Posts by Nick Cassella

Daily Clips: November 2nd, 2015

Daily Clips: November 2nd, 2015

DO NOT FORGET TO VOTE! IT IS YOUR CIVIC OBLIGATION. US manufacturing slows; construction-spending at 7 year high:  Reuters reports that US manufacturing activity slowed for the fourth straight month. Manufacturing accounts for 12 percent of the economy and has “been slammed by business efforts to reduce an inventory overhang and slowing demand overseas.” Paul Krugman looks at how the economy fares under Democratic leadership:  Krugman points out that Hillary Clinton is “completely right about the record: historically, the economy has indeed done better under Democrats.” But he wonders why this doesn’t stop Republican candidates from “claiming that his [or her] tax plan would produce a huge growth surge – a claim that has no basis in historical experience.” Krugman concludes that this is because “modern conservatives generally live in a bubble into which inconvenient facts can’t penetrate.” He’s not wrong. Middle-class tax increases? Robert Samuelson believes both Republicans and Democrats are duping the American people into believing their tax policies. Samuelson argues that “both parties have constructed rationales for avoiding middle-class tax increases” because they would be “highly unpopular.” He decries the fact that both parties’ tax plans will ultimately be insufficient in supporting the US government. He notes that Republican tax plans will “lose gobs of tax revenues…The loss over a decade is $10 trillion for Trump’s package, $2.4 trillion for Rubio’s and $1.6 trillion for Bush’s.” He then says that Democratic plans won’t raise enough money by “soaking the rich.” In this way, both plans are inadequate. While that is certainly true, it sure does sound like the Democratic plan would be a lot better. One party has a tax plan that won’t raise enough money and the other party has a plan that will lose a lot of money…and Samuelson equally has a problem with both? Huh? Republicans shoot themselves in foot with Latinos, again: Republicans hate to be confronted with individuals who disagree with what they believe, so they have decided to pull “out of their only scheduled debate”
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Daily Clips: October 30th, 2015

Daily Clips: October 30th, 2015

This Republican field has achieved full “Palinization”: So says Charles Pierce, who argues that the “Palinization of conservative rhetoric is now complete.” By this, he means that candidates can avoid any serious policy questions by simply saying “Liberal media!” While the 2012 field was “a completely undisciplined wing nut buffet,” Pierce argues that 2016’s current crop “is spinning even further out of control.” Why is Hillary so eager to leave big issues in state hands?  Marijuana, the death penalty, immigration, same-sex marriage…you name it and Clinton “has adopted a stance of convenient federalism, deferring to the states rather than choosing to nudge them in the right direction.” Too true. I pointed towards her pragmatic progressivism yesterday with regard to capital punishment , saying that, in general, it’s a good strategy for getting the presidential nomination. However, Beutler warns her that “if she isn’t willing to get out in front of contentious state-based concerns, I imagine many of those efforts will falter or stagnate on her watch.” Bernie Sanders’ not-so-radical marijuana idea: This week, Bernie called for the US federal government to lift its prohibition on the devil’s lettuce. Unlike Hillary (as we mentioned in the above article), the Vermont Senator must be applauded for his unfaltering leadership on messy issues. But these “radical ideas” are actually quite mainstream. As this article notes, “when Americans are polled on specific issues, majorities tend to agree with him on matters from taxation to family leave.” 1 in 2 working Americans make less than $30,000 a year:  Nothing to say here. We must do all we can to change this pathetic reality.

Why did Hillary Clinton come out against abolishing the death penaliy?

Why did Hillary Clinton come out against abolishing the death penaliy?

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton irritated progressives  again, this time with regard to capital punishment (aka the government legally killing criminals). When asked about this topic, Clinton firmly stated, “I do not favor abolishing [capital punishment]…because I do think there are certain egregious cases that still deserve the consideration of the death penalty, but I’d like to see those be very limited and rare, as opposed to what we’ve seen in most states.” Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley took this opportunity to attack Clinton’s centrist answer by highlighting their support of abolishing capital punishment. O’Malley, in particular, had some strong words for Hillary Clinton : Secretary Clinton is often a bit behind the times in terms of actually what works when it comes to policy. I respect her. I have a great deal of respect for her, but she’s often late to many of these issues because she’s of a different generation than I am. While I agree with Governor O’Malley’s points and overall tactic, he must also know that 61 percent of Americans favor the death penalty for a person convicted of murder. Only 37 percent are opposed. It’s easy to see why Hillary, ever the pragmatic progressive, has come out in favor of capital punishment for “certain egregious cases.” She’s doing so because she doesn’t want this type of a moment presented to her: Clinton’s conciliatory language on capital punishment is similar to how she has responded to calls for  marijuana legalization (“There should be availability [of medical marijuana] under appropriate circumstances. But I do think we need more research…”). Her answers are thoughtful, yet pandering; progressive, yet centrist. Simply put, Clinton is trying to win the presidency, not just the Democratic nomination. To do so, she must hold centrist positions on certain issues. That’s politics. While Sanders and O’Malley are on the right side of history when it comes to capital punishment, the American people still lag behind them. Let’s face it: our nation has an insatiable appetite for
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Daily Clips: October 29th, 2015

Daily Clips: October 29th, 2015

The 3rd GOP Debate was an exercise in economic fantasy:  All the candidates last night peddled trickle-down fantasies for their rich overlords, leaving middle-class Americans to pick up the scraps. …What stood out was the candidates’ refusal to own up to the details of the one policy they have embraced as an economic panacea for all Americans: Huge, deficit-busting tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy over ordinary Americans—the same supply-side logic that informed George W. Bush’s economic policy. The third Republican debate explained: Here’s a great overview of the night by Matthew Yglesias. He notes how “Jeb Bush appeared to vanish,” Ted Cruz avoided any substance, and Rubio got away with not answering hard questions on his trickle-down tax policy. US economy doesn’t grow much – only up 1.5 percent in the third quarter: The American economy grew at half the pace of the previous quarter, however American households “have remained resilient.” Consumer spending increased by 3.2 percent from July to September and “business investment in equipment was also strong.” Paul Ryan elected 54th House speaker:  Kiss your career goodbye, Paul “D.” Ryan.

Daily Clips: October 28th, 2015

Daily Clips: October 28th, 2015

Top 100 CEO Retirement Savings Equals 41% of All U.S. Families Retirement Savings : Before I woke up this morning, I had no clue that 100 CEOs retirement savings were equal to the total savings of over 116 million Americans. Where’s the outrage on that issue? Why isn’t our media relentlessly talking about this injustice? Why do middle-class Americans accept this reality? Why aren’t we more angry about this? Look, inequality must exist and in many ways it is a powerful force for innovation – a vital ingredient in a capitalist economy. But these levels of inequality are not beneficial to anyone but the 100 CEOs and their families (for generations to come). Nick Hanauer made this case in his viral TED Talk : Another reason this idea is so wrong-headed is that there can never be enough super-rich Americans to power a great economy. The annual earnings of people like me are hundreds, if not thousands, of times greater than those of the median American, but we don’t buy hundreds or thousands of times more stuff. My family owns three cars, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and a few shirts a year, just like most American men. Like everyone else, we go out to eat with friends and family only occasionally. Inequality at these levels isn’t just morally wrong, it’s also absolutely terrible for our economy. Is there a silver lining to Citizens United?  The New York Times’ Thomas “Don’t Forget the B” Edsall asked this provocative question in his latest column. He goes onto enumerate the many instances where “reformers have been forced to look toward innovative legislation at the city and state level.” This immediately reminded me of I-122 in Seattle, which is on the ballot right now. If you haven’t already read Civic Skunk Works’ endorsement of I-122, you can do so here ! The column was admittedly quite dry, but one line in particular stood out for me: “The thing about money
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Nick Hanauer: “For as long as human beings have challenges and problems, we will have jobs”

Nick Hanauer: “For as long as human beings have challenges and problems, we will have jobs”

Yesterday, Nick Hanauer spoke at a Brookings Institution forum which “explored the impact of robots, AI, and machine learning on the workforce.” Hanauer was joined by Scott Santens , a leading advocate for universal basic income (UBI). (If you don’t know what UBI entails,  here’s an explanatory article ). The conversation which followed between Hanauer and Santens provided an interesting and philosophical examination on the future of the US economy. In his opening statement, Nick Hanauer attacked the prevailing narrative of a dystopian future caused by robots and automation: We have a choice about the kind of arrangements we can have [in our economy]. Technological innovation is always disruptive…The better the innovation the more disruption there will be. And that implies this very simple principle of civic, social, and political life which is: the point of it all is for civic innovation to match the pass of technological and commercial innovation. And if we do that collectively, we’ve got a fantastic future ahead of us. And if we fail to do that, we’re going to have all sorts of problems. You can see his full answer here: This is not a new idea. Earlier this year, Nick Hanauer and David Rolf wrote a lengthy article in Democracy Journal called, “ Shared Security, Shared Growth .” Here, Hanauer and Rolf proposed their own civic solutions in response to the disruptive nature of the “gig economy.” Within this piece, they put forward big ideas which  could fundamentally improve the economy . As Paul Waldman at the Washington Post wrote: The Shared Security Account is a fairly radical idea, re-imagining the relationship between employment and the benefits that are now associated with it. And there are lots of practical questions that would have to be answered before something like it could be implemented. But just as the fact that we get health benefits through our jobs is nothing more than an  accident of history , there’s no
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Daily Clips: October 27th, 2015

Daily Clips: October 27th, 2015

John Boehner says we have a budget agreement!  This could be one of the last times we see John of Orange, so tune into this press conference announcing a (tentative) budget deal. According to Dylan Matthews , it sounds like “spending will increase by $112 billion over two years.” Think we can’t stabilize the climate while fostering growth? Think again:  Head’s up to Marco Rubio, the US can make long term-investments in clean energy and create millions of jobs around the globe, says Robert  Pollin. His article essentially calls bulls*** on the claim that “there must be large, painful tradeoffs between climate stabilization and economic growth.” Lucky or not, the economy does better under Democrats:  Hey Jeb! You know how much you want 4 percent growth? Well, if that’s really your goal for America then maybe you should sit this election out. Because according to Market Watch, “economic growth in real terms…averaged 2.54 per year under Republican presidents, but 4.35 percent under Democratic ones.” Seattle’s home prices continue to grow: The Seattle Times reports that the average price of single-family homes in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties increased by nearly a percent…in just the month of August!

The NFL should launch a “Voting Awareness Month,” but here’s why they won’t

The NFL should launch a “Voting Awareness Month,” but here’s why they won’t

Like 49 percent of Americans , I consider myself a pro football fan. I wake up every Sunday, have a cup of coffee, set my Fantasy Football roster(s), and tune into the best sporting experience the world has to offer. In 2014, NFL games reached 202.3 million unique viewers , “representing 80 percent of all television homes and 68 percent of potential viewers in the US.” If you think that’s impressive, think about this: 45 of the top 50 TV shows last year were NFL games. And all of the top 20 programs were football games. 2014’s most-watched matchup, featuring the Eagles vs. Cowboys, had 32 million viewers alone. The NFL uses its TV superiority to promote worthwhile causes, too. They relentlessly advertise their  PLAY 60  initiative, “a campaign to encourage kids to be active for 60 minutes a day in order to help reverse the trend of childhood obesity.” And every fan of the NFL knows about the  controversial  “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and the nationalistic “ Salute to Service .” Both of these programs are promoted in order to, essentially, create awareness and solemnity around their respective topics. Oh, and they also happen to sell copious amounts of  pink and camouflage merchandise! But why should the NFL only assist these causes? As the #1 de facto TV program in America, the NFL has the unique opportunity to push other deeply patriotic and non-partisan initiatives. In fact, I’d argue the NFL still has the chance to embrace another extremely important cause: The NFL should promote voting awareness in order to address our nation’s exceptionally low voter turnout .   They could call it something like, “Vote for America,” and label it as a program which sought to create awareness around the most sacred and noble right given to US citizens: voting. You can almost hear Al Michaels saying, “And as a part of the NFL’s campaign, Vote for America, we urge all American citizens, domestic and abroad, to participate in our
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Daily Clips: October 26th, 2015

Daily Clips: October 26th, 2015

Rubio gives up on the Senate:  Does anyone else think its highly convenient that Rubio has all of a sudden found a deep hatred for the Senate? It’s almost like he’s seen that his party’s base hates anyone that’s a politician. But are they dumb enough to fall for this 180 turn? Can Senator Rubio convince them that he’s not a politician? The GOP has a new speaker, but he’s stuck with the same doomed strategy:  Matthew Yglesias has a great piece at Vox which highlights the difficulties which (most probably) await the next (probable) Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. Yglesias argues: The core problem that afflicted John Boehner during his tenure in office remains in place — a band of hard-line conservatives routinely insists that the GOP use routine but critical pieces of must-pass legislation (debt ceiling bills, government funding bills, etc.) as “leverage” to secure ideological concessions from the White House. The plan fundamentally doesn’t make sense and can’t work, which most Republicans know but aren’t willing to say. It’s a recipe for disaster, and it hasn’t changed one bit. And in some ways, things may be worse than ever under Ryan, who isn’t really a practitioner of the kind of crass transactional politics that Boehner used to make it work. The concealed carry fantasy:  The New York Times editorial board used their platform to discuss the delusion surrounding carrying guns and keeping yourself “safe.” Read what they have to say on the matter: This foolhardy notion of quick-draw resistance, however, is dramatically contradicted by a research project showing that, since 2007, at least 763 people have been killed in 579 shootings that did not involve self-defense. Tellingly, the vast majority of these concealed-carry, licensed shooters killed themselves or others rather than taking down a perpetrator. They’re not done. They then turn their anger towards the gun lobby: More complete research, unimpeded by the gun lobby, would undoubtedly uncover a higher death toll. But this
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Daily Clips: October 23rd, 2015

Daily Clips: October 23rd, 2015

Lincoln Chafee ends his campaign:  Who saw this one coming?! Evidently, some dude grocery shopping in Rhode Island: The Day the GOP Turned Benghazi Into a Farce:  Joan Walsh has written a compelling summary on yesterday’s 11 hour fiasco, which was full of mansplaining, heated attacks, and desperation from Republican members of the Benghazi committee. Walsh points out the obvious: Clinton looked presidential and her answers show a growth of character and of coaching since the last Benghazi hearing. Her tough summer is officially over. Jeb! campaign starts cutting salaries and staff:  Jeb Bush’s campaign has published a memo which says that it’s payroll costs are “being slashed by 40 percent” and that staff at his Miami HQ are being transferred to early voting states. “We are making changes today to ensure Jeb is best positioned to win the nomination and general election,” the memo said. “It’s no secret that the contours of this race have changed from what was anticipated at the start.” Your delusional article of the day – 20 REASONS WHY IT SHOULD BE DONALD TRUMP IN 2016:  During my daily perusal of Breitbart, I came across this gem of an article. The points made by the author are borderline insane; here are some of my favorites: 1. Trump is not your ordinary politician. 4. Trump speaks for us little people. 8. Trump is pro-women. 12. Trump’s policies are spot-on, particularly immigration.