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For US Democracy: There Is Only One Choice

letsgetitdone's picture

Cover of Real Fiscal Responsibility, Vol II

We need big, big changes in the United States. Many of them will require the Federal Government to spend unprecedented amounts, including deficit spending to enable us to solve problems that have languished, creating needs, for many, many years.

How can we get these changes legislated through a political system that has been increasingly less responsive to most people over the past four decades. There’s only one way that will work without revolution.

We need a movement for change powerful enough to replace the present establishment of House and Senate legislators and presidents wanting to preserve their way of looking at how to do things, with another group that has concluded that change is desperately needed and must be accomplished come what may, whatever the cost in long established customs and traditions in both Houses of Congress and among the vested political and communications elites in the Washington, DC/New York “village.” But not just any changes will do.

We need political changes that will bring us officeholders who will do what most of the public wants them to do and who will not enact laws that most of the people do not want. We also need legislators who will not be bought by special interests, at least for long enough that Congress has time to pass laws that will re-create a new regime that will be very difficult for these interests to corrupt.

When it comes to the 2016 presidential campaign we need to ask ourselves which of our current candidates can lead such a movement and enable its rise, and at the same time are willing to do so. I’ll assume for the sake of argument that no one would contend that anyone with appreciable support on the Republican side is likely to act in the way I’ve described, since all of them seem to believe that the people need a strong leader who will do what he/she prefers to do rather than worry about what most people want their leaders to do. And once we further ask for a candidate with appreciable support in the current campaign, we’re down to Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders immediately.

So, what choice should people make? I think that choice should be made based on what one thinks our nation needs in terms of policy, and which candidate is most likely to do best in fulfilling that policy agenda. So, speaking for myself, here’s what I think we need most.

-- Legislation and Executive action restoring the Rule of Law to the United States. From the failures of the Dodd-Frank legislation to end the practices of too big to fail, to the unfair treatment of whistleblowers by subjecting them to the espionage act, to the failure of the justice system to prosecute, indict, and convict police who murder people on a whim, to the free passes given executives of too big to fail financial institutions since the crash of 2008, to the failure to prosecute violations of various kinds by military and prison contractors, to the wholesale imprisonment of people for minor violations of drug laws that need to be repealed in the first place, the US criminal justice system is broken. It no longer delivers even a remote approximation to equal justice under the law, and intolerable state of affairs for a free people.

-- A payroll tax holiday for both employers and employees would give a couple, each earning $50,000 in wages, about $650.00 per month in increased consumption power. The holiday would last until real full employment in the private sector is reached, when the tax would be re-imposed incrementally, when and if demand-pull inflation occurs.

-- A one-time grant of $1,000 per person to the States for hiring State Government employees in under-served areas of Government, many of them created by the layoffs in the aftermath of the recession of 2008, which left state and local governments with large shortfalls in tax revenue.

The funding for this would go into a special fund whose proceeds could only be used to hire such employees. In addition, if a State took a grant, it would have to agree to forego tax cuts for a 12 month period following receiving it.

-- A Job Guarantee (JG) program guaranteeing a job offer at a regionally cost-adjusted living wage, averaging about $16.00 per hour across the country, with standard fringe benefits including enhanced Medicare for All benefits (see below) for those who want to work full time and haven't found work available in the private sector. This program would NOT replace Unemployment Insurance, or other programs currently in place for easing the difficulties of the involuntarily unemployed.

-- Legislation guaranteeing annual entitlement spending without regard to “trust fund” balances. We can't look at Social Security and our other entitlements in isolation. We have to win the fight for FDR's economic bill of rights, and for an expansion of all the entitlements in the American social safety net; now the stingiest, most inadequate safety net among modern industrial nations!

-- An enhanced Medicare for All Program such as the one specified in John Conyers’s HR 676 bill, enhanced Medicare for All, a full coverage no co-pay, no deductible program.

-- A program fixing U.S. Infrastructure over six years funded at $700 B per year. This is a much more expansive program than Bernie Sanders’s $1 Trillion program. However, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) currently estimates that doing this job will take $3.6 Trillion. My estimate comes from theirs plus an assumption that inflation and over-runs will require somewhat more.

-- A program creating a no cost educational system from pre-school through graduate school, including a “debt jubilee” for the $1.2 Trillion outstanding student loan debt (a great drag on the US economy).

The US educational system has been falling behind compared to the rest of the world for a long-time now. In the modern world an educational system that affords the opportunity of a great education to anyone who wants one is a necessity, not a luxury, which the Government ought to be providing for everyone as a right of Americans.

-- A massive program re-inventing energy foundations and protecting the climate and the environment. In his two-part series re-inventing energy foundations and protecting the climate, my colleague at the UMKC economics blog, Michael Hoexter, in a series beginning here, outlines a $4-6 Trillion a year program to accomplish this in 10-20 years.

-- A Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) program, a new entitlement for all Americans. A BIG set at something like $8.00 per hour cost-adjusted across regions would be very useful for people who don't want to work at pursuits defined as socially valuable by others, and would also be very helpful for people who cannot work at all for various reasons. It would also be a useful supplementation to Social Security retirement pensions.

Most of these agenda items are matters of economic and social justice and real fiscal responsibility, the subject of my new two-volume book series: Real Fiscal Responsibility, Vol I: the Progressive Give-up Formula; and Real Fiscal Responsibility, Vol. II: The Peterson Network, Inequality, and the Failure of Neoliberalism. So, success at passing most of these agenda items addressing very real and urgent needs of Americans, is an ability to know what real fiscal responsibility is when you’re framing fiscal policy and legislation, as well as an ability to recognize that when others frame it and advocate for it.

So, what is Real Fiscal Responsibility at the federal level?

-- Real fiscal sustainability is the extent to which patterns of Government spending do not undermine the capability of the Government to continue to spend to achieve its public purposes.

-- Real fiscal responsibility is a pattern of fiscal policy intended to achieve net benefit relative to public purpose (such as full employment, price stability, a first class educational system, Medicare for All, and the other dimensions listed elsewhere.), while also maintaining or increasing real fiscal sustainability, viewed as the extent to which patterns of Government spending do not undermine the capability of the Government to continue to spend to achieve its public purposes.

Since a fiat sovereign government like the US can never lose its capability to spend involuntarily, barring conquest or revolution, real fiscal sustainability/responsibility never imposes a constraint on spending arising from financial inability to spend. On the other hand, the inflationary impact of such spending can persuade a fiat sovereign to control its deficit spending.

But price stability is just one dimension of public purpose, to be traded off against other dimensions depending on circumstances. So, once again, real fiscal responsibility comes down to targeting net benefit relative to public purpose with fiscal policy, which includes “taking care of our own.”

And when it comes to “taking care of own” and real fiscal responsibility, the choice between Hillary and Bernie has to be Bernie. Here’s why.

Since Hillary Clinton has begun to compile a record on her fiscal policy positions during the 1990s she has been identified with Peter G. Peterson and his ideas about fiscal responsibility. These ideas, namely that the United States has a problem of too high and rapidly increasing public debt and must engage in deficit reduction and entitlement “reform” over the long term, are directly opposed to real fiscal responsibility, and, in fact, are the epitome of faux fiscal responsibility, leading to austerity policies and eventually to first micro-economic austerity, and later macro-economic austerity, as well as either private credit bubbles, or recessions and financial crashes.

Of course, the Bill Clinton Administrations were known famously for following deficit reduction policies, and are credited with four years of budget surpluses which the Clintons, their supporters, often the rest of the Democratic Party frequently celebrate. There is never any recognition of the explosion in private sector debt under the Clinton Administrations, and of the years in which the private sector ran aggregate deficits causing that explosion. Nor is there any mention of the 2000-2002 recession immediately following the Clinton “achievement” of its government budget surpluses.

My indictment of the practices and policies of faux fiscal responsibility are in the book series linked above. But the book series also makes it clear that the Clinton family, Peter G. Peterson, his Foundation of the same name, and the Clinton Global Initiative are closely related. Also, Bill Clinton provided a featured performance at each of 5 of the 6 Fiscal Summits, appearing more frequently than anyone else has at these annual meetings, other than the Petersons themselves. At each one, her provided a perfect testimonial to his conviction that faux fiscal responsibility is always the way of the Clintons regardless of the worldwide failures of austerity policy.

Nor was he the only Clintonite luminary to appear at these summits. In addition, many of the people who were so prominent during the two Clinton Administrations and the Obama Administrations, and who were strong advocates of faux fiscal responsibility also appeared, including: Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, Gene Sperling, Alice Rivlin, Neera Tanden, John Podesta, Jack Lew, Bill Daley, Sheila Bair, Erskine Bowles, and George Stephanopoulos.

Hillary Clinton, herself, has always spoken favorably about her husband’s achievements in the fiscal and economic policy areas and has always projected a similar faux fiscal responsibility orientation to his, and she is doing so now. In the 2016 Campaign she and her surrogates have vigorously surfaced the idea that we cannot afford the costs of Bernie’s programs, implying that he is not fiscally responsible and saying that he is not realistic and pragmatic.

So, it is pretty clear that, as President she is extremely unlikely to follow a real fiscal responsibility agenda directed at public purpose, but, instead will repeat the performance of the Obama Administration in cutting back federal deficit spending on faux fiscal responsibility grounds, and expressing joy at this insofar as federal deficits as a percent of GDP are cut. To accomplish this she will probably use the same economic advisers (Larry Summers, Gene Sperling, perhaps Paul Krugman will be new) and budget technicians (Orszag and Lew) who helped her husband and President Obama.

That is, her Administration is bound to be one that will lead to further economic stagnation and also continued growth in inequality, as well as further progression down the road toward oligarchy. All of the current economic interests of the Clintons suggest such a result, and I don’t see that it is at all likely that Hillary Clinton, as President, will extricate herself from the political, professional, financial, friendship, and familial networks she is immersed in sufficiently end the tragedy of democracy that has been going on in America for the past 40 years. That is simply never going to happen.

Clinton partisans, will probably say in reply to this argument, that the kind of agenda I am talking about is extremely unlikely to pass a Congress with the House and the Senate or both in Republican hands, so it doesn’t matter that Hillary Clinton will never try to achieve it anyway. So, what must be done is simply to accept the inevitability of her attempts to merely hold back the tide of the neoliberal march toward oligarchy, which they assume she will do, by fighting a rearguard action for democratic values, and trust to her oft-claimed technical competence to do that well, rather than gambling on Bernie Sanders as a nominee, who, even if he wins the presidency, will simply suffer constant ignominious defeat at the hands of hostile Republicans in Congress.

The answer to this, however, it is that ignores key differences between Hillary and Bernie, the kinds of campaigns they are likely to run, the dynamics of those campaigns, the likely results of a Sanders campaign versus a Hillary Clinton campaign, and the kinds of advisers and views Bernie Sanders is likely to surround himself with when he is President compared to the Clinton stable of advisers and there oft-stated views. So, what are some of those differences?

To begin with, it seems to me that a Clinton Campaign against the Republicans is likely to be a very negative campaign focusing on the all too visible negatives of the Republican candidate, whether Trump. Cruz, or Rubio, and the very well-known negatives of Hillary Clinton, herself. It will be a campaign of constant negative attacks and trench warfare with dirty tricks galore and no redeeming qualities of vision or an uplifting agenda to inspire the progressive base of the Democratic Party.

This will be especially the case if Hillary wins her contest with Bernie, by constantly attacking his progressive agenda as impractical and saying things like her recent pronouncement about single-payer’s inevitable fate in the United States. How then will she to be able to suddenly begin advocating the kinds of “impractical” programs that will get the participation and support of the base for her policy agenda?

Hillary Clinton may well win a trench warfare campaign against a Republican nominee including even Donald Trump. But it is hard to imagine that she will be able to drive enough excited Democrats, progressives, and independents to the polls to get the House back for the Democrats, or even to facilitate renewed Democratic control of the Senate. And there is no imaginable way that such a campaign will build the base up enough to create a movement behind any legislative program she has in mind.

So, with a successful Clinton campaign, the best we can hope for is political stagnation along with the economic stagnation already mentioned, with very few changes in the kind of political regime established and implemented by Barack Obama. There will still be too big to fail, and too important to prosecute. There will be the debilitating, disheartening, and discouraging emphasis on “fiscal responsibility,” meaning deficit reduction at the expense of jobs, the safety net, equality, economic growth, the environment, the climate, and every other condition that needs improvement.

There will be double standards of justice throughout the criminal justice system. There will still be the war against whistleblowers, which Hillary has already signaled by her visibly hostile attitude toward Edward Snowden and his fellow whistleblowers. There will be so-called “NAFTA on steroids” “free trade” agreements that, increasingly, give away US sovereignty to multinational corporations and their rigged trade agreement-enabled courts. And finally, there will be the constant trench warfare with the Republicans in Congress attempting to prove that she has been involved in criminal activity of little or no consequence, while they systematically ignore the criminal activity, involving blatant corruption, which they approve of, and would engage in themselves if they had the oval office.

And what can we expect, in contrast, from a Sanders campaign and a possible, even likely, victory in the primary/caucus campaigns and the general election. I think, first, we can expect a growing movement for economic and social justice, sweeping both Sanders and those who run in support of his agenda into office in a very high turnout campaign marked by vision, hope, participation and effort.

And when he wins that campaign, and gets a Congress much more committed to him and his program, than any Congress would be to Hillary, and her pragmatic Wall Street-friendly agenda, if she commits to any agenda at all, then I think we will have a far better chance of passing the kind of legislation that he and we will favor, than there would be of passing anything good for the 99% that Hillary may suggest in the event of her victory, because of the different Congress she would get from her negative campaign based primarily on fear of the Republicans.

In addition, I think we can expect continued mobilization of voters across the spectrum by Sanders in support of his campaign. He will never dismantle his winning election base, the way Obama did, and the way Hillary must also do out of fear that her winning election base may constrain her actions as President in support of Wall Street. Instead, he will use that base to pressure Congress and to build continuing support that he can use to enact the Green New Deal he seeks.

In short, Bernie’s presidency will be popularly-based, not neoliberal elite-based. Neither Bernie, nor any of his advisers are likely go to a PGPF conference to endorse and support its faux fiscal responsibility agenda. None of his advisers will bother with the “free trade” sovereignty giveaway agenda of the Peterson Institute of International Economics and their Washington Consensus. No Wall Street executives will serve in Bernie Sanders’s Administration or occupy an influential position in it.

There will be no overlapping financial and economic advisers with those who have served the Obama and Clinton Administrations, with one exception. His advisers on fiscal policy will likely come from his “dream team,” which includes: Joseph Stieglitz, Jeffrey Sachs, Robert Reich, James Galbraith, Lawrence Mishel, Nomi Prins, William K. Black, William Greider, Jane D’Arista, Tim Canova, Robert Johnson, Robert Auerbach, Dean Baker, Gerald Epstein, Robert Pollin, L. Randall Wray, and Stephanie Kelton. All are post-Keynesians, and most are what I’ve called advocates of real fiscal responsibility. Only Robert Reich was present in either the Clinton or Obama Administrations, and even then he was an opponent of neoliberalism and its influence in that Administration.

In short, the people on the Sanders “dream team” will not shrink from planning and supporting what the kinds of policies needed to replaced neoliberalism with a Green new Deal. They will continually shape and push for the sort of agenda I’ve offered here. And they will support the popular trends that Sanders will nurture and grow if his campaign is successful.

I cannot tell at this point whether the Sanders campaign will be successful in creating the kinds of changes I’ve written about here. But I know two things. First, changes like these are needed to end the reign of neoliberalism and create democracy in the United States. Second, these changes will neither be fought for, nor achieved by a new Clinton Administration.

At most, such an Administration might accomplish a slower boiling of the frog comprised of the 99% of the United States than the Obama Administration. But by the time a further 8 years of Clintonism is experienced, that frog will be thoroughly boiled.

I am not among those who think it would be better to have a Republican boil the frog still faster than would yet another Democrat. But I am not for boiling that frog that at all. And there is no possibility for getting the frog out of the pot if those of us who care about that do not fight to get our politics transformed and Bernie Sanders in the White House. So, for people who are not for boiling, there is no choice but to work as hard as we can both for the larger transformation, and to get Bernie elected.

Ultimately, it is the popular resistance that counts for change and not the fate of any one candidate in an election. But it is also true, that Bernie Sanders is part of the popular resistance due to his goals, the fiscal policies he favors, and his unrelenting opposition to Wall Street. He is one of our own, and he deserves our support. For US Democracy: there is only one choice!

(Cross-posted from New Economic Perspectives.)

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chezmadame's picture
Submitted by chezmadame on

Where would Joe Biden fall in your analysis? With the inherent corruption of the Democratic party nominating system (superdelegates) do you think Bernie will be allowed to win?

The one thing that bothers me about Bernie is that I don't remember his being an especially strong voice in 2008-2009 when there was an excellent opportunity to affect change. Is this because the press didn't cover his efforts or because he didn't really make any efforts?

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

chezmadame on Tue, 02/02/2016 - 6:17am
Where would Joe Biden fall in your analysis?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Joe Biden is a hard core Russophobe; how's that going to work in today's world of Russia's rising (rightfully so) prestige in international diplomacy?
Do you really want a continuation of the present Russian/U.S. relations, skirting a nuclear confrontation?
The Ukrainian situation is an insane U.S. policy with Biden in the driver's seat. Hell, his son is deeply involved in the body politic there. That should tell you all you need to know...

chezmadame's picture
Submitted by chezmadame on

I'm not a Biden fan and would never vote for him.

I'm wondering how the party might engineer a defeat for Sanders should it look as if he would beat Hillary fair and square for the nomination. Enter Joe Biden. He's been lurking around awaiting his opportunity,

I was struck by the wording of Obama's of semi-endorsement of Clinton a few weeks ago. It sounded to me like he's hedging his bets:

"...she can govern and she can start here, [on] day one, more experienced than any non-vice president has ever been who aspires to this office."

The Democratic party's nomination process is corrupt, and they don't want Sanders any more than the Republicans want Cruz.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

I did indeed, Reading comprehension=F. ;-)
My ears glaze over when Obama speaks his double speak.
IMO, there are no qualified candidates for this cycle; with Trump, Hillary and Cruize being flat out dangerous.
The least worst is Bernie; at least his foreign relations would likely be an improvement.
Cheers

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

First, whether Bernie will be allowed to win depends on the size of the movement he can build.

Second, Bernie was very active in the 2009 health insurance reform process. He was the leading advocate for Medicare for All in the Senate, and only compromised at the end of the process in return for writing in $10 B spent for Community Health Centers. I think he settled for less than he needed to, but, as I recall he was the last Senator to surrender to the leadership at the time, and by then he had absolutely no support and they were going to use reconciliation anyway.

Third, Bernie is not good in his stated view on foreign policy, but if there is anyone who might rise to the occasion in office by setting a new direction, I believe it is Bernie!

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

First, whether Bernie will be allowed to win depends on the size of the movement he can build.

Second, Bernie was very active in the 2009 health insurance reform process. He was the leading advocate for Medicare for All in the Senate, and only compromised at the end of the process in return for writing in $10 B spent for Community Health Centers. I think he settled for less than he needed to, but, as I recall he was the last Senator to surrender to the leadership at the time, and by then he had absolutely no support and they were going to use reconciliation anyway.

Third, Bernie is not good in his stated view on foreign policy, but if there is anyone who might rise to the occasion in office by setting a new direction, I believe it is Bernie!

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

But what if voters aren't given the Sanders option?
First, whether Bernie will be allowed to win depends on the size of the movement he can build.

Now there is the question.
Allowed to win; well put and on point, IMO.
I think you know as well as I do, this may be the last year an election will have any relevance. And that year may already be past. I'm in that group; even if Bernie is allowed to win, he'll be controlled and possibly even threatened.
Not to state the obvious, but the U.S. is no longer a democracy and the implications of that are immense and very, very deep, IMO.
I'll leave it there for now.

chezmadame's picture
Submitted by chezmadame on

Bernie was trenchant during the ACA debate and at least got something good for his vote. I do wish, however, that someone would remind his more doctrinaire supporters that sometimes a pragmatic approach is preferable to total defeat.

And while I'm on the topic, I will say that I have a problem with the nastiness of some of Bernie's supporters. I know it really shouldn't matter to me, but I can't deny it. It does

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Bernie's supporters are sometimes nasty, because the present system has disadvantaged, even cheated them and they are angry. HRC's supporters are usually better situated and appear less nasty, but we have to raise the question of whether their support for the various things Hillary says about Bernie's views, disingenuous as they mostly aren't also very, very nasty indeed. Think about it, the contention that Bernie would "rip up" Obamacare before MFA was passed had no basis in Bernie's proposals. The Clinton's are too smart for this to have been an error. It wasn't an error. They were lying pure and simple.

On health care the claims by their supporters that MFA would cost people more than they are paying now out of pocket was clearly false as Gerald Friedman made clear in his reply to the Wall Street a few days after the WSJ ran their article on this. Nevertheless, the Clinton campaign and its surrogates kept repeating anf renewing the WSJ's charge even though the Campaign knew the claims were not true. They were trying fool the voters into believing the WSJ claims. Now, I think that's dishonest and very nasty. And what about the recent claims that Hillary is a "progressive" while attacking Bernie for voting for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, a forced situation for Bernie rigged by Bill Clinton and New Gingrich towards the end of Bill's Administration, in order to try to persuade voters that Bernie is actually less progressive than Bernie? Wasn't that a dishonest and nasty tactic to employ? I think it was.

I can go on and on, but what about the "artful smear" tactic now being tried by Hillary and her supporters. What kind of "smear" is it when someone points to publicly available records showing that a candidate has accepted huge amounts of money from people that they know they may well be called upon to seek prosecutions against, if they win the office they are running for? I don't call that a "smear" I call it raising a key and critical issue. I think the nasty, but not very artful smear is the very charge that this pointing to the record is a smear, artful or otherwise.

chezmadame's picture
Submitted by chezmadame on

I'm not talking about the underhanded distortion of someone's positions or record. I'm talking about a toxic "bros before hos" mentality similar to what we saw in 2008.

As for Clinton's paid speeches, it shows terrible judgement that she didn't forgo making them knowing that she would be running for president, and that is a very good thing to point out to the electorate. But I think that the message that Sanders's supporters are hearing is that Hillary Clinton is or will be a mouthpiece for whoever paid her to give a speech.

Some Sanders voters might be having a difficult time with nuance. Recently, I heard Bill Clinton called a "racist homophobe" by a Sanders supporter based on the crime bill and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

When it comes to the 2016 presidential campaign we need to ask ourselves which of our current candidates can lead such a movement and enable its rise, and at the same time are willing to do so.

Unfortunately, I don't see anybody leading any movement, of any kind, that will outlast their own candidacy for President. Thus, the millions of dollars of free advertising that a Presidential campaign generates is essentially wasted, in terms of movement building - once again.

Unfortunately, that includes Bernie Sanders, who has given lip service to the idea of a movement ("Revolution") bigger than himself, but doesn't directly invest time and energy in such a movement. See jeffroby's recent diary, We will not be used!, and comments.

Now, I have to admit, this might make a lot of sense politically, because Sanders is already enduring a ton of Democratic Party institutional resistance. The last thing that Party insiders want is to see genuine reform movements take hold, that will shake up the Pary apparatus, itself. (Same for D's and R's). So, Sanders may just be playing his cards close to his vest. And on Day 1 of his Presidency, he may issue a call to action to start building a revolutionary movement, leveraging his now unneeded campaign volunteers.

That would be a welcome event, but it remains to be seen. Thus, you are expressing a hope, not an observation.

If you have evidence that Sanders has already

lead such a movement and enable its rise, and at the same time is (are) willing to do so

please present it.

Also, as per a comment of mine in jeffroby's diary, Sanders has been rather quiet about TPP. Since it's likely to be a fait accompli before the next President is sworn in, thus hamstringing whoever that next President will be, I have even more difficulty looking at Sanders as a facilitator of a movement. The very structure of government will change, such that reform becomes and order of magnitude more difficult. What on earth is he waiting for? The incompetent anti-TPP "activists" to figure out a successful strategy? If so, good luck!

I think jeffroby's attitude that Sanders has merely created an opening, and that it's up to similarly minded citizens to exploit that opening, is more realistic.

Come to think of it, I will now state that, just like Sanders should be pressured on being vocal against TPP, his followers (at least; if not Sanders also) should be pressured to either start organizing the "Revolution" that Sanders has claimed is neccessary, or else admit that they are no more serious about that than Obama was about real "Hope and Change".

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I guess I don't get it metamars. I see Sanders mobilizing campaign volunteers state by state across the country right now with a fund-raising effort that relies on small donors. He has also said that he will not de-mobilize it once the election is over, and I don't think he will do that. Doing that would go against his whole career in politics.

As for TPP he and his supporters talk about TPP whenever the trade issue comes up. As for "the incompetent movement" against that. I don't see that either. I think the popularresistance movement against that is coming close to defeating the TPP. It has delayed the passage of TPP until after the 2016 elections at least, and if Sanders wins, we can be sure that he will deep six the TPP by not implementing it once he gets into office. Even if Congress should pass it. Without executive support it is a dead letter. In addition, if he wins TTIP which is having gave difficulties in Europe right now, and also TiSA are both dead, because Bernie will never complete negotiating them. Bernie will probably even appoint someone like Joe Stieglitz to become the STR to deep six these things.

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

He has also said that he will not de-mobilize it once the election is over, and I don't think he will do that.

Can you give a reference? Also, what mission will these campaign workers have, or is it undefined?

Doing that would go against his whole career in politics.

How so? Since he's been in Congress, a while, does this statement of yours not imply that he would not have demobilized campaign workers from his Senate campaigns, and instead directed them to do something "revolutionary", let's say?

I used to listen to Sanders during "brunch with Bernie" in Thom Hartmann's Air America days. I don't recall any mention of such organizing.

As for TPP he and his supporters talk about TPP whenever the trade issue comes up. As for "the incompetent movement" against that.

Not according to what was stated in a chat room during a conference call against TPP, that popularresistance helps organize. I'll post it, again:

Can we get Senator Sanders to talk about his opposition to the TPP? He has been very quiet on this subject in this crucial time.

I think Bernie's posted w/ videos anti-TPP on FB pages -- those are being "shared" -- continue this spread-around action.

I think calling Bernie Sanders Senate office is the best place to put pressure on Bernie to talk directly about the TPP - his campaign has decided that the TPP is too wonky for him to talk about on the campaign trail but the Senate office disagrees so without mentioning the campaign at all - call Bernie's Senate office and ask them to put pressure on him to get on the squawk box about the TpP and to call it by name (kind of a Sandra Bland thing) call it by name! Thanks!

But Bernie has gone silent on the TPP since the summer - he only says that he is against the disasterous trade policies but he does NOT mention the TPP by name
*I saw Bernie in Des Moines Iowa 2 weeks ago and i think he said it out loud. Martin O'Malley did. I'll check for video. ~KM (Hillary didn't show up)

Glad to hear he mentioned the TPP but I have not heard him do so in any of the videos that i have watched - he does not mentio it by name

(emphasis mine)

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

It has delayed the passage of TPP until after the 2016 elections at least, and if Sanders wins, we can be sure that he will deep six the TPP by not implementing it once he gets into office.

Well, some of the anti-TPP "activists" have indeed credited themselves with causing a delay, but considering the paltry amount of Americans who claim to know anything substantial about TPP, I'd say it's an absurd claim to attribute any substantial delay to their efforts. (TTIP is a different kettle of fish. IIRC, at least some anti-TTIP demonstrations have been very large.) Certainly, those who praise the blowing of 400 conch shells, in a resort town with a population of less than 2,000, 'aiming' at the very people who are doubtless being well compensated to betray their respective nation's sovereignty, are not good candidates for having their judgement trusted about other effects of their activism.

A President Sanders or President Trump dragging their feet implementing TPP doesn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling, either. How can it, since (AFAIK) there is no similar dynamic sweeping through Congressional hopefuls? If TPP gets ratified, what is to prevent it being enforced after the 2020, or 2024 Presidential elections? What if a President Trump or President Sanders gets assassinated? Can we reasonably expect outliers like Trump and Sanders to keep re-appearing on the political scene? (absent serious movement building)

Neither Sanders or Trump owe most of their success to anti-TPP sentiment, as far as I know. (It does appear to me that supporters of both candidates have a higher awareness of TPP than the population, as a whole. But, that is a low baseline to compare oneself to, anyway.)

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Well, some of the anti-TPP "activists" have indeed credited themselves with causing a delay, but considering the paltry amount of Americans who claim to know anything substantial about TPP, I'd say it's an absurd claim to attribute any substantial delay to their efforts.

Causation is not clear here. But, there is something that makes Congresspeople skittish about ratifying the TPP, and makes then want to delay ratification. The only possible thing is that they have been getting a lot of hostility from their constituents about their TPA votes.The TPA is set to expire in 2018. So, if Bernie wins and can hang on until then. The TPA will have to be run through again. Of course the authority can be renewed. But, if Bernie is president he won't want to do that.

On assassination of Sanders, I assume he will have an anti-TPP running mate. Also, among Democrats beginning to run for Congress there are a number who have identified with Bernie. The TPA passed Congress only narrowly. It is unlikely that it can pass again!

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

The TPA is set to expire in 2018.

From http://www.citizen.org/documents/2015-fast-track-myths.pdf,

If this bill were enacted, whomever is president could unilaterally choose trade partners and launch negotiations for the next three to six years, and whether or not the negotiating objectives in the bill were met could sign and enter into agreements before Congress approves their contents and then be guaranteed House and Senate votes in 90 days with no amendments and limited debate.

(emphasis mine)

I had remembered 6 years, but this document says 3-6. Do you know what this range of years represents?

The TPA passed Congress only narrowly.

This is of no comfort, at all. Congress critters, in collusion with their party leaders, manage their votes, all the time. This was written about a lot in Firedoglake.com. Remember the "rotating villians"?

It is unlikely that it can pass again!

And here we have completely different points of view. We know from Gilens and Page, that despite the trappings of democracy, our government functions as a plutocracy.

There will be persistent efforts to "close the deal", that will NEVER go away, absent a radical change in the economic systems operant in the world, together with their incentive structures. Not holding my breath for this.....

Defeating TPP is too important to be left to flimsy efforts and truckloads full of hope. Yes, even if coupled with better-than-flimsy lobbying efforts. The awareness of TPP, by the public, is abysmal. STILL. The vast majority of Americans who don't know much, if anything, about TPP are unlikely to press their Congress critters to do anything.

Trump and/or Sanders could change this ignorance-delimited scenario, immensely, and I have hopes that both of them will. Indeed, Sanders has very recently spoken about TPP moreso than indicated by my quote, which suggests that he is responding to pressure from TPP aware elements of his supporters.

At the end of the day, we can't rely on saviors (like Trump and Sanders) to do the organizational work necessary to create a persistent, countervailing force to the usually dominant plutocratic one.

Hence, I'm not cutting the so-called anti-TPP "activists" any breaks. A lot of my diaries deal with their incompetence and fantasy viewpoints. See, e.g., With "Activists" Like This, Who Needs Enemies? Indeed, I've argued that being cunning is a moral imperative, for reform minded citizens.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

The TPA is set to expire in 2018.

From http://www.citizen.org/documents/2015-fast-track-myths.pdf,

If this bill were enacted, whomever is president could unilaterally choose trade partners and launch negotiations for the next three to six years, and whether or not the negotiating objectives in the bill were met could sign and enter into agreements before Congress approves their contents and then be guaranteed House and Senate votes in 90 days with no amendments and limited debate.

(emphasis mine)

I had remembered 6 years, but this document says 3-6. Do you know what this range of years represents?

Yes, I do. The TPA applies for 3 years. It can then be extended for another 3 years. But, of course, a President can stop that. So as I said Bernie, if he wins, or his successor, in case of his untimely death, can let it expire in 2018.

The TPA passed Congress only narrowly.

This is of no comfort, at all. Congress critters, in collusion with their party leaders, manage their votes, all the time. This was written about a lot in Firedoglake.com. Remember the "rotating villians"?

No, this close vote was real Congresspeople don't like these trade treaty votes people in the middle of the country hate NAFTA. The heavy majority of Dems in the House were opposed to TPA, and many Republicans were against it too. If they had had to vote for the TPP last June, then it would have been defeated on the spot, and that was a year before the election. In the coming election no one under pressure will chance that a pro-TPP will defeat them. Even Rob Portman just backed off his support for it after voting for TPA. I am telling you there's a very good chance to defeat TPP. See the political discussion in my book on the subject.

It is unlikely that it can pass again!

And here we have completely different points of view. We know from Gilens and Page, that despite the trappings of democracy, our government functions as a plutocracy.

If you remember my many IVCS posts then you know that I agree with Gilens and Page. But to say that is not to say that the plutocracy is so entrenched that it cannot be rolled back or defeated on certain critical issues. The elites have already lost in the last few years on "the Grand Bargain." The Trade Deals themselves are long overdue, and the Administration has missed every one of its stated deadlines in making this happen. The plutocracy doesn't always win, and thanks to the efforts of many exposing it in the past few years and Obama's own sell out, plutocracy and oligarchy are highly issues to many voters and these issues are being exploited by Bernie Sanders and his campaign.

I offer this conditional. If Sanders is elected, then he and his successor, if he runs and wins with another tough on oligarchy person like Warren, will deep-six the TPP with its corporate supremacy provisions. The plutocracy will lose that battle. The evisceration of the safety net will also stop. The longer-term fight will go on and I don't know if we will win that one. But Sanders will make a strong attack on them, including prosecutions, jailings, and break-ups of the TBTF banks.

There will be persistent efforts to "close the deal", that will NEVER go away, absent a radical change in the economic systems operant in the world, together with their incentive structures. Not holding my breath for this.....

I agree we need that change, but I think Sanders will make an honest run at it and that he has a chance to succeed.

Defeating TPP is too important to be left to flimsy efforts and truckloads full of hope. Yes, even if coupled with better-than-flimsy lobbying efforts. The awareness of TPP, by the public, is abysmal. STILL. The vast majority of Americans who don't know much, if anything, about TPP are unlikely to press their Congress critters to do anything.

Trump and/or Sanders could change this ignorance-delimited scenario, immensely, and I have hopes that both of them will. Indeed, Sanders has very recently spoken about TPP moreso than indicated by my quote, which suggests that he is responding to pressure from TPP aware elements of his supporters.

He is not responding to pressure from TPP aware elements. He cares about the TPP, all by himself. He cares about Greece. He cares about what's being done to Puerto Rico. He's the real deal. At least as strong on the economic bill of rights as FDR himself was, and totally committed to trying his very best to get economic and social justice..

At the end of the day, we can't rely on saviors (like Trump and Sanders) to do the organizational work necessary to create a persistent, countervailing force to the usually dominant plutocratic one.

Of course, we can't. But part of not relying on saviors is to get people who will be saviors elected, and then supporting them throughout the process of change so that they, and we, together, can get it done!

Hence, I'm not cutting the so-called anti-TPP "activists" any breaks. A lot of my diaries deal with their incompetence and fantasy viewpoints. See, e.g., With "Activists" Like This, Who Needs Enemies? Indeed, I've argued that being cunning is a moral imperative, for reform minded citizens.

I'm not as pessimistic about the activists as you are. I see them as building awareness about the trade deals and also think they can be more and effective, if we can introduce the issue into the Campaign. Right now, Hillary's change in her position makes it more difficult to attack her on the TPP because one has to accuse her of dishonesty as well as being likely to pass the TPP if she becomes president. But, now that the TPP is signed, activist groups will be trying to force Clinton into more public affirmations that she will never change her mind on opposition to it or to any other trade deals in which private corporate courts can overturn national legislation or award compensation paid for by nations to corporations for lost profits or potential lost profits. Also, Trump may be attacking Clinton on this, especially if she appears to be beating Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and he will have more flexibility than Sanders in attacking her credibility on this issue.

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

He is not responding to pressure from TPP aware elements. He cares about the TPP, all by himself.

I didn't say or suggest that he didn't care about TPP. I was merely pointing out that, given his relative silence (as per my quote) on the issue, from last summer until just recently, there must have been some stimulus to make him more vocal. If that stimulus was his own "caring", suddenly overcoming concerns about being "too wonky", fine and dandy. It seems more likely that he was pushed - e.g., by the people participating in the anti-TPP conference call (probably indirectly), that I quoted. (Good for Sanders, or for the pushers, whoever deserves the credit.)

Whatever the cause, he (and Trump; though I'm skeptical Trump actually knows any details about TPP, since all he talks about wrt it is currency manipulation) passed up the opportunity to use their free pulpits to make TPP awareness the rule, rather than the exception. Had they actually done so, they might have encouraged lots of other D and R candidates to enter Congressional races, with firm commitment to being anti-TPP.

Being more outspoken about TPP would have been, and would still be, very good for Sanders' campaign, IMO. (Ditto for Trump.) Thus, their underperforming, in this regard, is puzzling. Hopefully, Sanders will squawk loud enough about TPP, complete with high level details, that Trump's campaign takes notice, and raises his rhetorical game, in response.

* Which is hard to believe, frankly. The public doesn't have to be overwhelmed by details, in order to communicate the essentials.

chezmadame's picture
Submitted by chezmadame on

Why so? Biden carries neither Clinton-like baggage nor the animosity of the media. I think the Maureen Dowds of the journalistic world would work hard to sell Biden to the electorate.

As for the general election, I'm starting to think that Sanders's partisans will not be satisfied with either Hillary or Biden should Sanders not get the nomination. For them it's not about electing a democrat. It's about electing Benie.

The DNC has really painted itself into a corner. I don't think that Sanders voters or the media will allow them to game the nomination in the ways it was gamed in 2008.

mellon's picture
Submitted by mellon on

Every single one of these proposals is prohibited by current or pending trade policy.

Any new state owned enterprises - Prohibited
government monopolies: prohibited
New Deal programs (all) - Prohibited

Spending and procurement will need to be done through the revised WTO Govenment Procurement Agreement e-tendering system and cannot discriminate against our trading partners if they are the low bidders. "No wage parity requirement".

Google "Disciplines on Domestic Regulation" for more on elimination of trade barriers.

Trade deals are a bitter medicine but tailor made for the CRISES now conveniently facing us in health care and education!.

Only elimination of the protectionist wage and visa and licensing regulations will make jobs WTO and RGFS compliant and highest common denominator wages happen.

Sacrifices must be made to keep the system profitable!

We must not have a mine shaft gap.

For a deeper understanding of how migration could equalize the price of labour in two trading countries, consider figure one (from Senior Nello, 2005:145): There are two countries, Home and Foreign. The total quantity of labour in the two countries is shown by the distance OhOf. Before a fully free migration of corporation employees is allowed the distribution of labor is OhL in Home and OfL in Foreign. The marginal product of labour is higher in Home than in foreign because the capital/labor ratio is higher in Home. This is shown in the figure by the higher position of the
MPLh curve compared to the MPLf curve. Because of this the wage is higher in Home, at Wh compared with the wage in Foreign at Wf. In short: Home symbolizes a developed country with high automatization and high wages and Foreign a less developed country with abundant supply of labour, low automatization and low wages. If migration is fully free between the two countries and the workers are identical workers will migrate from Foreign to Home in pursuit of higher wages. The migration will finally result in an equalized capital/labor ratio in the two
countries and thus equal marginal products of labor and equal wages, illustrated in the figure by the wage level W' which could be seen as the world market price of labor as the world only consists of the two countries Home and Foreign. The migration is illustrated in the figure by the distance LL' which is the amount of workers that will move from Foreign to Home so that the new distribution of labour becomes OhL' in Home and L'Of in Foreign. Wages will thus decrease in Home and increase in Foreign resulting in a loss for the indigenous workers in Home

illustrated in the figure by the area a but a gain for the capital owners of the areas a+b.
In Foreign the workers get an increased income of areas c+d+e while the capital 6 owners lose areas d+e. The result in total is a net gain for the two countries by areas b+c which is a gain resulting from higher efficiency in the use of the total resources of the two countries.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Every single one of these proposals is prohibited by current or pending trade policy.

I agree and that's why I am unalterably opposed to the pending and current so-called "free trade" treaties. They are not "free trade" treaties; they are democracy,/sovereignty/federalism/separation of powers/consent of the governed-killing trade treaties. They all need to be rejected or killed as the case may be. They are one big reason why HRC cannot be elected president. If she is, she will surely reverse her current position on the TPP and expose us to the full horrors of Personian neoliberalism. So, again, Bernie is the only choice see my books here and here.

metamars's picture
Submitted by metamars on

Sanders was talking about TPP, recently, and, according to this article, msnbc effectively censored the TPP segment (it's not clear if this was their intent, or not). This is the second instance that I know of him doing so, since last summer. Whatever the stimulus, good for him.