Joe Biden and Will Smith Speak Economic Truth

Joe Biden and Will Smith Speak Economic Truth

1. At the annual Davos conference, in which the wealthiest people in the world gather to discuss, you know, rich-people topics, Vice President Biden delivered a speech that plenty of the people in that room needed to hear. As Reuter’s Ben Hirschler reports : “My call to action here is simple – embrace your obligation to workers as well as your shareholders,” Biden said, criticizing the recent trend by firms to return mountains of cash to investors by buying back stock rather than investing for the future. Biden could not be any more right, here. If you want to learn about the roughly trillion-dollar dent that stock buybacks leave in the American economy each year, Nick Hanauer wrote about it for The Atlantic last year . Biden then dropped an even-bigger truth bomb on Davos: “When the middle class does well, the wealthy do very well, and the poor have a ladder up,” he said. This is the absolute truth, and the fact that Biden is dropping it on the Davos crowd, which has thrived on the trickle down concept that giving rich people more money will benefit everyone, is admirable. The fact is, tax cuts for the wealthy don’t create wealth, in part because rich people are rich because they’re very, very good at holding onto the money they make. You need the middle class to get a raise, because they will then spend that money on goods and services, thereby stimulating the economy and creating more good-paying jobs, which will continue the cycle in a positive feedback loop. And, yes, plenty of that money will flow upwards to the top one percent, meaning that we’re not asking the very rich to give up their Davos membership cards. The thing about economic inclusion is that it benefits everyone and not just the very rich. 2. When asked today on Good Morning
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Daily Clips: January 21st, 2016

Daily Clips: January 21st, 2016

What *don’t* we know about gun violence because of the restrictions on federal research? Clare Foran takes a look at this question and the answers (or lack thereof) are extremely depressing. “It’s actually kind of appalling,” said Sherry Towers, a professor at Arizona State University who has done research on mass shootings. “We’re one of the richest nations in the world, and we aren’t exactly forbidding scientists to look at this, but the federal government is strongly discouraging it.” When a government is actively discouraging information that could help save American lives, you know there is something terribly corrupt going on. And we know why – because if the government can’t research gun violence then it becomes extremely difficult to pinpoint the precise impact of gun laws. Many basic questions remain largely unanswered as a result…Do open-carry laws make gun violence worse, or do they cut down on firearm injuries and deaths? Researchers can’t say with certainty. They also don’t know much about the path that guns take in order to fall into the hands of criminals, or how gun laws impact firearm sales on the black market. For that matter, the psychology of gun violence is not well understood. What motivates people to use guns to commit a crime or suicide, and what are the most effective ways to stop mass shootings, gun-related homicide, and suicide? Limited research makes it challenging to reach well-supported conclusions. Just today, Senator Ed Markey called for the ban on gun violence research to be overturned . Eventually, reason and research will prevail in this bloody topic. Republicans ignore a poisoned city:  The author, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, writes about the poisoning of Flint, Michigan’s water supply and laments how Republicans have given up on the city. He doesn’t think his party has completely ignored the situation because the majority of the population just happens to be black or poor. No, he says they haven’t touched on this subject at all because: The party is accustomed to talking
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Republicans’ Counterproductive Fixation On A Worst-Case Scenario That Never Happens

Republicans’ Counterproductive Fixation On A Worst-Case Scenario That Never Happens

“Conservatives have argued for years that no matter how well-meaning, efforts to increase the minimum wage end up hurting the most vulnerable, those looking to grasp the first rung on the employment ladder,” writes right-wing blogger Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post today. And while I, personally, would have just stopped the article right there with a quick note that, of course, those warnings have never actually come to fruition, she, of course, does not. Rubin goes on to cite the problematic, incorrect, and generally underwhelming conservative, anti-minimum wage economist Mark Perry as a source (at least she’s consistent), and then proceeds to chide Democrats about how “the impact on employment and on the poor, specifically, may be profound” should we keep hammering on about raising wages. Her thesis: That we’re not thinking this through, and that, just as the right has been warning for literally decades, our efforts to increase wages could possibly end in disaster. And yet, what Rubin never quite manages to get around to is the fact that the]is predicted apocalypse has yet to arrive, and likely never will. Since its birth, the minimum wage has been drawing concern and outright ire from the right, who have warned of the economic fire and brimstone it will rain down upon us, ensuring that no teen will have a job and that businesses will be forced to shutter more quickly than you can say “trickle-down.” Truly, the quotes go way back. In case you think I’m exaggerating, here are some: 2006: “If a simple legislative act increasing the minimum wage to $7.75 is all that is needed to improve the lot of the working poor by just a little, then why not raise it to $10 an hour and get them to the poverty level? For that matter, why
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Daily Clips: January 20th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 20th, 2016

Tweet of the day: The woman whom the GOP said in 2008 would save the party just endorsed the guy who is destroying the party. What does that tell you? — Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) January 20, 2016 Sarah Palin may have lost her mind: Seriously. 2015 was the hottest year in recored history, NASA and NOAA say : That’s not good news. The New York Times reports, Scientists started predicting a global temperature record months ago, in part because an El Niño weather pattern, one of the largest in a century, is dumping an immense amount of heat from the Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere. But the bulk of the record-setting heat, they say, is a consequence of the long-term planetary warming caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases. Electric vehicle sales fall short of Obama’s goal:  In 2008, Barack Obama set a goal of having “one million plug-in electric vehicles on the roads by 2015,” yet today we only have about 400,000 electrics cars on the road.

Ted Cruz To Working Mother: Don’t Push It On Paid Family Leave

Ted Cruz To Working Mother: Don’t Push It On Paid Family Leave

Here at Civic Skunk Works, we’ve spent a quite a bit of time pointing out that trickle-down economics has never been anything more than an intimidation tactic masquerading as an economic theory. For decades, politicians (from both parties) and businesses have been employing this tactic in order to scare workers into paralysis. Think about the claims which trickle-down proponents have repeated over and over again: “If you raise the minimum wage, jobs will be lost.” “If you tax the wealthy, jobs will be lost.” “If regulation of the powerful goes up, jobs will be lost. In short, don’t push it, buddy. And this Monday, Ted Cruz provided a perfect illustration of this bullying tactic . The Texas senator was asked by a mother of four “what he would do about the current lack of federally mandated paid family leave.” A very good question on a very important subject which affects all working Americans. According to Think Progress , Cruz callously replied: Giving away free stuff is very easy for politicians to do, but the simplest rule of economics is TANSTAAFL — there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Anything a politician gives you, he must first take from you. And so if you have the federal government mandate paid medical leave, what that ends up doing is driving up the cost of labor for low-income workers. What he’s saying is: don’t ask for too much or you’ll be priced out of a job. And just in case this mother of four missed the veiled threat, he hammers the point home when he adds, “And by the way, if you get fired or laid off, not only do you not get paid family leave but you don’t get a paycheck either.” Do you see how slimy this strategy is? Do you see how strong-handed this approach is? Do you see how they are striking fear and doubt into the minds of American
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Daily Clips: January 19th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 19th, 2016

Barack Obama was the winner of Sunday’s Democratic debate: Did you tune in to watch Bernie, Hillary, and the other guy debate after Sunday football? Probably not, and that brings a smile to the face of Debbie Wasserman Schultz! If you by any chance did watch the extremely well-moderated debate, you would have noticed that Barack Obama’s name and legacy were enthusiastically embraced by all candidates on stage – especially Hillary Clinton. As Vox’s Dylan Matthews noted, [Hillary] also cited Sanders’s past criticisms of the president and flirtation with supporting a primary challenge against him in 2011/2012…Clinton’s message is clear: I am the true defender of Obama’s legacy, I will preserve his gains, while Sanders dismissed them. This may seem like a strange strategy, especially if you watched the Republican debate earlier in the week. There, Obama was portrayed as nothing short of evil. Yet within Democratic circles, the current president is seen in a very positive light. Consider this: Why is Hillary hugging Obama? 87% of Dem primary voters and 81% of all Dems approve of his job, per new NBC/WSJ poll https://t.co/pJhnqzqddS — Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) January 19, 2016 To put these numbers in perspective, George W. Bush’s approval among Republicans in 2007 sat at 70 percent – 17 points lower than Obama’s standing with Democrats today. For this reason, expect the Democratic nominee to not distance themselves from the president like John McCain did with Bush. Weekly bashing of David Brooks:  As most reader(s) of Daily Clips will know, I have a habit of rebutting columns written by the New York Times columnist David Brooks. Why specifically him? Because he’s a “middle-of-the-road Republican” that asks all the right questions, but then ends up with the wrong answers. He’s so close to being politically sane. Unlike Breitbart or Fox News, Brooks lives an examined life, yet he all too often
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Lindsey Graham endorses Jeb! for president

Lindsey Graham endorses Jeb! for president

It is extremely fitting that Lindsey Graham, a painfully slow talker, endorsed “low energy” Jeb Bush for president. The two are both establishment figures that are peddling the type of banal conservatism which doesn’t fit well with the angry conservatism which grips the Republican base. During his endorsement speech, Graham described Jeb! as “thoughtful and quietly resolved” and applauded him for not trying “to get ahead in a contested primary by embracing demagoguery.” But that is exactly why he will not win the Republican nomination. As he stood next to Jeb behind a group of old white people, Graham focused almost exclusively on national security and ISIS, barely mentioning the economy and completely evading issues like gay marriage, marijuana, and poverty. What did you expect though? After all, Republicans are trying to make this election about fear and terrorism (as per usual). But is Jeb Bush the candidate which can stoke those fears most effectively? Absolutely not. He has shown over and over again that his personality and disposition don’t lend themselves to fear-mongering. He’s a technician, a wonk. He’s not made for angry rants or drastic policy proposals. In short, 2016 is not Jeb’s time. Below, you can watch the full endorsement speech.

Daily Clips: January 15th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 15th, 2016

Last night, I was planning on putting down my thoughts on the GOP Debate in South Carolina, but I couldn’t do it. I was simply too exhausted from the whole spectacle. This debate wasn’t even particularly egregious in any sense. Yet after six months of this shit, we all know what’s going on: these people are deranged, fear-mongering, angry, apocalyptic puppets of corporate greed that are following the beck and call of disenfranchised, racist white people. I remember watching the 2012 GOP primary and thinking, “It can’t get any worse than this.” I was so wrong. As Goldy wrote to the team this morning, “Was it just me, or was that the worst debate so far? Vile, repulsive, and almost totally lacking in substance. That one of these clowns will ultimately get over 40 percent of the popular vote is a national embarrassment.” Best tweets from the debate: before and after watching the #gopdebate pic.twitter.com/1gKKVpm9Tt — sean (@SeanMcElwee) January 15, 2016 2 sons of immigrants fight over who will exclude more immigrants #GOPDebate pic.twitter.com/GSEa25WEgS — sfpelosi (@sfpelosi) January 15, 2016 Trump’s rivals help him hijack the GOP:  Dana Milbank also found last night’s debate to be a terrible showing for the Republican party. Republicans like to blame Trump for hijacking the party, but equally to blame are the others in the race for letting it happen — and continuing to do so, now just two weeks from the Iowa caucuses. Thursday night’s debate was another depressing development: Any of four men on the stage — Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or John Kasich — could have been a viable alternative to the fear and demagoguery offered by Trump and Ted Cruz. Instead, they cluttered the stage and quarreled among themselves, offering little beyond faint echoes of Trump’s rage. and Milbank’s analysis here is spot on: The GOP race is typically described as a struggle between the outsiders and the
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Daily Clips: January 14th, 2016

Daily Clips: January 14th, 2016

The Nation endorses Bernie Sanders for President: What a week Bernie Sanders is having! MoveOn.org endorsed him, numerous polls show him in the lead in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and now The Nation announces that he is their candidate for 2016. Here are some highlights from Bernie’s latest endorsement: We believe such a revolution is not only possible but necessary—and that’s why we’re endorsing Bernie Sanders for president. This magazine rarely makes endorsements in the Democratic primary (we’ve done so only twice: for Jesse Jackson in 1988 , and for Barack Obama in 2008 ). We do so now impelled by the awareness that our rigged system works for the few and not for the many. Americans are waking up to this reality, and they are demanding change. This understanding animates both the Republican and Democratic primaries, though it has taken those two contests in fundamentally different directions. And also Voters can trust Sanders because he doesn’t owe his political career to the financial overlords of the status quo. Freed from these chains of special interest, he can take the bold measures that the country needs. Sanders alone proposes to break up the too-big-to-fail banks; to invest in public education, from universal pre-K to tuition-free public college; to break the power of the insurance and pharmaceutical cartels with Medicare for All reforms. The importance of Obama’s ultimatum on guns:  By warning Democrats that he would not campaign for anyone who opposed commonsense gun regulation, Barack Obama drew a line in the sand. And unlike with Syria, this appears to be a line he will not allow anyone to cross. That could have far reaching consequences, says Russell Berman: The change in dynamic is a reflection both of the broader leftward shift of the Democratic Party under Obama and the progress that he and other gun-control advocates have made in pushing back against the NRA following the wave of mass shootings in recent years.
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Mitt Romney: Republicans Are “Nuts Not to Raise the Minimum Wage”

Mitt Romney: Republicans Are “Nuts Not to Raise the Minimum Wage”

After two failed runs for the presidency and one impossibly stupid rant admitting that he’s not the candidate of poor people, Mitt Romney has finally seen the light. Eric Levenson at Boston.com reports Romney’s latest thoughts on the Republican Party: “I think we’re nuts not to raise the minimum wage,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I think as a party, to say we’re trying to help the middle class of America and the poor and not raise the minimum wage sends exactly the wrong signal.” Romney is correct, here, and it’s not the first time. He’s been calling for the minimum wage to be increased for a while—almost since he lost the election in 2012. Republicans are stuck in a dead end right now. They know they need to support the middle class in some way, but their rich supporters are against raising the minimum wage at all. They’re stuck, and only a retired politician like Romney can tell the truth about this awkward, tenuous situation. Romney’s most extraordinary comment is in this next quote: “As a party we speak a lot about deregulation and tax policy, and you know what? People have been hearing that for 25 years and they’re getting tired of that message,” he said. This is an astonishing flourish of self-awareness from Romney, a man who almost never demonstrates a capability for reflection. He understands that Republicans haven’t issued anything new on the economy in a very long time, and the American people are finally recognizing the sound of a broken record. Tax cuts and slashing regulations is not going to do it anymore. Too bad the party that Romney is trying to speak truth to has fled in entirely the other direction, embracing the hate and fear of Trump and Cruz. Romney’s acting as the mouthpiece
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