Elections

Failed Theory Posed by Wall Street Dems Puts Hillary Clinton in a Bind

The Hamilton Project, led by the presumed presidential candidate's adviser Robert Rubin, serves up a prescription for the middle class that won't help much—and defies the recommendations of her friends at CAP.

(AP Photo/Lynsey Addario)
(AP Photo/Lynsey Addario) Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks with former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin at Columbia University Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2000, in New York. T here was a time where it was plausible to argue that more education and innovation were the primary solutions to our economic problems. But that time has passed. You cannot tell that, however, to the Wall Street Democrats and their Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. They’re not ready to change just yet, even though most of the Democratic Party has. This shift was signaled by a recent report by the Center for American Progress (CAP) Commission on Inclusive Prosperity, which is co-chaired by Lawrence H. Summers, who served as Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, and as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in President Barack Obama's first term. The report calls for full employment (a "high pressure economy," as Summers calls it), a more welcoming environment for collective bargaining,...

Democracy's New Moment

F or a very long time, those of us committed to strengthening American democracy felt we were—if not voices crying in the wilderness—standing on the sidelines, stamping our feet for attention. Fights over the right to vote and other civil rights are as old as the Republic, as are efforts to restrain the influence of money in politics. But until lately, the health of democracy itself was not quite a first-tier public issue. When the 2000 election showed just how important a few votes could be, we hoped this debacle would galvanize a broader movement for democracy. In March 2001, I wrote an article for this magazine entitled “Democracy’s Moment,” calling for a movement with the broad agenda of expanding voting and reining in runaway campaign spending. The closing sentence was “If the democracy movement is successful, America’s real and diverse majority will emerge and change our country for the better.” It was slightly wishful thinking, at the time. Now, 14 years later, we are in even...

A Talent for Storytelling

Rick Perlstein tells how Reagan imagined his way into the American psyche.

(AP Photo)
This book review is from the Fall 2014 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here. Simon & Schuster The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan By Rick Perlstein 880 pp. Simon & Schuster $37.50 I n 1959, as the Cold War heated up and the economy cooled down, President Dwight Eisenhower received a letter from World War II veteran Robert J. Biggs. Tired of hearing the president explain the complexities of the modern world, Biggs begged Eisenhower to lead the nation with firm assertions rather than “hedging” and “uncertainty.” The former general responded that such guidance by authority was imperative in a military operation but fatal in a democracy. Self-government demanded that men reject easy answers and instead carefully weigh the often contradictory facts about great issues facing the nation. Just as Eisenhower did, Rick Perlstein’s new book, The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan , illuminates the deadly attraction of...

Why Progressives Shouldn’t Overreact to Scott Walker’s Rise in Polls

What might make the Wisconsin governor attractive to Republican voters in the early contests could easily work against him as the primaries progress.

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the American Action Forum in Washington, D.C.,Thursday, January 29, 2015. Walker is expanding his political operation as he fights for early momentum in the increasingly crowded field of GOP White House prospects. This article originally appeared at AlterNet . O ne week after Scott Walker was re-elected as Wisconsin’s Republican governor last fall, he told Fox News something he surely doesn’t want to hear now: that in “the past four or five” presidential elections, “people who poll high at the beginning are not the people who end up being the nominees.” Last week, as pundits like the New York Times’ David Leonhardt were giving great weight to Walker’s rising appeal in polls among Republicans in 2016’s early caucus and primary states (he is leading in polls in Iowa and New Hampshire ), it is worth recalling what Walker said, because it still holds true for the crowded GOP field. There's no denying Wallker has...

Did Koch Brothers Just Doom America to a Future of Crumbling Roads and Tunnels?

First, their minions called for Chris Christie to cancel a much-needed rail project, and he did. Now they've set their sights on Congress to do much the same.

A.M. Stan
It was never going to be easy for the Republican-controlled Congress to pass an increase to the federal gas tax—a tax that finances the Highway Trust Fund and pays for roads and bridges around the country. Last raised in 1993 to 18.4 cents per gallon, the tax has since lost much of its value , especially with the rise of fuel-efficient cars. With the Highway Trust Fund running huge annual deficits, plans for many infrastructure projects and repairs have been left hanging out to dry. But there were signs that raising the federal gas tax was possible, as when Republican Senators John Thune of South Dakota and chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in early January that a gas tax increase couldn’t be ruled out , and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, later agreed with him. Well, forget it. Because last week more than 50 conservative groups, a number of them funded through the Koch brothers’ network, sent a...

Silence of American Jewish Leaders on Boehner-Netanyahu Ploy is Unacceptable

The Israeli prime minister has worked assiduously to transform Israel into an American partisan issue since his first term—never mind the harm to the Jewish state.

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci) House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio looks on at right as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes a statement on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 24, 2011. M eir Dagan, former head of Israel's Mossad espionage agency, says that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's scheduled speech to the U.S. Congress is an "excessive provocation" of America and "the gravest blow to [Israel's] security." Dov Weisglass, the closest adviser of late prime minister Ariel Sharon, said on Israel's prime-time version of Meet the Press, that the speech will cause "terrible damage" to Israel. Speaking of talk shows, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters at a Democratic retreat on Friday that if Netanyahu wants to tell Americans his views on Iran, a Sunday morning interview program would be a better venue. Netanyahu is a fixture on such shows, she said. Pelosi didn't say that Democratic lawmakers would stay away from Netanyahu's address on March 3—but she wouldn't...

Rand Paul's Attack on Jeb Bush's Pot 'Hypocrisy' Heralds a Signal Issue for 2016 Campaign

With pot legalization measures appearing on 2016 ballots in some six states, presidential candidates will have to answer a tricky question.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, speaks with reporters as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday, December 16, 2014. T he Republican presidential nominating contest has barely begun, and already we're talking about marijuana. This is yet another issue most Republicans would just as soon not discuss, since public opinion is moving away from them and they haven't quite figured out how fast they should follow after it. But at the moment, Jeb Bush can thank Barack Obama for paving the way for him to dismiss his own youthful pot smoking as no big deal—at least nothing that should make anyone want to vote against him. The new information about young Jeb's experimentation with cannabis comes from this article by the Boston Globe 's Michael Kranish on Jeb's years at the Phillips Andover Academy. While, as a general matter, no adult human should be judged on what they did in their...

One Big Reason for Voter Turnout Decline and Income Inequality: Smaller Unions

The decline of labor unions has shifted the balance of power not only in the country at large, but within the Democratic Party. Hello Wall Street; bye-bye voters...

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
T wo of the most commonly cited reasons for the lack of more liberal policymaking in the United States are the decline in unions and the rising class bias in voter turnout . In the 2014 midterm congressional elections, the Democrats’ rout was largely attributed to a failure of their coalition to turn out at the polls. What is rarely examined, however, is the relationship between a decline in voter turnout and the dwindling number of union members. And as that turnout has declined, the control of the financial class over the entire political system—Republican and Democrat—has taken hold. Over the last several decades, union membership in the United States has declined precipitously , from 24 percent of all wage and salary workers in 1973 to 11.1 percent today . At the same time, our economy has increasingly begun to favor the wealthiest members of society. The labor share of income has reached the lowest level it’s been since 1929, and that diminished income is distributed incredibly...

Are the Elites Catching Up with the People?

(Rex Features via AP Images)
I nequality has at last arrived as the issue that mainstream politicians can’t ignore. You see it in Obama’s better-late-than-never embrace of “middle-class economics” as the signature theme in his State of the Union address; and in a surprisingly leftish report of a commission co-chaired by former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. The new report by the Commission on Inclusive Prosperity , convened by the Center for American Progress, is frank in its acknowledgment of the inequality crisis. “Today, the ability of free-market democracies to deliver widely shared increases in prosperity is in question as never before,” the report declares. It calls for several measures of the sort that the labor movement, the Economic Policy Institute, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and others on the left edge of Democratic politics have been urging for years. What’s surprising is not what’s being said but who’s saying it. For instance, the commission offers a frank statement of what’s wrong with...

Jindal's Prayer Rally Brings Together 'Prophets,' Bigots and Right-Wing Activists

Once hailed as the GOP’s top intellectual and reformer, the Louisiana governor headlined a gathering organized and sponsored by some of the most extreme figures in the party.

(AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
(AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman) Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks during a prayer rally, Saturday, January 24, 2015, in Baton Rouge. Jindal continued to court Christian conservatives for a possible presidential campaign with a headlining appearance at an all-day prayer rally hosted by the American Family Association. A version of this article first appeared at Right Wing Watch , the website published by People for the American Way. L ouisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who only a few years ago was lamenting the GOP’s decline into “ the stupid party ,” is now staking out a position on the party’s far-right fringe in apparent preparation for an expected run for the presidency. Jindal has reached out to the party’s increasingly extreme base by undermining the teaching of evolution in public schools; promoting wild conspiracy theories about Common Core, an effort to adjust school standards that he supported before it became the target of the Tea Party’s fury; and hyping the purported...

How Bernie Sanders, In New Role, Could Make Wall Streeters Very, Very Unhappy

The iconoclast from Vermont plans to use his place as opposition leader on the Senate Budget Committee in a whole new way.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images) Senate Budget Committee ranking member Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, holds a news conference on the budget on Friday, January 16, 2015. B ig banks now have to contend with an old enemy in a new position of power. Bernie Sanders, the United States senator from Vermont, plans on using his new position as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee to take on too-big-to-fail financial institutions by advocating for their dissolution. Though a registered independent, Sanders caucuses with the Democrats, allowing him to assume the ranking member role representing the minority party. While normally the domain of the Senate Banking Committee, the oversight of Wall Street, Sanders and his staff believe, is a critical budgetary issue. Democrats need to directly challenge Wall Street’s power, they assert, by boldly reframing the argument against the consolidation of financial institutions in terms of its cost to...

Labor at a Crossroads: Time to Experiment

New organizing will be propelled by committed activists, but will have to be sustained by huge numbers of members and supporters.

Working America
This article is published as part of " American Labor at a Crossroads: New Thinking, New Organizing, New Strategies ," a conference presented on January 15, co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute, The Sidney Hillman Foundation, and The American Prospect . (View agenda here .) Find our Labor at a Crossroads series here . I love the breadth and gusto of the new labor organizing, which includes plenty of innovation based in old labor organizing as well. This mash-up of practical experiences will help produce breakthrough tactics and strategies. There is also a question of purpose—is our aim to improve working conditions, or is it to build a more powerful working class? These are related, clearly, but suggest different strategies and structures. Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, is a laboratory for change. Here are three areas at the top of our list for exploration in this realm. Changing minds Pollsters call this “the frame”—but really, it’s ideology. Working...

Chris Christie Counts on Public Amnesia

With his newfound support for expanding New Jersey's rail capacity, the governor hopes no one remembers that he killed an earlier federally subsidized project that would have done exactly that.

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie endorsed a plan to expand his state's rail capacity with a federally subsidized project when he ran for office, and then opposed it when he took office. Now he's endorsed a rail-expansion plan once again. Here, Christie delivers his State of the State address on January 13, 2015. I n 2010, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took over $3 billion in revenue earmarked for a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River and used it to plug a hole in his budget—leaving the people of his state and the region with no tunnel, and no money left for one in the future. Now Christie has endorsed a new report that includes a recommendation for expanding rail capacity between New Jersey and New York, as if no one would remember that he killed an earlier federally subsidized project that would have accomplished that purpose. In the Winter 2015 issue of The American Prospect , I report the story of Christie’s 2010 decision and its disastrous...

Key to Understanding the New Congress: Gingrich's Contract With America

Republicans never really promised to deploy congressional power to fundamentally change national policy.

(AP Photo/Denis Paquin)
(AP Photo/Denis Paquin) House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, gestures while addressing a rally at Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 7, 1995, on the completion of the Republicans' “Contract with America.” While promising to return next month to take care of unfinished business, Gingrich proclaimed that “this is only a beginning.” A s the 114 th Congress begins, Republicans are signaling their desire to prove their party can not only win elections, but can govern. “GOP goal: Prove it can lead,” was the title of a page A1 story in Sunday’s print edition of Washington Post . “GOP agenda for Congress: Challenge Obama, prove they can govern,” CNN blared the next day. That governing agenda surely includes speeding up energy production, slowing down Obamacare’s implementation, and continued foot-dragging on immigration reform. But top party leaders readily confess their deeper motives. “We have to show that we can be a productive party, and that, I think, will have a direct effect...

The GOP's 2016 Demographic Challenge Is Even Worse Than You Thought

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There are reasons to be at least a little skeptical of the demography-is-destiny argument about presidential politics, which says that given the increasing minority population, it will be all but impossible for Republicans to win the White House any time soon. Most importantly, the argument rests on Republicans' continued eagerness to alienate minorities, particularly Latinos, which is quite likely but by no means certain. But more broadly, if there's anything one can predict with confidence about politics, it's that things change. You never know what might happen in the next election, which is why it's so interesting. There could be another economic collapse, or another war, or some other series of events that dramatically alters the landscape. But there's an interesting study released today by the Center for American Progress' Patrick Oakford (h/t Aaron Blake ) that runs through some scenarios for 2016 that any Republican ought to find utterly terrifying. The question Oakford asked...

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