The Weiner Component #158 – Part 1: Donald J. Trump: The Presumptive Republican Candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

The Race to choose presidential candidates for both major political parties in the United States seems to be just about over now.  The presumptive candidate for the Republican Party is Donald J. Trump.

 

The Republicans will meet at the Quicken Loans Area from July 19 – 21 (M – TH) 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  There they will start with the meeting of the rules committee a week earlier, vote the 2016 rules into existence, choose the Presidential candidate, write their platform of what the Party stands for the next four years, and choose the Vice Presidential candidate.

 

Donald J. Trump, their Presumptive Candidate, presumably is their choice for President of the United States.  If he doesn’t make any more stupid verbal mistakes or if new negative material on his background doesn’t become available to the general public he may become their actual candidate.  Right now one bookie in Las Vegas is giving 12 – 1 odds against Trump getting elected, another is giving odds of 25 to 1.  Still another Las Vegas bookie is taking bets that Donald Trump will be impeached at some point if he is elected.

 

Of all the people that the Republicans could have chosen as their nominee for president, Donald Trump is the worst possible choice.  On a 1 – 10 scale with 1 being the least satisfactory number, Donald Trump rates a 0 or less.  With the blatant fabricating, erratic behavior and the information coming out about him his rating keeps dropping.  He could conceivably end up at a minus ten or higher.

 

From examining his history he represents everything negative about human beings.  He treats most of his employees in the same fashion as a man who hates dogs would treat the animals, like slime.  In business abuses virtually all the people who work for him are potential victims.  He is a liar who apparently can’t tell the difference between a falsehood and truth.  He also sees everything in terms of himself and what he can get out of everyone.  Donald Trump is a sad example of a human being.

 

Interestingly Donald Trump has claimed to be a billionaire, stating publically that he has over 10 billion dollars.  Originally he said that he is really rich and that he is self-funding his campaign and is therefore beholden to nobody, but now that he is the presumptive Republican candidate he claims that he can no longer afford to finance himself.  It would seem that he exaggerated the extent of his wealth.  He has not released any income tax forms to show how much he did or didn’t pay in taxes.  I would suspect he paid 0 in income taxes and doesn’t want to admit that to his public,.

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Donald Trump, over the years, has used his name as a commodity, renting it out for a small percentage to innumerable products.  This has satisfied both his ego and his desire for additional money.

 

One of the items of which he was offered to add his mane was Trump University, an American, for profit, Education Company that would run a real estate training program.  A man named Michael Sexton created a business plan for a real estate training program and presented it to Donald Trump looking to pay Trump a flat fee for the use of his name.  Trump decided that he wanted to be the principle owner of this company.  He would own 93% of it after it was organized.

 

Trump University was incorporated in 2004 by Trump and two others as a New York limited liability company. It began operation on May 23, 2005.  It was a privately held, unaccredited school which did not give college credits, whose object was to make a profit for its owners.

 

Since it was unaccredited and did not offer college credit it was illegal under the laws of New York State which notified the business it was an illegal operation.  Trump was able to forestall changing its name for four years; after which the name was changed to the Trump Entrepreneur.  In 2011, the company became the subject of an inquiry by the New York Attorney General’s office for illegal business practices.  This resulted in a lawsuit filed in 2013, which remains ongoing.

 

rump University is also subject to two ongoing class action lawsuits in California Federal Court.  The lawsuits have centered on allegations that Trump University misled students into thinking that is was a real university whose instructors were hand picked by Donald Trump, when in fact they were not and it certainly wasn’t a real university.

 

In 2011 the office of the Texas Attorney General investigated Trump University.  After exchanging communications with investigators that included requests from the investigators for customer lists and internal documents, Trump University closed its operations in that state.  Once they went away the state dropped the investigation.

 

The focus of the seminar was real estate instruction.  Trump claimed in advertisements that he could turn anyone into a successful real estate investor.  The instruction began with an introductory seminar in rented space like a hotel ballroom.  The introductory seminar, which was free, urged students to sign up for additional classes, ranting from $1,495 to $35,000 for a “Gold Elite” program.  The records indicate that 7,000 tickets were sold to customers attending classes.  Approximately 6,000 of these tickets were for $15,000, for a three day course and 1,000 tickets were for silver, gold, or elite courses, ranging in price from $19,000 to $35,000.

 

The people who signed up were those desperate, for whatever reason, for money.  In order to get people to pay the so-called tuition the school had these people increase their debt limit on their credit cards to the maximum possible.  The excuse given was so that they could possibly jump into an immediate real estate deal of one became available.  The tuition was then charged to the credit card.  An interesting business plan to get those generally in debt to go into  greater debt to increase the profit for Trump’s company.

 

Trump said he “handpicked” the instructors but he testified in a 2012 deposition that he never selected the instructors for the program.  For a time in 2012, according to one of the other co-owners, Trump signed off on the school’s advertisements.  For a time in 2008 it used the name of “Trump Wealth Institute.”  The company ceased operating in 2010, after five years.

 

Three lawsuits have been file and are pending.  They assert the Trump University engaged in a variety of illegal business practices that range from false claims to racketeering.  Two are federal class-action lawsuits: one is against Trump University and its managers, including Donald Trump, and one it against Donald Trump personally.  These two lawsuits are in California.  There is a third case in New York, which has been in process since 2012 that is looking into criminal actions by Trump and his company.  Here Trump University is accused of being a “bait and switch” scheme and not a university.  Trump is accused of misleading over 5,000 people.

 

The first two cases will be heard in California by U.S. District Court by Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel..

 

Trump has traditionally used the courts and the law as a weapon against his opponents.  To him it is a means of extending legal cases until they are out of the financial range of the people suing him or he is suing.  He will delay as endlessly as possible the cases and then, if he loses, continue this process by appealing and , if necessary, re-appealing the case.  The Courts and the law have been his tool against people he cheats or wants to punish for whatever reason.  Most legal cases can take a very long time to be resolved.

 

In 2005 the New York State Department of Education sent Trump University a letter stating that they were violating state law by using the word “university” when they were not actually chartered as one and did not have the required license to offer instruction.  The organization promised to stop instructing students.  The New York Attorney General alleged that such instruction continued; Trump University was stalling.  It was not until March of 2010 that they dropped the word “university” and became “The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative/

On August 24, 2013, the State of New York filed a $40 million Civil Suit against Trump University.  They alleged illegal business practices and false claims made by the company.  Trump denied the allegations and claimed a 98% approval rating.  He called New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman “a political hack looking to get publicity.”  Trump filed a complaint alleging that the state Attorney General’s investigation was accompanied by a campaign donation shakedown; the complaint was investigated by a New York ethics committee and dismissed in August 2015.

 

On October 2014 the Court found Trump personally liable for operating the company without the required business license.  The case is still pending.

 

Taria Makaeff had paid nearly $60,000 to Trump University in 2008.  She brought a class action lawsuit against the university on April 30,2010, in the District Court for Southern California, seeking refunds for Makaeff and other former students of Trump University, as well as punitive damages for breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and bad faith.  The suit did not originally name Donald Trump as a defendant, but did so in a later amended complaint.

 

On May 26, 2010, Trump University filed a counterclaim that alleged Makaeff had made defamatory statements about Trump University, “including many completely spurious accusations of actual crimes,” that had caused the school losses of more than $1 million in los tuition.  On June 30, 2010, Makaeff countered that the defamation claim was an attempt to intimidate her.  Makaeff appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three judge panel ruled on April 17, 2013 that Trump University had to show malice on Makaeff’s part to establish defamation.  This returned the case to District Judge Gonzalo P, Curiel, who, on June 16, 2014, ruled in favor of Makaeff and dismissed the defamation claim.  Makaeff then, at the court’s invitation, presented evidence of her legal costs in connection with the defamation litigation.  She asked for $1.3 million.  Judge Curiel, on April 20, 2015, ordered Trump University to reimburse he $798,000 in legal fees and costs.

 

On March 21, 2016, over objections from Trump University attorneys, Judge Curiel allowed Tarla Makaeff to withdraw from the case as head plaintiff, and named Sonny Low to take her place.  The case is coming up in November 2016.

 

On October 18 2011, Art Cohen filed civil lawsuit, “Cohen b Trump,” in the U.S. District Court for Southern California, as a class action on behalf of consumers throughout the United States who purchased services known as “Live Events” from Trump University after January 1, 2007.  It alleged violations of the RICO Statue, being essentially a scheme to defraud.  The suit named Donald Trump as the sole defendant and sought damages, including punitive, and treble damages.  In an order dated October 24, 2014 U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P,. Curiel certified that Cohen had presented enough evidence to allow the lawsuit to proceed.

 

The general council for Trump University stated that the university would appeal the Curiel ruling.  He said it showed a “manifest disregard for the law.”  In October 2015 he stated that Trump would ask Curiel to recuse himself because of his “animosity toward Mr. Trump and his views.”  Trump’s lawyers have not filed any motion to bring this about.  According to legal experts such a motion would lack legal merit and probably be considered frivolous.  This could cause Trump’s lawyer to lose their licenses.

 

On May 27, 2016, Judge Curiel granted a request by the Washington Post for public release of documents that had been filed in the case.  He noted that they were “routine” and many were publically available.  These documents included “playbooks” documenting instructions for employees to use a hard-sell approach, and depositions from former employees of Trump University that stated that the university had defrauded and lied to its students.  This case is scheduled for a hearing on July 22, 2016.  If the result is negative for Trump he will delay the results by appealing the verdict..

 

During campaign speeches, Trump has revealingly called Judge Curiel a “hater.”  He has described him as Mexican or Spanish, even though he was born in New York City just like Donald Trump.  His parents were of Mexican decent unlike Trump whose parents were of German and Scottish decent.  Apparently because of intense Republican criticism from people like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney, Trump has been silent lately about Judge Curiel.

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According to an investigative article in USA Today hundreds of contractors and employees of Trump claim that he doesn’t pay his bills.  Generally with contractors he never makes the final payment claiming that the work is shoddy even though it has been approved by his general contractor.  With employees, like lawyers or ordinary workers, he just doesn’t pay them full for their services.  Interestingly he’s offered many of the contractors to whom he hadn’t given the final payment after the contract was completed, the opportunity to work for him again.  Employees, I suspect, that he’s finished with he sees no reason to pay fully.  In this fashion he has probably saved millions of dollars.  Lawsuits are expensive and take a lot of time; most people of companies can’t afford them; in many cases the lawsuit will cost more that these people or companies are owed by Trump.

 

In the early 1980s, when they were going through a surge of building casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey the Trump Organization constructed the Taj Mahal Resort Casino.  A Philadelphia cabinet maker bid and won a contract to produce the bases for slot machines, registration desks, bars, and other cabinets in the Trump Plaza casino.

 

Bidding is a complicated process: a number companies compete for the contract which goes generally to the lowest bidder.  The contractors have to figure their labor and material costs and come up with a reasonable profit.  If the price is too high he will be outbid.  The only place he can be reasonable is in his profit margin.  The profit margin has to be as small as possible.  The contract won by Edward Friel, Jr. was for $400,000.  Apparently the bid was low, virtually every dollar was needed in payment to make the venture a success for the subcontractor.

There is usually an initial payment, a middle of the job payment, and a final one after the job is completed.  The final payment, in this case, was for $83,000.  It contained the profit and some of the costs of building the bases.  This payment was never made, presumably because of shoddy work, even after approval by the general contractor.  But later Friel was offered the opportunity to bid for additional contracts.  Friel’s lawyer informed him that it would cost over $83,000 to sue for the debt if Trump choose to string the case out.  The cabinet company eventually went under.

 

Atlantic City records indicate that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time.  This also included workers who installed walls, chandeliers, and plumbing.

 

A USA Today Network analysis found that Trump had been involved in over 3,500 lawsuits over the last 30 years.  At least 60 lawsuit, in addition to liens, judgements and other government fillings documents where people have accused him and his business of failing to pay them for their work.  Among these a dishwasher in Florida, a glass company in New Jersey, a carpet company, a plumber, painters, forty-eight waiters, dozens of bartenders, and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs coast to coast.  This includes real estate brokers and even law firms that had represented him in some of these suits and others.  Trump doesn’t discriminate, he stiffs everybody.

 

Trump’s companies have been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005, for failing to pay overtime or the minimum wage.  This includes 21 citations against the now defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the former Trump Mortgage LLC in New York.  Both cases were resolved with back wages being paid.

 

In addition to these cases the review found over 200 mechanics liens that were filed by contractors and employees since 1980, the last 36 years.  The liens ranged from a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, New York air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm.  The number of companies and others alleging he hasn’t paid suggest the wither his companies hire inept workers and contractors, or that Trump businesses renege on contracts, refuse to pay, or consistently attempt  to change payment terms after work is complete.  This is alleged in dozens of court cases.

 

Trump has asserted that the cases were a long time ago.  But even as he campaigns for the presidency new cases are continuing.  In May of 2016Trump Miami Resort Management LLC settled with 48 servers at his Miami golf resort over failing to pay overtime for a special event.  The settlements averaged about $800 for each worker and a $3,000 settlement for one, according to court records.

 

In California and New York, at Trump facilities, hourly workers, bartenders, and waiter staff have sued with a range of allegations from not letting workers take breaks to not passing along tips to servers.  The California cade was settled, the New York one is still pending.

 

The owner of the Paint Spot in South Florida, has been waiting more than two years to get paid for work at Trump’s Doral golf resort.  In May 2016 Trump’s company refused to pay over $30,000 owed for work done.  In courtroom testimony, the manager of the general contractor for the Doral renovation admitted that a decision was made not to pay the Paint Spot because Trump “already paid enough.”  The judge ordered foreclosure of the resort and the proceeds of a sale of the facility be used to pay the money owed.  Trump’s attorneys have since filed a motion to delay the sale.  The Paint Spot still hasn’t been paid.

To be continued next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #157 – Taxes & the American Public & the Negative Income Tax

The United States of America is a Federal Republic with separate state and local governments.  In order to function each of these governments tax, in some or various fashions, the general public.  These include income, payroll, property, sales, excise taxes and capital gains, dividends and interest, import tariffs, estate taxes, and gifts, as well as various fees.  In 2010, for example, the amounts collected by federal, state, and municipal governments amounted to 24.8% of the Gross National Product (GDP).

 

In the United States most taxes are regressive; that is, the less one earns the higher a percentage of their income they pay.  This would include those who earn too little to even pay an income tax.  There are a multitude of taxes: local, state, and federal that everyone pays equally regardless of their income level.  This means that most of these taxes are paid by virtually everyone from the homeless person to the multimillionaire or so-called billionaire like Donald Trump.

 

There are excise taxes on such items as gasoline or tobacco, sales taxes on most purchases, property taxes on homes and business buildings, social security and Medicare taxes that are deducted directly from the business and employees’ wages, unemployment insurance which is deducted from one’s income.  In addition license fees are a form of taxation that allows individuals to practice certain occupations.

 

Taxes fall more heavily on labor income than on capital income.  A larger percentage is taken out of every employees income that out of every employers profits or dividends.

 

If we ask ourselves what is the major economic problem in the United States today, besides the current 5% unemployment rate, the answer we get is the distribution of the National Income.  More and more money keeps going to the upper echelon and less and less of the National Income is being acquired by everyone else.

 

We are the richest country in the history of the world but the distribution of the National Income is such that an ever-growing, percentage of the population is having a harder and harder time surviving.

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If we consider the 2015 tax table for a married couple filing jointly:

 

0 – 18,450         10%

18,451 – 74,900         $1,845 plus 15% of amount over 18,450

74,901 – 151,200       $10,312.50 plus 25% of amount over 74,900

151,200 – 230,450       $29,387.50 plus 28% of amount over 151,200

230,451 – 411,500       $51,577.50 plus 33% of amount over 230,450

411,501 – 464,850       $111,324 plus 35% of amount over 411,500

464,851 – Or more       $129,996.50 plus 39.6% of amount over 464,850

For a single individual you can half the above table and for a head of household drop it down about a quarter.

 

There are, of course, numerous deductions for the number of people in the family and numerous other assorted items. The upper two categories, I suspect, will cover most American taxpayers.  Within the decade or less, as money become less valuable, a larger and larger number of people will slip into the third category.

 

The person earning $18,450 with a family of four is not going to pay any income taxes since the 2016 poverty level for that group is $24,300.  But everyone else with pay 10% of the first $18,450 they earn; then from $18,451 up to $74,900 they pay 15%, and from $74,901 to $151,200 they pay 25%.  This process continues until they reach $464,850, paying the amount in each category until that amount is reached.  Up to this point the income tax has been graduated, the more one earns the higher a percentage of their income they pay.

 

After the last category, $464,851 onwards into the multimillions the amount paid is $129,996.50 plus 39.6% of the income.  This is a regressive income tax favoring the upper percentage of the population. These people’s percentage of income decreases as their earnings increase above the $464,851 mark.  These people pay a far lower percentage of their incomes in taxes than the average citizen.

 

It should be noted that CEOs of fairly large to very large corporations and their leading executives do earn anything from one million dollars a year to one million dollars a month to even one million dollars a week.  The CEO of Hewlett Packer earns 15 million dollars a year.  The current                            CEO of Ford earned 50 million dollars in 2015.  The Bank of America has a CEO, who I imagine can be called the emperor and each section of this international organization has a president for that section of the company.  All of these executives and their leader’s salaries are in the millions of dollars.

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In addition to all this there are two forms of income.  One is regular income which is the only one most people have.  It is taxed as shown above, after deductions are taken out of the total.  The other is passive income.  This is monies earned from investments or increases in value of property.  It could be an apartment house, a home, a piece of art; mostly anything that is owned and increases in value when sold.

 

In addition, specific properties that are rented for profit can legally be depreciated in value over a period of time and any money spent on maintenance of these properties can be deducted from passive income.  Donald Trump, in all probability, pays nothing in income taxes; all his maintenance costs for all his buildings would be deducted from his income leaving him legally and theoretically with no income.

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The major problem that exists today in terms of the distribution of the National Income or Gross National Product is that most people still think of money as they did in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  At that time the worker exchanged his labor for a precious metal, gold or silver coins.  The value of the labor equaled the value of the coins.  The laborer or a member of his family would then exchange the precious metal coins for the goods and services needed to live: housing, food, clothing, medicine when needed, whatever.

 

Today money is paper, printed by each government and coins are copper sandwiches, having token value.  Currency today has no intrinsic value.  It is used as a means of exchanging services for goods and services: housing, food, clothing, medical care when needed, etc.  Money has not been a precious metal since the early 1930s.

 

General thinking and emotions today about currency by most people, particularly the Republicans in Congress, goes back to the 19th and early 20th Centuries.  They still feel that money is basically gold.  Some Congressmen have even, from time to time, mentioned going back on the gold standard.  If this were to be attempted it would cause unbelievable economic disruptions because there isn’t enough gold available to back the amount of business being done either nationally or internationally.  Also gold is currently valued somewhere above $1,200 an ounce.  If the Federal Government were to start buying gold it would quickly shoot up to over $2,000 an ounce.  In 1929 that was a $20 gold one ounce coin.

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How could the distribution of the GDP be done more fairly?  Or can it be done more fairly?

 

About 25 to 30 years ago my wife and I took a vacation in Estes Park, Colorado.  We visited the Rocky Mountain National Park for a week.  While there, I met a gentleman from Holland who was also on vacation.  He and his family were also visiting this site.  Among other things we spoke about unemployment, both in the United States and in Holland, two different political systems, both democracies.  In the U.S. then and today the unemployed person received an inadequate stipend for a matter of 26 full weeks.  It used to be for a slightly shorter period of time.  This is supposed to hold the individual over financially until he/she finds a new job.  In Holland the unemployed person continued to maintain his/her regular standard of living.  The difference being that the unemployed individual could not afford vacations, but otherwise his standard of living would be the same as the other employed individuals.  Both the man I spoke to and his wife worked; it was expensive to come to the U.S. on vacation.

 

There were no negative connotations applied to the unemployed individuals like there often are in the United States.  The entire population of the country took on responsibility for one another.  Anyone, at some time or other, could be unemployed through no fault of their own and everyone was equally responsible for everyone else.

 

They pay heavier taxes than people in similar circumstances in the United States but they get far better coverage.  In addition to far more reasonable unemployment insurance the people of Holland get free medical care, free education through college if they prove capable of going there, plus numerous other services.

 

The difference between the two countries is that the Hollanders take a much more mature attitude than we do in the United States about the welfare of all their citizens.

 

As a footnote it should be noted that today just prior to the 2016 Presidential Election we see large sections in both political parties, demonstrating through their choices of candidates their revulsion at being taken for granted by the powers that be who have been wanting their votes, but have given a goodly percentage of the people very little in return.  This is particularly true of the Republican Party which now seems to be stuck with Donald J. Trump as their presumptive candidate.

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Is there a way to deal with this problem?  The answer is obvious, if Congress and the American people can come to a rational understanding of the function of money and group responsibility.

 

Traditionally the economic formula is:

Demand equals production of goods and services.

There are two factors that determine Demand.  They are the amount of money in the National Income or GDP that is distributed to the general population.  The more money that goes to the top few percent of the population the less there is available for everyone else.  Since most of these excess incomes are invested in old productivity like stocks and bonds they are removed from the general cash flow, decreasing the amount needed for demand, decreasing the level of productivity and consequently, sooner or later, bringing about a recession or even the possibility of a depression.

 

This behavior is a consequence of traditional beliefs and values.  All this, generally speaking, is how the Great Depression came about in 1929 and all the recessions and depressions before and since.  They are based upon the unreal myths about money that most people feel are absolute truths.

 

Is there a way to avoid this continual economic inequality?  A suggestion was first made in England during the 1940s by a British politician named Juliet Rhys-Williams and later also picked up in the U.S. by the free-market economist Milton Friedman.  This was for a negative income tax.

 

The negative income tax (NIT) is a progressive income tax system where people earning below a certain amount receive supplemental pay from the government instead of paying income taxes to the government; that is, every citizen living within the country is guaranteed a certain minimum standard of living.  Just as today there is a poverty level set for everyone living within the country in both rural and urban areas for individual living alone, married couples, married couples with children, and heads of households.

 

This poverty level or slightly above it would probably be the minimum level these individuals or group or families would be guaranteed as their minimu m standard of living.  It would probably be paid weekly.  Those earning more than this level would be paying income taxes according to their level of compensation.  The tax would be graduated so that the more earned the higher the rate of taxation would be.  There would be no cutoff point where the tax stopped being progressive.

 

It should be noted that the current income tax cutoff point of 39.6% of any amount over $$464,850 where the taxes stop being progressive and become regressive.  This limit was incorporated just a few years ago under President Barack Obama by a staunchly Republican majority in the House of Representatives and by a filibustering Republican minority in the U.S. Senate.

 

During World War II, 1944 – 1951 the cutoff point was set at 91%, from 1952 – 1953 it was 92%, during 1954 – 1963 it was 91% again, in 1964 it became 77%, and from 1965 – 1981 it was 70%.  During the Reagan years: 1981 – 1989, the tax rate dropped to 50%.  But during these same years Reagan raised taxes twelve times and took back 50% of his 1982 tax act.  In 1987, under George H.W. Bush they were 38.5%.  In 1991 – 92 they dropped to 31%.  In 1993 they were raised to 39.6%.  In 2001 under George W. Bush in stages the maximum income taxes were dropped to 35%.  Under President Obama they were raised to 39.6%.

 

It should also be noted that inflation raised most persons into tax brackets formerly reserved for the wealthy.  And that income taxes now applies to 2/3 of the nation.

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In a land of free opportunity for all, the income taxes should be high enough to include former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ current goals of free medical care for all, free education from pre-school through college for anyone capable of achieving a degree, and other social programs including eventually a dignified burial.

 

The effects of a negative income tax would create a single system that would fulfill the social goal of making sure that there is a minimum level of incomes for all.  With a NIT the need for a minimu  m wages, food stamps, welfare, possibly social security programs, Medicare, and other government programs could be eliminated.  This would reduce the administration costs to a fraction of what they are currently.  These costs and administration wages could be directly applied to the people receiving the funding.

 

In the 1972 Presidential Elections the Republican candidate, Richard Milhous Nixon ran for a second term.  His Democratic opponent was George McGovern who proposed a guaranteed minimum income for a family of four of $4,000 a year.  Nixon proposed a guaranteed minimum yearly income of $2,500.  While neither of these level was a significant amount they bought a lot more than they do today.

 

Nixon was reelected and his proposal came up in both the Houses of Congress.  What I remember about the debate in both Houses of Congress was the pain in the voices of the legislators.  It was the level of pain that a boor would make if a sow accidentally stepped on his scrotum.  It was, apparently, in the minds of the national lawmakers as though their own money was about to be forcibly taken from them.  The Negative Income Tax was virtually killed before it could be born.

 

But times have changed since the 1970s.  Money, to the government, is a tool that begets productivity.  It is printed by the Federal Government and can be and has been used by the Federal Government to enhance the economy.

 

If we reexamine the formula we considered earlier:

Demand equals production of goods and services or to restate it more simply:  Amount of money available in the economy equals the level of employment.

We can rewrite the formula to also read: Extent of Production of Goods (employment) equals extent of Demand (money available).

 

The amount of the National Income that goes to the majority of the people determines the amount they can spend on the purchase of goods and services.  The more they can spend fulfilling their basic needs and wants the higher the level of employment in the nation.

 

Currently the nation is geared to allow the rich to get richer and for everyone else to have less and less of the GDP or National Income.  The NIT would not only reverse the current process it should also satisfy all the voters who feel they are left out of the system and are supporters of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.  This process could be a way of giving the country back to the general public.

 

There is, after all, just so far a populace can be pushed against its own interests.  Donald Trump has emerged as the floored hero of the exploited blue collar Republicans.  His existence, as the hero or potential candidate of the Republican Party is a national disgrace.  He will not solve the national problems, and were he elected could disrupt the balance of power or safety that now exists in the world by his presumptuous erratic actions and basic beliefs..

 

Bernie Sanders is the Democratic side of the current voter rebellion.  While most people agree with his goals, his methods of achieving them are totally unrealistic.  He wants to make the rich pay for his program by having taxes placed on Wall Street profits.  The term “Wall Street” is an abstraction.  Taxing Wall Street would be taxing all purchases or sales made on the stock market, plus all profits made on capital gains.  It would be an easy way to cause an instant recession or possible depression that would negatively affect everyone in the nation.

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Another factor affecting the money supply in the country is the population.  Every ten years the population of the United States is counted.  The number of the population in each state is needed to allocate seats in the House of Representatives.  The number of members in the House is fixed at 435, but seats are reallocated to each state on the basis of changes in the states’ population.

 

The last official census was taken in 2010, the next one will occur in 2020.  In 2016 the population was estimated at 322,762,018 people.  The country has added 2.4 million people or .77% to the overall population in this year 2016.  It does so every year.

 

In the introduction of virtually every census that is taken the then head of the Census Bureau apologizes for the people who he estimates were not counted.  In 2010 a goodly percent of the homeless in the U.S. were missed, leaving the estimate of the population low.  The probability is that the overall population then was over 350 million people.  Add 246 million people to that number and you’re probably close to today’s population.

 

According to the Census Bureau’s population clock one person is born every 8 seconds; there is one death every 13 seconds; and one immigrant enters the U.S. every 29 seconds.  This gives the population a net gain of one person every 13 seconds.  It’s from these figures that we get an increase of 2½ million people a year or a .77% increase in the general population.  That, incidentally, is higher than the current population of 27 of the 50 states.

 

The issue or problem here is that the money supply in order to stay even has to keep up with the ever growing population.  The FED is the agency that is supposed to deal with this issue by adding currency to the Nation Cash Flow as needed.  The FED can easily do this by using the National Debt and buying back more bonds than it sells.  After all the Federal Government through the FED owns over 50% of its own debt.

 

But banks can also create currency by their lending policy and the banking houses like J.P Morgan-Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, to name just a few, did this through their purchase and sale of home mortgages from the Reagan Administration on to 2008 when their excesses brought about the Real Estate Crash of 2008.  The FED, under Chairman Alan Greenspan, was either not paying attention or was overly conservative in its actions.  Instead from the Reagan Era on to the crash, everything was left to the Free Market.  The Free Market, by the actions of the banks, made all the decisions at that time.  The FED kept its hands off everything until the Federal Government had to step in to avoid a massive depression greater than that of 1929 during the last year of the George W. Bush administration.

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A solution for many of our current economic problems would be the incorporation of the negative income tax into our system.  It probably will take a while for it to become fully incorporated and functioning but it would solve many of the problems that now exist in the United States.  It is time we all took positive responsibility for one another.

 

[BW1]

[BW2] Wage, food stamps, welfare, social security programs, M

[BW3]

The Weiner Component #156 – Fear & the Economic Situation

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starting slowly, probably around the 1970s, the process of splitting real estate loans into a few parts began, and then, with the election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States in 1981, the concept took off on a refined bases, with each real estate mortgage being broken into innumerable parts and having each piece put into a different hedge fund and sold as a safe investment. It was considered safe because any single or few losses on any one of these hedge funds would be so small that it wouldn’t be noticeable and would not really affect the amount of the dividend.

 

Two things occurred from the 1980s on: one was the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency of the United States and the imposition of a total Free Market Economy and the other was an incessant need in the general society for a much greater cash flow.  We were in a period where there was not enough money available to serve the overall needs of the population.  More cash was needed for the economy to function.

 

The agency of Federal Government that was supposed to be keeping track of this problem and monetarily serving the needs of the nation was the Federal Reserve.  It’s Chairman from 1987 to 2006, Alan Greenspan, like the President believed in a totally Free Market that would automatically adjust itself.  Consequently he and the FED did nothing to alleviate the problem. 

 

This in turn left the need prevalent and either purposefully or inadvertently it was picked up by the banks which were also deregulated by the Reagan administration.  They, at first, gradually and then, with ever increasing speed, using real estate as their base, picked up the speed of creating new value or money throughout the society.  This was to continue through late 2008 when the banks had far     exceeded the amount of money needed for the society to properly function and the Great Real Estate Crash occurred.

 

What happened was that the banks, by their lending policies from the 1980s until late 2008, over 28 years, created trillions of dollars of additional value based upon the public housing industry within the United States.  In addition deregulation also allowed them to freely invest their deposits into the agencies or funds that directly serviced this expansion.

 

By 2007 most bankers were aware that property values had far exceeded a sane level and that a crash was probable.  But by 2007 most of the bankers had been making high commissions on the property market for most, if not all, of their banking careers; they were in denial that conditions could ever change. 

 

The Real Estate Market crashed or the Real Estate Bubble burst in late 2008 under President George W. Bush.  Virtually overnight the economy of the United States went into an instant depression.  There was suddenly mass unemployment, many people owed more on their homes than they were then worth.  Some people just walked away from their homes, others stayed, the hedge funds, which many or the deregulated banks had also invested in, collapsed from non-payment on mortgages.  Bush and his Treasury Secretary bailed out some of the banks; then his term ended and Barack Obama became the next President of the United States.

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Barack Obama would spend his eight years in office dealing with this mess.  For his first two years he had a Democratic Congress and their full support.  From 2011 on the House of Representatives gained a Republican majority and thereafter passed no legislation that dealt with the economic emergency.  In fact they passed economizing laws that actually increased the disaster.  President Barack Obama and the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, using Creative Monetary Policy were able to change the depression into a recession.  The country is still dealing with this problem that the House of Representatives refused to deal with.

 

Conditions have improved.  Unemployment is now at about 5%, a long way from the initial 12½%  The Republicans still have done nothing to improve conditions, instead they have actually worsened them.  They are a great political party for complaining and blaming.  But what they are blaming President Obama for, is mainly for what they, themselves, have not done, passing fiscal laws creating jobs and upgrading the infrastructure.

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In 2008, the year of the Real Estate Crash, the Gross Domestic Product   was at 800 trillion dollars.  In 2009 it dropped to 700 trillion dollars.  By 2010 it was slightly above where it had been the year before.  By 2015 it was in the area of 17.95 trillion dollars.

 

Keep in mind that the GDP refers to the market value of all goods and services produced within the country during the fiscal year.  Interestingly the United States is now ranking first in the world’s GDP level.  That makes it, even now with 5% unemployment, the world’s richest nation.

 

If, as we’ve seen in the GDP, the overall wealth within the United States was continually increasing by 2010 above the 2008 Real Estate Crash level then why was the U.S. up to 12 ½% unemployment?  The answer, of course, comes into the area of spending priorities mostly by the United States Government and the overall population.

 

Congress, from 2011 on, with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, was on an economizing bilge. The country underwent and is continuing to undergo Sequestration, spending cuts across the board in virtually every area.  The President, on the other hand, particularly in 2009 and 2010 underwent expansive spending programs to avoid a depression greater than that of 1929.  Basically what started from 2011 on was a redistribution of income, with gradually more and more money going to the upper echelon of society and less and less being available for the middle and lower classes, these amounts increasing yearly.

 

In 2009 and 2010 the Obama Administration spent inordinate amounts of money extending unemployment benefits, saving the American banking and auto industries, among other things.  From 2011 on gradually most of these programs ended and government began a struggle between the House of Representatives and the President.  In 2013 we had both Sequestration and a shutdown of the Federal Government from October 1 through October 16, 2013, for 15 days.  The shutdown was over the issue of government funding for Planned Parenthood in the 2014 funding bill.  The Republican House of Representatives attempted to force its will upon the President and the Democratic led Senate.  The President and Democratic Senate would not cooperate with the Republican led House of Representatives.  In many cases Congress has refused, or through different Republican disagreements, has been unable to act.

 

The positive movement that had occurred in the economy, turning a potential Great Depression into a Great slow-moving Recession came about through Creative Monetary Policy, government spending policy, by the Federal Reserve with the compliance of the President.  In essence it’s been a battle between the President and the Republican House of Representatives, with the administration slowly winning since national unemployment is today in the area of 5%.

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The question that arises: if the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) today is greater than it was in the period prior to the 2008 Real Estate Crash then why is the middle class in the United States continually shrinking and why are more and more people continually having a harder and harder time economically surviving?  The answer to that questions is that the National Income is like a balloon filled with helium, slowly and continually rising and becoming part of the incomes of the top few percentile, the upper 5 or so percent of the population.

 

In essence the rich are getting richer and everyone else has less money.  It would seem that the society is geared so that the rich pay a lower percentage of their incomes in taxes than everyone else does.  For example: Donald J. Trump, who is running for the presidency in 2016 as the Republican candidate, has refused to show his tax returns for any prior year.  Trump claims to have over ten billion dollars.  The probability is that he is not showing his income taxes because he doesn’t pay any of these taxes.  Being in real estate he would have endless write-offs and building depreciations.

 

But it isn’t just people in real estate who have these tax advantages, it’s anyone who earns over $464,850.  The income tax system is graduated up to that point; that is the more one earns, the higher a percentage of his/her income he/she pays in taxes.  Anyone earning over $464,850 pays the same rate as those earning that amount.  A person earning a million dollars or 25 million a year pay the same percentage of the incomes as the person earning the above figure.

 

While the number of individuals is not large compared to the overall population of 350 million people, yet the taxation system is rigged in favor of the very rich.  The more they earn over $464,850 the smaller a percentage of their income do they pay in taxes.

 

This change or decrease in taxes was brought about during the last five years of the Obama administration.  The Republicans actually lowered taxes for the very rich.  The Democrats were forced to go along with this in order to pass other similar required legislation.

 

The Republican argument for this action is that the rich need more money because they are the ones who invest in new industry.  Without them there would be no growth in the economy.

 

This argument that has been endlessly repeated over the years sounds wonderful.  But it is a myth.  It has never happened.  The rich invest their surplus incomes in old established industries that pay a set reasonable income or they, like Mitt Romney, bank some of it overseas where somehow they pay no taxes on the interest received.

 

Taxes are geared so the less an individual earns the higher a percentage of his/her income is paid in taxes.

 

The United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world.  Yet its unequal taxation system taxes the poor and middle class far more than the wealthy, they pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes.  It also has an underclass that is so poor they live in the streets and even though these people pay no income tax they also pay a higher percentage of their incomes in other taxes than the rich.  The national distribution of income is today a farce.  Someone like Warren Buffet has remarked that it’s a strange situation where he pays a smaller percentage of his income in taxes than his secretary.

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In 2016, the year of the next Presidential Election, this created a strange phenomenon within both political parties within the nation.  Currently there is a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress.  Very little if any needed legislation is being passed.  This situation has existed since 2011 when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives.  In both major political parties there are large numbers of people who are totally frustrated with their Federal Government.  Many of whom are not overly well educated or generally too busy with their lives to follow what is actually happening in Washington D.C.  Their knowledge of the government is what they’re told by the news media, which can be tilted to the right or the left by which channel they are watching.  This doesn’t really answer their questions or needs. 

 

What exists today are large segments of the population which are looking for easy answers to what seems impossible questions or problems.  They want a simplistic solution which, in essence, is a return to a past which never existed.  They want a simplistic solution to their economic problems, to bring the manufacturing jobs back to the United States and allow people to earn more money so they will no longer be economically stressed out.  Whether this is real or not is beside the point; there is a strong desire among many for a simplistic change within the society.

 

For the Republicans the person who will do this is Donald J. Trump.  He claims that he will force the companies that have moved their manufacturing overseas or to Mexico to bring these jobs back to the U.S.  In addition he will get rid of all illegal foreigners in the U.S. and lessen competition so that there will be jobs available for everyone who wants to work.  He will also make the U.S. safer by not allowing alien radicals to migrate to the U.S. and keep Mexicans out of the country by building a wall between the United States and Mexico.  And so on.  He will bring us to a golden age that never existed in the U.S.

 

In essence Trump is feeding on all the basic prejudices and fears that seem to still exist in this country.  He is opposed to Mexicans, Hispanics, Muslims, Syrians, Blacks, Women having a right to deal with their own bodies, and the list goes on.  Trump has promised to take us all to-never-never land if he becomes president.  He seems to open up all the hidden prejudices in a large percentage of his followers.  He has also increased bullying among the children of his followers.

 

For the Democrats there is Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democratic Socialist.  Over a year ago he changed his party registration from an Independent Socialist who always caucused with the Democratic Party to a Democrat.  Sanders now calls himself a Democratic Socialist.  This has enabled him to run as a Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2016.

 

I strongly suspect that Bernie Sanders initially expected to run as a protest candidate with no chance of winning.  However he inadvertently tapped into the younger generation of voter; those who had been too young to vote in prior Presidential Elections.  To these people and the others who have joined them he offers a utopian future. Free education from pre-school through college and free medical coverage for everyone.  He supports abortion rights and a more liberal drug policy.  He believes in gun control, immigration reform, LGBT rights, expanding social security, and tax reform.  Among other things he has stated: “We need to get big money out of politics and restore our democracy,” and “Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity.”

 

He has also brought large numbers of Independents and some older Democrats to his cause.  His campaign took off like a rocket shooting upward and Bernie could almost taste victory.  But he never quite caught up with his competition, Hillary Clinton. 

 

He is promising a new society with benefits for everyone.  And all this will be paid for by the rich who have up to this point exploited their position in society.  The image is wonderful but the reality doesn’t exist.

 

I suspect that the majority of the population agrees with most of if not all of Senator Bernie Sander’s goals.  But they would have to be paid for if they were to be put into laws.  And his solution to this is rather naïve.  He says he would put a tax on Wall Street’s excess profits.  Traditionally in United States history, going as far back as the Revolutionary War from 1776 on the practice has been to make someone else pay for what you want.  The Southern planters owed millions to English merchants which they never paid after the Revolutionary War.  Afterwards Daniel Shay, a Revolutionary War veteran, led Shay’s Rebellion where the inland farmers refused to pay taxes that were brought into being by the Tidewater merchants in the coastal cities.  In recent years there was an attempt on the California side of Lake Tahoe to tax the Time Share facilities to pay for the public schools in the region; it failed.  It’s always nice to get someone else to pay for what is needed or wanted but generally it doesn’t work.

 

The term Wall Street is an abstraction; it has no specific meaning.  Are they talking about the banks or the large commercial corporations, or any company that sells stock?  An excess tax on the sale or purchase of stock or company profits would bring about economic disaster.  A tax on profits already exists, increasing it could destroy incentive.  Senator Bernie Sanders funding solution sounds just but it is nonsense.

 

Hillary Clinton is much more pragmatic.  The very existence of Senator Bernie Sanders has pushed her farther to the left in her own position.  She may be able to achieve many of Bernie’s goals which he should be able to get into the 2016 Democratic Platform. 

 

Sanders, on the other hand, as President would face endless frustration, even if he were to get Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress, which is a low probability.  In all likelihood the House of Representatives will retain its Republican majority.  And even if Senator Bernie Sanders were to get an all Democratic Congress he would still have trouble both passing and funding his program.

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In the early 1800s England began the Industrial Revolution in the cotton industry.  Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin which allowed the cotton plant to be quickly separated from it many seeds.  Machinery was developed for spinning the cotton plant into thread and machinery was also invented for weaving the thread into cotton cloth.  Overnight spinners and weavers became obsolete, their occupation ceased to exist.  Some became luddites, breaking into factories and destroying the new machines in an attempt to bring back the past when they had a functioning occupation.

  

 Even if Trump, by some strange miracle, were to get elected the probability is that the results of the 2016 Presidential Election would leave a number of people totally dissatisfied  with the changes that don’t seem to be happening,  You can’t bring back the past, real or otherwise. 

 

Can conditions be improved?  Jobs are available in the United States.  The problem is that they require training and mobility.  It now requires a trained skilled employee for the jobs that pay a decent wage.  For those who refuse to undergo any training or move to where these jobs exist there are public sector occupations that do not pay much but that take almost no skills to do.

English: Seal of the President of the United S...

English: Seal of the President of the United States Español: Escudo del Presidente de los Estados Unidos Македонски: Печат на Претседателот на Соединетите Американски Држави. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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The Weiner Component #155 – The 2016 Republican Candidate Race for the Presidency

Will Donald J. Trump be the 2016 Republican candidate for the presidency?  An interesting question, with a current high probability.  He now considers himself the presumptive nominee.  Both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the race.  There is no other running officially for that position now except Donald J. Trump.

 

The National Republican Chairman of the political party, Reince Priebus has jumped aboard the Trump bandwagon; he now sees Donald as the future 2016 candidate and backs Trump as the presumptive president.  In essence he is betting that Trump will be the candidate or his career as National Republican Chairman may evaporate as his predecessor’s did.  In fact most Republicans who are making the same bet are making the same assumption.  And it seems that almost every day more and more Republicans are supporting Trump.  Even Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, now supports him.

 

Presumably most of the evangelicals, faced with the question: Trump or Clinton, reluctantly support Donald.  Evangelicals apparently like people who are, for one reason or another, converted to their way of thinking.  Trump currently being against abortion is the sugar that presently makes him palatable to the evangelicals over what would be otherwise totally indigestible.

 

Will he remain with that point of view?  Another good question.  In many instances Trump changes his prospective as often as the weather changes.  It is currently to his advantage to hold this stance.

 

More and more reluctant Republicans are climbing aboard his bandwagon daily.  Will he get the support of the entire Republican Party throughout all 50 states?  Still another good question.  The answer is most likely negative.  Mitt Romney is totally against a Trump candidacy.  And so it would seem are the former living Republican Presidents.

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Donald seems to have modified some of his hard-rock statements by saying that they were suggestions, not demands that he would make as President.  But Donald doesn’t seem able to control his big mouth.  He keeps coming out with non-presidential statements.  For example he recently stated that he has “no doubt” that Syrian refugees will stage a 9/11 attack upon the United States.  His evidence for this statement is the supposed fact that numerous Syrian refugees have cell phones.

 

This is a recurrent theme with him.  In December of 2015 Donald referred to “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.”  The probability is that this information originated with a Norwegian news report that authorities had found images and videos of ISIS flags, executions, dead children, and acts of torture on the phones of some refugees entering Norway.  A Norwegian official also pointed out that the presence of these images did not mean a cell phone owner was a terrorist.  The photographs could have been taken by someone who had lived in or passed through an ISIS controlled war zone, which a great many Syrian refugees had done moving Westward.  The single news report was strongly promoted in the right-wing media and on conspiracy sites, both foreign and local.

 

This source was a single incident that was touted throughout the right wing.  Trump translated it into “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.”  At a campaign event in Arizona after the debate there Donald wondered aloud for the crowd, why the people in the migration have cell phones?  Who are they calling?  Where do they get the cell phones?  Who’s paying their monthly bills?  How come they have cell phones?  Of course, not everyone has monthly bills because they use a prepaid SIM card, both inside and outside the United States.

 

It seems that in his heart Trump knows that all these multi-thousands of people are all preparing for a 9/11 activity shortly after they reach the U.S.  Of course the fact that all immigrants, refugees and otherwise, are carefully screened by the government before they are allowed to enter the United States is beside the point.  It amazing how much Trump knows instinctively without bothering to check the actual situation.

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While Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the Republican primary race their names are still on the ballots in those states currently holding primary elections.  In the March 17th race in Oregon Trump came out way ahead.  He still hasn’t reached the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the support of the Republican Party.  There are still enough primary elections left so that he should easily achieve this sometime in June.

 

Apparently there is still a possibility that Donald, even if he achieves the support of 1,237 delegates will not achieve the support of 1,237 delegates.  Keep in mind that the rules for the 2016 Republican Presidential Convention will not be established until they meet in Cleveland in July and vote on the rules for 2016.  That will be one of the first orders of business.  The Rules Committee will have met the week before the Convention convenes and will present their version of the rules for 2016 which the Convention will then vote into existence.

 

Traditionally or as a safety valve the Rules Committee has held that the only nominating votes that count are those of closed primaries.  Caucuses and open primaries, where anyone, independent or otherwise can vote for a candidate do not count.  This could conceivably be part of the rules; it has been so in the past; and it would not be out of line if it were.  Will the Convention have with the number of delegates who would support this sort of move or not is still another interesting question?

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Trump repeatedly lies, prefabricates, or/and exaggerates.  Take your pick.  He is narcissistic, a megalomaniac, totally into himself, and his wonderfulness. He seems to never listen to what anyone says, just  to their tone and attitude toward himself.  He may be well educated in real estate but he’s not in other areas.  He has demonstrated an ignorance of the functioning of the Federal Government, of U.S. foreign affairs, and of basic economics.  His concept of running the country seems to go back to the 1930s when the various nations engaged in high tariffs and isolation.

 

Donald makes outlandish statements such as he watched Muslim’s cheer as the World Center collapsed or his charge that the Mexican government deliberately sends criminals across the border into the U.S.  In point of fact he lies about everything, large or small.  Ted Cruz’s comment that he is a “pathological liar” may not be far off the mark.  The fact-checking website Politifact awarded Donald the “Lie of the Year” award for 2015 as the biggest liar in the United States.

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What I find fascinating is an article that appeared in the Monday, May 16th edition of the Los Angeles Times entitled: “GOP reformers hope for defeat.”  There seems to be a goodly number of Republicans who still can’t stomach Donald Trump and they are also not particularly happy with what has happened to the Republican Party.  They see Donald Trump’s emergence as the standard bearer as an opportunity to remake the Republican Party that has lost the last five of the six presidential elections.  They see a presidential loss in 2016 as begetting a victory in 2020.

 

The schism in the Republican Party over Trump’s likely nomination has split conservatives into several groups.  Some believe that Trump will be a populist aberration, whose loss will bring about a more traditional brand of conservatism.  Others expect him to win in November and change the GOP.  Still others feel that Trump will lose badly in November but his success in the primaries means that the Republicans cannot go back to the previous status quo.  These victories demonstrate a need for a complete updating of the party’s ideology to appeal directly to its increasing blue collar base.

 

Many believe that a big Trump loss would bring about a thorough debate about present party values and possibly fundamental changes in the party.  Some argue that an oblique vision of Ronald Reagan has stunted the party’s ability to forge a 21st Century agenda and a loss can bring about a complete revitalization of the party.

 

It has become clear that the old Republican agenda has lost touch with the electorate; it no longer even moves Republicans; it has become an abstraction which has essentially hindered any progress even with Republican control of both Houses of Congress.

 

Trump’s dominance in the primaries has frustrated many conservative intellectuals.  Many traditional Republicans worry that a Trump victory or a close loss to Hillary Clinton would tighten his hold on the party.  They criticize him for inflammatory rhetoric, a lack of substance, and a lack of a conservative core.  Yet the conservative majority in Congress still seems to be carrying on business as usual totally oblivious of any of the needs of their conservative base.

 

Republican reformers have called upon the party to broaden its agenda even as it keeps its positions on trade, taxes, and smaller government.  They feel the party has not worked hard enough to push serious conservative solutions to the problems that concern middle class suburban voters such as college affordability, middle class wage stagnation, and healthcare costs.

 

After Romney’s loss in 2012 Republicans tried to alter their message.  Party leaders drafted a detailed postmortem.  It called on Republicans to reengage younger and minority voters, pass an immigration overhaul, and ramp down rhetoric about immigrants.  The party failed to do any of these things.  Trump has capitalized on GOP voters’ anger at the party ineptness.  Will another defeat bring about party reform?  It would seem that many GOP reformers hope so.

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Even though Donald Trump has so far during his presidential campaign managed to alienate numerous groups within the society like women, Hispanics, Syrian refugees, other immigrants, the physically handicapped and numerous others he, the presumptive Republican candidate, has stated that he plans to rehabilitate his battered image by publicly addressing some of the most controversial episodes of his campaign.  He will present himself as a really nice guy.  His strategy is to show that he is nothing like the monster he believes his political adversaries and the media have portrayed him as being.  A pro-Clinton super PAC is currently assailing Trump as dangerous and divisive.

 

As a first step he sat down for a television special with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly with whom he has feuded for ten months, since the first Republican Presidential Debate.  It was a pleasant meeting of the two and presumably demonstrated his warm regard for women.  In an interview with the Washington Post he gave a five minute soliloquy explaining himself for making wild arm and hand gestures in November of 2015 to discredit New York Times reporter serge Kovaleski.  The act was widely seen as mocking the journalist’s physical disability.  “I would never say anything bad about a person that has a disability,” Trump said.  “I’ve spent a lot of money making buildings accessible.”

 

Hillary Clinton has commented that, “As he goes after women, as he goes after literally every group, I’m going to be their voice.”  Trump plans to counter the attacks personally during a series of rallies and media appearances.  He will highlight, among other things, his firm’s history of hiring women for senior positions.  Trump is convinced that his political image is fluid and can be easily repaired.

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Donald Trump has stated in an interview with the Associated Press that he plans to win the White House largely on the strength of his personality.  He has largely discarded the need for a heavy investment in what he calls the “overrated” use of data to shape his campaign strategy and get out the vote.  It seems that Donald will flout all conventions or what professionals consider necessary to win a presidential campaign.

 

Actually the campaign will give priority to data and digital operations.  It will tap the resources of the Republican National Committee.  In his interview, Trump discounted the value of data stating that the “candidate is by far the most important thing.”  He plans a limited use of data in his general election campaign.

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Could Donald Trump become President of the United States?  It is within the realm of possibility.  What would happen if it were to come about?

 

On Sunday, May 15, 2016, President Barack Obama at his commencement speech At Rutgers University in New Jersey, without once directly mentioning Trump’s name, to cast his positions on immigration, trade, and Muslims as part of an ignorance and isolation philosophy that will lead the U.S. down the path of decline.

 

Time and again the president invoked specific Trump policies to denounce or rejecting facts, science, and intellectualism that he saw was prevailing politics.

 

“In politics and in life ignorance is not a virtue.  It is not cool to not know what you’re talking about.  That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is.  That’s not challenging political correctness.  That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.”

 

Trump has emphasized the profound concerns of many Americans who feel left behind by the modern global economy.  He has called for keeping Muslim immigrants out of the U.S., gutting Obama’s trade deals with Asia and Europe, and cracking down on immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

 

President Obama further stated that the pace of change on the planet is accelerating, not subsiding.  He stated that recent history had proved that the toughest challenges cannot be solved by isolation.

 

“A wall won’t stop that,” he said, referring to Trump’s proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.  “The point is, to help ourselves, we’ve got to help others – not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out.”

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The Republicans face a massive dilemma.  If they were to win the Presidential Election with Trump the party could conceivably cease to exist as they know it.  They could see the United States following Trump’s “America First” policy going into a phase of isolation from both friends and enemies that would make the world less safe for everybody.

 

If, on the other hand, they lose the Presidential Election they could conceivably recast their party with both their traditional values and the present day needs.  On the third hand, if they lose the Presidential Election they could remain as they are with different groups of conservatives, controlling, at least, one House of Congress.  If this happens the country could continue to face the gridlock we’ve had under President Obama, a Democratic President and a Republican House of Representatives.

 

Again it should be mentioned that after Mitt Romney lost the Presidential in 2012 many in the Republican leadership wanted to broaden their party base to bring in many of the young and disaffected.  These plans went nowhere.

 

The future doesn’t look rosy, no matter what happens.

The Weiner Component #155 – The 2016 Republican Candidate Race for the Presidency

Will Donald J. Trump be the 2016 Republican candidate for the presidency? An interesting question, with a current high probability. He now considers himself the presumptive nominee. Both Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the race. There is no other running officially for that position now except Donald J. Trump.

The National Republican Chairman of the political party, Reince Priebus has jumped aboard the Trump bandwagon; he now sees Donald as the future 2016 candidate and backs Trump as the presumptive president. In essence he is betting that Trump will be the candidate or his career as National Republican Chairman may evaporate as his predecessor’s did. In fact most Republicans who are making the same bet are making the same assumption. And it seems that almost every day more and more Republicans are supporting Trump. Even Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, now supports him.

Presumably most of the evangelicals, faced with the question: Trump or Clinton, reluctantly support Donald. Evangelicals apparently like people who are, for one reason or another, converted to their way of thinking. Trump currently being against abortion is the sugar that presently makes him palatable to the evangelicals over what would be otherwise totally indigestible.

Will he remain with that point of view? Another good question. In many instances Trump changes his prospective as often as the weather changes. It is currently to his advantage to hold this stance.

More and more reluctant Republicans are climbing aboard his bandwagon daily. Will he get the support of the entire Republican Party throughout all 50 states? Still another good question. The answer is most likely negative. Mitt Romney is totally against a Trump candidacy. And so it would seem are the former living Republican Presidents.
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Donald seems to have modified some of his hard-rock statements by saying that they were suggestions, not demands that he would make as President. But Donald doesn’t seem able to control his big mouth. He keeps coming out with non-presidential statements. For example he recently stated that he has “no doubt” that Syrian refugees will stage a 9/11 attack upon the United States. His evidence for this statement is the supposed fact that numerous Syrian refugees have cell phones.

This is a recurrent theme with him. In December of 2015 Donald referred to “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.” The probability is that this information originated with a Norwegian news report that authorities had found images and videos of ISIS flags, executions, dead children, and acts of torture on the phones of some refugees entering Norway. A Norwegian official also pointed out that the presence of these images did not mean a cell phone owner was a terrorist. The photographs could have been taken by someone who had lived in or passed through an ISIS controlled war zone, which a great many Syrian refugees had done moving Westward. The single news report was strongly promoted in the right-wing media and on conspiracy sites, both foreign and local.

This source was a single incident that was touted throughout the right wing. Trump translated it into “tens of thousands of people having cell phones with ISIS flags on them.” At a campaign event in Arizona after the debate there Donald wondered aloud for the crowd, why the people in the migration have cell phones? Who are they calling? Where do they get the cell phones? Who’s paying their monthly bills? How come they have cell phones? Of course, not everyone has monthly bills because they use a prepaid SIM card, both inside and outside the United States.

It seems that in his heart Trump knows that all these multi-thousands of people are all preparing for a 9/11 activity shortly after they reach the U.S. Of course the fact that all immigrants, refugees and otherwise, are carefully screened by the government before they are allowed to enter the United States is beside the point. It amazing how much Trump knows instinctively without bothering to check the actual situation.
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While Ted Cruz and John Kasich have dropped out of the Republican primary race their names are still on the ballots in those states currently holding primary elections. In the March 17th race in Oregon Trump came out way ahead. He still hasn’t reached the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the support of the Republican Party. There are still enough primary elections left so that he should easily achieve this sometime in June.

Apparently there is still a possibility that Donald, even if he achieves the support of 1,237 delegates will not achieve the support of 1,237 delegates. Keep in mind that the rules for the 2016 Republican Presidential Convention will not be established until they meet in Cleveland in July and vote on the rules for 2016. That will be one of the first orders of business. The Rules Committee will have met the week before the Convention convenes and will present their version of the rules for 2016 which the Convention will then vote into existence.

Traditionally or as a safety valve the Rules Committee has held that the only nominating votes that count are those of closed primaries. Caucuses and open primaries, where anyone, independent or otherwise can vote for a candidate do not count. This could conceivably be part of the rules; it has been so in the past; and it would not be out of line if it were. Will the Convention have with the number of delegates who would support this sort of move or not is still another interesting question?
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Trump repeatedly lies, prefabricates, or/and exaggerates. Take your pick. He is narcissistic, a megalomaniac, totally into himself, and his wonderfulness. He seems to never listen to what anyone says, just to their tone and attitude toward himself. He may be well educated in real estate but he’s not in other areas. He has demonstrated an ignorance of the functioning of the Federal Government, of U.S. foreign affairs, and of basic economics. His concept of running the country seems to go back to the 1930s when the various nations engaged in high tariffs and isolation.

Donald makes outlandish statements such as he watched Muslim’s cheer as the World Center collapsed or his charge that the Mexican government deliberately sends criminals across the border into the U.S. In point of fact he lies about everything, large or small. Ted Cruz’s comment that he is a “pathological liar” may not be far off the mark. The fact-checking website Politifact awarded Donald the “Lie of the Year” award for 2015 as the biggest liar in the United States.
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What I find fascinating is an article that appeared in the Monday, May 16th edition of the Los Angeles Times entitled: “GOP reformers hope for defeat.” There seems to be a goodly number of Republicans who still can’t stomach Donald Trump and they are also not particularly happy with what has happened to the Republican Party. They see Donald Trump’s emergence as the standard bearer as an opportunity to remake the Republican Party that has lost the last five of the six presidential elections. They see a presidential loss in 2016 as begetting a victory in 2020.

The schism in the Republican Party over Trump’s likely nomination has split conservatives into several groups. Some believe that Trump will be a populist aberration, whose loss will bring about a more traditional brand of conservatism. Others expect him to win in November and change the GOP. Still others feel that Trump will lose badly in November but his success in the primaries means that the Republicans cannot go back to the previous status quo. These victories demonstrate a need for a complete updating of the party’s ideology to appeal directly to its increasing blue collar base.

Many believe that a big Trump loss would bring about a thorough debate about present party values and possibly fundamental changes in the party. Some argue that an oblique vision of Ronald Reagan has stunted the party’s ability to forge a 21st Century agenda and a loss can bring about a complete revitalization of the party.

It has become clear that the old Republican agenda has lost touch with the electorate; it no longer even moves Republicans; it has become an abstraction which has essentially hindered any progress even with Republican control of both Houses of Congress.

Trump’s dominance in the primaries has frustrated many conservative intellectuals. Many traditional Republicans worry that a Trump victory or a close loss to Hillary Clinton would tighten his hold on the party. They criticize him for inflammatory rhetoric, a lack of substance, and a lack of a conservative core. Yet the conservative majority in Congress still seems to be carrying on business as usual totally oblivious of any of the needs of their conservative base.

Republican reformers have called upon the party to broaden its agenda even as it keeps its positions on trade, taxes, and smaller government. They feel the party has not worked hard enough to push serious conservative solutions to the problems that concern middle class suburban voters such as college affordability, middle class wage stagnation, and healthcare costs.

After Romney’s loss in 2012 Republicans tried to alter their message. Party leaders drafted a detailed postmortem. It called on Republicans to reengage younger and minority voters, pass an immigration overhaul, and ramp down rhetoric about immigrants. The party failed to do any of these things. Trump has capitalized on GOP voters’ anger at the party ineptness. Will another defeat bring about party reform? It would seem that many GOP reformers hope so.
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Even though Donald Trump has so far during his presidential campaign managed to alienate numerous groups within the society like women, Hispanics, Syrian refugees, other immigrants, the physically handicapped and numerous others he, the presumptive Republican candidate, has stated that he plans to rehabilitate his battered image by publicly addressing some of the most controversial episodes of his campaign. He will present himself as a really nice guy. His strategy is to show that he is nothing like the monster he believes his political adversaries and the media have portrayed him as being. A pro-Clinton super PAC is currently assailing Trump as dangerous and divisive.

As a first step he sat down for a television special with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly with whom he has feuded for ten months, since the first Republican Presidential Debate. It was a pleasant meeting of the two and presumably demonstrated his warm regard for women. In an interview with the Washington Post he gave a five minute soliloquy explaining himself for making wild arm and hand gestures in November of 2015 to discredit New York Times reporter serge Kovaleski. The act was widely seen as mocking the journalist’s physical disability. “I would never say anything bad about a person that has a disability,” Trump said. “I’ve spent a lot of money making buildings accessible.”

Hillary Clinton has commented that, “As he goes after women, as he goes after literally every group, I’m going to be their voice.” Trump plans to counter the attacks personally during a series of rallies and media appearances. He will highlight, among other things, his firm’s history of hiring women for senior positions. Trump is convinced that his political image is fluid and can be easily repaired.
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Donald Trump has stated in an interview with the Associated Press that he plans to win the White House largely on the strength of his personality. He has largely discarded the need for a heavy investment in what he calls the “overrated” use of data to shape his campaign strategy and get out the vote. It seems that Donald will flout all conventions or what professionals consider necessary to win a presidential campaign.

Actually the campaign will give priority to data and digital operations. It will tap the resources of the Republican National Committee. In his interview, Trump discounted the value of data stating that the “candidate is by far the most important thing.” He plans a limited use of data in his general election campaign.
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Could Donald Trump become President of the United States? It is within the realm of possibility. What would happen if it were to come about?

On Sunday, May 15, 2016, President Barack Obama at his commencement speech At Rutgers University in New Jersey, without once directly mentioning Trump’s name, to cast his positions on immigration, trade, and Muslims as part of an ignorance and isolation philosophy that will lead the U.S. down the path of decline.

Time and again the president invoked specific Trump policies to denounce or rejecting facts, science, and intellectualism that he saw was prevailing politics.

“In politics and in life ignorance is not a virtue. It is not cool to not know what you’re talking about. That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is. That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you’re talking about.”

Trump has emphasized the profound concerns of many Americans who feel left behind by the modern global economy. He has called for keeping Muslim immigrants out of the U.S., gutting Obama’s trade deals with Asia and Europe, and cracking down on immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

President Obama further stated that the pace of change on the planet is accelerating, not subsiding. He stated that recent history had proved that the toughest challenges cannot be solved by isolation.

“A wall won’t stop that,” he said, referring to Trump’s proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. “The point is, to help ourselves, we’ve got to help others – not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out.”
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The Republicans face a massive dilemma. If they were to win the Presidential Election with Trump the party could conceivably cease to exist as they know it. They could see the United States following Trump’s “America First” policy going into a phase of isolation from both friends and enemies that would make the world less safe for everybody.

If, on the other hand, they lose the Presidential Election they could conceivably recast their party with both their traditional values and the present day needs. On the third hand, if they lose the Presidential Election they could remain as they are with different groups of conservatives, controlling, at least, one House of Congress. If this happens the country could continue to face the gridlock we’ve had under President Obama, a Democratic President and a Republican House of Representatives.

Again it should be mentioned that after Mitt Romney lost the Presidential in 2012 many in the Republican leadership wanted to broaden their party base to bring in many of the young and disaffected. These plans went nowhere.

The future doesn’t look rosy, no matter what happens.

The Weiner Component #154 – President Obama & the Republican Party

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Traditionally the Republicans stand for smaller government and the Democrats for a system responsible for the welfare of it citizens.  This means that the Republicans want more individual freedom and choice for the citizens, including the right to starve or go without proper medical care through a lack of funds.  The Democrats are more socially responsible and feel a need to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.

 

Perhaps one of the most ardent Republicans was President Ronald Reagan who continually talked about “government being the problem.”  He voiced a desire for less government but left Washington at the end of his two terms in office with a far larger government than that with which he had begun eight years earlier.

 

In line with their desire to lower federal costs and weaken or do away with Obamacare, which was based upon a Republican model, the Republicans have recently won a pyrrhic victory against the 2010 law, Affordable Health Care.  Around May 12, 2016 a Federal Judge, initially appointed by a Republican President, found the practice of the Federal Government of helping to subsidize premium payments for those who cannot afford to make them, illegal since it was not specifically mentioned in the law.  The 38 page decision by the judge who reasoned that since the law did not specifically state this practice, the act of doing so was illegal.  The judge, however, did not put her decision into immediate operation.  Instead she allowed the practice to continue until after her decision is appealed.  Way to go Republicans, attempting to balance the budget on the backs of the poor who may lose their medical coverage!

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Watching the progress of Congress by both the Republicans and the Democrats one gets the impression that nothing ever gets done.  No necessary laws ever get passed.  The House of Representatives has given itself a 110 day legislating year; they are working a three day week, not including holidays.  The Senate will meet for a somewhat longer period.

 

The two political parties began the preliminary process of choosing their presidential candidates early in 2016.  In the Republican state preliminary elections and caucuses the initial debate between the possible candidates dealt with how bad the present administration is and how a Republican president would make the country great again.  It’s as though nothing has happened since 2009 when Barack Obama was elected to the presidency.  It would seem, according to the Republican candidates that there is no history behind the present campaign.  This, of course, is not true.  The history has been ignored or edited, particularly by the Republican Party.

 

The Great Recession, which could easily have been the Greatest Depression in our history, began under the reign of the Republican President, George W. Bush toward the end of 2008, his last year as president.  He took some action but mainly left the problem for the next President, Barack Obama.

 

During his first two years in office, 2009 and 2010, President Obama changed a potential massive depression into a recession, restored the major banking houses in the United States and the automobile industry from bankruptcy by massive government loans and signed the Affordable Health Care Bill into law.

 

At the time both the House of Representatives and the Senate had Democratic majorities.  In the 2010 Midterm Election a large number of Democrats did not bother to vote and the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives, actually killing any chance for further reform since the Republican philosophy of government tends to be the opposite of that of the Democrats .  In addition since 2010 was a Census Year, the Republicans gerrymandered the states where they controlled the governorships and the legislatures making it easier for them to keep control of the House of Representatives.  In the 2012 Presidential Election the Democrats cast a million-and-a-quarter more votes were cast for Democratic candidates than for the Republican members of the House of Representatives but the Republicans still retained control of the House.  The same thing is likely to happen in the 2016 Presidential Election.

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In the 2016 Primary Elections the Republicans are quite vociferous in stating what President Obama didn’t do.  What they don’t state is that most of the things he is blamed for not doing are functions of Congress.  Congress passes the laws in the United States.  The President can sign or veto a law.  If he vetoes a law Congress can still pass it with a 2/3 majority in both Houses.

 

Basically the current Congress, which has a Republican majority in both Houses, has done virtually nothing since they achieved a Republican majority in 2014 or since the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in 2011.  Today we have the Tea Party which is an extremely conservative section of the conservative Republican Party that is totally against Big Government and sees all economics as Micro, small economics.  Unfortunately they represent a number of seats in the House and Senate.

 

Economists today understand depressions and recessions and how to properly deal with them.  Economics exists upon two major levels: one is called Microeconomics, which deals with household finances, city, state, and business funding.  The other is Macroeconomics which deals with the Federal Government, which owns the printing presses that print and issue money.  They are two totally different entities.  Except the Republicans do not understand or accept the concept of Macroeconomics.

 

Money today has nothing behind it except the word of the government that printed it.  There is no gold or other precious metal that today stands behind any currency.  The amount in circulation is supposed to be regulated so that there is enough to easily carry out all the business functions within the nation and between nations.  Unfortunately this does not always happen and inflation or deflation can occur.  In the United States the Federal Reserve controls the amount of cash in circulation.  In most other nations there is generally a National Bank that does this.  This process is Macroeconomics.

 

The National Debt, of which the Federal Government owns over 50% of its own debt and will, at times, use it to control the amount of currency in circulation.  This was done recently by the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, for over a two year period adding 85 billion dollars a month to the National Cash Flow.  It was gradually ended by the current Chairperson, Janet Yellen.

 

The members of the Republican Party do not appreciate or understand any of this.  From statements made by various Congressional members of the Tea Party and other Republicans their understanding of economics is based upon raising a family, Microeconomics.  They see everything in those terms.  One has an income, taxes, and one can spend it.  If an individual or country wants to spend more he has to borrow money which, in turn, has to be paid back with interest.

 

That seems to be the limit of their understanding.  It can lead to recessions and depressions.  Donald Trump has added another level to this misunderstanding.  He seems to think the government can renege on part of its debt as he has done in business with three bankruptcies.   Statements like that can destroy the value of the dollar, particularly if he were to be elected president.

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To say that the Republicans have done nothing is to give them positive credit.  Instead they were able to get through the Budget Control Act of 2011 which began on March 1, 2013.  This was the sequester, automatic cuts across the board on all government programs with the exception of Social Security, Medicaid, federal pensions, and veteran’s benefits.  These would cover all other military and discretionary programs every year until the year 2021.  Medicare rates were reduced 2%.  Sequestration also resulted in unpaid time off to many federal government workers, this was known as furloughs.

 

These cuts during a recession tended to shrink the economy and slow recovery.  Interestingly by 2015 the military was complaining that with the sequester cuts their effectiveness was significantly decreasing.  From that time on Congress tended to pass yearly bills ignoring the effects of sequestration upon the military.

 

Also in 2013 the House of Representatives, with hefty leadership by Senator Ted Cruz who is not even a member of the House, shut down the Federal Government from October 1st through the 16th.  Government operations resumed on October 17, 2013.  800,000 government employees were indefinitely furloughed.  1.3 million other government employees were required to report for work without a known payment date.  The Republican led House wanted to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  They attached this to the Government Funding Bill.  The Democratic led Senate removed it from their version of the Bill before they passed it.  The Conference Committee, which consisted of representatives from both Houses of Congress, reached an impasse.  The cost of this shutdown is estimated at $20 billion.  So much for Republican frugalness!

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It should be noted that our understanding of economics has come a long way since 1929 and the Great Depression.  We understand the root causes for the economic waves that bring about these changes and we understand how to deal with them when they occur to lessen or mitigate their effects upon society.  But in order to do this we need both the President and Congress acting together as a cooperating unit.  This we have not had since 2011.

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By 2008 the Real Estate Hedge Fund industry crashed in the United States.  Properties like individual homes dropped almost overnight to a fraction of their inflated values.  Millions of people, who had been encouraged by the financial institutions to use their homes like bank accounts by continually remortgaging them, were suddenly underwater on their loans, owing more on the property than it was then worth.  Employment also phenomenally decreased.  Most banking houses were over-extended and on the point of bankruptcy.  The Bush Administration in its last year in office lent public funds to some of the banks to keep them afloat.

 

In 2009 and 2010 there were both a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress.  The massive depression that would have been greater than that of 1929 was avoided by further public loans to the banking industry.  Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care or Obamacare, which incidentally was based upon a Republican plan, came into existence.  It was passed strictly on a party basis; no Republican voted for it in either House of Congress.  The American auto industry was also saved from bankruptcy by public loans.  Incidentally it should be noted that all these loans were eventually repaid with interest.

 

From 2011 on the Republicans achieved a majority in the House of Representatives.  Thereafter no bill was passed by the House that would lessen what was then the Great Recession.  In fact the bills passed by the House tended to exacerbate the unemployment by not only shrinking the Federal Government but also curtailing the amounts of monies that went to the individual states, forcing them to reduce            some of their programs and lessoning their levels of employment.

 

Mitch McConnell, the then minority leader in the Senate, stated that the Republican goal was to make Barack Obama a one term president.  The Republican attitude from that time on was to support absolutely nothing that President Obama supported.  Economic conditions in the country became secondary next to this goal.  The House Republicans did nothing that might reflect positively upon President Obama.  When he proposed a bill to create jobs by improving the outdated infrastructure of the U.S. the bill never even came to the floor of the House of Representatives for consideration; it was totally ignored.

 

President Obama continued to attempt to work with the Republicans for the next two years with no success.  By 2012, when he ran for a second term, it would seem that he understood that there was no cooperating with the Republicans.

 

President Obama and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, were able to use Creative Monetary Policy to improve economic conditions in the country.  The Federal Reserve added $85 billion a month for over two years to the National Cash Flow.  They did this by spending $45 billion a month buying up mortgage paper and also by purchasing back $40 billion in government bonds monthly for over two years.  The program was finally reduced by 10 billion a month until it was completely withdrawn.

 

The effect of this action was to buy back millions of pieces of mortgages in all fifty states, each one of which had been split into hundreds of pieces.  In essence these properties belonged to no one, as no one owned over 50% of the mortgages.  Without this action by the Federal Reserve these properties would have been lingering throughout the economy for the next decade or more before they were sold for back property taxes by the local governments.  This act gave the people who had not walked away from their underwater properties and still lived in these homes the ability to continue living in them without the possibility of foreclosure.  There was no way the government could have matched up all the pieces of all the properties in all 50 states to claim ownership of any of them.  Generally the money that would have been used in paying off the loans was spent in the overall economy creating more employment.  It was a giveaway by the Federal Government which was probably more than returned in local, state, and federal taxes.

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With the upcoming Presidential Election the Republicans are blaming President Obama and the Democrats for not doing anything to run the country properly.  They seem to have forgotten the Real Estate Crash of 2008 which took off during the Reagan Administration and continued from there until the 2008 crash.  They seem to have forgotten President George W. Bush’s unnecessary war with Iraq which destabilized the Middle East and began the situation which exists there at present.  Actually they have forgotten everything negative that can be attributed to them.  And all of these things have been blamed upon President Obama and the Democrats.

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The actual Presidential Election should be interesting.  If Donald Trump is elected president he has practically promised to get rid of ISIS quickly and make America Great Again.  He seems to feel that he can solve all major international problems, whether he understands them or not, within the first 100 days or less.

 

If Hillary Clinton is elected and she has a Democratic Congress she can be expected to move successfully in the direction of solving many of America’s domestic and international problems.  If, however, the House of Representatives retains its Republican majority then the country will probably experience the same gridlock it has under President Barack Obama.

The Weiner Component #153 – International Trade Agreements

It is generally argued today, and it has been for a number of years, that companies are moving overseas and taking American jobs with them.  Donald Trump has promised that when he becomes President of the United States he will bring these companies and their jobs back to the U.S.A.  It all sounds simplistic, naïve, or just plain stupid.

 

Individuals or groups go into business in order to make a profit.  If they do not make a profit they soon go out of business.  They hire employees, when these employees add to their business profit.  If the employee becomes a cost factor then they fire them.  The employee is useful only when he/she is adding to the company’s profit.  The employer will pay the employee the smallest amount they can get away with and the employee will sell their labor for the highest amount they can.  Since the advantage is with the employer, workers generally form unions where they have group representation, that limits the employer’s advantages and some form of equilibrium is met between the employers and the employees.  There is nothing patriotic about running a business.

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If we think back from the 1960s on it was then argued that companies, usually in base industries, were moving overseas and that we (the government) should keep those jobs in the U.S. for our own people.  The problem then was that the cost of moving industries considerably cut the costs of production of goods and kept these companies competitive.  The cost, at that time, in keeping one of these companies in the U.S. was in the thousands of dollars per worker in terms of the cost of the product or service.  The basic issue was being competitive, not patriotic.

 

Initially the movement of companies was within the United States.  Companies went from highly industrial and unionized areas like the North East to low industrial non-union areas like Puerto Rico or the Southern states.  Gradually as these sections became unionized and industrialized and the companies began moving to Third World Nations where regulation and unionization did not exist.

 

The Federal Government added regulations with agencies such as the E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Agency).  Prior to the existence of this agency the states defined or did not bother to define what constituted pollution.  In the latter case it was left to the companies to control their own pollution.  This generally meant that there was no pollution control.  Of course, this government regulation is also a cost factor in the production of goods.  And for health purposes there has to be a balance between levels of pollution and production.

 

It is important to remember that there are social costs related to pollution.  Even today there are areas in cities like Los Angeles, where the ground for several miles around where a battery plant formally existed for a very long period of time, is inundated with lead poisoning.  It will cost hundreds of millions to clean that area.  Pollutants released into the air are breathed in and tend to increase people’s medical bills.  The same is true of contaminates released into drinking water.  All of these are social costs that are paid by the individuals affected.  The E.P.A. attempts to change these social costs into production costs.

 

This, incidentally, is the agency that the Republican Party would do- away with in order to increase employment in the United States.  There has to be a trade-off between health and pollution.  I would vie in favor of public health.

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There are environmental costs in the production of goods, equipment costs and labor costs.  Most companies compete both nationally and internationally with their products.  Prices have to be kept as low as possible in order to be competitive.  The company has to produce its product(s) as inexpensively as possible.  In many cases the cost of producing its wares could decrease by more than 50% by moving overseas.  What are its options if it wants to stay in the United States?  In many cases the answer would be eventual bankruptcy.  No company can stay in business constantly taking loses.

 

There is an exception to this principal.  Mitt Romney’s former company, Bain Capital, was what the former governor of Texas, Rick Perry, called a “vulture capitalist” company.  Under Romney’s leadership they took over functioning American companies by buying up the majority of their stock, then sold the stock back to the company which they now controlled, and generally sold off the company in pieces for enormous profits.  After Romney had left the company as CEO, and was running for the presidency in 2012, but still had money invested in some of its projects, Bain Capital took over a successful company, brought in workers from China to learn how the machinery worked, then packed up all the machinery and shipped it and the Chinese workers to China, where the factory was set up.  All the American workers had been fired by then.  Apparently Bain Capital and Romney made millions on this deal.  This is one example of vulture capitalism, there are numerous others.

 

Unlike Donald Trump’s heavy rantings about putting a heavy tariff on goods from American companies that have moved overseas the issue tends to be fairly complicated.  Apparently Donald never heard of “due process,” the fact that the law has to be evenly applied.  Basically that company is already paying a tariff on their goods being shipped to the United States.  Donald has threatened to raise their tariff rate to about 40 or 45% of the cost of the product.  The rate of the tariff depends upon the agreements that particular foreign country has with the United States.  Trump simplifies everything to an absurd degree.  I believe he doesn’t understand the whole process of trade between nations and believes he will have absolute power as President.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ***************************************

Historically the tariff, a tax on all goods coming from foreign countries, was used primarily to raise revenue for the central government; but it has also been used as a protective device, to keep certain specific goods out of the country or to allow them in on a limited basis.  This is the protective tariff.

 

During the Great Depression the industrial nations all used heavy protective tariffs to try to protect employment within their boundaries.  In the 1950s and 60s the United States had high protective tariffs on European and latter Asian automobiles imported into the United States in order to protect the U.S. auto industry and keep the cost of foreign cars essentially equal with American autos.  Eventually the foreign car manufacturers got around this by setting up auto factories in the U.S. and building their cars here.  They became American foreign cars.  This also became true of other products.  In essence many corporations became multinational, which they are today.

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From the time of Theodore Roosevelt the United States became a major player in international trade.  After all, companies want to spend the least they can on products and sell at the highest price they can.  International trade allows this.

 

Free Trade Agreements have been one of the best ways to increase productivity.  They open up foreign markets to American exports.  Trade Agreements have increased U.S. exports and have protected U.S. interests overseas.  The reduction of trade barriers has created a more stable and transparent trading and investment environment making it easier and less expensive for U.S. companies to export their products and services.  There has actually been a significant increase in the amount of goods exported because of these agreements.

 

The problem that arises with these FTA’s is that there is a certain amount of job displacement in the United States.  But on an overall basis more new jobs are created than are lost.  Do the same people who lost their jobs, get new jobs?  That seems to be the problem.

 

Generally the displaced jobs move overseas but new jobs open up in other areas.  These are usually a little more sophisticated but pay more.  The problem seems to be moving to the areas where the jobs exist and getting some retraining.  It seems that many if not most of the people who lost their jobs want those jobs back; they don’t want to move with the times.

 

In the early 1960s I taught school in upstate New York in a city called Nyack on the West side of the Hudson River.  The area had been an industrial center in the 1920s and earlier but it died even before the Great Depression and with the development of new technology.  The people living there who worked in the ice plants and factories all lost their jobs.  Did these people pack-up and move to other areas where there were jobs?  No, they hung on and waited for industry to come back, which it did in the 1960s, forty years later.

 

Interestingly, since I was middle class I moved to the area to get a teaching job.  But since the mentality of those people who lost their jobs tended to be lower class they had stayed in the region for a couple of generations until new industry came to them.

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For the United States the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was the first of a large number of trade agreements that the U.S. signed with other countries.  This one completed in 1994 was with Canada and Mexico.  The populations of all three countries have gained significantly with lower costs for goods and actually a gradual increase in employment after some initial displacement from this agreement.

 

It should be noted that the Free Trade Agreement was also a reaction to the European Common Market which did the same thing for all the European member nations.  We were actually following a pattern begun in Europe.

 

The erstwhile Republican Presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump has complained vociferously that NAFTA has “emptied our states” of our manufacturing and our jobs.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the month before NAFTA took effect there were 16.8 manufacturing jobs.  By March and April 1998 there were 17.6 manufacturing jobs in the U.S.  This was a peak period.  Overall jobs have gone up 28% since December 1993, from 112.3 million to 143.8 million.  The labor force has increased by 23% or 29.3 million people.  Many factors, in addition to the 1994 agreement, impact jobs and the economy but overall economists have found that the major effect upon jobs from NAFTA has been small.  The benefits from it have been large with many food products costing less and being available all year round.  The agreement has raised the GDP in all three countries allowing the majority of people to have a higher standard of living with some initial displacement of employment opportunities.

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Today we have numerous trade agreements in operation.

NAFTA 1994.  We have Free Trade Agreements with Jordan (2001), Australia (2004), Chile (2004), Singapore (2004), Bahrain (2006), Morocco (2006), Oman (2006), Peru (2007), Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic (2005), Panama (2012), Columbia (2012), and South Korea (2012).

 

The United States is negotiating free trade agreements with the following countries and blocks: All countries in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba, most countries in the Middle East, the European Union, Thailand, New Zealand, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, South African Customs Union: South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Namibia, Ecuador, and Qatar.  These agreements do not end tariffs; the lower them, generally, significantly.

 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement that was drafted after seven years of negotiation and signed of February 3, 2016.  It is currently not in force.  Its goals are to “promote economic growth, support the creation and retention of jobs, enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness, raise living standards, reduce poverty; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.”  The U.S. government considers TPP a companion agreement to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a similar agreement between the U.S., and the European Union.

 

There are twelve members to the TTP: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam.  The agreement is to be brought into force within the next two years.

 

Within the United States there are people who both agree and oppose it.  Bernie Sanders is against it as a job killer.  Barack Obama, who has signed it, and Hillary Clinton support it.  Obviously what will happen is unknown.

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In the early 1800s the Industrial Revolution began in England with the emergence of the cotton cloth industry.  Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, which could clean the seeds out of the cotton plant in minutes where before it took hours for a man picking them out one at a time.  Cotton suddenly became a very inexpensive plant to process.  With the development of power-run tools it became even less expensive.  Spinning machines, the spinning jenny, were developed.  Instead of one spool of thread a small number of threads could be spun at one time; then water power was applied and a much larger number of threads were quickly spun.  Along with this power driven weaving machines were invented and cloth was quickly and easily produced.

 

This innovation made the hand spinners and weavers obsolete and introduced inexpensive cotton cloth to the marketplace.  Suddenly there was a segment of the population that no longer had a functioning occupation.,  Groups called luddites developed who attempted to destroy the new factories.  They wanted to turn the clock back to the preindustrial times.  Obviously they did not succeed.

 

When I was a college student during the 1950s a large number of engineering students worked their way through college as part time draftsmen for engineering firms.  This occupation disappeared with the arrival of the computer which has numerous draftsmen programs.

 

Basically as time moves forward conditions change, new occupations come into existence and some occupations change or disappear.  Usually, for the overall society, conditions get better.  The are more products available and they are less expensive than they used to be.  Most people adapt to the changes.  The general public ends up with a higher quality of life.

 

In a sense the world is getting smaller.  I can make a phone call about a problem with my computer or a piece of machinery I’ve purchased and find I am connected to someone in India or the Philippine Islands.  If they can’t solve my problem they’ll connect me with someone in the United States.  From what I understand Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats have a “made in China” sticker on them.

 

The Trade Agreements do displace some jobs.  It cost management a lot more to have their company in the United States than, in many cases, overseas.  But in the long run these trade agreements actually increase employment in the U,.S. and raise standards of living.

 

Do we set up tariff barriers between nations and keep various goods and foods more expensive or do we set up facilities to retrain workers.  The United States is an advanced industrial nation that requires skilled labor.  We can easily expand our educational facilities to teach the necessary skills, new or otherwise.  Jobs are available, in most cases, if the labor is mobile.  Economically these trade agreements are positive for the overall population of all the countries involved,.

English: The United States Esperanto: Loko de ...

The Weiner Component #152 – Part 3: The Continuing Presidential Campaign

In the April 26, 2016 Super Tuesday Republican primary election whining Donald Trump won all five states giving him a total of 996 bound delegates.  He is now assuming that he is the “presumptive” Republican candidate.  Up to that point in time he was bitterly complaining that the whole primary process was rigged against him.  In fact he was acting more like a third party candidate than one who was part of the Republican Party process.

 

As the presumptive candidate Trump has begun his verbal attack against Hillary Clinton with a sexist statement, saying that if she were a man she’d only have five present of her current support.  Leave it to Donald to inadvertently attack all the women who have supported her as well as all the other women in the United States, clearly marking them as secondary creatures.  Only Donald Trump would come up with a statement that demeans over 50% of the population, letting them know of their second rate standing.

 

Interestingly a percentage of the Republican leadership have changed their tones suddenly about Donald.  A number of Republican celebrities earlier announced that they voted for Donald but do not support him but since Tuesday have been giving second thoughts to supporting him.  Many Republicans seem to be in the process of changing their minds about Trump; they now see him in a new positive way.  Whether this will unify the Republican Party is another question.  Donald has said that he can win without a unified Republican Party.

 

According to the surveys taken one in four Republicans will stay at home rather than vote for Trump.  Will this happen?  Another factor is that the number of Democratic voters in these primaries has decreased in most states while the number of Republican voters has increased significantly.  Does this mean that people are changing political parties?  If they are then politically incorrect candidates who are divisive and tend to be prejudicial against racial and ethnic groups as well as a whole gender attract more people than traditional campaigns.  And that means that negative campaigns work for better than other attempts to gain public office.  It also means that the country is overflowing with racial, ethnic and gender bias.

 

It’s still possible that between now and July Trump will come out with numerous stupid statements that will alienate additional numerous people within his own party and suddenly the Rules Committee will find that he doesn’t have enough legal delegates to be nominated as their candidate.

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What I find interesting about Trump is that up to Super Tuesday, April 26th he has been running as a Third Party candidate within the Republican Party.  He’s been at war with them, vigorously denouncing their unfairness.  Presumably after winning the majority in the five states that held the Republican Primary Elections on Tuesday, Trump now assumes he’s the Republican “presumptive winner.”  Is he?  A lot of Republicans have since denounced him.  Some of them said that if he were the candidate they would vote for Hillary.

 

On Wednesday afternoon at about 4 pm, the day after Super Tuesday, Trump gave a formal “foreign policy” speech using television prompters for the first time in order to dramatically read the presentation.   It was done in a very dignified fashion; basically the speech was much of what Trump has stated during the overall campaign combined with some traditional Republican attitudes.  Here we had a presidential Trump seriously reading a speech obviously written by members of his staff.  Basically the main concept is “America First.”  He would rebuild our military, make all our allies pay their “fair share” of the security burden, quickly destroy ISIS, and so on.  There are no specifics, just a general outline of how tough the U.S. is going to be.  Trump explained that he’s not giving specific information because that would prepare the enemy to resist. The United Nations Treaty with Iran was bad news, he said.   He’ll get a better deal for the United States.  And he’ll make a deal with Russia that will make Russia more positive about dealing with us.

 

The speech was about generalities.  He doesn’t want to tell how he’ll do these things because that would put us at a disadvantage.  His basic weapon in dealing with everyone is the ability to walk away from the negotiations if we don’t like them, this includes allies and antagonists.  Again, presumably the U. S. under Trump will be so tough and so feared that every nation will give in to us or be isolated from us or go to war with us, both allies and enemies.

 

Trump’s interpretation of what is happening in the world and what the United States is doing tends to be mostly wishful thinking or prefabricating on his part.  He freely makes statements without knowing what is really going on.  Ted Cruz’s statement about Trump being a pathological liar may be close to if not the actual truth.  He actually may not know the difference between fact and fiction.  He may believe that if he says something it must be a fact.

 

Trump’s claim that ISIS is making millions and millions of dollars a week selling Libyan oil is nonsense.  There is no evidence to support this statement.  ISIS has attempted to destroy a number of oil fields there  by bombarding them and moving on.  There was one incident when navy seals in 2014 stopped an attempt in Eastern Libya to smuggle oil out of the country in an oil tanker called the Morning Glory.  This also contradicts Trumps claim that the U. S. doesn’t “do anything about” unauthorized oil sales from Libya.

 

Trump claimed that the North American Free Trade Agreement “has been a disaster for the United States” and it has “literally emptied our states of our manufacturing and our jobs.”  Actually economic studies demonstrate that NAFTA’s impact on U. S. jobs has been very slight.  In fact it may have added slightly to the overall employment in the U. S. 

 

Trump has stated that he was against the War with Iraq and that he said it would destabilize the Middle East.  There is no evidence of this.  On September 11 2002 Trump was asked in a radio interview whether he supported the war.  His answer was, “Yeah, I guess so.”

 

Trump stated that Obama “crippled us with a huge trade deficit.”  Actually the amount of the trade deficit has gone down during Obama’s Presidency.  In terms of Clinton and Benghazi, Trump said, “Clinton blames it all on a video, an excuse that was a total lie, proven to be absolutely a total lie.”  The Obama administration originally cited the release of an anti-Muslim video by a Florida pastor as a possible reason for the Benghazi attack.  Clinton was quicker than other government officials, including the President, to call it a terrorist attack.  Trump has an active imagination about what constitutes facts for him.

 

What Trump proposed is a formula for disaster.  Even without war with allies and/or enemies the U. S. could end up isolating itself from the rest of the world.  That could take us back to the diplomacy that followed the Great Depression in the early 1930s and led directly to World War II.

 

Donald Trump, if he were to achieve his goal, has promised to wipe out everything that Barack Obama over his eight years as President has done.  That would take the nation back to the year he initially assumed office, 2008.  President George W. Bush left the nation in that year on the verge of a depression greater than the Great Depression of 1929 at the end of his second term as President.  Obama turned it into a recession and largely got the country out of it with no help from the Republican dominated Congress.  Is this where Trump wants to take the country?

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On Tuesday, May 3, 2016 both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won the primaries in Indiana.  The Republican primary was a winner take all race.  There were 57 delegate races in the state and Donald Trump got them all.  As a result Ted Cruz dramatically withdrew from the race.  It was the first time I heard what sounded like a victory speech from a loser.

 

What is interesting here is that the winners in both parties are the protest candidates, the ones chosen by the young and frustrated in both parties that feel they are not being properly represented by the people they have elected to office.  These are people who want to feel their party is returning something positive to them for their vote and support.  Instead up to this point they have gotten nothing in return for their vote.

 

Donald Trump now has 1068 committed delegates who will vote for him on the first ballot.  He needs 1,237 legal votes to become the Republican candidate for the Presidency in November of 2016.

 

Bernie Sanders won 52.5% of the Democratic vote, winning 44 delegates which gives him a total of 1,401 committed delegate votes.  Hillary Clinton won 47.5% of the vote, gaining 38 delegates.  She now has a total of 2,205 committed delegates.  2,383 is the number needed to become the Democratic candidate to the presidency in November of 2016.

 

The probability is that the last Super Tuesday in June will more than give Hillary Clinton the required number of votes needed to become the Presidential Candidate.  Bernie may even score some more victories but even in those the vote is split and Hillary gains more delegates. 

 

To Bernie Sanders the presidential nomination is within sight but always out of reach.  The question then is, why does he persist?  The answer, I believe, is to get his program on the Party Platform.  He has, no doubt, pushed Hillary Clinton farther left than she would have otherwise have gone.  He will try to push her farther left.  His success will be what the Party achieves over the next four years.

 

Donald Trump currently is king of the hill.  Whether that hill is below sea level in Death Valley or on its way to Washington, D.C. is currently unknown.  The man is an irresponsible monomaniac with no sense of consequences for what he may say.  He does not understand the government of the United States or how it works.  He certainly doesn’t understand the function of the President since what he describes he will do in that office are the actions of a dictator with absolute power.  His current dealings with Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, indicated that he might fire him when he becomes president.  It’s as though he expects to rule by executive order.

 

And he doesn’t understand economics in the functioning of government.  Trump apparently sees the National Government as a larger version of a business.  He doesn’t understand the difference between Macroeconomics and Microeconomics.  He has said that defaulting on government debt is a way of getting rid of or reducing the debt.

 

The basic currency in the world today is the dollar.  The value of most other currencies are tied to it.  If the U. S, were to default on its debt then the entire world financial systems would be affected.  We could see a group of national depressions that would make 1929 look like weekend holiday.  Trump has no idea of the trouble he could cause if he were elected president.

 

But I suspect that that is of low probability.  Even if he gets the 1,237 delegates he may not have 1,237 legal delegates.  That still has to be decided when the Rules Committee meets in Cleveland on July 18th to 21st.  All that depends upon the various stupid remarks that Trump makes between now and July 18th.  He’s already made a major blunder affecting the credit of the United States.

 

The Republican Party is split now.  I suspect the split or splits will widen between now and the convention.  I understand that Jeb Bush is thinking of organizing a group called, Republicans For Hillary.  A number of prominent Republicans have announce they will not vote for Donald.  A number of others have announce that they will vote for him but will not endorse him.  Trump has denounced anyone who has denounced him.  The situation gets crazier and crazier. 

The Weiner Component #152 – Part 2: The Democratic Presidential Convention

Bernie Sanders, U.S. Congressman (now U.S. Sen...

The 2016 Democratic National Convention will take place the week of July 25 to July 28 2016 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with some events at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  This is exactly one week after the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.  There are to be 4,765 delegates.  They will officially choose the Democratic candidate to run for the Presidency in November of 2016, the Vice Presidential Candidate, and write the platform upon which the Democratic Party will stand for the next four years.

 

The Democrats are following the Republican example and holding their Convention earlier that in 2012.  Philadelphia was selected as the host city on February 12, 2015.  The time of the Conventions are earlier than usual to allow the parties’ next presidential nominees to have access to more campaign cash as they begin their contest for the presidency.

 

For the first ballot the candidates will be Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley.  Whether there will be more than one ballot depends on whether one of the candidates can achieve the 2,383 delegates voting for them.  As of Wednesday, April 27th Hillary Clinton had 2,165 primary and caucus delegates, Bernie Sanders has 1,357, and Martin O’Malley has 0 delegates.  The race is actually between Hillary and Bernie.

 

While the Republican Party leaders are able to control their conventions by rule changes every four years the Democratic Party is able to do the same thing with Super delegates, who are not elected by the Democratic public voting and caucusing in the individual states and territories.  These delegates are all free to vote for whoever they wish.  These are all Democratic members of the House and Senate, sitting and former Democratic governors, elected members of the Democratic National Party, distinguished party leaders consisting of current and former presidents, vice presidents, congressional leaders, and DNC chairs.  They are unbound delegates.  Taken together these are a formable number of votes that are not obligated to vote for any candidate.  These unpledged delegates are seated solely by being current or former elected office holders and party officials.  They are not bound in any way and may support any candidate they wish, including one who has dropped out of the presidential race.  And they are in addition to the other 4,765 bound delegates who are committed to a specific candidate for at least the first ballot.

 

In the current 2016 election where Hillary Clinton is currently leading by about 800 delegates Bernie Sanders strategy will be to get these Super delegates to vote for him at the Convention in order to make up for his possible shortfall of bound delegates against Hillary Clinton.  Will he be successful?

 

For Republicans there are 3 unbound Super delegates in each state.  These are the state chairman and two RNC committee members.  This gives them a total of 150 Super delegates.  For the Democrats the number is far greater.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton has been a well-known figure in the United States for over the last ¼ of a century.  She was the wife of a president, Bill Clinton, who served two terms at the tail end of the 20th Century, later a Senator for most of two terms for the state of New York, a Democratic candidate for the presidency in 2009, and a Secretary of State for Barack Obama’s first term as President.  Because she served on important committees and attempted to set up a universal health care system during his husband’s first term as President and is a liberal she has been considered as a threat by most Republicans.  She was the first and only first lady to have to testify before a grand jury.  She was also the first former Secretary of State to have been vigorously questioned by seven separate investigative committees over the vicious attack at Benghazi in October of 2012, when three American diplomats were murdered at the American consulate.  It would seem the Republicans want to discredit her by placing the blame for the vicious action on Clinton even though it was the Republican dominated House of Representatives that had cut the protective funding for embassy protection.  The official Report on the last Congressional Benghazi investigation held in 2015 which found nothing against her will probably be released by November of this year when she is running for the Presidency.  All this has occurred in spite of the fact that the House Intelligence Committee issued a report in November of 2014 after in intense investigation stating that there had been no wrongdoing in the administration’s response to the attack.

 

Kevin McCarthy the Republican Whip in the House of Representatives, who could well be a relative of the dummy entertainer, Charlie McCarthy, and often has a problem coming out with a coherent sentence, came out with a statement to the press in 2015 that the Benghazi  Hearings were hurting Hillary’s standing in the 2016 Presidential Race.  Some of the Republican prospective candidates for the 2016 Presidential Campaign have called her “the worst Secretary of State ever.”  She is definitely a threat to the Republicans and the last thing they want is Hillary Clinton replacing Barack Obama as President of the United States.

 

Trey Gowdy’s House Select Republican dominated Committee, which will produce its findings between now and Election Day in November has spent 6.5 million dollars of taxpayer monies attempting to defame or discredit Hillary Clinton.  There have been many more addition millions spent by the prior congressional committees trying to do the same thing.  Congress has now spent four years in numerous investigations which are being held for purely political reasons.  This has been the longest investigation of an incident in the entire history of the United States and has accomplished nothing but a massive expenditure of money.  Will they be able to discredit Hillary Clinton?  Gowdy promises eye-opening evidence; but he has been promising that since the last hearing began.  For a political party that’s very money conscious the Republicans are free to spend taxpayer dollars for political purposes.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton is a liberal democrat interested in the welfare of the people of America at a time when there is intense economic disparity and unreasonable treatment of various economic and racial groups within the nation.  She is a voice for the majority at a time when they are being pushed into a slow downward economic spiral by the super-wealthy minority.

 

She has focused her presidential campaign upon middle class incomes, the universal establishment of preschools and making college more affordable and she would like to improve Affordable Health Care.  Even though she is the first woman to successfully run for the presidency she is no doubt one of, if not, the best prepared candidates in the entire his of the country.

 

Ultimately she is pragmatic, capable of compromise; which may be necessary with a split Congress.  President Obama, after his first two years in office, was forced to work with a politically split Congress where the Republican House absolutely refused to work with him.  In fact for the last five years the Republican led House of Representatives opposed virtually everything he attempted.  Hillary, as President, may find a similar condition.  But Hillary may be able to get under their skins and to a certain extent work with them.

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Bernard “Bernie” Sanders is the other viable Democratic candidate.  He is the junior United States Senator from Vermont.  Sanders has been the longest serving Independent in U.S. Congressional history.  He was a member of the House of Representatives from April 6, 1981 through April 4, 1989, eight years, and a member of the U.S Senate from January 3, 1991 to January 3, 2015, 24 years.

 

Even though he ran as an Independent Bernie Sanders considered himself as a Socialist.  As a candidate for the presidency he has called himself a Democratic Socialist.  He has continually caucused with the Democrats as an Independent and formally changed his party registration last year so he could run as a Democrat in the Presidential Race.

 

Initially, I believe, he saw himself as a protest candidate in the 2016 Presidential Race.  No one, and I believe that includes himself, saw him as having a possible chance to win the election.

 

Bernie Sanders has spent his life in protest movements.  In early 1969, while he was a student at the University of Chicago, he was involved in the Civil Rights Movement as an organizer for the Racial Equality and worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  In 1968, after settling in Vermont, he ran unsuccessfully as a third party candidate for both governor and U.S. Senator.  From 1981 through 1989, as an Independent, he was elected mayor the city of Burlington.  In 1990 he was elected to the House of Representatives.

 

Sanders rose to national prominence in 2018 following his filibuster against the proposed extension of the Bush tax cuts.  He favors policies like those of the social democratic parties in Europe, especially those in the Nordic countries: free health care for all, free education through college, parental leave, and LGBT rights.  He has demanded campaign finance reform, an end to corporate welfare, adherence to global warming and income inequality.  He has been a critic of U.S. foreign policy and has opposed the Iraq war.  He has strongly criticized the racial discrimination within the justice system and supported civil liberties and civil rights.  Most of what Bernie Sanders has stood for very few Democrats will argue against.

 

The best way to describe Bernie Sanders is to quote the last part of the article about him in the free internet encyclopedia that describes his political position:

“Sanders is a self-described socialist, and progressive who admires the Nordic model of social democracy and is a proponent of workplace democracy.  In November 2015, gave a speech at Georgetown University about his view of Democratic Socialism, including its place in the policies of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.  In defining what democratic socialism means to him, Sanders said ‘”I don’t believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production, but I do believe that middle class and working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a decent standard of living and their incomes should go up, not down.  I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here, rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad.’”

 

“Sanders focuses on economic issues such as income and wealth inequality, raising the minimum wage, universal healthcare reducing the burden of student debt, making public colleges and universities tuition free by taxing financial transactions, and expanding Social Security benefits by eliminating the cap on the payroll tax on all incomes after $250,000.  He has become a prominent supporter of laws requiring companies to give their workers parental leave, sick leave, and vacation time, noting that such laws have been adopted by nearly all other developed countries.  He also supports laws that would make it easier for workers to join or form a union.

 

“Sanders has advocated greater democratic participation by citizens, campaign finance reform, and the overturn of Citizens United v. FEC.  He also advocates comprehensive financial reforms, such as breaking up ‘”too big to fail’” financial organizations, restoring Glass-Seagull legislation, reforming the Federal Reserve Bank and allowing the Post Office to offer basic financial services in economically marginalized communities.  Sanders strongly opposes the U.S. invasion of Iraq and has criticized a number of policies instituted during the War on Terror, particularly mass surveillance and the U.S. Patriot Act.

 

“Sanders has liberal stances on social issues, having advocated for LGHT rights and against the Defense of Marriage Act.  Sanders considers himself a feminist.  He is also pro-choice, and opposes the de-funding of Planned Parenthood.  He has denounced institutional racism and called for criminal justice reform to reduce the number of people in prison.  He advocates a crackdown on police brutality, and supports abolishing private for-profit prisons and the death penalty.  Sanders supports legalizing marijuana at the federal level.  On November 15, 2015, in response to ISIS’s attack in Paris, Sanders cautioned against Islamophobia and said ‘”We gotta be tough, not stupid in the war against ISIS,’” and that the U.S. should continue to welcome Syrian refugees.

 

“Sanders advocates bold action to reverse global warming and substantial investment in infrastructure, with energy efficiency and sustainability and job creation as prominent goals.  Sanders considers climate change as the greatest threat to national security.”

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I believe most people will largely agree with Bernie Sanders position on most things.  The next question is: Could he achieve most of what he wants?  Will expanding Social Security payments to everybody’s total income create enough to significantly raise Social Security payments?  Will taxing financial dealing generate enough money to pay for free college tuition throughout the United States?  The answer is probably in the negative.  In addition financial dealings would significantly increase the cost of such practices and could bring down the economy in a massive depression.  Also how would free medical care for everyone be paid for?

 

While much of what Sanders wants does exist in most other industrial nations it is paid for by everyone in their taxes.  Is the population of the U.S. currently willing to accept this responsibility?

 

Another consideration is: Can Bernie Sanders bring about legislation to allow much of this change to occur?  Barack Obama was elected under the theme, It’s Time for a Change.  After two years in office stopping a Great Depression and bringing about Affordable Health Care, a Republican majority was elected to the House of Representatives, and thereafter no bills were passed helping him govern.  In all probability Bernie will have the same legislative problems.  Currently both the House and the Senate both have Republican majorities.  The Republicans do not believe in anything Sanders wants.  The Senate may become democratic again in 2016 but the probability is that the House will retain its Republican majority.  Bernie will be in the same position that Obama has been in for the last five years, unable to get any progressive legislation through Congress.  How will he adapt to that?

 

While Bernie may be tough, still there has to be a limit as to how much frustration he can take.  There’s a good possibility that that limit will be reached with his four year presidency.

 

Currently Hillary is leading in the number of delegates.  She has 2,165, Bernie has 1,357.  On Tuesday, April 26th Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island held their primaries.  There were a total of 354 bound votes available.

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In the recent, April 26th, Super Tuesday Hillary Clinton won four of the five state primary contests raising the number of delegates who will vote for her in the July Democratic Nominating Convention to 2,165.  The required number required to become the Democratic Candidate in 2016 is 2,583.

 

There are still 14 states and territories to go.  Indiana is on Tuesday, May 3 and the Democratic nominating conventions will continue through June 14th with a total of 1,207 delegates still to go.  Bernie Sanders currently has 1,357 delegates pledged to him.  The probability of Bernie overtaking her and achieving 2,583 votes in practically nil; he would need virtually all the delegates plus a small number of unbound delegates to just reach the total.

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton will be the next Presidential Candidate for the Democratic Party in 2016.

 

What Sander can realistically do at this point is to get as many of his ideas as possible drafted into the Democratic Platform.  After all with a few exceptions he and Hillary are philosophically not far apart.  Continuing to battle her might, in his mind, increase these possibilities.  Sanders has announced that he will stay in the race to the end.  He must be hoping that enough of the unbound or Super delegates will vote for him or that Hillary and the Democratic Party will accept most of what he wants added to the platform.  Either way he will be a winner even if Hillary Clinton is elected to the president.

The Weiner Component #152 – Part 1: The 41st National Republican Nominating Convention

English: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH Fr...

English: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH Français : Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Embed from Getty Images

From July 18th to July 21st the 2016 41st Republican National Convention will meet at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Convention of 2,472 delegates will choose the Republican candidates for both President and Vice President of the United States.  They will also write a Party Platform for which the Party will stand for the next four years.

 

This will be the third time Cleveland has hosted this event since 1936.  In order to be chosen a candidate needs a simple majority, 1, 237 votes from convention delegates. 

 

The Republicans began holding nominating conventions throughout the states in 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt wanted to again run for the presidency.  It was done on a very limited basis then.  He ended up running as a third party candidate and lost to the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson.  It was widely used in 1952 to choose Dwight David Eisenhower as the Republican candidate.  Finally in 1968 the primary or caucus system was used throughout the 50 states and territories.   Initially when the primary elections began in 2016 there were 17 candidates for the office.  Another 5 attempted to enter but they had withdrawn before the primaries began. 

 

The major question at this Convention is: Who will be nominated to run against the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the country?  Currently there are three viable Republican candidates: Donald J. Trump, Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz, and John R. Kasich. 

 

Kasich currently has less delegate votes than Marco Rubio had when he quit the race after losing his home state, Florida.  There is no possible way he can attain the 1,237 delegate votes needed to be chosen as the candidate.  Consequently he is hoping that both Trump and Cruz will be disqualified and the Convention will choose him.

 

The race at this point is between Trump and Cruz.  In order for either one to win that individual needs to come up with 1,237 delegate votes on the first ballot.  Because once the delegates have voted their obligation for their designated candidate on the first ballot, if they do not reach the necessary number of votes their obligation to vote for their candidate expires, and they are free to vote for whomsoever they wish.

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A week prior to the opening of the July commencement of the 41st National Nominating Convention its Rules Committee will meet in Cleveland and redefine or set the rules for the convention.  They could be a renewal of the 2012 Rules, a slight variation on them, a complete new set of rules, or a combination of any two of the above.  In essence the Rules Committee will establish a complete set of rules for the 2016 Republican National Nominating Convention.  What will they be?  That’s a very good question, which will not be completely answered until July 18th of 2016 in Cleveland when the entire Convention approves them.

 

There are important considerations in the process.  Every one of the 50 states and the territories have their own have their own specific election primary laws or practices.  Actual primary elections are run by the states, caucuses are done by the political party.  There are one or two states where the results of the primary election have nothing to do with appointing delegates to the National Convention.  Just about every state also has three unbound electors or Superdelegates who will go to the Cleveland Nominating Convention not bound to any candidate.  They usually, but not always, vote for the favorite.  In the state of Georgia almost all the delegates favor Cruz in 2016 but Donald Trump won the Primary Election there.  These people are legally committed to vote for Trump on the first ballot and possibly on the second one also but after that they will vote for Cruz.  Also according to the old rules (2012) caucus elections are not legal and the votes from open primary elections don’t count.  An open election is where the voters can vote for the candidate in either party.  In some states with closed primaries the voters have to be registered months earlier in order to vote in a primary election.  In other states they can register the day of the election or up to a day earlier.  Consequently what specifically will be a legal vote for a candidate what will not be will be determined the first day after the Convention begins on July 18, 2016 and is voted into existence on that day.  This means that a candidate like Donald Trump even coming to the Convention with 1,237 delegate votes may not legally have 1,237 votes by the rules of the Convention.

 

Donald Trump has been vociferously complaining about the unfairness of the Republican leadership, that he is the leading candidate according to the popular vote, has the most delegates committed to him, but that other delegates have been unfairly awarded to Ted Cruz, and earlier to other candidates.  Interestingly one of the Republican Party people stated on April 13th that if Trump comes to the Convention with 1,100 committed delegates he will be the Republican candidate; that the additional votes to make up the 1,237 will be found for him, presumably from the uncommitted delegates. 

 

Is this true or was it stated to pacify an unruly crowd?  The person who said this may have been a Republican official but he wasn’t the present head of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus is the current National Chairman; and I suspect he wouldn’t make a statement like that.  In fact he hasn’t.

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It would seem that Donald Trump, when all is said and done, is an amateur politician; and this holds true for his staff also.  For example neither Trump nor any members of his staff made any prerequisite contacts in Colorado or Wyoming.  Cruz did do so and all the delegates from both states were assigned to him.  The state chairman from Wyoming made a negative statement about Trump several months earlier.  The caucuses or straw votes by the general Republican population were ignored.  The decision as to who the nominee would be was made by the State Republican chairman, the treasurer, the party secretary, and all the county chairmen.  All 37 delegates in Colorado were assigned to Ted Cruz.  The same thing happened in Wyoming; Cruz won all 14 delegates.  He was the only Republican to campaign there.  The victory occurred on April 16, 2016.  A member of his staff had been there for months working for that victory. 

 

Cruz is well organized and will do whatever is necessary to win in those areas of the country where he can win or gather delegate votes.  As of, Tuesday, April 19th he has gotten 559 delegates.  He won no delegates in the New York primary.  Trump is still ahead with 845.  In the New York primary he won 89 out of 95 possible delegates.

 

Trump has vociferously called the Republican selection process unfair and rigged in both Colorado and Wyoming.  In fact it would seem that Trump and his staff did not understand the process in Colorado and did not contact the party there, nor did they bother in Wyoming.  They must have assumed that everything in these two states would automatically take care of itself.  Cruz did not make this mistake.

 

Delegates in Colorado are chosen through a process that starts with March 1st caucuses and ends at the state convention on April 9th.  Colorado delegates can go to the National Convention as either bound or unbound to a candidate.  This year they are all bound to Cruz.

 

Wyoming holds a primary election on April 5th and Cruz has had staff there for months working toward his candidacy.  He also visited the state earlier for a couple of days and held rallies there.

 

Even though the delegate nominating vote will not occur in the state of Washington until May 24th Trump’s staff has sent the paperwork necessary to be in the state primary to Washington, D.C.  While I imagine there is still plenty of time to correct this error is it the type of mistake that should be made by a candidate running for the presidency of the United States?  Both he and his staff are inordinately sloppy in their actions.  Is this the way professionals are supposed to behave?  I get the feeling when people feel they know everything there’s nothing they can ever learn.  And this behavior seems to be that of Trump and of his staff.

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Trump is also a master at bellyaching.  He never seems to cease complaining about one or another injustice against him by the Republican Party.  He fumed over the results from Colorado.  He’s blamed the media and the press for refusing to point out what he has described as an injustice in the Republican primary contest.  “The media is so dishonest.  Honestly, I do wonder.  I’m millions of votes ahead which they don’t even mention, they don’t even talk about. They talk about delegates.  And I’m hundreds of delegates ahead but the system is rigged, folks.  It’s a rigged, disgusting dirty system.  It’s a dirty system and only a non-politician would say it.”

 

 He feels that much of the Republican leadership in Washington D. C. and across the United States is opposed to him.  A good example of this is what happened in Colorado and the fact that some Republican Super Pac’s are spending millions in ads to defeat him.  In fact there are three Republican Super Pac’s that are focused upon his defeat.  These are The Club for Growth, Our Principals Pact, and the American Futures Fund.  They are all unaligned without any specific candidate and it is estimated that they have so-far spent 23.5 million on negative ads against Donald Trump.

 

Another colorful example is Indiana, which will hold its Primary Election on May 3, 2016.  Indiana has 57 delegates.  This is the second largest block coming up next to California.  Of these 56 are now committed (April 15) to not voting for Trump.  One of the 57 delegates is committed to Trump.  The Primary Election will still take place on May 3, 2016; but ultimately it will have nothing to do with choosing delegates.  That has already been done by the Republican State Party Leadership.  Trump visited the state on Wednesday, April 20th, the day after his New York victory.

 

Are many leading members of the Republican Party out to get Trump?  Obviously.  Many see the potential of his candidacy harming the Republican Party for years to come.  He represents the undereducated, blue collar workers, the people who could never get themselves to vote Democratic, the bottom third of the Republican Party who have never gotten anything from the Party except the right to own guns.  They are essentially disgusted with their party and want something more in return for their vote.  These are the people who have continually supported Trump.

 

He, in his speeches, is telling them that if he is not the frontrunner in the Presidential Election then they should stay home and not vote.  It would seem that Trump is not only fighting to get elected but he is also fighting the Republican Party in order to be elected President of the United States.  He has also made comments or veiled threats about what will happen at the Convention if he, the frontrunner, is not elected.

 

If Trump does not reach the 1,237 delegates for the first vote at the Convention it is highly possible that Cruz’s organizational advantage could win him the nomination after the first vote in the election; but it is also possible that he will still not have enough delegates to reach the 1,237 votes needed to be chosen.  Trump won the Louisiana primary but Cruz might end up with more delegates than Trump by gaining Marco Rubio’s delegates and the unbound delegates from that state.

 

There is an interesting note or irony here.  These same class of blue collar men and women in Las Vegas, who are currently employed by Trump at his casino, are currently fighting for the right to unionize Trump’s International Hotel in Las Vegas.  His management is doing everything possible in what is mainly a largely unionized city to keep the casino workers from being able to unionize.  Consequently Trump is fighting a small section with a group of the very people who support him politically to keep them from being able to unionize. 

 

As a footnote: it should be noted that both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are generating a lot of hostility particularly among the school-age youth across a good part of this country.  Their remarks about Muslims and Hispanics are and have created bullying and tension among young children and teenagers in public schools.  It is increasing racial and ethnic pressure to the point where it is noticeable by their teachers.  Whether it is being picked up from conversations at home or from both conversations and television is beside the point.  The point is that there is a noticeable increase in this behavior being touched off by the two major Republican candidates.  And that is not good news for a country that prides itself on all the racial and ethnic groups that make it up!

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Ted Cruz, the other major Republican Candidate, has said, that Muslim areas of the United States should be specially patrolled by the police.  In certain respects it is hard to tell the two Republican candidates apart for their negative qualities, which even though they are not all similar are equally bad. 

 

In 2012 Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate.  He was the far right candidate, with heavy support from the Texas Tea Party.  He won the state Republican primary over Republican Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and later, in the election, beat the Democratic candidate.  Cruz failed to report two loans, which helped him finance his campaign, that were required by law.  Time Magazine reported the first one during the 2012 campaign and The New York Times reported the second one in 2016.  Cruz disclosed the loans on his Senate financial disclosure forms in July of 2012, but not on the Federal Election Commission form.  The second loan came largely from Goldman Sacks, where his wife worked as an executive.  Cruz stated that his failure to disclose these loans was accidental.  There was no evidence that his wife was involved in securing the second loan.  These monies, several million dollars, were repaid by later campaign fundraising.

 

Cruz has sponsored 25 bills of his own.  Among these were: a bill to cancel Affordable Health Care (Obamacare), two bills to investigate and prosecute felons and fugitives who illegally purchase firearms, a bill to permit states to require proof of citizenship for registering to vote in federal elections, a bill to increase coal, natural gas, and crude oil exports, to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, to expand oil drilling offshore, to give states the sole power of regulating hydraulic fracturing, to prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, to earmark natural resource revenue to paying off the Federal Debt, and to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to eliminate all limits on direct campaign contributions for candidates for public office.

 

Cruz was heavily involved in the Government Shutdown of 2013 which ended up costing the U.S. Economy about 29 billion dollars.  Cruz gave a 21 hour Senate speech in an effort to hold up a federal budget bill and defund the Affordable Care Act.  Cruz’s efforts encouraged the House of Representatives to effect the shutdown.  It did not really stop any bills from passing in the Senate.  Even Republican Senators denounced the move; Senator Lindsey Graham called the move ineffective and “shameless.” 

 

Cruz has denounced President Obama as an enemy of the Republic.  He has used harsh rhetoric against fellow Republicans calling a number of them who voted for a bill backed by the President a “surrender caucus.”  He accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of telling “a flat out lie.”  On abortion Cruz is strongly prolife.  He’ll allow the termination of a pregnancy only when the mother’s life is in danger; rape or incest are not grounds for an abortion.  He opposes both same-sex marriages and civil unions; marriage should be legally defined as a union between one man and one woman.  He supports school choice and opposes the state regulated common core standards.  He is totally against Affordable Health Care and would repeal that law.  He is a gun rights advocate and is opposed to certain religious groups (Muslim) immigrating to the United States. 

 

In terms of criminal law, Cruz has called for an end to “over-criminalization, harsh mandatory minimum sentences, and the demise of jury trials.”  He believes that most criminals are Democrats and that is the reason Democrats are soft on crime.  They want the votes of the criminal class.  He has accused the President and the Attorney General of vilifying police law enforcement. 

 

He believes in free trade, in a flat tax that everyone pays in terms of an equal percentage that they can file on the back of a postcard.  He wants to do away with the IRS.  He is opposed to a higher minimum wage.

 

Following the Tea Party theology Cruz wants to decrease the size of the Federal Government significantly.  He would do this by eliminating the IRS plus four other cabinet agencies: the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  He is also a staunch supporter of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

 

Cruz rejects what most scientists accept as fact that the earth’s surface is slowly and continually heating because of the gases that are continually being spewed into the atmosphere.  In March of 2015 he stated that there had been no significant global warming for the last eighteen years.

 

In foreign affairs Cruz stringently opposes the United Nations Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that brought about the non-nuclear development agreement with Iran and the U.N., calling it catastrophic and disastrous.  Of the 2014 thaw in relations between Cuba and the U.S., Cruz called it foreign policy that “will be remembered as a tragic mistake.”  In 2013 Cruz stated that American armed forces should not serve as “al-Qaeda’s air force.”  In 2014 he said, “The president’s foreign policy team utterly missed the threat of ISIS, indeed, was working to arm Syrian rebels that were fighting side by side with ISIS.”  He has also called for carpet bombing of ISIS, which would kill innumerable non-ISIS members and create a very negative image of America in the Middle East or wherever we attacked ISIS.

 

It should also be noted that Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is an American investment manager at Goldman Sacks, who currently is on a leave of absence from the company.  She has an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and is currently Regional Head of the Southwest United States for the Investment Management Division in Houston.  She took a leave of absence to participate in her husband’s presidential campaign.  I’m sure Goldman Sacks would like to have one of their executives as first lady.

 

The meeting of the Republican Nominating Convention during the third week in July should be very dramatic.

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From what I understand Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz has a very good mind.  He was probably academically the top student both in his college class and in law school.  Over the years probably from his teenage period on or possibly even earlier he has worked out his prospective of the world around him and firmly believes what he says.  He tends to be at the right extreme or beyond from the Tea Party’s position.  He has a tendency to denounce anyone who doesn’t agree with him.  This includes the entire faculty of Harvard Law School.  He called them Communists after he graduated.  If anything, by his actions, he is intolerant of anyone who doesn’t agree with him; this includes at times the entire U.S. Senate.  From statements he has made, as President he will us his executive privilege, far beyond anything President Obama has done. 

 

A goodly percentage of the Republican Party doesn’t want him as their candidate.  And the probability is that neither he nor Trump will have the necessary 1,237 delegate votes to be nominated as the Republican candidate for the presidency.  The Republican Nominating Convention will be looking for, what has historically been called, a “dark horse.”  They will move into their convention without a specific candidate.  There is a very high probability that the Republicans will have to go through a large number of ballots before they choose someone that the majority can live with.  The process of doing this should be very loud and highly dramatic.

 

It then becomes an open convention and the search is on for an acceptable candidate.    Who will it be? 

 

The first person waiting in the wings is John Kasich; in fact, he seems to have planned to be in this position and he will be the only choice left.  Kasich served in the House of Representatives for 18 years, has worked in the private sector as an investment banker, and is now serving his second term as governor of Ohio.  He tends to be a more liberal or compassionate conservative than any of the other Republican candidates.  He has the smallest number of delegates, 148.  This is less even than Marco Rubio had when he withdrew from the race and who is no longer running for the office of president.  Kasich will no doubt claim to be the only real alternative that the Party has If Trump and Cruz don’t reach 1,237 votes.

 

Another possibility would be Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican Presidential candidate, who lost that election to Barak Obama.  He has stated that he has no desire to be president but is waiting in the wings to be asked to serve his country.

 

A third possibility is Paul Ryan, the current Speaker of the House of Representatives.  He has specifically stated: “Let me be perfectly clear: I do not want nor will I accept the nomination of our party.”  But he said the same thing about becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives.  Speaker Paul Ryan could be drafted.  He ran in 2012 for both the Vice Presidency and as a continuing member of the House of Representatives.  He will preside over the Cleveland Convention.

 

Ryan has indicated that he sees disaster for the Republican Party if either Trump or Cruz are nominated.  He has urged delegates to pass a rule limiting the nomination only to actual candidates.  If he is successful in doing this then he would seem to favor John Kasich.  But it would also open the convention up to all the former Republican candidates who have dropped out of the race.  And Marco Rubio, even though he dropped out after losing the Florida Primary, has a higher number of delegates than Kasich.  It would also resurrect Jeb Bush.  It’s a crazy situation.

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Another important consideration is what will happen at the actual Presidential Election; Donald Trump seems to be contemplating rioting from his supporters if he is not nominated.  As to the final vote he is telling his followers to stay at home and not vote if he is not the candidate.  Will he be successful?  At worst, partially; at best, considerably.

 

Ted Cruz’s supporters seem to have a similar attitude.  They detest Trump and probably will not vote for him if he is the candidate.  Trump has a following of about 35 to 37% of the registered Republicans in the primaries.  To become president he will need over 50% of the combined vote from all the political groups.

 

If the candidate becomes Kasich or some other choice will that person, who is a compromise candidate, be able to unite the Republican Party or does it stay as splintered as it is currently?

 

I suspect it will stay splintered with many Republican votes never being cast.  The probability is that the Republican Party, which is the minority party in the United States, will lose the Presidential Election.

The Weiner Component #151 – Part 2: The Current State of the Presidential Election

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Tuesday, April 5th the State of Wisconsin held its nominating election for both the Democratic and Republican selections for 82 Democratic and 39 Republican delegates.  The winners were Bernie Sanders for the Democrats and Ted Cruz for the Republicans. 

 

There were 86 delegate votes available for the Democrats in Wisconsin.  Sanders won 46 delegates and received 567,858 votes and Clinton received 433,574 votes and got 36 delegates.  The remaining 4 unelected delegates generally vote for the winner but in this case are committed to Hillary Clinton, giving her 40 delegates for that state.  Among the Republicans Ted Cruz got 531,129 votes and 36 delegates.  Donald J. Trump received 386,290 votes and 3 delegates.  There are also 3 non-elected Republican delegates.

 

The Democratic delegate count, as it currently (April 10) is Clinton 1,756 and Sanders 1068 delegates.  One of them needs 2383 by the last week in July to be chosen the Presidential Candidate.  There are 4,765 available of mostly committed and some non-committed supper delegates.  There are still 1955 delegates left in the remaining states and territories.   Both Parties count their votes in different ways.

 

Of the Republican delegate count Trump has 743 and Cruz has 545 committed delegates.  One of them needs 1,237 delegates out of 2,472 possible delegates.  There are also a total of32 non-committed delegates in this group from the states.  Generally, but not always, they go to the leading candidate.  There are 811 delegates left in the states that still have to hold their primaries or caucuses.

 

John Kasich has a very low number of delegates, 143 delegates.  There is no possible way he can win enough of them to even make a showing;   but he is in to the finish, hoping that neither Trump nor Cruz will get the requisite number and that neither will be chosen at the July Nominating Convention.  Then he will be ready as a possible candidate for the presidency. 

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What is interesting here is that Trump had the same percentage of votes in Wisconsin that he had in all the states where he came in first, 35%.  Only in all those elections there were a larger number of Republican candidates to split the delegate or caucus vote so that their numbers were lower than his.  But in what was essentially a two man contest in Wisconsin Trump still achieved 1/3d of the Republican vote.  This would indicate, if it holds constant, that there is no way, if he is chosen as the Republican candidate, that he will win a general election.  And that is true for an election even by his own party.

 

Trump’s reaction to these results was a statement or outcry of protest that he had been cheated of his deserved victory by a Republican Super Pac that spent millions to defeat him in Wisconsin and by the fact that Cruz was/is a puppet of the Republican leadership.  He takes no credit that his past or even present behavior during these elections might have turned off a lot of Republican voters, particularly women, their husbands, and the minority groups voting Republican.

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The day before the Wisconsin primary, April 5th, Ted Cruz released a 30 second television ad criticizing John Kasich for the first time by exploring his ties with Worthington Industries, a Fortune 500 company in Ohio that last year laid off hundreds of employees, including 115 in Ohio.  The implications were obvious, showing Kasich’s ties to big business.  The note of irony, which to my knowledge no one has mentioned, is that Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is on leave from Goldman Sacks, a leading investment banking corporation.  She is a lead executive with that company.

 

In addition to the television ad the Cruz campaign also sent out a mailer attacking Kasich’s spending policies as governor of Ohio and his position on guns and the military. 

 

This was the first time Cruz or anyone has run an ad against Kasich.  It would seem that Cruz wants Kasich to drop out of the presidential race and leave it as a contest just between himself and Trump.  Kasich’s delegate numbers are 143, which is lower than Marco Rubio’s, who dropped out of the race after losing Florida, his home state.  Cruz called Kasich a spoiler in the Presidential contest.  Kasich, however, is determined to stay in until the end.  Apparently he believes that both Cruz and Trump will be disqualified and he will be left as the only choice.

 

Kasich response to Cruz has been that he, Cruz never helped create any jobs but that he got a sweetheart loan from Goldman Sacks for his Senate campaign which he failed to disclose to the FEC during his campaign for the Senate.  “Cruz’s attack and his own hypocrisy are further proof that the voters can’t trust him and he will do anything to win.”

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On Saturday, April 9th the Wyoming Democrats held their caucus; there were 14 possible delegates.  Bernie Sanders received 55.7% of the vote and won 7 delegates and Hillary Clinton got 44.3% of the vote and received 7 delegates.  Their delegate and super delegate numbers now are: Clinton 1756 and Sanders 1068.  The next nominating election will be in New York on April 19th .  247 delegates will be up for grabs in that election. 

 

Sanders has done well in mostly white western states.  New York is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic city and state.  It is questionable that he will do as well there.  But he has attracted the young, first time voters. In addition Hillary Rodham Clinton was originally one of the senators from that state.

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One of the major difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties has to do with climate change, with the fact that the carbon wastes are being massively spewed into the atmosphere and as a result is warming the planet and its oceans, slowly melting the ice caps, and very gradually changing the ecology of the planet in a negative way for mankind.

 

Ted Cruz says that the concept of climate change is nonsense, that what is happening would occur on the planet even without man being present.  Donald Trump says it’s a rumor begun by the Chinese Communists for their own purposes.  John Kasich states that climate change is occurring but he doesn’t know why.  Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton would like to see more done by the U.S. to reverse it.

 

If we attempt to examine and understand the Republican position on this problem, using an historical example should make it easier to comprehend where they are coming from.  They continually resist what is now an essentially proven theory of climate change, accepted throughout most of the world, including by the majority of non-Republicans within the United States.

 

To the early European Christian Church the Medieval concept of the cosmos presented a major dilemma.  Their concept was based upon their religious belief, which in turn allowed their early Church Fathers over a period of centuries to logically work out an image of how the universe functioned based upon their religious belief. 

 

Accordingly, God created the earth, heavens, and mankind or Adam and Eve in six days.  He made the earth the center of this universe around which everything revolved.  Hell was in inner center of the earth, purgatory was the moon separate from the heavens, and the heavens was the area of the stars, wherein God sat upon a majestic throne surrounded by angels and the souls of worthy human beings glorying in his reflected light. 

 

Those who had not accepted God’s primacy and existence but had not sinned resided in Purgatory.  And those who had sinned in life suffered in Hell.  The life on earth was the testing ground for all persons or souls.  The good souls who, for one reason or another, had not accepted God as their savior resided in Limbo, the first level of heaven which was removed from the light of God.  While this is a simplistic version of the early Catholic Churches view of the cosmos it is still generally accurate.

 

The problem with this interpretation is that the actual cosmos and religion are two entirely different entities.  The early Christians who defined the universe did so in terms of their limited knowledge and understanding.  They saw the world as a much simpler place than it is believed to be in the present.  Interestingly or strangely there are still people around who believe a variation of the earlier interpretation of the cosmos.

 

As telescopes were invented the awareness of the universe changed among an educated few.  But to the then living Church fathers the new scientific knowledge challenged their absolute belief in their religious faith.  It could in time, many of them believed, repudiate their religion.

 

Initially everyone who had this new learning became a heretic.    Copernicus, during the Sixteenth Century, in his major work, propounded the theory that the earth and the planets revolved around the sun.  He did not have this book published until after his death in 1543 for fear of being declared a heretic and imprisoned and possibly executed.  The book was largely suppressed by the Church,

 

Galileo, 1564 – 1642, constructed the first complete astronomical telescope and confirmed Copernicus’ theory.  He was forced by the inquisition to abjure his discoveries and verbally go back to the earth centered universe.  There were others who followed these two and eventually, when it had no other choice, the Catholic Church and other religious groups accepted modern astronomy and separated religion from science.   The process took hundreds of years.

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In the case of the Republican Party: they are mainly funded by large contributors from the fossil fuel industries and other pollution producing corporations who would tend to lose fortunes if green energy became the major source of electric power.

 

The problem with modern politics in the United States is that it cost to get elected to public office and it costs equally large amounts of money to stay in office and get reelected.   Since 2010 when the Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission case was adjudicated in the Supreme Court spending on political campaigns became equated with the First Amendment’s Free Speech right.  Spending on an election became an Unlimited Free Speech Right.  This right of Free Speech was expressed by essentially unlimited political contributions by unions, corporations, political action committees, wealthy billionaires, and others.  This even allowed foreign government’s shell corporations to influence American elections.

 

In 2002 $17 million was spent on the elections.  By 2006 that amount rose to $52 million.  And in 2010 it was $290 million.  This did not count independent spending.  These were not Presidential Election years. 

 

During Presidential Election years the amount rises exponentially.  The amount spent on the 2012 Presidential Election by both the Democrats and the Republicans is estimated at over 6 billion dollars.  The Democratic and Republican Parties spent 2 billion dollars; the political committees and Pac’s spent 2.1 billion dollars; and the candidates in their campaigns expended 3.2 billion dollars.  Since all contributions over $200 have to be registered, the Federal Election Commission processed 11 million pages of campaign funding related documents.

 

The Presidential Election is just one of the many elections held in 2012.  There were also Congressional Elections: the entire House of Representatives and 1/3d of the Senate, and numerous state and city elections.  If we rank the cost of all of these together the cost is astronomical.   And all this will be recurring in November of 2016

 

The probability is that the cost of the 2016 Election will be even greater than the 6 billion dollar figure estimated to have been spent in 2012.  In the Wisconsin Republican Nominating Election a Super Pac emerged whose sole function was to debunk Donald Trump; they spent millions doing so.  This does not count all the other spending that went on.  President Obama attended two political dinners on the weekend of April 8th where the entry fee was $20,400 for a couple.  The overall amounts expended for the 2016 Presidential Election will not be known until well into 2017 but it should exceed the prior 6 billion dollar mark for just the Presidential Election.

 

The thing to keep in mind is that there is no built in mechanism to fund political campaigns.  All this money has to be raised voluntarily.  The process puts an extensive burden upon the candidates and elected individuals serving in government.  They have to continually raise money. 

 

This process affects politicians in an adverse manner.  The Republicans have to a certain extent solved their problem in an interesting fashion.  No one likes to feel bought or owned by large contributors.  They have like the earlier Catholic Church worked out a rationale to justify their acceptance of many large contributions and that is to take the position that a percentage of modern science is nonsense.  By internally rejecting pollution as a cause of changing climate conditions on the earth they justify the support of petroleum industries by individuals like the Koch Brothers who contribute multi-millions every year to Republican causes.  In essence they have internalized the needs or desires of these corporations and made them part of their own rationales.  They, the Republicans, are not being bought by the polluters, instead they are merely cooperating with likeminded people.  It’s an interesting process of self-deception.

 

No doubt this is done by both political parties; but the degree to which it is done by the Republicans far surpasses anything that the Democrats do.  Remember according to Donald Trump the concept of climate change is a Chinese Communist plot.  Ted Cruz considers it a hoax and John Kasich, while admitting that it exists, doesn’t know why it does.  He wants to put pollution control in the hands of the states and the companies that produce it.  He feels that self-regulation, which has never worked in the past, will work in the future.

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What is the current state of politics and the oncoming Presidential Election in the United States today?  Both of these can certainly use some reform.  In France, for example, a maximum amount is set the can be spent on a Presidential Election, 30 million dollars.  Should we have a maximum amount?  The United States covers a far larger area than France.  Should a larger maximum amount be set?

 

Should the Federal Government finance future elections requiring the press and the media to provide free time and space for the candidates as a public service?  Some of this was done in the past.  It was dropped because some of the candidates wanted far larger amounts and these could be raised privately.

 

There would have to be rules as to the requirements for an individual to become a candidate for public office on city, state, and national levels before they would receive aid from the particular level of government which is holding the election.  I imagine it would be quite complicated to organize.  Could it be done?

 

Do we need a Constitutional Amendment limiting the level of contributions to a political campaign?  Would we be better off that way?  The issue get more and more complicated.