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The Economic Dilemma Democrats Face in 2016


The Economic Dilemma Democrats Face in 2016

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Democrats face a dilemma in 2016: How do they deal with the Obama presidency, and particularly the Obama economy? As the early primaries have shown, Americans are in a surly mood, with the economy at the center of their concerns. The Obama administration naturally wants Democrats to brag on its record. Republicans, of course, blame President Obama for everything under the sun. My Post colleague E.J.


"In politics, plagiarism is a compliment...", only if the politician adopting those views actually embraces them. Otherwise, plagiarism is nothing more than a ploy to steal votes. In this case it's the latter.


Bernie is addressing structural issues that would outlast his term(s) in office. All of the other candidates are talking about tweaking or destroying existing policies. Only Bernie exhibits vision. Only Bernie. Only Bernie.


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Hillatrump ?


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We have a government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

But, didn't you know? Everybody in America is rich. At least that's how they vote.


Does anyone else wonder why, when her constant lies and position shifts are so evident, Hillary's supporters stay committed to her? Do they ever wonder: what are our real goals then? what will she really do once in office? what does she really believe? what do I really believe? Maybe those questions don't matter to them, because they seem to want her elected because "it's her turn" or so she can be the first woman president. Poor reasons, at best, to support a presidential candidate.


I think the economic problems of African Americans and Hispanics need to be addressed somewhat differently than for everyone else. Based on test scores and high school graduation I believe African Americans and Hispanics as populations still lag far behind everyone else. So for these two group much better performance in k-12 will be needed. This seems to be an intractable problem but we must continue to search for answers or these groups will always be behind other groups. Also, African Americans in particular also face racial discrimination which is another barrier that continually needs to be addressed. To some extent the 2016 general election will be a referendum on the presidency of Barack Obama. He remains a popular president with many Americans and Democrats would be smart to defend his presidency. It shouldn't be that hard. There has been job growth for over 70 consecutive months. Inflation remains low. Compared to just about every European country the US is doing well economically. Many start-up companies are succeeding. Many states have raised the minimum wage. Manufacturing jobs are slowly coming back although they will never be as important in the US as they used to be. We are certainly much better off economically then we were 8 years ago. But the case also has to be made that still much more change is needed. While we know such change will be impossible with the likely Congress in 2017 still the case for change should be made.


The greatest economic dilemma that will be faced by ANY president elected from either party is the schizophrenic electorate's reelection of mostly incumbents to the Senate and Congress. There they will sit on their well rounded rear ends and do nothing but obstruct anything that doesn't contribute to their home district or future fundraising efforts.
The newly elected president meanwhile will have to contend with left over mid and lower level bureaucrats whose interest is in maintaining the status quo within their department and making sure that the revolving door back into think tank fellowships or industry consultant positions remains well greased.
Chicago's school system, Flint's water supply, and the many dead coal miners whose lives were sacrificed so that EMSHA could be ideologically correct and operate on reduced enforcement budgets bear mute testimony to how government service at all levels from municipal to federal has changed from serving the public interest to looking out for number one.


The real economic dilemma concerns the issue that liberals won't touch. Think back: Clinton/Gore targeted the poor. In Gore vs. Bush, the poor (and those who get why this is such a critically important issue) voted third party or withheld their votes, and the middle class picked Bush. Twice. The poor, etc., overwhelmingly voted for Obama in hopes that he could launch a legitimate discussion about our poverty crisis. He actually did raise the issue several times. Democrats in Congress only worsened conditions for many of the poor. The years of this administration were dedicated to maintaining a pep rally for the middle class, and more deeply alienating the poor. The middle class is less than 50% of the population, and they are split between Democrats and Republicans.


The "mainstream" knows very little about US poverty, much less white poverty. Quality of education has much to do with tax revenues in any given area. Most of the very poorly funded schools are in the vast spaces between cities, and have predominantly white populations (the majority of US poor are white). Gender discrimination in hiring and wages is actually more prevalent than racial discrimination (although we don't count those employers who won't hire white people). This isn't the 1960s, and it's really not all about skin color today.


I taught in a Catholic school for 29 years, 24 in high school. For 19 years I taught many AP English classes, along with eleventh grade American literature. In those years I had many intelligent and capable Hispanic students and a few African-American, though demographically there were not as many of the latter in the school population. These minority students got admitted to and did well at university/college including Yale, U. of Chicago, Berkeley, etc.; don't sell these students short,. They continue to do well as adults, many of them in professional occupations.


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Katrina gives the President too many benefits of the doubt. Granted, he pulled the economy back from the brink, but in a way that made sure the culprits would remain in place, free to continue their plunder. If you listened to candidate Obama during 2008, as I did, you had to be shocked when he appointed Robert Rubin to head his transition team -- his first decision as President-elect -- then appointed Rubin's top two deputies to the two economic posts in his new administration. Larry Summers and Tim Geithner continued the neoliberal economic policies that got us into this economic mess. So much for financial "reform."
It's popular to say America is doing so much better than yada-yada-yada. Those claims are misleading. Look at the prosperous nations of Europe, for example. Sure, GDP may be stagnant, but the workers are well paid, young people are getting college degrees without amassing huge debts, there has been minimal increase in poverty, and everybody has health care. Not exactly hard times. And, just to be clear, rich people over there are still getting richer.
Meanwhile, over here, the middle class is downsizing, poverty is rising, young folks are over-burdened with college debt, and a substantial portion of the people can't afford to go see a doctor when they need to, including a lot of those with Obamacare policies. Most new jobs feature low pay, no benefits, and zero job security. Obama is frantically working to complete multiple huge free trade deals (TPP is only one of them) which will insure things stay that way.
American voters are crying out "No more business as usual!" They are looking for a candidate who is authentic (by which they primarily mean trustworthy) and not beholden to wealthy donors. There are only two options. One is well on his way to the Republican nomination. The other faces not only the Clinton political machine, but the full weight of the Democratic Party establishment, which is dead set and determined to nominate another Clinton.
Bernie Sanders can beat Donald Trump. Then we just night have a chance to begin to change things (like we thought we were doing in 2008). Hillary Clinton is the epitome of business as usual. She will lose to Trump. And it will be good that she does.