Let’s start the day with Bernie’s appearance on The Late Show after POTUS Joint Address:
(Beginning of the interview)
More videos, tweets, perspectives, news, etc in the comments. See you there!
Let’s start the day with Bernie’s appearance on The Late Show after POTUS Joint Address:
(Beginning of the interview)
More videos, tweets, perspectives, news, etc in the comments. See you there!
Robert Reich knows a thing or two about federal budgets, and the economist who has served in three presidential administrations says there is something wrong with Joe Biden’s plan to increase Pentagon spending above the levels proposed by former President Trump.
“The Pentagon already spends: $740,000,000,000 every year, $2,000,000,000 every day, $1,000,000 every minute,” says the former secretary of labor. “The last thing we need is a bigger military budget.”
Unfortunately, that’s what the president is seeking. This has led Reich to announce that he is “frankly disappointed that Biden’s proposing $715 billion for the Pentagon—an increase over Trump’s $704 billion defense budget—instead of moving back toward Obama-Biden era levels of defense spending, or less.”
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“Or less” is the right direction, especially at a moment when Republican deficit hawks are circling in preparation for attacks on domestic spending that is essential for working families who have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden’s $1.5 trillion budget plan has much to recommend it. The president is seeking significant increases in funding for education and proposing to invest in criminal justice and police reform, combating gun violence, and other worthy efforts. “However, despite the positive investments in these programs,” says Representative Barbara Lee, “I was incredibly disappointed at the significant increase in Pentagon spending to even higher levels than the Trump administration. With so many people across the country struggling to make ends meet, the last thing we need to do is increase investment in wasteful Pentagon spending.” Noting that “this budget adds twelve billion new dollars for weapons of war,” the longtime critic of endless wars asks us to “just think how that same amount could be used to invest in jobs, health care and fighting inequality—especially as we fight back a once in a century public health and economic crisis.”
Lee was once a lonely voice on behalf of cutting Pentagon spending. But the California Democrat now has allies in powerful places. “I have serious concerns,” says Senate Budget Committee chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), “about the proposed $753 billion budget request for the bloated Pentagon—a $12.3 billion increase compared to the last year of the Trump Administration. At a time when the U.S. already spends more on the military than the next 12 nations combined, it is time for us to take a serious look at the massive cost over-runs, the waste and fraud that currently exists at the Pentagon.”
Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is blunter: “We’re in the midst of a crisis that has left millions of families unable to afford food, rent, and bills. But at the same time, we’re dumping billions of dollars into a bloated Pentagon budget. Don’t increase defense spending. Cut it—and invest that money into our communities.”
That’s not a radical response. When Data for Progress surveyed voters nationwide last year about budget priorities, 56 percent supported cutting the Pentagon budget by 10 percent to pay for fighting the coronavirus pandemic and funding education, health care, and housing. Sixty-nine percent of Democrats expressed enthusiasm for the proposed cut, which was striking. Even more striking was the 51 percent support it got from Republicans.
When the idea was raised in Congress in July of 2020, 93 members of the House of Representatives voted for a 10 percent cut, as did 23 senators. That wasn’t a win, obviously, but it was a groundbreaking show of support for reduced spending on the military-industrial complex.
Can congressional progressives build on that base of support to alter priorities in the Biden budget? It won’t be easy. Centrist Democrats will be cautious about cuts, and Republicans can be expected to demagogue the issue. But progressive caucus members have had success in pushing the new administration to abandon some of the worst Pentagon initiatives of the Trump years. For instance, a new letter signed by 70 House members commends Biden for “[his] first steps toward ending U.S. support for the war in Yemen, including announcing an end to U.S. military participation in offensive Saudi actions; a review of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia for use in its six-year air war in Yemen; and a revocation of President Trump’s terrorism designation against the Houthis, with the express purpose of averting a hunger crisis.” (The letter urges the president to go further and “use all available U.S. leverage with the Saudi regime to demand an immediate and unconditional end to its blockade, which threatens 16 million malnourished Yemenis living on the brink of famine.”)
One of the key movers in the fight to end US support for the war in Yemen, Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), thinks the time is right to push the administration and Congress for a broader rethink of spending priorities.
“A proposed increase of $13 billion in defense spending is far too much given [the Pentagon budget’s] already rapid growth at a time of relative peace,” says the Wisconsin Democrat who with Lee cochairs the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus. “We cannot best build back better if the Pentagon’s budget is larger than it was under Donald Trump.”
Pocan has ideas for where to make cuts. For instance, he says “we must stop funding for former President Trump’s excessive $1.5 trillion nuclear modernization plan and complete a new nuclear posture review as each of the last three presidents have done. The United States has far more nuclear weapons than are needed for our security, so let’s stop funding the waste.” In addition to arguing for “no new spending on nuclear weapons,” Pocan points to the need to audit Pentagon waste and accountability measures to eliminate slush funds.
That’s a message that will resonate with the American people, says Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who maintains that there is a growing awareness that “it is simply inexcusable to continue to shower weapons manufacturers with hundreds of billions of dollars in Pentagon waste.”
Advocacy groups share the view that this is precisely the right time for members of Congress to make the case for tightening the bloated Pentagon budget. “Following a year of deadly proof that throwing money at the Pentagon does not keep us safe from modern day threats, it is unconscionable to not only extend Trump’s spending spree, but to add to it,” says Win Without War’s Erica Fein. “Deadly pandemics, climate crisis, desperate inequality—the greatest threats to global security do not have military solutions. Yet while we’re repeatedly asked how we will afford to address these truly existential threats, the same question is never asked of adding to the Pentagon’s already-overstuffed coffers. Let’s be clear: continuing to funnel near-limitless resources into the pockets of arms manufacturers while underfunding public goods only undermines the safety of people in the United States and around the world.”
More news, tweets, videos, etc in the comments section.
Former press secretary for the Sanders campaign Briahna Joy Gray appeared on Democracy Now to give her thoughts about Biden’s selections for his cabinet and WW operations. A link to the full video portion of the interview is here.
The transcript is below if you prefer to read it instead, courtesy of Democracy Now!
The segment is called “Where Are the Progressives? Briahna Joy Gray on Neera Tandem & Other Biden Picks for His Economic Team.”
President-elect Joe Biden announced his top economic advisers this week, setting the tone for his administration’s recovery plan, including Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress think tank, as head of the Office of Management and Budget. While Tanden would be the first woman of color and the first South Asian woman in the role, critics oppose her organization’s cozy relationship with corporate funders, her record of antagonizing and undermining progressive Democrats, and her aggressive foreign policy positions. Briahna Joy Gray, former national press secretary for the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign, says there has been “a lot of emphasis on the identity of the individuals picked” for Biden’s incoming team, but representation alone is not enough. “Several of these individuals have real problems, and none of them truly represent a progressive in the mindset of most Americans, especially those who identified with Bernie Sanders.”
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: With stimulus talks in a stalemate amidst a devastating economic crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic and how it’s been dealt with, President-elect Joe Biden’s proposed top economic advisers addressed the nation for the first time Tuesday, setting the tone for his incoming administration’s recovery plan. Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden introduced Janet Yellen as his treasury secretary pick. Yellen led the Federal Reserve from 2014 to ’18. If confirmed by the Senate, she’ll be the first woman to lead the Treasury in its 231-year history. This is Janet Yellen.
JANET YELLEN: The pandemic and economic fallout together have caused so much damage for so many and have had a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable among us. Lost lives, lost jobs, small businesses struggling to stay alive or closed for good, so many people struggling to put food on the table and pay bills and rent — it’s an American tragedy, and it’s essential that we move with urgency. Inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn, causing yet more devastation.
AMY GOODMAN: President-elect Biden also noted that Wally Adeyemo, his pick to be second-in-command to Yellen, would be the highest-ranking African American in the history of the Treasury Department.
Other new economic advisers on Biden’s team include Princeton University economist Cecilia Rouse, who will be the first Black woman to lead the Council of Economic Advisers, and Brian Deese, an executive at investment giant BlackRock, as director of the National Economic Council. He was not present on the stage Tuesday.
In a move that’s drawing outrage from progressives, Biden also announced Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress think tank, as his pick for head of the Office of Management and Budget. While Tanden would be the first woman of color and the first South Asian woman in the role, critics oppose her organization’s cozy relationship with corporate funders, her record of antagonizing and undermining progressive Democrats, including then-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and her aggressive foreign policy positions. This is Neera Tanden speaking Tuesday.
NEERA TANDEN: Mr. President-elect, Madam Vice President-elect, I am here today thanks to my mother’s grit, but also thanks to a country that had faith in us, that invested in her humanity and in our dreams. I am here today because of social programs, because of budgetary choices, because of a government that saw my mother’s dignity and gave her a chance. Now it is my profound honor to help shape those budgets and programs to keep lifting Americans up, to pull families back from the brink, to give everybody the fair chance my mom got.
AMY GOODMAN: Biden’s Cabinet nominees still face approval by the Senate, and The Daily Beast reports Tanden has now deleted more than a thousand of her own tweets, some of which were critical of the senators who would vote on whether to confirm her. Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas has said her nomination is, quote, “radioactive.”
To look more at Biden’s incoming Cabinet, we are joined by Briahna Joy Gray, former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders 2020, co-host of Bad Faith podcast and contributing editor to Current Affairs.
Welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us, Briahna. Let’s start off with Neera Tanden. You were tweeting up a storm, tweets you did not delete. Can you talk about your thoughts on the person proposed to be head of the Office of Management and Budget?
BRIAHNA JOY GRAY: Yeah. I mean, there’s been a lot of talk, ever since Biden officially clinched the nomination, about the efforts to unify the Democratic Party and his efforts to reach out to the left. And a lot of his moves have been characterized as a kind of sop to the left, while there hasn’t been a lot of substance behind those characterizations.
So, what you’ve seen in this latest slate of picks is a lot of emphasis on the identity of the individuals picked, a lot of firsts in the group. And even folks with less — or less, shall we say, more attenuated relationships to traditional identity characters have gone as far as to talk about the struggles of their stepfather’s family, right? And I think that’s very intentional, because substantively several of these individuals have real problems, and none of them truly represents a progressive in the mindset of most Americans, especially those who identified with Bernie Sanders.
And Neera Tanden is someone, in particular, who was very notorious for being openly antagonistic of Senator Sanders, who, again, represented the largest coalition of progressive voters in this country; perhaps most notorious for physically assaulting Bernie Sanders’ campaign manager when he was an employee at — an editor at ThinkProgress, a vertically integrated media institution under CAP.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Briahna, I’d like to ask you — The New York Times and The Washington Post both sort of talked about these nominees as basically being pro-labor and friendly to labor unions. Could you talk about this emphasis on the policies toward labor, supposedly, that all of these folks represent?
BRIAHNA JOY GRAY: Yeah. I mean, what’s most — the thing I would say would most accurately characterize Neera Tanden, in particular, is that she is fundamentally a party loyalist. Even her mother has described her as such, as someone who’s very aggressive and very devoted, in particular in 2016 to Hillary Clinton.
So, what we’ve seen over the course of her career is that she has repeatedly kind of represented herself as open to the kind of moderate, I would describe it as, corporate Democratic pushes, to cut entitlements, for instance. She said in a notable clip in 2012 that entitlements had to be on the table. And that’s in stark contrast with this portrait of a woman whose mother very sympathetically relied on public assistance in her youth, and who has used that experience to try to, I think, shield herself against the substantive criticism that she has been open to Medicare cuts, Social Security cuts, and has spoken about these things, even using the language “entitlement” in a way that is not at all typical of someone you would describe as progressive, and which is really distressing given the extent of economic crisis this country is in now.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me go to that comment Neera Tanden made around the issue of slashing Social Security. This is Tanden speaking to C-SPAN after the 2010 midterms.
NEERA TANDEN: Center for American Progress has put forward ideas and proposals to reform the beneficiary structure of Social Security. Some of our progressive allies aren’t so — aren’t as excited about that as we are, but we’ve put those ideas on the table.
AMY GOODMAN: So, she’s talking about her group, the Center for American Progress. Briahna?
BRIAHNA JOY GRAY: Yeah. I mean, and, look, all of the emphasis on the firsts, of the diversity of this crew, but less emphasis on whether or not these individuals represent the interests of the group that they are assumed to represent because of what they look like, right?
So, we live in a country where 50% of African Americans rely on Social Security for upward of 90% of their income. And you have someone being put forward by Joe Biden — Joe Biden who, again, relied overwhelmingly on the support of African Americans to clinch the nomination — who is speaking in such cavalier terms about cutting one of the most important social safety net programs. And I think it’s rightfully distressing to a lot of progressives, on top of the interpersonal issues and kind of lack of decorum she’s demonstrated on the internet.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, one of the big questions, clearly, especially among young people in this country, is how the Biden economic team will deal with the issue of student debt, which is now into the trillions of dollars. Any sense that you have from these picks so far where the direction of his policies might go in that area?
BRIAHNA JOY GRAY: I’m not overly optimistic. You know, I don’t know that Neera Tanden or any of the others have spoken directly on this issue, but she’s someone who over the course of her career has emphasized moderation, right? So, back when she was working for Hillary Clinton in 2016, she was one of her advisers that was advising her against adopting a $15 minimum wage, something which is hardly some far-left radical program. She’s on record as having said that we will never have Medicare for All, because people are going to be unwilling to let go of their private health insurance — this at a time where I believe we’re up to 14 million Americans losing their employer-based health insurance because of the COVID crisis and, of course, unemployment.
So, in a world where student loan debt, especially in the course of the primary, was still being characterized by the overwhelming bulk of Democratic Party candidates as something that was a far-left, inappropriate policy to pursue, and which, even in the context of Joe Biden, is still being framed as something that should be pushed in a very minimalist way — right? — he has the power to cancel all student debt on day one but is talking about canceling a maximum $10,000; Chuck Schumer, some others are pushing for more — I’m not overly optimistic that this policy, which is one of few that Biden has control over, is going to be dealt with in the maximalist way that the crisis compels.
Bernie Sanders was on SOTU this morning. Here’s one clip, via Twitter;
"Trump will have the distinction of doing more than any person in the history of this country in undermining American democracy."
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) November 15, 2020
More news, tweets, videos in the comments. Join us in the conversations!
TGIF from Benny’s Bar…Theme for Tonight: Songs and Images that Tell Us a Quick Moment or Story
Here’s a picture that has started a story…and with our help and words, craft more of our stories to bring to Capitol Hill, for economic, racial, and environmental justice.
I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over … No poor, rural, weak, or black person should ever have to bear the additional burden of being deprived of the opportunity of an education, a job or simple justice.
—James Earl Carter, new governor of GA in 1970.
I sent the organization a snack. Well done!
Another image, courtesy of the Atlanta Constitution-Journal:
Biden cleared the 300 EV mark. Congrats to his campaign. (I won’t congratulate the DNC though.)
And the chanson? Rod Stewart on the Video Jukebox:
Post your fav images, photos, videos appropriate for our place! News, tweets — keep them coming. Drinks are on the Nest! This serves as an evening open thread.
Recall that back in 2008, Barack Obama won the White House on a wave of anger at the incumbent president, and he took office under similar crisis conditions. And yet, despite Democrats winning large congressional majorities, Obama’s administration used its power to merely tweak the economic status quo, but not really change it.
From the get-go, the new White House brushed off progressives and championed a stimulus package that many economists said was far too small to quickly right the economy.
While Obama’s Affordable Care Act created some long-overdue consumer protections, it ultimately strengthened the power of private insurers. Despite Obama campaigning for a public insurance option, his administration dropped it, Democratic senators helped Republicans initially vote it down and then refused to ever bring it back up to force the issue, even though there was a good chance it would pass. The result: Millions have lost their health insurance and millions more are paying ever-higher premiums, while insurance companies have booked huge profits – and now support for the ACA is soft.
Similarly, Obama backed off his promise to pass new union protections for workers, and he reversed his promise to reform bad trade deals, instead pressing even more of those pacts that have become a symbol of a corrupt Washington more interested in enriching CEOs than helping workers.
Obama’s administration also refused to prosecute bankers and its Wall Street reform package was pathetically weak. Its Treasury Department helped kill an initiative to break up the banks, while it approved and defended big bonuses for Wall Street executives who engineered the crisis. The moves were a boon to a financial industry that bankrolled Obama’s campaign, but political poison.
More news, tweets, videos in the comments section. Sure Happy It’s Tuesday.
And Kamala Harris is the new VP-elect.
BREAKING: JOE BIDEN WINS
Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States, CNN projects, after a victory in Pennsylvania puts the Scranton-born Democrat over 270 https://t.co/q8Fed74z0j #CNNElection pic.twitter.com/NADZm3qkvY
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) November 7, 2020
A buddy of mine said MSDNC also called it for Biden. I have a hunch the C-suites of the various networks met and of course, with the last blessing of the AP, decided it would be sometime this morning, after Penn’s mail-in ballots counted were at 85% for Biden.
It's ok to celebrate the fall of a tyrant. Goodbye Trump.
— DSA 🌹 (@DemSocialists) November 7, 2020
Of course, the orange menace won’t concede.
— mike casca (@cascamike) November 7, 2020
Jibber-jabber, tweets, videos, and sunshine.
I want to congratulate all those who worked so hard to make this historic day possible. Now, through our continued grassroots organizing, let us create a government that works for ALL and not the few. Let us create a nation built on justice, not greed and bigotry.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 7, 2020
Continuing coverage about the GE and other news.
New York’s Working Families Party cleared the threshold to keep its automatic ballot line.
A progressive party in New York appears poised to retain its automatic ballot line, overcoming new barriers backed by the state’s Democratic governor, Andrew M. Cuomo.
According to late Tuesday night voter tallies, at least 283,000 New Yorkers voted for Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala Harris on the Working Families Party line, amounting to 4.5 percent of all votes cast in the presidential election.
Those numbers far exceed the state’s new thresholds for third-party ballot access. According to the new rules, a third party must garner 130,000 votes in a presidential election, or 2 percent of the total vote — whichever is higher — if that party wants to retain its ballot line.
The previous threshold was 50,000 votes in a race for governor.
The Working Families Party has sparred with Mr. Cuomo in recent years. The new rules posed such a risk to the party’s electoral influence that it directed significant financial resources away from competitive races and toward preserving its ballot line.
“Working people and Black and brown communities are historically challenged when we grow in power — and the threat to our ballot line is no different,” Sochie Nnaemeka, the Working Families Party’s state director for New York, said in a statement Tuesday night. “What’s clear, though, is our campaign to protect the ballot line has only resulted in a stronger, more united progressive movement in New York State.”
More election news, tweets, videos, etc in the comments. Bar is closed, but you are welcome to bring your own beverage.