Posted tagged ‘bernie sanders’

Fight To The End

March 9, 2020

In most literature, the hero or heroin are beloved, if and when they persevere and “fight to the end”.  The central character does not waiver in the quest, especially against unfavorable odds, and carries the struggle to the bitter end.  In some stories, the hero or heroin wins, in other stories they lose.  Those who give up, however, are viewed as weak and undeserving of our praise.  Hmmm.

Bernie Sanders finds himself in a predicament.  He has a large, hugely supportive band of supporters to whom Bernie can do no wrong.  But the larger and broader Democrat party appears to be coalescing around his opponent, Joe Biden.  In other words, Biden’s platform is more appealing to more Democrats than Sanders progressive agenda. 

Logic and party loyalty would suggest (or demand) that Sanders, should he continue to contest future primaries, would do so in a manner that did not hurt the party ultimate nominee in November.  But our hero, Bernie Sanders, appears to think he will go down with the ship and leave the other ships burning too.

Case in point might be Sanders’ criticism of Joe Biden’s NAFTA support.  Sanders claims that thousands and thousands of good paying jobs were lost when NAFTA passed which allowed US companies to move work to Mexico.

According to Bernie, that would not have happened had Sanders been in charge.  Automotive jobs would have remained in rust belt States and workers would have continued to earn UAW wages.  Unfortunately, a suitable explanation of why NAFTA was on balance positive for the United States requires more than a 30 second sound bite.

So, while Sanders is factually correct that Biden supported NAFTA and many jobs were ultimately outsources, Bernie is missing the bigger and uglier point.  The US automobile industry was on a direct path to extinction due to lower cost, higher quality foreign brands.  NAFTA allowed negotiators for both the auto makers and the unions to find a face saving way to reduce costs and still keep US nameplates active.  

The real issue with Sanders’ “victory at all costs” approach is that he is not going to get the nomination.  If Sanders did get the nomination, most pundits project that the cost to Democrat Congressional candidates would be heavy.  Further there is a good chance Sanders would not win the presidency.  Hmmm.

Tuesday will again shed more light on the ultimate Democrat winner.  Cleverly, while Sanders is thrashing Biden, Biden is focused on the reasons Trump should not be reelected.  At the end of the day, voters will decide mainly based on “I’m forTrump” or “I’m for anybody else”.   

At this point Biden looks like the best option. 

Measuring Giants

March 4, 2020

Yesterday’s “Super Tuesday” Democrat primaries were a shocking experience for pundits, and most likely for the Trump White House too.  Joe Biden staged the comeback of the century, or so it seemed.  Biden won nine or ten States (counting is still going on) and garnered the most delegates snatching victory from the jaws of Sanders.  Biden’s performance also put a hole below the water line for Mike Bloomberg’s galant effort.  Now what will happen?

Tulsi Gabbard has no basis to continue and should suspend her campaign.  Bloomberg should consider suspending but might do well to wait, at least until Elizabeth Warren decides.  Consider what would happen if Biden had a serious medical event and suddenly appeared compromised to become President.  In such a case, the Democrats would face once again the prospect of “too far” left candidates Sanders and Warren duking it out for the nomination.  Hmmm.

Warren, by all commonsense judgement, ought to suspend her campaign too.  Warren finished behind Bloomberg in most States.  Apparently voters might like to take a “selfie” with Elizabeth but they don’t see her as their standard bearer.

Most interesting about “Super Tuesday” appears to be that voters saw Joe Biden as strongly preferable as the next President.  Biden was seen as a good man and “Presidential timber”.  One might say, the giant among the potential candidates.

Joe Biden is probably a good person but is hardly the sharpest knife in the drawer.  There should be, however, no question that Biden will acquit himself far better in all regards than Donald Trump.  Measuring Biden as a giant is only possible when the other comparison is with a slimy midget like the current President. 

OMG, Buttigieg and Steyer Out

March 2, 2020

Just when I learned how to spell Mayor Pete’s last name, the Buttigieg campaign has elected to suspend operations.  Mayor Pete joins Tom Steyer in calling it quits following the South Carolina primary.  The super Tuesday round of primaries should provide incite for the remaining candidates.  Hmmm.

Pundits have championed Joe Biden’s South Carolina victory and are calling the Democrat race now a two person contest, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.  I wonder what Mike Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, or Amy Klobuchar are thinking?

IMO, it is far too soon to rule out Bloomberg, especially in view of the Covid-19 hysteria.  Not only does Bloomberg stand up well in comparisons with President Trump, ironically he looks even stronger as an experienced chief executive versus the other Democrat hopefuls.  Bloomberg is the only candidate with management experience.

Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar are caught in the middle, like in a high/low poker game.  They have good hands but not good enough to win and too good to just quit.  What should they do?

For the past three years, President Trump has scored “victory” and “victory” by tearing something down or apart.  Each time he claims a victory and claims that all of his predecessors failed.  Think for a moment, what has President Trump built?

Democrats would do well thinking about this observation.  Of course President Trump is a coarse, foul mouthed, narcissistic cad but he is far more than that.  He is a master of bait and switch and sooner or later his business ventures fail.  Democrats need to nominate someone who can put government back together in a way that functions.  Class warfare won’t work, so that narrows the options.

Super Tuesday may clarify the list of candidates or at least the voters may shed more light on who will be around at convention time.

Hmmm.

It’s Congress, Stupid

February 29, 2020

The Democrat Primary is exposing a national broad based fault line.  Democrats are torn between choosing “reform” candidates versus a moderate “do it like we used to do it” candidate in order to solve the grave problems Democrats see.  If ever there was a search for the “silver bullet”, Democrats are showing the way. 

Progressives are speaking about the evils of wealth and corporate interests and why those segments should pay for new entitlements such as universal healthcare for all and free college education.  Moderates, meanwhile, focus upon returning America roughly to the place where it was when Donald Trump assumed the office.  Moderates promise they can unite the party, beat President Trump, and fix Washington.  Hmmm.

Almost every experienced economist appear flabbergasted with Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare For All” which includes ending private insurance and mandatory participation in Medicare.  Healthcare represents about 1/3rd of the US economy and fixing healthcare will be a complicated process to say the least. Free college education is a second attractive proposal which is loaded with hidden traps.  In both cases, where is cost control and efficacy measures?

We live in strange and interesting times.  President Trump has made such a mess of his office that one must be amazed that there would be any confusion on whether Trump should have a second term,  (Trump supporters, of course think otherwise.)  For example, the current coronavirus threat has exposed everything why Donald Trump is unfit to be President. 

  • The coronavirus is a world issue, global cooperation is a must.  Trump shuns global cooperation. 
  • Disease control is an on going activity requiring study and preparations ahead of the actual outbreak.  Trump has cut funding for most of the government agencies involved in disease control. 
  • And the elephant in the room is that fight against the coronavirus requires science and a scientific approach.  Trump routinely dismisses science, scientist, and science methodology.  Hmmm.

So why aren’t all Democrats seeking a less controversial moderate candidate that can win in November?

  • One reason is a healthy one.  There have been close to 30 Democrats who have expressed interest in being the nominee.  Democrat voters are fortunate to have such a wide field of candidates.  Isn’t this much better than a smoke filled room where political bosses make the pick?

 

  • The second reason is a matter of concern.  Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren appear to have tapped into a voter segment who do not want government done the way it was in the past.  These voters appear to feel that while President Trump may be a buffoon and may be doing a poor job, their particular lives are unaffected, just as they were during President Obama.  For these voters healthcare costs are too high or coverage too slim.  Also, for many, college education is the way to improve ones economic position.   Yet, under current policies they are looking forward to insecure jobs prospects and a huge debt as outcomes of college years.  To this group of voters, moderate candidates simply do not care to upset the status quo and therefore will do nothing for them.

This leads to a worrisome outlook.  Suppose Sanders gets the nomination.  Will his Medicare for All and free college tuition produce enough votes to defeat Trump?  Unlikely.  Suppose Sanders does not get the nomination and the nominee is a moderate.  Can that candidate unite the party and turn out sufficient vote in November to defeat President Trump?  Maybe but maybe not.

  • The last troubling observation is the growing tendency of Americans to look to the President as someone who can fix what is “wrong”.  To be sure, the President can set a tone and certainly can be important in implementation of new laws.  But, it is Congress that has the sole Constitutional responsibility to enact laws.  Unless the Congress is aligned with progressive ideas, any President will lack support for the changes Sanders and Warren supporters seek.

Affordable healthcare and college education are reasonable aspirations.  Both are not free and must be paid for in some way.  Unless America is ready for a dictator, those elected to Congress must carry first the banners of universal healthcare and “free” college education. 

Choosing a Presidential nominee ought to reflect the belief that

  • that person can manage as well as lead,
  • that person can surround themself with the best and brightest, and
  • that person will work hand in hand with Congress to translate all American’s wants and needs into law.

It’s Congress, Stupid.

Too Many Billionaires?

February 25, 2020

Pundits as well as Democrat Presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, are asking this rhetorical questions, “are there too many billionaires?”  And the answer is ????

Without question there is growing income inequality.  Also there is a large numbers of previously employed workers who find themselves out of employment or stuck in a much lower paying job, either because their original job has been outsourced or their job has become a victim of technically driven productivity adoptions.  So for many ones job is now residing in low wage countries overseas, or there is a new robot or computer algorithm doing ones former job better, cheaper, and faster.  Hmmm.

Pundits (plus Warren and Sanders) point to the growing list of billionaires as the root cause of all evil.  And to the extent that each of these “concentrations of wealth” are taking a blind eye towards societal problems, one can at least agree that some of the newly minted billionaires would not be missed if they were to suddenly disappear.  But is the billionaire class responsible for the mess in Washington?

It was Congress that passed in 2017 a tax cut which has allowed a company such as Amazon to pay zero corporate income tax.  Amazon didn’t pass the tax cut legislation (although its lobbying efforts may have helped).  The tax cut was the work of Congress and the cuts should have been seen as fundamentally unnecessary, but it wasn’t.

Economists with even a modest amount of credentials knew the tax cut was unnecessary.  The economy was expanding, interest rates were low, and no further stimulus would be wise.

As details emerged following the tax cuts implementation, it became clear that corporations reinvested little of their tax savings (bonuses and stock buybacks got the bulk of the cuts.  Further, the promise that the economy would “explode” as the tax cut kicked in was shown hollow. The tax cut did not pay for itself and must be viewed as unfunded (thereby increasing the national debt). 

Is it “billionaires fault” that Congress passed the unnecessary tax cut? 

IMO, billionaires are not the fault of our national problems.  Rather it is the greed and sophisticated corruption of all those attempting to become billionaires along with too many of our political Congress Members.  The problems more accurately lies with all those who “want” to be billionaires.

So the wiser solution lies not in trying to take money from the already wealthy (of course they should pay a fair progressive tax) but instead our tax code should be adjusted to make it far more expensive (tax-wise) to become a billionaire in the first place.  

A society which thinks it is ok to “take from the wealthy” (even to give to the poor) is walking on dangerous grounds.  Taking from the wealthy does not incentivize the less wealthy to work harder or cleverer.  Further taking from the rich just smells of unfairness.

Setting the tax rules so that no one can achieve a zero tax rate sounds obvious.  Eliminating “give aways” to corporations, although extremely difficult to achieve, makes sense too.  And let’s not forget a transfer tax on all the high speed buying and selling on Wall Street.

Hmmm.

What’s More Important?

February 19, 2020

Looking at the Democrat Presidential candidate field, one must wonder who will emerge as the standard bearer.  One would think that this process is designed to identify the most qualified and strongest candidate to carry the Democrat platform across the finish line.  Hmmm. 

For the Democrats, the issue is that each candidate has some wonderful attributes but it is unclear how these attributes would fair under the vague uncertainties of future years in office.   Hmmm.

Being President of the US is far more complex and difficult than what one sees on TV.  When the market is expanding, when the world is well balanced, and when domestic problems are easy to gain agreement upon, then political life is relatively easy.  But life, however, is not always like that, and who ever follows Donald Trump will have more question marks to consider.

The President sets policy and priorities that influence not only his/her term but set the stage for future successors.  President Trump is laying the stones upon which the next administration must walk.  The next President can expect turbulent times and most likely a divided Congress.  Getting any new President’s agenda transformed into law is not a guaranteed event.

This strongly suggest that Democrats, as they survey the field of 8 candidates, should weigh executive skills equally with each candidate’s policy proposals.  Sanders (Medicare For All, “war” on corporate and wealthy classes) is passionate about healthcare but how does one feel about Sanders ability to confront China or Russia, or rebuild the EPA or Commerce Department?  Biden is identified with years of public “legislative” service and practically no executive experience.  Hmmm.

The Chief Executive is just that.  The President is the chief executive of the US Government and as such should be equipped to run government with a team of capable leaders, many or most who should possess greater expertise in their field than the President.  Being smarter than the generals is not the sign of a well run executive.

Tonight Mike Bloomberg will join seven other Democrat Presidential hopefuls for the first time.  Will the discussion revolve around substance or will discussion focus upon Bloomberg’s wealth?  Will Bloomberg show his “Teflon, non-stick” skills and deflect incoming charges?  Will Democrats continue to “eat their children” instead of educating voters on why a Democrat should be elected in November?

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

February 13, 2020

Democrat 2020 Presidential retail politics has been an unusually fertile area in these months leading up to the 2020 Presidential convention.  There have been a whopping 29 candidates who have thrown their hats in the ring, and of today, there are 8 left (Biden, Sanders, Buttegieg, Klobuchar, Warren, Bloomberg, Gabbard, and Steyer).  So where does this list go?

  • Tulsi Gabbard and Tom Steyer, if playing poker, would fold their hands as soon as possible.  Neither has a compelling case nor do either look like potential VP candidates.
  • Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren appear headed no where despite sizable followings.  Biden has just looked tired (and old) and lacking the bounce one would think necessary to beat the “Trump drum”.  Warren who looked promising until voters had to make choices has been falling in the national polls for a couple of months in a row.  Both will most likely hang in until “super Tuesday although Nevada and South Carolina could break their wills to continue.

 

  • The rest (Sanders, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Bloomberg) are all in, at least through super Tuesday, and following that March 3 primary, there may be enough information to wean the pack further.

The big questions might be:

  • Will Bloomberg have a path to 1991 delegates in his column by convention time?
  • Will Sanders still believe he can muster the 1991?
  • Will Buttigieg and Klobuchar decide to go to the convention with less than 1991 and hope for the nod from a dead locked convention?
  • Will Biden and Warren embarrass themselves by also going to the convention with much less than 1991?

The remaining primaries will be fought under different terms.  Effective ground organization and advertising dollars will be critical since the candidates can not press the flesh as much as in Iowa or New Hampshire.  All the candidates will be at risk of faux pars simply because they and their staffs become tired.  Hmmm.

Mike Bloomberg looks the most promising at this point (money, experience, and a well conceived stump speech on winning issues).  Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar represent the next generation and have been very effective in connecting with voters.  Bernie Sanders is Bernie Sanders and will fight until the last vote is counted.  IMO, Sanders will not get the nomination again.

Hmmm.

Eating Your Children

February 9, 2020

Joe Biden finished a weak fourth place in the Iowa caucuses.  This should surprise no one, especially Biden, since he didn’t go all in until late, and frankly, Biden showed a bit of the Hillary Clinton “I’m entitled” attitude.  Iowa wants candidates to earn their vote and simply saying “I can beat Trump and perform as President on Day 1” is not enough.

Beating Trump and skipping a learning period should make sense to most people I would think.  Reality, however, is different.  Many young people are concerned about college debt, and many older people are concerned with healthcare availability.  What good is it to them if someone becomes President and does nothing to deal with these two problems?

Pete Buttigieg impressed many Iowans with his straight forward answers to most questions.  For healthcare, Mayor Pete says he will build upon Obamacare, and since he already has $131,000 in student loans, Mayor Pete can speak knowledgeably about student loans.  Mayor Pete say he will look for debt forgiveness programs where students who work in public sector jobs can get all or part of their loans forgiven.  Pretty straight forward and believable.

So, in the waning days of the New Hampshire primary, Biden sees another fourth place finish looming ahead.  So what does the game plan call for?  How about attacking Sanders and by inference Warren that they are too socialistic to win and Buttigieg as too inexperienced to handle the duties of President right away?   To drive his point home, Biden emphasized that Mayor Pete was no Barack Obama.

That Joe Biden is desperate is no sin but his tactics reflect poor choices.  Bernie Sanders is too far to the left to win and most voters know that.  But for those who support Bernie, they see someone willing to address the problems they face with real solutions.  Biden would have been better served acknowledging at least some of what Bernie supporters feel and offering his approach.  (Remember the issue is not Medicare for All, it is affordable basic healthcare for all.)

But it is Bidens attack on Buttigieg that reflect the poorest in judgement.  Biden can make the point that he (Biden) is a better choice for New Hampshire voters by reinforcing what voters will get from Joe Biden…  Buttigieg’s younger supporters will never react to the notion they are picking someone not ready for the job.  Biden must offer something better (more appealing) since if Buttigieg is too young, than at 78, isn’t Biden too old?

But even more to the point, why try to damage Buttigieg if Biden ends up not being the voters’ preference?  Looks like the old dog cannot learn new tricks.

Bloomberg Is In

November 25, 2019

Michael Bloomberg unleashed his 2020 Presidential campaign Sunday with a reported $30 million advertising buy.  As also reported earlier, Bloomberg’s strategy will be to aim at Super Tuesday (March 15) and not get forced into campaigning in the first four primaries/caucuses.  Now that Bloomberg’s candidacy is real, what does it mean?

  • Money.  Some of the first comments by Democrat challengers had to do with money.  Like, “does he think he can buy the nomination?”  Interestingly, if one thinks for a minute most all the Democrat candidates will need to raise a lot of money, especially if they are nominated.  With the price tag probably north of $1 billion the “candidate” will need to get large chunks of that billion from others and almost assuredly the “other” will want something in return.  Hmmm.  A Bloomberg candidacy may focus light on how much other candidates will be owing to special interests.
  • Reality.  With 17 other Democrat hopefuls trying to achieve a “breakout” moment, there has been a panacea of “give aways” and  ‘take aways”, like Medicare for all, forgiving college loan debt, and tax the wealthy.  Regardless of whether these proposals ultimately make sense, in 2020 they seem unattainable simply due to the mood of the public and the makeup of Congress.  Bloomberg in his pragmatic, matter of fact manner will speak sense to the electorate.
  • Catalyst.  There is a high probability that no candidate will achieve a majority prior to the convention.  Given that, what basis is there for a Sanders or Warren supporter switch to someone such as Biden, Buttigieg, or Bloomberg?   For progressive candidate supporters they must believe the convention selection, at a minimum, can beat Trump.  Second these supporters will want a nominee who can unite the party.  Thirdly, these supporters will seek someone who is at least sympathetic to healthcare for all and relief for college debt even if not adopting the Warren’s or Sander’s specific proposal. Likewise, the candidates currently drawing less than 3% in the polls will be unable to continue to fund their candidacy and will need to drop their bids.  At this time, it is still unclear whether Bloomberg can win the nomination but each of the remaining candidates will likely be measured with Bloomberg as the standard (experience, commonsense platform, and ability to raise money).

Buttigieg and Biden are currently the two most likely candidates to make the final cut.  If they attempt to emulate Bloomberg’s campaign strategies, their chance of winning the nomination and then beating Trump will improve.  Stay tuned.

The Bloomberg Factor

November 10, 2019

Michael Bloomberg’s organization made application to take part in the Alabama Democrat primary.  This filing and any others that Bloomberg will subsequently authorize could position Bloomberg to become a full fledged candidate for the Democrat Presidential nomination. Will this new entry make a difference?

The current Democrat field of 17 Presidential candidates is quite large with a cluster around centrist values and two candidates pushing the bounds of progressive values.  Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren currently occupy about 30-40% of poll results. More importantly, Sanders and Warren also represent the most liberal or progressive wing of the party,  Are these very progressive views salable to a majority of voters?

Of the remaining 60-70%, Joe Biden has about 25% of the polling data and is squarely a centrist.  The remaining 14 candidates register in single digits.  

So, what would the entry of Michael Bloomberg mean?

If one reads the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times, or any other large city newspaper, Michael Bloomberg should be no stranger. Bloomberg is a self made billionaire and successful three term mayor of New York City.  Pragmatic on most issues, progressive in a practical manner on others.  Bloomberg would be fully capable of performing the Presidential duties on day one. But most Americans do not read newspapers and Michael Bloomberg may be a stranger. What obstacles lie ahead of potential Bloomberg candidacy?

For many Americans, Bloomberg will need to introduce himself and outline why he should become the Democrat standard bearer and receive their vote. (Need for national name recognition)

Candidate Bloomberg is 77 years old and would enter a field with Sanders, 78, Biden 76, and Warren 70.  President Trump weighs in at 73.  Hmmm. Age is usually associated with experience and maturity but also comes with concerns about mental quickness, stamina, and health.  At 77 and President Trump at 73, Bloomberg needs to make the case that his experience is more relevant and far better for voters than the current President’s.  (Is Bloomberg still alert and healthy?)

The President’s job, if properly performed, is a tough executive assignment with an extremely broad span of responsibilities both domestically and foreign.  Arguably Vice President Biden should be prepared having been in the White House for 8 years already.  Sanders and Warren are both Senators and lack executive experience.  Bloomberg is a self made $50 billionaire who lead New York City for 3 terms.  Bloomberg will need to convince Democrat primary voters that his executive experience is relevant and important.  (Can Bloomberg convince voters that his personal business and mayoral experience are relevant for the Democrat nomination?)

Bloomberg’s signal of possibly running for President comes with less than three months before the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. And Super Tuesday (March 15, 2020) is about 5 months away.  News reports suggest that Bloomberg will intentionally skip the first four primaries and instead put his efforts on Super Tuesday. (Will Bloomberg try to win the nomination by primary votes or play for a deadlocked convention and being selected at the Convention?)

Money and “position papers” drive each candidate’s campaign.  With Bloomberg’s late entry what will he offer.  Money should be no issue but what policies will Bloomberg emphasize?  Bloomberg has been critical of Sanders and Warren, who he feels are promising goals they will be unable to deliver.  Never the less, Bloomberg will need some set of issue to run on other than I can do better than Trump.  (What Bloomberg select issues the average American can relate to?)

Finally news reports have suggested Bloomberg believe Joe Biden does not have enough popular support and financial backing from wealthy donors.  In such a situation the extreme progressive positions of Sanders and Warren might carry the day.  This worries Bloomberg because he believes Trump can beat such a left wing candidacy. Another factor to consider, as the other 17 candidates sooner or later drop their campaigns, would they support Biden, Sanders, or Warren, or would they back Bloomberg?   (Will Bloomberg ultimately back Biden if he does not run or can not win?)