Archive for the ‘Democratic Party’ category

What’s Happening With Pete?

October 21, 2019

Barack Obama had no right to expect he could land the Democrat Presidential nomination back in 2008.  Who was Obama, and what is there about a “community organizer” and first term US Senator that makes one worthy of the Presidential nomination?  Who knows, but it happened.  

President Obama certainly had a lot to learn when he not only received the nomination, but also when he beat Republican John McCain to become President.  

Historians are still measuring the Obama years before assigning Obama some ranking from our best President ever to our worst President of all times.  It is safe to say that wherever President Obama’s years land, the Obama years were more successful than George W Bush even though both Presidents were at their hearts “good persons”. 

Comparing President Obama and President Trump will unlikely test historians.  Up to this point, President Obama showed more character and executive skills than we have seen from President Trump.  President Obama did not get every one of his foreign policy decision right but  preliminary comparisons with President Trump are favorable.  And domestic policies favor President Obama even more.  Fast forward to 2019 and one might responsibly conclude that most Democrat candidates should have good chance running against President Trump. 

Democrat Presidential candidate leaders, Joe Biden (age 76), Elizabeth Warren (age 70) and Bernie Sanders (age 78) collectively score about 70% of the preferences expressed in polls.  South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg has about 6% popularity.  Does this suggest that when the dust settles, the Democrat nominee will be someone 70 years or older?

Some say age should not be a factor but too often what they actually mean is former Vice President Biden, Senators Sanders or Warren are not too old to become the Democrat standard bearer.  I wonder whether at age 37, Mayor Pete is not too young but just right to snatch the nomination?

Why would anyone speculate about Buttigieg when there are seasoned pros to pick from?  Age, personal energy, and perceived electability might become factors.  Like goldilocks, however, “not too old, not too progressive, not same old, same old” might just be the most attractive in the end.  

There are still too many Democrats in the field in order to make a clear call on where the crowd will go when (and if) Biden or Sanders or Warren cannot make the sale for themselves as the nominee.  But in 2008 candidate Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses against most expectations.  Will Mayor Pete do the same?

Healthcare’s Inconvenient Truth

August 20, 2019

Democrats have been trying to make “healthcare” the 2020 Presidential election campaign theme.  “Medicare for All” and “Public Option” have been packaged as the banner the party should hoist against President Trump.  But for many, these words evoke fears of what they might be giving up if the Government is asked to provide healthcare for all residents.

To be sure there is no guarantee that an expanded “Medicare” healthcare system would provide trouble free healthcare for all.  Maybe the question should be “would Medicare for All be worse than the patchwork of private insurers currently providing healthcare”?  And, if America is such an exceptional country as so many conservative proclaim, why would it be that 20 or so other countries including Germany, France, the UK, Canada, and Japan provide excellent healthcare for all the residents at half the cost per person than the US?

In a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report, the average cost of healthcare coverage for a family of four was $22,900 per year.  Think about that.  The minimum wage of $7.50 yields and annual income before taxes of $15,600, and the proposed $15 per hour yields $31,200 (after paying healthcare insurance cost, where’s food and lodging costs?).

The Kaiser Family Foundation report also said the $22,900 cost had increased 56% from 2008! Do you know anyone who pay has increased 56% in 10 years?

There are clearly three issues with US healthcare,

  • what’s covered (like pre-existing conditions), 
  • who’s covered (universal coverage or only if one can afford insurance), and
  • cost (can someone afford the premiums, co-pays, and deductibles).  

Until the cost is addressed, what’s covered and who’s covered will drive up uninsured Emergency Room usage (which ironically drives up the overall healthcare costs further).

In a few words, healthcare is about providing healthcare services at world class cost, qualify, and availability.  That should be a banner all Democrats could run under.

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


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.