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Benny

If Biden Wants to Be Like F.D.R., He Needs the Left

From roughly 1930 to 1935, an amalgamation of leftists and laborers — employed or otherwise — made social insurance an urgent priority for the federal government. It is possible that something like the Social Security Act would have passed without this agitation, but knowing how difficult it is to move the American government in any direction without the pressure of organized public opinion, I doubt it.

Let’s return to the present. The conditions of January 2021 will be very different than those of January 1935. The situation isn’t as dire and the left isn’t as strong. Neither is the Democratic Party. What, then, can Democrats take from this story?

Simply put, an ambitious, active left is one that widens the scope of reform. It’s a left that, even if you disagree with it, helps clear the pathways for action. It brings energy and urgency to liberal politics. And if nothing else, it’s a foil against which moderates can triangulate and make the case for more than marginal change, should they want it. Roosevelt was often frustrated with the left, but recognized its power and the importance of its vitality to his own cause.

There was no building the American welfare state without the left, and if it’s to be rebuilt, the left will have to be part of it. Democrats, especially would-be heirs to F.D.R., should take care to remember that fact.

Benny

jcitybone

https://prospect.org/blogs/tap/enough-with-the-please-be-centrist-joe-op-eds/

It takes extraordinary good fortune these days for opinion-piece readers to miss the flood of articles calling on Joe Biden to be a down-the-line moderate. The Wall Street Journal featured two such pieces on Wednesday, one from longtime Democratic moderate Bill Galston, the other from Mike Solon and Phil Gramm, the latter a former Republican senator known for his vehement opposition to every piece of economic regulation dating back to the biblical injunction that workers should be paid.

The focus on what Biden should do is understandable, but where are the pieces calling on congressional Republicans to meet him halfway, or quarter-way, or even tenth-way? The all-too-tacit assumption of many who counsel prudential centrism to Biden is that Republicans will then welcome such a chastened perspective with open arms.

Ya wanna bet?

It would be nice if we saw more columns about how Republicans should behave once Biden takes office. It would also be nice if Biden ignored these counsels of timidity to put before Congress such widely popular measures as a $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave, a public option for health insurance, and a massive investment in green infrastructure. Republicans will vote down (or if they hold the Senate, refuse to consider) these proposals. Let ’em. That’s fine. That’s what Democrats can run against in 2022 and 2024. By so doing, Biden can set a lot of the agenda for those elections—to his advantage, the Democrats’, and the nation’s.

wi62

I doubt Byedone will be around in 24 so are we depending on Harris for those policies?

jcitybone

https://jacobinmag.com/2020/11/joe-biden-obama-2009-economic-crisis

Joe Biden Should Take a Hard Look at What Obama Did in 2009 — And Do Exactly the Opposite

Needless to say, the former president’s personal style — conflict-averse, wary of naming enemies or appearing even faintly radical, often determined to appear above politics entirely — came to define much about his two terms in office and his overall approach to governing. This naturally applied during his administration’s handling of the 2009 economic crisis, which would become one of the Obama presidency’s formative moments and arguably set the stage for the electoral drubbing Democrats faced in the 2010 midterms.

Convinced that the best course was to shore up the financial sector and take a light touch with Wall Street, Obama’s decidedly non-pugilistic approach ultimately ensured a conservative response to a situation crying out for an activist one.

The result was a stimulus that was too small (Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner warning that a larger one “could spook markets or the public”) and a plan for economic relief that was more about restoring the pre-crisis status quo than shoring up the finances of individual Americans facing unemployment or foreclosures. Even as 6 million people lost their homes, 70 percent of those who applied were turned down by the administration’s flagship homeowner assistance program — itself designed to preclude direct transfers to indebted homeowners in favor of government payments to mortgage servicing companies. In a metaphor for the administration’s handling of the crisis that is almost too perfect, even an initiative ostensibly concerned with limiting foreclosures was actually about helping large banks.

Suffice it to say, adopting a similarly top-down approach to the current crisis could prove equally, if not more, disastrous.

polarbear4

But Biden doesn’t want to be like FDR. The left has been pushing that meme, not Biden or his team. It irritates me when I hear people like Bernie and AOC trying to link the two. I get that they are trying to push him, but all it does is propagandize a whole lot of people who aren’t paying attention. imho

i will do what i can, if we truly find a way to push him left and i will celebrate and praise him until the cows come home if i am wrong.

wi62

Whole heartedly agree with your last sentence, but i dont think we have anything to worry about

orlbucfan

T and R, LD!! 😊💞👍 A close pal of the Hubster is going to the Inauguration. It will be interesting to hear his story when he returns. We will see what kind of nonsense the FRighties and tRump cultists dream up.🤮💩

wi62

I wonder how many Byedone supporters will even show due to the virus

Benny

Bernie Sanders is a Bad Choice for Labor Secretary

Sanders has reportedly been campaigning for the job since weeks before Election Day. This revelation earned excitement from progressives and the broader Left. Both The Nation and Jacobin drew direct parallels from a Secretary Sanders to Frances Perkins, the first Secretary of Labor who steered the Department for a dozen years as a staunch supporter of the New Deal. The Nation reasons that Sanders could use the position as a “bully pulpit” to forcefully argue for a workers’ rights agenda, while Jacobin states that Sanders can “make the case that the best way to raise and enforce labor standards is to rekindle collective bargaining rights and democratic voice in the workplace.”

A few problems immediately emerge from these arguments. Most obviously, the Department of Labor has little to do with unions aside from maintaining regulatory oversight and reporting standards of labor organizations. While Sanders’s labor message has never been restricted to simply promoting unionism, this means much of the job is dedicated to the sort of administrative rulemaking and personnel management that keeps the Secretary from having time to make too many stump speeches. And if Sanders’s greatest strength as a candidate is his charisma and public persuasiveness, there is nothing stopping him now from traveling the country and making the case for collective bargaining.

Of course, Sanders has been singing the praises of unions for years and there has been no sign yet of any resurgence in labor organizing, even since Sanders became a household name in 2016. There would perhaps be some aesthetic synergy to be gained in emblazoning his speeches with the official Department of Labor seal, but it is not clear to me that this would resonate outside of the political base he’s already cultivated. That’s not a knock on Sanders; I just can’t ascribe that sort of power to any single person within the labor movement.

Sanders’s goals seem much more in tune with the National Labor Relations Board’s mission, but there’s not an obvious fit within the agency. Sanders is not a lawyer and thus couldn’t serve as General Counsel, and serving as one member of the five-person Board seems like a waste of his reach and talents.

That brings us to the real issue. As a sitting U.S. Senator, Sanders already has the most power and influence he will ever wield in his career. He’s a strong voice for workers, but he’s just a strong a voice for healthcare reform and an anti-interventionist foreign policy, among dozens of other progressive causes. Slotting Sanders into a single-issue role in a presidential cabinet will presumably muzzle him from criticizing Biden or other Democrats on these issues for the duration of his service.

There is also the issue of Sanders’s hypothetical replacement, who would be appointed for a several-month stint by Vermont’s Republican governor. While the governor has apparently committed to appointing an independent who would caucus with Democrats in such a scenario (mirroring Sanders’s current role), it is almost certain that this replacement would be to the right of Sanders.

In the end, Sanders’s advantages he brings to the Department of Labor are marginal and the costs are great. If policy change is what matters, then it makes much more sense to nominate a technocrat like AFL-CIO economist William Spriggs or California labor secretary Julie Su. I personally have a soft spot for Michigan Congressman Andy Levin, who has the labor bona fides as a former union organizer and the policy chops to put them to administrative use. The acuity and passion with which he prosecutes anti-union witnesses in congressional hearings, for example, stand in stark comparison to his Democratic colleagues, who generally ignore the Republican witnesses and loft softballs at the Democratic invitees. This convinces me that he—like Sanders—gets the big picture: the fight needs to be taken to the enemies of workers and their families. (As of this writing, Boston Mayor and former building trades official Marty Walsh appears to be the slight favorite for the nomination.)

Sanders’s greatest strengths remain on the stump and on the floors of Congress, not in the conference room of a federal office building. Sanders remaining in the Senate should not be looked at as some progressive defeat.

Some food for thought.

jcitybone

I think Bernie knows he’s not going to be chosen. I think he’s hoping that by making pubic his desire, there might be more of a chance that Biden will pick someone more to Bernie’s liking. I think the same thing is going on with Warren and Treasury to be honest.

Benny

wi62

Childs play ,just wait and see what Pharm charges for the covid shots it wont matter if the gov pays for it thru our tax dollar or we have to as ill bet insurance wont cover it, either way were gonna over pay in the name of record profits

Don midwest
Don midwest

Don midwest
Don midwest

a new low – confuse MI and MN in voter count

Don midwest
Don midwest

listening to House session on Afghanistan military support

most are saying we need to stay

other empires failed with wars, but we are different?

The Forever War In Afghanistan Will Soon Re-escalate

Everyone wants the troops to leave Afghanistan except the Pentagon brass and the CIA. They have prevailed over two presidents and are now ready to manipulate a third one into intensifying the war.

M.K. Bhadrakumar explains why the Pentagon prevailed over two presidents:

Fundamentally, the contradiction lies here: Pentagon top brass is far from through with the 19-year old Afghan war. They never saw it quite the way Trump sees it — an “endless war” — because they still think they can win it and realise their key objectives. In fact, some amongst them still would think they could have won the Vietnam War if only the Pentagon had a free hand.
When the presidency of George W Bush ended and Barack Obama took over in 2009, the war in Afghanistan could have ended. Candidate Obama was very vociferous about the futility of the war. But the military commanders could anticipate that America’s first Black president was a babe in the woods in the Beltway, as his invitation to Robert Gates to continue as his defence secretary loudly proclaimed.

They sized up that Obama was indecisive and weak and they could change his mind. And they were proven right. They actually got him to approve the “Afghan surge,” which of course was projected persuasively as one last good push to defeat the Taliban conclusively.

Now, that push continued for the next seven years under Obama.

The military commanders again were lucky as Trump, although a white American, was a rank outsider to the US establishment.

Trump didn’t persevere — he was never “hands-on” — when it came to the Afghan war. He never once phoned Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, leave alone received him in the Oval Office. The military commanders could brilliantly string along Trump. They simply exhausted him in a waiting game right up to the home stretch of his 4-year term.

Now the military commanders are getting ready for a new president who is probably as close to their heart, as good as George Bush.

jcitybone

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/11/joe-biden-student-loan-debt/

President-elect Joe Biden wanted to talk about “good-paying union jobs” after his meeting with some of the country’s top CEOs and union leaders on Monday. The Online Left wanted to talk about canceling student loan debt. And the internet discourse became real life after Biden finished his remarks, when a reporter asked Biden whether forgiving the more than $1.6 trillion in outstanding loans figured into his economic recovery plans.

“It does figure in my plan,” Biden said. He reiterated his campaign promises to strengthen the public service loan forgiveness program, make the income-based repayment program more generous, and immediately cancel $10,000 in student loan debt when he assumes office in January. “People are in trouble,” he said. “They’re having to make choices between paying loans and paying rent.”

But Biden’s ideas don’t go far enough for many Democrats, and his response on Monday renewed debate on whether he should push for more. Many want to see Biden heed a resolution introduced in September by Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that calls on the next president to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt through executive order, an idea that originated in Warren’s presidential campaign. Progressives say the pandemic and its attendant economic and racial justice crises have made the case for why these debilitating sums should be forgiven for the roughly 44 million borrowers whose debt loads would be eased.

There isn’t any question of whether Biden has the authority to forgive the loans: Trump himself used his executive authority last August to cancel debt burdens for 25,000 permanent disabled veterans. And even if a GOP-controlled Senate blocked Biden’s nominee to be Education secretary, Toby Merrill, the director of Harvard’s Project on Predatory Student Lending who did the original analysis for Warren, told me that an acting secretary should have the same authority to cancel debate. Instead of logistics, the real issue facing it is political—mainly, the party’s own will.

Polling suggests that canceling a wide swath of debt wouldn’t cause political harm for Biden. A May 2019 Quinnipiac poll found that 57 percent of voters backed canceling up to $50,000 in student loans for people who make less than $250,000 year. Progressive think tank Data for Progress found a similar result in a September 2020 survey—including support for the issue among a slight majority of Republican voters. Even so, canceling such a high amount of student debt has generally been relegated to liberal pipe dream status alongside Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Its champions have been Warren, who proposed canceling up to $50,000 per student, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who, not to be outflanked, later promised to cancel all of it. And the COVID-19 recession that forced laid-off workers to choose between essential payments and debt burdens further highlighted one of the points Warren stressed when introducing her plan: The burden falls disproportionately on Black borrowers. A 2016 study from the Brookings Institution found that Black graduates hold on average $53,000 in student loan debt four years after graduation—an amount nearly twice as high as their white peers.

jcitybone

https://theintercept.com/2020/11/19/biden-treasury-secretary-climate/

THOUGH FORMER Vice President Joe Biden made climate a priority in his campaign and reportedly plans to make it a centerpiece of his administration, who the president-elect chooses to fill his Cabinet over the coming weeks will determine how his White House actually addresses the climate crisis. Climate activists are, of course, focusing on the potential leaders of the Energy and Interior Departments and the Environmental Protection Agency, but they are also pushing for a wider vision of what climate-conscious national leadership should look like.

Seriously addressing the crisis will require more than sound pollution and public lands policy, and organizers are moving fast to push for climate-serious appointments to an array of positions not traditionally associated with environmental action. They are casting a spotlight on the position of treasury secretary, which holds significant untapped power to address the climate emergency.

Financial regulatory agencies “have arguably the legal authority to shut down fossil fuel financing at the banks and asset managers and insurance industries,” said Brett Fleishman, associate director of fossil finance campaigns for the environmental group 350.org. “That’s our big goal.” The treasury secretary in many ways sits at the helm of those agencies.

350.org is a member of a climate coalition called Stop the Money Pipeline, which aims to pressure banks, asset managers, insurance companies, and institutional investors to stop funding fossil fuel companies. The group recently sent the Biden administration a rubric for evaluating treasury secretary picks on climate, including that they demonstrate a willingness to pull the regulatory levers available to address climate and that they have no recent history of working for the fossil fuel industry.

It’s the financial regulatory agencies’ long-term inaction on climate that leaves proponents of grand climate-related action skeptical of establishment names that have been reported as possible Biden picks. One frontrunner, the moderate Janet Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, is a founding member of a climate action coalition — which sounds promising until one realizes that the group was co-founded by fossil fuel firms themselves. Lael Brainard, a member of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, has commented on the economic risk climate represents, but hasn’t pressed the Fed to take significant regulatory action.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is a climate activist favorite, but she would need to vacate her seat in the Senate. Sarah Bloom Raskin, who was deputy treasury secretary under President Barack Obama and also served as a member of the Fed board, appeared on the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats’ wish list beside Warren — and testified last spring that the Fed was not taking climate seriously enough.

The emphasis climate organizers are putting on appointments outside of environmentalists’ traditional lanes reflects the growing severity of the crisis and the gradual popular realization that modest reforms won’t staunch the bleeding.

jcitybone

If Politico’s musings are to be believed the hopes above do not seem to be coming true. I think all of Biden’s picks are going to be like this, people who both sides can live with but satisfy neither

https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-money/2020/11/20/yellen-seems-headed-to-treasury-791816

Yellen (seems) slated for Treasury — President-elect Joe Biden sent waves through the financial world by saying he has settled on his choice for Treasury secretary and will announce the pick sometime this month. “You’ll soon hear my choice for Treasury,” Biden told reporters at a news conference in Delaware. “We made that decision, and you’ll hear that just before or just after Thanksgiving.”

Biden also said the pick would win wide praise among Democrats. “You’ll find it is someone who I think is — will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party, from the progressive to the moderate coalitions.”

The ONLY name among current candidates that fits this description is former Fed Chair Janet Yellen (who declined to comment to our Victoria Guida.) Lael Brainard does not (though she really should.) Neither does Roger Ferguson, a former vice chair of the Fed and head of TIAA-Cref. Neither of those people would satisfy strong progressives.

MM spoke to about half a dozen people either inside the Biden transition or serving as outside experts for the economic team. None would confirm (which we found deeply annoying) that Yellen was the pick or even say if they knew who the pick was. It’s a pretty darn tight ship. Which as a sidebar is something we may have to get used to after the leak-fest of the Trump years.

But none of the Biden folks denied that Yellen seems to be the only person among the current roster of potential candidates who would fit Biden’s description. Could there be some wild card candidate no one is thinking about? Sure. But it’s probably Yellen. MM has said before she’s something of an unconventional pick given her background as a (brilliant and super talented) academic economist and Fed Chair. But Treasury usually gets more of an executive/management type.

But the more MM talks to Biden folks the more Yellen makes sense. She has no opponents within the Democratic caucus. It would be nearly impossible for Republicans to oppose her in any significant way. She can delegate annoying management stuff to deputies. And as the economy continues to struggle it makes sense to have someone at Hamilton Place familiar with the workings of the central bank, much as Tim Geithner was for President Obama in 2009.

wi62

Hey we were spot on with status quo Joe

polarbear4

from 2013 and Obama’s admin:

Carter recaps some of Yellen’s positions:

Yellen supported a host of economic policies during the Clinton era that have since become broadly unpopular. She backed the repeal of the landmark Glass-Steagall bank reform and she supported the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement. She also pressured the government to develop a new statistical metric intended to lower payments to senior citizens on Social Security….

A full transcript of Yellen’s Feb. 5, 1997 confirmation hearing is available here. At the same event, Yellen endorsed establishing a new statistical metric that would allow the federal government to reduce Social Security payments over time, by revising the consumer price index, or CPI, the government’s standard measurement for inflation…Once in office, Yellen put that belief into action, writing a letter to the Bureau of Labor Statistics encouraging it to devise a cheaper inflation metric…

At the time, this new metric, known as chained CPI, was being aggressively pursued by House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), following then-Fed Chair Alan Greenspan’s criticism of the existing cost-of-living calculations…Some economists argue that a more appropriate inflation measure for Social Security would look at price changes for elderly people, and the BLS does track an experimental metric addressing inflation for older Americans. Such a metric is not useful for politicians looking to cut Social Security spending, however, as it shows that living expenses tend to go up more for older people, driven in part by health care spending.

Chained CPI has been a major point of contention in budget negotiations between Obama and congressional Republicans, with both camps alternating between supporting the measure and decrying it. Adopting Chained CPI to cut Social Security is extremely unpopular with both the general public and senior citizens.

Oh, and Carter also points out that Yellen also pumped for NAFTA in 1993.

Yellen advocated cap and trade in 1998. She argued for only narrow application of anti-trust the same year:

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/09/why-you-should-not-be-enthusiastic-about-janet-yellen-as-fed-chairman.html

jcitybone

“Targeted” to industry not people

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/20/mnuchin-says-he-and-gop-leaders-will-discuss-plan-to-pass-targeted-stimulus-with-democrats-help.html

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that he and senior GOP lawmakers will attempt to draft a targeted stimulus package with Democrats in the coming weeks.

Mnuchin explained that he and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows will later Friday convene with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to brainstorm ideas for a more-targeted relief package.

Mnuchin, who with Meadows has led President Donald Trump’s stimulus discussions for months, expressed some optimism that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., may be more open to a compromise following the 2020 elections.

“I can tell you Mark Meadows and I will be speaking with Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy this morning,” he said. “And we are going to come up with a plan to sit down with Pelosi and Schumer and try to get a targeted bill done for the people that really need it. And hopefully the Democrats will work with us.”

Democrats have argued for more robust spending to not only extend unemployment benefits and the PPP, but to also help support state and local governments that have seen steep budgetary deficits due to the coronavirus’s impact on business.

The White House and Senate Republicans, who say they are more concerned about the price tag, have called for smaller, more targeted measures that would restrict aid to the hardest-hit industries like travel, restaurants and hospitality.

jcitybone

https://www.salon.com/2020/11/20/kelly-loefflers-disclosures-appear-to-omit-the-holding-company-that-operates-her-private-jet/

Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., the unelected multimillionaire senator now heading for a runoff election in January, appears to have omitted a holding company from her federally mandated financial disclosures, which would violate Senate ethics rules and federal law.

The company, Descante Capital Holdings, was uncovered in Salon’s reporting on a private jet that Loeffler jointly purchased with her husband, Jerry Sprecher, who is chair of the New York Stock Exchange. Loeffler, who says she bought the plane shortly after her senate appointment last December, uses it for travel between Georgia and Washington, as well as for campaign junkets around the Peach State. She once used it for an 18-minute hop from a central Georgia town to Savannah.

A Loeffler staffer told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last February that the senator had paid for the airplane “out of her pocket,” but her financial disclosures suggest that isn’t true. Salon’s previous reporting found that not only is the plane jointly owned by Loeffler and Sprecher, but the couple may also have availed themselves of a Trump tax-law loophole to write off the $10 million purchase entirely.

Individuals are not permitted to write off the purchase of a jet; only businesses can do that. Furthermore, Loeffler and Sprecher appear to have purposefully concealed the ownership arrangement, chartering the plane through a company called TVPX Aircraft Solutions, which provides an “owner trust” that offers its clients complete anonymity. The aircraft tracking site Flight Aware says that the jet is “not available for public tracking per request from the owner/operator.”

jcitybone

Every senator testing positive for the virus has been Republican. Wonder why🤔

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/526846-rick-scott-tests-positive-for-coronavirus

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said on Friday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, roughly a week after he started self-quarantining.

Scott, in a statement, said that after getting multiple negative results, a test that he took on Tuesday came back positive on Friday morning.

“After several negative tests, I learned I was positive this morning. I am feeling good and experiencing very mild symptoms. I will be working from home in Naples until it is safe for me to return to Washington, D.C.,” Scott said in a statement.

Scott is the latest to test positive amid a new outbreak of cases among lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who is 87, also announced this week that he had tested positive but has said as recently as Thursday that he is symptom free.

Scott is the seventh senator known to test positive for the coronavirus. In addition to Scott and Grassley, Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have each tested positive.

Benny

Now he really is Sick Rott! (h/t Orlbucfan)

orlbucfan

Wish it would kill him.💩

Benny

wi62

In this case i have to agree and i dont normally say that but when a person harms so many people thru their politics…