Is Clinton Bought By Wall Street? There Is A Test For That

Secretary Hillary Clinton has accepted millions in “speaking fees” and campaign contributions from interest groups – most notably Wall Street firms – that she will be in a position to help or hurt as president. She promises that the money will not influence her if she takes office, but voters are understandably skeptical.

Voters have been betrayed again and again by people who have become known as “corporate Democrats.” These politicians made promises to help regular working people, then turned on them after elections and enacted policies that boost the monied interests – especially Wall Street and giant corporations – at the expense of the rest of the country.

What can Clinton do to overcome the resulting voter skepticism? Are there concrete things she can do and commitments she can make now that can reassure voters that she will be able to represent the other 99 percent of us once in office? Are there ways she can show the public that she means what she says when she claims to be as “progressive” as her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bernie Sanders?

Broken Promises From Past Democratic Politicians

“Many people have come to believe politicians say what they need to say to win, and then turn on them. If Hillary Clinton wants to win the Democratic nomination and inspire people to vote for her in the general election, she must find ways to overcome this voter skepticism.” That is how the post “Does Clinton Really Oppose TPP? There Is A Test For That” began.

Now here we are again. This time the issue is Wall Street influence, not the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Working people – wages stagnant or falling and employers putting the squeeze on in hundreds of imaginative ways – have figured out that they’ve been sold out by ‘establishment’ politicians who have helped “rig the game” against them. And they are fed up.

Millions of voters, betrayed and cynical, have simply given up on the system. They haven’t gotten anything from the system in a long time. They don’t vote and they don’t believe the things politicians tell them.

Candidate Clinton might not need those voters to win the nomination and maybe not even to win the election. But if she wants “coattails” to bring in a Democratic House and Senate, be it in 2016 or 2018, she is going to have to earn their trust.

Democratic voters are skeptical of promises. They want to see proof. They want to see action. They want to see changes. Or they will just stay home. And the terrible mess we are in will continue and worsen.

That was about TPP. These words apply equally to voter perceptions of Wall Street influence.

How Clinton Can Overcome Voter Skepticism

How can Clinton overcome this widespread voter skepticism? There are specific concrete things that Clinton can do now, and specific things she can pledge to do as president. (That’s “pledge,” by the way, not “promise.”)

Right now, Clinton can demand that President Obama remove anyone in his administration who comes to government from Wall Street from any position where they can influence decisions, especially decisions about the government prosecuting people in the financial industry who are suspected of criminal activity.

Right now, Clinton can demand that President Obama issue an executive order requiring corporations that do business with the federal government to disclose their political spending. Right now. they should disclose contributions to candidate super PACs as well as “dark money” groups, “think tanks,” even so-called “charities” that actually support candidates, ideologies and causes. All of it. Right now.

Clinton can also demand that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) do the same for all public corporations it oversees. Make them disclose contributions to candidate super PACS, as well as “dark money” groups, “think tanks,” even so-called “charities” that actually support candidates and ideologies. All of it. Right now.

Clinton can pledge (not promise) to do those things once she takes office.

Clinton can pledge not to bring Wall Street people through the “revolving door” into the upper ranks of government. At all. Especially, but not limited to, people moving from Goldman Sachs into positions of influence over government policies.

Clinton can also pledge to ban anyone working for her administration from leaving government for any position with any Wall Street corporation if that position pays significantly more than what they make now, including all compensation, stock, perks, whatever, for at least 5 years.

There are probably dozens of other things Clinton can pledge to do to clean up government. Please suggest some in the comments.

So Far on TPP

So far, Clinton has not passed any of the “tests” suggested in “Does Clinton Really Oppose TPP? There Is A Test For That.” She has not actively and boldly lobbied against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, calling and visiting and working to convince the representatives and senators who voted for fast-track trade authority to vote against TPP. She has not appeared at anti-TPP rallies. She has not spoken out against TPP at her own campaign events. She has not expressed opposition on radio and TV interviews. She has not worked to rally the media and public in opposition. She has not said Democrats in Congress who vote for TPP will be out of favor, will not receive reelection support, not get a job in her administration if she is elected. She has not declared that her administration will fight to overturn the bad trade deals and policies that got us into this mess.

The TPP post closed, “To close the enthusiasm gap she needs to stop just talking like a progressive and start acting like one – and demonstrating to people that she means it. Clinton is going to have to make it clear that she wants TPP to be stopped and she is going to have to join the front lines of the fight to stop it – or voters won’t believe her.”

She hasn’t, and now many opponents of TPP don’t believe her when she says she is with them.

Clinton is going to have to make it clear that she wants Wall Street influence over our government stopped and reversed, and she is going to have to join the front lines of the fight to stop it – or voters won’t believe her.

Will she?

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

Some Surprises and Warnings In The Iowa Numbers

When candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ended the Iowa caucuses Monday night in a near-tie, there were some surprises that went beyond the strength of Sanders’ showing, as well as some warnings for Democrats.

Clinton received more state delegates (700.59 to 696.82), but the margin was due to her winning six coin tosses. Clinton will receive 23 delegates to the national convention and Sanders will receive 21 delegates. The New York Times writes, “There are 4,763 delegates to the Democratic National Convention, so it will require 2,382 delegates to win the nomination.”

You will be hearing the number 2,382 more and more as the year goes on.

Democrat Voter Turnout Down

The first surprise is that Democratic turnout was down from 2008. Total turnout was down. First-time turnout was down. Young voter turnout was down.

Only 171,109 Democratic voters turned out. This is down from around 240,000 in 2008 when Clinton, then-Senator Barack Obama, Senator John Edwards and others were fighting for the Democratic nomination.

First-Time Caucus-goers Down

Of those who turned out, there were fewer who were there for the first time. In 2008 there was a notable surge of new voters, people who had not attended previous caucuses. No such surge occurred in 2016. NPR explains, in “Iowa Caucus Results: 6 Things That Explain How It Happened“: “Just 44 percent said this was their first time caucusing, down from 57 percent eight years ago. Among those voters, Sanders had a 22-point advantage. Clinton, meanwhile, won the 56 percent who said they were returning caucus-goers by a 24-point edge.”

Young Voters Down

Also, the share of young voters was down from 2008. NPR again: “Just 18 percent of the vote came from 17- to 29-year-olds — down from a 22 percent share eight years ago. Among those, Sanders dominated, winning 84 percent to Clinton’s 14 percent.”

That is a whopping margin for Sanders. (In 2008 Obama won the 17-29 vote by 43 points.)

Meanwhile, “The good news for Clinton was that 60 percent of caucus-goers were over the age of 45 — and she carried them easily. Among voters 65 and older, Clinton had a more than 2-to-1 advantage.”

CNN goes a bit deeper into this, in “Early voting results: Younger voters go for Sanders, older for Clinton“: “Democratic attendees under the age of 40 tilted heavily to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, including nearly 85 percent of attendees under the age of 24. But attendees over the age of 50 went more heavily for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and also accounted for almost 60% of all attendees.”

Voters More Liberal

While among Democrats overall turnout, first-time turnout and younger voter turnout were all down, the Democratic caucus-goers were markedly more “liberal” than in 2008. “Liberal” was up 10 pints, “moderate” was down 12. NPR reported, “Twenty-eight percent of voters described themselves as very liberal — a 10-point jump from 2008. Sanders won those voters by 19 points. Clinton had a 6-point edge with the 40 percent of voters who described themselves as somewhat liberal. … This year, just 28 percent of voters identified themselves as moderates, down 12 points from 2008. She had a 23-point edge over Sanders with that bloc, though.”

“On the question of who should carry on President Barack Obama’s legacy,” CNN reported, “Clinton won among roughly 70% of respondents. But Sanders won among roughly 75% of those who said they were looking for a more liberal successor.”

Men vs. Women, Education

The full Iowa Caucus entrance poll results at The Washington Post reveal that 43 percent of caucus-goers were men, 57 percent were women. Women favored Clinton 53 percent to 42 percent; men favored Sanders 50 percent to 44 percent. But unmarried women favored Sanders 53 percent to 43 percent

Results based on education level were mixed. Eighteen percent of caucus-goers had a high school education or less, and they favored Clinton 58 percent-39 percent. 32 percent were some college or associate degree and favored Sanders 52 percent-44 percent. 27 percent were college graduates and tied at 48 percent each. A huge 23 percent had “postgraduate study” and favored Clinton 52 percent to 39 percent.

Top Issue

Here is a real surprise: 32 percent of caucus-goers said their top issue was the economy, and they favored Clinton 51 percent to 42 percent. But the 27 percent who said income inequality was their top issue favored Sanders 61 percent to 34 percent.

The 30 percent who said health care was their top issue favored Clinton 59 percent to 38 percent.

The 6 percent who said terrorism is their top issue favored Clinton 65 percent-38 percent.

Experience vs. Trust

A big breakdown came on “trust” vs. “experience” and “electability.” The Fix column at The Washington Post noted, “Sanders voters wanted honesty and empathy. Clinton voters wanted experience and the ability to win in November.” A bit more on that:

Among those looking for someone to beat the Republican nominee in November, about three-quarters backed Hillary Clinton. An even higher percentage of those looking for a nominee with the “right experience” preferred Clinton to Bernie Sanders. Together, those groups accounted for roughly half of all Democratic voters.

Sanders, though, was strongly preferred by those looking for someone that cares about people like them, getting support from 3 out of 4 voters citing that quality. Among voters looking for an honest candidate, Sanders did even better, earning the support of about 4 in 5 Democrats prioritizing that trait.

A Few Other Things

Iowa is a state that is largely what many would consider “white.” NBC’s exit polling looked at how people who “self-identified” as “minorities” voted. 91 percent were “white” and voted 49 percent Clinton, 46 percent Sanders. “Black” was 3 percent, “Hispanic/Latino” was 4 percent and “Other” was 2 percent, and there is no voting breakdown. However a genera; “Non-white” favored Clinton 58 percent-34 percent.

Lower-income people favored Sanders. People with incomes $50,000 and up favored Clinton.

There are some surprises, some confirmations and some warnings here. A warning for Clinton is her high numbers among those looking for “electability.” But this was before the results were announced. Now with Sanders tying in Iowa and favored to win in New Hampshire, voters worried about this might take a new look at Sanders.

A warning for Sanders is the low turnout of young and first-time voters, as well as lower numbers among people identifying themselves as “non-white.” The “enthusiasm” for Sanders did not bring up the turnout among these groups essential to his campaign in the coming primaries and, should he get the nomination, the November election.

Democratic turnout is down, younger-voter turnout is down and first-time turnout is down. If these trends continue in other states, whoever wins the primaries, Democrats might be looking at trouble in November.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

What Do You Mean ‘Sanders Might Be Another George McGovern’?

George McGovern was the Democratic nominee against incumbent Richard Nixon in the 1972 election. He lost in a landslide. Just as the events of the 1980s shaped the current economic environment, the 1970s “Nixonian” politics of division shaped the current political environment. Did Democrats learn the right lessons from that election?

That’s the core question being asked as “establishment” Democrats worry that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders would be “too far to the left” to compete against the Republican nominee in a general election.

McGovern, son of a poor pastor who was a war hero and eventually a U.S. senator for South Dakota, had a reputation as a decent man who sided with the people. He campaigned on ending the Vietnam War, cutting military spending, helping economically distressed Americans and confronting Republican lawbreaking.

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Is The Sanders Campaign “Going Negative?

The Clinton campaign is accusing the Sanders campaign of “going negative.” It’s all over the news. Did Sanders really “go negative”? Or is this Clinton accusation just an attempt to “muddy the waters” as Clinton’s attacks on Sanders’ health care plans backfire?

In The News: Clinton Campaign Says Sanders “Going Negative”

The Clinton campaign has accused the Sanders campaign of “going negative.” Here are a few examples of what’s going on in the news:

ABC: Clinton Campaign Accuses Bernie Sanders of Breaking Pledge Not to Go ‘Negative’,

The Clinton campaign held an abruptly scheduled conference call with reporters this afternoon to respond to the ad.

“We were very surprised today to see that Bernie Sanders had launched a negative television advertisement against Hillary,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said.

“This ad does something that Bernie said he wouldn’t do,” campaign pollster Joel Benenson added, referring to how the Vermont Senator has said he will not run negative campaign ads.

Similar story in The Guardian: Clinton campaign ‘surprised’ over Bernie Sanders’s new ‘negative’ TV ad

The Hill: Clinton campaign decries Sanders’s ‘negative ad’

What Are They All Talking About?

Here is what they’re talking about. The Sanders campaign is running this ad.

Negative? You might have to play that ad a few times to even get what the Clinton people are upset about. MSNBC explains what it is, in, New Sanders ad takes aim at Clinton’s Wall Street donors,

In what is by far his most toughest TV ad yet, Bernie Sanders took a not-so-subtle swipe at rival Hillary Clinton’s Wall Street donations in a new spot that will soon be broadcast in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“There are two Democratic visions for regulating Wall Street,” Sanders says, looking straight at the camera. “One says it’s okay to take millions from big banks and then tell them what to do.”

“My plan: break up the big banks, close the tax loopholes, and make them pay their fair share. Then we can expand health care to all and provide universal college education,” he continues. “Will they like me? No. Will they begin to play by the rules when I’m president? You better believe it.

The Clinton campaign is upset that the Sanders ad refers to the millions of dollars Clinton has received from Wall Street firms for “speaking fees” in the last several years.

That is the basis for the accusation that Sanders is “going negative.” The Clinton campaign is complaining that it is out-of-bounds to say Clinton has received millions of dollars in “speaking fees” from the companies she will be responsible for regulating if she becomes President. They are upset over the implication that this is a conflict of interest.

Clinton Healthcare Accusations Backfiring

These attacks on the Sanders campaign come just as an earlier attack appears to be backfiring. Over the last week the Clinton campaign has made a number of accusations over Sanders’ “Medicare-for-All” single-payer universal health care plan. Because it combines all current healthcare programs (Obamacare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program known as “CHIP”, etc.) into a single Medicare-style plan they said it “dismantles” those programs. They said it will “strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.”

The Clinton campaign has even gone so far as to accuse Sanders of lying, saying Sanders “can’t level with the American people” about his healthcare plan because it means there will be taxes to pay for it even though almost all of the public will have more money in their pocket at the end of the day because it eliminates premiums, co-pays and deductibles, as well as ends the necessity for employers to provide health insurance.

The Clinton accusations appear to have backfired on Clinton because 81% of Democrats favor the idea (and 58% of the public-at-large). There is widespread outrage at the Clinton campaign for “attacking” an idea so favored by so many.

In a Thursday Clinton interview on the Rachel Maddow show, Maddow confronted Clinton on thsee accusations, saying, “He’s a very well respected figure. Your campaign is essentially fighting with him now in a way that is casting aspersions on his character, calling him dishonest.” Maddow pointed out the Clinton campaign has said Sanders “has not done what he has promised,” and “has shifted answers.”

Muddying The Waters?

In the middle of this controversy it appears that the Clinton campaign is trying to turn things around and “muddy the waters” by accusing the Sanders campaign of being the ones who are “going negative.” CNN sums it up, in Bernie Sanders grapples with promise not to go negative against Hillary Clinton

[A]s the race for the Democratic nomination gets tighter and nastier, Sanders’ campaign is confronting that promise when it considers how to respond to attacks from the Clinton campaign, walking the fine line between drawing contrasts with the former secretary of state and outright attacking her.

Old-Style Politics VS A New Politics Of Issues

The Sanders campaign has brought a new style of campaigning to our country’s politics. Sanders is campaigning entirely on issues. He refuses to play along with the corporate media’s politics-as-entertainment style of covering the “horse race” aspect of campaigns. He does not get involved with personality discussions, etc, always reverting to his “message.” This is winning him converts.

The Clinton campaign is a perfection of an older style of politics. They are raising tremendous amounts of campaign cash, they have a “SuperPAC” that is raising a tremendous amount more, they have built up a solid “machine” in the states, they are racking up “top-down” endorsements, and doing what they can to bring a sense of “inevitability” to her nomination.

These are contrasting styles, and it is not clear which is the best approach to winning a campaign in the modern United States with its entrenched corporate media fixated on entertainment-style coverage. The Clinton campaign might just be doing what it takes to win an election. This may be especially the case as the election draws near and the less-informed voters, with little time or inclination to study the many issues involved, look for the kinds of queues on who to trust and who will deliver.

On the other hand, we might be entering a new era when people are “fed up,” are paying more attention, studying the issues and seeing through the old-style manipulations that have defined our country’s political process for so long.

With the Republicans looking more and more like they are going to nominate Donald Trump, and with Ted Cruz running second it is vitally important to Democrats, the country and the world to win the November election.

So will that take the old-style politics, or will the new issues-oriented politics take over? We will see between now and November and we had better be right.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

Clinton’s Pre-Iowa Assault On Sanders’ Medicare-For-All Plan

As the Iowa caucuses draw near and as Bernie Sanders closes in on Hillary Clinton in the polls, Clinton has started “attacking” (media word) Sanders’ proposals for providing universal health care through a Medicare-for-All plan.

The corporate media largely covers the horse-race aspect of this as an entertainment item. Here is a look at the substance of Clinton’s assertions.

Medicare For All

Sanders has proposed replacing “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act mandate to purchase insurance from private companies, with a Medicare-for-All, “single-payer,” “universal heath care” plan. In other words, he proposes to extend (and expand) the current Medicare system to cover every American so they can stop having to locate and purchase private insurance policies. Sanders’ plan would also end the need for other government health programs, including Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Medicare for All is very popular, especially among Democrats. The December 2015 Kaiser Health Tracking poll found that 58 percent of Americans support it (34 percent strongly), with 81 percent of Democrats and 6 in 10 independents saying they favor the idea. “This is compared to 34 percent who say they oppose it, including 25 percent who strongly oppose it,” the poll said. Among Republicans, 63 percent say they oppose it.

Proposing Medicare for All is not just the right policy for the country, it is very smart politics.

Clinton Attacks

Clinton claims that Sanders’ plan would require a big tax hike. Politico reports this claim, in “Clinton hits Sanders on middle class tax hikes“:

“Bernie Sanders has called for a roughly 9-percent tax hike on middle-class families just to cover his health-care plan,” said Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon, referring to legislation Sanders introduced in 2013, “and simple math dictates he’ll need to tax workers even more to pay for the rest of his at least $18-20 trillion agenda. If you are truly concerned about raising incomes for middle-class families, the last thing you should do is cut their take-home pay right off the bat by raising their taxes.”

More recently, Clinton’s daughter Chelsea claimed that Sanders’ Medicare-for-All plan would “dismantle Medicare” and “strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.” (Clinton later stood by her daughter’s statement.) The Huffington Post reported:

“Sen. Sanders wants to dismantle Obamacare, dismantle the [Children’s Health Insurance Program], dismantle Medicare, and dismantle private insurance,” she said, according to an account from NBC News. “I worry if we give Republicans Democratic permission to do that, we’ll go back to an era – before we had the Affordable Care Act – that would strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance.”

The Clinton campaign also said that Sanders’ plan would “send health insurance to the states, turning over your and my health insurance to governors” including Republican governors like Iowa’s Terry Branstad. “I don’t believe number one we should be starting over. We had enough of a fight to get to the Affordable Care Act. So I don’t want to rip it up and start over,” Clinton said.

Sanders Campaign’s Response

Sanders campaign spokeswoman Ariana Jones responded:

“It is time for the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world and provide health care as a right to every man, woman, and child. A Medicare-For-All plan will save the average middle-class family $5,000 a year. Further, the Clinton campaign is wrong. Our plan will be implemented in every state in the union regardless of who is governor.”

Sanders himself explained his health care plan and his strategic thinking behind it in an interview Wednesday with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. The claim of $5,000 a year in savings for average middle-class families refers to the plan’s elimination of ever-increasing private insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles that people currently have to pay under Obamacare. People would end up paying less and in many cases much less – an average of $5,000 each year. Companies would also no longer have to provide health insurance coverage for employees.

On the claim that Sanders’ has a “$18-20 trillion agenda,” switching to Medicare for All would replace the current costs of Medicaid, CHIP, Obamacare and other healthcare programs. Sanders’ plan would actually cost fewer trillions in the future than continuing the current system. The large “trillions” figure is misleading because it does not take into account the cost of the current system of Medicare for people over 65, Medicaid, CHIP, current Obamacare subsidies and other government health programs that would be replaced by Sanders’ plan. Left alone these would add up to more than Sanders’ plan.

Since Sanders’ plan also removes private-company profits from the system, this “Sanders agenda” amount is actually lower than the cost of continuing with the current system. (It also includes Sanders’ plans to repair the country’s infrastructure, cut college costs, and the rest of his proposals. Note that Sanders has outlined specific revenue sources to cover the costs of the proposals.)

The claim that Sanders’ plan would “strip millions and millions and millions of people off their health insurance” is perhaps the most misleading and disingenuous claim of all. People would not be “stripped” of their insurance; everyone would get Medicare instead so people would not need “insurance.” Clinton’s “strip” wording here implies that millions of people would lose health care, when in fact they would only lose the need to pay insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles.

[fve]https://youtu.be/ABwdClfKwHQ[/fve]

Sanders responded to this respectfully, saying, “As much as I admire Chelsea Clinton, she didn’t read the plan.”

Old-Style Politics

Clinton’s accusations over Sanders’ Medicare-for-All proposal are not based on the actual policy proposals. They misrepresent the positions and are misleading at best. Some call this “blatantly dishonest.”

“Muddying the waters” by implying that “millions and millions and millions” of people will be “stripped” of their insurance, when the proposal actually replaces insurance is the kind of politics-of-the-past that people have rejected, even come to despise. Telling people they will have to pay a “tax” when the proposal actually reduces the amounts people will pay out of their pocket is misleading at best.

These accusations come out of an old style of politicking that is void of substance and depends on manipulation of people’s understanding of issues. Misleading people by misrepresenting the policy positions in this way borders on a character attack instead of contrasting policy positions. It is a politics of personality versus the politics of issues that Sanders is popularizing.

Here is Clinton in 2008, talking about Democrats who attack proposals for universal health care, as Clinton has done to Sanders’ plan this year:

[fve]https://youtu.be/hFOujExdPpw[/fve]

Sanders is campaigning on what the country should be doing. Clinton is now campaigning on why she should be president instead of on what she would do as president. She is trying to turn people against Sanders instead of winning them over to her. She is using misrepresentations and deceptions, not serious and constructive policy disputes. This should be rejected by voters.

Worse, misrepresenting Sanders’ positions in this way risks reinforcing voter apprehension about Clinton’s “trustability” as well as about the entire political process. At a time when voters crave honesty, Clinton’s attack reinforces arguments that Sanders offers an “authenticity” and consistency that Clinton does not. Clinton should return to offering policies to solve the country’s actual and important problems and stop trying to turn voters against opponents and the process itself.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

Dem Debate Schedule Is Allowing GOP To Frame Election Narrative

There’s just no way around it: the Democrats are intentionally hiding their presidential candidates from the public.

The last Democratic presidential debate was buried on a Saturday night up against the opening of Star Wars. Naturally it drew a fraction of earlier Republican debate audiences – and even of the earlier Democratic debates. The next debate is scheduled, astonishingly, on a Sunday night, January 17, the middle day of a three-day weekend. But just in case that might still draw an audience, it is also up against NFL playoff games. What is going on?

Partly as a result of this scheduling, Republican presidential candidates and their campaign proposals dominate the news and therefore the public’s attention. But the Republican candidates are not addressing the country’s many problems or offering serious proposals for solving them. Banning certain religions? Even more tax cuts for the rich and their corporations? Unleashing oil companies? More guns? What?

Meanwhile Democrats, with superior candidates and serious proposals for actually addressing our problems, are barely part of the national discussion. Is the pubic hearing about the need for infrastructure investment? No. Is the public hearing about the need to expand Social Security? No. These are winning proposals, but the debate schedule is keeping the public from hearing them. It’s as if the leadership of the Democratic party wants to lose the coming election.

John Nichols at The Nation sums it up well, in “Resolution for 2016: Let’s Have Lots More Presidential Debates“:

That’s bad for the Democratic Party and its candidates. It’s also bad for a body politic that requires more than the junk-food diet offered up by Donald Trump and most of his fellow contenders for the Republican presidential nod.

What is going on? Why are the Democrats hiding their presidential candidates and potentially sabotaging their 2016 election prospects?

Democrats should demand that the Democratic National Committee schedule several more debates and schedule them at times when most people can and will watch.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

WOW Look What Republicans Snuck Into The Budget

Republicans banned the government from requiring disclosure of who funds their campaigns.

From The Hill:
Language in the spending bill prevents the Securities and Exchange Commission from issuing a rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose their political spending and the IRS from defining the activity that’s allowed by 501(c)(4) groups.

Run For Congress As A Democratic Socialist

Bernie Sanders is going to give a big speech on Democratic Socialism.

I think this presents an opportunity for people to run for Congress in Democratic primaries — or as the ONLY Democrat is some districts — as Democratic Socialists. I’m looking at how to register to run in my district.

You might not win but I think it makes sense to make the case for — and get people thinking about — taxing the rich, corporations and Wall Street transactions and using the money to provide:
● Increases in Social Security
● Medicare-for-All
● Free higher education with a stipend while attending
● Low-cost child care
● Help elderly stay in homes and low-cost nursing home care
● Modern mass transit, high-speed rail, etc.
● Well-maintained modern infrastructure (and associated jobs)
● A huge push to solar, wind and other alternative energy, with a weatherization program (and associated jobs)
(The “associated jobs’ thingy is part of a full-employment program.)

Think of other things that We the People can do together to make our lives better — also known as democratic government for the people.

The First Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate Had Adults On The Stage

The first Democratic debate showed the country what it is like to have adults on a stage. It doesn’t matter who “won.” The candidates showed they all are concerned about governing the country and proposing actual policies that will help actual people have better lives. And they showed that we have a serious and lively Democratic primary race in front of us. The country will be the winner.

In contrast to the entertaining Republican cage fight clown show racist, anti-government insult fest “debates”, the first Democratic debate was almost entirely a serious debate on issues and policies, by serious people with serious policy proposals, who all did very well. It was a debate for people who actually care about governing the country and making regular people’s lives better. It was a debate that would make Americans feel better about the future of their country.

Finally, A Democratic Debate

The Democrats finally held their first presidential candidate debate Tuesday. It seems the party has tried to avoid having any debates. (At this point in the 2008 cycle there had already been a dozen or so.) Tuesday being the day after a three-day weekend for many people, they decided to risk it. This debate showed just how big a strategic mistake this thinking was for Hillary Clinton and for the party’s ability to take their case to the public in November of 2016.

Hopefully this will convince the party’s leadership to expand the debate schedule. The Democrats all did well, and this debate showed that the party has a good and convincing message to deliver to voters. The party needs to have more public debates – on weeknights in prime time – both for the Presidential race and for Democratic “down ticket” candidates.

The Candidates

The candidates in the debate (click the name for the campaign website) were:
Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders
Martin O’Malley
Lincoln Chaffee
Jim Webb

For a comparison of the policy positions of these candidates please visit CAF’s Candidate Scorecard The Candidate Scorecard measures the positions of Democratic candidates for president against the Populism 2015 platform endorsed by organizations representing 2 million Americans.

The Debate

The debate will be analyzed over time; things will become more clear. The public will weigh in. But here are some quick impressions:

● There were lots of “establishment” cheap shots by moderators at Sanders (and a few at Clinton) on guns, “socialism” (oh, scary) and immigration. But these gave Sanders and Clinton a chance to respond and give good answers. It backfired.

● Clinton gave a lot of rehearsed, obviously focus-group-tested answers done very, very skillfully. Again and again she talked about “comprehensive plans” to imply that Sanders does not have the ability to get things done. She talked about being the “first woman president” to appeal to the female demographic, saying she can “find common ground” because polls show that voters want politicians who will “compromise.” It was a perfection of “politics” as we have come to know it, for better or worse. These are not bad things; it might still be what it takes to win elections in the U.S. and this is important. This “kind of person you want to have a beer with” approach might still be how you get votes, but Clinton also did well when she was forced to move away from this style.
● There were still too many “zingers,” like “I know how to find common ground and I know how to stand my ground.” Some of the prepared zingers were really great, such as “They [Republicans] don’t mind having big government to interfere with a woman’s right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood, they’re fine with big government when it comes to that, and I’m sick of it.”
● Clinton’s attack on Sanders over guns failed, and gave him an opportunity to give a good response. Clinton won’t attack Sanders again.
● Bernie Sanders came across very, very well. He showed he is experienced, showed the public he is “presidential” and introduced himself to a lot of new people, depending on how many people watched. He is now introduced to many people who have not heard of him or heard his message. Sanders also had a few prepared phrases, like, “Every other major country on earth has … ” (health care for all, family leave, maternity leave, etc.) and “we are an international embarrassment.” He also said variations on “the Secretary is right” a number of times.
● Sanders repeatedly called for a political revolution, asking millions of people to take on “the billionaire class” to change America. Will he get enough millions?
● O’Malley was very good on most policies, but was rather rehearsed and did not appear quite ready to be on this national stage. As Van Jones said later on CNN, “He did not come across as commander-in-chief.” Clinton and Sanders did.
● Chaffee and Webb possibly wrote themselves out of the race. They both showed themselves to be serious people with very good resumes, but not candidates who are ready to be in a Democratic party race at this time. And Webb was channeling Rand Paul.
● Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley gave great answers on “Black Lives Matter.”
● Biggest applause line: Sanders, in support of Clinton, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about the damn emails.” “Enough of the emails.”

One last thing. Joe Biden doesn’t have an opening to enter the primaries now.

Democrats Are A Progressive Party Now

These candidates understand that winning in Democratic primaries means they have to spell out solid progressive policy proposals that actually help solve the country’s problems. Progressives are entirely driving the debate on a range of issues now.

This is because time has shown that a progressive approach to solving the problems of the country will work – and conservative or “centrist” (almost conservative) policies have hurt regular people and the country while driving inequality. The public has also realized that the old-style “Marlboro Man” politics of image has not worked for regular people. It is now apparent that “economic democracy” is the way an economy and a country can work.

Note (again): The website Populist Majority collects polling results showing that the public backs progressive solutions to the country’s problems, often by large majorities. The website Candidate Scorecard rates candidate according to the Populism 2015 platform.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

Still No Democratic Debates. What’s Going On?

The second Republican Presidential candidate debate was last night. The ratings for the first one (24 million viewers) were through the roof and last night’s (20 million) was also a ratings blockbuster. People are interested and tuning in to the campaign and the Republicans are getting all the “eyeballs.”

Meanwhile there hasn’t been even a hint of a Democratic candidate debate. What’s going on? Why are the Democrats letting Republicans have the attention and audience? Do they feel the party has nothing to offer – or worse, something to hide?

“Just spell my name right.” It is basic marketing that any publicity is good publicity.

The Last Time, Debate After Debate

As of this date in 2007 there had already been several Democratic debates.

The first debate was April 26, 2007, at South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, South Carolina. Present were Senator Joesph Biden, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Christopher Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Senator Barack Obama, Governor William Richardson and the debate was moderated by Brian Williams. Afterward Democrats debated at these events:

● June 3, 2007 at Saint Anselm College, Goffstown, New Hampshire.
● June 28, 2007 at Howard University, Washington, D.C.
● July 12, 2007 at the NAACP convention, Detroit.
● July 23, 2007 at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.
● August 4, 2007 at the YearlyKos convention in Chicago.
● August 7, 2007 in Chicago, sponsored by the AFL-CIO.
● August 9, 2007 in Los Angeles, an LGBT debate sponsored by the LOGO cable channel.
● August 19, 2007 in Des Moines, the Iowa Democratic Party/ABC debate.
● September 9, 2007 at University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, broadcast by Univision and simultaneously translated to Spanish.

So that is 10 debates up to now in the 2008 “cycle,” 11 if you count a September 12 “mashup” debate comprised of individual candidate interviews conducted for Yahoo News and The Huffington Post.

This Time, Silence

This time the Democratic Party has disappeared entirely from the 2016 presidential campaign – at least as far as prime-time, televised, mass-audience, attention-grabbing, awareness-driving, conversation-starting, media-triggering debates are concerned. The party has taken itself out of the game, and more and more people are asking why.

Eight years ago the first debate was in April, 2007. This time the first debate is not scheduled until October 13 – a seven-month difference. (A seven-month media vacuum.) October 13 is the day after a three-day weekend for many people. Is this an intentional attempt to limit the audience?

That first debate will be a CNN/Salem Radio event in Las Vegas. CNN? Who watches CNN anymore? And Salem Radio is a conservative Christian network. WTF? Is this an intentional attempt to limit the audience and force hostile questions?

So far there have been seven months and 10 or 11 debates-worth of lost opportunity and visibility for Democratic ideas and candidates. But wait, there’s more. In the 2008 cycle there were two more Democratic candidate debates between now and the time of the first scheduled debate on October 13: a September 20, 2007 PBS “health care” debate in Davenport, Iowa, and a September 26, 2007 MSNBC debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

The second Republican debate is tonight, with a huge audience expected. The second 2016-cycle Democratic candidate debate is not scheduled until November 14, with CBS/Des Moines Register in Des Moines, Iowa. Then the third Democratic debate is not scheduled until just before the holidays on December 19, in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The fourth debate will take place January 17, 2016 in Charleston, South Carolina with NBC News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. Like the October 13 debate, this debate is scheduled on a holiday weekend.

After that there are only two more debates, not yet scheduled, one with Univision (Spanish language.)

What’s Going On?

Why are the Democrats hiding their candidates? What’s going on? Even when they are having a rare debate, the schedule appears to be designed to limit the potential audience.

This is basic marketing, people. Exposure is good. Repetition is good. If you want to reach the public, you have to reach the public.

Instead the Democratic Party is hiding their candidates from the public. Why?

One candidate being hurt by the restriction on debates is Hillary Clinton. (You may have heard that name somewhere – but not in a 2016-cycle debate.) Clinton has offered a very strong set of policy proposals. (Click through, really, she has.) But in the absence of any events to distract the media and bring attention to the positions of the Democratic candidates Clinton is hounded by the email pseudo-scandal. (By the way, like the Benghazi pseudo-scandal, can anyone explain what she is supposed to have done that is wrong?) With no debates to move the conversation along to the issues the media has almost no choice but to focus on this weird non-story.

Candidate Martin O’Malley also wants to know why the Democratic Party leadership is limiting the number of debates. O’Malley has a lot to offer. For example, in August he offered a very strong plan to expand retirement security – at a time when so many Americans need exactly that. O’Malley has also offered a very strong (and badly needed) criminal justice reform plan. Take a look at his “vision” page. Bet you didn’t know he was offering such a good set of proposals – and you won’t know because the Democratic Party has limited the debate schedule.

And then there’s Bernie Sanders. Sanders would also benefit from the exposure an expanded debate schedule would offer. His biggest problem is still name recognition. As Democrats hear his ideas they largely support his ideas. (Some people think this is why the party leadership is limiting debates.)

(P.S. take a look at Bernie’s DemocracyDaily.)

(I’m told there are two other people running. If there were lots of debates the public would get a chance to know this, too.)

The Democratic Party Would Benefit From More Debates

Overall the entire Democratic Party would benefit from having many, many more televised debates. This time the Democrats have a strong message that resonates with the majority of the public. (Click here to see for yourself.) This time they have strong candidates. This time they have the moral high ground.

And this time they aren’t letting the public know these things.

Why is the Democratic Party being so undemocratic? Why are they limiting the number of debates? Why are they trying to keep their candidates hidden from the public and letting the Republicans set the narrative?

Meanwhile, while we’re on the subject of strangling the debates, The Onion from 2008: “New Debate Rules Allow For One 15-Second Strangulation“:

“Both candidates will receive two minutes to answer each question, five minutes for discussion, and a one-time-only option to walk over to their opponent’s podium and cut off his oxygen supply for up to 15 seconds,” a statement from the Commission on Presidential Debates read in part, also specifying that debate moderator Jim Lehrer can exercise his own discretion in determining whether or not the strangulations go over time. “After being choked, the candidate, if still standing, may counter with one of his two allotted empty beer bottles to the head.”

That would draw ratings.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary and/or for the Progress Breakfast.