Archive for the ‘Michael Bloomberg’ category

Breaking The Gridlock?

January 25, 2016

Late last week, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg confirmed he was considering (again) a run for President as an Independent. The Wall Street Journal reported that Bloomberg is studying the situation and will not run unless he believes he could win. I wonder what that means?

The Bloomberg “best case” scenario would pit Donald Trump (or Ted Cruz) against Bernie Sanders (or a wounded Hillary Clinton). In such a general election matchup, Bloomberg’s “fiscal conservative, socially liberal” positions could appeal to many independents as well as significant portions of both Democrat and Republican Parties. Hmmm.

The path to a Bloomberg Presidency would not be easy. He would need to win enough States’ popular and electoral college votes outright in order to gain a majority in the Electoral College. Popular vote totals alone simply do not translate into Electoral College votes. With the Electoral College majority hanging already upon a handful of States, Bloomberg’s candidacy raise also the chance the election being decided by the House of Representatives instead of the national vote. I guess this is what pundits call a “high risk, high reward” strategy.

One obvious take away is there could be a candidate who appealed to both Democrat and Republican voters. (So oil and water can mix?)

Even more to the point is that a fiscal conservative, social conservative candidate has lost the last two Presidential elections.  General election voters preferred a fiscal liberal, socially liberal candidate. I wonder why Democrats and Republicans have not figured out that social conservatism (lack of inclusiveness, religion driven social policies) is a fast track to defeat on a national basis.  Fiscal conservatism is much harder for the general population to understand but economic policies that raise all boats will attract voters.

Congress has demonstrated well where fiscal conservatism combined with social conservatism leads… gridlock and unresponsive policies.

A Mike Bloomberg candidacy might spell out the fast track to end gridlock. Hmmm.

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The Third Rail

November 21, 2010

Michael Bloomberg is often talked about as a potential third party candidate in the next Presidential election.  The word is that if the Republicans field someone like Sarah Palin or anyone equally hugging the right side of the party, and the Democrats nominate a weak Barark Obama, Bloomberg might mount a self financed and organized third party candidacy.  Would his election also be akin to the third rail and permanently change our two party system to three or more parties?

Americans have mostly experienced a two party system.  Even though a host of minor third parties run every four years, there is usually no expectation that anyone other than a Republican or a Democrat will win.

How would Bloomberg govern when Congress would be mostly Democrat and Republican?  And if Bloomberg was successful, could we anticipate a legitimate third party forming national and in subsequent election Congress then divided between three parties?

The current positions and behaviors of the “right tilted” Republicans and the “left wing” of the Democrats are both dysfunctional and unfit to govern.  (While the left may favor policies that will eventual be adopted and found necessary to the modern world, these Democrats refuse today to endorse a holistic approach and tell the electorate what the real costs and trade offs may be.)

The successful third party will by necessity land in the large middle territory.  If they lead in an holistic fashion, Democrats and Republicans will face extinction unless they change their ways.  Most likely, however, Republicans will retreat further into the 19th century and Democrats will try to govern as if they are from Mars.

At this time, there is no enunciated platform or set of domestic and foreign policies for a Bloomberg candidacy.  At this point he gains his appeal largely due to the lack of fitness of alternatives.  His candidacy will most likely drive the other parties to their extremes leaving a clear path to the presidency.  With a straight talk campaign, Bloomberg would seem like a breath of fresh air.

In that sense Bloomberg’s party would be like a third rail for Republicans and Democrats. He would sweep to victory right down the middle.   But no one knows who might follow Bloomberg after his Presidency.

Is It Time?

November 20, 2010

Unless President Obama comes back to earth and puts some common sense emotion back into his messages to the American people, he will be a one term President.  I fault him not one bit for the job he is doing as President.  I fault him completely for the job he is doing as a leader.

With unemployment stuck at 9% and the deficit unbalanced as far as one can see, the time for speaking directly to Americans and leveling about the realities of the 21st century should be a cake walk.  Instead we hear more whining and mumbling about bi-partisanship with his opposition party who wants it their way or it is the highway.

The major flaw in all this is that neither party, to date, has laid out a comprehensive plan to get control of deficits, generate economic growth, and treat all Americans as the richest nation in the world would be expected to.

Republicans are stuck in a “cut taxes” groove and Democrats are stuck in “we need this or that spending”.  There are no more free lunches available for Americans as there are none for other countries.  Americans must work, save and invest wisely, and pay for the services they receive.  It should also be clear that if in this land one can become very wealthy, then one should pay a greater share in taxes than someone who earns simply a wage.

The list of potential Republican 2011 presidential candidates is a sad list indeed.  There is no charismatic (and intelligent) person and their platforms fly in the opposite direction of the rest of the modern world.  President Obama is making his own bed through his inarticulate speech (and the possibility that he is truly confused on what is the right thing to do and not be wrong).  Is it time for the third party?

A third party that stood tall and said all Americans deserve basic health care with dignity and affordability.  Here’s how to get it and here’s what it will cost.  Or, there needs to be a social safety net for all Americans but particularly for the oldest and neediest.  Here’s how to keep it (social security) and here’s what it will cost.  Or, our country needs to remain strong and alert to those who would make war on us.  Here’s how to do it (more in line with global realities and the expenditures of other nations), and here’s what it costs (in terms of dollars and other programs we cannot afford now – lost opportunity).

Is it time?

 

 

The Pope, the Candidates, and George W Bush

April 21, 2008

The news reports were full of comments and observations about the Pope’s surprise performance on his just ended US visit.  The Pope seems to have held his own “come to Jesus” meeting on the flight to the US and decided he needed to recognize reality or face losing more church members and more importantly, their money.  The Pope wisely confronted the child abuse scandal that pervades a celebrant church.  This was a brave and necessary admission and should help the church (although until Priest can be woman and marry there will be constant abuse).  The Pope also said by not saying that Universities are places of learning and not “pitchmen” for half baked ideas like Intelligent Design.  The Pope also put the issue of abortion into a reasonable light.  He called for mankind to respect all forms of life.  No one can be for pregnancy just to have an abortion so pro-choice people should be able to live with this Pope statement.  Abortion should be an option chosen only after deep thought.

The candidates spent the weekend muddying the waters.  Hillary threw as many mud-balls as possible at Obama while Barack tossed a few back himself.  The contest in Pennsylvania is practically decided in favor of Clinton but the question is “will it be a large and convincing victory or just a close one”?  It is difficult to see any more information on why Barack should not be the nominee even though he does not have enough pledged delegates.  John McCain continues to have difficulty getting the spot light and in many respects that is good.  McCain is trapped in the position of being a Republican and having foolishly called for more tax reductions when the country is nearly bankrupt.  McCain has also been as clear as mud on his strategy for ending the war in Iraq and significantly reducing the costs associated with it.  (The reason is most likely that he, as did Bush and Cheney, wants a military presence indefinitely in the Middle East.)  The subject the candidates needs to be talking about is “what will be the US foreign policy and how that policy will benefit a new domestic policy”.

President Bush, sporting an 18% approval rating remains squarely in “never never land”.  His Middle East strategy (largely do nothing unless Israel tells him to) is a bust.  The evidence of 8 years of neglect and foolish decisions are all around.  Oil prices are at record highs with no sign of leveling in sight.  Iraq War is a hopeless quagmire.  Our currency is tanking.  The US economy is sluggish and in slow decline.  The divisiveness that marked the Rove/Bush “political capital” have left the country tired and worn from constant mean spirited rhetoric. 

Against the example of Pope Benedict who has changed his tune after having made a mess of things, and George W Bush who seems oblivious to the world around him, the Candidates have two examples of how to deal with reality.  The questions is will we ever hear John, Barack, or Hillary abandon the past and embrace the cures our Country so desperately needs.   Where is Michael Bloomberg when we need him?

Is Any Candidate Up to the Task?

February 15, 2008

Getting elected and being the President our Country needs are two different things.  It is not clear to me that either the Democrats or the Republicans have the candidates and “party” leadership to change the direction of America.  Maybe it is time for the formation of competent and realistic third party alternatives.

America is looking down the barrel of two devastating trends.

1. The first is the trampling of individual rights in the name of security or an assumed State religion.  The Bush Administration has used fear of terrorists and hatred of minorities as a very effective mobilizer of 50.1% majorities.  With this support he then rewarded and enriched his political backers.  The risk to all of us is the continued use of fear and the assignment of second class status to some Americans will become part of the accepted ways of Government.  This is a slippery slope and erosion of further Constitutionally protected liberties won’t be far behind.

2. Wealth creation in the US has ceased and most citizens are worse off today than they were 10 years ago.  More children than ever can look forward to having a lower standard of living than their parents.  Of course hedge fund managers and brokers for subprime mortgages and other Wall Street investment bankers have done economically very well.  But the problem is that they do not create wealth, they simply extract it from others.  Without a sharp increase in the wealth distribution in favor of the bottom 95%, the US will steadily decline in economic strength (followed by military strength).  We will see

  • the return of inflation
  • much higher interest rates due to the cost necessary to sell US debt
  • the slow decay of the infrastructure
  • Government leaders shaping foreign policy in a way to blame some other country so that Americans can overlook their failures.  This can lead quickly to another war.
  • a total ostrich approach to global warming

Is it time to think about a brand new, grass roots political party?  One based on sound economic and scientific principles.  Think about it.  How can America afford the Iraq War, fix the crumbling highways and bridges, fix social security and medicare, provide for cost effective healthcare (with dignity), maintain sufficient military strength, and return value to the US dollar?  The answer is we can not.  Bush’s 2009 Budget proposal has an estimated $600 billion deficit and raises the national debt to over $ 9 trillion! 

McCain will spend a lot of money on the military, not raise taxes and lower them if he can, and try to curtail discretionary Government spending.  Clinton/Obama will tee up universal healthcare and try to stimulate jobs.  Although they both say they will end the Iraq War and bring the troops home, will they do it fast enough and will their party members in Congress support them?

Think third party.  Michael Bloomberg is potential third party candidate who would approach the top job in a fuller and more financial sound manner.  He is relatively politically neutral.  In order for him to be most successful he will need to encourage the election of a slate of third party Congress men and women.  He would have the 2010 and 2012 elections to get 30-40% of the Congressional seats filled with new third party members.  These members would pledge:

1. Complete separation of church and state.

2. Encouragement of math and science in applications such as healthcare, pure science, manufacturing, and communications.

3. Support the concepts of “1 America” and “the value of each person”.

4. Demand balanced budgets, debt with finite payback periods, and a goal of eliminating the national debt.

The general prinicple behind this new third party is relatively simple.  The American melting pot is the most innovative and competitively creative in the world “if” left to its own and encouraged in the direction of continuous improvement in productivity and the broad application of science.  Governments that use fear, hate and are wasteful spenders rob all Americans. 

The Elephant (Pun) in the Room

February 5, 2008

The 2008 Presidential primary campaigns began months ago with calls such as, “9/11”, “I was for the surge first”, “I am more conservative than anyone else”, “I was against the war and I am going to bring the troops home”, “my healthcare proposal is universal and yours is not”, and “I am the agent of change, and you’re not”.  Then all of a sudden it became the “economy stupid”!  Today I am wondering whether all the candidates should be kicked off the stage and both Parties (including independents) asked to propose new ones?

The most important issue surfaced yesterday when our “chief executive”, President George W Bush sent forward his budget proposal.  The budget calls for $3.1 trillion in expendatures with a $ 400 million deficit.  The budget does not contain the necessary funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on top of that!  If this was the work of a Fortune 500 CEO he would be summarly shown the door.  Heres are some implications:

1. The additional war spending will be somewhere between $ 150 and $ 250 billion, so the actual amount needed to be borrowed will be about $ 600 billion.  The interest on this, say $ 30 billion will be added back into the expendatures either causing more borrowing or displacing some other expendature.  Since the largest buyer of US debt is currently China, you can see further complication in our foreign policies.

2. Since Bush took office in 2001, he has presided over an unbalanced budget each year thanks largely to a huge tax reduction and a huge increase in spending associated with the unnecessary war in Iraq.  Our national debt has risen from $ 4 trillion to over $ 9 trillion and it is still rising.  Do you still have questions why the dollar has weakened over 40% against the euro?  A weakened dollar is the first step to inflation and robs everyone of the value of their savings.

3. The rhetoric will undoubtably focus on the “entitlement” programs and that they are the root of all evil.  While it is true that the projected cost of these programs is very worrisome, simply cutting them is not the answer.

  • The budget is unbalanced today because Bush drove through too large a tax reduction and did not find a way to fund the unneeded war other than through borrowing.  This imbalance needs to be fixed first.
  • Medicare is part of the much larger healthcare issue and a much grander solution is necessary.  Any solution, however, will carry with it the requirement to pay for it.  The Government will almost assuredly have a role to underwrite some of the cost (like for those who simply can not afford to pay) and to ensure that healthcare costs are kept to the lowest feasible amount.

The budget elephant casts a whole new light on the candidates and their rhetoric up to this time.  Doing away with the IRS, or being tough with Iran, or bringing the country together, or waving a hand and saying my 35 years of experience will help me solve this problem are not the type of answers we need.

The Bush Administration has failed the Country thoroughly and there is no reason to believe Bush look-a-likes will do any better.  Hillary and Barack need to acknowledge the problem and admit that their programs for universal healthcare will have to wait and be part of a total program to repair the finances of our Country.  They need to tap the best of the best financial minds in our Country and augment those efforts with foreign and domestic policies that are compatible and realistic.

Some parts of the program could be:

  • The Iraq War costs must be dramatically reduced over the next two years to $ 50 billion or less.
  • The Defense Department budget of over $ 500 billion and about 5% of our GDP should be reduced to about 4% (it was 3% in 2000 when Bush became President).
  • The Bush tax cuts must not be renewed and therefore tax revenues will increase.
  • There should be an overall fundamental plan to stimulate economic growth through encouragement of science and rebuilding the infrastructure.  We need a healthy economy to generate even more tax revenue.
  • There should be a centralized effort to stimulate export business in order to balance our trade accounts and bring stability to our money supply.

Can you imagine any of the candidates finding a sound bite to summarize this?  Never the less, voters must recognize that our Country’s basic finances have been driven onto the rocks by the Bush Administration, and regardless of which Party is elected, the Country’s financial house will need fixing first.

It’s Cold In New Hampshire

January 7, 2008

Polls indicate that it will be a very cold day Tuesday for Hillary.  The question is “how cold”.  The same can be said for John Edwards but he is likely to do better than first thought.  According to pundits, the reason is the “independent voter”.

It seems that mainline Democrats are content with Hillary but those who carry the label, “independent”, are poised to change the balance.  Interestingly the same can be said for Mitt Romney.  It looks also like those independents are going to turn out for John McCain and produce Mitt’s second loss (or silver medal as Mitt prefers) in three events.  Those independents are everywhere but on election day can only be one place.

1. The surge of “independents” for McCain and Obama may signal a broader dissatisfaction that many more voters have with the performance of the Democratic and Republican parties.  The party that New Hampshire independents vote for will signal how they feel about the future.  Do they want more of the division and fear/hatred of the Bush years, or a different, possibly idyllic future.

2. There is enough time ( post New Hampshire) for Hillary to retool her pitch and she has enough money to grind it out.  There is no certainty, however, that even with a new modified pitch she will be anymore attractive to the independents.

3. The road ahead for most Republican candidates will be bumpy.  From my perspective, Mitt is a dead duck.  But mainstream Republicans who would normally be comfortable with McCain or Thompson have to deal with Rudy (who is most like Bush) and Mike Huckabee (who is a bit like Obama).

4. The back room Republican forces that united for George W Bush have clearly taken a pass on the 2008 election.  They concluded correctly that Bush and Cheney had screwed things up so badly that there was no chance.  Should Obama look like the likely nominee, all bets are off.  But who will they turn to?

5. The Republican bosses will never trust Huckabee.  I would predict that they will keep a stiff upper lip and back McCain and try to back stop him with a VP selection they can trust. 

6. Of course I might have this wrong, and the bosses will turn to the old war horse himself, Dick Cheney.  When experience counts, he’s the man.  When change is needed, he shines there too (just think of the losses in civil liberties, the rejection of the Geneva Convention, the justification of outing a covert CIA agent, the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq).

Oh, there is a lot riding on the New Hampshire primary but we will only see it clearly in the months ahead.