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Entries tagged "presidential race"Page 1 • 2 • 3 Next
November 7, 2012 · By Karen Dolan
It was the nail-biter that wasn't
...not even close.
By just after 11,
the GOP gave up the ghost.
Turns out voters are smart —
they knew just what to do.
They knew who was for many
and who was for few.
The tea party is over,
the real work is at hand.
And we all gotta push
whoever's in command.
You can get high,
you can marry your mate,
you can get an education,
we can overcome hate.
But the job's just beginning
to transform how we live.
What we do to the planet,
what we take, what we give.
Don't make a grand bargain,
that slashes and burns
a safety net that we need,
so our kids eat, thrive and learn.
Tax Wall Street, cut waste,
end wars, tax the rich.
Turn green with great haste,
Frankenstorms are a bitch.
The people have spoken,
we've chosen our path.
Now get to work Mr. President,
look at the math.
America's not broke,
the resources are there.
We've gotta be bold,
and create for all a fair share.
Among other things, Karen Dolan is the Institute for Policy Studies' deadline poet. IPS-dc.org
November 6, 2012 · By Lacy MacAuley
Join the Election Night Party with the Institute for Policy Studies to hear from our team of experts for thought and analysis that you won’t hear in the mainstream media. IPS invites you to tune into the livestream of our Election Night Party, 8 PM to 11 PM ET.
We’ll feature a discussion with IPS drug policy expert Sanho Tree on the marijuana legalizations initiatives and how legalization will impact the drug war and our drug policy toward Latin America. You’ll hear a rundown with IPS inequality and economy guru Sarah Anderson on the “inequality vote,” the pro-99-percent candidates versus those whose Congressional actions favor the rich. We’ll have a frank and informative talk with IPS organizer Netfa Freeman on the private polling service that is used by most major broadcast news stations to forecast election winners, and how electronic voting machines may affect democracy.
And we’ll have discussion on much, much more. We'll talk about Proposition 37, the California ballot initiative that would require the labeling of genetically engineered food. We'll break down how marriage equality initiatives are faring four states. We'll review the presidential candidates’ foreign policy positions. And there will be more.
You won’t hear our experts repeat the same old phrases or analysis that you get on network news. The Institute for Policy Studies is a Washington-DC-based think tank speaking truth to power for 50 years. Tonight, we’ll be speaking the truth on livestream.
Join us for our Election Night Party, 8 PM to 11 PM ET, on our UStream Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/live-at-ips
October 29, 2012 · By Phyllis Bennis
It’s practically the eve of the election—and I’m still kind of stunned to hear from people who don’t plan to vote, who think voting doesn’t matter. A young writer, 21 years old, wrote to me the other day, after seeing an interview I did on what elections are and aren’t, and on how the candidates do and don’t differ on foreign policy. (Spoiler alert: mostly they don’t.)
Among other things, he said “We young people understand that the political theater of electoral politics will not bring about the radical transformations required to avert environmental and economic catastrophe.”
And of course he’s absolutely right. Anyone who thinks that choosing a “better” leader for the US empire will somehow bring about “radical transformations” has been watching too many campaign infomercials. Only powerful social movements can do that. We have to fight for democracy and we have to build our movements—choosing a presidential candidate doesn’t accomplish either one.
Because national elections—at least those for president—in this country are not democratic. As I said in the interview he was critiquing, presidential elections are not our turf, they’re not our people, they’re not our choices. And anyone who thinks that voting for one candidate over the other is going to solve our problems—especially global problems including wars, occupations, climate change and global inequality—is way wrong.
So our work has to focus on building our movements. But who gets elected president is dangerously relevant. My own work focuses on stopping the drone war, getting US troops out of Afghanistan now instead of two years from now, ending US support for Israeli occupation and related issues—and on those issues there’s hardly any difference between the candidates.
There is one war-and-peace issue where they do differ, and that one matters a lot. Both set “red lines” and say they would use military force against Iran—that’s disastrous under any circumstance. Romney’s red line, which is Israel’s red line, would use force to prevent Iran from reaching “nuclear weapons capability.” While it’s not defined anywhere in international law, “capability” is generally assumed to include the ability to enrich uranium and scientific knowledge. And arguably, Iran actually has that capability already. In the real world of potential new wars, there’s a huge difference between that, and Obama’s red line, which he would invoke to prevent Iran from “having” a nuclear weapon, an event which the entire combination of US military and intelligence agencies agree could not happen before at least a couple of years out. The difference matters—because over years it is possible to build and strengthen movements that will make any such new wars impossible.
And while foreign policy shows the closest parallels between the two parties, that isn’t the only issue. Who gets appointed to the Supreme Court—whether a mainstream moderate centrist or a young right-wing extremist ideologue who will work for decades to move the court even further to the right—matters a huge amount. And that’s exactly who the current Republican party will appoint. Top Republican candidates view rape—“legitimate” or otherwise—as God’s plan for bringing babies into the world. Women, especially poor women, living in much of this country already have few or no options for full reproductive healthcare, especially in how to deal with unwanted pregnancy. One party is pledged to appoint judges who will overturnRoe v. Wade and make abortion illegal across the board. That matters.
Some undocumented young people have just won the opportunity to gain legal status in this country; that’sway not enough, but it matters when the alternative is a new regime pledged to deport all undocumented or to force them to “self-deport.” Obama’s commitment to Medicare and Social Security remains mostly intact, largely because his political base demands it; Romney’s commitment to both is non-existent, except as a means towards increasing privatization. As usual it’s the poor who would suffer the most. Obama has not made good on most of his earlier commitments on climate—but Romney would take those failures further, opening up the Keystone pipeline on his first day in office.
My on-line critic went on to say, “Perhaps a Romney administration would speed up a response by a dislocated working class in overthrowing this doomsday machine? Obama is an extremely effective tool of the corporate enterprise.” Somehow I never accepted the view that the worse things get, the more likely we’ll have a revolution. I just don’t think it works that way. Revolutionary processes—look at the Arab spring—don’t emerge where people are the most beaten down, the most impoverished (which is why we haven’t seen a Sierra Leone uprising or a Niger spring). They happen when people have some renewed hope and then those hopes get dashed. I’m pretty sure we’re not anywhere close to a revolutionary moment in this country. And I certainly don’t think that making things worse for the poorest, oldest, sickest and most vulnerable among us is a viable strategy for building movements—or for making revolution.
This election is not about supporting or withdrawing support from Obama; it’s about keeping the worst from gaining even more power than they already have, so we can get on with the real work of building movements. If you want to call that the “lesser-evil” theory, fine. There’s an old saying that when you’re drowning, and the water is rising up over your mouth, that last half-inch before it reaches your nose is a half-inch of life and death. Especially if you’re short—or in this case, especially if you’re poor.
This election, regardless of who wins, will not solve the problems of this country and the world. We have to build movements powerful enough to take on the challenges of climate change, war, poverty, inequality. But we should be clear, there are significant differences between the two parties and the two candidates; while neither are our allies, one will make our work of building movements even more difficult, will threaten even more of our shredded civil liberties, and will put even more people around the world at much greater risk. Around the world many people are terrified of an electoral result that will return us—and them—to the legacy of George W. Bush.
Elections don’t change the world—only people’s movements do. But elections can make our work of building movements impossible—and that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.
This blog post originally appeared on TheNation.com.
Ten years ago today, the two of us were an hour into the first big coalition meeting to oppose the impending U.S. war against Iraq, surrounded by dozens of leaders of a wide array of movements: peace, civil rights, women's rights, environmentalists, labor, social justice, and many others. Then, we noticed some people walking to the back of the room and returning with tears streaking down their faces.
Someone interrupted the meeting with the tragic news. One of the great progressive leaders of our time, Senator Paul Wellstone, had just died in a plane crash campaigning in his home state of Minnesota. The room, just seconds before buzzing with ideas, fell silent. In shock, we took a few minutes to get into small groups and remember Paul, the people's Senator, the anti-war Senator.
We knew that Paul would have wanted us to get back to work quickly in this historic task, so after 15 minutes, we went back to creating what would become the broad, overarching coalition to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: United for Peace and Justice. UFPJ quickly grew to over 1,000 organizations, and we always thought of Paul as we walked into its meetings.
As we think back to that day, we are flooded with Paul memories. Paul proved that progressives without much money could win statewide elections. He visited every corner of Minnesota in a Volkswagen bus during his successful Senate campaigns. He was a stalwart internationalist and he had a poster of our IPS colleague Orlando Letelier, who was assassinated by the Chilean dictatorship, on the wall of his office.
Paul cared deeply about poverty. When he was contemplating a presidential bid in the late 1990s, he retraced the route of Bobby Kennedy's southern tour to highlight poverty and racism in this country. When IPS co-hosted Paul's report back from that tour at Howard University, he spoke with great passion about the human face of poverty and inequality in this nation. In the end, powerful back pain from his days as a wrestler precluded him from running for president in 2000.
Today, Paul would be protesting against the inhumanity and illegality of drone strikes. He would be demanding the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan now, and he'd be explaining to people the wisdom of making major cuts to the U.S. military budget. He would be leading the charge for inequality-busting measures like the Robin Hood tax. He would be joining the protests against unjust budget-cutting deals by his colleagues. And, he would be standing with people fighting expulsion from their homes by predator banks.
Our great challenge today is to shift this nation's course from our current casino and militarized Wall Street economy to a democratic, peaceful, and green Main Street economy. Paul would be leading the charge.
October 21, 2012 · By Tim Butterworth
A quiz: Which candidates and presidents said the following? (Answers below.)
- "To repair the nation’s tax code, marginal rates must be brought down to stimulate entrepreneurship, job creation, and investment."
- "We must follow through on the policies that have given us 25 months of economic growth by simplifying our cumbersome tax codes and lowering rates still further."
- "I think if you’re going to have tax relief, everybody ought to get it. And, therefore, wealthy people are going to get it."
- "Read my lips: no new taxes.”
The presidential candidates are debating George W. Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which were supposed to expire in 2010. Obama wants restore tax rates on the wealthiest families to earlier levels. Romney’s campaign is standing up for the top 2 percent with incomes over $250,000, and then sweetening their pot by abolishing the Alternative Minimum Tax and estate taxes too. His plan would give people earning over a million dollars an average tax break of $160,000 a year.
Romney is running on the GOP's 30-year-old gameplan: promise tax cuts that you swear will pay for themselves while helping the middle class. Since President Ronald Reagan first used this strategy, it’s given the Republican Party 20 years in the White House, versus 12 for the Democrats.
It’s like a drug. The high of tax-cut promises fades, and four years later we need another hit. The economy would be even worse if everyone’s taxes fell every time a Republican gets elected. The secret is that for most of us, our total taxes have remained about the same, while rich people’s taxes have been cut and cut.
Now, Romney is offering us the same old cure-all: if the rich could just pay less in taxes, they would create more jobs and boost government revenue. How has this worked for us?
From the end of WWII through the Carter administration, U.S. federal debt as a percentage of GDP declined or stayed stable. Then came Reagan's "voodoo economics." During his eight years in office, tax rates fell and the debt nearly tripled to $2.6 trillion. His lasting popularity, despite the red ink, persuaded Dick Cheney to say, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” The debt grew another 55 percent with President George H.W. Bush, and rose by 86 percent George W. Bush.
In contrast, Bill Clinton gradually slowed the debt's growth and actually brought in surpluses in his second term in office, for a total 37 percent increase over his eight years in office.
Under Obama, the debt has grown by at least 35 percent so far, expanding at the slowest pace since the Eisenhower administration if you adjust for inflation.
Romney’s continued protection of the richest 2 percent would cost nearly another trillion dollars over the next decade. Republicans may ridicule “Tax and Spend” Democrats, but that beats the “Spend and Spend and Charge it to our Children and Grandchildren" approach.
Tax cuts aren’t a magic bullet for job creation, either. Reagan did the best of the tax-cutters, with 2.06 percent growth in jobs, Bush I got only 0.6 percent, and Bush II a measly 0.1percent growth. None were as successful as Clinton’s 2.38 percent and Carter’s 3.06 percent.
Tax cuts have hurt the middle class. Median household net worth sank to $57,000 in 2010, down from $73,000 in 1983. It would have been $119,000 had wealth grown equally across households in those years. The average wealth of the top 1 percent, on the other hand, grew to $16.4 million, up from $9.6 million in 1983. This is due in large part to the growing income inequality divide, as well as the stock market's sharp rise. So long to a powerful country of successful working families.
The Republicans' tax cut mythology is propped up by billionaire donors and organizations like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. Currently, 238 House members and 41 Senators have signed Norquist's pledge to never raise taxes.
In the real world, many government programs help the middle class, like the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, health care and college grants. Cutting taxes and government hurts people in the middle and on the bottom more than the wealthy. A hundred years ago, G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly. The rich have always objected to being governed at all.”
We owe it to our children to be responsible adults and pay for our government the way our parents and grandparents did. The country runs better when we do.
- Mitt Romney’s website, Restore America’s Promise: More Jobs, Less Debt, Smaller Government February 22, 2012
- Ronald Reagan, radio adress, January 26, 1985
- George W. Bush, St. Louis debate, October 17, 2000
- George H. W. Bush, Republican National Convention, 1988
Tim Butterworth is an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow. IPS-dc.org