Daily Clips: June 24th, 2016

BREXIT MUSINGS: I stayed up until around 1am last night watching the results and analysis. Having studied in the UK for four years, I was particularly fascinated by the Brexit vote.

There is a trend going on within Western democracies; that is, protectionism and nationalism are in vogue, because governments have failed to adequately invest in their lower and middle-class citizens, while elites have benefited asymmetrically. In this cauldron of frustration, savvy politicians like Farage and Trump are funneling citizen anger towards “the other” in an attempt to bring their nations “back” to prosperity.

Anyways, enough of my personal theories. Here are some of my favorite Brexit tweets:

Who is to blame for Brexit? The elites: 

Over the past decade, elites broke the world, and were unrepentant about their failure. They created the conditions for the worst economic crisis in nearly a century, and made sure that their elite friends at the top would scoop up the post-crisis gains, stranding the vast majority of people. They decided their project of globalization and liberalization mattered more than democracy. Brexit is among the first tangible responses.

Daily Clips: June 23rd, 2016

New study shows increase in partisanship:

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US jobless claims near 43-year low: Reuters reports, “claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a strong job market, for 68 straight weeks, the longest streak since 1973.”

10 years after a housing peak, US is more of a renter nation: I wonder if this has anything to do with increasing levels of student debt and stagnant wages?

Tweet of the day:

Americans Overwhelmingly Favor Increasing the Overtime Threshold

Are you ready for an astounding number? Good because here it comes: a new Gallup poll found that 67 percent of all Americans support expanding the overtime rule. Possibly even more astounding? Only 14 percent disapprove of expanding overtime. These are powerful numbers, because they indicate that America knows the overtime threshold has been stagnant for decades, and that the middle class is ready for a raise. The conservative politicians who are fighting overtime are arguing with their own constituents.

But what about secondary education? One of the loudest protesters of the overtime argument has been America’s universities. They argue that if they’re forced to pay their employees overtime for the hours they work over a full 40-hour workweek, they’ll have to raise tuition. Are these predictions correct?

Not according to a new snapshot from the Economic Policy Institute:

The majority of workers at universities, including faculty, graduate student assistants, and adjuncts, are exempt from the overtime rules. Claims that paying more overtime will cause tuition to rise strains credulity because, as the figure [above] shows, as overtime protections eroded over the last 40 years and removed the guarantee of overtime pay from millions of salaried employees, tuition soared. Tuition has risen dramatically without any contribution from overtime regulation.

In fact, tuition has gone up nearly 300 percent in that time. The EPI also cites several other pertinent points, including the fact that the National Institutes of Health, which offers grants to postdoc workers, has pledged to increase its grants to pay for the overtime rule.

Adjusting to change is rarely fun, and it’s true that employers will have to adjust to the overtime rule. But when colleges hold tuition increases over the heads of Americans, knowing full well that skyrocketing tuitions are already a concern for everyone, that feels more like a threat than anything else. And if it is a threat, it’s one that has failed to move nearly 70 percent of Americans. It’s time for colleges to get with the program, and to start figuring out how to incorporate overtime into their pay structure.

Daily Clips: June 22nd, 2016

House GOP offers an alternative health care plan: No more empty rhetoric of “repeal and replace Obamacare”! They’re actually putting forward a policy! This is actually happening! According to the Atlantic, the GOP plan would:

  • Expand health savings accounts
  • Offer refundable tax credits to subsidize the purchase of private health insurance and decrease dependence on employer-sponsored plans
  • Cap the tax exclusion for employer-provided health insurance
  • Allow people to purchase insurance across state lines
  • Provide $25 billion in funding for high-risk pools over 10 years
  • Devolve Medicaid to the states, either through a block grant or a “per capita allotment”
  • Partially privatize Medicare beginning in 2024 through a “premium support” option

House Democrats are staging a sit-in to force a vote on gun control: Normally, according to Vox, “you could watch the sit-in live on HouseLive.gov, although the cameras, controlled by House Speaker Paul Ryan, have currently been turned off.”

Regardless, it’s so refreshing to see Democrats on the offensive when it comes to…well anything in politics. But especially guns.

The subtle force of Tom Perez: The Secretary of Labor has many fans at the moment and some progressives want him to be HRC’s VP choice. This piece gives an incredibly in-depth overview of the man and his career.

Tweet of the day:

Finally, We See Donald Trump for What He Is

One of the biggest expenditures of the Trump campaign last month? Hats. He's a terrible candidate, but a stellar haberdasher!

One of the biggest expenditures of the Trump campaign last month? Hats. He’s a terrible candidate, but a stellar haberdasher!

So. I can’t stop thinking about Donald Trump. Last night, after a day spent dealing with the messy blowback of firing a campaign manager at the absolute worst time to fire a campaign manager, he announced his campaign fundraising totals, and they are apocalyptically bad:

Trump raised just over $3 million in May — the month he secured enough delegates to win the Republican nomination — while Clinton raked in more than $26 million, according to the latest filings from the Federal Election Commission….Clinton didn’t just out-raise Trump 9-1: She also entered June with much more cash in her coffers.

Trump started the month of June with just $1.29 million cash on hand —compared with Clinton’s $42 million.

Reporters are digging through the reports and finding all sorts of interesting facts: Trump paid $35,000 to a sketchy firm apparently named after characters from Mad Men; Trump paid over one million dollars to Trump-owned companies in May; Trump paid himself and members of his family a salary. Even a head of a Trump Super PAC admits that Trump’s campaign is in “big trouble.”

A moment like this is unprecedented in presidential politics. We’ve never seen such a disparity in campaign income before, and while Sarah Palin certainly got some fringe benefits out of the VP candidacy, no other major party presidential candidate has cashed in so publicly in the heat of a campaign. The New York Times is reporting that Trump may get reporters to pay for a business trip to Scotland next week, for crying out loud. It’s hard to look at all these facts and not conclude that Trump is running a very elaborate grift on the Republican Party.

How bad are things for Trump right now? Speculation is very high that he will drop out. Of course, you wouldn’t know that by looking at Trump’s Twitter feed. The presumptive GOP nominee has gone on the offensive today, attacking Hillary Clinton repeatedly and making the case for a Trump presidency. (In fact, you might say he’s protesting a little too much in an effort to change the narrative.) Here’s one of Trump’s main arguments for a Trump presidency:

 

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FASCINATING. This is absolutely fascinating. I think Trump is trying to say that debt is bad for the United States, but it sounds more like he’s saying that his business practices are “bad for the country.” And then he announces that he “made a fortune off of debt,” but that he’ll “fix U.S.,” presumably by doing the exact opposite of his debt-inflating practices once he gets in office.

So no matter how you read this tweet, Trump is making a case against voting for Donald Trump. Either he admits that his sketchy business practices ruined America or he is arguing that you can’t run America the way you’d run a business. Twice he says his business practices are founded on debt.

This is true. Donald Trump’s business career is built on bankruptcy—”no major U.S. company has filed for Chapter 11 more than Trump’s casino empire in the last 30 years,” CNN said last year—and he’s been sued repeatedly for not paying workers. By keeping his debtors waiting and his workers tied up in endless lawsuits, and by exploiting years of free media through his outrageous antics, Trump has constructed a gigantic pyramid scheme built on ego and morally reprehensible behavior.

In other words, he’s profited by exploiting the shady areas that other businesses are too ethical to approach. Trump is right. This kind of behavior is “bad for the country.” He’s undercutting his competitors and exploiting the free market in terrible ways.

And it appears that Trump was trying to use these same sketchy business practices in his presidential campaign, too—pumping money into his businesses, giving payouts to friends and family, relying on free media to get his message across—but the monthly fundraising reports instead revealed his scam for what it is.

Who would’ve thought? After decades of unethical behavior in the business sector, it was finally politics that revealed Trump for the crooked scam artist he is. Think about that the next time you want to decry politicians as the lowest form of life. Whatever you may want to say about the corruption of the American political system, it at least had the decency and transparency to lay Trump’s simple-minded game bare in a matter of months, in a way that the business world never could.

There is absolutely no evidence—zero—that, if elected president, Trump would do anything different. He only knows one way to behave, and he’s not imaginative enough to learn a new way. He’d run the country using the same techniques he’s used to run his businesses, and his presidential campaign: he’d try to distract from his continual reliance on debt and exploitation with more and more outrageous behavior. And all the while he’d be praying that nobody would notice that underneath all the flim-flammery and showmanship, he’s just an empty vacuum in an ill-fitting suit, building an empire out of a con game.

Daily Clips: June 21st, 2016

Stranger than fiction: Donald Trump gave $35,000 to a “web advertising” firm called “Draper Sterling” – yes, just like in Mad Men. And it gets weirder. Draper Sterling’s headquarters is just a home in residential New Hampshire.

Trump’s $1.3 million war chest is eclipsed by Clinton’s $42 million: I thought he was really rich though?

Gun regulation goes 0 for 4: Swing and a miss, America.

Castro for VP: An excellent piece that delves into Julian Castro and answers many of the questions you probably have about the former San Antonio mayor.

Tweet of the day:

 

Everyone’s Ignoring Paul Ryan’s New Republican Agenda. Good.

As I previously mentioned, Paul Ryan is rolling out this year’s Republican agenda throughout the month of June. Under the headline “A Better Way,” Ryan’s plan is supposed to be a reclamation of Republican ideals, reimagined for the future. Too bad  nobody’s paying any attention to Ryan right now because of the giant sweaty orange elephant in the room. Michelle Cottle at The Atlantic writes:

Just look at what happened at the rollout of the agenda’s first plank: Ryan’s pet anti-poverty plan. The speaker and seven colleagues crossed the Anacostia River to commune with the impoverished, overwhelmingly minority residents from the “bad” side of Washington. But after all the speechifying, the only thing reporters wanted to talk about was Donald Trump’s latest outrage, regarding the Mexican heritage of Judge Gonzalo Curiel. And so the big news to come rolling out of the event was Ryan’s “textbook” racism comment.

The first six questions were about Trump,” AshLee Strong, Ryan’s spokesman recalled to me.

"And now I'm about to repeat the same song I've been singing for the last decade...hey! Guys? Where you going, guys? Guys!"

“And now I’m about to repeat the same song I’ve been singing for the last decade…hey! Guys? Where you going, guys? Guys!”

Poor Paul Ryan. Nobody’s paying attention to his big new ideas because they’re more concerned with the bigoted tyrant at the forefront of his party who could conceivably destroy America’s economy for a generation. It’s a real tragedy for Ryan.

Except it’s fine to ignore Ryan’s policy proposals because there’s nothing new about them. As I pointed out, he’s been propping up the same tired and ineffectual poverty plan for most of his career. And the more of A Better Way that I see, the more I realize that it’s not new at all. What Ryan is proposing here is more trickle down economics for the masses.

The conservative trickle-down ideology promotes a wide array of policies which promote three basic goals in order to make the rich richer and the poor poorer:

  1. Tax cuts for the wealthy.
  2. Deregulation for the powerful.
  3. Wage suppression for the 99 percent.

And so with these three policies in mind, let’s look at the plan that Ryan is unveiling to an audience of zero. Here’s Paul Ryan’s take on regulations: “regulations can stifle innovation and infringe on liberty.” He throws on some shiny details about “transparency” and so on and so forth, but really these are the things you always talk about when you’re arguing for deregulation. So that’s number two on the list.

Ryan is already on the record as vociferously combating the minimum wage, which is the third item on the list. He’ll be unveiling the tax part of his plan, presumably, next week. If that plan includes a tax increase on the wealthy, I will happily and publicly apologize to Ryan.

I’m not counting on it, though.

In the end, it’s probably good that Ryan’s big announcement is getting blown out of the media sphere by Donald Trump’s ongoing trash fire of a campaign. If anyone was paying attention to Ryan’s plan, they’d definitely notice that there’s nothing new about it. In fact, it’s the same old Republican agenda slapped up on a (relatively) snazzy new website.

 

Daily Clips: June 20th, 2016

Donald Trump’s campaign manager leaves: This is a major shake up in the 2016 political scene. Corey Lewandowski has been working with Trump since the beginning of his campaign. It appears like Trump fired Lewandowski—just another sign that Donald Trump has loyalty to no one but himself.

Paul Ryan’s regulatory-reform plan should be *almost* entirely dismissed: The trickle-down clown is at it again. This time, he’s released a plan which “contains more dubious ideas”, according to Bloomberg View’s editorial board. Because deregulation is one of the three pillars of trickle-down economics, it makes sense that his plan has endorsed the notion of “capping the number of regulations any agency could issue.”

Why America’s men aren’t working: The US “now has the the third-lowest participation rate for ‘prime-age men’ among the world’s developed countries.”

Tweet of the day: