A gathering Monday in Washington, D.C., featured a bipartisan group of former government officials agreeing on the benefits of slashing the nation’s safety net.
This week marks the 20th anniversary of “welfare reform,” the 1996 law passed by Congress and administered by President Bill Clinton that strictly limited the amount of federal cash assistance that the poorest Americans can receive — transforming the Aid for Families with Dependent Children program into the more restrictive Temporary Aid for Needy Families.
One of the main impacts of the law was to help double the number of American households living in extreme poverty in America – defined as living on less than $2 a day.
The Capitol Hill event, hosted by the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute and the Progressive Policy Institute, which has been referred to as President Bill Clinton’s “idea mill,” celebrated the 20th anniversary of the law. Its architects said they had no regrets about its passage.
Former Michigan Republican governor John Engler, who pioneered state-level welfare cutbacks and who today serves as the head of the corporate lobbying group the Business Roundtable, recounted how Bill Clinton’s support helped make national welfare reform possible.
“It was pretty stunning in 1992 to have a Democratic candidate for president, albeit a 12-year veteran in the governor’s office talking about ending ‘welfare as we know it,’” he said. “That was a pretty decisive moment.” …
…At the conclusion of the event, the speakers and audience were treated to a reception featuring alcoholic drinks, cheesecake squares, specialty meats, and gourmet cheese.
The U.S. poverty rate has been increasing since 2000. The 2015 Census Bureau statistics have not been released yet, but in 2014 46.7 million Americans (14.8 percent) were in poverty. Only 4.1 million receive assistance from TANF.
Michael Moore, today on HuffPo: Trump Is Self-Sabotaging His Campaign Because He Never Really Wanted The Job In The First Place
Assuming Moore knows what he is talking about, this is both incredible and not really surprising. Donald Trump, after all, is not a politician. He never actually ran for political office before, and it’s possible that he didn’t originally intend to seriously run this year either! But NBC fired him after he claimed to be in the race, and there was no going back.
Donald Trump never actually wanted to be president of the United States. I know this for a fact. I’m not going to say how I know it…
…And then something happened. And to be honest, if it happened to you, you might have reacted the same way. Trump, to his own surprise, ignited the country, especially among people who were the opposite of billionaires. He went straight to #1 in the polls of Republican voters. Up to 30,000 boisterous supporters started showing up to his rallies. TV ate it up. He became the first American celebrity to be able to book himself on any show he wanted to be on — and then NOT show up to the studio! From “Face the Nation” to “The Today Show” to Anderson Cooper, he was able to simply phone in and they’d put him on the air live. He could’ve been sitting on his golden toilet in Trump Tower for all we knew — and the media had no problem with any of that. In fact, CBS head Les Moonves famously admitted that Trump was very good for TV ratings and selling ads — music to the ears the NBC-spurned narcissist.
Trump fell in love with himself all over again, and he soon forgot his mission to get a good deal for a TV show. A TV show? Are you kidding — that’s for losers like Chris Harrison, whoever that is (host of “The Bachelorette”). He was no longer king of the dealmakers — he was King of the World! His tiniest musings would be discussed and dissected everywhere by everybody for days, weeks, months! THAT never happened on “The Apprentice”! Host a TV show? He was the star of EVERY TV SHOW — and, soon, winning nearly every primary!
…Soon, though, his karma caught up with him. Calling Mexicans “rapists” should have disqualified him on Day One (or for saying Obama wasn’t born here, as he did in 2011). No, it took 13 months of racist, sexist, stupid comments before he finally undid himself with the trifecta of attacking the family of a slain soldier, ridiculing the Purple Heart and suggesting that the pro-gun crowd assassinate Hillary Clinton. By this past weekend, the look on his face said it all — “I hate this! I want my show back!” But it was too late. He was damaged goods, his brand beyond repair, a worldwide laughing stock — and worse, a soon-to-be loser.
The Tea-GOP is on the verge of really going down hard in this election. It’s not entirely Trump’s fault, because the Faux News Channel created this base of millions of misinformed and bigoted primary voters and right-wing politicians have pandered to them for years.
From the comments on Moore’s article:
He wanted a higher Q rating so he could get more TV money, it was obvious from the start. He knew the Republican base was stupid enough to get him some attention, he just didn’t realize how stupid they are.
I’m not sure we actually have to be reminded never to trust a Clinton, however recently some have praised Hillary Clinton’s economic policy speech as if it mattered. I suspect her REAL economic views can be found in the Goldman Sachs speech transcripts that we’ll never see.
What matters are the polls showing she is the less trustworthy of the two major-party candidates. Which is amazing, considering that she is running against the guy who invented “Trump University.”
Thomas Frank, writing in The Guardian, reiterates the fact that Hillary hasn’t changed.
As leading Republicans desert the sinking ship of Trump’s GOP, America’s two-party system itself has temporarily become a one-party system. And within that one party, the political process bears a striking resemblance to dynastic succession. Party office-holders selected Clinton as their candidate long ago, apparently determined to elevate her despite every possible objection, every potential legal problem. The Democratic National Committee helped out, too, as WikiLeaks tells us. So did President Barack Obama, that former paladin for openness, who in the past several years did nearly everything in his power to suppress challenges to Clinton and thus ensure she would continue his legacy of tepid, bank-friendly neoliberalism.
My leftist friends persuaded themselves that this stuff didn’t really matter, that Clinton’s many concessions to Sanders’ supporters were permanent concessions. But with the convention over and the struggle with Sanders behind her, headlines show Clinton triangulating to the right, scooping up the dollars and the endorsements, and the elites shaken loose in the great Republican wreck.
She is reaching out to the foreign policy establishment and the neocons. She is reaching out to Republican office-holders. She is reaching out to Silicon Valley. And, of course, she is reaching out to Wall Street…
Don’t expect Hillary to follow through on her progressive promises if elected. She is the status quo candidate.
A few years ago, PBS aired the documentary Town Hall, following the adventures and misadventures of two tea partiers in Pennsylvania. In one scene, on election day 2012, one of the tea parties, John, got himself authorized as a poll watcher. Poll watching usually involves checking the voter registration books at the polling places to make certain your supporters have voted and to be certain that the laws are being followed.
Tea party John got himself authorized as a poll watcher because he was certain, certain, that there was widespread voter fraud taking place and he was going to stop it. The documentary showed him challenging the right of certain people (weirdly only people of color. hm . . . ) to vote. In one scene, he challenges two black women’s right to vote – except they had both become naturalized citizens. They got to vote. John was a stickler for the rules – for example in another scene he made the election judges clear the room of people who had already voted, even though they were waiting for a friend to finish voting. Once you voted, John explained, you had to leave the voting area. The film did not show anyone deterred from voting by John’s earnest idiocy and bumbling poll watching, it highlighted an interesting dynamic among conservatives -convinced there is widespread fraud in voting, they’re going to police the polls to make sure everything is kosher and their interpretation of the rules is adhered to even if that makes voting slow, annoying and difficult.
So it was with some concern that I heard Trump’s statement:
The only way they can beat it in my opinion — and I mean this 100 percent — if in certain sections of the state they cheat, OK? So I hope you people can sort of not just vote on the 8th, go around and look and watch other polling places and make sure that it’s 100 percent fine, because without voter identification — which is shocking, shocking that you don’t have it.
There’s no way this could go wrong. A bunch of uptight, panties in a wad white people, convinced they’re saving democracy in America, overrunning polling places in mostly black and latino neighborhoods on election day is going to be just peachy keen.
After the Bush administration presided over the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression, American households lost about $16.4 trillion of net worth. The value of real estate alone dropped by $6 trillion.
Instead of making the big banks eat these losses, our government decided to let the middle class pay for Wall Street’s mistakes – even if it meant circumventing the law. “Rocket dockets” (up to 1,000 cases per day) and “robo-signing” (the mass production of false affidavits) enabled the biggest robbery of all time. Some homeowners faced court-ordered foreclosure even though they never took out a mortgage!
David Dayen has laid it all out in a new book, Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud
Example of “robo-signing”
Political analysts still manage to wonder why people are angry in a time of economic recovery, without ever even hinting recognition of the scarring impact of the foreclosure disaster. More than 9.3 million American families gave up their home between 2006 and 2014, either in a foreclosure or a short sale or some other transaction. That translates to about 14 million people, all of whom have family and friends and colleagues who at least know of the pain caused by the foreclosure crisis. There have been more since then.
It didn’t have to turn out that way. All of the losses didn’t have to be placed upon homeowners. Somebody could have been held responsible. We could have enforced the simple rule that you can’t take a person’s home with false evidence. This bare minimum would have engendered some faith that the system works, that justice still burns somewhere in America.
“Somebody could have been held responsible.” Instead, the Obama administration looked the other way during the “fraudclosure” crisis. They did the same thing on U.S. war crimes, on CIA torture, and on widespread warrantless surveillance of Americans. Only the truth-tellers went to federal prison, never the criminals.
2016 is shaping up as a completely weird election year. Americans aren’t happy with the status quo. But (aside from his most fervent supporters) most aren’t ready to let Donald Trump burn the place down and hope to salvage something from the ashes. But voters aren’t sold on Hillary Clinton, just yet, either.
Ezra Klein has described 2016 as Normal vs. Abnormal, with the Democrats behaving like normal politicians and a normal political party and Republicans behaving abnormally. His cataloging of the abnormality of this year’s Republican party convention and the language used there; the genuinely abnormal behavior within the Republican party, the fervent desire of many Republicans to support Trump without actually saying they support him, to distance themselves from his lurid behavior without actually condemning him.
It’s important to point out that, despite Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong challenge to Hillary Clinton, the Democrats have behaved as a normal political party. After a two term president, it’s not surprising and outsider would challenge the party establishment. Despite claims otherwise, the Democratic party followed the established rules and under those rules, Bernie Sanders lost the primary fair and square. Sanders spoke forcefully on Hillary’s behalf. He has endorsed her for the presidency. And, the Democrats have embraced many of his ideas and issues in this year’s platform. Sanders and Clinton, by the way, voted together 93% of the time. IOW, despite his outsider status, Sanders and Clinton have largely shared the same policies and politics.
The abnormality, the weirdness, of this year’s election is on the Republican side. A presidential primary that started off with 17 candidates? The “debates” that would have shamed actual adults? Seriously, they talked about penis size as if it were anything that matters for being president. The convention was downright bizarre. Lots of commentators have pointed out that the Republicans have spent years creating the conditions that made Trump possible. It wasn’t aliens who voted for Donald Trump in the primary – it was Republicans. And yes, Trump is a home grown demagogue who seems to know little about actual policy and care even less. He loves the noise of the crowd, the cheering. The tongue in cheek suggestion that we drug him, let him wake up on a TV set, of a reality show known as “President Trump” would probably satisfy him more than actually winning.
The American political landscape is fractured in ways it has never been fractured before.
And yet, an emerging, multi-ethnic, multi-racial coalition is emerging on the left – and being resisted with every ounce of strength by the almost entirely white right Republican party.
As I’ve watched her throughout the primary, the convention and now the general election, I have found Hillary Clinton is a compelling candidate. She may not be a “natural” like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama, but she is gifted. Sanders never stood a chance in the primary because Hillary spent years building relationships with the people who matter in the Democratic party. She focused on issues people care about and she has created a network of supporters. She’s going to be a gifted president. By contrast, the Trumpster Fire on the Republican side is as abnormal a campaign as anyone could have imagined. His supporters love it, but almost everyone else is looking on in a mixture of horror and amusement.
Trying to make sense of what’s going on this year has been a job of work. Which is why I appreciated Nancy Letourneau’s post at Washington Monthly.
We are used to hearing that elections must either be about “change” or maintaining the “status quo.” I would propose that neither of those is an apt description for what a majority of Americans are looking for this time around. Is it possible that behind all the noise being created by angry voters, a majority think that – while things are getting better – we need more progress? Could it be that voters know that taking America “back” means going in the wrong direction and that we need to go forward with the kind of change that is currently underway? Are a majority of voters capable of that kind of nuance in a world of either/or? That was essentially Clinton’s message at the Democratic Convention.
Clinton is rejecting the idea that this is a “change” election as well as rejecting the idea of maintaining the “status quo.” She is instead promising to build on the progress that has been underway for the last 8 years. That is precisely why President Obama was confident in passing the baton on to her for the next portion of this relay. And it’s also why this isn’t the kind of “normal” election we’ve seen in the recent past.
In other words, voters are prepared to make a more nuanced choice than in the past. The multiple disasters of the Bush era have been replaced by the normal political events of the Obama era. The Obama presidency has been largely scandal free (despite Republicans ceaseless efforts). Hillary is positioning herself as the candidate who can build on what’s good while repairing what’s wrong. Trump’s position (burn the place down and hope to salvage something from the ashes) only makes sense if you genuinely believe America has gone to hell in a handbasket.
And while things need to be better, we’re not bound toward the underworld just yet.
“It’s time to reject the lesser evil and fight for the greater good – like our lives depend on it. Because they do.”
–Dr. Jill Stein
Hopefully the Green Party will be on the ballot in Utah this year.
More info: www.jill2016.com
Clinton’s third-party headache
Here’s why Democrats should be concerned: As Trump’s support has dwindled in recent days — leaving the GOP nominee with just his fervent supporters — some soft voters might be moving into Clinton’s camp when asked on a two-way ballot, but defecting to a third candidate when given other options.
“Trump voters are mainly Trump voters, but Clinton voters are still not quite happy that they’re going to end up voting for her,” said Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray, who has studied the role of third-party candidates in pre-election polls.
Because, frankly, Khizr Khan has done more good than anyone could have expected. When Trump started attacking him and his wife, he unleashed a fierce, moral advocate who has done nothing but hurt Trump.
This morning’s article
Khizr Khan, Father of Fallen U.S. Soldier: Trump Lacks ‘Moral Compass’
Says exactly what needs to be said but which a regular politician cannot say.
FWIW, Trump is actively being a bully – a presidential candidate personally attacking the parents of a dead soldier? There’s no way this looks good for him but he keeps doing it.
As Joan Rivers used to say, “Can we talk?” Because the corporate media coverage of the presidential race is barely mentioning the issues that affect you and me.
Lately all over cable TV they are vociferously debating whether Donald Trump is paying enough respect to the family of a U.S. Army captain who died heroically 12 years ago during Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq (that Hillary voted for as a senator), after the father of said fallen warrior aimed a gratuitous insult at the notoriously thin-skinned Trump in a partisan DNC speech.
Most likely, this is a picture of the 2016 presidential campaign for the next 100 days. Hillary using surrogates to get Trump to say something that dominates the news cycle, or trying to get Trump to lose his temper during a debate. Anything Trump says is automatically news. Hillary has not held a press conference since last year.
What could the candidates talk about? Well, here is one suggestion. There is another recession coming, sooner rather than later. How will Hillary and Trump deal with the consequences?
Instead of ending the world of banks that are “too big to fail” and preventing banks from operating in ways that could again sink the economy, we have guaranteed them that the taxpayers are ready and waiting when they make another catastrophic mistake.
The Dodd-Frank regulations are not completely written yet, and probably won’t be in effect when the Wall Street billionaires crash our financial sector again. Is the American middle class about to take another big hit? Can somebody offer a plan to help us? We haven’t even recovered from the last time.
Hillary is going to have to offer much more than her current “OMG Trump!” campaign.
Very soon, Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jill Biden, Cory Booker, Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are going to be barnstorming the country campaigning for Hillary Clinton.
It’s going to be a sight to see.