FL-13 – Did Dems Have A Reason To Show Up And Vote?

Republicans won in Florida’s 13th district special congressional election on Tuesday. What does this mean?

Here is the key point about why the Republican candidate: More Republican voters went to the polls and voted than Democrat voters. The Republican won by about 3,400 votes out of about 183,000 votes cast. Turnout was 58 percent in precincts Romney won in 2012, and 48.5 percent in precincts Obama won in 2012. There were 49,000 fewer people who voted in this election than in the 2010 general mid-term election (down 21 percent), and 158,500 fewer than in the 2012 Presidential (down 46 percent). So it was the failure to get Democratic voters to show up that lost them the election.

The obvious conclusion is that the Democratic candidate did not give Democratic voters sufficient reason and motivation to show up and vote. If just a few more Democrats – 3,400 – had decided to show up and vote the election would have gone the other way.

Factors and Non-Factors

Obamacare? Maybe not. According to David Weigel at Slate, “both rejected the national “narrative” that the race was a clear referendum on Obamacare.”

It wasn’t spending. Outside groups showed up and helped the Democrat, balancing out the usually enormous Republican spending advantage.

Medicare counted. Republicans accused Democrats of “$716 in Medicare Cuts.” This was the same theme that shifted the 2010 election to Republicans, and it helped again.

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The Democrats fell short in getting their absentee voters to mail in their ballots. According to Sean Sullivan at The Washington Post, the Democratic candidate “did not build a big enough lead in absentee voting to prevail on election day.”

It’s The Base

Republican strategy is to feed red meat to “the base” to whip them up and get them to show up, (and do what they can to suppress Democratic turnout). In this race the Republican candidate ran to the right. Kartik Krishnaiyer of The Florida Squeeze, in a great analysis of the election, wrote that “this is the furthest right a GOP candidate had run in the area” in 60 years.

The Republican appeared on and was promoted by FOX News.

Apparently the Democratic candidate tried to “appeal to the middle,” thinking this would bring in “moderate” and “independent” voters who are thought to be “between” the left and the right. Her website emphasized “breaking the gridlock in Congress,” and offers, “I’ve proven again and again that Republicans and Democrats can work together to get things done.”

The website also emphasizes “cutting wasteful government spending” and “introducing performance metrics to hold government accountable for waste and abuse and creating the right fiscal environment for businesses to create jobs.”

So the Democratic candidate decided not to appeal to base Democratic voters, instead hoping to “reach across the aisle” to bring in “centrist” and “moderate” voters instead. One way or another this “appeal to the middle” failed to bring enough “moderate” voters to the polls to overcome the left-leaning voters it repelled.

Democrats Let It Happen

Thomas Frank summed up the problem in “The matter with Kansas now: The Tea Party, the 1 percent and delusional Democrats” at Salon. The subhead is “Democrats believe demographics alone will defeat the Tea Party. It’s a smug fantasy: Economic populism’s the answer.”

Even more alarming for Democrats were the stark implications of “Kansas” for their grand strategy of “centrism.” As I tried to make plain back in 2004, the big political change of the last 40 years didn’t happen solely because conservatives invented catchy conspiracy theories, but also because Democrats let it happen. Democrats essentially did nothing while their pals in organized labor were clubbed to the ground; they leaped enthusiastically into action, however, when it was time to pass NAFTA and repeal Glass-Steagall. Working-class voters had nowhere else to go, they seem to have calculated, and — whoops! — they were wrong. The Kansas story represented all their decades of moderating and capitulating and triangulating coming back to haunt them.

If Democrats don’t give regular, working people – the Democratic base – a reason to vote, then they won’t. In Florida’s 13th District, 3,400 of them decided there was not enough reason to bother.

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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

Jobs Proposals In The President’s Sure-To-Be-Obstructed Budget

The President’s 2015 budget proposal “pivots” away from the 2010 “pivot” to austerity, pushes modestly for jobs and prioritizes infrastructure repair. Republicans will obstruct this – just like they have obstructed every jobs plan since the stimulus. But the public fully supports what the President is trying to do.

Away From Austerity

This budget finally moves us away from the constant job-killing and economy-cutting “austerity” idea that taking money out of the economy will grow the economy. It proposes a whopping (that’s a joke, son) $56 billion in new spending, split between military and actual job-boosting programs.

This Huffington Post headline summarizes the President’s new budget: “Obama Sends Congress $3.9 Trillion Budget Focused On Economy, Job Creation“. Other headlines tell a similar story:

“Stimulus” In President Obama’s Budget

In summary the budget proposal contains the following proposals that will help boost jobs:

  • $56 billion in new, added spending. This is above the discretionary spending cap that is in place for next year. This is split between added military spending and added funding for basic research, elementary education, manufacturing initiatives, jobs training, climate change preparation and restoring cuts to the Internal Revenue Service.
  • $302 billion in infrastructure spending over four years to maintain our highways, rail projects and mass transit (prioritizing those most in need of repair). This is a request for reauthorization of existing (underfunded) transportation programs. Note that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) “Infrastructure Report Card” says we need to spend $3.6 trillion on infrastructure by 2020 just to get things to where they should be.
  • A series of tax breaks for lower-income workers, such as an expansion of the earned-income tax credit (EITC) by adding 5.8 million people and increasing it for 7.7 million people who currently qualify.

The budget proposal says these are “paid for” by closing tax loopholes on corporations and wealthy individuals. This includes proposals to reign in the way companies are moving jobs, factories, production and profit centers out of the country to take advantage of the “deferral” loophole that lets them avoid paying their taxes until profits are “repatriated.”

Ongoing Obstruction

Again and again President Obama has proposed similar programs to help the economy and create jobs. Again and again these proposals have been obstructed by Republican filibusters in the Senate and/or Republican House refusing to allow members to vote.

Look at what happened to previous job and infrastructure proposals (note this is just a sample):

And on and on…

What The Public Wants

Poll after poll shows that public is solidly behind the President, except wanting more government help to boost the economy and less focus on “deficit reduction.”

Here are a few examples, which you can find at the website Populist Majority:

  • Alliance for American Manufacturing/The Mellman Group (01/09/2014): 71% support increasing government investment to build and repair roads, bridges, high-speed rail, smart electric grid technology and other infrastructure needs. 65% say job creation should be a top priority, not deficit reduction. 82% support federal and state worker training programs.
  • Gallup (02/09/2014): 23% say the most important problem facing the country is jobs and unemployment. The economy ranks No. 2, with 20% saying it’s the biggest problem. Only 8% say the federal deficit.
  • Americans for Tax Fairness/Hart Research (10/30/2013): Nine out of 10 believe that any revenue generated by closing corporate loopholes or limiting tax deductions for the wealthy should be used for public investment and deficit reduction (82%), not to lower tax rates on corporations or the wealthy (9).
  • Washington Post-Miller Center (09/12/2013): 58% believe government investment in roads, water systems, the energy grid and other services is most/very important to help America compete with other countries economically.
  • Bloomberg News/Selzer & Co. (02/18/2013): 49% prefer proposals to invest in infrastructure, education and alternative energy to create jobs, compared to 44% who believe tax cuts will generate business.

These are just a few of the polls you can find at PopulistMajority.org.

The National Priorities Project (NPP) issued a statement on the President’s budget:

“The new budget contains initiatives that would be widely popular with the American people based on opinion polling. With an emphasis on job training and job creation, new funding for education, and a reduction in corporate tax loopholes, the president has released a budget that reflects many of the people’s priorities.”

Economic Truths

Here is a simple economic truth: Austerity – cuts that take money out of the economy – generally hurts economies and has held our economy back, government spending generally helps economies (and is what Reagan and Bush used to fight downturns).

Here is another simple economic truth: Our enormous, humongous trade deficit hurts our economy, our budget deficit doesn’t. (Click that link!) Why isn’t Washington talking about that? (Disclaimer: huge, bloated, astronomical military spending hurts economies. Budget deficits should be brought into line during economic good times.)

The following chart is from the post, “It’s the Fifth Anniversary Of The Stimulus. See What It Did“:

P.S. Please visit Populist Majority, “Exposing the gulf between American opinion and conventional wisdom.”

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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

Today’s Housing Bubble Post: Who Could Have Known?

People are writing about the just-released transcripts for Federal Reserve deliberations during the 2008 financial crash, and who knew what and when. No one at the Fed knew, didn’t get it even after it started, and still say no one could have known.

The first “Today’s Housing Bubble Post” on this blog appeared on April 5, 2005. Yes, I was already writing about the housing bubble and its dangers so often that I started giving the post a “Here we go, again” title…

I was not alone. Bloggers all across the country were screaming that a crash had to come from this.

Reading this one dated April, 2005 today was heartbreaking because it links to this post,

The warning signs are everywhere that a mortgage/housing fiasco is unfolding and the silence is deafening. Except for newcomers like Cramer, the media isn’t covering this debacle or the Doral matter. The home builders having their head handed to them after record existing and new sales, plus record earnings, should put the media on notice that we have a problem.

Perhaps asking the media to quit cheerleading and look at the housing crisis objectively is too much. What of our representatives in Washington? The congress had better be meeting to figure out what the heck they are going to do instead of debating who is more responsible for Fannie.

It was heartbreaking because I happened to see this comment today, which is dated 2005 – 9 years ago:

Our economy is awash with problems right now:
- inflation
- lack of jobs
- manufacturing moved offshore
- pending health care crisis
- pending social security crisis
- housing bubble
- foreign investors fleeing the dollar.

Do you hear the media or government discussing any of this in great detail ? Instead they focus the publics attention on trivia personal interest stories.

… If the media started focussing on the real above mentioned issues, maybe the general public would start making better life decisions…

The post I linked to is titled, “Media, Congress Need To Wake Up.” Inflation is not a problem today, potential deflation is. (In fact inflation hurts bankers but helps working people…) The health care crisis will be helped a lot by Obamacare. There is and was no “pending social security crisis.” Foreign investors are fleein to the dollar. But “lack of jobs” and “manufacturing moved offshore” are worse, and the housing bubble is back in some areas.

Yeah, well, fat chance with that, it’s much worse 9 years later. The media and Congress have their heads even further up their asses.

Meet the Billionaires Using Their Immense Wealth to Make Life Miserable for Ordinary Americans

I wrote this for AlterNet: Meet the Billionaires Using Their Immense Wealth to Make Life Miserable for Ordinary Americans: 5 examples of billionaires pushing a right-wing economic agenda.

Here is how it works these days: You start hearing about a big, national problem and then it becomes a drumbeat. First there are a few articles and columns mentioning that such-and-such is a problem. Then a number of articles appear, then a “study” from a “think tank” confirms the problem and sounds the alarm about how terrible it is, and then just as the issue seems to be the only thing you are hearing about a solution is presented. Of course, the solution always involves taking something away from you and giving it to some company or industry standing in front of a billionaire or three. The right question to start asking when you hear about these “problems” is which billionaire is driving this.

Here are five-plus examples of billionaires who use their money to try to get us to think what they want us to think in order to enact a right-wing economic agenda.

Go read the rest at AlterNet!

No Fast Track To TPP: Fix NAFTA First

The big corporations and the Obama administration are trying to push through a giant new trade treaty that gives corporations even more power, and which will send even more jobs, factories, industries and money out of the country. This is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and they are pushing something called “fast track” in Congress to help push it through.

We have to stop this, and we should take the momentum we have generated in our push-back on this to demand Congress and President Obama instead fix NAFTA first. Then fix all of our trade relationships to help working people on all sides of our borders.

TPP, Fast Track And NAFTA

There has been a lot of news about the upcoming TPP trade agreement. The agreement is being negotiated in extreme secrecy in a corporate-dominated process that appears to be leading to an agreement that would give corporations even more power than they already have. Now there is a push to pass a process called fast track through Congress in order to enable the large corporations to strong-arm TPP into law mobilized organizations around the country to sound the alarm.

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National Media Blackout Of Saturday’s Huge Moral March In Raleigh

A crowd declared by organizers to exceed 80,000 showed up to march to protest Republican policies in Raleigh, N.C. Saturday. But you wouldn’t know it if you live outside the area.

Saturday’s big march, organized by the North Carolina NAACP along with more than 160 partner organizations, was called “the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) People’s Coalition.” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the N.C. NAACP and convener of HKonJ, said at the march,

“We are black, white, Latino, Native American. We are Democrat, Republican, independent. We are people of all faiths, and people not of faith but who believe in a moral universe. We are natives and immigrants, business leaders and workers and unemployed, doctors and the uninsured, gay and straight, students and parents and retirees. We stand here – a quilt of many colors, faiths, and creeds.”

Local News Reports

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Today’s False-Equivalence Award

Today’s false-equivalence award goes to the New York Times for Fight Over Minimum Wage Illustrates Web of Industry Ties.

After exposing how a supposed “think tank” set up by a PR firm working for the restaurant industry puts out dishonest “reports” claiming that raising the minimum wage is bad policy, the Times writes this:

The campaign illustrates how groups — conservative and liberal — are again working in opaque ways to shape hot-button political debates, like the one surrounding minimum wage, through organizations with benign-sounding names that can mask the intentions of their deep-pocketed patrons.

Because “liberal” groups take in millions of corporate cash and set up phony “think tanks” to spread propaganda about how we should pay people less to enrich the billionaires and their giant corporations, too. Right?

New Budget CUTS Tax Collection

You’ve heard about that new budget Congress passed that cuts Food Stamps another $8 billion? Here’s another brilliant cut Democrats agreed to: cutting funding for tax collection.

Citizens for Tax Justice: The Dumbest Spending Cut in the New Budget Deal,

The newly passed $1.1 trillion bipartisan budget appropriations bill includes myriad spending cuts, but the $526 million cut to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has to be the most foolish. Under the new budget, the IRS’s 2014 budget will be $11.3 billion, which is $1.7 billion less than the administration requested and about $2.5 billion higher than the radical 25 percent cut proposed by some House Republicans earlier this year.

… The newly passed $1.1 trillion bipartisan budget appropriations bill includes myriad spending cuts, but the $526 million cut to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has to be the most foolish. Under the new budget, the IRS’s 2014 budget will be $11.3 billion, which is $1.7 billion less than the administration requested and about $2.5 billion higher than the radical 25 percent cut proposed by some House Republicans earlier this year.

Thaysay they are worried about “deficits?” Bullshit. That’s not what the austerity is about at all.

Are ‘Globalization’s’ Costs Inevitable?

You hear often that we “live in a global world now.” You hear that “globalization” means we have to drop our wages and standards to match those in impoverished, Third-World countries. You hear that the “cost” of controlling pollution makes us uncompetitive in the world. Etc. Etc. Etc. It’s inevitable – a force of nature – so don’t fight it, they say. This is endlessly repeated as if we weren’t in a “global” world when the first camel crossed a border or the first sailing ship crossed a sea. But since that first camel countries have enacted policies to make things better for their people.

Sunday’s New York Times published an op-ed, “The Myth of Industrial Rebound,” by Steven Rattner, one more wealthy Wall Street executive who revolved through the door from being an Obama administration official after he revolved through the door from being a Wall Street executive. In his op-ed Rattner accurately describes many of our economy’s problems but concludes that we should let these things just happen to us because, “In a flattened world, there will always be another China.”

Rattner points out that many of the new manufacturing jobs are low-wage. “This disturbing trend is particularly pronounced in the automobile industry. When Volkswagen opened a plant in Chattanooga … the beginning wage for assembly line workers was $14.50 per hour, about half of what traditional, unionized workers employed by General Motors or Ford received.” Meanwhile, “in Germany, the average autoworker earns $67 per hour. … Volkswagen has moved production from a high-wage country (Germany) to a low-wage country (the United States).”

Rattner is correct that falling wages are slowing economic recovery. “These dispiriting wage trends are a central reason for the slow economic recovery; without sustained income growth, consumers can’t spend.”

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So Why DID We Invade Iraq?

So why DID we invade iraq, anyway?

We know for a fact it had nothing to do with “WMD.” We went through this huge sell-job, the “run-up.” The whole country was whipped into a terrified frenzy. Do you remember being told we would be attacked with smallpox, and all the news stories about what smallpox can do to a person, does Iraq have it, how will they spread it, etc?

For that matter, why did we get into the Vietnam war? No one ever answered that one, either.

If we had self-government maybe people could get our Congress to investigate these things…