Thursday, October 8, 2015

Hillary N&V 10.8: Opposing TPP, Jailing Wall Street Bankers, and Maddow on Hillary on Guns

Today's Hillary News & Views begins with one of several big news stories yesterday regarding Clinton: her opposition to the TPP.

First, Clinton's full statement:
I’m continuing to learn about the details of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, including looking hard at what’s in there to crack down on currency manipulation, which kills American jobs, and to make sure we’re not putting the interests of drug companies ahead of patients and consumers. But based on what I know so far, I can’t support this agreement.
As I have said many times, we need to be sure that new trade deals meet clear tests: They have to create good American jobs, raise wages, and advance our national security. The bar has to be set very high for two reasons.
First, too often over the years we haven’t gotten the balance right on trade. We’ve seen that even a strong deal can fall short on delivering the promised benefits. So I don’t believe we can afford to keep giving new agreements the benefit of the doubt. The risks are too high that, despite our best efforts, they will end up doing more harm than good for hard-working American families whose paychecks have barely budged in years.
Second, we can’t look at this in a vacuum. Years of Republican obstruction at home have weakened U.S. competitiveness and made it harder for Americans who lose jobs and pay because of trade to get back on their feet. Republicans have blocked the investments that we need and that President Obama has proposed in infrastructure, education, clean energy, and innovation. They’ve refused to raise the minimum wage or defend workers’ rights or adequately fund job training.
As a result, America is less competitive than we should be. Workers have fewer protections, the potential positive effects of trade are diminished, and the negative effects are exacerbated. We’re going into this with one arm tied behind our backs.
I still believe in the goal of a strong and fair trade agreement in the Pacific as part of a broader strategy both at home and abroad, just as I did when I was Secretary of State. I appreciate the hard work that President Obama and his team put into this process and recognize the strides they made. But the bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don’t believe this agreement has met it.
Clinton's opposition is putting passage of TPP in doubt. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The immediate impact of Mrs. Clinton’s move is that it is likely to make securing the deal harder, assuming she brings wavering lawmakers to her side, and it raises the possibility the matter will be punted beyond the 2016 elections.
Only 28 House Democrats voted with most House Republicans in June to give Congress expedited powers to approve the pact. Mr. Obama can’t lose more than a handful of supporters before the deal would be imperiled.
The Nation reports:
The real intrigue is how Clinton has impacted what’s sure to be a close vote in Congress on the TPP next year, because from almost any angle, Clinton’s position will make its passage much more difficult.
The fast-track trade legislation that Congress approved this summer was an obvious proxy for the TPP debate, and it passed the House with only a 10-vote margin. (The Senate margin was larger, and fast track lowered the threshold for TPP even further. For now, there isn’t much danger the TPP will fail in the upper chamber.)
Twenty-eight Democrats were needed to get the legislation through the House, and about the same amount will be needed to pass the TPP—perhaps more, if Donald Trump and other GOP candidates continue to rail against the deal and move Republican support away from the pact.
Those 28 Democrats were already under serious pressure from unions and progressive activists not to support fast track, and the TPP vote will be even more intense. 
To get Democrats across the line for fast track, President Obama made countless personal appeals to members. Some Democrats described it as the most intense congressional push of his presidency. Clinton’s announcement also handicaps his ability to pull off the same feat for the TPP. 
What matters about Clinton’s announcement is it’s the clearest indicator yet the politics around the TPP are changing—and they’re slipping away from the White House.
Vox notes that Clinton's opposition gives Democrats in Congress "cover" to also oppose it:
In a major blow to President Obama's trade agenda, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton has come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Clinton explained her skepticism by mentioning two of the most common objections to the deal among left-leaning critics: that it's too favorable to pharmaceutical companies, and that it doesn't include language prohibiting other countries from manipulating their currencies to gain a trade advantage.
The lack of currency manipulation language is a key concern of the labor movement, whose support could be crucial in next year's Democratic primary elections. Meanwhile, public health groups have raised concerns about language in the TPP that could raise the cost of medicines worldwide.
Obama faces a tough vote on the trade deal next year, and Clinton's comments won't help. They will give political cover to wavering congressional Democrats who want to help Obama but are also feeling grassroots pressure from labor unions and other liberal groups.
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka released a statement calling Clinton's opposition a "critical turning point" for those opposed to TPP:

Clinton believes individual Wall Street bankers should be prosecuted for wrongdoing. 
The Washington Post reports:
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton will unveil a proposal this week to more severely punish financial executives and firms that are found to have committed serious wrongdoing, part of a wide-reaching strategy for cracking down on corporate malfeasance and more tightly regulating Wall Street, campaign officials said Wednesday.
The plan has several features, officials said. Clinton officials say she would strongly encourage prosecutors to pursue individual executives and bankers at firms accused of wrongdoing -- by criminal prosecution, efforts to reclaim their compensation or dismissal. In recent years, by contrast, regulators have faced criticism for prosecuting corporate entities, not individuals.
In addition, while current law allows many executives to take up certain roles in the financial industry even after being found culpable for violations of criminal or securities laws, Clinton's plan would also seek to prevent more people convicted of crimes from working in any capacity in the industry.
"Clinton believes that the best way to deter corporate wrongdoing is to hold individuals accountable for their misconduct," according to a summary of the proposal obtained by The Washington Post.
Responding to concerns of activists including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the proposal also would limit the access of major financial firms to the markets if they engage in serious wrongdoing.
Among other things, Clinton would extend the statute of limitations on some crimes to allow prosecutors more time to develop a case. She will seek independent sources of funding for enforcement for agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which could shield regulators from interference from Capitol Hill. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau already has a separate source of funds, which Republicans in Congress have sought to cut off.
"When the woman who may be the next president of the United States says that she wants to crack down on corporate crime and hold individuals accountable, Wall Street will listen, as will the rest of corporate America," said the University of Michigan law professor David Uhlmann, a former federal prosecutor who was briefed by the campaign about the proposal.
The Huffington Post reports on Rachel Maddow's analysis of Clinton's gun control proposals:
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow believes Hillary Clinton may have just shifted the national conversation around gun control.
Maddow suggested on her show Monday that Clinton's recently announced proposals on gun reform -- which call for limits on the availability and distribution of firearms and threaten the use of administrative action -- may prompt the Obama administration to act.
"What Hillary Clinton has done is fascinating, because of how it sets her up vis-a-vis the president," Maddow said. "With these new policy proposals that Hillary Clinton has just come out with, if she is right that these are all things that could be done by a president with or without Congress, well, that raises the question of whether President Obama could do these things now too."
Maddow said that if Clinton's proposals can in fact be achieved right now, it may lead to an executive branch policy win for the former secretary of state before she even landed the presidential nomination.
"If she has now identified a series of newly aggressive things a president could do alone on enforcing the gun laws in this country by rolling out that list of policies right now, Secretary Clinton may not have just changed the conversation around her own campaign, she could conceivably move American policy on this issue right now, even before she is nominated, let alone elected," Maddow said.
A Washington Post editorial suggests Clinton's proposals for college affordability are more progressive than her leading opponent's:
Hillary Clinton finally pushed back Monday against “progressives” who propose shoveling public benefits at rich and poor alike. One sentence in particular drew a clear distinction between her campaign and Sanders’s:
“I am not in favor of making college free for Donald Trump’s kids,” she said, after explaining that “I’m a little different from those who say free college for everybody.”
She then pitched her college affordability proposal, which would allow students to graduate debt free but wouldn’t end tuition or work requirements. Clinton’s system would be means-tested: Those who can afford to invest in their educations would have to. Sanders’s wouldn’t be.
Sanders’s platform isn’t visionary, it’s dull. Rather than devising smart solutions that target scarce federal resources where they’re most needed, he wants to waste massive amounts of money Congress wouldn’t ever give him — and shouldn’t — to provide benefits to a lot of people who don’t need them.
The government already spends astounding amounts subsidizing the housing, education, health care and retirement of the upper and upper-middle classes through tax breaks for mortgage interest, cut-rate student loans, in-state tuition, the tax exemption for employer-provided health-care, universal Medicare and universal Social Security.
That’s billions upon billions every year that could go into anti-poverty programs, research or roads without raising taxes. Rather than scaling back this nonprogressive nonsense, Sanders proposes to double down on it — just as the impending retirement of the boomers is straining the social programs we already have and just as the country’s infrastructure requires upgrading.
The endorsement of Civil Rights hero and Congressman John Lewis leads a strong roster of Georgia Democrats supporting Clinton.   

NBC News reports:
Congressman John Lewis will back Hillary Clinton's run for the White House.
"As our former Secretary of State, Senator from New York, and first Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to be President of the United States," said Congressman Lewis in a statement released Wednesday by the campaign.
"I know her heart. We need her leadership, not just here in America, but all over the world. She is tireless in her advocacy for those who have been left out and left behind. She is ready to be President on day one. Hillary Clinton has my wholehearted endorsement, and I plan to work and campaign for her to see that she is elected the next President of the United States."
On Wednesday, the Clinton campaign announced the launch of a grassroots-driven volunteer team, the Hillary for Georgia Leadership Council (HFGA LC). In a press release the campaign describes it as a group of "60 elected officials, community, student, coalition and grassroots leaders... that will help Hillary to win the Georgia Primary on March 1."
The council will lead the state's campaign activities by recruiting more volunteers, amplifying the campaign's voice and educating voters on Clinton's efforts to raise middle class wages and reform health care and the criminal justice system for Georgia residents.
Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and State Rep. Stacey Evans also joined the Hillary for Georgia Leadership Council.
In a Town Hall event, Clinton reiterated her distaste for Super PAC's, but also refused to "unilaterally disarm."

The Des Moines Register reports:
Hillary Clinton said Wednesday she wishes super PAC fundraising committees were banned, but she doesn’t intend to disown the ones supporting her while other candidates are benefiting from their own.
“I and others have said we’re not going to unilaterally disarm while the Republicans and the Koch brothers are out there raising money that they don’t even tell you where it came from,” the Democratic candidate told hundreds of voters gathered on the sun-dappled lawn of Cornell College.
Clinton was answering a question from Cornell senior Sam Stacy, who asked how she could “reconcile” her campaign’s finances with her calls for reforms.
She responded by noting that under federal rules, direct donations to presidential campaigns are limited to $2,700 per person during the primary season. Also, such donations must be reported. She touted how her campaign has raised $75 million that way, and she said most of her donors have given less than $100.
However, she acknowledged that her cause also is being supported by super PACs, which don’t face such limits on donations, although they do report donations.
“I would hope that we would get to a point where those would no longer be operating,” she said. “But that’s not where we are today, and the bulk of the super PAC money is on the other side with the Republicans.”
She noted that there is an additional set of groups, purported nonprofits that are supposed to serve educational purposes.
“That’s where the unaccountable, dark money really floods in,” she said.
She said Republican interests, including the Koch brothers, intend to use such groups to sway the electorate away from her.
Clinton reiterated that she would only nominate Supreme Court justices who were in favor of overturning the “Citizens United” decision, which allowed more such spending. She also has said a constitutional amendment might be necessary.
The Washington Post backs Clinton speaking out about Syria:
HILLARY CLINTON has touched off an important and overdue debate among Democrats about U.S. policy in Syria. Ms. Clinton told a television interviewer last week that she favored the creation of a no-fly zone and humanitarian corridors “to stop the carnage on the ground and from the air,” some of which is now being inflicted by Russian bombers.
That drew a disdainful response from President Obama, who described such proposals as “mumbo jumbo” and hinted that Ms. Clinton’s declaration was mere campaign rhetoric. Mr. Obama’s view, in turn, was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who issued a statement saying he opposed “a unilateral American no-fly zone in Syria.”
Ms. Clinton can hardly be accused of favoring intervention in Syria for political reasons, since she first put forward her proposal three years ago as secretary of state; it is, if anything, a politically risky stand for a candidate who must face Democratic primary voters in Iowa four months from now. Mr. Sanders can more plausibly be accused of electoral pandering. His false suggestion that Ms. Clinton was proposing “unilateral” U.S. action was evidently meant to evoke her support for the “unilateral” invasion of Iraq.
In fact, any initiative to establish Syrian no-fly zones, where refugees could gather safely and moderate forces organize themselves, would necessarily involve extensive U.S. collaboration with Turkey and Jordan, Syria’s neighbors, as well as those nations already participating in the U.S.-led air campaign in the region.
The Obama administration several months ago nominally agreed to Turkey’s proposal for the creation of a small de facto safe zone along its border with Syria. But as so often in Syria, implementation has been lacking.
And finally, an excellent piece from Quartz analyses the gender bias underlying the "likability" conversation that always surrounds Clinton:
The likability complaint has dogged Hillary for the better part of her public life. During husband Bill Clinton’s first run for governor in 1980, Arkansas voters disparaged her for being the independent, career-oriented Ms. Rodham instead of wifely, deferential Mrs. Clinton. (She subsequently took her husband’s name.) Recently released White House documents reveal that a decade later, her staff strategized to make her more “likable” mostly by making her appear softer and more feminine. During the 2008 campaign, the word surfaced again: Obama quipped that Hillary was “likable enough.”
Indeed, the question of Hillary’s likability is becoming more and more absurd, especially when you consider her credentials, arguably the most impressive of any 2016 presidential candidate. Why is that when it comes to Ms. Clinton, the sheer force of her experience and intelligence just isn’t enough?
[T]he discrepancy between what we acknowledge women can do and what we let them do—women are still only 19% of the House of Representatives and 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs—reveals a lingering problem: We know that they’re capable but, as the Pew report puts it, women still have to do more than men to prove themselves. They have to go above and beyond the standards to which men are held to demonstrate their competence; they have to try extra hard.
Hillary’s career is a case in point. She’s had a long and arduous climb to the top, not surprising for a woman in politics. And yet part of the reason she’s so disliked is precisely because she’s had to try so hard. While in someone else this might indicate persistence or strength (take Bernie Sanders, who’s served in Washington since 1990) critics dismiss Hillary as being overly ambitious, for “wanting it too badly.”
It’s a Catch-22, the political version of the Madonna-whore complex: Breaking a ceiling as high and as impenetrable as first woman president means trying really hard. But trying really hard begets a litany of often gendered criticisms—she’s not warm, she’s not funny, she’s not “likable.”
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Part 2: Immigration Reform  

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August 14, 2015: Iowa Wing Ding Dinner

July 31, 2015: National Urban League
July 20, 2015: Facebook Q&A
April 23, 2015: Women in the World Summit

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