Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old Maltese-American mayor of South Bend, the fourth-largest town in Indiana, is the shiny new object in the race to become the Democrats’ candidate for president in 2020. Coming from almost nowhere, he’s finished first in several recent Iowa polls. Superficially, there’s a lot that’s appealing about Buttigieg’s persona: He’s articulate, quick on his feet, can speak in full paragraphs and projects a sense of optimism. But when you scratch below the service, it’s hard to find Buttigieg’s core convictions, and and he now appears to have put himself up for sale to corporate interests. As a virtual unknown, Buttigieg started his campaign backing progressive policies. But Buttigieg has now flipped from being a putative progressive to being perhaps the most conservative, pro-corporate Democrat remaining in the field. Why? A good place to start would be to follow the money. Buttigieg has become one of the biggest recipients of contributions from the health care, financial services, and big tech industries. Under the proposals advanced by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, Buttigieg’s big money donors are the ones who would have to pay higher taxes to support things like free college tuition and universal health care. In Buttigieg, they’ve found a candidate to speak up for their interests. American politics are a money pit, so we should not be surprised that powerful corporations and CEOs are constantly seeking ways to maximize their influence. But why have they singled out Buttigieg, who only recently espoused bold reforms, to be the top spokesman for the donor class in the Democratic primary? It’s because as things stand today, Mayor Pete is the candidate most likely to ensure that no reforms seriously threaten the interests of these oligarchs.
Rep. Omar Introduces Homes Guarantee Bill
Here’s what’s in Ilhan Omar’s plan to make sure everyone has a home. Vice: "Rep. Ilhan Omar unveiled a massive legislative plan to invest $1 trillion in expanding affordable housing just hours after candidates in Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate also addressed the subject. Omar’s proposal, called the 'Homes For All Act,' would authorize spending to create 12 million new homes — primarily in public housing, which has been historically underfunded, since new units haven’t been built in decades — over the next 10 years. 'Housing is a fundamental human right. It’s time we as a nation acted like it and end the housing crisis once and for all,' the Minnesota congresswoman said in a statement. It’s the second major housing plan to be introduced in recent days by a progressive member of the so-called 'squad' of freshman congresswomen of color. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced the “Green New Deal for Public Housing” legislation last week, also stipulating major investments in the nation’s existing stock of 1.2 million public housing units. Similarly, Omar’s plan would also invest in the maintenance and upkeep of existing public housing units by making capital and operating expenses part of the nation’s mandatory spending. That’d be coupled with the assurance of new units, which would help drive down overall housing costs by increasing the supply of places people can live. Many of the plans introduced by Democratic presidential candidates or legislators mirror some or all of the Homes Guarantee package first laid out by People’s Action, a national group of community organizers. The group expressed its support for Omar’s bill in a statement Thursday."
Progressives Debate Medicare For All Strategy
Reeling progressives meet behind closed doors after 'Medicare for All' barrage. Politico: "Leaders of the left — suddenly reeling after seeing the Democratic health care debate shift dramatically in their direction the past few years — are strategizing on how to retake the offensive. At a closed-door meeting Tuesday, Congressional Progressive Caucus leader Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) had a message for her fellow supporters of Medicare for All: Unite against the moderates and don’t fight about whether Warren’s plan is too mild compared to Sanders’.'I understand that people have favorites,' Jayapal, who has not yet endorsed in the race, told POLITICO after the meeting, which included representatives from top congressional allies of Warren and Sanders along with longtime advocates on the issue like National Nurses United. 'We are better off having two strong presidential candidates endorsing Medicare for All than having one.' Warren has done a delicate dance on the issue over the past month, releasing a detailed financing plan that she said would avoid middle-class tax hikes, then following up with a two-stage transition plan in a nod to those concerned about upheaval in the health care system. Though some established Democratic strategists said Warren's plans could give her more flexibility in a general election — by initially passing a robust public option and then trying to pass a full single payer bill later in her term — some progressives saw the maneuvering as too clever by half. But Jayapal and other people at the meeting said sniping at Warren will only hurt the cause."
Explosive Final Day Of Impeachment Testimony
Fiona Hill emerges as a principled voice in impeachment inquiry. USA Today: "As another long day of public impeachment inquiry testimony on Thursday wore on, attention turned to one figure who expounded on the greater importance of the subject matter at hand: protecting American democracy. Dr. Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council official, delivered punchy lines of testimony and asserted her position as a witness in the inquiry who would present facts exactly as she knew them to be, persistent in the face of accusations of partisanship. Hill rebutted the Republican theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 U.S. election and answered questions about the pressure campaign President Donald Trump is accused of levying against the nation. Testifying alongside David Holmes, a State Department official in the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, Hill at times used her platform to explain her ideals of U.S. foreign policy and democracy. Hill said after listening to (EU Ambassador Gordon) Sondland’s testimony Wednesday that she realized why they weren’t cooperating. Sondland was meeting with Trump, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to urge Ukraine to investigate whether energy company Burisma meddled in the 2016 election. But Hill said the National Security Council was working on foreign affairs rather than domestic politics. 'When he wasn’t cooperating, it was because we weren’t doing the same thing that he was doing,' Hill said. 'It struck me he was absolutely right because he was being involved in a domestic political errand. And we were involved in national security foreign policy. And those two things had just diverged.'"
Immigration Hardliners Gain Top Posts In Citizenship Agency
Hardliners gain key posts at Trump's citizenship and immigration services agency. CBS: "A group of immigration hardliners, including some who worked at an organization that has been described as a hate group by an advocacy watchdog that monitors extremism, have gained powerful posts in the federal agency in charge of administering benefits for immigrants, asylum-seekers and refugees. The appointments at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) follow the recent promotion of its former acting director, Ken Cuccinelli, to the second-highest position at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Cuccinelli has been a vocal proponent of measures to restrict both legal and unauthorized immigration. John Zadrozny, who was a top aide to Cuccinelli, has been promoted to acting chief of staff, while Robert Law, formerly a senior adviser, was named acting chief of policy. Both Zadrozny and Law have worked for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), whose stated mission is to "reduce overall immigration to a more normal level," and which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that advocates for progressive issues and monitors the activities of groups it considers extremist. Heidi Beirich, who heads the SPLC's Intelligence Project, called the promotions of Law and Zadrozny 'distressing,' saying anti-immigration groups like FAIR are 'funneling' their staff to top immigration posts within the Trump administration. 'These groups, which were basically outside of the mainstream, have been embraced by the Trump administration and their ideas are now policy, which is affecting millions and millions of people of color,' Beirich told CBS News."