Saturday, July 29, 2017

Will Economic Populism Work In Western Maryland? Meet Andrew Duck


Maryland's 6th congressional district used to be Republican territory. Maryland Democrats are as prone towards partisan gerrymandering as the GOP sleaze bags in North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. In 2011, the 6th got a big chunk of blue Montgomery County and suddenly the 6th was less like West Virginia and more like the DC suburbs. The following year crooked multimillionaire Democrat, John Delaney, ousted longtime moderate GOP incumbent, Roscoe Bartlett. Obama won the district by over 10 points both times he ran and even Hillary managed to beat Trump in the district, 55.3% to 40.2%. Delaney has been one of the most overtly anti-progressive Democrats in Congress. One of his Democratic colleagues once told me, after reading a Delaney OpEd in favor of chained CPI, that Delaney "is my poster child for what's wrong with the Democratic Party. Recruiting clueless, rich people who have no real values is almost always a failure."

Good news: the reactionary avatar of greed and selfishness is probably leaving Congress. He wants to run for governor, where he would be unlikely to beat either progressive hero Benjamin Jealous or moderate GOP incumbent Larry Hogan. But even if Delaney backs out of running for governor, he already has 3 primary challengers-- Aruna Miller, state House Majority Leader Bill Frick and local activist Andrew Duck-- with 2 more prepared to jump in: state Senator Roger Manno and multimillionaire beer distributor David Trone, a right-of-center, self-absorbed mini-Trump who just got crushed after spending more of his own money than any other candidate running for a House seat-- $13,414,225-- in history. Trone's mansion, of course, is nowhere near the district.

Andrew Duck, who was a Bernie activist in 2016 served in the U.S. Army (with multiple tours of duty in Bosnia and Iraq) for 20 years after enlisting as a teenager. For the past four years, he's been working as the director of operations for a green energy start-up company and has studied economics at the graduate level. He makes a good case for himself as the polar opposite of New Dem John Delaney; Duck is an economic progressive. I asked him to introduce himself to DWT readers.

Guest Post
-by Andrew Duck

Years have passed since the economic collapse of 2008, but our economy remains mired down with slow growth, stagnant wages, and increasing inequality. While parts of our country are improving, our economic recovery continues to be uneven.  While the stock market is at a record high, workers are earning less now, adjusted for inflation, than before the recession. It feels like the system is rigged against working people. That is because the system is rigged against working people.

We need progressive economic policies that will put us back on a path to growth that benefits working people. Increasing the minimum wage is a first step toward addressing wage stagnation and inequality, so we need to support the Fight for $15. Health care costs continue to rise, and we need to move to the only health care system that works, a single payer system like MEDICARE for All. The current incumbent does not support these policies.

We will also have to address the systemic issues which have rigged the system against working families to advantage the top one percent. We need to address our tax policies, which allow millionaires like Mitt Romney to pay a lower tax rate than almost anyone in the country. We will also need to address the rigged financial system by strengthening and enforcing the Dodd-Frank Act. Congressman Delaney has voted multiple times to weaken the Dodd-Frank Act.(H.R.992 2013, H.R. 83 2014) This is movement in the wrong direction. We should be passing a new Glass-Stegall Act, not rolling back the progress we have made.

But we have not made as much progress as we should have. Dodd-Frank has not been fully implemented, with 20% of the rules not proposed as of 2016. The banking system has stabilized, but that stability masks the underlying weaknesses that continue to exist. We need to take action now if we want to ensure we do not have another collapse like the one we saw in 2008.

We need to start with breaking up the big banks. Any bank which is “too big to fail” is too big to continue to exist. When we have a system where if a bank takes risks, they get a “heads the bank wins, tails the taxpayer loses” deal, it is inevitable that we will have another economic collapse. All of the incentive is for the bank to assume more and more risk, because they get all the gain and none of the loss. Eventually, the banks will assume so much risk that they will collapse. But because they know they are “too big to fail” they know they will be bailed out, and not take the loss themselves.

We also need to address the mechanics of our financial markets. We need to ensure that we can identify and prevent “front-running” of trades. The big financial companies have built a system where their transactions will be processed before the small investor’s, rigging the game. We need more vigorous enforcement to address this issue.

High Frequency Trading has also added volatility to the market, resulting in wide swings in market value. These swings are not a normal response to supply and demand. The machines doing the trading not only shave some value off of the transaction of regular small investors, they also push the market to extremes rapidly, because they can make even more money both on the way up and the way down. A small tax per transaction would make this technique less profitable, and reduce the volatility that we are seeing today.

The best way to make these fundamental reforms would be to pass a new Glass-Steagall Act. This would force a bank to do banking, and not run a hedge fund. If you want to be a hedge fund, you can be, but you cannot be a bank, with federal insurance, at the same time. While Dodd-Frank has provisions which could be used to break up a large bank, the process is cumbersome and requires extensive review and approval by the Federal Reserve. A new Glass-Steagall Act would go further and mandate the breaking up of the big banks. To do this, we will need some new people in Congress.

I am running for Congress in Maryland’s Sixth District, to take the seat now held by Congressman Delaney. But Congressman Delaney, who does not even live in MD-06, is exploring other options, and may not run for re-election. Also looking at running for MD-06 is another multi-millionaire, David Trone, owner of a large wine and beer distributor. David Trone also does not live in MD-06, but having spent $14 Million to lose in his district, he now has his eyes set on the district I live in. We cannot have millionaires treat our government like their play-thing.

We need representatives in Congress who will fight for the economic policies that will work to bring jobs and wage growth back to the working people of this country. I spent 20 years fighting for this country around the world. I am ready to fight just as hard here at home to get a government that will serve the people, not just the top one percent.

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At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Delaney has decided to run for president in 2020 as a Democrat. He made the announcement in an op ed on The Wa Po's website yesterday. He's hopeless, but he's rich, so if he wants to burn through his cash being Jim Webb 2.0 more power to him.


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