Posts by Nick Cassella

Bill Clinton: This Election Will Be About Inclusion & Shared Prosperity

Bill Clinton: This Election Will Be About Inclusion & Shared Prosperity

Hillary Clinton is less than a month away from the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, and with that in mind, she released her “ secret weapon ” upon the masses today in New Hampshire: her husband. When Bill Clinton took the stage earlier today, it represented the former president’s “ first solo appearance on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid .” From the beginning of his speech, the former president made clear that “this election is about restoring broadly shared prosperity” to the American people. This wasn’t some midnight musing from Mr. Clinton, either. The notion of more equitable growth has been the organizing principle of Hillary Clinton’s campaign from the get-go. In fact, she opened her first campaign speech with this very theme; noting how “prosperity can’t be just for CEOs and hedge fund managers.” She argued against trickle-down economics and its uneven, unproductive, and unjust economic gains. She reiterated in the same speech, “now it’s time – your time to secure the gains and move ahead…The middle class needs more growth and more fairness. Growth and fairness go together. For lasting prosperity, you can’t have one without the other.” Today, Bill Clinton followed his wife’s lead. He, too, brought up trickle-down theory and its disastrous effects on the economy (though he failed to mention his involvement in perpetuating such an economic dogma). He drew differences between Reagan and himself, pointing out that when Reagan was president those at the top did very well, but when he was president “we grew together.” Along with equitable growth, inclusivity was a major theme of Mr. Clinton’s first stump speech. Right after speaking about reestablishing “broadly shared prosperity,” Mr. Clinton claimed “you have to have inclusive economics, inclusive social policy, and then we gotta have politics that are inclusive enough to actually get something done.” He went on – listen to the clip here: Inclusion is clearly a driving theme of the Hillary campaign. And we
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Daily Clips: January 4th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 4th, 2016

Why aren’t we calling the Oregon occupiers ‘terrorists?’  In short, because these “occupiers” are white. And as history has shown, being white in America provides endless justifications for horrifying behavior. It’s why, as of yesterday, “the Washington Post called them ‘occupiers’ [and] The New York Times opted for ‘armed activists’ and ‘militia men.'” The author points out how “it is hard to imagine” that words such as insurrection or revolt “would be avoided if, for instance, a group of armed black Americans took possession of a federal or state courthouse to protest the police.” Take a look at John Kasich’s new ad: It offers the same cliche talking points and industrial vistas which fetishize the working class man. A highly ineffectual ad, John Kasich keeps reminding people that 1) he is a career politician (hardly a plus in this election cycle) and 2) he’s a guy that gets the job done. Consequently, the ad comes off feeling very superficial and very focus-grouped. Obama starts 2016 with fight over gun violence prevention:  God, there Obama goes again “politicizing” issues. When will Barack just roll over and let 30,000 Americans continue to die from gun violence? According to the AP, during this week Obama is “expected to sign off on a package of proposals aimed at curbing gun violence” and “at the top of the list is an effort to expand background checks on gun sales by forcing more sellers to register as federally licensed gun dealers.” How…commonsensical? Here’s how Breitbart/Trump reacted to the news: Mitt Romney worries about Jeb Bush:  Romney told Washington Post journalists that, “a Bush-versus-Clinton head-to-head would be too easy for the Democrats,” adding “I like Jeb a lot, I think he’d be a great president, but felt he was unfairly but severely burdened by the W. years – and when I say the W. years, it’s not only what happened to the economy, but the tragedy in Iraq.”

Daily Clips: December 18th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 18th, 2015

Matthew Yglesias on Marco Rubio:  As per usual, Yglesias writes an op-ed that neatly unpackages what the Skunk Works team has been grappling with in private. His opening sentence, in particular, is very apt: Virtually every Democrat I talk to in Washington is equal parts delighted and baffled that Republican Party stakeholders have as of yet done nothing to seriously try to unify the party establishment behind Marco Rubio. That has been the conversation we’ve all been having privately for a long time. Rubio is the only GOP candidate that scares us for the 2016 election. Cruz? Trump? No way. Jeb!? Yes, but there’s almost no chance that he gets the nomination. Hillary’s Economic Balancing Act:  Even though Republicans have completely ignored the economy , we know this issue will be front and center come 2016. Hillary Clinton, when she becomes the Democratic nominee, will have a difficult time addressing Americans economic concerns, however. As the author points out: How do you run a campaign that capitalizes on the country’s populist mood—and anger—while also touting the economic advances made under Obama? This economic balancing act will not be easy. And the Fed’s recent decision to raise rates from near zero will force the conversation upon Hillary Clinton, most likely at tomorrow’s Democratic debate (isn’t it refreshing that one party actually talks about the economy?). Nonetheless, Hillary should take comfort in the fact that “A large body of research shows that voters are more inclined to stick with the incumbent party when the economy is doing well and to support the opposition when it’s not. Recent elections have borne this out.” The path to 270 in 2016: The Center for American Progress has just published a new report which lays out a roadmap to victory for the Democratic presidential nominee. It’s an in-depth piece of research worthy of your time.

In This Economy, High School Grads Are Falling Out of The Middle Class

In This Economy, High School Grads Are Falling Out of The Middle Class

Last week, Pew Research released a 74-page report, “ The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground ,” which examined economic data from 1971 to 2015. The study discovered that “after more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it.” In other words, our economy has been hollowed out from the middle. We have become a nation of “haves” and “have-nots.” Predictably, this evaporation of the middle class has affected some demographic groups more than others. Hispanics and millennials were hit hard, but no one lost more ground economically than adults who had no more than a high school diploma. Look at this graphic from the report: As you can see, those with high school degrees lost even more income share (-21.9 percent) than those with less than a high school degree (-18.1 percent). But did those with college degrees do much better? The answer is an unequivocal yes. During the period researched by Pew, “only one educational attainment group did not lose income status: college graduates.” Marinate on that for a second. Now look here: These numbers are startling. Americans with college degrees are “eight times as likely as adults who did not graduate from high school to live in upper-income households, and they are more than twice as likely as high school graduates or adults with some college education to be in the upper-income tier.” Pew Research adds: As the U.S. economy increasingly rewards those with job skills, college-educated Americans have an economic edge over other adults, even when the costs of going to college are factored in. They have a growing earnings advantage over those with no more than a high school diploma. Their study seems to be pointing to a clear solution: in order to create a more robust middle class, we must ensure
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Daily Clips: December 17th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 17th, 2015

An appalling silence on gun control:  The New York Times Editorial Board published what we were all thinking, complaining that the Republican debate completely ignored the gun violence epidemic that offers “a lethal, daily threat” to Americans. It’s easier for these candidates to engage in eerie discussions of whether the next president should be free to bomb civilians in Syria or shoot down Russian bombers in a no-fly zone. They are experts at stoking fears about terrorism and great at wringing their hands about the unfounded bomb scare that shut down the Los Angeles school district on Tuesday , but actually facing up to gun violence — which kills more than 33,000 Americans a year — is beyond their capacity or courage. Far from offering any ideas, their statements on the campaign trail are a national embarrassment. I'm still disappointed that nobody at #GOPDebate argued that limiting access to guns should be part of any real counter-terror strategy. — igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) December 16, 2015 Why portable benefits should be a priority in this new economy:  Our economy has changed. And the lack of portable benefits is one of the biggest impediments blocking US workers from thriving in this new economy. As the author says, …The system for supporting the independent workers who provide these services is the opposite of flexible. Our health insurance, unemployment insurance, and workers compensation are rigidly attached to the employer. When you leave the company, you lose your employee benefits. This system makes no sense in today’s economy, where people move from job to job to build a career. The Fed is hiking rates for the first time since 2006. That’s a big deal:   After seven years of keeping a key interest rate near zero percent, the Federal Reserve has voted for a rate increase. The decision signals the central bank’s growing confidence in the economy. The Fed is raising its target for the federal funds rate — the rate banks charge when they lend money to one another — from 0 percent to 0.25 percent. By itself, that modest increase isn’t going to have
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Daily Clips: December 16th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 16th, 2015

The winners and losers of last night’s debate, according to Jennifer Rubin: Rubin is a rigidly conventional thinker and an establishment Republican at the Washington Post. And within her analysis of last night’s debate, she does everything she can to make you think that Rubio and Bush were the best candidates on stage. Her winners and losers were perfectly demarcated between establishment candidates and outsiders: Winners: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, CNN (for tough, substantive questions on foreign policy) Losers: Trump, Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson (who seemed barely there) A couple of things: How did she possibly think Jeb Bush won that debate? He was downright awful. And how does she think that CNN did a good job on foreign policy when they never even brought up the historic Paris agreement? Their adherence to terrorism was pathetic and cheap. Deep down, CNN is shallow. The GOP debate explained in one tweet: This wasn’t a “foreign policy” debate, or even a “national security” debate. It was contest about who could tell the scariest story. — Ana Marie Cox (@anamariecox) December 16, 2015  Rand Paul decided to show up to this debate:

Daily Clips: December 15th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 15th, 2015

American kids are graduating from high school at record rates:   The U.S. high school graduation rate reached another record high in the 2013-14 school year, with teens graduating at 82 percent, the U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday. Further, the achievement gap in graduation rates between black and white students and white and Hispanic students continues to narrow. Debates help fuel strong interest in 2016 campaign:  So says Pew Research, noting how “74% of Americans say they have given a lot or some thought to the candidates, higher than the shares saying this at comparable points in the past two presidential campaigns.” For comparison, “in December 2007 – the most recent election in which there were contested nominations in both parties – just 43% reported watching any of the debates.” Justice Ginsburg’s ominous warning about creeping corporate power:  I must admit that before I read this article, I had never heard of DIRECTV v Imburgia. This Supreme Court case was the first divided decision of the current SCOTUS term. On the surface, not very much is at stake in DIRECTV. The company allegedly charged early termination fees that violate California law. If the plaintiffs win, they get their fees back. So this is hardly a case where some innocent’s life or livelihood is at stake. However, “if you’re a business looking for new ways to squeeze money out of your consumers without having to worry about whether doing so is illegal, than you had a very good day in the Supreme Court on Monday.” Silence from Republicans on the Paris agreement:  Sorry Marco Rubio et al, you’re going to have a hard time convincing the American people that you are the “ party of the future ” when you still doubt man-made climate change. These outdated opinions on climate also do not sit well with the American public. According to the New York Times’ Editorial Board, “ about two-thirds of Americans want the United States to join an international pact to curb the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.” I’ll be keeping my eye on this
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Remember when 2016 was supposed to be about the economy?

Remember when 2016 was supposed to be about the economy?

I’ll admit that “5% unemployment and $38 oil will bring about our nastiest politics” wasn’t my expectation in 2011-12. — Conor Sen (@conorsen) December 7, 2015 The American economy, while certainly not perfect, is at least performing better than most expected. (Remember when Mitt Romney promised to bring unemployment down to 6 percent by 2016 ?) In fact, the very existence of our economy also flies in the face of Republican forecasts about Obama’s tyrannical rule of America. Here’s a brief refresher of what the GOP predicted  a couple of years ago: Obamacare will “destroy our economy…It’s going to push us into a total economic collapse.” The 2009 stimulus bill is “affirmatively job killing” and “about to get worse.” The US is about to go through “ the Great Depression times 100 .” Clearly, none of those statements were 1) true and 2) ever came to transpire. So, it should come as a surprise to no one that the GOP has pivoted from the economy as the “central issue” of the 2016 election and now gone full terrorism-mode. Donald Trump and his dire rhetoric has dragged his competition down to his level (or the base’s level). Therefore, Republican candidates have been forced to talk non-stop about the threat of terrorism, in order to appear “presidential.” As a result, economic discussions have largely been thrown to the wayside. Unfortunately, the GOP’s incessant chatter on the subject of terrorism has greatly impacted the American psyche. According to a recent Gallup survey , Americans now see terrorism as the number one problem facing the country. As Politico notes: The share of Americans worried about terrorism has not been this high since the mid-2000s, when 19 percent said it was the most important issue after the 2004 Madrid train bombings and 17 percent in the wake of the 2005 London bus and subway bombings. Notably, the survey showed that the economy’s importance in the minds of Americans has fallen to an eight
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Daily Clips: December 14th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 14th, 2015

Congress could renew solar & wind tax credits:  The renewable energy sector may be getting a wonderful present this holiday season. Congressional Democrats may be open to lifting the US crude oil export ban in exchange for long-term extensions of the wind and solar tax credits. These tax credits are set to expire at the end of 2016 and so renewing them would provide a greater sense of stability to the renewable energy sector. Environmentalists will most likely not celebrate this development, however this agreement could “ actually be a huge boost to the renewable industry in 2017 and beyond, and thus actually help continue accelerating the switch to renewables long term.Hillary Clinton is whitewashing the financial catastrophe:  So says William Greider at The Nation, who was not impressed by Clinton’s recent op-ed about “reining in Wall Street.” Clinton’s brisk recital of plausible reform ideas might convince wishful thinkers who are not familiar with the complexities of banking. But informed skeptics, myself included, see a disturbing message in her argument that ought to alarm innocent supporters. Those are some strong words. Greider believes Clinton’s op-ed also redefined the financial crisis of 2008 and deflected “the blame from Wall Street’s most powerful institutions, like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, and instead fingers less celebrated players that failed.” He contends that she did this in order to reassure her allies on Wall Street that “she will not come after them.” Americans see terrorism as the number one issue: Remember when the 2016 election was going to be about the economy? Yeah, those were the days. Turns out, you can’t run a very effective campaign when oil is under $40 a barrel and unemployment is at 5%. On Sandy Hook anniversary, US activists call for gun restrictions:  Today marks the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, and yet our gun laws still remain stubbornly weak and feckless. What an exceptional country we are.

Daily Clips: December 11th, 2015

Daily Clips: December 11th, 2015

I’ll never get sick of watching Colbert and Stewart together. Long live the dynamic duo. A brokered convention? Here’s an interesting discussion between FiveThirtyEight’s team on the likelihood of the GOP turning to a brokered convention  (if you are unsure what that means, click on the link). Nate Silver puts the odds of such a convention at 10%, while their senior political writer, Harry Enten, says “the Eagles had only a 12 percent shot to beat the Patriots last week, according to our Elo ratings . I put a contested convention on about the same plane as that.” Jeb!’s tax plan loses trillions and worsens inequality:  Jared Bernstein looks at the Tax Policy Center’s analysis of Jeb Bush’s proposed tax cuts, pointing out that “the bad stuff in the plan far outweighs the good.” The Bush plan: Lowers tax rates on both individuals and businesses (on both earnings and investment income) Repeals the estate tax Increases the Earned Income Tax Credit The bulk of the tax cuts go to the wealthy (surprise): 39 percent to the 1 percent, 10 percent to the middle fifth, and 2 percent to the bottom fifth. In other words, regressive. US consumer spending gauge rises strongly:  It’s the most wonderful time of the year…According to Reuters, “retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services increased 0.6 percent after gaining 0.2 percent in October.” “It dismisses any concerns of a potential slump in household spending after a couple of weaker months in August and September,” said Steve Murphy, U.S. economist at Capital Economics in Toronto.