51 percent of all Americans made less than $30,000 last year: The middle class in this country is being squeezed, as our Supreme Troublemaker Nick Hanauer has pointed out in the past . Newly released numbers from the Social Security Administration illustrates the dire situation of the American worker: -38 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year. -51 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year. -62 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year. -71 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year. What Scotland learned from making university free: Vox provides an interesting analysis on Scotland’s free university system, highlighting both the positives and negatives which occurred from the policy change. Here’s a big positive: when Scotland eliminated up-front fees in 2001, college applications rose by 24 percent. Compare that to England which saw a 30 percent drop in applications as tuition fees went up. Shocker. People don’t actually want equality: Here is a philosophical & evolutionary take on equality that challenges many of our preconceived notions on what people desire. While I don’t agree with all of the author’s points, his deep-dive into the psychology behind equality is definitely worth a read. 3 in 4 say Benghazi is politically motivated: Nothing to see here, move along.
BREAKING – BIDEN NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT: Flanked by his wife and the president, Biden told the press corps, “While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent. I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation.” Bernanke is puzzled by the focus on Glass-Steagall: Former Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, says that he is confused by the Democratic field’s focus on Glass-Steagal, a depression-era act that created separation between commercial and investment banking. Bernanke said: I think that if you look at the actual, what happened a few years ago in the crisis, that Glass-Steagall was pretty irrelevant to it because you had banks like Wachovia or [Washington Mutual] that went bad because they made bad loans, and you had investment banks like Bear Stearns and Lehman that went bad because of their investment banking activities. His language mirrors Hillary Clinton’s , who claimed during the last debate, that the elimination of Glass-Steagall did not cause the 2008 financial crisis. Support for marijuana hits all time high…again: Gallup reports that 58 percent of Americans now support the legalization of the devil’s lettuce. 71 percent of Americans aged 18-34 back pot legalization, a sign that it is only a matter of time until it is legal in all 50 states. Regressive tax systems: Here’s a friendly reminder that Washington state has “the most regressive state tax system” in the US, where the poorest residents are taxed at 16.8 percent while the top 1 percent is taxed “only 2.4 percent.” Florida and Texas come in a close second and third, respectively. We must do all we can to change this grave injustice.
Jim Webb to drop out of Democratic race: Say it ain’t so, Jim! Your debate performance last week was a tantalizing glimpse into your mind and, frankly, I’m disappointed that you gave up so soon. Yesterday, you were flirting with an independent run and now this? My heart can’t take it. Canada lurches to the left: Why is the Western world’s politics shifting to the left? The author examines this trend: Canada’s election on Monday was something much bigger than a local Canadian story. It’s another indicator of how Bill Clinton/Tony Blair-style liberalism is veering sharply to the left across the English-speaking world. Along with the surge of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary in the United States and the nomination of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in the United Kingdom, must now be reckoned Canada’s election of a Liberal government under Justin Trudeau. The NRA will fall: I’m not a huge fan of calling political trends “inevitable.” However, this piece in the Washington Post does an excellent job of showing how the long-term demographic trends do not favor the NRA’s positions on gun legislation. The decline of “white, rural, less educated Americans is generally well known,” the author contends, but this trend is rarely examined in regards to gun legislation. Polls show that whites tend to favor gun rights over gun control by a significant margin (57 percent to 40 percent). Yet whites, who comprise 63 percent of the population today, won’t be in the majority for long. Racial minorities are soon to be a majority, and they are the nation’s strongest supporters of strict gun laws. That’s not good news for the NRA. The author concludes, “Unless the organization begins to soften its no-compromises stance on gun safety legislation, it’s likely to become increasingly marginalized in a changing America.”
A Gallup poll released today shows that 55 percent of Americans now “feel that the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict.” That number is up from 47 percent in 2014, signifying a dramatic increase in support of gun responsibility. It seems that independent voters have changed their minds the most on this issue. 56 percent of independents now favor stricter gun laws, an 11 point jump (45 percent) from the previous year. Unsurprisingly, Democratic support grew by six percent (up to 77 percent), while Republicans continue to hate the idea of stricter gun laws (27 percent). Interestingly, the status quo no longer seems to be an acceptable policy position when it comes to guns. Only 33 percent of Americans think our gun laws should be “kept as they are,” a sign that Republican apathy on gun violence may be unsatisfactory to many American voters – particularly those independents who are becoming more open to stricter gun laws. Even if you add the 11 percent of Americans who think gun laws should be made less strict, stronger gun legislation leads the “do nothing crowd” 55 to 44 percent. Get ready for gun legislation to be a defining topic of the 2016 presidential race. If last week’s Democratic debate was any indication, Republicans better get ready for the eventual Democratic nominee to bring this issue to the forefront of American minds.
Rubio says people can’t live on a $11 an hour, but opposes a higher minimum wage: Marco Rubio scares me. In this field of buffoons, he is by far the most charismatic, fresh-faced, and interesting leader that the Republicans have in the 2016 election. That is not to say he’s offering anything different in policy prescriptions. He’s not. Case in point: when it comes to the minimum wage, he is once again displaying a cultish devotion to the free market ( something I have written about in the past ). Rubio claims: I have the full confidence that the American private sector, made up of the most innovative and productive people on this planet, won’t just create millions of jobs. They will create millions of jobs that pay more. Because even the jobs that are being created now don’t pay enough. You can’t live on $10 an hour. You can’t live on $11 an hour. I simply don’t know how he can hold those two conflicting opinions in his head. The market has had a long time to raise the minimum wage, yet it hasn’t. In fact, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure it was the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 (a government mandate) which established the concept of a minimum guaranteed wage. How can someone seriously say that we just need to leave America’s poverty wages up to the private sector? It’s a lazy and asinine answer. It’s akin to a primal leader sacrificing a goat in order to stop the spread of a disease. It’s a reassuring fable to tell the people, but it will not do anything about the problem. Biden to announce decision in next 48 hours: We have a little office poll on the odds of Biden dropping out of the race in the next two weeks. Three of us believe that he will bow out by October 26th. I am not one of those three. It seems that Biden is loving the media attention and honestly, who can blame
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Trump is racist…again: It’s disappointing that a known racist is leading in the Republican primary. Really marinate on that. A delusional megalomaniac is the preferred candidate for the majority of the Republican base. And lest you think his racism may recede as the spotlight intensifies, read this new story: This week, a seemingly benign Q&A turned into an awkward cultural moment on the presidential campaign trail. Joseph Choe, a Harvard student, stood up to ask Donald Trump a question about South Korea at the No Labels Problem Solver Convention in New Hampshire on Monday… “Harvard?” Trump asked. “You go to Harvard?” He does. There was some silence before Choe got the microphone… “Basically, you said that South Korea takes advantage of the United States in terms of the defense spending on the Korean Peninsula,” [Choe] began. “I just want to get the facts straight.” Before he could finish, Trump interrupted. “Are you from South Korea?” he wondered aloud. “I’m not,” Choe said. “I was born in Texas, raised in Colorado.” Economists see BIG revenues if taxes go up for the rich: A majority of Americans think the wealthy do not pay their fair share of taxes. And it turns out that if we actually raised the total tax burden of the richest Americans, the US government would raise a lot of money. Go figure. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times on how higher taxes on the rich could benefit our nation: The top 1 percent includes about 1.13 million households earning an average income of $2.1 million. Raising their total tax burden to, say, 40 percent would generate about $157 billion in revenue the first year. Increasing it to 45 percent brings in a whopping $267 billion. Even taking account of state and local taxes, the average household in this group would still take home at least $1 million a year. In sum, you cannot simultaneously claim to be worried about
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Obama says 5,500 troops will remain in Afghanistan: The president called his decision to keep troops on the ground as the “best possibility for lasting progress.” As Politico states, “According to the plan, 9,800 troops will remain in the country through most of 2016, with that number dropping to 5,500 by early 2017.” Washington Post editorial board warns Hillary to resist the lure of the left: While I don’t fully agree with their arguments, the editorial board does a nice job of outlining policy areas where Hillary should avoid becoming too progressive. They applauded her for arguing “only for making college debt-free for requiring students to work 10 hours a week” and insisting “that only banks that pose a systemic risk should be broken up.” These two positions, in particular, are in stark contrast to her main rival, Bernie Sanders. They correctly pointed out that “Ms. Clinton took a political risk by sticking to her more ambitious instincts in foreign policy” and didn’t move to the left on foreign policy. I couldn’t agree more – she shone in this section of the debate. Can you imagine Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush (effectively) lecturing Hillary about Russia? I certainly cannot. She’s got the resume and the disposition to be very effective in arguing for a robust neoliberal foreign policy . Boxer: Time for Biden to back Clinton! “I just don’t think there’s a rationale for his campaign,” Senator Barbara Boxer said. “I think he should endorse Hillary … and go out that way.” How long until Biden decides? Three of us in the office believe that he will drop out in the next two weeks. Time will tell. An excellent breakdown of Sanders & Clinton’s college plans: Here is a great side-by-side comparison of Hillary and Bernie’s positions on college affordability. After highlighting the different nature of both plans, the article concludes: Clinton, in other words, wants to go back to an earlier time, when college tuition was set much more affordably. Sanders wants to rethink the relationship between government and higher education much more thoroughly.
GOP tweets from last night’s debate: #DemDebate was really boring but had a lot of fun live tweeting and picked up by far the most followers. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 14, 2015 Racism exists because we have a sin problem in America, not a skin problem. #DemDebate — Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) October 14, 2015 Sec. Clinton might be the only person who thinks the Obama/Clinton foreign policy has been a success. "Smart power at its best" Seriously? — Jeb Bush (@JebBush) October 14, 2015 Clinton towers over her debate rivals: Dana Milbank came away deeply impressed with Hillary’s debate performance last night, but his praise was incredibly sexist. He complimented her by saying: She was, in short, a man among boys. What? Is that supposed to be a joke? If so, it’s not funny and it’s certainly degrading towards her gender. Can you not be a woman among boys? Sanders: Climate change is the nation’s biggest national security threat! Good on Senator Sanders for highlighting the importance of addressing climate change in this debate. The environment certainly did not gather much attention at either of the two GOP debates. In his typical yelling fashion, he warned America that inaction will be costly: The scientific community is telling us if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable. That is a major crisis.
CNN WILL BROADCAST THE FIRST DEMOCRATIC DEBATE LIVE TODAY, ONLINE, FOR FREE, NO PASSWORD REQUIRED. (Also, follow us on Twitter for our live coverage of the debate!) Liberal is now cool: Vox highlights that liberal may not be a dirty word anymore and in my opinion, that has much to do with the rise of Bernie Sanders and his repackaging of far-left ideals. As you can see from Pew Center’s chart below, Democrats are embracing this identification more and more. Don’t expect a slugfest tonight, expect a policy debate: The fireworks you’ll see tonight will not be over someone’s appearance or whether they smoked pot in high school (gasp!), but rather attacks will most likely be related to policy. What a concept. As Phillip Rucker notes: Democrats expect the debate to be substantive and to set the course for an unexpectedly contentious nominating contest. Americans are either going to find a pleasing contrast to the rip-roaring show Republicans have put on — or they’re going to be bored senseless. David Brooks waxes poetic about what conservatism used to stand for: In his latest New York Times column, Brooks laments how the Republican Party’s “capacity for effective self-governance degraded slowly, over the course of a long chain of rhetorical excesses, mental corruptions and philosophical betrayals.” He longs for the days when “conservatism stands for intellectual humility, a belief in steady, incremental change, a preference for reform rather than revolution, a respect for hierarchy, precedence, balance and order, and a tone of voice that is prudent, measured and responsible.” Kumbaya. He’s not describing a political ideology, he’s outlining a disposition.
Americans are feeling pretty glum about the economy: We all know that the American economy isn’t living up to its potential. But how do American citizens feel about their own economic situations? In a new poll, “42 percent of respondents described their current personal financial situation as excellent or good, while 56 percent called it only fair or poor.” These numbers are virtually unchanged from 2013. Interestingly, 36 percent of white Americans “expected their financial situation to improve over the next year,” while a whopping “59 percent of minority respondents said they expected better times ahead.” What Americans think should be done on illegal immigration: The Washington Post’s editorial board continues to rip apart Republican nominees and their policy prescriptions. This time, their column underscores the delusional nature of the far-right’s approach to immigration; namely, deporting over 10 million illegal immigrants: Aside from the devastating cost — to individual lives, families, communities, major sectors of the economy such as agriculture and hospitality, and America’s image — Mr. Trump’s plan would be overwhelmingly opposed by the American public. In a just-released poll from the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of Americans said undocumented immigrants should be allowed to remain in the country, with slightly less than half of respondents supporting full citizenship. Just 24 percent say they should not be allowed to stay in the country legally. Getting ready for the Democratic debate tomorrow: Vox has put together a nice, little cheat-sheet on all the Democratic candidates who will be up on stage tomorrow night. You know Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, but what about the other candidates? Did you know that Jim Webb is also running for the nomination? In wake of school shootings, Gov. Jerry Brown bans concealed guns on California campuses: Would you look at that, a common sense approach to resolving gun violence! What’s that you say? There are people that oppose said legislation? Well, what are their thoughtful protestations? “This bill will put thousands of innocent lives at risk,” said Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition. “Criminals will know that their intended victims
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