Sunday, September 27, 2015

Democrats Have To Be Careful Not To Nominate An Unelectable Candidate


The Clinton machine tried the inevitability thing again this year. And when that didn't work, they tried an "electability" argument. But that isn't working either. The Republicans-- with media allies like MSNBC's Morning Joe, not to mention Fox News and Hate Talk Radio-- have been overwhelmingly successful in painting her as an unlikable, untrustworthy character whom voters don't think should be president. 

A lot could change in the next year, of course, but that means they could change for the better or for the worse. In any case, new polling for New Hampshire released by WMUR doesn't just show that Bernie Sanders is beating her by huge margins in the nation's first primary or that Bernie has more support than the two corporate/establishment candidates, Clinton and Biden, combined, but that Bernie is the best shot the Democrats have to win that state in the general election. He would beat GOP front-runner Donald Trump 57-37%, and while Biden does almost as well, beating Trump 56-37%, Hillary is more pf a gamble, only beating Trump 50-42%.

Among Democrats, a Bernie-Trumpy matchup would give Bernie 92% of Democrats, 17% of Republicans and 48% of Independents to Trump's 5% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans and just 39% of Independents. In a matchup between Hillary and Trump, Hillary gets 87% of Democrats, 8% of Republicans and 41% of Independents, while Trump's standing is boosted gigantically among Republicans (to 86%), and he does better among Independents (42%) and Democrats (8%) as well.

Even among Clinton's supposed firewall, women voters, Bernie fares better. In a Hillary vs. Trump head-to-head, Trump beats her among men 54-38% and she beats him among women 62-31%. But in the head-to-head between Bernie and Trump, Bernie beats Trump among men 50-44% and among women 63-30%, suggesting that women are prepared to support Bernie at least as well as Hillary. Bottom line is that Democrats could be throwing away the election if they gamble on someone as unlikable as distrusted as Hillary.

In John Harwood's NYTimes column this morning, he spoke with a Sanders campaign strategist, Tad Devine, and Democratic Party pollster Anna Greenberg, who apparently only looks at her own polling. She makes the absurd claim that only the establishment candidate (a client?), Hillary, can beat the Republican in 2016.
“Right now, there’s no cost to saying you like Bernie Sanders,” said Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster. She warned that the sense of risk would rise-- to Mrs. Clinton’s benefit-- this winter, when “having a Republican in the White House as a possibility will be very motivating.”

...Devine acknowledges that concerns over Mr. Sanders’s electability are a barrier for the Vermont senator that may grow as the campaign wears on.

“For Bernie to succeed, there’s going to have to be a huge amount of reassurance for the institutional Democratic Party,” he said. Democratic officeholders, he explained, must be convinced Mr. Sanders can inspire turnout among Obama-friendly constituencies such as young people, single women and nonwhites in ways that not only help him, but help them, too.

Surprisingly solid fund-raising makes that possible, Mr. Devine said. So do decades of frustration among middle-class and blue-collar families over the failure of conventional Democrats and Republicans alike to deliver income gains.

“They’re just fed up with it, and they really want someone to do something about it,” he said. “The pieces are there.”
Bernie, meanwhile, is traveling around the country talking with actual voters and making his case based entirely on policy. Will voters take policy considerations into their own electoral calculus? It isn't something they always do. Today, Bernie wrote an op-ed on expanding Social Security for North Carolina's biggest newspaper, the Charlotte Observer:
Social Security is the most successful government program in our nation’s history. Before it was signed into law, nearly half of senior citizens lived in poverty. Today, the elderly poverty rate is less than 10 percent. Although still much too high, that’s a dramatic improvement.

Through good times and bad, Social Security has paid every nickel owed to every eligible American-- on time and without delay. As corporations destroyed the retirement dreams of millions over the past 30 years by eliminating defined benefit pension plans, Social Security was right there paying full benefits. As millions of Americans lost their life savings after Wall Street’s recklessness crashed the economy in 2008, Social Security was right there paying full benefits.

Today, Social Security is more important than ever. Over half of workers between the ages of 55-64 have no retirement savings. More than a third of senior citizens depend on Social Security for virtually all of their income. One out of every five senior citizens is trying to scrape by on an average income of just $8,300 a year.

Given these facts, our job cannot be to cut Social Security. Our job must be to expand it so that every American can retire with dignity and respect.

Virtually every Republican candidate for president disagrees. Many of them claim Social Security is “going broke,” that it’s causing the deficit to explode, and its trust fund is full of IOUs. They want the American people to believe Social Security is in crisis and must be cut.

They are dead wrong.

Here are the facts:

Social Security has a $2.8 trillion surplus. It can pay every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 19 years (and more than three-quarters after that).

Social Security’s assets aren’t “just paper,” as conservatives sometimes put it. Social Security invests in U.S Treasury bonds, the safest interest-bearing securities in the world. These are the same bonds wealthy investors have purchased, along with China and other foreign countries. These bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, which in our long history has never defaulted on its debt obligations.

Right now a billionaire pays the same amount of money into Social Security as someone who makes $118,500 a year. That’s because there is a cap on taxable income that goes into the Social Security system.

I have introduced legislation to end this absurdity, by lifting this cap so that everyone who makes over $250,000 a year pays the same percentage of their income into Social Security as the middle class and working families.

This would not only extend the solvency of Social Security for the next 50 years, but also bring in enough revenue to expand benefits by an average of $65 a month; increase cost-of-living-adjustments; and lift more seniors out of poverty by increasing the minimum benefits paid to low-income seniors.

Not only is this the right thing to do from a moral perspective, it is also what the vast majority of the American people want us to do. 61 percent of the American people support expanding Social Security benefits by lifting the cap on taxable income, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll earlier this year.

At a time when millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, even as virtually all of the new income in this country is going to the top one percent, my legislation will begin to reduce the obscene level of income inequality in America.

It’s time to expand Social Security to make sure that everyone in this country can retire with the dignity and respect they deserve.
If you wish, you can contribute to Bernie's grassroots campaign here.

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