Archive for the ‘Democratic Party’ category

Why Should Mr/Ms “X” Be President?

July 14, 2019

Hillary Clinton should have been President but she managed to allow defeat to be snatched from the jaws of victory.  Instead of an annoying “triangulation” leader, America got instead a narcissistic, rudderless, bully.  Clinton may have been no George Washington, but Donald Trump has set new standards for the worst America has to offer.

With the 2020 election just ahead, Democrat Presidential candidates (all 24 of them) are vying for voter attention and ultimately the Democrat nomination.  So far bold, progressive policies have been the “go to” differentiator judging from what the candidates are saying in debates and on TV.  “Medicare For All”, “Free College Education”, or “Middle Class tax cuts” are examples.  Hmmm.

Each candidate has faced with a similar dilemma, why me and not the other candidate?

Voters must, however, be more circumspect.  None of these promises will be possible with the Senate in one party’s control and the House in the other party’s.  Even if Democrats were to win control of both houses, gaining widespread public support would be tough and without public support, even Democrats will hesitate to move on some of the more progressive proposals out of fear of losing their Congressional seat in the next election.  

And what if the economy is falling apart due to the current trade wars?  Or, the Middle East erupts into conflict based upon our current Iranian policies?  Or floods, natural catastrophes, or terrorist attacks occur?  There just might be no national energy for making large social change in the midst of other pressing problems.

So, picking the Democrat candidate ought to be focused upon

  • Who can govern

  • Who can govern in difficult and uncertain times

  • Who can balance domestic and foreign affairs

  • Who can bring an Administration of skilled and talented people together to work on America’s problems

Hmmm.

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Liberals Attack Biden

June 3, 2019

There are currently a lot of candidates running for the 2020 Democrat Presidential nomination.  Over 23 and still room for more.  One candidate, however, has a huge lead.  That candidate is Joe Biden.  Hmmm.

Each of the Democrat hopefuls has been searching for ways to gain attention and increase their standing in opinion polls.  Elizabeth Warren has offered policy after policy (read regulation).  Kamala Harris has put forward her favorites.  Kristin Gillibrand has even defended her past attacks on former Senator Al Franken over #MeToo incidents. But attacking Joe Biden as not liberal enough makes one wonder what these candidates are thinking.

Of course one can understand that the size of Biden’s lead could close out many of the other candidates before the race has hardly begun.  But common sense would suggest that “being too liberal” is not the surest way to a November 2020 Democrat win.  Even more obvious, Joe Biden stands for (and has stood for) centrist thinking which when compared to Trump and the current crop of GOP legislators, appears very liberal indeed. Slinging the charge “not liberal enough” makes no sense.

Biden may not be the best Democrat candidate, and even if elected President, may not be the best President possible.  There should be no question, however, that Joe Biden will be a far better President than Donald Trump.

Consider the absolute mess President Trump is creating each day. Trump’s divisive domestic policies championing false religious freedom claims or stimulating coal, oil, and gas production while looking the other way on renewables, is short sighted and destructive.  On the international stage, the trade wars with China, Mexico, and potentially with other countries will upset global trade, slow global growth, and in the end cost American consumers a small fortune.  Thanks to Trump, international relations are in tatters and future prospects are no better.  There will be so much to fix in the next Administration that Americans need to focus upon a rounded, broadly experienced leader.

Democrat primary contenders ought focus upon showing their individual broad set of skills.  One (or, two or three) issue candidates may appear to have sizzle, but the next President will have such a mess to clean up that broad leadership experience will be necessary.  

“Liberals” certainly include Biden if the GOP opposition is Donald Trump.

Writing Posts Is Not Easy

May 13, 2019

Well into the third year of President Trump, it is not easy to publish new and original posts.  In the opening months of the Trump Administration, each day brought one more audacious event after another.  Posting something that reflected a Trump policy which was demonstrably ill advised was a “holy cow” event.  Now the crude, rude, and of course, incorrect Presidential statements do not surprise and have become predictable. 

Regaining the Center, dating from the George W Bush years, aims to expose and comment upon hypocrisies which others may have not yet called out.  Punditry along with newsworthy press coverage, however, are all over President Trump and never let one of his distasteful utterances go unnoticed.  What is left for Regaining the Center?

IMO, America made a serious mistake in electing Donald Trump.  To be sure Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate too, but Clinton’s flaws were well within the bounds of sound governance.  President Trump has had virtually no foreign or domestic policy action which can be yet traced to positive outcomes.  From his “big beautiful wall” to “I love tariffs” with stops in between supporting this dictator or that one or stiffing one long time ally or another, President Trump has thrown more muck at the proverbial wall and none have achieved his promised outcomes.

(Some may cite Trump’s tax cuts as a smashing success.  Closer inspection, however, shows no connection between promised outcomes and what has actually taken place with those who received the lion share of the tax benefit.  The cost of the tax cut is being sent to our children and theirs since the tax cut is unfunded.)

All Presidents experience domestic or foreign policy failures.  Despite the best of intentions, world events do not always go as predicted.  Most Presidents, however, surround themselves with competent mainstream advisors and pursue incremental change, largely because the world is a very complicated place.  Not Donald Trump.

  • The Mexican border wall is dealing with the wrong end of the immigration problem.  Why are central Americans seeking refugee status and how can those causes be mitigated?
  • Securing new manufacturing jobs would be wonderful if that were economically possible.  Repatriating manufacturing jobs which have gone to China (or other lower wage countries) is a non-starter because the US cost to manufacture (largely wage driven) is too high.
  • Denying climate change is both dangerous for future generations but in denying, the President is refuting science.  Denial teaches science our youth that education is not important.  This dangerous example is the hallmark of second rate countries.
  • Bi-lateral trade agreements run counter to reality.  The world is complicated and trade arrangements must be flexible enough to anticipate apparent irrationalities from trading partners.  For example, religious or ideological interferences come and go, and consequently two specific trading partners might go to war and ask for the US to side with one of them.  Trade agreements where the US gets most of what it seeks and so do the other trading partners better insulates against unforeseen global changes.

Today North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela are hot spots getting hotter.  Under Trump, other countries that could be useful in resolving tensions have been alienated and are content to stand on the sidelines.

And geopolitically, China and southeast Asia represents the largest area potential trouble and future conflict.  Where is the US?  Does day dreaming sound right?  The US has allowed a trade policy disputes to erode into a trade war with consequences on Wall Street and Americans pocketbook.

Regaining the Center offers a safe port in this Trump-made storm.  The next two years culminating in the November 2020 elections provide the opportunity to reset America’s political compass.  Voters need to recognize the folly the Trump Administration and its GOP enablers have put forth.  Choosing candidates who will promise a “center” road platform and who will endeavor to work on real problems not phony political claims should be the goal.

Since no candidate is likely to speak entirely candidly (most seek to be all things to all people), the candidate pointing towards the center is probably the safest bet.   

American Dream Lost?

April 28, 2019

The 2020 Presidential race is underway and President Trump continues to run hard for reelection.  No surprise since President Trump has been campaigning since he was inaugurated in 2017.  But what type of platform will the President run on?  And what ultimately will be the Democrat counter position?

President Trump has his 35% base and will tell those Americans whatever it is that they want to hear.  The President, however, most likely needs more voters in order to win reelection.  So what will he tell voters who know the President has no clothes, is a terrible example of a human being, and in all likelihood, is enriching himself while performing his duties as chief executive?

Here’s my guess

Total Success – President Trump will assert that everything his Administration has undertaken has been an unmitigated success.  The tax cuts have stimulated the economy, his tough trade policies have created jobs, and his tough border stance has made Americans safer.  All of this, the President will say, can be traced directly to the President himself.

A Valiant Leader – The President will claim that “conspirators” buried deep within government and media circles have conducted unprecedented campaigns to thwart his Administration with phony claims and false news stories.  The President will claim that despite these scurrilous forces he has be completely exonerated.  

Americans are better off – The President will point to economic growth , the stock market, and employment numbers (assuming unemployment is still low and the GDP and Stock Market are still rising), and ask Americans what could be better?

President Trump’s reelection proposition boils down to “why try something new when (because of me) the country is doing so well”?

Bernie Sanders (Medicare for All), Elizabeth Warren (Bank, School Loan regulations), and Kamala Harris (I’m for those too) to name three out of twenty candidates have identified a few issues which are badly in need of fixes but these issues cost money (read likely new taxes), apply to many voters but far from all, and open the candidate to a charge of being a socialist.

Healthcare access and affordability, student loan debt level, affordable housing, and for some, especially LBGTQ members, equal opportunity is paramount.  But how will those issues, as important as they are, build a coalition sufficient to beat Trump and the GOP?  Under what catch all phrase will Democrat candidates chose to make it easy for voters to know what Democrats stand for?  Probably not the Green New Deal.

Democrats, IMO, need not panic.  The next 12 months or so is about who the standard bearer will be.  Following the Democrat nominating convention, the standard bearer must have an easy to understand “elevator” speech compelling the voter to vote Democrat. (Hillary never had one and in the end went with “I’m With Her”.  No wonder she lost.

Democrat hopefuls can rest assured that Trump’s claim about a wonderful economy (hit a home run with first quarter GDP growth, the President claimed) is not wonderful for most Americans.  Large corporations are for sure enjoying excellent earnings but corporate leaders are weary about future ramifications from trade disputes, deteriorating relations with foreign allies, and shortage of labor.  The 10 year economic expansion will sooner or later end and tools useful in stimulating a lagging economy (like tax cuts) are unlikely to be used since the government is already running annually close to a $1 trillion deficits.

The unspoken secret hiding in plain sight in the Trump economy is steadily growing “income inequality” to record heights. 

  • The rich are getting richer and relatively speaking everyone else is getting poorer. 
  • College graduates, in addition to a large debt upon graduation, are finding jobs they thought would follow their four year degree, are just not there or if they are, these jobs do not pay what the graduate thought they would. 
  • New graduates must pay back college loans, must pay for healthcare insurance or even if provided by an employer, must cover co-pays and rising drug costs, and not to be overlooked, new graduates must find money for anticipating their retirement some 30-40 years later.  Is this the American dream?

Are there proposals or policies that can restore the American dream (upward mobility)?

  •  “Medicare for All” does not restore the American Dream. 
  • Free college education will not place the American Dream within the grasp of all Americans. 
  • And reigning in the excesses of banks and large corporations won’t solve the American Dream dilemma either.  

So the message might be “elect a party whose policies assist all Americans, not just the top 5% of the wealthiest Americans”.  Interestingly, this message could be carried by any of the current Democrat hopefuls, although it might fit more comfortably with more moderate or centrist ones.

Remind Americans of how things really are in the Trump “home run” economy.

  • Growing income inequality
  • Shortage of good paying jobs
  • Healthcare spending twice that of 20 leading countries delivering mediocre outcomes and still not covering everyone
  • Infrastructure, roads, bridges, and ports deteriorating from neglect
  • Education, K-12 producing dismal results on average
  • College education costs rising faster than inflation and producing graduates who can’t find a job which pays well

President Trump’s American Dream encompasses the top 1-2% wealthiest Americans and the Trump family.  Aiming at all Americans, including the top 1-2% will produce an Administration with sharply different priorities and a totally different view of the global community.

Joe or Bernie?

April 24, 2019

With former Vice President Joe Biden about to join 19 other Democrat hopefuls for the 2020 Presidential nomination, one must be struck with how running for president has changed. 

Biden will be the 20th (and probably not the last) Democrat to announce their candidacy.  In the olden days, Presidential candidates were determined in hotel smoke filled back rooms where the party bosses picked their choice for President.  The national convention was for pomp and affirmation of the bosses’ pick.  Then came the primaries and the bosses’ power faded.  Fast forward to 2019 and it seems anyone with a twitter account is qualified, and the money necessary to launch a campaign, seems to grow on trees.

So, what impact will Joe Biden make?

The current field of Democrat hopefuls could be grouped into

  • “boys and girls”,
  • “left and centrist”, and
  • “single issue and broad spectrum” candidates. 

Joe fits the “boys”, “centrist”, and “broad spectrum” labels.  Seems like a winner?

Biden, however, carries a few milestones too.  Biden will be 77 if elected so age, health, and out of step with younger Americans are electability risks.  Biden has also had a history of “gaffs” which require a timeout in order to explain what he really meant, and then more time consuming energy to restart the campaign.  And there is the lingering feeling that Biden is not the sharpest knife in the drawer hounding him.  But Joe is just being Joe.

Bernie Sanders has launched a strong campaign for the second time and is doing well with popularity and fund raising.  Sander supporters are passionate about Bernie and still feel robbed when Hillary Clinton won the nomination in 2016.  Sanders, however, will be red meat for Trump. “He’s a socialist, if not a communist” will be Trump’s tweets.  While Sanders’ campaign pledges have fairly broad appeal (Medicare for All translated into affordable healthcare), most Americans have employer provided healthcare insurance and are insulated from the actual cost of healthcare.  But who wants to live like Cubans or Venezuelans as Trump will posit life under Sanders.

So why not nominate one of the other 18?  Never say never, it is over a year until the nominating convention.  At this point in time, on a subjective basis only, the rest of the field looks a push over for President Trump.  The Democrats lack name recognition, executive experience, and stand for policies which require more than 30 seconds to explain.  Simply looking at Biden or Sanders, one knows what they stand for.

Should either Sanders or Biden get the Democrat nomination, dejected Democrats will say, “another white male”.  Hmmm.  This suggest strongly that both will seek a female Vice President nominee, probably Amy Klobuchar or Kamalar Harris.  If Harris would agree, a Biden-Harris ticket might provide the most formidable and best winning combination against Trump-Pence.  

Healthcare All Over Again?

March 29, 2019

Like a flash brush fire, the subject of US healthcare has blazed anew.  Dumbing the complex healthcare situation down, the President and loyal Republicans are chanting for the ACA’s elimination and good things will follow.  The President has promised the best healthcare ever, one with “pre-existing” coverage and no individual mandate.  Of course the President wants first the ACA repealed, or ruled un-Constitutional in the courts, and then… “trust me”… the GOP will introduce a beautiful new healthcare bill.  Hmmm.

The silver lining of this “bad dream again” issue is that there are compelling reasons to reopen the healthcare “can of worms” again.  The ACA represented an honorable, ethical, and moral effort to improve upon what existed in 2008 and provide access to basic healthcare for all Americans.  Republicans tell us that ACA is not so. 

The inconvenient truth about US healthcare (the current ACA or the version before ACA) is that

  • healthcare spending per capita is twice that of other developed countries,
  • does not still cover everyone (estimated 20 million more however), and
  • mediocre healthcare outcomes compared to many other countries.  (Healthcare available through institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Cleveland Clinic and most major University teaching hospitals are as good as there are in the world but those located in the suburbs, depressed inner city areas, and the rural areas across the country are not delivering on the highest standards. And, not to be overlooked, US healthcare is not affordable or not available to too many Americans.)

Affordability, and availability rise above the partisan solutions such as “Medicare For All”, “the replace of Repeal and Replace”, and “keep government out on my healthcare”.  There is no known credible reasons to justify current US healthcare cost and outcomes. 

  • Drug prices are non-negotiable for Medicare.  How is that possible? 
  • A growing number of Americans are learning that they can buy prescription drugs in Mexico or Canada the exact same medications they currently purchase in the US for substantially less.  Why would the Government not demand the best global price? 
  • Republicans have embraced private sector solutions built around private healthcare insurance. Let the insurance companies police costs, the GOP says.
  • Insurance is based upon pooling risks. .  So how can the GOP fight to eliminate the individual mandate? Without the individual mandate the insurance revenue pool will shrink.  In addition, individuals without insurance will go to Emergency Rooms where they will, by law receive treatment.   In essence, no individual mandate means a free pass for those who do not wish to buy insurance, cost everyone more, and makes everyone else a sucker.  How does this make sense? 
  • Estimates put US healthcare spending at 18% of the approximate US $20 trillion GDP (almost $4 trillion).  If the actual spending was on a parr with 20 other major world countries, there could  be $1-2 trillion savings each year extra for investment in infrastructure or paying off the national debt.  What are Republicans thinking?

President Trump and Republicans are disingenuous about healthcare reform.  Democrat candidates who are singularly focused on insuring everyone and overlooking the inexplicable cost differences with other modern countries are destined to make the GDP cost even larger.  The US deficit can not be reduced or brought under control without first dealing with healthcare costs.  Even more dangerous, in the world of income inequality, unless basic healthcare is made affordable for all, there is destine to be social upheaval.

Running To The Left

March 3, 2019

Political pundits are aghast that Democrat 2020 Presidential hopefuls are trying out “leftist” each other.  “The Green Deal”, “Medicare For All”, and “Free College Education” are slogans which can trigger the label “socialist”.  Republicans and President Trump smile and see a pathway to victory.  Why?

I think the reasoning goes as follows, 35% who identify as the President’s “base” would not vote for someone else regardless of what Donald Trump has done or will do.  So the task becomes attracting 15% more from the population in general.  The GOP’s reasoning is to play the “communism/socialism” card and create enough fear that otherwise sensible citizens will vote Republican.  Hmmm.

It is difficult to imagine any other strategy available to Republicans.  Could they run on “more walls”, “more green house gas emissions”, or “more tariffs paid for by US tax payers”?  For sure “abortion” and “another Supreme Court Justice” are Republican crowd pleasers but those promises are already foreseen in the 35%.  So, let’s try the socialist path.

Democrats need to take a deep breath and appreciate that “The Green Deal” is about protecting the environment for future generations not providing jobs, “Medicare For All” is about truly affordable healthcare for all Americans, not free healthcare, and “Free College Educations” is about producing a population that can think critically and possess the necessary skills to provide a living for themselves and their family.  In short, Democrats should be about helping the average person thrive and have a chance to see their children do even better.

Practically speaking, without a sweep of the Senate and House along with winning the Presidency there is no chance that the “Green Deal” or “Medicare For All” or “Free College Education” could be enacted into law.  So why promise something that arguably can’t be delivered? 

Aspirational objectives with promises of manageable incremental steps is more believable and less likely to scare voters.  Add to that commonsense trade objectives, a return to our time honored respect for immigrants, and a promise to return fiscal sanity to our nation’s finances should complete the list for Democrats.

Unfortunately this perspective does not include what candidates think is necessary to win the nomination (how each candidate can make themselves distinctive).  The notion of running far left in the primaries and then tacking towards the middle is an oft practiced tactic.  With social media as it is, this “extreme to middle” approach is open to unkind surprises.

Hmmm.