Can Martin Freeman do one for Democrats in 2016?
Jeff Bryant’s alarming post at Salon details some of the financial services sector’s inventive, new schemes for funding education. Wall Street already saw K-12 schools as “the last honeypot,” a steady, recession-proof, government-guaranteed stream of public tax dollars just waiting to be tapped by charter schools. It first had to convince states to increase competition – meaning eliminating teachers and other public employees standing between investors and their money.
One could argue that the right’s small government, low taxes mantra always had as its goal eliminating the “creeping socialism” of government providing education and other public services on a not-for-profit basis. (What, no middle-man markup?) “Starving the beast” was never about the size of government, but about eliminating public-sector competitors and making sure the right people take a percentage of vital services funded at taxpayer expense.
Since the collapse of the housing market, the giant pool of money is looking for other places to invest. So it’s out with the NINA loans and the CDOs and in with the SLABS, CABS, PPPs, and ISAs. Jeff Bryant writes:
It’s not hard to see the allure of SLABS [student loan asset-backed securities]. Student loans seem to be an endless stream of revenue as colleges and universities continue to increase tuition, economic conditions and employment transience feed the unemployed back into continuing education, and political leaders urge everyone to attend college. The income stream is nearly guaranteed to pay off because the loans are next to impossible to discharge in bankruptcy.
A Huffington Post article by Chris Kirkham states, SLABS offer “seemingly unlimited growth potential at virtually zero risk. The burden of college loan repayment falls entirely on students’ backs, shielding corporations from the consequences of default.”
Watch the guy from the Heritage Foundation. Just watch.
Gov. Mike Pence and Indiana are in full damage control mode. The Indianapolis Star this morning calls for Pence and the legislature to pass clear, unambiguous anti-discrimination legislation and/or to scrap its Religious Freedom Restoration Act:
Why not simply repeal RFRA? First, it appears to be politically unacceptable for the governor and many Republican lawmakers.
Second, there are Hoosiers who support RFRA out of a genuine desire to protect religious freedom. To safeguard that essential freedom, 19 states and the federal government have adopted RFRA laws, largely without controversy. But states like Illinois not only protect religious freedom through RFRA but also provide gay and lesbian residents with protected legal status.
Third, repeal might get rid of the heat but it would not do what is most important – to move the state forward.
They might have thought of that beforehand. Think Progress explains what makes Indiana’s law different from other states’ laws.
The Bush administration’s infamous torture memos were not the first legal documents to use the color of law to whitewash moral obscenities. Jim Crow had etched that tradition deep into the national culture over a century earlier.
Jim Crow may be gone, but the tradition persists in the branding of legal initiatives that purport to do one thing but in fact do the opposite. And in laws advertised as defending one American principle while violating others. And in using the color of law, as Bush and Cheney did, to justify the illegal and the immoral. Whether it is “election integrity” measures meant to limit ballot access or “religious freedom” as justification for discrimination, treachery with a smile on its face has become standard operating procedure where many of this country’s laws are made.
Like a wicked, little boy who stomps a cat’s tail then smiles sweetly — Who, me? — lawmakers figure you can fool some of the people some of the time with such legislation. Then they dare us to stop them.
Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act isn’t the first of the new, flag-draped attempts at putting “those people,” however defined, back in their places. But it is egregious enough that prominent people are calling bullshit.
Call a gun rights advocate’s AR-15 an assault rifle and he’ll think you’re a dumbass liberal who a) doesn’t know the first thing about weapons, and b) has no business anywhere near laws affecting his right to bear arms. What should voting rights advocates think of voter fraud vigilantes who call any and every form of election irregularity voter fraud?
Imposing new gun laws is counterproductive, many Republicans believe, because most criminals get guns illegally. More regulation just infringes upon honest Americans’ rights. But more regulations passed to prevent voting illegally? A nonissue.
Per a 1995 attorney training manual, the U.S. Department of Justice defines election fraud as roughly:
“They want a showy way to tell Democrats across the country to be scared of speaking out, to be timid about standing up, and to stay away from fighting for what’s right,” Warren wrote. “… I’m not going to stop talking about the unprecedented grasp that Citigroup has on our government’s economic policymaking apparatus … And I’m not going to pretend the work of financial reform is done, when the so-called ‘too big to fail’ banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008.”
It’s that intensity, the appearance that Warren cannot be bought and is in the Senate more to represent the little guys than herself that has the effort to draft Warren for president hard at work in Des Moines, Iowa (funded by Moveon.org and and Democracy for America):
Toria Pinter, a law student who is on medical leave, said that she was drawn to Warren because of the senator’s vocal call to lower the interest rates on student loans. Pinter said people should not misconstrue this campaign as anti-Clinton effort, but rather a pro-Warren movement.
“The campaign is not about Clinton,” she said. “That’s not what we are here to talk about. We are here to talk about Warren and how important she is to us. Because she embodies the ideals and issues that are important to us at the end of the day.”
[Blair Lawton, Iowa Field Director for the Run Warren Run campaign] said even if Warren decides not to run, he believes there are some long-term benefits from this campaign including “putting a big investment into the progressive community.
Meanwhile back in Washington, D.C. (cue theme from The Empire Strikes Back), Republicans are pushing back on Warren, reports Politico:
Republicans are deploying a new taunt to needle Democrats they say refuse to consider even modest changes to financial oversight laws: Why are you so afraid of Elizabeth Warren?
It’s part of an effort by the GOP to portray Democrats as being completely inflexible when it comes to changes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank law because they are running scared from the populist wing of the party that views Warren, the most outspoken Wall Street critic in Congress, as their champion.
In an appearance at the American Bankers Association conference, House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) joked that they might need extra help when lobbying Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Warren: “May the force be with you.”
Reading through the rest of the article about what changes Big Bidness wants to to see in Dodd-Frank, one comes away asking whether Congress would show the same level of effort and concern over the needs and wants of less well-heeled and less well-connected constituents. Which explains why volunteers are busting their tails for Warren in Des Moines.
Who knows what words Republican old boys are actually using in D.C. to cast Democrats as inflexible or “running scared” or weak-kneed by asking “Why are you so afraid of Elizabeth Warren?” But that strikes my ear as, “What are you afraid of, a girl?“
With any luck, someone will catch one on tape saying explicitly what they really think.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
If you mistakenly wandered into the Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform, you might have thought you had fallen into an alternate universe. Scores of liberal and conservative activists, policy wonks and lawmakers gathered for an all-day conference that seemed to defy all the old saws about Washington gridlock. Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich lauded Democratic Senator Cory Booker, who volleyed back praise for his Republican partners. Even Attorney General Eric Holder drew warm applause in a ballroom dotted with conservatives.
But as unusual as that may be in Washington, it’s becoming a routine sight when it comes to criminal justice reform. In recent months, a growing bipartisan alliance has formed around the need to change a prison system that critics say is broken and bloated. Thursday’s crowd was the clearest sign yet of the coalition’s breadth. “When you have an idea whose time has come,” said Jones, one of the hosts of the summit, “it winds up being an unstoppable force.”
This has been a long time coming. Since passage of New Gingrich’s Taking Back Our Streets Act, part of his 1994 “Contract With America,” and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, “written by Joe Biden … and signed by Bill Clinton,” the country’s prison population doubled, writes Shane Bauer for Mother Jones:
Again this morning, Paul Krugman knocks down some of the right’s cherished beliefs about its economic theories:
At a deeper level, modern conservative ideology utterly depends on the proposition that conservatives, and only they, possess the secret key to prosperity. As a result, you often have politicians on the right making claims like this one, from Senator Rand Paul: “When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan.”
Actually, if creating “millions of jobs” means adding two million or more jobs in a given year, we’ve done that 13 times since Reagan left office: eight times under Bill Clinton, twice under George W. Bush, and three times, so far, under Barack Obama. But who’s counting?
After the president fact-checked his critics in Cleveland last week, Susan Crabtree of the Washington Examiner, appearing on “The Last Word,” tried to tamp down his taking credit for unemployment falling to 5.5 percent, citing 30 million people who have dropped out of the workforce. Eugene Robinson would have none of it, pointing out that the Bureau of Labor Statistics figure is the “standard way that we have measured unemployment for many, many decades.” When the game is not going your way, you don’t get to move the goalposts. (IOKIYAR)
As a number of observers have pointed out, however, for big businesses to admit that government policies can create jobs would be to devalue one of their favorite political arguments — the claim that to achieve prosperity politicians must preserve business confidence, among other things, by refraining from any criticism of what businesspeople do.
Under “the confidence con,” any criticism of these “sensitive souls” will prompt Job Creators to take their investments and go home. But there is another free-market dogma not heard much anymore, one voiced by former RNC chair Michael Steele in 2009: “Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job.” Yet during the 2012 debate over whether the sequester would hurt the defense industry, the goalposts moved again. But worry not. Like Ah-nold, “never created a job” will be back.
Imagine a self-serving, industry-funded Sunday talk show ad:
One million workers in this country owe their cars, their homes, their kids’ education, and their steady paychecks to the private-sector, free-market entrepreneurs of the American defense industry.
The Defense Industry — meeting demand for fine consumer products like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the fuel-efficient M1 Abrams tank, Tomahawk cruise missiles, the new Zumwalt class guided missile destroyer, and the Hellfire-equipped Predator drone. Predator — for when you really want to reach out and touch someone.
Free Market Capitalism — because government never created a job.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)