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Hillary Clinton’s Second Goldman Sachs Address

Wow. A substantial fragment of one of Hillary Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches has finally emerged … and it is damn brilliant! Why has this sparkling orator been hiding her exceptional talents from the public for so long? Why has Clinton refused to release these braids of golden words whose tangled and evocative threads would make even mighty Pericles weep? People must be made aware of gifts of such magnitude.

The entire speech has not yet been recovered, but enough is available to certify its superlative quality. Behold:

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Sanders Supporters: The Problem Isn’t Election Machinery – It’s Mainstream Democrats

California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota have yet to vote in the Democratic primary struggle that is nearing an end.

Obviously, given the current pledged delegate totals, it is highly improbable that Bernie Sanders will win the pledged delegate race. Clinton would have to collapse massively and lose resoundingly in these final states in order for Sanders to prevail. That’s not entirely out of the question. Clinton might commit some horrible gaffe; or some new Clinton scandal might erupt. But, of course, this is mainly wishful thinking for Sanders’s supporters, and that outcome is unlikely.

Sanders’s supporters need to come to grips with the fact that the problem they face is not a handful of election officials, or some crooked shenanigans here and there in the election process, but a significant faction of the Democratic Party – probably the majority faction, or at least close to a majority – that opposes Sanders and what he stands for. That preponderant faction of old line Democrats do not support the kinds of aggressively egalitarian policies and vigorously activist government that Bernie Sanders has endorsed and stood for his entire career. They don’t support single payer health care; they don’t support a trillion dollar infrastructure and jobs program to rebuild America; they don’t support the socializing of public higher education; they don’t support aggressive income and wealth distribution. The prospect of paying minimum wage workers $15 an hour worries them.

They do support Clinton’s neocon-tilting, and “muscularly” interventionist foreign policy record and stance. They will support Clinton on whatever neoliberal trade deals she makes. They will support her as she governs from the middle, manages the status quo and eschews government-led social change and transformation. Clinton’s core of support – and it’s a pretty large core – comes from voters who think the United States is pretty good just the way it is, and don’t really want to rock the boat or risk profound transformative changes to the US economic system.

Again, this is not just a problem with election officials and party election machines – it is a problem with many millions of regular, ordinary Democrats. These are people who appear to admire and endorse the neoliberal, pro-Big Capital, pro-billionaire reinvention of the Democratic Party that Bill and Hillary Clinton helped carry out in the 1990s, and they want to sustain and extend that form of Democratic Party politics.

So the questions is, how do economic progressives most effectively move forward with their egalitarian and system-transforming agenda given that a massive bloc of more conservative voters and opinion-leaders in the Democratic Party is determined to stand in their way?

Krugman’s Soda Tax Muddle

Paul Krugman has weighed in on the policy dispute between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s “soda tax” proposal for funding universal pre-school in Philadelphia. Sanders’s negative position on the revenue component of this proposal was expressed on Sunday in an op-ed.

Krugman argues that because “heavy soda consumption really is destructive, with the consequences falling most heavily on low ­income children,” Sanders is “very much on the wrong side here.” He then accuses Sanders of wading into the issue only for the cynical purpose of throwing a “political Hail Mary pass.”

Oh dear.

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The Clinton Campaign’s “Single Issue” Meme Flop

SANDERS:

Let’s talk about my proposal for a single payer health insurance plan, a revolutionary overhaul of the health care system which you oppose.

CLINTON:

Why do you always talk about just one thing?

SANDERS:

OK, let’s talk about my proposal for a 15% minimum wage, which you also oppose.

CLINTON:

Again why do you always talk about just one thing?

SANDERS:

Huh? Well, OK, suppose we talk about my plan for universal, free public higher education.

CLINTON:

You always talk about just one thing! I’m going to call you “Mr. Poopy One Issue”!

SANDERS:

OK, let’s talk about my plan to break the big Wall Street banks up into pieces.

CLINTON:

You can just talk to the hand if you insist in talking about one thing all the time.

SANDERS:

What about the financial transactions tax idea I support – and you don’t?

CLINTON:

Arrrgghh! Why do you always talk about just that one issue?

SANDERS:

OK, the carbon tax then?

CLINTON:

“Single Issue Sanders” – that’s what I’m going to call you from now on!

SANDERS:

Well, then we could talk about the ghastly US incarceration rate.

CLINTON:

It’s always the same with you – just that one issue!

SANDERS:

I’m going to talk about my proposal for Social Security expansion now.

CLINTON:

Oh lets! It will be fun to drone on about that one, single issue  – that is all you ever talk about!

SANDERS:

If those other issues bore you, we can talk about my Immigration Reform plans instead.

CLINTON:

Or we could talk about something else besides your single issue fixation on immigration.

SANDERS:

How about the issue I’ve raised over and over about how far behind the rest of the developed world America has fallen in many of the most important categories of economic and social success?

CLINTON:

How about we talk about something other than that one thing?

SANDERS:

Should we talk about my campaigning for the Rebuild America Act to invest $1 million in infrastructure and create 13 million jobs?

CLINTON:

I’m going to have an aneurism if we have to deal with that single issue from Single Issue Sanders again!

SANDERS:

Would you prefer we talk about the Warren-McCain 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, which I and Senator Warren support, and you oppose?

CLINTON:

Your monotonous obsession with that one single issue really has me “feeling the Bern” – the heart-Bern, ha-ha!

SANDERS:

So are you saying that my abundant campaign discussions of the problems addressed by these multiple issues are all related to a single theme I’ve stressed: that nobody can believe that substantive social change on these and all the other issues I’ve talked about is going to come from a person who has spent so much time chewing and grifting her way up the establishment food chain to earn the admiration of Henry Kissinger, the major investment banks and the billionaire philanthropists who comprise the Clinton Global Initiative?

CLINTON:

Now you get it!  That’s all you ever talk about!

SANDERS:

OK, you’re right. Although I have discussed dozens of issues in great detail in my campaign for President, they are all connected politically to that overarching theme. Thanks for pointing it out.

 

Krugman the Forgetful

Paul Krugman continues to look for new, election season reasons to have negative attitudes about the single payer health care approach he used to admire. It’s as if Krugman has suddenly forgotten several things he used to know quite clearly.

Krugman offers the briefest of concessions that the drive for single payer is largely motivated by concerns about the cost of health care in the United States:

Meanwhile, although cost control is looking better than even reform advocates expected, America’s health care remains much more expensive than anyone else’s.

So yes, there are real issues with Obamacare. The question is how to address those issues in a politically feasible way.

But he then skips quickly to a straw man argument, citing unnamed individuals offering a much weaker non-argument that he is allegedly “hearing from the left”.

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The False Center

An image of centrist politics, United States of America, circa 2016.

Center

Wonks? Or Minions?

Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy on May 26th, 2015. Last week, on January 18th, 2016 Paul Krugman began a series of posts critical of Sanders. That, of course, is his right. What Krugman says now is that he wants the policy differences between Sanders and Clinton to be subjected to searching analysis by policy wonks.

But throughout last summer and fall, the Sanders team – which has run a resolutely issues-oriented campaign with an unusually high substance-to-bullshit ratio for American politics – has earnestly attempted to drive debate forward on their differences with the Clinton campaign over such issues as the minimum wage, single payer health care, universal college education, wealth and income inequality, infrastructure spending, Social Security expansion, carbon taxes and others. These are issues that are hugely important to millions of struggling working Americans, and the nation as a whole. And to be fair, the Clinton campaign has also been very substantive.

So Krugman, the wonk, must have been very eager to dive into all of this meaty substantive goodness to apply some solid wonky analysis to the debate, right? And how many times did Krugman make reference to Sanders during all that time on his blog?

I count four: on September 19th, on October 18th, on October 30th, and December 9th.

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The New Economic Left Revolution

A lot of people seem perplexed by what Bernie Sanders means by “democratic socialism”. For example, Mark Thoma suggests that Sanders is not really a democratic socialist, because

Democratic socialists reject capitalism as an economic system and want to replace it with state ownership of the means of production (i.e. the state owned factories, businesses, land, housing, and so on) combined with political democracy.

Since Sanders is offering no such program, then it would seem to follow that Sanders is no democratic socialist, and he would do better to call himself something else. And indeed, if he called himself a Nordic-style social democrat, the description would be equally accurate.

But Thoma and others seem to have overlooked the fact that there is a prominent US organization called the Democratic Socialists of America. The DSA has been around for a number of years. Its founders were Michael Harrington and Barbara Ehrenreich, and its current membership includes a number of the most prominent leaders of the American left.

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Holier-than-Thou Purists and Naïve Idealists

I’m really getting tired of neoliberal purists with their naïve and idealistic views about capitalism.

I mean some of these ingénues actually believe that the market system is self-correcting and self-optimizing, as long as the price mechanism isn’t too sticky and interest rates aren’t at the zero bound. Others believe that there such a thing as a “full employment interest rate” – as if all that is required to bring an economy up to full employment is to make sure market mechanisms are able to float interest rates to some magical number! Yet others think that as long as we have enough “aggregate demand” to get the production system up to the full employment level, it doesn’t matter what that production system produces or how those people are employed, and that making decisions on those matters is a dangerous violation of the taboos of capitalist purity, and isn’t something economists should think about or meddle with.

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2016: An End of Neoliberalism Meme Odyssey

I’ve been having some fun lately creating memes on based on the 2001: A Space Odyssey HAL disconnection scene. It strikes me as an apt metaphor for the establishment’s pushback against the attempted dismantling of neoliberal capitalism.

Perhaps not all of the references will be crystal clear to those who haven’t seen the film, or who don’t know what particular current topic I was commenting on in each case. But enjoy and feel free to share!

look-dave-i

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