Connect with us

Politics

Opinion | The Political Weapon Biden Didn’t Deploy – POLITICO

Published

 on


.cms-textAlign-lefttext-align:left;.cms-textAlign-centertext-align:center;.cms-textAlign-righttext-align:right;.cms-magazineStyles-smallCapsfont-variant:small-caps;

Perhaps the most surprising element of President Joe Biden’s first presidential speech on Thursday night was what it did not include.

A day after the passage of the most far-reaching domestic piece of legislation in decades, Biden spent only the last few minutes in touting his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The lion’s share of his talk was a detailed account of the effort to contain and control the coronavirus pandemic. Apart from a passing reference to the “denial” and “silence” of his unnamed predecessor, politics was not on the agenda.

There may well have been good reason for that decision. His first prime-time speech as president called for a message of unity—the same message he had sounded during his campaign and in his Inaugural. No mention of the unanimous opposition of Republicans to his plan; no attempt to draw partisan lines. The selling of his Rescue Plan is expected to begin any time, but Biden clearly decided it could wait a day or two.

Yet there is no doubt that the political implications of his plan have the potential to be nothing less than radical.

It was 11 years ago, almost to the day, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of Obamacare, “we have to pass the bill so that you can know what’s in it.” That notion, which seemed borrowed from the Queen of Hearts’ absurdist “Sentence first! Verdict afterwards!” approach in Alice in Wonderland, turns out to have been even more applicable to this week’s American Rescue Act.

It was after the bill’s approval by the Senate that we learned the full dimensions of the most audaciously ambitious social welfare legislation since the New Deal. Most tellingly, the congressional Republicans, who had voted unanimously against it out of force of habit, never bothered to train the full fury of their fire at a series of provisions that took the nation several steps down the road to social democracy.

There’s the tax credit for children that in effect provides thousands of dollars a year for each child—an idea that’s been debated since Daniel Moynihan proposed it as a member of the Nixon administration. There’s the significant expansion of subsidies to buy into health care, along with months’ worth of free access to health insurance for those who’ve lost their jobs and health insurance—not “socialized medicine,” but a significant step toward more public underwriting of health care. And there’s an $86 billion commitment to protect the pensions of a million retirees whose multi-employer plans were in danger of insolvency—without even a pretense that this is linked to the Covid pandemic. It’s the kind of bailout you might expect in a nation where organized labor is a significant share of the workforce. Now, in a United States where unions represent barely 6 percent of the private sector labor force, that protection is law.

From a policy perspective, the key question is whether these and other provisions lead to a robust economy or one eroded by a spike in inflation. From a political perspective, the potential impact of the rescue plan is hard to overstate; what it represents is the possibility that the Democratic Party has found a tool to reconnect it to a working and middle class whose loyalty has been threatened for well over half a century.

There are a host of centrifugal forces pulling at the Democratic Party coalition: In the early 1960s, clashes over housing, jobs, schools, crime and welfare divided Black and white working-class voters. Cities like Berkeley and Seattle repealed fair housing laws, and in 1964—the high-water mark of postwar Democratic Party strength—voters in California overwhelmingly banned such laws. By 1968, George Wallace’s campaign for president was striking chords beyond the South. The fraying of the New Deal coalition was very much on the mind of Robert F. Kennedy, whose presidential campaign was based on holding it together. In his last weeks, he began talking about an issue he believed had broad appeal: specifically, how many of the wealthiest Americans avoided paying a fair share of taxes. By the end of 1968, divisions over the war in Vietnam, deadly riots in the cities and upheaval on college campuses reduced the Democratic share of the presidential vote from 60 percent in 1964 to 43 percent; Richard Nixon and George Wallace divided the rest.

Little more than a decade later, the twin demons of recession across the industrial heartland and double-digit inflation helped turn millions of voters into “Reagan Democrats,” leading to two landslide victories for the Gipper and 12 consecutive years of GOP presidencies. All through the 1980s, Democrats and their intellectual allies tried to grapple with the fact that voters seemed to prefer Democratic policies (on health care, education, taxes), but voted, at least at the presidential level for Republicans. (I have a vivid memory of House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt assuring a group of journalists that once the American people saw his party’s proposals for lower drug prices and access to college, they would return to the fold.)

It took “a different kind of Democrat” (as Bill Clinton defined himself) to win back, at least temporarily, those defecting Democrats by breaking with his party’s orthodoxies on crime and welfare, and by pledging that “the era of Big Government is over.” And it took an emerging demographic sea change that yielded an increasingly nonwhite electorate, and a more liberal cohort of college-educated whites, to outweigh (at least in popular vote terms), the increasingly Republican tilt of less-educated whites and to put Barack Obama in the White House.

But both Clinton and Obama suffered severe political damage in their first midterms from the fact that their principal battles—for deficit-cutting tax hikes on the part of Clinton, and from a stimulus and a health care plan from Obama—had failed to deliver tangible success. While both were reelected, those midterm failures had severe consequences that endure; in particular, 2010 produced a GOP takeover at the state level that now threatens severe voting limits across the country.

With the American Rescue Plan, Democrats are offering something very different: a package that is in a key sense a throwback to its roots first planted in the days of Andrew Jackson. It is an unapologetic assertion of the power of government to redress a set of grievances without any assertion of identity politics; while the stark facts of the pandemic mean that it has hit with special force in Black and brown communities, the remedial power of government is directed to the victims defined by circumstance, not color.

The political potential here is impressive. Consider a 2022 midterm where the future of the now-temporary child tax credits is on the line, and where every Republican House and Senate incumbent will have to explain to the electorate why they voted against them. Consider the votes of tens of thousands of small-business owners—the entrepreneurial heart of what Republicans rhetorically celebrate—whose enterprises survived because of the law enacted with a clear partisan split. Imagine a Republican arguing that only a small fraction of the law addressed the costs of the pandemic, when there are countless parents of school-age children, restaurant workers, retail shop owners, hotel clerks, freelance consultants, who know exactly what happened to their lives when Covid struck.

This is a possibility that Republicans simply may not have imagined, given their midterm successes in running against the initiatives of the past two Democratic presidents, and inflicting on Clinton and Obama successive political catastrophes.

This time, the benefits of the new law are easy to grasp, and will be—literally—in the hands of Americans within weeks. The scope is broad enough to encompass both the poor and large elements of the middle class, which is why it now enjoys a level of support almost unimaginable for a law passed along such partisan lines. There is a hint that an outbreak of public happiness may be about to begin; when American Airlines tells its workers to “tear up those furlough notices!”, it portends the chance of celebration with every reopened restaurant, with every eviction notice burned. More broadly, it appears to contain provisions that leapfrog a dilemma that has plagued Democratic social programs in the past: When they are perceived as helping one class of voters, they meet with a powerful backlash, (often one infused by racial resentment). When a program reaches broadly—Social Security, Medicare and, increasingly, the Affordable Care Act—it becomes politically potent.

Potential is not prediction. There are plenty of ways that 2022 could be another Democratic disaster; perhaps inflation will accelerate, or the looming issues of an overwhelmed border and rising crime may override good economic news, or the Republican efforts to limit the vote in state after state will prove too formidable.

But what does seem clear is that, unlike past measures that required huge congressional majorities, a radical change in the social fabric of the United States has become a reality—and with it, an opportunity for the Democratic Party no one could have imagined 50 days ago.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Politics

Prince Philip took a keen interest in Canada, but stayed above politics, former GGs and PM say – Toronto Star

Published

 on


When former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien met the late Prince Philip for the first time, he told him that for an Englishman, his French was very good.

“He said ‘I’m not English and I’ve spoken French since before you were born,’” Chrétien told the Star Friday, commenting on his many encounters over 50 years with the Duke of Edinburgh.

“He was not dull, let me put it that way,” Chrétien said. “He had some strong views. Sometimes he had to show discipline to not speak up more than he would have wished.”

Philip, born in Greece in 1921 and husband to Queen Elizabeth II for over 73 years, died at the age of 99 on Friday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said he first met Philip when he was a little boy, described him as “a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others.”

Former prime ministers and governors general spoke of a man who understood his role and knew not to get involved in politics, but who was very knowledgeable about Canada and took a keen interest in the country’s success.

“I was always impressed by their knowledge,” Chrétien said of Philip and the Queen, Canada’s head of state.

He said he can recall Philip asking about the prospect of Quebec separating from the rest of the country. “Not in a very political fashion, just in terms of interest. Of course he was interested to not see Canada break up. He would certainly say that to me.”

Statements from former prime ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper highlighted Philip’s devotion to the Canadian armed forces and charitable organizations, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, an international self-development program for young people.

Former governors general David Johnston and Michaëlle Jean, through their role as the Queen’s representative in Canada, were also able to get to know Philip more intimately, particularly at the Queen’s Balmoral Castle estate in Scotland.

Jean recalls being “overwhelmed” by all the protocol recommendations ahead of a Balmoral visit with her husband and six-year-old daughter prior to taking office in 2005, only to find Philip and the Queen greeting them at the door, with Philip paying special attention to her daughter.

“The memory I keep of Prince Philip is that of an affable, caring, elegant and warm man,” Jean told the Star, adding he was a man who was very attentive to detail.

She recalled attending a barbecue on the Balmoral estate, just the four of them, and Philip telling her, “Don’t forget to congratulate Her Majesty for her salad dressing, because she made it herself.”

What Jean also saw was a man sometimes hampered by the limitations of his role, like when he talked about one of his favourite topics, the environment.

“He said ‘I do a lot about it, I raise awareness, I take actions…I feel that whatever I do, no one cares,’” Jean recounted. “What I got from that is how lonely he felt…There was a sense of not feeling appreciated in proportion to his contributions, a feeling of being misunderstood.”

Johnston, who succeeded Jean, said Canada’s constitutional monarchy — where the head of state is politically neutral and separate from elected office — is an “important and precious” form of government, and Philip was key to making it work.

Philip showed leadership as a servant, Johnston said, “not taking centre stage, but by ensuring that the Queen and the monarchy were front row and centre.

Loading…

Loading…Loading…Loading…Loading…Loading…

“He played such an important structural role, and did that with great diligence and commitment. He was selfless in that respect,” Johnston said in an interview.

For Matthew Rowe, who works on the Royal Family’s charitable endeavours in Canada, the Duke of Edinburgh’s political value to Canada was precisely that he was not political — that he, along with the rest of the monarchy, provided a stabilizing force outside of the partisan fray.

He was dynamic, irascible, exasperating, intriguing. And he was always three steps behind his wife, Queen Elizabeth, who utterly adored him throughout their 73-year marriage, flaws, faux pas and all.

“His presence, and the role of Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family, has been to be able to represent the nation, to represent Canadian interests, and commemorate Canadian achievements without being tied to a particular political ideology or regional faction,” Rowe, who met Philip at a ceremony at Rideau Hall in 2010, said in an interview.

Philip’s role meant he could speak more frankly than the Queen in public, and spoke “quite thoughtfully” about the constitutional monarchy in Canada, said University of Toronto history instructor Carolyn Harris.

At a press conference in Ottawa in 1969, Philip famously said that the monarchy doesn’t exist “in the interests of the monarch…It exists solely in the interest of the people. We don’t come here for our health. We can think of other ways of enjoying ourselves.”

Philip had a good, joking relationship with Johnston’s wife, Sharon. He recounted how the two joined the Queen and Prince Philip at Balmoral in August 2010, prior to Johnston’s swearing-in later that year.

One evening, they were returning to the castle from a barbecue at a renovated shepherd’s hut on the estate — just the four of them, the Queen driving with Johnston in one land rover, and Philip driving with Sharon in the other ahead of them on narrow, highland roads.

“We were coming home at about 10 p.m., as black as could be, he and Sharon were ahead, kind of weaving, and we could hear these gales of laughter coming out. They were cracking jokes at one another,” Johnston said.

“I had a vision of him going over the edge and down half a mile into the valley, and my first thought is: Do the Queen and I rustle down to rescue them?”

Chrétien said “it must be terrible” for the Queen to now find herself alone after a marriage that lasted for more than 70 years. He noted it’s been almost seven months to the day since he lost his wife, Aline.

“It’s a big change in life but she’s an extremely courageous person and she will face the situation with the strength that she has been able to show to the world for the almost 70 years she’s been queen,” Chrétien said.

With files from Alex Boutilier and Kieran Leavitt

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

After warning, McConnell softens posture on corporations’ taking political stances

Published

 on

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., softened his stance on corporations’ getting involved in politics Wednesday, a day after he warned companies not to weigh in on hot button issues.

“I didn’t say that very artfully yesterday. They’re certainly entitled to be involved in politics. They are,” McConnell told reporters. “My principal complaint is they didn’t read the darn bill.

“They got intimidated into adopting an interpretation … given by the Georgia Democrats in order to help get their way,” he said.

McConnell was referring to a controversial voting law recently passed in Georgia, which came about in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s campaign of falsehoods about the election result in the state last fall.

The law led the CEOs of Delta and Coca-Cola — which are based in Atlanta — to condemn the measure. And last week, Major League Baseball pulled this year’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta in protest. The game will, instead, be played in Colorado.

In recent weeks, McConnell has excoriated corporate America for boycotting states over various GOP-led bills. He said Tuesday that it is “stupid” for corporations to take positions on divisive political issues but noted that his criticism did not extend to their donations.

“So my warning, if you will, to corporate America is to stay out of politics,” McConnell said in Louisville, Kentucky. “It’s not what you’re designed for. And don’t be intimidated by the left into taking up causes that put you right in the middle of one of America’s greatest political debates.”

Major League Baseball’s decision drew the most outrage from Republicans, as Trump called for a boycott of baseball and other companies that spoke out against the Georgia law. McConnell said Tuesday that the latest moves are “irritating one hell of a lot of Republican fans.”

McConnell, long a champion of big money in politics, however, noted Tuesday that corporations “have a right to participate in a political process” but said they should do so without alienating “an awful lot of people.”

“I’m not talking about political contributions,” he said. “I’m talking about taking a position on a highly incendiary issue like this and punishing a community or a state because you don’t like a particular law that passed. I just think it’s stupid.”

Source:- NBC News

Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Facebook Removes 1,000 Fake Accounts Seeking to Sway Global Politics

Published

 on

(Bloomberg) — Facebook Inc. said it removed 14 networks representing more than 1,000 accounts seeking to sway politics around the world, including in Iran and El Salvador, while misleading the public about their identity.

Most of the removed networks were in the early stages of building their audiences, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Tuesday. Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday, part of its monthly reporting on efforts to rid its platforms of fake accounts, represents one of the larger crack downs by the company in recent months.

“We have been growing this program for several years,” said David Agranovich, Facebook’s global threat disruption lead. “I would expect to see this drum beat of take downs to continue.”

In one example, the company removed a network of more than 300 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and the photo-sharing app Instagram that appear to be run by a years-old troll farm located in Albania and operated by the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq opposition group. The group appeared to target Iran, but also other audiences with content about Iran, according to a report released by Facebook.

The group was most active in 2017, but increased its activity again in the latter half of 2020. It was one of a handful of the influence campaigns that likely used machine learning technologies capable of creating realistic profile photos to the naked eye, Facebook said in the report.

The company also removed 118 accounts, eight pages and 10 Instagram accounts based in Spain and El Salvador for violating the company’s foreign interference policy. The group amplified criticism of Henry Flores, a mayoral candidate in Santa Tecla, El Savador and supportive commentary of his rivals, the company said.

The social media giant also took down a network of 29 Facebook accounts, two pages, one group and 10 Instagram accounts based in Iran that was targeting Israel. The people behind the network posed as locals and posted criticism about Isreali prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Facebook. The company also took down networks based in Argentina, Mexico, Egypt and other nations.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said the company has improved its ability to identify inauthentic accounts, but said bad actors continue to change their strategies to avoid Facebook’s detection.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

Source:- BNN

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending