Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Your Vote

Why Is Russia Cashing Out Its U.S. Treasury Securities ?

The chart above shows the U.S. treasury securities held by Russia from 2011 through May of 2018. Note the sharp drop on the right side of the chart. Russia has sold off most of their holdings recently -- going from $96.1 billion to only $14.9 billion.

That sell off has mystified investors, since the interest rates on U.S. Treasury securities is still high, and Trump's recent overtures to Putin would seem to make those investments even better than in the past.

Were the Russians trying to affect the U.S. market? If so, they failed, since the market has remained stable. Is their economy in enough trouble that they needed to bring that money home? Maybe.

But there could be a much more ominous reason. Maybe Putin is planning a military move (Syria?,the Ukraine?, the Balkans?, etc.) that he knows will upset the U.S. Congress. Maybe he is moving that money before Congress can freeze it with some kind of sanction.

It would be good to know why this is happening.

Trump And Cohen

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at cagle.com.

Trump Is Sending Money To Help Texas Republicans

 The 2018 race is really starting to get interesting. Some House seats in the red state of Texas are no longer considered gimmes for Republican incumbents.

We learn now that Donald Trump must be getting worried about whether the Republicans can keep control of the House of Representatives. He is sending a maximum contribution under law to 100 candidates -- six of them in Texas.

Five of the Republicans receiving money are Michael Burgess (District 26), Michael Cloud (District 27), Mike Conway (District 11), John Culberson (District 7), and Pete Sessions (District 32). Culberson and Sessions were both outraged significantly by their Democratic opponents (Lizzie Pannill Fletcher in District 7 and Colin Allred in District 32) and both represent districts that Clinton carried in 2016. Democrats have a good chance of snatching both Districts away from the GOP. Cloud is brand new (having replaced Farenthold who resigned) and Democrats have a decent chance to take that seat also.

The sixth is in my own congressional district -- District 31. John Carter is the Republican incumbent, and a few months ago it was thought he was a "safe" incumbent. But that was before he got a credible Democratic opponent -- Army veteran Mary M.J. Hegar. Hegar has raised four times as much campaign money as Carter this year (well over a million dollars), and the Cook Political Report has moved the race from SAFE Republican to only LIKELY Republican.

Hegar has the money to compete, and seems to be a good campaigner (with her first political ad going viral). I think she has put District 31 in play.

If the Democrats can take a few seats away from the Republicans in Texas, the blue wave would really be on its way. Texas is not a state where the GOP expected to lose seats.

Acme Tariffs

Political Cartoon is by Bill Bramhall in the New York Daily News.

Putin And The American Far Right Are Natural Allies

This chart reflects the results of the latest Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between July 22nd and 24th of a nationwide sample of 1,500 adults, with a 2.8 point margin of error.

It shows that Republicans, conservatives, and Trump voters (aka, the far right in the U.S.) actually approves of Trump's embracing of Vladimir Putin and treating him like a friend (ally) instead of the enemy that most Americans consider him to be.

This may surprise some of you. After all, these same people were the most rabid opponents of the Soviet Union and communism. One might expect them to understand that Russia is continuing it's aggressive policies. But they don't. Their opposition was ideological -- not realistic. Russia today is closer to a fascist society with a strongman leader that opposes democratic values -- and that is something the far right would love to see in this country. They also oppose democratic values, and that makes them natural allies for Putin.

Here is just a small part of an article on this subject by E.J. Dionne Jr. in The Washington Post:

The links among Vladimir Putin, President Trump, and segments of both the Republican Party and the American conservative movement seem bizarre. How can this be, given the Russian president’s KGB pedigree and a Cold War history during which antipathy toward the Soviet Union held the right together?
In truth, there is nothing illogical about the ideological collusion that is shaking our political system. If the old Soviet Union was the linchpin of the Communist International, Putin’s Russia is creating a new Reactionary International built around nationalism, a critique of modernity and a disdain for liberal democracy. Its central mission includes wrecking the Western alliance and the European Union by undermining a shared commitment to democratic values.
Putin is, first and foremost, an opportunist, so he is also happy to lend support to forces on the left when doing so advances his purposes in specific circumstances. But the dominant thrust of Putinism is toward the far right, because a nationalism rooted in Russian traditionalism cements his hold on power.
And the right in both Europe and the United States has responded. Long before Russia’s efforts to elect Trump in the 2016 election became a major public issue, Putin was currying favor with the American gun lobby, Christian conservatives and Republican politicians. . . .
Evangelical Christians  . . .  found common ground with Putin, a strong foe of LGBTQ rights, on the basis of “Moscow’s nationalist and ultraconservative push — led by the Russian Orthodox Church — to make the post-Soviet nation a bulwark of Christianity amid the increasing secularization of the West.”. . .
It’s important to recognize that something more is going on here than merely a generalized effort to disrupt American and European politics. Putin is pushing in a very particular direction, a lesson that should be absorbed across our philosophical divides.
The deepening ties between the Russian government and elements of the right should give pause to all conservatives whose first commitment is to democratic life. The willingness of traditionalists and gun fanatics to cultivate ties with a Russian dictator speaks of a profound alienation among many on the right from core Western values — the very values that most conservatives extol.
It should bother members of the GOP that progressive writer Brian Beutler was onto something when he observed recently that “in many ways Moscow understood Republicans better than Republicans understand themselves.” Putin saw that what he and parts of the right share is a hatred of liberalism.
And Republicans should bear in mind that disrupting Robert S. Mueller III’s probe serves Putin’s interests, not just Trump’s. . . .
It’s odd that self-styled opponents of globalization who shout slogans about putting their own countries “first” are actually putting their ideology first as they seek to globalize the far right. Friends of democracy everywhere need to stand in solidarity and resist this backward-looking drift to autocracy.

There Was A Lot To Lose

Political Cartoon is by Mike Stanfill at ragingpencils.com.

Not A Single Redeeming Quality

Monday, July 30, 2018

Socialism For The Rich

Trump Threatens To Shut Down The Government

The federal government is only funded through the month of September. If a new budget is not passed by Congress and signed by the president by September 30th, the federal government will shut down on October 1st. But here is what Trump tweeted on Sunday:

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!”

That's right. Trump is threatening to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn't give him the $20 to $25 billion he needs to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. He has threatened to do that a couple of times in the past, and then backed down. Will he do it this time?

I think there's a 50-50 chance he will actually do it this time. He may be an idiot, but he can read the polls -- and he knows there is a good chance that one (or both) houses of Congress will flip to Democratic control in the coming election. If that happens, he can forget any hope of getting his silly wall. This could well be his last chance to get the money for that wall.

Is Congress likely to give him that wall money? No. The GOP is split and fighting among themselves over the budget, and if a budget is going to be passed, Democratic support is needed. The best Trump can hope for in a new budget is maybe $5 billion to start the wall, and Democrats will only do that if other programs (programs that actually help real people) are protected.

Republican candidates are already facing an uphill battle this November, and the last thing they need is a government shutdown that will anger voters -- especially a shutdown over the border wall (which is opposed by a majority of Americans). I expect they will do their best to talk Trump out of shutting the government down.

Will they succeed? That depends on how much Trump really wants that wall. I think he still thinks he can bully Congress into giving him what he wants -- and that means a government shutdown is a real possibility.

Endangered Species

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in The Washington Post.

Primary Voting Shows Democrats Are Enthused This Year

The chart above, from the Pew Research Center, shows the number of voters in both the Democratic and Republican primaries that have been held so far this year compared to the number of voters in those primaries in 2014.

In 2014, the Republicans outvoted Democrats in those primaries by about 1.2 million votes. That translated into a very good year for the Republicans. This year is vastly different. In 2018, the Democrats have outvoted the Republicans by about 2.9 million votes. That shows the Democrats are very enthused to vote this year.

The unknown factor is the Independent vote -- the voters who didn't vote in either party's primary, but will vote in November. Will they turn out in large numbers, and if they do, which way will they break? The only hopes for Republicans to stave off a "blue wave" this year is for either Democrats to stay home in November (not likely seeing the enthusiasm they have) or for Independents to break big for Republicans. I think it is unlikely the Independents will give the GOP the support it needs -- especially considering the poor view they have of both Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.

The Tape

Political Cartoon is by John Cole in the Scranton Times-Tribune.

Poll After Poll Shows Public Thinks Trump Is Dishonest

No matter how much bragging he does or how many lies he tells, Donald Trump has not been able to get anywhere near a majority of Americans approving of the job he is doing. In fact, the public disapproval has been remarkably stable (moving up and down a few points, but always significantly negative).

I believe this is because a majority of the American public simply does not trust Trump. They consider him to be dishonest and untrustworthy.

Above are the results of  four different respected polls on the question of Trump's honesty. All of them show that a significant portion of the public considers his dishonest (from between 19 and 21 points in all the four polls).

The Politico / Morning Consult Poll was done between July 19th and 23rd of a national sample of 1,996 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.

The Economist / YouGov Poll was done between July 22nd and 24th of a national sample of 1,500 adults, with a 2.8 point margin of error.

The Quinnipiac University Poll was done between June 27th and July 1st of a national sample of 1,020 voters, with a 3.7 point margin of error.

The Public Policy Polling Survey was done between June 8th and 10th of a national sample of 679 registered voters, with a 3.8 point margin of error.


Political Cartoon is by Robert Ariail at Andrews McMeel Syndication.

July Set New Temperature Records Worldwide

The chart above shows the monthly temperatures worldwide from 1880 through 2017. Note that 2017 was the hottest year in recorded history. Until this year. July of 2018 was a beast, setting records for heat around the world -- and will surely push the 2018 temperatures to new record levels.

This is happening with the global temperature rising only about 1 degree C, or 1.8 degrees F. Scientists predict the temperature rise will be about 3 degrees C or 5.4 degrees F by the year 2100. With the significant changes in our weather patterns that are already happening, it's scary to think about what those changes will be like as we approach 2100.

Here, from Axios.com, are some of the records being set:

Here are just a few of the records set so far:
  • In North America: Los Angeles set an all-time high temperature record of 111°F on July 6. Montreal, Canada also set its all-time high temperature record, during a deadly Quebec heat wave in early July. This week, Death Valley, California, has broken three straight daily records with a high of 127°F. 
  • In Europe: Unprecedented heat led to a wildfire outbreak in Scandinavia, and record highs have been set all the way above the Arctic Circle this month. According to the U.N., Sodankyla, Finland hit 89.2°F, or 31.8°C, on July 17, which was an all-time record for that location. 
  • Friday was the hottest temperature on record in Amsterdam, at 34.8°C, or 94.6°F. 
  • Remarkably, in northern Norway, Makkaur, set a new record high overnight low temperature of 25.2°C, or 77°F, on July 18.
  • Heat records have also fallen in the U.K., Ireland and France. In London, high temperatures hit 35°C on Thursday, and were forecast to potentially eclipse that on Friday. The U.K. is suffering through one of its driest years on record. 
  • In the Middle East: Quriyat, Oman, which likely set the world’s hottest low temperature ever recorded on June 28, when the temperature failed to drop below 109°F, or 42.8°C.
  • In Africa: Ouargla, Algeria, may have set Africa's all-time highest temperature on July 5, with a reading of 124.3°F, or 51.3°C. 
  • In Asia: Japan set a national temperature record of 106°F, or 41.1°C, in a heat wave that followed deadly floods.
And here is what some scientists have to say:

"We found that for the weather station in the far north, in the Arctic Circle, the current heat wave is just extraordinary – unprecedented in the historical record,” said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, senior researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI).

"Even for somebody who understands extreme weather and how climate change affects extreme weather, what's happening this summer is incredible," said Bernadette Woods, chief meteorologist and climate matters program director at Climate Central, a nonpartisan climate science research and communications group.

"While I expect that high temperatures records will continue to be broken at abnormally high rates because of global warming, I would not have guessed that so many would be broken in the same year," said Michael Wehner, climate researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Daniel Swain, a climate researcher at UCLA, told Axios: "From my perspective as a climate scientist, one of the most striking (and disconcerting) aspects of this is that we’re now seeing decades-old scientific predictions being validated in the real world, right before our eyes." 

10 Commandments (Trump Version)

Political Cartoon is by Phil Hands in the Wisconsin State Journal.

A Helpful Chart

Sunday, July 29, 2018

It's A Fact

Is U.S. Ready For Another Election Cyber Attack ?

We are only about 100 days away from another election -- an election which will determine which political party will control Congress. And there have been reports that Russia is already beginning to attack our electoral process. Are we ready to stave off those attacks? Or are we vulnerable to the Russians possibly controlling the outcome this time?

We know that Russia attacked about half of our states in 2016, getting into voter rolls. It's unknown if they actually changed any votes in 2016, but they no doubt have increased their capabilities since then. Could they now change votes? Even if not, could they now alter our voter rolls (which would also destroy confidence in the electoral results)?

It's become obvious that Donald Trump doesn't seem to care about the cyber security of our electoral process. He's still denying that the Russian attack happened in 2016, and a recent meeting he had on cyber security showed that he has no plan to increase that security. In fact, he has eliminated the office of the White House Director of Cyber Security.

Fortunately, the federal government doesn't control the voting systems in this country. That is done by the states and counties. Are they ready to defend our electoral process? Most Americans don't think so. Only 36% think state and local officials are prepared, while 51% say they are not. And the same goes for candidate campaigns and party committees -- with 35% saying they are prepared and 51% saying they are not.

This is a serious problem. Even if a fair and secure election can be held, will the public accept the results as valid? If they don't, our democracy is in deep trouble.

The charts above are from a recent Politico / Morning Consult Poll -- done between July 19th and 23rd of a national sample of 1,996 registered voters, with a 2 point margin of error.


Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at darrinbell.com.

Poll Indicators Still Look Good For Democrats

These charts reflect the latest result of the weekly Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between July 22nd and 24th of a nationwide sample of 1.500 adults, with a margin of error of 2.8 points.

It shows that the public is still very unhappy with the GOP-dominated 115th Congress. Only 11% say they approve of the job Congress is doing, while 58% disapprove -- a negative gap of 47 points! With a Republican president, who is also upside-down in his job approval numbers, those are not the kind of poll numbers that will inspire voters to let the GOP continue as the dominant party in Congress.

Add to that the feeling of most Americans that the country is currently on the wrong track (52% wrong track to 36% right direction) and you have the recipe for a Republican disaster in November.

Water On Mars

Political Cartoon is by Mark Streeter in The Savannah Morning News.

The Trump/Putin Bromance Will Continue (In Moscow)

(Cartoon image is by Dave Granlund at davegranlund.com.)

It looked like Donald Trump's love affair with Vladimir Putin might have to be put on hold. Trump got nothing but misery from the press and Congress after inviting Putin to visit him in the White House, and had to delay the invitation. But Putin has come to the rescue by inviting Trump to visit him in Moscow. That might be better anyway, since those pesky journalists can be kept from interfering with they tryst there.

Here's how Mark Sumner at Daily Kos describes Trump's efforts to meet with his heartthrob and favorite dictator (and Putin's efforts to keep Trump dancing to Russia's tune):

In what can only be seen as a blatant display of his ability to make Donald Trump sit up and bark on command, Vladimir Putin started Friday with an invite for Trump to come to Moscow. And now it appears that Trump is going. According to the Associated Press, Trump is “open to visiting Moscow” and is just waiting on a “formal invitation” from Putin. The White House response does not say if Trump is also expecting a corsage or news on what kind of after-party activity Putin is planning.
To make it more obvious who is calling the tune, here’s a quick timeline:
16 July: Disastrous meeting in which Trump is patently subservient to Putin.
19 July: Trump invites Putin to the White House.
19 July to 24 July: Putin is busy washing his hair.
24 July: Kremlin suggests there are “other occasions” where the two could meet.
25 July: White House officially delays meeting Putin until 2019.
27 July: Putin invites Trump to Moscow.
27 July + a few minutes: Trump starts packing his bags.
Donald Trump appeared at a session on Friday morning to brag about quarterly numbers for the economy that were well below those produced in at least four quarters by Barack Obama, then retreated into the White House without taking questions. So no one was able to inquire if it makes his shoulders sore when Putin pulls this hard on his strings.

Killing Prospects For Peace

Political Cartoon is by Hassan Bleibel at cagle.com.

Fair Is Fair

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Problems With Congress

Trump Did Collude (Didn't We Already Know That?)

(Cartoon image is by Chris Britt in the Illinois Times.)

On June 9 of 2016, three officials from the Trump campaign (Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort) met in Trump Tower with several Russians who had connections to the Russian government. The purpose of the meeting was to get dirt on Clinton from the Russians in exchange for promises to remove sanctions when elected. The participants claimed that Donald Trump did not know they were meeting with the Russians (even though he was in Trump Tower at the time), and Trump Jr. even testified to Congress and told them that lie.

Now, the news networks are abuzz with the news that Michael Cohen has said that Donald Trump did know about the Trump Tower meeting before it occurred. Of course, Trump denies it, and now says Cohen can't be trusted. But Trump trusted him for a decade and allowed Cohen to know all of his dirty secrets (because Cohen was the person Trump counted on to fix any problems he had created for himself). It is only now that the secrets are starting to be revealed, that Trump says Cohen can't be trusted.

Frankly, I'm surprised that so many of the talking heads on cable news are acting like they're shocked to learn that Trump did know (and is therefore guilty of colluding with the Russians). Didn't Trump's repeated claims of "no collusion"  and "witch hunt" give us a clue as to the truth? Didn't he just protest too much? And doesn't he have a history of telling lies to cover for himself (telling over 3200 lies in his first 18 months in office)?

But it goes beyond the lying. Anyone who studies Trump even slightly should know that Trump is a micro-manager. He was a micro-manager of his many businesses. He has been a micro-manager for his administration. And he was a micro-manager during his campaign. Nothing happens in Trump's world without his knowledge and approval. His family and employees know that, and they are aware of his fits of temper when things don't go his way. There is no way any of his family members or associates would do something as radical as meeting (colluding) with the Russians without Trump's knowledge and permission.

No one should be surprised at Cohen's latest revelation. All it does is confirm what we already knew -- that Donald Trump did collude with the Russians to affect the 2016 election.


Cheshire Trump

Political Cartoon is by Kevin Siers in The Charlotte Observer.

Trump Is Losing The Upper Midwest (Bigly!)

In 2016, Trump won the state of Michigan by only 11,000 votes (out of about 4.8 million votes cast), and won the state of Wisconsin by only 23,000 votes (out of about 2.98 million votes cast). If he had lost either of these states, he would not be living in the White House -- and he needs to keep those states in his column to have any chance of being re-elected. In addition, he lost in Minnesota by a razor-thin margin -- giving the GOP hope he could carry that state in the future.

How is Trump doing in those states after 18 months in office. Not good! Not good at all! A new poll shows he is far behind in all three states right now in job approval. In Michigan,  the public disapproves of him by an 18 point margin. In Wisconsin, the public disapproves of him by a 16 point margin. And in Minnesota, the public disapproves of him by a 13 point margin.

The poll also shows that  Trump has no coattails for Republicans to cling to in these states. In the coming election, Democrats are favored over Republicans by 9 points in Michigan, by 8 points in Wisconsin, and by 12 points in Minnesota.

And none of those states thinks Trump deserves to be re-elected in 2020. In Michigan, he is opposed by a 34 point margin, in Wisconsin by a 32 point margin, and in Minnesota by a 30 point margin.

Michigan and Wisconsin are purple states (leaning toward blue) and Minnesota is a fairly reliable blue state. It was a real surprise (at least to me) that Trump did so well in all three in 2016. But it looks like they have now come to their senses.

The liver-caller NBC/Marist polls were conducted July 15-19 among respondents contacted by both landline and cell phone.
The margin of error for the 886 registered voters in Michigan is plus-minus 3.9 percentage points. The margin of error for the 876 registered voters in Minnesota is plus-minus 4.0 percentage points. And the margin of error of the 906 registered voters in Wisconsin is plus-minus 3.8 percentage points.

American Gothic (With Tariffs)

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at darrinbell.com.

There Is An Alternative To The GOP's Trickle-Down Policy

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has released its budget for the 2019 fiscal year. It offers a reasonable, fair, and sustainable alternative to the corporate-loving "trickle-down" economic policies of Donald Trump and the Republican Congress.

The Economic Policy Institute has scored the CPC budget. Their article on the CPC budget is fairly lengthy, but I highly recommend reading it. Here is a fairly short summary of what they found:

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has unveiled its fiscal year 2019 (FY2019) budget, titled The People’s Budget: A Progressive Path Forward. It builds on recent CPC budget alternatives in setting the following priorities: near-term job creation, financing public investments, strengthening low- and middle-income families’ economic security, raising adequate revenue to meet budgetary needs while restoring fairness to the tax code, strengthening social insurance programs, and ensuring long-run fiscal sustainability.
This paper details the budget baseline assumptions, policy changes, and budgetary modeling used in developing and scoring The People’s Budget, and it analyzes the budget’s cumulative fiscal and economic impacts, notably its near-term impacts on economic recovery and employment.
Figures A–C—which show the impact of The People’s Budget on debt, deficits, and nondefense discretionary funding compared with current law, the president’s budget, and historical averages . . .
We find that The People’s Budget would have significant, positive impacts. Specifically, it would:
  • Improve the economic well-being of low- and middle-income families by finally completing and locking in the economic recovery. To unambiguously close the persistent jobs gap that has plagued the U.S. economy since the start of the Great Recession, The People’s Budget provides an upfront economic stimulus large enough to close estimated output gaps—a measure of how far from potential the economy is operating—as well as restore employment-to-population ratios for prime-age workers to pre–Great Recession levels. The People’s Budget would boost gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.2 percent and employment by 1.8 million jobs in the near term.2 The budget would also ensure that the mixture of spending and revenue changes provides a net fiscal boost long enough to avoid a future fiscal cliff (i.e., a sharp drop in demand caused by budget deficits closing too quickly to sustain growth) that could throw recovery into reverse.3
  • Make necessary public investments. The budget finances roughly $209 billion in job-creation and public-investment measures in calendar year 2018 alone and roughly $610 billion over calendar years 2018–2019.4 This fiscal expansion more than provides the amount of fiscal support needed to rapidly reduce labor market slack and restore the economy to full health. Furthermore, The People’s Budget also aims to hit more ambitious long-term public investment targets by returning nondefense discretionary spending to its historical average as a percentage of GDP by 2023.
  • Facilitate economic opportunity for all. By expanding public investments, boosting public employment, and subsidizing affordable college, child care, and other programs for low- and middle-wage workers, The People’s Budget aims to boost economic opportunity for all segments of the population.
  • Strengthen the social safety net. The People’s Budget strengthens the social safety net and proposes no benefit reductions to social insurance programs—in other words, it does not rely on simple cost-shifting to reduce the budgetary strain of health and retirement programs. Instead, it uses government purchasing power to lower health care costs (health care costs are the largest threat to long-term fiscal sustainability) and builds upon efficiency savings from the Affordable Care Act. The budget also expands unemployment benefits and increases funding for education, training, employment, and social services as well as income security programs in the discretionary budget.5
  • Smartly cut spending. The budget focuses on modern security needs by repealing sequestration cuts and spending caps that affect the Defense Department but replacing them with similarly sized funding reductions that are less front-loaded and will allow more considered cuts. It ends emergency overseas contingency operation spending in FY2019 and beyond, and it ensures a slow rate of spending growth for the Defense Department for the remainder of the decade.
  • Increase tax progressivity and adequacy. The budget restores adequate revenue and pushes back against income inequality with a revenue target of $10.9 trillion over FY2019–2028 to be raised progressively. Possible progressive revenue raisers to reach the target include adding higher marginal tax rates for millionaires and billionaires, equalizing the tax treatment of capital income and labor income, restoring a more progressive estate tax, eliminating inefficient corporate tax loopholes, levying a tax on systemically important financial institutions, and enacting a financial transactions tax, among other tax policies.
  • Reduce the deficit in the medium term. The budget increases near-term deficits to boost job creation, but reduces the deficit in FY2019 and beyond relative to CBO’s current law baseline. After increasing near-term borrowing to restore full employment, the budget gradually reduces the debt ratio in the now-full-employment economy over time, reaching a key benchmark of sustainability (of a stable debt-to-GDP ratio during times of full employment). Relative to current law, the budget would reduce public debt by $6.8 trillion (22.9 percent of GDP) by FY2028.
For the eighth year in a row, the Economic Policy Institute Policy Center (EPIPC) has provided assistance to the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) in analyzing and scoring the specific policy proposals in its alternative budget and in modeling its cumulative impact on the federal budget over the next decade. The policies in CPC’s fiscal year 2019 budget—The People’s Budget: A Progressive Path Forward—reflect the decisions of CPC leadership and staff, not those of EPIPC (although many of the policies included in the budget overlap with policies included in previous EPI budget plans). All policy proposals have been independently analyzed and scored by EPIPC based on a variety of sources, notably data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

Not A Bad Idea

Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.


Friday, July 27, 2018

It's Not About Abortion

Trump's $12 Billion Bailout For Farmers Is Not A Good Plan

(This image of a soybean field is from Britannica.com.)

Donald Trump thought he could bully other nations into giving the United States more favorable trading terms. He did this by imposing tariffs on foreign products entering the United States and threatening to impose even more tariffs if those nations don't bend to his will. Unfortunately, his trade war is not going well.

The first hits were taken by American farmers. A perfect example is the farmers who raise soybeans. China buys about 30% of American-grown soybeans. But instead of giving in to Trump, they just cancelled their orders for U.S. soybeans. Instead, they are growing a million new acres of the plant themselves, and have signed contracts to buy the rest of what they need from South America and Russia.

And soybeans aren't the only product affected. The longer the trade war lasts, the more damage will be incurred by American farmers and factories -- and consumers, who will have to pay higher prices for many goods.

Trump realizes that he's losing support among farmers (who in 2016 were among his most loyal supporters), so he has devised a bailout to help the farmers. He's borrowing $12 billion to give farmers some aid. But this plan has some serious flaws, and I believe will not be workable as a solution. Here's why:

1. It is a short-term bailout. It is only for the rest of this year. What about next year?

2. Trump had already overseen a ballooning deficit that's approaching a trillion dollars a year. Borrowing $12 billion more is not going to help that.

3. The bailout assumes that Trump will be able to negotiate new trade deals in a short period of time. There is no evidence that is possible. While Trump has bragged about being a great negotiator and dealmaker, in the first 18 months of his term he has not been able to make a single new deal. He has trashed some agreements, but been unable to negotiate any new ones.

4. Even if Trump was to end his trade war now, there is no reason to believe that the countries that found other places to buy needed goods would return to the U.S. market. Why would they when Trump has shown he cannot be trusted to keep those markets stable.

5. Trump seems to think that a trade war is easily won because other countries need the United States. The truth is that the United States needs the markets and products of other countries as much as they need ours.

Trump's trade war was a very bad idea, and his bailout for farmers is equally bad. Neither will work. We live in an era where nations must respect the global marketplace -- even the United States. Trump's economic bullying might have worked 50 to 70 years ago, but not now.

Paying Off On Another Mess

Political Cartoon is by Joe Heller at hellertoon.com.

Women Remain The Biggest Reason For The "Blue Wave"

The Quinnipiac University Poll was done between July 18th and 23rd of a national sample of 1,177 voters nationwide, and has a margin of error of 3.5 points.

The NPR / PBS Newshour / Marist Poll was done between July 19th and 22nd of a national sample of  923 registered voters, with a margin of error of 3.8 points.

The Economist / YouGov Poll was done between July 22nd and 24th of a national sample of 1,500 adults, with a margin of error of 2.8 points.

The three polls show Democrats still have an advantage in the coming election -- an advantage ranging from 6 to 12 points. The reason for this advantage is the preference of women voters. Look at the difference between women and men.

The Quinnipiac poll shows women prefer Democrats by a huge 25 point margin, while men prefer Republicans by a 2 point margin. The NPR/Marist poll shows women preferring Democrats by a 21 point margin, while men prefer Republicans by a 9 point margin. The YouGov poll shows women preferring Democrats by a 10 point margin and men also preferring Democrats by a 3 point margin.

The thing all three polls have in common is the much larger margins among women over men. Even if women and men voted in equal numbers, this would be bad news for Republicans -- but they don't. Women have voted in larger numbers than men for many election cycles now. If they do that again in November (and they likely will), that's very good news for Democrats.

2018 still looks good for Democrats (thanks to women). Now Democrats just need to make sure they get their voters to the polls. They cannot afford for any of their voters to think a win is in the bag, and stay home on election day.