Friday, January 16, 2015

Is Elizabeth Warren Really Moving Hillary To The Left On Something?


Last year, once Elizabeth Warren announced she would be supporting Hillary for president, my hopes for her running herself-- unless Hillary changes her mind and decides not to-- were dashed. I got over it... although I wondered why Warren didn't hold out some hope she would endorse Bernie Sanders if he ran in the Democratic primary.

The other day Warren endorsed Kamala Harris for the Senate seat being given up by Barbara Boxer. Now Harris is probably not as bad as some of the candidates Warren backed in November-- in the general election: anti-courageous conservatives like Michelle Nunn (GA), Alison Grimes (KY), Mary Landrieu (LA) and Natalie Tenant (WV). OK, they were all better than their Republican opponents (all of whom won), but... I cringed a little thinking about Warren tarnishing her brand on these weak candidates who, were they ever to win, would start voting very much on a different team than Elizabeth Warren. Kamala Harris, from California, isn't a conservative. Is she a progressive? One of her admirers and supporters told me she's sort of in between Warren and corporate shill Cory Booker, with who she is close. She may not be a bad senator but maybe Warren should have waited to see what better options presented themselves before endorsing Harris. "California Attorney General Kamala Harris is a smart, tough, and experienced prosecutor who has consistently stood up to Wall Street," she wrote to her supporters Wednesday, although Harris' vigilance against Wall Street doesn't rise to the level of Warren's own, nor of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's. "Yesterday," Warren continued, "she announced her candidacy for the United States Senate, and I’m happy to support her campaign." She made the optimal case for progressives to back Harris:
Let me take just a moment to tell you what makes Kamala Harris so special.

When the housing market crashed in 2008, California was hit hard. Home prices had shot through the roof, and families that were desperately afraid they might be priced out of housing forever took on big mortgages. But those weren’t just standard, here-are-the-payments mortgages. No, millions of people ended up with mortgages that were loaded with tricks and traps, sold by both big banks and fly-by-night mortgage lenders. When the market collapsed, these people couldn’t pay their mortgages, they couldn’t refinance, and they couldn’t sell their homes.

Attorney General Kamala Harris demanded real accountability from the lenders. She wasn’t intimidated by the big banks. When the negotiations in the National Mortgage Settlement weren’t tough enough on the banks, Kamala took a bold move. She said that her job was to protect the people of California, not help the big banks, so she pulled out of the group negotiations and later secured $20 billion in relief for struggling California homeowners. And to help prevent another crisis from happening again, she fought for a new California Homeowner Bill of Rights-- one of the most comprehensive sets of foreclosure reform laws in the country.

I worked with Kamala, and I saw up close and personal that she is tough, she is principled, and she fights hard.

We need more leaders in Washington who are willing to fight for a level playing field for working families. Kamala came to Massachusetts to help our campaign in 2012, and I’m doing what I can to make sure Kamala Harris makes it to the United States Senate in 2016.
That's not something you can ignore. But what if Xavier Becerra, Dave Jones, Jackie Speier or Hilda Solis runs? Each of them is more progressive and would probably make a better senator that Harris. I wish Warren would have waited, although I'm sure she had her reasons-- possibly to scare off billionaire mystery-meat candidate Tom Steyer. maybe so that Harris would feel significant enough love from the progressive wing of the party that she wouldn't immediately jump into a business-oriented Cory Booker position. No one, including Warren, is perfect. And only a fool, which is isn't, ever thinks they are.

Yesterday, Time, which is also well-aware Warren isn't running or president, made the case about why all the razzle-dazzle about recruiting her has been successful... even if it isn't resulting in her running. Time assistant managing editor Rana Foroohar asserts Warren is "yanking Hillary Clinton to the left." Warren, she points out has "tapped into an existential crisis on the left: namely, liberals’ belated anxiety over the capture of the Democratic Party by high finance, which began two decades ago."
Democrats, like Republicans, bear blame for the financial crisis of 2008. Jimmy Carter deregulated interest rates in 1980, a move that pacified consumers and financiers grappling with stagflation but also helped set the stage for the home-mortgage implosion. In 1999, as President Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, Rubin signed off on the Glass-Steagall banking-regulation death certificate, a move that many, Warren included, believe was a key factor in worsening the crisis. Loose accounting standards supported by many Democrats during the Clinton years also encouraged the growth of stock options as the main form of corporate compensation, a trend that French academic Thomas Piketty, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and many other economists believe exacerbated the staggering gap between rich and poor in the U.S. today. I asked Warren whether she blamed such policies for our current wage stagnation, which has persisted despite robust economic growth. “I’d lay it right at the feet of trickle-down economics, yes,” she says. “We’ve tried that experiment for 35 years, and it hasn’t worked.”

Speculation has been rife that Warren might consider a presidential run of her own, taking on front runner Hillary Clinton just to make sure the same trickle-down team doesn’t end up in office again. When I ask her flatly if she’d run if she thought a Rubin or Summers would be making economic policy for the next four years, she paused. “I tell you … I’m going to do everything I can. I’m going to fight as hard as I have to. This has to change.”

Change won’t come easily. Resetting the economic table is not just about breaking up big banks or raising the minimum wage. Real change would mean grappling with a deep, multidecade shift from a society in which the state, the private sector and the individual all shared responsibility for economic risks to one in which individuals are now increasingly left on their own to pay for the trappings of a middle-class life-- health care, education and retirement-- while corporations capture a record share of the country’s prosperity without necessarily reinvesting in the common good. Complaining about too-big-to-fail banks, sleazy lobbyists and the 1% is easier than crafting an entirely new, inclusive growth policy.

Warren is likely to conjure more change by being a progressive foil to Clinton than by running herself. Her sway has old economists scrambling to learn new tricks. The Center for American Progress, a think tank with close ties to the Clintons, is releasing a new report on wages and the plight of the middle classes on Jan. 15. Its chief author: none other than Summers. Meanwhile, Clinton recently took an ideas meeting with Stiglitz, once considered too far left to touch. In politics, stars may rise, but the moon is constant.
In her most recent book, A Fighting Chance Warren recounts an incident with then First Lady Hillary Clinton that I think had a tremendous impact on her at the time. Long before she decided to run for office, Warren, a Harvard professor at the time, never stopped fighting for a fair bankruptcy bill... but the banksters never have up either. Their financial self-interest wasn't dependent on fleeting partisan coalitions, elections, not even on deaths. They never give up, just like the GOP never gives up trying to destroy Social Security, Medicare, public education, the right for working people to organize and bargain collectively, the environment, and, ultimately, democracy itself-- all on behalf of the self-entitled multimillionaires and billionaires who claim their wealth gives them the right to run the country, in a kind of symbiotic partnership with the corrupt politicians they buy (on both sides of the aisle). Here's how Warren puts it in her book in terms of Hillary:
The banking industry bought everything; they even bought their own facts. The industry commissioned three different studies, each of which was touted as "independent." Each explained the urgent need to change the law-- exactly the way the banking industry wanted it changed. One particularly damaging result of these bogus studies was a claim that bankruptcy cost every hardworking, bill-paying American family a $550 "hidden tax." The number was entirely made up, fabricated out of thin air, but the press reported it as "fact" for years.

This one hit me hard. I'd spent nearly twenty years sweating over every detail in a string of serious academic studies, agonizing over sample sizes and statistical significance to make certain that whatever I reported was exactly right. Now the banks just wrote a check, commissioned a friendly study, and purchased their own facts. They had their own press people distribute the facts and lobbyists hand the facts to congressional staffers. From the halls of Congress to the front pages of newspapers all over the country, these new "facts" became reality.

This strategy-- and the cynicism behind it-- made me furious. It also scared me. If the facts about bankruptcy could be purchased, then who knew what they could claim next?

...[T]he president [Bill Clinton] was under enormous pressure from the banks to sign the bill, but in the last days of his presidency, urged on by his wife, President Clinton stood strong with struggling families. With no public fanfare, he vetoed the industry's bill.

...The banks lost in 2000, but they didn't quit-- they just spent more money on lobbying and campaign contributions. Soon the banking industry was outspending everybody else-- tobacco, pharmaceuticals, even Big Oil. Credit card companies lined up to boost George W. Bush's presidential campaign.

In 2001, the bill looked sure to pass Congress again, and now George W. Bush was in the White House, promising to sign it into law. The recent election kept the House in Republican control, and every single Republican was ready to support the bill. The Senate was evenly split between the two parties, but one of the bill's lead sponsors was Democratic powerhouse Joe Biden, and right behind him were plenty of Democrats offering to help... The baking industry had lost for a second time, but it came back once again, bringing even more money and more lobbyists. It was like fighting some kind of mythical creature-- cut off one head and two grow back.

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At 3:57 PM, Blogger joel hanes said...

I've long thought that Jackie Speier belongs in DiFi's seat.

At 6:13 PM, Blogger Daro said...

How do you get to the Hillary Campaign office? Run straight over Main Street and merge onto Wall Street. Turn right onto the corporate highway. Keep going and just keep going right until you get to the end of the public access road.

At 7:14 PM, Blogger CNYOrange said...

Um, at some point don't Elizabeth Warren's motivations have to be questioned? It seems she's always supporting the more conservative candidate over the liberal candidate.

At 7:05 PM, Anonymous Robert dagg murphy said...

The following ideas are all what I call Fuller isms. As he would say they all originated in the mind of Bucky Fuller. I like to mention them from time to time in the hopes they might be more broadly considered. We are all caught up in the complication of it all. Sometimes things are so obvious that they become invisible.

The people mentioned in the article are all politicians. Politicians think only of the next election and how to get re-elected. They are not problem solvers but mostly entertainers and indentured servants to the corporations and the rich who of course are those who have all the paper wealth.

We have economic. social and political system from the dark ages. Mostly based on superstitions. While we have become caught up in trying to cope with these antiquated systems science has invented the tools and artifacts to produce prosperity for all. We have unlimited energy from our Star Sun. Wealth is without practical limit. Whatever needs to be done can be done.

Making money and making sense are mutually exclusive. It is time to start making sense and make the world work for everyone in the shortest amount of time possible without doing further damage to our what was once a pristine environment through spontaneous cooperation without disadvantaging anyone.

Happy New Year.

At 2:44 AM, Blogger Mary38 said...

Warren is more conservative than far left understand. She is a capitalist not a socialist


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