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February 27, 2020 | The American Prospect
The Trump Administration’s Contemptuous, Pro-Corporate Response to Coronavirus
The COVID-19 coronavirus is nearly a global pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control’s latest statement warns Americans “to prepare, in the expectation that this could be bad.” Amid a global crisis like this, the public needs true leadership from the president and his top aides, and a highly competent government deserving of the people’s trust, with the capacity to effectively respond to incoming threats.But this is the Trump administration. So instead, we are being asked to put our faith in inexperienced political cronies, servicing the needs of corporations rather than the public, and contemptuous of science, scientists, and the idea of expertise.
February 21, 2020 | The American Prospect
The Top Lawyer Bankrolling Democrats
The insidious influence of the wealthy over our politics, as Alexander Sammon wrote last month, is perhaps the defining issue of the 2020 Democratic primary. It’s the reason we at the Revolving Door Project have been yammering on about bundlers—the wealthy and well-connected volunteer fundraisers who almost inevitably end up receiving or influencing key jobs across the executive branch. Bundlers have driven the facile premise of both Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg’s campaigns: “I can’t be bought by the rich, because I am one of the rich who buys.” This was initially Donald Trump’s pitch, too. And the desire to reject the influence of bundlers raise hopes in Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren’s campaigns, largely driven by small dollars and people power.
February 19, 2020 | Truthout
As the Primary Race Heats Up, Candidates Forget Principled Campaign Finance Stands
At this time last year, newly declared Democratic primary candidates were racing to outdo each other with escalating promises to shun big money support. Contenders vowed not to take corporate PAC money, to reject lobbyists’ dollars, to discourage super PACs, and to tell fossil fuel executives, “no, thank you”. Now, however, many seem to be in a wholly different sort of race: to put the most distance between themselves and their prior principled stands.
February 06, 2020 | Democracy Journal
Personnel is Policy
We’ve become accustomed, watching the Democratic debates, to hearing the moderators focus on the practicability of candidates’ plans to move to Medicare for All, reform immigration policy, and fight gun violence. Make no mistake, these bills are important. They’re the type of policies a functional Congress would advance, and markers of a candidate’s vision for the country. But the media’s near-exclusive focus on these legislative proposals is deeply flawed.
January 27, 2020 | InsideSources
The Issue Dividing Democratic Candidates Is Hidden in Plain Sight
Takes came in hot and heavy last weekend after the New York Times editorial board endorsed both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar for the Democratic presidential nomination, mercifully ending the paper’s self-aggrandizing pseudo-event widely compared to … that’s right … “The Apprentice.”
The Times split its endorsement due to the intra-Democratic cleave between what it termed a “radical” path represented by Warren and a “pragmatic” path represented by Klobuchar.
January 03, 2020 | The American Prospect
The Christmas Miracle: Biden’s Unexamined List of High-Powered Fundraisers
’Twas the Friday after Christmas, when all through the land, not a person was working, the computers unmanned. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while Joe Biden released the names of the wealthy and well-connected volunteers who are fundraising for his campaign.
These fundraisers, otherwise known as bundlers, have all brought in at least $25,000 for the campaign, although many have likely brought in sums an order of magnitude larger, or at least plan to throughout the course of the campaign.
December 04, 2019 | The American Prospect
Bloomberg News’ Curious Interpretation of Editorial Independence
Bloomberg News raised some eyebrows in the media world last week when reports leaked that it won’t investigate former New York mayor and Wall Street darling Michael Bloomberg as he (groan) runs for president. The news outlet also decided to refrain from investigating any other Democrats running, to maintain a level playing field, and added that the opinion page would publish no outside op-eds on the election as long as its owner remained a candidate.
November 01, 2019 | Talking Points Memo
The Impeachable Offense That Democrats Should Stop Ignoring
For the better part of this year, House Democrats have been consumed by a battle over how best to use their newfound power. One side called for impeachment from the start. The other side insisted that Democrats focus on kitchen table issues like health care. But the choice has always been false; the House can and should do both. In addition to the active impeachment inquiry into Trump’s efforts to influence the 2020 election, there should be a second, no less serious impeachment inquiry into Trump’s efforts to undermine Obamacare.
October 30, 2019 | Alternet
Who Exactly Are Biden’s Bundlers?
The Joe Biden campaign is short on cash, so short that it has moved from disavowing an outside super PAC earlier this year to throwing the door open to one last week. That begs the question: If Biden is compromising on this stance for a buck, what other things might he be willing to trade for fundraising help? And with whom?
October 23, 2019 | The American Prospect
Moderate Democrats Back a Privacy Bill, Minus the Privacy
“We need to start thinking not just about ticky-tack privacy rules, but what’s the reason why companies invade our privacy? And one of those reasons is the behavioral advertising model … it’s often manipulative. So we have to think about how these businesses are incentivized and structured if we want to get to the root cause of massive surveillance in our economy today.”
So declared FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra at a hearing on online platforms and market power last week. Chopra, who’s earned a reputation as a crusader in his short term thus far, was opening the door to a far deeper conversation about Big Tech than one usually hears in Washington, even in the midst of the so-called “techlash.”
October 19, 2019 | Washington Monthly
House Democrats Are Failing to Protect Farmers from Trump
Times are tough for American farmers. Everything from corporate consolidation to falling commodity prices is making it harder to get by. Strange, then, that the person most responsible for safeguarding their wellbeing, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, brought the following message to a gathering of Wisconsin dairy farmers: “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out. I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.” In other words, he was telling the farmers: you’re probably screwed and there’s nothing you can do about it.
October 07, 2019 | The American Prospect
Freddie Mac Using Shady AI Company for Mortgage Loans
The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage giant, is testing underwriting software from fintech firm ZestFinance. A creation of ex-Google executive Douglas Merrill, ZestFinance claims to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to spot trends in a borrower’s record that traditional lending models miss. This supposedly allows more credit to flow to borrowers who need and can afford it, allowing Freddie to issue more mortgages.
October 03, 2019 | The American Prospect
The DNC’s Debate Gambit Prevents Donor Accountability
Late last week, the Democratic National Committee announced that it would hold only one October debate (on the 15th, rather than the 15th and 16th), packing the 12 qualifying candidates onto a single stage. As others have highlighted, the overcrowding will likely mean even less substance and more quibbling. There is, however, another important and overlooked consequence of the DNC’s decision: The single debate will slip in hours before the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) third-quarter fundraising filing deadline, delivering an undeserved blessing to candidates who don’t wish to answer questions about their unsavory fundraising ties.
October 02, 2019 | The Daily Beast
Don’t Stop With Donald Trump, Democrats: Impeach Attorney General Bill Barr
It’s beyond redundant to say that Donald Trump must be impeached over the Ukraine scandal. The so-called transcript of his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelevsky released last week — really a collection of notes — was already damning evidence of the president manipulating foreign policy for his personal political goals. Then the actual whistleblower complaint reconfirmed and solidified the case. Trump’s White House counsel, Donald McGahn, even wrote a memo cautioning him that using law enforcement powers to target a political adversary would be illegal and clearly impeachable.
But if Democrats are going to uncover more information through aggressive hearings and ultimately impeach the president, they need to recognize their most powerful adversary: Attorney General William Barr.
September 27, 2019 | Talking Points Memo
Now That The Impeachment Probe Is Official, House Dems Must Ramp Up Other Oversight
In soliciting election interference from Ukraine’s president, Trump did what had long seemed impossible; he committed an offense that even the most impeachment-phobic lawmakers couldn’t ignore. You don’t have to agree that this behavior is materially worse than other known misconduct — we certainly don’t — to celebrate that this particularly flagrant misstep sent the Democratic caucus over the edge. And since House Democrats are no longer paralyzed by a fear of falling into an unwanted impeachment inquiry, it is our hope that the Democratic caucus will finally begin to act like the opposition party it was elected to be.