Robert Borosage

The Iowa Winnow

The Iowa caucuses just supercharged the 2016 presidential race. Younger and lower-income voters drove Bernie Sanders into a head heat with Hillary Clinton. A record Republican turnout of white voters elevated an odd couple – two first term Cuban-American Senators – and deflated Donald Trump, the fear peddler. The winnowing has begun as Mike Huckabee and Martin O’Malley dropped out, with more to come. And now the pace accelerates: New Hampshire next week, followed by South Carolina, Nevada and the Super Tuesday states, as more and more Americans discover that a presidential campaign has begun. Iowa will be dissected over the next days, but here are five quick takeaways the morning after Sanders is for real. Sanders ended in a stunning dead heat with Hillary Clinton, after starting in single digits in Iowa.

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Phil Angelides

Last Chance for Justice: Hold People Accountable For Wall Street Crimes

Five years ago at this time, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) presented President Obama and Congress with its final report on what caused the 2008 financial meltdown that devastated our economy and millions of American families. The report concluded that the financial crisis was avoidable and was caused by widespread failures of regulation, reckless risk-taking on Wall Street, and a systematic breakdown in ethics and accountability. The FCIC’s report included evidence of industry-wide fraud and corruption in the mortgage markets, from loan origination to Wall Street’s bundling and sale of mortgage securities to investors. One study obtained by the Commission placed the losses resulting from fraud on mortgage loans made between 2005 and 2007 alone at $112 billion.

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Hedrick Smith

What’s Firing Anger in Grassroots America? Corporate Deals Like This One

If you want to see what fires the grassroots passion for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and the populist rebellion against the U.S corporate and political elite, take a look at the latest case of an American corporation’s gaming the system for handouts and bailouts and then walking out on Uncle Sam and all of us. Back in 2009, Johnson Controls, a $33 billion maker of auto batteries and industrial-scale HVAC systems, wound up with a $100 million chunk of the federal bailout for the auto industry. In 2010, it got another $300 million federal grant to develop advanced battery systems. But now, Johnson Controls wants to duck out on U.S. taxes by renouncing its U.S. citizenship and shifting its legal residence to Ireland. Like nearly 50 other U.S. multinational corporations over the past decade, Johnson Controls can dodge U.S.

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Larry Cohen

Labor For Bernie Is Booming In Iowa

This week, on my fifth trip to Iowa in recent months, once again I have been stunned by the increasing excitement of working women and men as they volunteer in droves and discuss Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in workplaces, union halls and communities. This excitement cuts across unions and includes workers at the sandwich shop and hotel clerks. Six months ago writers stereotyped Sanders’ support as affluent and middle class. Seeing workers in call centers, smelters at Alcoa, skilled trades workers at John Deere, or servers at the sandwich shops, the support is contagious and nearly universal. In these last days in Davenport, volunteers streamed into the campaign office by the river, excited to report on activity at their local union regardless of endorsements by the national union.

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Robert Borosage

Iowa’s Big Winner: Senator Bernie Sanders

The results of the Iowa caucuses won’t be known until late this evening, but we already know the big winner: Senator Bernie Sanders. The 24/7 chattering classes focus on whether Sanders’ young and new voters will turn out, whether his voters’ enthusiasm can match Clinton’s organization, whether the blizzard will hit before or after the caucuses. But Iowa isn’t about who wins the most delegates; it is about who gains momentum and legitimacy. Whether he wins or loses in the final caucus count, Sanders is already assured of coming out of Iowa with momentum and legitimacy. The “fringe” candidate is for real. The prohibitive favorite has been pushed to the wall.

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Dave Johnson

What Do You Mean ‘Sanders Might Be Another George McGovern’?

George McGovern was the Democratic nominee against incumbent Richard Nixon in the 1972 election. He lost in a landslide. Just as the events of the 1980s shaped the current economic environment, the 1970s “Nixonian” politics of division shaped the current political environment. Did Democrats learn the right lessons from that election? That’s the core question being asked as “establishment” Democrats worry that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders would be “too far to the left” to compete against the Republican nominee in a general election. McGovern, son of a poor pastor who was a war hero and eventually a U.S. senator for South Dakota, had a reputation as a decent man who sided with the people.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Out With A Whimper

This week two major right-wing crusades that started out with pretty big bangs — the Oregon Standoff and the Planned Parenthood sting — ended with  disappointing (for wingnuts) whimpers. Almost Over In Oregon It wasn’t supposed to end this way. The standoff at Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was to have all the makings of another Alamo. Even if that was only true in the minds of the well-armed, self-appointed “militiamen” who holed up there and swore to remain until the government handed over federal lands so that private ranchers like them could make a tidy profit at public expense. It started with a bang, in a kind of half-assed way, as a march and rally in support of a pair of father-son ranchers-turned arsonists, who decided they’d rather go to prison than have anything to do with the Bundys.

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Bill Scher

Conservatives, A Vote for Trump Proves Everything Liberals Say About You

Politico Magazine asked me and 11 others if Trump has “killed the GOP.” My answer? Not yet: Before the Republican establishment concludes that its party is being consumed by a hostile takeover, it should first let its people cast some votes. So many conclusions are being prematurely drawn based on poll numbers. Poll numbers are very sensitive to media coverage, and we’ve never had a media huckster par excellence run for president before. Sure, Donald Trump can goose poll numbers by dominating news cycles through outrageous antics. But we don’t know if that actually translates into votes, especially when there isn’t much evidence of a robust get-out-the-vote operation. Even adding the Trump and Cruz poll numbers together, to conclude that the conservative populist wing is larger than the establishment-friendly wing is a dangerous assumption.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Conservatives Turning Their Backs On The Poor

With the winter winds of January came a flurry of reports that several states were moving to cut thousands of people from their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or “food stamp”) rolls. In New Jersey, for example, Governor Chris Christie pulled the plug on benefits to 11,000 unemployed state residents. By this spring, an estimated 500,000 people nationwide could be cut off. For most of them, the maximum benefit of less than $200 a month is all the federal aid they get. For some, it’s their entire income. These people live in states that have chosen to reinstate work requirements on able-bodied adults without children, which had been suspended since the 2008 economic downturn.

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Robert Borosage

The Republican Trumpless Debate

The Donald was missing and missed last night in the Fox News Republican debate. Without the bawdy showman, the entire cast seemed smaller, the divisive questions of the Fox moderators more petulant, and the debate endless. The most stunning revelations of the debate came from what was missing. There was not one question about the economy. Not one candidate explained what he would do to make the economy work for working people. No one mentioned the threat posed by what looks like a looming global slowdown. Gilded Age inequality went unmentioned. The real and present challenge of climate change was reduced to a gotcha question to Marco Rubio about cap-and-trade. The “conservative message” doesn’t include the kitchen table concerns of most Americans. No, instead the debate featured right-wing staples. Inflate the threat of ISIS. Rail about immigrants. Rant about Obama and Hillary.

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Robert Borosage

The Washington Post’s Curious Swipe at Bernie Sanders

The Washington Post editorial board sniped at Senator Bernie Sanders Thursday morning for pretending to be “an uncorrupted anti-establishment crusader.” But no shocking revelations followed. The editors didn’t unveil previously hidden Sanders ties to the establishment. They exploded no bombshells about him pocketing millions in backroom deals, or greasing his political races with big contributions from corporate or billionaire donors. None of that. In fact, the Post editors essentially affirmed, without admission, that Sanders is an “uncorrupted anti-establishment crusader.” Pretty hard not to.

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Dave Johnson

Washington Post’s Anti-Sanders Editorial Mocks Idea Of Civic Engagement

Thursday’s Washington Post editorial, “Bernie Sanders’s fiction-filled campaign,” is kind of fun. Sanders “is playing the role of uncorrupted anti-establishment crusader.” But actually he “is not a brave truth-teller. He is a politician selling his own brand of fiction to a slice of the country that eagerly wants to buy it.” The Post says “Wall Street has already undergone a round of reform,” “The evolution and structure of the world economy” rather than policies are responsible for inequality, Sanders “admits” that people will pay more taxes for Medicare-for-All and healthcare would have to be “rationed”, and his claim that spending on infrastructure will grow the economy ranks up there with Republican claims that tax cuts pay for themselves.

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Jeff Bryant

The School Choice We Have Vs. The Choice We Want

It’s that time of year when National School Choice Week is staged by – well, we really don’t know who – to elevate “education options,” primarily charter schools and vouchers, for K-12 students. This year’s NSCW apparently includes a record number of events around the country. A stirring video put out by the organizers kicked off the week with an invitation to engage in “the largest series of educational events in American history.” Images of the American flag intermingle with the official bright yellow scarf the celebrants don. There’s even an official song and dance. But this year’s celebration of “choice” plays out against a more compelling national news story in Detroit, where teachers have been staging a series of “sickouts” to protest the deplorable conditions in their public schools.

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Isaiah J. Poole

The Social Security Question Hillary Clinton Should Have Been Asked

At the CNN town hall for the Democratic presidential candidates on Tuesday, Bernie Sanders pointed out that he has with Hillary Clinton “a disagreement on a very important issue that impacts everybody, but especially women”: “I believe that we should expand Social Security benefits by lifting the cap on taxable income.” He went on to suggest to moderator Chris Cuomo: “Ask Hillary Clinton if she’s prepared to lift the cap on taxable income.” Cuomo didn’t take Sanders up on his suggestion to ask Clinton that question when it was her turn to be interviewed at the forum.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Bernie Sanders’ Underappreciated Interview With Ebony Magazine

Given the importance of the African-American vote in the Democratic primary and the questions around whether Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders – a self-styled “Democratic socialist” in a state that is 1 percent black – can effectively compete for the black vote, it’s surprising that a recent Ebony magazine interview with Sanders has remained under the radar. In the interview Sanders fields questions about the Black Lives Matters protests at his early campaign events and the angry reaction of some of his supporters, the fact that some blacks feel taken for granted by the Democratic party, and whether the Obama presidency represents genuine progress for African Americans.

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Terrance Heath

Depraved Indifference: Conservatives Respond To Flint’s Water Crisis

Conservatives are responding to Flint, Michigan’s water crisis with the same depraved indifference that helped contaminate the city’s water and expose thousands of children to lead poisoning. By now, the entire country has heard the tragic story. In 2013, Flint — under the control of an emergency manager who answered to governor Rick Snyder — signed an agreement to stop buying water from Detroit and join a new authority that would draw water from Lake Huron. The deal was expected to save millions for the city in such financial arrears that Michigan law stripped its citizens of the protection of democratically elected government and placed control of the city in the hands of an emergency manager who answered to the governor. Detroit treated its water with an anti-corrosive chemical that coated pipes and prevented chemicals from leaching into the water.

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Bill Scher

Bernie or Hillary: Who Has The Right Theory Of Presidential Change?

There are substantive differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Single-payer vs. individual mandate. Break up the big banks vs. regulate the big banks. Tuition-free college vs. debt-free college. “Leave it in the ground” vs. a more gradual shift away from fossil fuels. But with Republicans likely to at least control the House after the 2016 election, none of these policy ideas will be on a glide path to clear Congress and reach the president’s desk. So which Democratic presidential candidate has the right approach to deal with the inevitable resistance? Paul Krugman recently argued that “Mrs. Clinton is the heir to President Obama” as she is likely to follow President Obama’s lead and work the system from the inside as best as possible: …as Mr.

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Robert Borosage

Assessing The Obama Presidency: Has He Really Changed America?

President Obama is seen from the Rose Garden walking through the Oval Office. White House official photo by Pete Souza. Is Barack Obama a transformational president? That was his ambition: to be more, as he put it, like Ronald Reagan than Bill Clinton, to launch a new era, not simply tack to the prevailing winds of the old. Not surprisingly, in his final year in office, the issue is contested. Liberals like New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman hail Obama as “one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history.” Conservatives scorn his administration as a “socialist” interlude in a conservative time. On the left, many like professor Cornel West are disappointed, seeing Obama as a “counterfeit” progressive who failed to seize a historic opportunity for progressive change.

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Robert Reich

The Volcanic Core Fueling the 2016 Election

Not a day passes that I don’t get a call from the media asking me to compare Bernie Sanders’s and Hillary Clinton’s tax plans, or bank plans, or health-care plans. I don’t mind. I’ve been teaching public policy for much of the last thirty-five years. I’m a policy wonk. But detailed policy proposals are as relevant to the election of 2016 as is that gaseous planet beyond Pluto. They don’t have a chance of making it, as things are now. The other day Bill Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders’s proposal for a single-payer health plan as unfeasible and a “recipe for gridlock.” Yet these days, nothing of any significance is feasible and every bold idea is a recipe for gridlock. This election is about changing the parameters of what’s feasible and ending the choke hold of big money on our political system.

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Dave Johnson

Ford Leaves Japan and Indonesia, Blames the TPP

Ford Motor Company announced this week that it will close all operations in Japan and Indonesia this year, because it sees “no reasonable path to profitability.” Last year GM pulled out of Indonesia. What does it say that they are doing this with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the horizon? Ford is giving up on trying to crack the Japanese and Indonesian automobile markets, saying that the upcoming TPP does not address such problems as currency manipulation and other non-tariff barriers. the BBC reported, in “Ford pulls out of Japan and Indonesia”: In 2015, Ford sales accounted for just 0.1% of the Japanese market and only 0.6% in Indonesia.

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