Sunday, October 11, 2015

(158 Families Rule U.S. Gov't)  U.S. On Verge of Breakup?  (Meet the Secretive Committees that Run the Global Economy - Economic Crisis Building)  US Power Impulsive or Repulsive?  (Trump Has Billions Abroad)  How Did Dems Get Any of the Rich's $$$$$$?  (Arne Duncan!)

Updated - 7:08 PM

158 Families Control U.S. Government (Most Backing Republicans)
They are overwhelmingly white, rich, older and male, in a nation that is being remade by the young, by women, and by black and brown voters. Across a sprawling country, they reside in an archipelago of wealth, exclusive neighborhoods dotting a handful of cities and towns. And in an economy that has minted billionaires in a dizzying array of industries, most made their fortunes in just two:   finance and energy.

The US Empire May Be Coming To An End:  So Said Lawrence Wilkerson (Before a Roomful of Republicans in Houston)
He had a prescient statement for those who thus far are the most eager to entertain that possibility. He said if it weren't for money from New York and California, the South would be Bangladesh. He is not far off as shown in these blog posts.

As the U.S. foreign policy and economic super-financialization has been rather easily exposed as being in the hands of a small group of very wealthy "deciders," many of us watch the shenanigans of the elected politicians as a sideshow that is only important for bringing in the bucks to the bought-and-paid-for media who revel in reporting on the clowns.

The death of the Republican Party has been announced in capital letters; the death of the Democratic Party in smaller ones actually preceded it.

Not to mention the death of democracy and the American Empire.

From a telling interview with one man's childhood Republican postmistress:

Dear Mrs. Supinger, I will try to explain:  Even though the pundit class keeps on telling us that order will eventually be restored in the Republican presidential campaign – in the form of Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, presumably – I suspect they’ve been smoking that stuff that President Nixon told you was sapping the national morale. At this writing, the leading candidates are still a deranged billionaire who makes impossible promises, a retired black doctor who says outrageous things in a quiet voice, and a likable woman who was a spectacular failure in the business world before she became a spectacular failure in politics. No, I’m not kidding! And none of those people has ever been elected to anything, including church deacon, yearbook president or assistant treasurer of the Ayn Rand fan club.

How did that happen? And what does the crazy-time presidential race have to do with the fact that the Republicans hold their largest congressional majority since 1931 – 247 of the 435 House members – but still can’t find anybody who can win the speakership in a floor vote? Well, Mrs. S, the secret is that nobody actually likes the Republican Party, as it currently exists. The American public is divided between those who hate the Republicans for being irrational and intransigent and racist, and those who hate them for not being irrational and intransigent and racist enough. The only people who still feel affection toward the “Republican brand” are you and a tiny handful of extremely rich people, and since you’re dead you technically don’t count.

That big Republican victory in the 2014 midterms was a masterfully engineered work of fiction – an artifact of voter suppression, voter apathy and the intensive gerrymandering imposed by GOP-dominated state legislatures after the 2010 census. Republican candidates won barely 51 percent of the vote, but thanks to the imaginative redistricting plans imposed in numerous states, that modest margin was dramatically overrepresented in the final result. Even more important, voter turnout fell to 36.6 percent, the lowest in any national election for more than 70 years.

Just under 40 million people actually voted for Republicans, while 35.4 million voted for Democrats. That was the lowest Democratic total in 12 years – and also the lowest GOP total in eight years.

Compare those numbers to the Obama re-election year of 2012, when Democratic congressional candidates attracted almost 60 million votes (and still lost seats thanks to the gerrymander), or to the electoral bonanza of 2008, when they got more than 65 million votes. So on one hand, nearly 30 million Democratic votes have vanished into thin air over the course of the last six years, which has been catastrophic to the party’s dreams of a semi-permanent electoral majority. But that doesn’t mean those people switched sides. The Republicans lost voters by the bucket-load too, just on a less epic scale. Their supposedly glorious 2014 victory required 18 million fewer votes than their record high total of 2012 – which was not enough to win the overall popular vote.

In other words, Mrs. Supinger, the Republicans won their gigantic majority by poisoning and paralyzing the government like a Boehner-headed giant scorpion, and now they must face the consequences. They convinced enormous numbers of Democrats and lots of moderate Republicans to give up and stay home because American politics had become worthless and terrible, a conclusion that is difficult to fault. They appealed almost exclusively to their angriest, most zealous and most overtly racist base voters, a loud but relatively small minority of the general population who cannot be called “conservative” in any sense of the word.

These are the people who constantly yammer for more tax cuts, in a country where income-tax rates, especially for the wealthiest citizens, are far below those our grandparents paid in the 1950s. They want all the Mexicans deported, even though illegal immigration is clearly an economic benefit (and is declining on its own). They want to slash social spending to levels that would make the 2008 recession look like a nationwide beach vacation. They want to defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood, and make steep cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security – and the only good thing about their agenda is that since they can’t have all of it, they don’t want any of it.

Now the Republicans in Congress, along with the “mainstream” or “establishment” Republican presidential candidates, are discovering what should have been obvious all along:  The Frankenstein voter base they bred and nurtured with so much money and so much cunning does not like them or trust them.

The fanatics of the Satanic Suicide Caucus and their supporters do not want the current Republican leadership to govern anything, or even try to. They have devoured the old Republican Party of Mrs. Supinger’s day from within, like an alien parasite. When they repeat its catchphrases about fiscal responsibility and social order in their metallic parasite voices, what they really mean is fiscal holocaust, social anarchy and class war against poor women, black people and immigrants. They dream of conquest, but whatever they can’t conquer – starting with their own political party – they will happily destroy.

Read the whole enchilada:  The Party that Can’t Govern, and the Country that Hates its Guts.
The Zombie Party that Cheated its Way to Power Faces Chaos, Ruin and Universal Loathing. Now Comes the Bad Part.

Meet the Secretive Committees that Run the Global Economy

By: Andrew Gavin Marshall
8 October 2015
Originally published at


There exists an overlapping and highly integrated network of institutions, committees and secret meetings of ad-hoc groups that collectively run the global economy. This network consists of finance ministries, central banks, international organizations and the various conferences and confabs that bring them together. This network is responsible for facilitating global financial diplomacy and managing the architecture of global financial governance. In short:  it is the most powerful and informal political structure in the world.

With the United States at the center of the system, the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Bank are the two most important American institutions in global financial governance – and the Treasury Secretary and Federal Reserve Chairperson are the world’s two most powerful financial diplomats. Both institutions are headquartered in Washington, D.C., just down the street from the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank Group, two global financial bodies created in 1944 to manage the world economy on behalf of the rich Western nations that founded them.

Twice a year, the IMF and the World Bank host large international conferences. The Spring Membership Meeting, typically held in April, and the Annual membership meeting draw a crowd consisting of most of the finance ministers and central bank governors from the IMF’s 188 member nations, representing the Fund’s Governing Board. They descend on D.C. where the meetings are typically held (though occasionally they are hosted in other countries as well), and draw scores of journalists, academics and thousands of bankers and financiers who are eager to meet, greet, wine, dine and make deals with the political decision-makers of the global economy.

The top five shareholders of the IMF (United States, Japan, Germany, France and U.K.) reflect the membership of an ad-hoc group of finance ministers that began meeting in 1973, thereafter known as the Group of Five (G-5). At the time, U.S. Treasury Secretary George Shultz described the group as “a channel for informal and very frank communication on monetary and other issues, both of a long-term and more immediate character.” But the G-5 was hardly the first of such groups.

In 1962, the Group of Ten (G-10) was formed as a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the rich industrial nations, including the U.S., West Germany, Japan, France, U.K., Italy, Canada, Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands (and eventually Switzerland, although the name remained the same). The G-10 would meet alongside the leaders of the IMF, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

Following the U.S. unilateral decision to end the Bretton Woods monetary system in 1971, a series of committees and groups were established to provide forums for major economies of the world to negotiate forming a new monetary system, and to integrate developing economies into the institutional apparatus of global financial governance. The Group of Ten was utilized as one such forum.

In 1972, the G-10 laid the groundwork for the establishment of a special Committee of 20 to be formed within the IMF, whose membership reflected the composition of the IMF Executive Board, but at the ministerial level – giving it a much higher level of political authority than the board, which is composed of mid-level officials from their respective national finance ministries. The committee would include most G-10 members alongside several developing country representatives, and was formally institutionalized in late 1974 as the “Interim Committee” of the IMF. (Although the Group of Five was formed in 1973, it wasn’t until 1975 that it held the first meeting at the head of state level, with the addition of Italy to the group. The following year, Canada was invited to participate, and thereafter it was known as the Group of Seven (G-7), effectively functioning as the steering committee for the global economy.)

Fast forward to the mid-1990s, when the G-7 nations instructed the Group of Ten to consult with emerging market economies on ways to reform the global financial architecture in cooperation with major international organizations like the IMF, World Bank, OECD, and BIS, which were increasingly opening their membership and ownership positions to large emerging market economies.

The idea was thus:   If developed countries give developing countries a stake in the existing system, they won’t use their new-found wealth and power to oppose that system. And all the while, the West was to remain at the center. Through crisis and collapse and “rescue” efforts led by the IMF, BIS and World Bank, developing and emerging market economies were encouraged to accept Western economic “advice” on how to manage their economies. If they wanted bailouts in the form of loans from international institutions, those countries had to follow conditions that demanded a total restructuring of their economies and societies along G-7 lines – designed to transform them into modern “market economies” capable of integrating into the larger global economy.

The groundwork was laid out over the following years, and in the course of 1999, the IMF’s Interim Committee was reformed into the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC). The G-10 organized several seminars involving major emerging market economies and, together with the G-7, formed a new group known as the Financial Stability Forum  (FSF), a meeting group of central bankers, finance ministers and regulators who were handed responsibility for maintaining financial stability in the world. Finally, 1999 also saw the organizing efforts of the G-7 result in the formation of yet another forum, the Group of Twenty (G-20).

The G-20 was born in December of 1999 at a meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors from the G-7 nations, along with Russia, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Korea, Australia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Argentina and the European Union. The event was attended by top officials from the IMF, World Bank and the European Central Bank.

But despite all the international noise, the G20 was largely the initiative of two men:  Canadian Finance Minister Paul Martin and U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

The G-7, or G-8 once Russia was invited in, remained the main forum for global economic leadership. But in the midst of the global financial crisis in 2008, the G-20 was the group convened by U.S. President George W. Bush, who brought together heads of state for the first meeting that took place in Washington on November 15. That meeting produced an agreement among G-20 nations to pump trillions of dollars into their economies in order to bail out their banking systems.

In 2010, then-President of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, explained at a meeting of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) that the G-20 had emerged “as the prime group for global economic governance.”

Speaking to a crowd of hundreds of the world’s most powerful bankers and financiers, Trichet explained, “Global economic governance embraces supranational institutions – such as the IMF – as well as informal groupings – such as the G-7 and the G-20. Both are necessary, and both are complementary.” Trichet praised the evolving system as “moving decisively towards a much more inclusive system of global governance, encompassing key emerging economies as well as the industrialized countries.”

To this day, the hierarchy of global economic governance follows a familiar pattern. Take the IMF’s meetings, where 188 of the world’s finance ministers and central bankers meet. The International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) holds a meeting, functioning as the steering committee to the Fund. And prior to IMFC meetings, the G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors hold a series of meetings, including a joint meeting with the IMFC, as they already have a significant crossover of membership.

But before the G-20 meets, the ministers and governors of the G-7 nations typically meet privately for an hour or so, attempting to form a common position or strategy in dealing with the wider groupings of the G-20 and IMFC, in which all G-7 nations are represented at the ministerial level. The chiefs of the world’s major international organizations (IMF, World Bank, OECD, WTO, BIS) participate in almost all of these meetings, acting as advisers to and receiving high-level political direction from these groups.

The hierarchy of global economic governance emanates out of the United States, in close cooperation with Germany, Japan and the other members of the Group of Seven. From there, it networks through the Group of Twenty and the IMFC, which in turn collectively function as the steering committee for the world’s major international organizations, and act as the board of directors of the global economy.

Why Are The IMF, The UN, The BIS And Citibank All Warning That An Economic Crisis Could Be Imminent?

By Michael Snyder, on October 8th, 2015

The warnings are getting louder. Is anybody listening? For months, I have been documenting on my website how the global financial system is absolutely primed for a crisis, and now some of the most important financial institutions in the entire world are warning about the exact same thing. For example, this week I was stunned to see that the "Telegraph" had published an article with the following ominous headline:  “$3 trillion corporate credit crunch looms as debtors face day of reckoning, says IMF“. 
And actually what we are heading for would more accurately be described as a “credit freeze” or a “credit panic”, but a “credit crunch” will definitely work for now. The IMF is warning that the “dangerous over-leveraging” that we have been witnessing “threatens to unleash a wave of defaults” all across the globe…

Governments and central banks risk tipping the world into a fresh financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund has warned, as it called time on a corporate debt binge in the developing world.

Emerging market companies have “over-borrowed” by $3 trillion in the last decade, reflecting a quadrupling of private sector debt between 2004 and 2014, found the IMF’s Global Financial Stability Report.

This dangerous over-leveraging now threatens to unleash a wave of defaults that will imperil an already weak global economy, said stark findings from the IMF’s twice yearly report.
The IMF is actually telling the truth in this instance. We are in the midst of the greatest debt bubble the world has ever seen, and it is a monumental threat to the global financial system.

But even though we know about this threat, that doesn’t mean that we can do anything about it at this point or stop what is about to happen.

The Bank of England, the UN and the Bank for International Settlements have all issued similar ominous warnings. The following is an excerpt from a recent article in the "Guardian"

The IMF’s warning echoes a chorus of others. The Bank of England’s chief economist, Andy Haldane, has argued that the world is entering the latest episode of a “three-part crisis trilogy.
Unctad, the UN’s trade and development arm, would like to see advanced economies boost public spending to offset the downturn in emerging economies. The Bank for International Settlements believes interest rates have been too low for too long, encouraging too much risk-taking in financial markets. All of them fear that the global financial system is primed for a crisis.

I particularly like Andy Haldane’s likening our current situation to a “three-part crisis trilogy”.  I think that is perfect. And if you are familiar with movie trilogies, then you know that the last episode is usually the biggest and the baddest.

Citigroup economist Willem Buiter also believes that big trouble is on the horizon. In fact, he is publicly warning of a “global recessionin 2016

Citigroup economist Willem Buiter looks at the world landscape and sees an economy performing substantially below potential output, which he uses as the general benchmark for the idea of a global recession. With that in mind, he said the chances of a global recession in 2016 are growing.

“We think that the evidence suggests that the global output gap is negative and that the global economy is currently growing at a rate below global potential growth. The (negative) output gap is therefore widening,” Buiter said in a note to clients. He added, “from an output gap that was probably quite close to zero fairly recently, continued sub-par global growth is likely to put the global economy back into recession, if indeed the world ever fully emerged of the recession caused by the global financial crisis.”

Usually when we are plunged into a new crisis there is some sort of “trigger event” that creates widespread panic.  Yesterday, I wrote about the ongoing problems at commodity giants such as Glencore, Trafigura and The Noble Group. The collapse of any of them could potentially be a new “Lehman Brothers moment”.

But something else happened just yesterday that is also extremely concerning. Just a couple of weeks ago, I warned that the biggest bank in Germany, Deutsche Bank, was on the verge of massive trouble. Well, on Wednesday the bank announced a loss of more than 6 billion dollars for the third quarter of 2015

Deutsche Bank’s new boss John Cryan set about cleaning up Germany’s biggest bank on Thursday, revealing a record pre-tax loss of 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) in the third quarter and warning investors of a possible dividend cut.

Write downs, impairments and litigation costs all contributed to the loss, the bank said.

Cryan became chief executive in July with a promise to cut costs. The Briton is accelerating plans to shed assets and exit countries to shrink the bank and is preparing to ax about 23,000 jobs, or a quarter of the bank’s staff, sources told "Reuters" last month.
Keep an eye on Germany – the problems there are just beginning.

Something else that I am closely watching is the fact that major exporting nations such as China that used to buy up lots of U.S. government debt are now dumping that debt at an unprecedented pace. The following comes from Wolf Richter

Five large purchasers of US Treasuries – China, Russia, Norway, Brazil, and Taiwan – have changed their minds. They’re dumping Treasuries, each for their own reasons that are now coinciding. And at the fastest rate on record.

For the 12-month period ended July, sales of Treasuries by central banks around the world reached a net of $123 billion, “the biggest decline since data started to be collected in 1978,” the "Wall Street Journal" reported.

China, the largest foreign owner of Treasuries – its hoard peaking at $1.317 trillion in November 2013 – has been unloading with particular passion. By July, the latest data available from the US Treasury Department, China’s pile was down to $1.241 trillion.
Yes, I know, the stock market went up once again on Thursday, and all of the irrational optimists are once again telling us that everything is going to be just fine.

The truth, of course, is that everything is not going to be just fine.  Ever since I started the Economic Collapse Blog, I have never wavered in my belief that the greatest economic crisis that the United States has ever seen is coming, and I have written well over 1000 articles setting forth the case for the coming collapse in excruciating detail. Nobody is going to be able to say that I didn’t try to warn them.

Those that have blind faith in Barack Obama, Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and the other major central banks around the planet will continue to mock the idea that a major collapse is coming for as long as they can.

But when the day of reckoning does arrive and crisis coming knocking at their doors, what will they do then?

And, thus, Greece cannot be bailed out (except for the banksters) or allowed to leave the Eurozone. (Now do Syriza's moves* become clear?)

(Someone's got to pay. And soon.)

And as for the big push for quick passage of the internationally deadly TPP (SHAFTA), you might be forgiven for worrying just a teensy bit more about the building economic catastrophe.
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You say "impulsive," I say "repulsive."

The Impulsiveness of US Power

Paul Craig Roberts
Washington’s impulsive use of power is a danger to America and to the world. Arrogant Washington politicians and crazed neoconservatives are screaming that the US must shoot down Russian aircraft that are operating against the US-supplied forces that have brought death and destruction to Syria, unleashing millions of refugees on Europe, in Washington’s effort to overthrow the Syrian government.

Even my former CSIS colleague, Zbigniew Brzezinski, normally a sensible if sometimes misguided person, has written in the "Financial Times" that Washington should deliver an ultimatum to Russia to “cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets.” By “American assets,” Brzezinski means the jihadist forces that Washington has sicced on Syria.

Brzezinski’s claim that “Russia must work with, not against, the US in Syria” is false. The fact of the matter is that “the US must work with, not against Russia in Syria,” as Russia controls the situation, is in accordance with international law, and is doing the right thing.

Ash Carter, the US Secretary for War, repeats Brzezinski’s demand. He declared that Washington is not prepared to cooperate with Russia’s “tragically flawed” and “mistaken strategy” that frustrates Washington’s illegal attempt to overthrow the Syrian government with military violence.

Washington’s position is that only Washington decides and that Washington intends to unleash yet more chaos on the world in the hope that it reaches Russia.

I guess no one in hubristic and arrogant Washington was listening when Putin said in his UN speech on September 28:  “We can no longer tolerate the state of affairs in the world.”

The intolerable state of affairs is the chaos that Washington has brought to the Middle East, chaos that threatens to expand into all countries with Muslim populations, and chaos from which millions of refugees are flooding into Europe.

Not satisfied with threatening Russia with war, Washington is preparing to send US Navy ships inside the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit of islands created by China’s land reclamation project. The "Navy Times" reports that three Pentagon officials have said on background that “approval of the mission is imminent.”

So here we have the US government gratuitously and provocatively threatening two nuclear powers. The Washington warmongers try to pretend that land reclamation is “an act of regional aggression” and that Washington is just upholding international law by protecting “freedom of navigation.”

By “freedom of navigation,” Washington means Washington’s ability to control all sea lanes.

After all of Washington’s violations of international law and war crimes during the last 14 years, Washington’s claim to be protecting international law is hilarious.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a former director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s intelligence organization, said that Washington needs to understand that “Russia also has foreign policy; Russia also has a national security strategy” and stop crossing Russia’s “red lines.” Gen. Flynn thus joins with Patrick J. Buchanan as two voices of sense and sensibility in Washington. Together they stand against the arrogance and hubris that will destroy us.

How Did the Democrats Become Favorites of the Rich?

October 7, 2015

Voters on both the left and the right often claim that there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties, and of course that isn’t true. There’s a big difference between Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia, for one thing. But there may be more to this argument than you think.

Democrats now depend as much on affluent voters as on low-income voters. Democrats represent a majority of the richest congressional districts, and the party’s elected officials are more responsive to the policy agenda of the well-to-do than to average voters. The party and its candidates have come to rely on the elite 0.01 percent of the voting age population for a quarter of their financial backing and on large donors for another quarter.

The gulf between the two parties on socially fraught issues like abortion, immigration, same-sex marriage and voting rights remains vast. On economic issues, however, the Democratic Party has inched closer to the policy positions of conservatives, stepping back from championing the needs of working men and women, of the unemployed and of the so-called underclass.

In this respect, the Democratic Party and its elected officials have come to resemble their Republican counterparts far more than the public focus on polarization would lead you to expect. The current popularity of Bernie Sanders and his presidential candidacy notwithstanding, the mainstream of the Democratic Party supports centrist positions ranging from expanded free trade to stricter control of the government budget to time limits on welfare for the poor.

“Both Republicans and many Democrats have experienced an ideological shift toward acceptance of a form of free-market capitalism which, among other characteristics, offers less support for government provision of transfers, lower marginal tax rates for those with high incomes, and deregulation of a number of industries,” the political scientists Adam Bonica, Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal write in a 2014 essay titled “Why Hasn’t Democracy Slowed Rising Inequality?”

Different Parties, Same Trend

In 1980, political giving by the superrich and large donors made up less than one-quarter of all contributions to both parties’ candidates. Now these are the majority of contributions.

“Superdonors” are the top individual donors in each election cycle, accounting for just 1 in 10,000 voters. In 2012 they each gave $25,000 or more, up from $5,616 in 1980 (adjusted for inflation). “Large donors” are individuals who gave more than $1,500 (in 2012 dollars) but less than each cycle’s superdonors.

The authors, from Stanford, Princeton, the University of Georgia and N.Y.U., respectively, go on to note that the Democratic agenda has shifted away from general social welfare to policies that target ascriptive identities of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.

The structural forces changing the character of the Democratic Party appear in voting patterns and in the altered partisan allegiance of the professional classes and of the very rich.

Nowhere is this trend more apparent than in the changing pattern of campaign contributions. In September, Bonica and Rosenthal completed an additional study, “The Wealth Elasticity of Political Contributions by the Forbes 400,” that demonstrates a substantial increase in campaign donations from the very wealthy to Democrats.

Between 1982 and 2012, the Republican share of contributions from the Forbes 400 has been steadily falling, to 59 percent from 68 percent. As membership in the Forbes 400 changes, this trend will accelerate because new members are more likely to direct their money to Democrats than the old members are, Rosenthal wrote me in an email: “Larry Page and Sergey Brin — co-founders of Google — are quintessential new money Democrats.”

In their 2014 paper, Bonica, McCarty, Rosenthal and Poole tracked the sources of money flowing to Democratic candidates and parties from 1980 to 2012. As the accompanying charts show, they found that the share of contributions to Democrats from the top 0.01 percent of adults — a much larger share of the population than the Forbes 400 list — has grown from about 7 percent of total campaign contributions in 1980 to more than 25 percent of contributions in 2012. The same pattern is visible among Republicans, where the growth of fundraising dependence on the superrich has been moving along the same trajectory.

The kinds of congressional districts Democrats are now winning also tilt toward the well-to-do. Data on the median household income of congressional districts provided by ProximityOne, a company that specializes in the analysis of geographic, demographic and economic data, shows the following:

In 2014, the median income of households in Democratic districts was higher than in Republican districts, $53,358 to $51,834. Democrats represent seven of the 10 most affluent districts, measured by household income (four in California, two in Virginia and one in New York). Democrats also represent a majority of the 100 most affluent districts, 54-46.

Democratic victories in wealthy districts reflect the gains the party is making among high-income voters generally.

In 1988, support for the Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis fell as income rose. Those making less than $12,500-a-year backed him 63-37, while those making more than $100,000 voted against him 67-33.

In 2012, by contrast, Obama won low-income voters, those making less than $30,000, decisively, 63-35, but also did far better than Dukakis among those making more than $100,000, winning 44 percent of their votes. Four years earlier, in 2008, Obama won among voters with the highest incomes, above $200,000, 52-46, and nearly tied among those making $100,000 to $200,000, 48-50.

Because high-income voters turn out in higher percentages than low income voters, even in presidential years when turnout rises generally, exit poll data underestimates the importance of high end support for Democratic presidential candidates. Because of this higher turnout, the top two income quintiles of the electorate contributed the same number of votes to Obama’s victory in 2012 as the bottom two income quintiles, according to American National Election Studies data provided to me by Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory.

In other words, upscale voters were just as important to the Obama coalition as downscale voters. One consequence of the increased importance of the affluent to Democrats, according to Bonica and the three co-authors on the inequality paper, is that the Democratic Party has in many respects become the party of deregulated markets.

“The Democratic Party pushed through the financial regulation of the 1930s, while the Democratic party of the 1990s undid much of this regulation in its embrace of unregulated financial capitalism,” the four authors write.

Trump Has Profited from Companies That Stash Cash Abroad

Do I detect another whiny rich-boy campaign promoting all the reasons why they should be able to bring their shady moolah (which will create so many jobs - in China or India, etc.) back into the country tax free (again)?

The Ugly Charter School Scandal Arne Duncan Is Leaving Behind

Arne Duncan’s surprise announcement to leave his post as secretary of education in December is making headlines and driving lots of commentary, but an important story lost in the media clutter happened three days before he gave notice.
On that day, Duncan rattled the education policy world with news of a controversial grant of $249 million ($157 million the first year) to the charter school industry. This announcement was controversial because, as "The Washington Post" reports, an audit by his department’s own inspector general found “that the agency has done a poor job of overseeing federal dollars sent to charter schools.”

"Post" reporter Lynsey Layton notes, “The agency’s inspector general issued a scathing report in 2012 that found deficiencies in how the department handled federal grants to charter schools between 2008 and 2011” – in other words, during Duncan’s watch.

Even more perplexing is that the largest grant of $71 million ($32.5 million the first year) is going to Ohio, the state that has the worst reputation for allowing low-performing charter schools to divert tax money away from educational purposes and do little to raise the achievement of students.

A number of Ohio officials were shocked by the news.

As a different article from "The Post" reports, Democratic Party Rep. Tim Ryan “was alarmed” by the Education Department’s decision. Ryan called his state’s charter school sector “broken and dysfunctional.”

Ted Strickland, an ex-governor and now Democratic candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, wrote Duncan a letter telling him to reconsider the Ohio grant. “Too many of Ohio’s charter schools are an embarrassment,” he states. Strickland quotes from a recent study showing charters in his state perform significantly worse than public schools. He points to a recent scandal in which the person in the state’s department of education responsible for oversight of charters had to resign because he was caught “rigging the books.”
. . . The fast-tracked legislation sets up, according to an NPR outlet in the state, “a five member Academic Distress Commission with a three member majority chosen by the state school superintendent. That group then appoints a CEO with extraordinary powers. He could not only change the collective bargaining agreement with teachers but also create or contract with charter schools.
State school board member Patricia Bruns – a Democrat – says bypassing local elected officials including the school board is unconstitutional. ‘Their idea is to take over the schools, dismantle what’s there, and dole them out to private, for-profit charters.’
So was the federal grant to Ohio timed to pay for the take over of Youngstown schools?

. . . It certainly doesn’t help dampen suspicion that Duncan’s replacement as acting secretary will be John King, the controversial former New York State Education Commissioner, who has deep ties to the charter school industry.

Before becoming New York Commissioner, King helped to found and operate a charter school management organization with schools in New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

Because King will be acting secretary, no nomination process or Congressional hearings will be needed to approve the leadership change.

Arne Duncan.

The last word in public service.

Just ahead of someone called King.
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*  Greece’s radical left Syriza party secured a clear mandate in the country’s third national vote of the year and is on course to form a near clone of the previous government as early as Monday.

The victory defied expectations for an inconclusive result, even a possible victory by the opposition New Democracy party, which had accused Syriza of plunging the country back into recession after tentative growth in 2014.

“This is your victory,” Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras told his cheering supporters Sunday night in Athens. “I feel vindicated tonight.”

The vote ensured Europe’s most outspoken leftist leader would remain Greece’s dominant political figure, despite having been abandoned by party radicals last month after he caved in to demands for austerity to win a bailout from the euro zone.

In his victory speech, Mr. Tsipras made no specific reference to the €85-billion ($126-billion) bailout, but Syriza campaigned on a pledge to implement it, while promising also to introduce measures to protect vulnerable groups from some aspects of the deal.

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