Feb 9, 2020 – A Farewell to Caucuses – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 295

Description: Despite the recent fiasco of the Iowa 2020 Democratic Caucuses, there aren’t many caucuses left due to post-2016 changes in the nomination process that also included reducing the power of super-delegates. Rachel, Bill, Nate.

Links and notes for ep. 295 (PDF): http://arsenalfordemocracy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/AFD-295-Links-and-Notes-After-Iowa.pdf

Theme music by Stunt Bird.

Clinton takes aim at executive pay, hedge fund managers

On day two of Hillary Clinton’s campaign through Iowa, she made an effort to distance herself from some of the Wall Street crowd she used to represent (and drew a lot of financial support from) as a US Senator from New York. Reuters:

“There is something wrong when hedge fund managers pay lower tax rates than nurses or the truckers that I saw on I-80 as I was driving here over the last two days,” Clinton said, perched on a stiff metal chair in the automotive shop of a community college.

Some hedge fund managers and private equity firm partners, among the wealthiest financiers on Wall Street, benefit from a tax code loophole that lets them pay the capital gains tax rate, which is lower than the ordinary tax rate, on large portions of their incomes.

Clinton also repeated her concerns, first voiced on Sunday, that chief executives make 300 times more than the average worker, and sympathized with students discussing the high cost of a college education.

The United States has the highest executive pay packages in the world, and the already large disparity between CEO compensation and salaries of the average American worker has exploded since 1980 (although the gap peaked in 2000).

The Globalist itemizes the facts in “CEOs and the Rest of Us”:

1. On average, the CEOs of large U.S. companies received $12.3 million in compensation in 2012, based on an analysis of S&P 500 companies.

2. Given that the average American worker earned $34,645 in 2012, the typical U.S. CEO earns 354 times what the average worker does.
5. A worker at the U.S. minimum wage would have to work 813 hours — or 20 weeks — to earn an hour’s worth of CEO pay.
9. The CEOs of the 100 largest companies in the United Kingdom earned an average of just under $3.8 million in 2012. That is 84 times the average British worker’s compensation of $44,743.

10. Britain’s CEO-to-worker wage ratio today is almost exactly the same as the one in the United States in 1990 — more than two decades ago.

11. At that time, U.S. CEOs earned “only” 85 times the average U.S. worker’s wage.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a democratic socialist, has been speaking in Iowa on these issues as well for many months, as he decides whether or not to run against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Another likely contender, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, also called recently for stronger regulations on Wall Street.


O’Malley, in Iowa, echoes Bernie Sanders

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is in Iowa today exploring a run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. After his old donor base froze him out in favor of Hillary Clinton, he seems to be running harder now on a platform similar to that of Bernie Sanders — emphasizing income inequality, Wall Street malfeasance, the importance of investing in education, and the need to strengthen infrastructure. Cedar Rapids Gazette:

[…] he lamented income inequality and the reckless disregard for the nation’s economy exhibited by big Wall Street banks.
Americans can change the direction of the economy and country by making better choices. As governor of Maryland, O’Malley said, he chose to invest in the state and its people rather than “join the ranks of right-wing ideologues in some other states who tried to cut their way to prosperity.”

“Instead we did more to educate our children” by increasing school funding and not raising college tuition for four years. “We made our public schools the best in country “not by doing less, but buy doing more” and invested in infrastructure — “not only water and wastewater, but in roads and transit, school construction.”
O’Malley called for raising the minimum wage, expanding Social Security and collective bargaining rights. Making it easier for people to vote and doing more to educate future generations.

“It means we should invest more in our country so our country can give more back more to us and to our children and to our grandchildren,” he said. “And yes, it means we should stand up to powerful wealth special interests who nearly wrecked out country in the Great Recession and will wreck it again if we don’t put in place the rules, the regulations and the enforcement that will keep other people from gambling with our children’s future, with our nation’s economy and with our money.

This rhetoric also puts him in direct contrast on almost every issue with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has been traversing Iowa regularly in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. Whether or not O’Malley actually commits to running or gets anywhere, it’s important to have a vocal and respected Democrat in the field in Iowa pushing back on the Scott Walkers of the world. Otherwise, they just get months and months of unchallenged opportunity to build and cement policy narratives.

Bernie Sanders proposes cutting public college tuition in half

Sanders-021507-18335- 0004Public college tuition could be cut in half by diverting defense spending, increasing state investment, and making other reforms to student lending, according to a proposal by Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Bernie Sanders (I-VT) presented at the University of Iowa this week as he explores a presidential run.

The budget proposed by President Barack Obama includes $38 billion more for the Pentagon’s base budget. Republicans in Congress want even more in a military budget that is higher than the next nine countries combined. Sanders instead would put half the amount requested for extra military funding, about $18 billion, into higher education grants to states. With state matching funds, tuitions at public universities and colleges could be cut in half, according to Sanders, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.

Sanders also called for a major overhaul of federal student loans. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the Department of Education will reap $127 billion in profits over 10 years from rising interest charges for college students and their families.

“We must end the practice of the government making billions in profits from student loans taken out by low and moderate income families. That is extremely regressive public policy,” Sanders said. “It also makes no sense that students and their parents are forced to pay interest rates for higher education loans that are much higher than they pay for car loans or housing mortgages.”

Senator Sanders’ prepared remarks and citations are available here.

It’s an ambitious proposal by the feckless standards to which we have grown accustomed, but it’s still far short of proposals for zero-tuition public colleges. My radio co-host Nate and I discussed the latter concept at length on a recent episode of our show. Listen below:

Part 1 – Free College – AFD 115

How to Talk to Voters (Badly)

TPM Livewire today:

Iowa Republican Senate candidate Mark Jacobs said the best way to connect with women is on an “emotional level.”

Jacobs made the comments during an interview with Iowa’s WHO-TV in Des Moines on Sunday.

“I think you have to connect with women on an emotional level,” Jacobs said. “And with a wife of 25 years and an 18-year-old daughter, I’ve had a lot of coaching on that.”

Because if we know anything at all about American politics, it’s that our male voters are uniformly stone-cold machines of hyper-rational logic who totally don’t freak out over any perceived threat to their status in the social, economic, and gender hierarchies, resulting in their surrender to factually incorrect emotional appeals and poorly conceived policy ideas.

In contrast, who can understand the mystery of women voting exactly in line with their financial, health, safety, and bodily autonomy interests time and again? Must be an emotional decision.