Can Bernie Sanders Take Podium Tuesday Night?

Tuesday the landslides for Joe Biden continues with three states adding delegates to his now impossible to stop race for the nomination. The math no longer allows Bernie Sanders a roadmap. It has not for two weeks. But the point of this post is one that I find intriguing as a reader of politics. Consider how Sanders has imploded, and ask what about his message or playbook is the reason. This will be talked about by reporters for years.

The New York Times raised this question in a pointed way this past week.  That the scenario below can be demonstrated in county after county and state after state speaks volumes about either a candidate or a campaign…or both.

Four years ago, in Grant County, Oklahoma, Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton, 57.1 percent to 31.9 percent.

This year, Sanders didn’t just lose Grant County — 87.5 percent white, 76.9 percent without college degrees — to Biden, his percentage of the vote fell by 41 points, to 16.1 percent.

Grant County reflects what has become a nationwide pattern in the Democratic primaries, including those held last week, and what will play out tonight, I strongly assume.

Sanders’s support among white working class voters is evaporating, and his inability to secure African-American votes makes it possible that on primary night Sanders does not make it to a microphone…again.

Math Is Not Bernie Sanders’ Friend

The following charts outline the problems when it comes to math and moderation for the fight in the Democratic Party for the presidential nomination.

How big is Sanders’s agenda? Note only is it 10x the size of what Biden is proposing, but as a share of our economy, government spending would eclipse the 1944 peak reached during WWII.

Regarding the second graph Sanders has yet to explain how he’ll pay for half of his agenda – at the moment he’s short $27 trillion which is well over the size of the entire US economy ($21 trillion).

Regarding the third graph note “Free” health care, college and child care, a #GND, eradicated student and medical debt, plus a flotilla of other benefits would conservatively cost $57 trillion over 10 years, though some see Sanders’s agenda clocking in at as much as $100 trillion.




Your Tuesday Perspective (On Bernie Sanders)

As the Democratic Party is now about to run at full steam towards Super Tuesday I think we need to calm down just two seconds and ponder a fact.

As of now, three states have been involved in the process and about 687,000 Democrats have voted — 156,000 of them for Bernie Sanders — representing about two-tenths of one percent of the nation’s population.

Sanders has money and a determined machine to support his path in the days and weeks to come, but today the hype over it all is just that.  Hype.

The vetting that is about to take place for Sanders–especially concerning his views on international policy–will be illuminating.  In just a few hours on Monday, his adoration for a Fidel Castro literacy program was headlined.  Nothing wrong with literacy, but no smart and grounded candidate lauds Castro and interjects that into a contest where the objective is to beat Trump in the fall.

Then it was reported that when American hostages were being held in Iran starting in 1979 Sanders was giving vocal support to the entities who stood with Iran. 

Virtually all Americans—Democrats, Republicans and independents—united in support of the hostages and the international call for their freedom. One prominent political figure on the 2020 stage, then almost completely unknown, stood apart by joining a Marxist-Leninist party that not only pledged support for the Iranian theocracy, but also justified the hostage taking by insisting the hostages were all likely CIA agents. Who was that person? It was Bernie Sanders.  

Sanders would like the public to believe, as an AP story put it, that “democratic socialism [is] the economic philosophy that has guided his political career.” But that has not always been the case. In 1977, he left the tiny left-wing Liberty Union Party of Vermont that he’d co-founded, and in 1980 instead aligned himself with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the self-proclaimed Trotskyist revolutionary party, became its presidential elector in Vermont, and campaigned for its candidates and platform that defended the Iranian hostage seizure.  

Yes, much will happen with this process as we move to nominate our candidate for the fall ticket.  So do not hyperventilate if you fear what Sanders could do to the ticket if nominated, just as others should take air from a paper bag thinking this is all over and Sanders is the winner.

This is what a runner calls the warm-up exercises before the all-out strides take place.

Why Additional Taxes Are Required To Adjust For Capitalism’s Shortfalls

I have argued for at least the past two decades that it is essential to have more revenue coming into government coffers.  The impact of more tax cuts following the previous tax cuts (etc.) not only undermines services but has, in part, created a very lop-sided society.  We are aware of the impact that Bernie Sanders had on the 2016 election cycle, and continues to have on the one now underway. Others, such as Elizabeth Warren are adding more muscle to the larger argument as to why the negative effects of capitalism must be addressed.  Conservatives will argue there is no reason to address the inequities.  But the resulting outrage from a large younger segment of the electorate demands accountability if for no other reason, than if left without a remedy not only will angst grow but the foundations of our economy and society will jump the rails.

While I have never supported Sanders for higher office, as a liberal Democrat I have decried the give-a-way tax cuts to the wealthy,  instead of using the power of such amounts of money to focus down on systemic problems such as our national infrastructure and education.   The tax cuts only have added to the massive and growing imbalance in our nation’s living standards.

With that as an opening, I want to share portions of a highly reasoned and powerful essay that I could find no fault with, as I read it outside with coffee this afternoon.  The whole article should be able to be read by anyone, as Foreign Affairs allows one read per month.  The authors of this piece are notables.  Joseph Stiglitz is University Professor of Economics at Columbia University.  Todd Tucker is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. And Gabriel Zucman is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Here then is a small sample with some points I want to stress.

In the United States, total tax revenues paid to all levels of government shrank by close to four percent of national income over the last two decades, from about 32 percent in 1999 to approximately 28 percent today, a decline unique in modern history among wealthy nations. The direct consequences of this shift are clear: crumbling infrastructure, a slowing pace of innovation, a diminishing rate of growth, booming inequality, shorter life expectancy, and a sense of despair among large parts of the population. These consequences add up to something much larger: a threat to the sustainability of democracy and the global market economy.

It is not just corporations that engage in tax avoidance; among the superrich, dodging taxes is a competitive sport. An estimated eight percent of the world’s household financial wealth is hidden in tax havens. Jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands, Panama, and Switzerland have structured their economies around the goal of helping the world’s rich hide their assets from their home governments. Even in places that don’t show up on international watch lists—including U.S. states such as Delaware, Florida, and Nevada—banking and corporate secrecy enable people and firms to evade taxes, regulation, and public accountability.

Unchecked, these developments will concentrate wealth among a smaller and smaller number of people, while hollowing out the state institutions that provide public services to all. The result will be not just increased inequality within societies but also a crisis and breakdown in the very structure of capitalism, in the ability of markets to function and distribute their benefits broadly.

Much of the blame lies with the existing transfer price system, which governs the taxation of goods and services sold between individual parts of multinational companies. This system was invented in the 1920s and has barely changed since then. It leaves important determinations (such as where to record profits) to companies themselves (regardless of where the profit-making activity took place), since the system was designed to manage the flows of manufactured goods that defined the global economy in the 1920s, when most trade occurred between separate firms; it was not designed for the modern world of trade in services, a world in which most trade takes place between subsidiaries of corporations. When one of us (Stiglitz) chaired the Council of Economic Advisers, in the 1990s, under President Bill Clinton, he waged a quiet but unsuccessful campaign to change the global system to the kind used within the United States to allocate profits between states (this arrangement is known as “formulary apportionment,” whereby, for the purpose of assessing a company’s tax, profits are assigned to a given state based on the share of the firm’s sales, employment, and capital within that state). Entrenched corporate interests defended the status quo and got their way. Since then, intensifying globalization has only further encouraged the use of the transfer price system for tax dodging, compounding the problems posed by the flight of capital to tax havens.

The 2017 tax cut illustrates this dynamic. Instead of boosting annual wages by $4,000 per family, encouraging corporate investment, and driving a surge of sustained economic growth, as its proponents promised it would, the cut led to minuscule increases in wages, a couple of quarters of increased growth, and, instead of investment, a $1 trillion boom in stock buybacks, which produced only a windfall for the rich shareholders already at the top of the income pyramid. The public, of course, is paying for the bonanza: the United States is experiencing its first $1 trillion deficit.

Lower taxes on capital have one main consequence: the rich, who derive most of their income from existing capital, get to accumulate more wealth. In the United States, the share of wealth owned by the richest one percent of the adult population has exploded, from 22 percent in the late 1970s to 37 percent in 2018. Conversely, over the same period, the wealth share of the bottom 90 percent of adults declined from 40 percent to 27 percent. Since 1980, what the bottom 90 percent has lost, the top one percent has gained.

The next step would be to eliminate special provisions that exempt dividends, capital gains, carried interest, real estate, and other forms of wealth from taxation. Today, when assets are passed on from one generation to another, the underlying capital gains escape taxation altogether; as a consequence, many wealthy individuals manage to avoid paying capital gains taxes on their assets. It is as if the tax code were designed to create an inherited plutocracy, not to create a world with equality of opportunity. Without increasing tax rates, eliminating these special provisions for the owners of capital—making them pay the same rate as workers—would generate trillions of dollars over the next ten years.

Bernie Sanders Undermines Openness And Transparency


There were plenty of reasons during last night’s Democratic debate to sit back in your favorite chair or sprawl on the sofa, and wonder if the Dean Martin Roasts had come back to NBC.  (I loved those hour-long broadcasts!) In my over four decades of watching politics in this nation, nothing compares to the meltdown which took place live from Las Vegas.

While many moments stand out for redress and comment from the debate there was another instance from the night prior that bore down and really galled me.  And needs to be commented about on my blog.

It was when Bernie Sanders, the candidate who often looks so red-faced, and on the verge of a stroke, had the audacity when asked at a CNN Town Hall if he would release his full medical records to the electorate, stated the following.

“I don’t think we will, no.”

It does not take anyone long to do a fast search of my archives at Caffeinated Politics to know that there has been a constant call for openness in government.  A plea for transparency.   I have written many posts that deal with that topic–be it regarding the local and all-too willfully derelict Marquette Neighborhood Association Board to the shameful way that Donald Trump has failed to release his tax returns.

So here comes Sanders to add to the lowering of our needs as voters and proving more his kinship with those who wish to conceal and hide information.  At a time when voters need to have all the information they require to make a solid choice at an election, Sanders says he will not abide by any norms regarding his health information.

His political style is, at the roots, not unlike all those he loves to bluster about and ridicule.  After all, was it not Sanders who promised, after his heart attack in 2019, to release “comprehensive” health information? Trump told the voters in 2016 that in time he would allow for his tax records to be released.  The lack of accountability runs deeps in those who seek to hijack a political party.  

The reason Sanders is simply wrong in this stand is due to the fact he is 78 and would be the most senior of the men if elected to the White House.  Anyone who watches his gesticulating madness on a stage, with his head-turning more and more the shade of a setting sun, does have every right to know what the medical records state.  

I can bet–with my Elvis album collection as the deal–that if Sanders were fit as a fiddle the records would be not only released but used in a way to underscore the obese and lumbering gait of Trump.  That Sanders is hiding the records raises real alarms.

Voters have a right to expect respect from presidential candidates when they ask for the full weight of the office to be placed on their shoulders.  Being honest about health matters is vital to our republic.  Sanders is proving that he is not willing to meet that standard.

We must not relent on getting to the truth.


Eking Out Win Bernie Sanders Now Faces Majority Of Moderates In Democratic Party

There is that pesky fact that one needs to deal with when latching onto a political party that has never been a place that was called home.  You need to deal with the folks who have resided there for years and in many cases decades.

So it is with Bernie Sanders who can not run with any degree of success on the Socialist ticket so he traded in his treasured principles for a few months so to play with the big kids on the playground of Democratic Party politics.   Mind you, I am not one of those who throw stones at socialist ideas or policies.  Quite the opposite.  I love my police, libraries, and FDA.   But I also believe in math and so seriously question the agenda that Sanders proposes with the numbers that he uses to make a claim that it is all workable.

What I find unacceptable is the lack of honor from someone who never does any of the work to ensure a strong party infrastructure, but then leaps on the stage to try and wrestle a presidential party nomination.  Let us be honest.   Bernie Sanders is a man best suited for a place where manners and good taste have expired.

He simply is not ready to be the nominee of my party.  That is not just me making that claim.  The majority of my party feel the same as the votes in the two voting states (thus far) have made it clear. Tuesday night was the latest example.  The vote totals of several Democratic candidates in New Hampshire, when taken together, are greater than that of Sanders.

The party wants to win and all are aware of the rhetorical outpouring which will fall on the party should Sanders take the nomination.  All the down-ballot candidates who have to share a ticket with the socialist standard-bearer will suffer tremendously.

Sanders has had decades to take his policy ideas to the next level but has never been able to move congress. The people who know him best—and by many reports–detest him the most.

Sanders is not so much in the hunt for the presidency itself, but just a larger platform from which to spout off and wildly gesticulate.  He knows darn well his yearning to move Congress to pass his ideas will lead nowhere.  He will just end up shouting and getting red-faced from a new residence.  At our expense!  That may make him feel good–but that is not what the nation needs.

A man who has accomplished little due to his limited leadership skill set and unwillingness to compromise should not be trying to take the nomination for president from my party.

It is now time for the moderates in the party to help Bernie see the exit sign on our stage.  His followers can decide if they love the nation more than him.  If they chose the latter then we know they are not made of the stock which is required to move the nation from where we now find ourselves.  The rest of us will then just have to work harder.  And we will.

The stakes are too high at this time in our national story to need to pick up the wreckage from Trump and then add that of Sanders.  Moderates in the Democratic Party will correct this looming problem in the weeks to come.

We will find our standard-bearer for the fall election.

New Hampshire ‘Independents’ Ready To Make Their Mark


When reading on Sunday a New York Times book review for Why We’re Polarized by Erza Klein I came across this line which connects with the top story we will be following in this nation for the remainder of the year.  It also underscores something I firmly believe.

Just as stunning, another researcher, the political scientist Corwin Smidt, found that today’s self-proclaimed independents “vote more predictably for one party over another than yesteryear’s partisans.”

I have long contended that the number of actual independent voters is quite small.  Voters know what they plan to do on any election day while playing coy with pollsters and some reporters.  They do this for reasons ranging from not wanting to reveal their true feelings while others just like the attention.  But they know if they swing to the Democrats or Republicans, or liberal or conservative philosophy.  They are as party-oriented as the rest of us.   They just wish not to look like they are in the partisan muck.

This brings us to the New Hampshire primary Tuesday and what these ‘independent’ voters plan to do.  An NBC News/Marist poll from late last week shows how Bernie Sanders may be scoring fewer of these Democratic voters—who call themselves independent—-by a stunning degree when compared with the last presidential primary election.  In 2016, Bernie Sanders won a whopping 73% of these voters.

Sanders received just 22% of them in the poll compared with Buttigieg at 25% and Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren at 10% apiece.

Factor in the Republican voters who will play on the Democratic ballot playground and we have a most interesting evening awaiting us in New Hampshire.  While Sanders will prevail in the state the margin by which he wins will not be as pronounced as four years ago.  Buttigieg has been smart and tone savvy on the campaign trail.  Amy Klobuchar was very good in the debate–I would argue it was her best performance.  She will make further gains Tuesday and will demonstrate why she is one of the two best choices for the vice-presidential nomination.

That is not an insult to the Minnesota Senator, but one of praise.   A woman needs to be on the ticket in November and she has the intellect and campaign abilities that will be required for the election.  Senator Harris is also, in my estimation, equally suited for the ticket.  I much respect them both.

Now we just need to wait for the moderates taking off in three directions in New Hampshire and see how it all shakes out.  After Tuesday there will be a need for the party to come to better terms with planning on how to stop Sanders.

Hillary Clinton (Very) Correct About Bernie Sanders

There are very few positive words ever posted on this blog about Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.  Namely, because I have very few kind things to say about him or the policy positions he holds as they are not rooted in math.  One can not get to where he wishes to take the nation without removing our basic understanding of addition and subtraction.

I have a natural disdain for populists–be they Donald Trump or the senator.  History is littered with reasons why populism is dangerous, and why Alexander Hamilton was correct about his concern over them during the infancy of our nation.

I also have serious issues with anyone who uses a political party, to which they do not belong, to seek office.  In the case of Sanders, we find a candidate unable to be effective in his current job hoping to secure a presidential nomination from a party he only ‘joins’ when he finds it convenient.  Then after loosing, as he did in 2016, he leaves the party.

Then there is the lack of Sanders’ math skills that he kept employing during the 2016 primary season.  Everyone with knowledge of only basic arithmetic knew he could never amass the required delegates even at the start of March that year.  But his relentless attacks on Hillary Clinton with repetitious anger only allowed for many of his supporters—who are not that different in mindset from their populous brethren on the Trump side–to sit out the November election, or to throw away their votes on someone who could never win.

Now Sanders and his supporters are all hot over the truth they need to hear.

The Hollywood Reporter: “In the doc, you’re brutally honest on Sanders: ‘He was in Congress for years. He had one senator support him. Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician. It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.’ That assessment still hold?

CLINTON: “Yes, it does.” 

The Hollywood Reporter: “If he gets the nomination, will you endorse and campaign for him?”

CLINTON: “I’m not going to go there yet. … I will say, however, that it’s not only him, it’s the culture around him. It’s his leadership team. It’s his prominent supporters. It’s his online Bernie Bros and their relentless attacks on lots of his competitors, particularly the women. And I really hope people are paying attention to that because it should be worrisome that he has permitted this culture — not only permitted, [he] seems to really be very much supporting it.”

Bernie Sanders will not receive the Democratic nomination this year.  The only thing we are not sure of as this posting is published is how much damage he and his supporters will again do to our nation.  From past performances, they care not at all for the larger needs of the nation.  Their blind devotion to Sanders–like the blind devotion of Trump supporters to their Dear Leader–is all the proof we need to again see the folly and danger of populism.