Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tim Canova Is More Than Just "Not Wasserman Schultz"-- A Lot More


Most first-time candidates would give almost anything for the kind of reception his campaign announcement generated last week. Small donations from all over the country flooded into his ActBlue account. The support was overwhelming. And it was overwhelming because of the general antipathy progressives feel towards New Dem wheeler-dealer/DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, sometimes referred to as the "female Rahm Emanuel."

Canova, a law professor and Bernie Sanders activist, sent his supporters a note yesterday emphasizing that "There’s a political revolution happening in this country. Without question, supporters like you are bringing it to Florida. In the last week, we’ve received over a thousand contributions and even more have joined our campaign on social media." He pointed out that Wasserman Schultz "has lost touch with working families. Her agenda helps millionaires and billionaires enrich themselves at our expense. My career has been about taking on Wall Street and fighting back against their assault on working families. We need to shake up the political establishment and reclaim our democracy, but we can’t do that by sending back the same politicians who are beholden to big corporations and the wealthy elite." He made it clear that he has no intention of getting into Congress and becoming another cog in the machine like Wasserman Schultz is.
This election is about what kind of priorities we want our representative to have. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has received huge amounts of corporate money-- from Wall Street, private prisons, big alcohol. Her corporate influence shines through in the policies she supports in Congress, like privatizing prisons, opposing medical marijuana, and voting to prevent Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from writing rules that would stop racial discrimination in car loans.

Those are not the policy priorities of someone who is focused on helping working families-- those are the policy priorities of someone who is more interested in helping their wealthy donors make more money.

We can do better than that. Together, we can advance a progressive vision of this country that gives everyone a fair shot at the American Dream. Winning this election is the first step-- but once I’m in Congress, it means fighting to pass legislation that will keep corporate money out of politics, help students pay for college, and raise wages for lower and middle income families. Instead of having bought and paid for politicians, like my opponent, who do the bidding of giant corporations, let’s do something radical and elect someone like me who will focus on the interests of actual working class people.
David Dayen, writing at the New Republic decided to take a deeper look into who Canova is and what his campaign is all about.
Last Thursday, Canova, a former aide to the late Sen. Paul Tsongas and a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard Broad College of Law, jumped into the Democratic primary in Florida’s 23rd congressional district. It’s Wasserman Schultz’s first primary challenge ever, and with frustration running high against her, it’s almost certain to draw national attention. But Canova first became interested in challenging Wasserman Schultz not because of her actions as DNC chair, but because of her record.

“This is the most liberal county in all of Florida,” Canova said in an interview, referring to Broward County, where most of Wasserman Schultz’s district resides (a small portion is in northern Miami-Dade County). But she more closely associates with her significant support from corporate donors, Canova argued. He listed several of Wasserman Schultz’s votes, such as blocking the SEC and IRS from disclosing corporate political spending (which was part of last month’s omnibus spending bill), opposing a medical marijuana ballot measure that got 58 percent of the vote in Florida, preventing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from regulating discrimination in auto lending and opposing their rules cracking down on payday lending, and supporting “fast track” authority for trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I think anyone who voted for fast track should be primaried. I believe that ordinary citizens have to step up,” Canova said.

Canova espouses many of the populist themes that attract the left: fighting corporate power, defending organized labor, and reducing income inequality. But this is not just a Bernie Sanders Democrat. You have to go back further. Tim Canova is a Marriner Eccles Democrat.

Eccles chaired the Federal Reserve during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency. And Canova believes the central bank should revisit Eccles’s unorthodox strategies to jump-start a broad-based economic recovery. “In the 1930s, the regional Fed banks made loans directly to the people,” Canova said. “Instead of purchasing $4 trillion in Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities, [the Fed] could buy short-term municipal bonds and drive the yield to zero for state and local governments. They could push money into infrastructure, making loans to state infrastructure banks.” Canova has even suggested that the government create currency outside of the central bank, breaking their monopoly on the money supply, as President Abraham Lincoln did with the “Greenback” in the 1860s.

During World War II, FDR directed Eccles’s Fed to finance American war debt at low rates, eventually producing a stimulus that helped to end the Great Depression. It was a time when the Fed was far more accountable to democratically elected institutions, one that Canova looks back upon fondly. “People like to talk about the Fed’s independence, that’s really a cover for the Fed’s capture,” he said. “They look out for elite groups in society, and the hell with everybody else.”

A growing faction of progressives are beginning to return to their roots, asking whether Fed policies truly support the public interest. The Fed Up campaign, with which Canova has consulted, seeks to pressure the Fed to adopt pro-worker policies. A surprise movement in Congress just cut a 100 year-old subsidy the Fed handed out to banks by $7 billion. Even mainstream figures like economist Larry Summers wonder whether the Fed’s hybrid public/private structure, which critics believe makes it beholden to financial interests, makes sense.

...While Debbie Wasserman Schultz has few known views on the Federal Reserve, Canova’s populism offers a strong counterweight to her corporate-tinged philosophy. And even before that contrast plays out, the hunger for any challenge to Wasserman Schultz is palpable.

“The money is coming in more rapidly than believable,” said Howie Klein, co-founder of Blue America PAC, which raises money for progressive Democrats. Wasserman Schultz has been on Klein’s radar since she, as chair of the “Red to Blue” campaign for electing House Democrats, refused to campaign against three Republicans in Florida because of prior friendships and their joint support for the state sugar industry.

Klein sent a Blue America fundraising email shortly after Canova’s announcement, and raised $7,000 within 12 hours, and over $10,000 at last count. The intensity of support reached beyond the PAC’s traditional donor base. “Our average donation is $45, but in this case we’re getting $3, $5,” Klein said. “For people who our donors have never heard of, it can take three-four months to do that. It’s just because of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.”

Similarly, Canova says he’s seeing tens of thousands of visits to his website and Facebook page, suggesting support beyond south Florida. However, he wants to localize rather than nationalize the race. The district, initially drawn with Wasserman Schultz’s input when she served in the Florida state Senate, is now more Hispanic and less reliable for a politician who Canova believes has lost touch with her constituents.

“You talk to people at the Broward County Democratic clubs, they say she takes us for granted,” Canova said. The political model for his campaign is David Brat, another academic who took on a party leader-- then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor-- and defeated him, on the grounds that Cantor ignored his district amid constant corporate fundraising.

If there’s one thing Wasserman Schultz can do, it’s raise money--that’s why she chairs the party. She will have a big cash advantage and the power of incumbency. But Canova thinks he can outmatch her by riding the populist tide. “There’s a tendency to get so down about the system, but this is an interesting moment we’re living in,” Canova said. “This is a grassroots movement. We’re tapping in without even trying yet.”
Wassermann Schultz will deploy every weapon in the political arsenal to try to hold onto her seat and Tim isn't going to have an easy time dislodging her. She's just spent the last four years cultivating the biggest donors in America and she will raise millions of dollars to attack Tim. That's how she is. He knows what's coming and he's prepared. If you'd like to help him stand up to her and his friends, please consider making a contribution, which you can do here at the Blue America ActBlue page.

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