Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Kaniela Ing, Austin Frerick-- How Millennial Political Leaders Think


The House Democrats are absolutely geriatric. The leadership is even more geriatric. We need a little-- or more than a little-- balance. I think we have two Blue America candidates in their 20s, both highly accomplished candidates: Austin Frerick (Iowa) and Kaniela Ing (HI). I'm older than both of them combined and yet I feel like I learn every time I talk to either one of them. Ican't wait to see them working together in Congress, with members like Ro Khanna (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Mark Pocan (D-WI(, Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and other candidates like Randy Bryce, Derrick Crowe, Nina Ahmad, and Lisa Brown. Austin, a former economist for Obama's Treasury Department, just turned 28 a few weeks ago. Kaniela, the most cutting edge progressive in Hawaii's legislature, is 29.

Below is one boring, boring video. Thank God it's only 2 minutes long. The guy droning on without saying anything is Republican incumbent and Iowa closet case David Young at a Town Hall in Red Oak. It gets a little livelier when Austin asks Young a couple of questions about the pending Monsanto-Bayer merger. Frerick has pledged to work to stop the merger; Brown takes campaign contributions (legalistic bribes) from Monsanto. If the merger goes through the result would be that two companies-- Monsanto-Bayer and Dow-DuPont-- would control about 75% of the U.S. corn seed market. When Young refused to answer "yes" or "no" to Frerick’s question "Do you oppose the Monsanto-Bayer merger?" Frerick followed up by asking whether Young was aware he had taken a $5,000 donation from Monsanto last fall. Young's response was the standard response when constituents ask them about documented bribes: "I didn’t know that."

That's how millennials think and it's how millennials talk. When I spoke with Austin after the town hall, he told me that "it's important to stand up to our elected officials and ask them why they are siding with campaign checks instead of siding with the people they are supposed to represent. There's a reason," he continued, "why Rep. Young's Chief of Staff just left to work for Dow-Dupont. These worlds are connected. Until we make those connections more visible, everyday Iowans will continue to suffer... Our representatives need to stop valuing monopoly money over the interests of their constituents... David Young’s chief of staff left to take the job at Dow-Dupont-- another one of those mergers David Young says he 'doesn’t like,' but did nothing to stop. One reason David doesn’t want to take a position on the merger is that when we defeat him in November, he’ll have to go to Monsanto-Bayer looking for a job."

Goal ThermometerIt was very cold and snowy in Iowa yesterday, caucus day one. It was much warmer in Hawaii. It always is. And like Austin Frerick, Kaniela Ing is a free-thinking, inspirational leader. People recognize that a Congress filled with people like Kaniela and Austin would go a very long way towards fixing the problems that hobble our country and tie it up in the muck of corporately-financed politics. In 2016 Hawaiian voters roundly rejected status quo politics. Although Hawaii's entire political establishment-- top to bottom-- with the exceptions of Kaniela and Tulsi Gabbard-- endorsed and campaigned for Hillary Clinton, avatar of the status quo, Bernie won 69.8% in Hawaii's caucuses-- 23,530-- more votes than Hillary, Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Kasich combined. And yesterday, Kaniela told me that all his opponents "are campaigning on restoring the pre-Trump status-quo. But that message doesn’t speak to the working class, because people want change. And they wanted change before Trump was elected. People are struggling and screaming out for more power and opportunity. We can offer more than just change for change-sake, we offer progress. Otherwise, we leave working families vulnerable to more con-men, false prophets like Donald Trump."

Honolulu's Star Advertiser had just run a feature on Kaniela's work in the state House, as usual work that put him 10 steps ahead of more conventional politicians. "State Rep. Kaniela Ing," wrote Kevin Dayton, "is proposing a state task force to study whether a government job can be provided for everyone who needs one. Ing (D, South Maui) has introduced House Bill 1992 to create a task force to study a 'public sector option to provide jobs for all' in Hawaii. The task force would study the feasibility of guaranteeing all Hawaii residents over the age of 18 a job in government and determine how much funding would be required to provide those jobs."

I asked Stephanie Kelton, Bernie economic advisor and economics professor, who I know Kaniela admires as well, what she thought about his plan. She sent me this graph (above) by Scott Fullwiler, an old colleague of hers from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Of Kaniela she said "it’s great that he wants to initiate a formal process to look at what it would mean for the people of Hawaii and the Hawaiian economy."
He is right to say that the federal government should provide the funding. A job guarantee requires the capacity to hire everyone who shows up looking for work. States face different constraints, and their budgets are usually under strain at exactly the time you would most need them to ramp up funding-- i.e. when the economy is tanking.

The Republican who dismissed the idea as “a solution in search of a problem” is missing the point entirely. Now is exactly the right time to think about a federally-funded job guarantee. If this is the best the labor market can do, then it is clear that we need a program like a federal job guarantee to do what the best-of-all-labor-makrets cannot do... make jobs available for everyone who wants to work. Because there are never enough jobs for all. Forget about the headline unemployment rate (U3) for a moment, and think about all of the people who don’t get counted in that official number. Those people-- workers who are stuck in part-time jobs even though what they really want is full-time work plus those who simply gave up looking for work but who would take a full-time job tomorrow if it were available--matter too. This means looking at what Sen. Sanders called “the real unemployment rate.” Economists call it U6. Using that measure, it’s clear that Keniela Ing is offering a solution in search of a very real problem.

The establishment and their sympathizers went insane over Kaniela's proposal, of course... especially Republicans and, naturally, Democrats from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party.
"[F]olks are working two and three jobs, and the jobs they have don’t pay livable wages," he said. Ing said the true unemployment rate including people who are underemployed or have given up looking for work "is probably much, much higher."

Ing believes the unemployment rate will skyrocket in the years ahead. Some have proposed the government make cash payments to guarantee a “universal basic income” for people, and Ing said he wants to explore the possibility of providing jobs instead of cash.

“In the future where everything’s going to get automated or globalized, which is already happening all across America, what kind of solution are we going to provide?” Ing said.

He said it may be more appropriate for the federal government to address the problem, adding that "if Congress can pass a $1 trillion tax break for the rich, surely they could spend that sort of money to actually help working families," he said... "[T]here are kids to be taught, there are kupuna to be cared for, potholes to be paved, bridges to be repaired, trees to be planted, but the private sector is just not meeting that demand," Ing said. "So, there’s work out there, there’s just not the jobs."

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At 6:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with 'stop compromising with republicans'. They never honor their agreements anyway.

But I'd ask him what he plans to do about his party's tyranny from the top. How's he going to reconcile himself, assuming he truly believes what he says (unlike Pelosi who believes only what donors tell her to believe, in spite of what she SAYS), with being forced to repudiate (by deed) his beliefs and then defending his party's refusals to affect any of the changes he advocates.

Pelosi will never allow anything to see a vote that the money does not want. her party will never allow it. a president from her party would never enforce laws that the money doesn't like (Sherman...).

How do these "progressive political leaders" address this? DWT has their ear, so they say. Ask them.


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