Ohio Gov. John Kasich (7/21) became the 16th Republican to join the race for president in 2016, but he might be too late to generate poll numbers to qualify for Fox News’ arbitrary 10-candidate cutoff for the first debate that will be held 8/6 in Cleveland, in his own backyard. Despite his popularity in a critical swing state, he is relatively unknown at the national level, as recent polls show only about 2% of Republicans back, and with Donald Trump consuming much of the mainstream media attention, Kasich faces a challenge in getting known. But his aides told the New York Times (7/21) they are not nearly as concerned with the debate as they are with the actual first primary in New Hampshire in February. A political action committee supporting his election, New Day for America, has already spent more than $2 mln on TV advertising in the Boston market, which reaches into New Hampshire.

Kasich has come under fire from conservatives for his decision to expand Medicaid after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. He justifed his decision by referring to his Christian faith. At a 2014 Koch brothers-organized conference of politicians and party donors. Kasich took a pointed question from Randy Kendrick, a major donor and wife of the owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks. According to Alex Isenstadt of Politico (6/19), she rose to say she disagreed with Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid coverage, and questioned why he’d expressed the view it was what God wanted.

“The governor’s response was fiery. ‘I don’t know about you, lady,’ he said as he pointed at Kendrick, his voice rising. ‘But when I get to the pearly gates, I’m going to have an answer for what I’ve done for the poor.’

“The exchange left many stunned. About 20 audience members walked out of the room, and two governors also on the panel, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, told Kasich they disagreed with him. The Ohio governor has not been invited back to a Koch seminar — opportunities for presidential aspirants to mingle with the party’s rich and powerful — in the months since.”

But Kira Lerner noted at ThinkProgress.org (7/21) that Kasich has done plenty for the rich as well. As Ohio’s governor since 2011, Kasich pushed through tax cuts for the rich while increasing them for the poor and middle class. Tax cuts that were supposed to help small businesses mostly benefitted a few high-income business entities, with little help for those that hire people and generate economic activity.

Kasich signed a budget that included a number of anti-women’s health provisions, including language that ultimately defunded Planned Parenthood, redirected funding to right-wing “crisis pregnancy centers,” threatened to shut down abortion clinics, and stripped funding from rape crisis centers that provide women with vital information about abortion services.

Kasich supported a bill in 2011 to limit the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions. Voters ultimately repealed the bill with 62% against it. But this year, he rescinded two executive orders that had made two kinds of independent, self-employed contractors – home health care contractors and in-home child care contractors — eligible for collective bargaining with the state even though they are not employed by the state.

He also pushed through charter school reform while ignoring failing schools: Ohio has about 123,000 kids attending nearly 400 charter schools, but the privately-run, publicly-funded schools have been performing terribly and have been criticized by education leaders across the country. In July, the Ohio Education Department official responsible for school choice and charter schools resigned after admitting that he gave help to charter schools to make them look better in state evaluations.

GOP SELECTIVE ON VETS’ FEELINGS. It took two weeks for Republican candidates to voice criticism of Donald Trump’s claim that most Mexican immigrants are rapists and drug traffickers, but the presidential wannabes pounced almost immediately on Trump’s disparaging remarks about Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) military service.

“There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably,” the Republican National Committee said in an official statement.

The problem, of course, is that Republicans appear to apply that principle selectively, Steve Benen noted at MaddowBlog.com (7/21). In 2004, John Kerry faced ridiculous lies about his heroic military service, and at the time, GOP leaders saw great political value in smearing a decorated war veteran.

Take Jeb Bush, for example. In January 2005, the day before his brother’s second inaugural, the Florida governor wrote a letter to the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ringleader, expressing his appreciation for the smear campaign. Celebrating the “Swifties,” as Jeb Bush called them, the Republican wrote to retired Col. Bud Day, “Please let them know that I am personally appreciative of their service to our nation. As someone who truly understands the risk of standing up for something, I simply cannot express in words how much I value their willingness to stand up against John Kerry.”

In this case, Benen noted, ”stand up to” was apparently a euphemism for “tell lies about.”

Yet, a decade later, Bush is now disgusted by Trump’s rhetoric about John McCain’s service. Why is the former governor comfortable with ugly attacks that smeared one decorated veteran but not another? Bush’s campaign spokesperson told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “We reject the entire premise. A thank you letter to Col. Bud Day, Medal of Honor winner and Air Force Cross recipient, twice captured as a POW, is not in any way analogous to condemning Donald Trump’s slanderous attack on John McCain.”

Benen noted, “Jeb Bush and his staffers can’t have it both ways. When it’s the Republican’s brother on the ballot, Bush thinks the smearing of a war hero is worthy of praise and gratitude. When it’s Donald Trump, leading Jeb Bush in the polls, doing the smearing, the Florida Republican is suddenly outraged.”

Republicans have not been shy about questioning the patriotism of other Democrats who gave limbs in the service of their nation, Heather at CrooksAndLiars.com noted (7/19). John McCain campaigned on behalf Saxby Chambliss in 2002, even after Chambliss attacked triple amputee Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), dishonestly linking the war hero and recipient of the Silver Star and Bronze star to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. And then-Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) attacked Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth, who lost both of her legs and the use of her right arm as a helicopter pilot in the Iraq war, as not a “true” hero.

Josh Israel noted at ThinkProgress (7/20) that many of the candidates who denounced Trumps quip about McCain’s war record had no problems accepting large campaign donations from the man who bankrolled similar attacks against Kerry in 2004.

Bob Perry, who owned one of the biggest homebuilding companies in Texas, gave millions to Republican candidates and allied political groups. In 2004, Perry spent $4.4 mln to fund Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (a.k.a. Swift Vets and POWs for Truth), which ran a series of ads that questioned Kerry’s military service in Vietnam, for which he was awarded a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts.

Perry, who died in 2013, gave at least $1,000 to Jeb Bush’s gubernatorial campaign, $4,200 to Rick Santorum’s Senate campaign; $6,500 to Lindsey Graham’s campaign account and leadership PAC; $15,000 to Bobby Jindal’s gubernatorial campaign; $490,000 to Scott Walker to fight his recall in 2012; more than $2.8 mln to Rick Perry’s state and federal campaigns; and $37,000 to Ted Cruz’s campaigns.

CLINTON LOSES GROUND, SANDERS COMPETITIVE IN SWING STATES. Hillary Clinton is behind or on the wrong side of a too-close-to-call result in matchups with three leading Republican contenders, US Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia, according to a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll (7/22).

In several matchups in Iowa and Colorado, another Democratic contender, US Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, runs as well as, or better than Clinton against Rubio, Bush and Walker, although Sanders trails all three Republicans.

Perhaps the biggest loser, however, is Donald Trump, who has negative favorability ratings of almost 2-1 in each state, the independent poll finds. Clinton gets markedly negative favorability ratings in each state, 35-56% in Colorado, 33-56% in Iowa and 41-50% in Virginia.

The worst favorability ratings for any Democrat or Republican in the presidential field belong to Trump: 31-58% in Colorado, 32-57% in Iowa and 32-61% in Virginia.

In the case of Sanders, the favorable/unfavorable rating was 29-31% in Colorado, 32-28% in Iowa and 27-26% in Virginia, but 39% of respondents in Colorado and Iowa and 46% in Virginia hadn’t heard enough about him to have an opinion.

In an April Quinnipiac University poll Clinton was clearly ahead in five matchups and too close to call in the other four.

RACIAL JUSTICE IS HARD. Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders got blindsided by protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement at Netroots Nation in Phoenix (7/18). The demonstration at the town hall meeting was specifically designed to confront the powerful and leave them no escape route, one of the protesters told David Dayen, who reported for The New Republic.

“That was my idea was to have them respond in real time,” said Ashley Yeats, a St. Louis-based #BlackLivesMatter organizer who helped plan the protest with the Dream Defenders and Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). “Because too often we do actions, and people get time to go back and sit for a minute. I was, like, ‘No, let’s have our debate. What would a black debate look like?’”

The planned protest began midway through O’Malley’s remarks, the first of the two candidates to speak. Protesters stormed toward the stage and shouted out the names of Sandra Bland and other black women who have died in police custody, imploring the candidates to address them. Tia Oso, an Arizona-based activist with BAJI, was given a mic and hopped on stage next to O’Malley and town hall moderator Jose Antonio Vargas. In her remarks, she expressed her frustration with structural racism and white supremacy. The other protesters did various call-and-response chants from the floor. “Wait a second, breathe!” Vargas pleaded. “We can’t breathe!” replied the protesters, echoing the last words of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old Staten Island man killed by a police chokehold one year ago 7/18.

O’Malley kept responding by trying to say “All Lives Matter,” which very clearly missed the point that “color-blind” policies left African-Americans invisible and vulnerable, Ed Kilgore noted at WashingtonMonthly.com. And Sanders kept trying to go back to his talking points, but really screwed up by bagging a series of subsequent meetings with the protesters and media interviews. In the denouement, Kilgore noted, Sander’s many progressive allies took to various media (especially Twitter) to defend his long record of support for civil rights, which led to a sardonic #berniesoblack response that suggested the defensiveness was another symptom of white progressive arrogance. Hillary Clinton, who did not appear at Netroots, later issued a statement on racial justice.

On the positive side, Sanders drew 11,000 supporters to a rally in the Phoenix Convention Center that evening and attracted thousands to rallies in Dallas and Houston the following day. In the following weeks, he was scheduled to appear in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.

GOP FACES LATINO GAP. For over a decade, pundits have been using 40% as the share of the Latino vote a Republican candidate needs in order to win the presidency. But new data analysis has the polling firm Latino Decisions predicting that the GOP will need somewhere between 42-47% of the Latino vote to win the White House in 2016, Kerry Eleveld noted at DailyKos.com (7/18).

In 2004, George W. Bush met the 40% threshold (some polls even estimated several points higher), and that relatively good showing with Latinos helped him secure Florida, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

Since then, it’s been all downhill for Republicans, with Mitt Romney tanking in 2012 at around 23-27% of Latino voters, depending on the poll.

According to Latino Decisions, about 7.6 mln Latinos voted in 2004 versus 11.2 mln in 2012. Based on recent voting trends, they revealed 7/17 that they expect about 13.1 mln Latino voters to turn out in 2016.

Given that reality, the firm is projecting that Republicans will need at least 42% of the Latino vote and might need as high as 47%, depending on turnout and voting patterns among various demographic groups.

Meanwhile, a July Noticias Univisión poll found that Hillary Clinton is trouncing the GOP candidates among Latino voters.

If the election were to take place now, Clinton would obtain 64% of the Hispanic votes and her closest Republican rival, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, would receive 27% according to the bipartisan survey.

Just to be clear, Eleveld noted, among all the GOP candidates Jeb! polls the absolute best with Latinos and he’s still 15 points shy of the lowest Latino vote threshold he’s going to need to win the White House if he’s facing off in a two-way race against Hillary Clinton.

MEDICARE, MEDICAID STILL HUGELY POPULAR. House Republicans are still making Medicare vouchers and Medicaid block grants their official policy goals, and they are still wildly out of step with public opinion on these two programs, Joan McCarter noted at DailyKos.com (7/18). With July’s 50th anniversary of these two programs, Kaiser Family Foundation has released its most recent survey about American attitudes toward them. They find that the programs are as important to and popular with Americans as ever, and that congressional Republicans’ policies are supported only by a narrow band of fellow Republicans.

Among the findings:

• Medicare is very important to 77%, with only Social Security ranked as more important (at 83%) and Medicaid is very important to 63% (tied roughly with student loans).

• Republicans identify these programs as either very important or important: 96% for Medicare, 86% for Medicaid. (Those numbers for Dems are 99% and 97%, respectively.)

• 60% say Medicare is an effective program (jumping to 75% for people actually on Medicare) and 50% say Medicaid is effective (jumping to 65% of Medicaid recipients).

• Medicare is personally important to 76% of all people (and 71% of Republicans) and Medicaid to 51% to all (though only 35% of Republicans).

The rhetoric of critics has taken a toll: more than half—54%—are concerned about Medicare’s future.

BEWARE THE BUTT-DIAL. A pocket- or “butt-dial” is comparable to leaving your blinds open, a 3-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. If you accidentally call someone, they’re legally permitted to listen and record a conversation they may overhear.

National Journal reported (7/21) that two members of the Cincinnati airport’s governing board were discussing business matters—including whether to replace the airport’s CEO—when one of them accidentally pocket-dialed the CEO’s executive assistant.

She said “hello” into the phone multiple times, trying to get their attention, but once she realized what they were discussing, she grabbed a coworker (for a second set of ears), took notes about the conversation, and even used an iPhone to record part of it. She listened in for roughly 90 minutes, according to the court’s ruling. James Huff, one of the board members, sued. He said the CEO’s assistant had illegally intercepted his private conversations. But the 6th Circuit disagreed.

HOW MANY UNARMED PEOPLE DO POLICE SHOOT? Since federal officials are not up to the task of tallying how many people are killed by police, the Washington Post has taken on the job. It tallied 531 people shot dead by police through 7/21. That number includes 253 whites, 132 blacks, 83 Hispanics, 19 other and 44 unknown. “By the norms of the developed world, it’s an astonishing number,” Bob Somerby noted at DailyHowler.blogspot.com (7/21). But then, as is widely noted, our society is ‘awash in guns.’”

About 16% of the victims weren’t carrying a deadly weapon at the time they were killed, Kevin Drum noted at MotherJones.com (7/21). That breaks down to 26 blacks, or 20%; 35 whites, 14%; and 17 Hispanics, 20%. When you account for their share of the total population, Drum noted,unarmed blacks are killed at about 4 times the rate of whites and 2 times the rate of Hispanics.

IMMIGRANTS LESS LIKELY CRIMINALS. The Center for American Progress noted that immigrants actually are less likely to be criminals than the native born:

▪Between 1990 and 2013, the foreign-born share of the U.S. population grew from 7.9% to 13.1% and the number of unauthorized immigrants more than tripled from 3.5 mln to 11.2 mln.

▪ During the same period, FBI data indicate that the violent crime rate declined 48%—which included falling rates of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder. Likewise, the property crime rate fell 41%, including declining rates of motor vehicle theft, larceny/robbery, and burglary.  Immigrants also are less likely than the native-born to be behind bars:

▪ According to an original analysis of data from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS), roughly 1.6% of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3% of the native-born. This disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses. In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants.

▪ The 2010 Census data reveals that incarceration rates among the young, less-educated Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men who make up the bulk of the unauthorized population are significantly lower than the incarceration rate among native-born young men without a high-school diploma.

In 2010, less-educated native-born men age 18-39 had an incarceration rate of 10.7%—more than triple the 2.8% rate among foreign-born Mexican men, and five times greater than the 1.7% rate among foreign-born Salvadoran and Guatemalan men.

MORE STATES SIGN ONTO MEDICAID EXPANSION. For anti-healthcare activists, the strategic options are starting to dwindle. Gutting the Affordable Care Act through the courts obviously isn’t going to happen, and the odds of Congress repealing the law anytime soon are zero. If the goal is to prevent ACA benefits from reaching more American consumers, the right can continue to fight against Medicaid expansion at the state level, but conservatives are quietly failing on this front, too, even in “red” states.

In April, Montana, hardly a bastion of liberalism, ignored the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity and approved Medicaid expansion, Steve Benen noted at MaddowBlog.com (7/20). Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) did the same (7/16). And just one day later, a deal was struck in Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune reported: “The so-called Gang of Six — Gov. Gary Herbert, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, House Speaker Greg Hughes, House Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan and Sen. Brian Shiozawa — huddled this week constructing the skeleton of a new Medicaid plan to replace the governor’s Healthy Utah and the House’s Utah Cares proposals.

“On Friday, they announced their agreement, saying it was sustainable and would protect other key areas of the budget. “There is still work to be done,” Herbert said in a statement, “but I believe we now have a framework in place that will provide care for Utahns most in need while being responsible with limited taxpayer funds.”

This puts Utah on track to become the 31st state to accept Medicaid expansion — 32nd if we include the District of Columbia — through “Obamacare.” Estimates vary, but roughly 120,000 low-income Utahans are expected to gain coverage through the compromise agreement, assuming the Obama administration signs off on the deal. Those who continue to argue that states should reject the policy out of partisan spite – regardless of the benefits for families, regardless of the needs of state hospitals, regardless of the effects on state finances – are facing headwinds that are only growing stronger, Benen noted. “States can only hurt themselves on purpose for so long before the madness ends.”

Which state will be #32? Keep a close eye on Idaho, Benen advised.

SMALL BUSINESS LENDING PROGRAM NEARS CAP. A Small Business Administration lending program is likely to meet its statutory lending cap soon, meaning American entrepreneurs seeking capital to grow their operations will be turned away. Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Ranking Democrat of the House Committee on Small Business, introduced HR 3132 (7/21) to raise the cap, allowing the initiative to continue functioning and helping meet small firms’ financing needs.

The SBA program, referred to as 7(a), guarantees loans made by banks to small businesses. Due to a strengthening economy, more small businesses are seeking SBA credit in 2015. Through July, loan volume is up 20% over last year. Agency data suggests the program could approve over 60,000 loans for $21.5 bln. However, the lending cap set in law for FY 2015 is $18.75 bln. As a result, it is likely the SBA will run out of loan-making ability as early as 7/28, based on current lending volume.

Velázquez’s bill would raise the cap to $23.5 bln, allowing the initiative to continue functioning until the cap can be addressed again when Congress passes legislation for the start of the new fiscal year. Estimates suggest shutting the program down, even temporarily, could cost the economy more than 36,000 jobs over just a two-month period.

EMBARGO STILL BANS US BUSINESS IN CUBA, The US and Cuba have opened embassies in their respective capitals and established full diplomatic relations for the first time in 54 years. Unfortunately, Medea Benjamin noted at OtherWords.org (7/22), the outdated economic embargo remains in effect.

Cuba has been in a deep economic crisis since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Benjamin noted. Venezuela replaced Russia as a supplier of cheap oil, but Cubans fear that turmoil in that South American nation will knock out this lifeline, too. Cuba’s government wants to open up the economy while preserving social gains and guarding against growing inequalities.

US companies are raring to do business there, with American officials flocking to the island to plead their case. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to Havana recently with the heads of MasterCard, JetBlue, Pfizer, and Chobani. US Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donahue took a delegation that included the CFO of Cargill and the chairman of Amway, she noted. Sen.Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., traveled to Cuba this year to tout her state’s agricultural and lumber products. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed trekked there to push Coca-Cola and Delta airlines.

“And the list goes on, even though US businesses can’t offer Cuba credit or do business with government entities on this island nation just 90 miles away from Key West. They’re mostly relegated to the sidelines, watching rivals from Spain to Russia to Mexico swoop in.

“Ending the embargo would be a win-win for Cubans and Americans. It would allow all of us to travel freely to the island, and it would let US companies trade freely with one of our closest neighbors, creating more jobs in both nations.” But freeing trade will require Congress to repeal the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 that sets the embargo in place.

“Now that the Cuban flag waves at the re-opened Cuban embassy in Washington, Congress should lift the antiquated legislation that stands in the way of true normalized relations,” Benjamin concluded.

From The Progressive Populist, August 15, 2015


Blog | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 The Progressive Populist
PO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652