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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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Entries tagged "Democrats"

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Latinos' One-Sided Love Affair with Obama

November 15, 2012 ·

Clearly, we Latinos love President Barack Obama. He garnered nearly three-fourths of our vote. In battleground states like Nevada, Florida, and Colorado , we helped catapult the incumbent president to victory.

An Obama supporter displays an "Obamanos" sign at a campaign rally in Wisconsin. Photo by Mundo Hispanico.Unlike African Americans, Latinos didn't always back Democrats by this kind of margin. In 2004, George W. Bush garnered 40 percent of the Latino vote. Had Mitt Romney pulled that off this year, he might have won the White House.

Although Obama overwhelmingly won our support, we're still unhappy with his immigration track record. He's made no progress toward achieving a long-overdue and comprehensive immigration reform. Even more disheartening, more people are being deported under his leadership than during Bush's presidency. To put this in its tragic context, thousands of our families have been torn apart. Too many kids are growing up without their parents.

Obama lucked out because the Republican Party is taking such an extreme stance on immigration that many Latino voters that might have otherwise voted GOP rejected it at the ballot box.

Romney advocated for "self-deportation" and failed to distance himself from Arizona's Republican-led state government, which passed an extremist "papers please" law that implicitly advocated racial discrimination. Most Republicans oppose the DREAM Act, a bill that would give millions of young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. Republicans regularly refer to undocumented immigrants as "illegal aliens," insinuating that they're not only different but somehow sub-human.

We aren't single-issue voters or a homogenous voting bloc. But we do take the issue of immigration personally. Nearly all Latino voters have ties of some sort to undocumented immigrants. We may have been undocumented at one point or have family and friends who are currently undocumented or used to be. Both my parents came to this country without legal documentation.

Ironically, they became citizens because of the 1986 amnesty law President Ronald Reagan signed. Some of my best friends are undocumented. Most of them came to this country when they were kids. This is the only country they've ever known. This is their home — they're as American as me. The DREAM Act would provide my friends and others like them with the opportunity to realize their true potential as American citizens.

When Republicans label all undocumented immigrants as "criminals," "aliens," and "illegals," we in the Latino community can't help but feel that the GOP is badmouthing our grandparents, our mothers and fathers, our neighbors, and our friends. Why would any group support a political party that explicitly disrespects its loved ones?

On Election Day, we came out in record numbers in support of Obama. In tight Senate races in states like New Mexico and Virginia, the Latino vote gave those Democratic candidates a winning edge Without Latino support, the Democratic Party would have lost its Senate majority in 2010 and failed to win it back this year.

The onus is now on the White House to prove that he deserved our votes.

In his most recent press conference, Obama said he supports "a pathway for legal status" instead of citizenship. This is discouraging news. We voted for him because we want our loved ones to become citizens. We won't settle for less. Obama must push for bills like the DREAM Act, and fight for comprehensive immigration reform, but more importantly he must ensure that these are legitimate pathways to citizenship.

We may love President Obama, but now it's time for the entire Democratic Party to prove it loves us back. How long can this one-sided love affair last?

 

Javier Rojo is the New Mexico Fellow at Institute for Policy Studies. IPS-dc.org

Top Democrats Push Obama on Capital Controls

May 29, 2012 ·

At a point in the election season when politicians of the same party tend to sweep their differences under the rug, two senior Democrats have sent a strong letter to the Obama administration on a subject unknown to most American voters.

Barney Frank and Sander Levin had strong words on capital controls for the Obama administration.This is the issue of capital controls -- various measures governments use to control volatile flows of money across their borders. Iceland, for example, used them to prevent massive capital flight in the midst of their meltdown. Other countries have used them to prevent speculative bubbles. In fact, governments that used capital controls during the 2008 crisis were among the least hard-hit, according to International Monetary Fund research.

However, despite their proven effectiveness in many cases, these policy tools are prohibited by U.S. trade and investment policies. Particularly in the wake of the worst financial crisis in 80 years, it's an embarrassingly outmoded position that only serves the narrow short-term interests of global financiers and corporations.

Thankfully, two top Democrats are not willing to just overlook the problem. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Representatives Barney Frank and Sander Levin stated they could not support U.S. trade agreements unless the administration produces a "binding interpretation" of U.S. policy clarifying that governments would not be subject to investor lawsuits if they use this policy tool to manage financial volatility.

Frank is the ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, while Levin is the leading Democrat on trade policy as the ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee. They are part of a growing chorus calling for trade reforms to allow greater flexibility on capital controls. In fact, in their letter to Geithner, they cited a statement signed by more than 250 economists calling for such changes in U.S. policy.

The Frank-Levin letter comes at a key moment. In April, the Obama administration released a new model U.S. bilateral investment treaty. Despite strong calls for reform from public interest representatives on an official advisory body, the new model maintains the old language prohibiting capital controls, with no exceptions for times of financial crisis. Governments that violate such rules face the prospect of being sued by foreign investors in international tribunals.

The administration intends to use this new model as the template for bilateral investment treaties with China, India, and several other countries. It's also a strong indication of what they're seeking in ongoing negotiations over a Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement involving at least eight other governments.

By stepping up pressure from Congress, Frank and Levin may help alter the outcome of these negotiations. By showing that the views of U.S. officials are not monolithic, they may embolden negotiators from other countries who are seeking a more reasonable approach. Two of the governments involved in the Trans-Pacific talks, Singapore and Chile, sought exemptions for the use of capital controls to prevent crises when they negotiated bilateral trade agreements with the United States about a decade ago. At that time, the Bush administration refused to concede, beyond putting some modest limits on how much investors could demand in compensation for certain types of controls.

Today, we have the opportunity to apply lessons from a financial crisis caused by poorly controlled financial activities. And it's never been clearer that financial stability at home and abroad is essential for U.S. economic health. When our trading partners fall into financial crisis, we lose export markets and jobs. When hot money makes it impossible to control currency values, it hurts long-term investors and exporters and importers from the United States.

It's in all of our interest to support a fresh, flexible approach to capital controls.

Who Gives A Rat's Behind that Progressive Lawmakers WON?

November 8, 2010 ·

I recently published the blog post Buck Up Progressives--We WON! Many readers appreciated the silver lining to an otherwise demoralizing mid-term election outcome. Others thought the resilience of Congressional Progressive Caucus lawmakers meaningless at best, just the same or worse than corporate-owned, pro-wealthy Republicans at worst.

So, does it matter that there are close to 80 self-proclaimed House progressives who maintained their seats in the wake of an unprecedented flood of secret money, thanks to the Supreme Court's "Citizen's United" ruling?

It certainly does.

An overwhelming majority of Congressional Progressive Caucus incumbents won after governing with integrity in most instances. They weren't always successful. They failed in their bid for Single Payer, then in their stand for a "Robust Public Option" in the health reform bill. They couldn't defund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lack of movement on truly progressive steps to reverse climate change, to get a good jobs bill out of Congress, scrap Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and securing full enfranchisement for citizens living in the District of Columbia were deeply disappointing.

Yet, thanks in large part to progressive grassroots movements, advocates and experts, Congressional Progressive Caucus lawmakers successfully increased food stamp benefits for our growing numbers of hungry families. They helped keep 3.3 million people out of poverty by extending Unemployment Insurance to our alarming number of unemployed workers. They, at least temporarily, helped create 250,000 state jobs for low-income TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) recipients in the Great Recession's wake.

They played a crucial role in getting Congress to rein in predatory lenders, regulate Wall Street, pass credit card consumer protection, protect worker rights, increase the minimum wage, subsidize health insurance for Americans who lost their jobs, boost the Earned Income Tax Credit to lift vulnerable families out of poverty, and more.

In other words, they did more than any other congressional block to introduce and pass progressive legislation that made significant differences in the lives of poor people and others who are struggling in this country. They have laid the groundwork for more that can be done in the lame duck session, including passing a meaningful jobs bill, extending much-needed Unemployment Insurance, passing a good child nutrition bill and extending the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund to keep jobs for low-income workers.

Because progressive Democrats prevailed in the midterm elections as the Blue Dog delegation's ranks were halved, we will likely have Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader instead of conservative Steny Hoyer. Because we have so many progressives in Congress, we'll have champions for our causes and venues for our ideas.

There's no question that our possibilities of advancing any more of a progressive agenda in Congress are vastly diminished if not eliminated by key progressive losses, and that future congressional elections are jeopardized by sweeping GOP victories in many state legislatures. Indeed, we'll probably see some of the successes we've had rolled back. But keeping the Congressional Progressive Caucus intact marks a significant win for progressives and for poor people, immigrants, people of color, young people, senior citizens, single mothers, and the unemployed. It's the least we need.

We would be much worse off without them.

Buck Up People...Progressives WON!

November 4, 2010 ·

No, I am not playing the popular elementary school game of Opposites Day. It's true. Progressives won in the 2010 mid-term elections.

As touching as it was to see Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) choke up over the retelling of his hard-knock life story of having to be a waiter in his dad's bar, tears are not so attractive on the faces of Progressives this morning. Did we all miss the news flash? PROGRESSIVES WON! Two significant exceptions are of course the tragic defeat of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and the sad loss of prinicpled Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL). But, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus in the House Democratic Caucus at over 80 members, emerged virtually unscathed, losing only three members.

By constrast, the conservative Blue Dog Democratic caucus was more than sliced in half from 54 members to only 26. Further, of the 34 conservative Dems who voted against Obama's Healthcare Reform, a mere 12 won re-election.

Dead weight gone. Good Riddance. The blame for the stalemate to come can now fall squarely where it belongs...on the anti-progressive, anti-democratic, anti-populist Republican members of Congress.

Our work is now finally beginning. The veil of a happy Democratic governing majority is finally lifted. We didn't have it then; We don't have it now. But what we do have now is a more solidly progressive bunch of Dems in Congress and a president presumably less encumbered by the false illusion that playing nice will get him a date with the other team.

Let's thank Grayson, as well as Reps. John Hall (D-NY) Phil Hare (D-IL) for their principled time in office. Let's get Feingold on the ticket as Obama's runningmate in 2012. Let's throw our support unabashedly behind the Congressional Progressive Caucus and let's push Obama to finally do the right thing through as many Executive Orders as we can present to him.

People...Progressives WON!!! Republicans are all over the map. They're a mess and won't be able to wreak the havoc they seek. We should be energized. We must be energized. Too much is at stake. The road ahead isn't so bad as long as we have the big picture and the fighting spirit spurring us on. Progressives will be the heroes in 2012. Let's make Obama one too.

This is an edited version of an item that originally appeared on HuffingtonPost, where it drew hundreds of comments. Follow Karen Dolan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/karendolan

Speaker Bachmann?

November 3, 2010 ·

The crush of coverage regarding all the House, Senate, and gubernatorial races (see below) is burying several huge political stories. Such as:

Speaker Bachmann? "There is a 'draft Michele Bachmann' effort afoot among House conservatives (and prospective members) to move the Minnesota Republican into the leadership," FOX News reports (hat tip to HuffPo's Sam Stein). That's probably going to be great for the Minnesota Republican's ego, but a disaster for the GOP as it tries to expand its political gains.

Operation Turncoat. In the likely event that they don't gain 10 seats tonight, Republicans may pressure Independent Joe Lieberman and some real Senate Democrats to join the GOP, according to The Upshot, a Y! News blog.

Sí se Puede! Last-minute polls found that Latino voters were more enthusiastic about hitting the polls than previously projected. “Latino voters are poised to surprise the political class with an unprecedented mid-term turnout," said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of the immigration reform organization America’s Voice.

Meanwhile....

Dem. Chris Coons defeated Republican Christine "I'm not a witch" O'Donnell in Delaware. The GOP stripped incumbent Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) of her Senate seat and Republicans nabbed seats previously occupied by Dems in Indiana and North Dakota. Dem Richard Blumenthal knocked out Republican Linda McMahon, of the World Wrestling Entertainment empire in Connecticut. Democrat Joe Manchin will beat Republican John Raese in West Virginia, at least according to exit poll data. Tea Party fave Marco Rubio prevailed in Florida. Republican incumbents Burr and Shelby of North Carolina and Alabama, both named Richard, will keep their jobs. Dems Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Patrick Leahy of Vermont will retain their seats. In New Hampshire and Ohio, GOP candidates won seats previously held by different Republicans.

Gubernatorial race:
Dem. Mike Beebe, the incumbent, won in Arkanas. Dem John Lynch, also an incumbent, won in New Hampshire. Republican Rick Scott has a big lead in Florida, with 38 percent of the vote counted.

House races:
So far, according to The New York Times, the Dems have claimed 33 seats while the GOP has nailed 77. The Times is saying that Dems are down six seats to the GOP has gained six, including in a Virginia district where President Obama campaigned for Rep. Tom Perriello (D). Republican Robert Hurt has unseated the Freshman Democrat, The Washington Post reports.

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