Dave Johnson

President Tells Congress TPP Is Coming Their Way. What Will Clinton Do?

One day after presidential candidate Hillary Clinton strongly underscored her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership in a speech in Detroit, President Obama officially started the clock on a lame-duck congressional vote on that agreement. Politico has the story, headlined “Obama puts Congress on notice: TPP is coming“: The White House put Congress on notice Friday morning that it will be sending lawmakers a bill to implement President Barack Obama’s landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement — a move intended to infuse new energy into efforts to ratify the flatlining trade pact.

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Robert Borosage

The Economic Debate and the Failed Consensus

This week, a policy debate threatened to break out in the presidential campaign. Amid the insults (“crooked Hillary,” “unfit Trump”), purblind lunacy and rolling scandals, invented and real, the two presidential candidates traveled to Michigan to lay out contrasting plans for the economy. The moment was quickly lost in the din over Republican candidate Donald Trump’s latest idiocy (“Barack Hussein Obama is the founder of ISIS). But the two speeches (Hillary Clinton here; Donald Trump here) did give an indication of how the establishment economic consensus is beginning to crack, and where the two candidates truly divide.

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Richard Eskow

The Fiscal Myth That’s Killing The Economy, In 7 Steps

A new economic working paper reinforces an important reality: We need more government spending to repair the economy for millions of working Americans. Unfortunately, our political debate is being held back by an economic myth – one that has yet to be challenged in political debate, despite an ever-growing body of evidence against it. The paper, by L. John Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute, is called “Why is recovery taking so long – and who’s to blame?” The myth is called “austerity,” and it can be roughly defined as “the persistent but false belief that government spending cuts are always a good idea.” Here are seven things about austerity worth knowing: 1. Our current recovery is too slow, and isn’t reaching everybody it should.

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Bill Scher

Evan McMullin’s Campaign Further Proof of Conservative Intellectual Rot

No one expects newly declared independent candidate Evan McMullin to become president, let alone get on many ballots or crack one percent in the total vote. Yet his candidacy may still perform below expectations. He is a stand-in for conservatives who deem Donald Trump fundamentally unfit for office, but also refuse to vote for the activist government policies of Hillary Clinton or the socially liberal, neo-isolationist foreign policies of Libertarian Gary Johnson. But he could be more than a stand-in. He could be a vehicle for fresh conservative policy ideas that could lay the groundwork for a new Republican Party, which will have to rebuild after the Trump wrecking ball is wheeled back into storage.

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Jeff Bryant

How Populism Is Rewriting The Charter School Narrative

In a political season that’s been dominated by populism it should come as no surprise that a grassroots uprising is having an effect on education policy as well. Two recent events showcase exactly how the populist fervor in the nation is redrawing the education policy landscape. More specifically, that fervor is rewriting the story of the rollout of charter schools in our communities that’s been enabled by laissez-faire lawmakers,and the generosity of the Obama administration and wealthy private foundations. Both events – one which reflects a national response to the populist uprising, and the other, an example of the uprising itself – reveal how a grassroots rebellion against unregulated charter schools is shaking the foundations of the education policy establishment’s narrative about these schools.

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Dave Johnson

Clinton Should Tell Obama To Withdraw TPP To Save Her Presidency

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but is having trouble convincing people to believe her. Imagine the trouble Hillary Clinton will have trying to build support for her effort to govern the country if TPP is ratified before her inauguration. According to Politico’s Wednesday Morning Trade, the Obama administration is launching a “TPP blitz” push to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker last week said the administration is planning at least 30 trade events by the end of the month. That effort, similar to last year’s “all of Cabinet” push for trade promotion authority, is expected to shift to Capitol Hill in September when lawmakers return from their summer break.

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Kathy Mulady

A New Wave of Progressive Down-Ballot Election Victories

Beyond the bright lights of the presidential election, an almost unnoticed but potentially more critical political wave is becoming visible in state and local elections, as a growing number of progressive candidates, rising out of the grassroots, win key election victories. With more of them being women and people of color, they are changing the face of power. The common link that unites many of them is their connection to People’s Action, a newly formed organization in 29 states, with 600 organizers, and a million volunteers, working to put progressive leaders into key political positions. On Tuesday, in Minnesota’s primaries, Ilhan Omar defeated the longest-serving member of the Minnesota House, on her way to becoming the country’s first Somali-American legislator. She faces the Republican candidate in the November election.

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Sam Pizzigati

Extracting a Cold Corporate Truth

The analysts who monitor our economy have a label for the companies that pump out oil and gas from the earth and dig out various other minerals and metals. Analysts have traditionally called these companies the “extractive industries.” But drilling and mining may now need a more specific descriptor. These days, almost every corporate sector seems to qualify as an “extractive industry.” The CEOs in these sectors aren’t all, of course, extracting resources out of the earth. They’re doing their extracting out of the enterprises they run. Top corporate execs today are essentially running their companies as their own personal ATMs. They manage their enterprises to maximize their own take-home.

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Bill Scher

The Biggest Spender Backing Donald Trump? The NRA.

Why is Donald Trump pandering so hard to “the Second Amendment people”? Possibly because the National Rifle Association is the biggest financial backer of his campaign. The NRA has spent $6 million in TV ads on behalf of the Republican presidential candidate, which is $6 million more than the Trump campaign has spent on itself. (A super PAC, Rebuilding America Now, claimed in June to have $32 million in commitments from four donors, but has only spent $5 million on ads to date. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson once made a pledge to create his own $100 million super PAC, but as of July has not followed through.) Many traditional conservative constituencies have abandoned Trump. The Koch brothers won’t touch him, saving their cash for congressional campaigns. Only two percent of donors to Mitt Romney’s main 2012 super PAC had given to Trump as of June.

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Miles Mogulescu

Clinton Campaign Can Drive A Stake Through Trump’s Heart by Labor Day

If it plays its cards right, between now and Labor Day, the Hillary Clinton campaign has the unusual opportunity to drive a stake through the heart of the Donald Trump campaign, disqualify Trump as a potential president in the minds of a majority of voters, and exacerbate the divisions in the Republican Party. Clinton and her PACs can spend some serious cash during August on ads in swing states, like this one, entitled “Unfit” (click here to view). The message: Trump is unfit to be allowed within 100 yards of the nuclear codes; Trump is not a successful businessman but a con artist who has cheated his workers, contractors,and lenders; and Trump has no real plans to create jobs and improve the economy.

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Jacob Swenson-Lengyel

Whatever Happens to Trump in November, Populism is Here to Stay

Last week was a bad one for Donald Trump. While the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign feeds on media scandals, the last few days have been over the top: fights with the family of a slain Muslim American soldier and top Republican leadership, potential leaks of top-secret information, even removing babies and silent protesters holding up copies of the U.S. Constitution from his rallies. Pair that with plummeting poll numbers and a series of high-profile defections – including that of Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins late Monday – and some liberal commentators have predicted the full-scale implosion of Trump’s campaign. Others have been speculating that Trump may drop out of the race, and some Republicans have called on him to do just that.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The Racial Wealth Gap Is Getting Worse – And We’re Not Talking About It

There are two stunning statistics in a report released this week by CFED and the Institute for Policy Studies that should be fundamental to any discussion of economic growth and racial equity. One is that the average wealth of white families in the past 30 years has grown by 84 percent – less than the rate of inflation, to be sure, but the average wealth of black families has grown at only one-third as much. Second, it would take African-American families on average 228 years to amass the same wealth that white families have today, given the current rate of growth. This is the consequence of historic racial and wealth inequality, woven deeply into the fabric of our economic system and our politics. This is also the discussion that is largely absent from our political discussion in both political parties.

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Dave Johnson

Trump Trade Position Is Opposite Of What People Think It Is

One of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s stronger economic appeals to working-class voters is his position on trade. Trump understands that people are upset that “trade” deals have moved so many jobs out of the country and he offers solutions that sound like he is saying he will bring the jobs back so wages can start going up again. But a deeper look at what he is really saying might not be so appealing to voters. Trump says the U.S. is not “competitive” with other countries. He has said repeatedly we need to lower American wages, taxes and regulations to the point where we can be “competitive” with Mexico and China. In other words, he is saying that business won’t send jobs out of the country if we can make wages low enough here. Trump even has a plan to accomplish this. He has said the way to make U.S.

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Richard Eskow

The Incredible Shrinking Populist: Donald Trump’s Tiny Economic Vision

On Monday, Donald Trump talked about the economy on television for an hour. That may have exceeded the graduate-level curriculum at Trump University. But the biggest lesson I learned is that Trump contradicts himself more, and becomes more typically Republican, with every passing day. It’s rare to see Trump put much effort into anything, so it was almost likable to watch him work so hard to read his speech from a Teleprompter. All that concentration! It was like watching a child learn to draw.

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Dave Johnson

Protesters Disrupt Trump Speech Over Outsourcing, Sexual Harassment

When Republican candidate Donald Trump says we should keep jobs in the U.S., he doesn’t mean what people think he means. He wants to make the U.S. just as low-wage as elsewhere, to be “competitive.” Members of Michigan People’s Campaign were among those in Detroit who disrupted what was billed as a major economic policy speech Monday to ask him about this and about his treatment of women. Trump talks about job losses from trade. Sounds good, right? But the billionaire businessman’s “solution” is to make wages low enough here that companies don’t move there. Jobs, maybe, but at what price? Make States Low-Wage Enough That Companies Don’t Seek To Move Jobs A year ago Donald Trump, talking about trade, said auto companies should move production from states like Ohio and Michigan to low-wage, anti-union states.

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Bill Scher

Why Trump Can’t Get Over 45%

At Real Clear Politics, I observe that Donald Trump has been under a ceiling of 45 percent in the RCP poll average for the entirety of the presidential campaign, while Hillary Clinton has largely been above it. There is some precedent for a candidate to break 45 percent for the first time late in the race, but only when something changes. Unless Trump changes, he’s stuck. And it may well be too late. The point in raising this is not to predict Trump’s defeat (maybe Trump does change!) but to note that the basis of the Trump campaign to date — scapegoating immigrants and tarring Muslims — is a monumental failure. America has simply become too diverse for a Nixonian “Southern Strategy” to succeed. No longer can a multicultural Democratic coalition be broken by race-baiting whites.

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Richard Eskow

American Greed: Trump’s Economic Team Is a Who’s Who of What’s Wrong

“I hear America singing,” Walt Whitman wrote, “the varied carols I hear.” Donald Trump hears America singing, too. But where Whitman heard men and women, masons and carpenters, Trump hears only the unvarying monotone of rich white males like himself. Trump’s tone-deafness was in full effect last week, when he announced his team of economic advisers in advance of what is being billed as “a major economic address” in Detroit on Monday. Trump’s team isn’t just monochromatic and male. At least four, and perhaps as many six, of the men are billionaires. They range in age from 50 to 74 – or, from “younger old white guy” to “older old white guy.” Five team members are named Steve – which means that eight of them are not. For diversity, that will have to do. There are only two economists on the team – and one of them believes in the flat tax.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Donald Trumps Himself

Depending on the outcome, when the history of the 2016 presidential election is written, this will be known as the week the wheels fell off of Donald Trump’s campaign. No one, but no one in politics had a worse week than than Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. A week of bizarre behavior and even more bizarre statements sent him plummeting in the polls. One poll has him trailing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by 15 points, another by nine points, and even a Fox News poll has him trailing by Clinton by 10 points. Republicans are freaking out, and with good reason. Trump’s polling numbers in key battleground states are so bad that he might suck some down-ballot candidates into the abyss with him. The stink is getting so bad that Republicans are staying away from his Green Bay, Wis. campaign rally in droves today.

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Dave Johnson

June’s Enormous, Humongous Trade Deficit Is Up 9 Percent

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Friday that the June trade deficit rose to $44.5 billion. This was an increase of 8.7% percent from May’s $41 billion (revised from $41.1B). The increase in the trade deficit was almost entirely from rising imports. June’s exports were $183.2 billion, up only $0.6 billion from May, while imports were up $4.2 billion. So in May we bought much more than we sold from the rest of the world, and in June we bought even more than that. For some reason this massive imbalance with our “trading” partners that has us buying so much more than we sell is described as “trade.” But if we were really “trading” with them we would not have such an enormous, humongous and continuing trade deficit. The June “goods” trade deficit increased $3.8 billion to $66.0 billion.

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