition to a sustainable low carbon output future. This is at once incredibly ambitious and politically practical, in that resolution co-authors seem to have in their minds a long-term plan to get it accomplished.

(Lawmakers pass nonbinding resolutions for things as simple as congratulating Super Bowl winners, as well as to send political messages — for example, telling the president they disapprove of his trade policies, as the Senate did in summer 2018.)

The Green New Deal resolution outlines a framework of big climate-change-related ideas combined with a list of progressive public policy proposals that, taken together, would touch nearly every American and overhaul the economy.

While the Green New Deal has in the last year or so grown central to progressive Democrats' policy conversations, the idea of a Green New Deal itself is well over a decade old. Environmentalists were talking about it as far back as 2003, when the term popped up in a San Francisco Chronicle article about an environmentalist conference.

It gained traction with a 2007 New York Times column from Thomas Friedman, where he used the phrase to describe the scope of energy investments he thought would be necessary to slow climate change on a large scale.

The phrase was also used around President Barack Obama's 2009 stimulus, which had around $90 billion worth of environmental initiatives.

This latest iteration is different both in the political energy that it has amassed and the grand scope it is taking. While it was a product of the progressive activist community, Ocasio-Cortez has been perhaps the most visible proponent of the plan and has helped it gain nationwide attention.

The Green New Deal proposes a 1940’s World War II or “1960s going to the moon in a decade” scale mobilization that focuses the robust and creative economic engine of the United States on reversing climate change by fully rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, restoring our natural ecosystems, dramatically expanding renewable power generation, overhauling our entire transportation system, upgrading all our buildings, jumpstarting US clean manufacturing, transforming US agriculture, and putting our nation’s people to work doing what they do best: making the impossible possible.

The Earth is facing a climate change deadline , with a looming tipping point into a dramatically changed, less hospitable planet – and Democratic lawmakers are beginning what's likely to be a long discussion over how best to deal with it.
The resolution is intentionally short on details but long on vision for a cleaner environment that caps global warming while promoting jobs, higher education and social justice for all U.S. citizens. What’s crazy about that?
RESOLUTION

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

State Driver’s License Becomes National Real I.D. Card


Texas residents are receiving letters from the department of public safety warning that their driver’s licenses are about to expire, even though their licenses are still valid for more than a year or two. But, there is an explanation.

Texas DPS is in the process of implementing the Federal REAL ID ACT, which will require many Texas to get an updated driver’s license or ID card to board air planes for domestic travel, and go into federal buildings to ask in person for help at their local Social Security office, or any other federal services office.  While the REAL ID Act deadline is October 2020, Texas DPS officials do not want Texans to wait until the last minute to be in compliance with the federal law.

Driver’s licenses issued by states not compliant with Real ID, which do not have a white star in a gold circle on the upper right corner of the card, will soon not be accepted for people boarding domestic commercial flights, or to get past the front door of  any federal facility.

Note that you MUST renew in person if:
On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed into law the Emergency Supplemental Appropriation for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005 (H.R. 1268, P.L. 109-13), which included the “Real ID Act of 2005.” The original Real ID Act was attached by the House Republican leadership as a rider to HR 1268, a 2005 bill dealing with emergency appropriations for the Iraq War and with the tsunami relief funding.
The Real ID Act rider was attached to the main bill without debate by any committee or on the House floor. The Senate also did not specifically discussed or vote on the Real ID Act. No Senate committee hearings were conducted on the Real ID Act prior to its passage. Critics charged this procedure was undemocratic and that the bill's proponents avoided a substantive debate on a far-reaching piece of legislation by attaching it to a "must-pass" war funding bill.
The Real ID Act of 2005 mandates that all fifty states must follow specific security, authentication, and issuance regulations, administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in issuing driver's license and personal identification cards. Title II of the Real ID Act provides that state-issued driver's licenses and identity documents will not be accepted by the federal government for "official purposes" unless they meet certain conditions, including:
  1. Connectivity to a 50-state, interlinked database making driver's personal information available to the federal government, U.S. territories and every DMV office in the country.
  2. Standardized data elements and security features on driver's licenses. At a minimum, all licenses would contain the carrier's full legal name, birth date, gender, driver's license number, photograph, principle address and signature.
  3. Presence of a "machine-readable zone" on the license to allow for the easy capture of information contained on a license.
  4. Proof of a driver license applicant's full legal name, date of birth, Social Security Number, principal address and lawful status in the United States.
  5. State verification of every document presented at motor vehicles agencies as part of an application for a Real ID card.
To be compliant with the Real ID federal law, a state must require applicants for first time driver's license or ID card issuance, and renewal of driver's license and ID issuance for those issued before the state implemented Real ID procedures, to prove five items of fact (full legal name, birth date, citizenship or immigration status, social security number, and proof of permanent residence address of at least 30 days) in person at their state driver's license office. Title II of the Real ID law lists these documents as satisfying the items of fact requirements:
  • State certified original or copy of a birth certificate (not just a hospital issued birth record), or
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or
  • Certificate of Naturalization issued by DHS, or
  • Certificate of Citizenship, or
  • US Passport
and
  • Social Security Card or other proof of social security number and
  • Two documents that show a principal residence address, such as a bank statement and a utility bill.
For cases where person's current name and the name on the primary identity document(s) are different, first time and renewing applicants must also present:
  • Court ordered name change document, and/or
  • Certified original or copy of all marriage certificates, issued by the courts, and/or
  • Certified original or copy of all divorce decrees, issued by the courts.
In all cases, ID applicants must show a clear trail of name changes originating with the birth name to the current name. This requirement places a disproportionate burden on women who commonly take the last name of their husbands at the time of their marriage, and therefore must show their certified marriage certificate along with the other required ID. Women who have been married more than once must produce all marriage certificates and all divorce decrees.

To obtain a state certified copy of a birth certificate most state vital records departments require the person requesting their birth certificate to show identification like a driver's license or personal ID card. The catch-22 of this is that people who do not hold a driver's license or personal ID card can't obtain a copy of their state certified birth certificate -- so they can't obtain a driver's license, personal ID card or election identification certificate.
Under the Real ID Act personal information on Americans, including digital copies of their Social Security cards, birth certificates, bank statements and other personal documents, is amassed into a single national database network. The information stored in the database network is only as secure as the State DMV office with the weakest security or least trustworthy staff in the nation. A single breach in the system could compromise the personal information and documents of 250 million Americans. Armed with this national information identity thieves or a foreign government could wreak havoc on 250 million Americans.

Thirty-seven states, plus the District of Columbia, are in compliance, according to the Department of Homeland Security. As of October 10, 2018, 37 states, territories, and the District of Columbia have been determined by DHS as compliant with all REAL ID requirements. The other 19 jurisdictions are noncompliant, but have been granted a temporary extension from enforcement. Extensions are granted at the discretion of Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen who is committed to enforcing the REAL ID law and regulation according to the planned enforcement schedule. For this extension cycle, DHS has issued limited compliance extensions for only the amount of time that states or territories need to both begin issuing REAL IDs and to complete the DHS compliance review.

All 245 million driver's license and identification card holders in the U.S. will be required to make an in-person visit to their state driver's license office in order to obtain a Real-ID compliant license by October 1, 2020. On December 29, 2014 DHS announced that residents who currently use a non-compliant license or identification card issued from a state who is now in compliance with REAL ID requirements will have until October 1, 2020 before they must present their five items of identity fact at their state driver's license office. The previous deadline was December 1, 2014 for those born after 1964 and December 1, 2017 for those born before.

Homeless veterans, battered women seeking safety, people thrown out of their homes by bank foreclosure, and others who have unexpectedly fallen on hard times and are temporarily living with relatives or in shelters or out of the trunk of their car (if they are lucky enough to still have a car) will have difficulty obtaining and renewing a Real ID driver's license because of that law's "documented proof of permanent residency" requirement.


You'll find links to several helpful websites explaining the REAL ID Act the following Related Links: