A Challenge to Conventional Wisdom About Young Voters

Early on in this election season, conventional wisdom told us that voters were angry. There has been a lot of ink spilled over whether that anger is fueled by economic insecurity or nativism/racism. We’ve all seen how Donald Trump is using the former to inflame the latter among white working class men.

But the same arguments took hold during the Democratic primaries, fueled by Sanders strong support from young people who were angry about how the status quo was affecting their economic prospects. That created divisions between them and people of color, who supported Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly and, as I pointed out recently, seem to be more optimistic that the American dream is still alive.

For all the talk about how Brexit mirrors the anger we are witnessing in this election, it is interesting to note that the young people of Britain weren’t buying in. Polls show that they strongly supported the “remain” side of that question. Are British young people less angry (or economically insecure) than those in the U.S.?

Catherine Russell presents some information that challenges the conventional wisdom that has shaped our understanding of what is happening in this election.

Here’s a puzzle for you.

Despite their painfully high student debt burdens, elevated unemployment rates, greater likelihood of living with their parents and their general failure to launch, millennials turn out to be significantly more economically optimistic than their elders.

…younger Americans usually hold more positive views about the economy than their older counterparts do, but the gap has widened significantly in recent years. In newly released data for June, the spread in confidence readings between the young and the old was a whopping 58.8 points.

That’s the widest gap ever recorded.

That is, indeed, a puzzle. There is no doubt that Bernie Sanders tapped into something with young voters. And as many have pointed out, it is important to recognize that because they are the future of Democratic politics.

I won’t pretend to have all the answers to the puzzle. But it is a good reminder that when we – as Obama once said – “slice and dice the public,” we generalize and can sometimes fail to recognize the bigger picture. So when it comes to young voters, there are some important things to keep in mind. First of all, as Kevin Drum points out (with data), there are huge differences between those who are college educated and those who are not when it comes to how they are faring economically.

College-educated millennials get all the attention, but that’s not because they have it so bad. It’s largely because they loom large in the minds of the press corps—who are all college educated themselves—and because they’re verbal enough that they write a lot about themselves. High school grads, not so much. But they’re the ones who were really hit hard by the Great Recession.

Secondly, as a new report from the Brookings Institute points out: Diversity defines the millennial generation.

Racial diversity will be the most defining and impactful characteristic of the millennial generation. Newly released 2015 Census data points to millennials’ role in transitioning America to the “majority minority” nation it is becoming.

Millennials between ages 18 and 34 are now synonymous with America’s young adults, fully occupying labor force and voting ages. They comprise 23 percent of the total population, 30 percent of the voting age population, and 38 percent of the primary working age population. Among racial minorities their numbers are even more imposing. Millennials make up 27 percent of the total minority population, 38 percent of voting age minorities, and a whopping 43 percent of primary working age minorities.

It won’t be long until it is time to take a serious look at the language we use to describe what his happening. For example: “majority minority” sounds practically Orwellian.

But even beyond that, there are sub-groups within these sub-groups. We can’t simply assume that Cuban millennials have the same experiences that inform their politics as Mexican millennials. Or how about male and female millennials? Or gay/straight millennials? Or Muslim/Christian millennials? How much does a lesbian Cuban Catholic female college graduate have in common with a straight white Protestant male non-college graduate? This is what people mean when they talk about “intersectionality” and it is precisely what David Simon was referring to when he wrote about The Death of Normal.

All of this is going to present a huge challenge for those whose job it is to slice and dice the American electorate in order to tell us something useful about the voting public. In the meantime, you can count me as a skeptic when it comes to how conventional wisdom attempts to capture the minds and hearts of these young voters. That’s because it is most often framed around what “normal” used to mean.

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The Monthly Interview: The Man Who Reinvented Public Housing

Earlier this year, the U.S. House unanimously approved legislation modernizing the decades-old federal housing voucher program for low-income Americans – once better known as “Section 8.”

In an era marked by unrelenting gridlock, the House vote – 427 to 0 – was a rare showing of bipartisan progress on a typically highly divisive issue: how to help Americans in poverty. As passed by the House, the measure would streamline the administration of housing vouchers by state and local authorities and make it easier for recipients to benefit. Praised by advocates and policymakers on both sides of the aisle, the bill now moves to the Senate, where Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) have already introduced virtually identical legislation.

The bill’s relatively unimpeded (and largely unnoticed) journey through Congress is testament to the bipartisan appeal of housing vouchers, first created in the 1970s. Now called the Housing Choice Voucher program, the program helps more than 5.5 million Americans afford housing, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and is the federal government’s largest housing assistance program, at roughly $20 billion a year.

Housing Choice Vouchers – formerly Section 8 – help 5.5 million low-income Americans afford housing. It began as an experiment under President Richard Nixon.

It’s also widely hailed as one of the government’s most effective anti-poverty efforts, particularly compared to traditional, government-owned public housing. Housing vouchers allow beneficiaries to use their subsidies wherever a landlord accepts them. For liberals, this means vouchers can help poor families choose less segregated neighborhoods with better schools and employment opportunities. For conservatives, vouchers force landlords to compete for subsidies, leading to savings for taxpayers.

“The Housing Choice Voucher Program is by far our country’s best low-income housing program,” testified Ed Olsen, a University of Virginia economics professor who was among the first to evaluate the effectiveness of vouchers. “It provides adequate and affordable housing for participants at a much lower cost to taxpayers than any other program. It has outperformed other housing programs in every market condition and for every type of family studied.”

Less well-known is the program’s history – first as a state-level effort in Massachusetts, then as a federal pilot project, the Experimental Housing Allowance program, was authorized in 1970 under President Richard Nixon. After early evaluations proved promising, Congress expanded the housing voucher program nationwide beginning in the early 1980s, and it eventually became the modern Housing Choice Voucher Program in 1998.

The architect of the original state and federal experiments was Malcolm E. (“Mike”) Peabody, Jr., who served under Massachusetts Gov. Endicott Peabody (Peabody’s brother) and then under President Richard Nixon as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Equal Opportunity in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In an article for the Washington Monthly in 1972, Peabody advocated vouchers as a better way to tackle poverty than top-down government programs. “Funding the people,” Peabody wrote, would not only foster more social innovation and eliminate bureaucracy, it would address “the deepest emotional need of the poor today – the need to have freedom of choice, to have the freedom to determine the course of their own lives.” A subsequent article for The New Republic in 1974 argued that housing vouchers could help solve the multiple problems then plaguing traditional public housing: crime, concentrated poverty and segregation.

The Monthly recently caught up with Peabody to reflect on the genesis of the housing voucher program and the potential lessons it holds for future bipartisan efforts to reduce poverty. A longtime advocate of public charter schools, Peabody also helped pass charter school legislation in the District of Columbia. He now serves on the board of Issue One, a non-profit dedicated to campaign finance reform.

WM: You’ve written that the GI Bill was the original inspiration for your championship of housing vouchers. How did that come about?

Peabody: What impressed me enormously was that the GI Bill was a totally different program – different in the way it was handled, and different in the way it was funded. And it was enormously successful in changing lives and increasing the income and ability of the United States in the 15 to 20 years right after [World War II]. No other country was doing that, but we were, and the biggest driver was that the GI bill had educated so many people who could never have gotten a college education before.

The way that it was funded was new. It gave directly to the students rather than to the colleges. That made an enormous difference.

When I got engaged in civil rights in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, I worked for [Gov. Nelson] Rockefeller and became the Executive Secretary of the New York State Commission Against Discrimination. After I got back from New York to start working for my brother in the 1960s – he [Endicott Peabody] was governor [of Massachusetts] from 1962 to 1964 – he asked me to come on as the civil rights director for his administration.

One of the things we did was to set up a low-income housing committee, and we came up with what was perhaps the first direct rental assistance plan to come from a state, in 1965. The idea of rental assistance going directly to the individual was inspired by the GI bill.

WM: How did this state program become a federal experiment?

Peabody: It was a very small program so it didn’t make huge impact. It wasn’t funded amazingly, but the results were good enough to inspire me when I got to the Department of Housing and Urban Development as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Equal Opportunity.

I [went] to the number-two guy at HUD and told him I’d like to try this concept of rental assistance, and he said, “Sure.” So he introduced me to the head of the policy program, which was doing experiments all over the country. Three of us worked out a plan, and we tried an experiment out in Kansas City in 1970-71. That experiment worked out extremely well.

WM: Why were vouchers more effective than traditional public housing?

Peabody: HUD money came in through the federal government and went down to the HUD offices throughout the country. From there it was distributed to the local public housing authorities, who then build the housing and set up the staff to run the housing. When you count the number of people between you [the tenant] and the money, it’s maybe 15 or 20 people. If you go out and try to rent housing, there’s just one person, the landlord. Therefore, you’re much more in control. Housing allowances tipped that whole program and put the money at the bottom with the people rather than with the bureaucrats at the top.

WM: Were people in the Nixon Administration as convinced as you were that this would work?

Peabody: [HUD Secretary George] Romney was horrified because in his mind it set up another program that would “entitle” people like Social Security and therefore lead them to further dependence on the federal government. It was never an entitlement program and didn’t become so, but that’s what he feared would happen.

So he didn’t want to pick it up, but [Sen.] Eddie Brooke [(R-MA)] thought it was a fabulous program. One of his staff was wandering through HUD one day, and he asked, “What’s new?” He happened to talk to the lawyer engaged in our program, who told him we’ve got this brilliant program and about the experiments that we had done.

Brooke was just overcome. He was a member of the Finance Committee in the Senate and was successful in setting up a much broader experiment – the [Experimental Housing Allowance Program] – with funding of $100 million. He sent it back to HUD to administer, and Romney was totally amazed.

The results of it were excellent all throughout. However, Congress at that time was not convinced because too many developers were making good money [building public housing], and they convinced the Democrats in Congress that this would destroy a perfectly good program. So it didn’t see the light of day until much later. It was the early ‘80s by the time it was picked up as program by itself and given to HUD. And then it started expanding.

WM: Did this experience directly lead to your later work on charter schools?

Peabody: It certainly influenced me. The whole concept was funding the people. I became very aware as to how the various HUD programs had created a terrible situation for education by destroying the schools. Most people don’t recall that people used to move into D.C. to get better schooling in the 1950s. This was where the better schools were.

WM: What was the problem with HUD programs and traditional public housing?

Peabody: The public housing projects were getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and they were becoming just nests of crime. It got to the extent that [HUD Secretary] Gov. Romney said enough, and he started blowing them up. This was in the early 1970s.

Urban renewal was also a big problem because it cleaned out areas of town that were functioning for lower middle class and poor people and separated the poor from the lower middle class and put them in public housing.

In the late 1950s, we had a very large urban renewal program in southwest Washington, which moved out 25,000 people. It had been a village with upper income, middle income and lower income and there were churches and YMCAs. It was all cleaned out. The buildings were terrible to look at and there was crime in the alleys. So they decided to clean the whole thing up. But in doing so, the community that existed vanished. The middle class had funds and assistance to go to better communities, but we didn’t know what to do with the poor. So what we did was build public housing.

WM: Does the federal government have the capacity today to experiment in the way you did back in 1970? Would you be allowed today to do what you did?

Peabody: The charter school movement didn’t come from the federal government. It built from the bottom up. And the housing allowance in effect started at the state level too. So these things often come from the bottom, not the top.

 

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North Carolina: Governor’s Appointee to State Board of Education Has Conflict of Interest

I posted last night that Governor Pat McCrory plans to appoint a man to the state board of education who has little experience in public education, but is known for his strong support for removing a book taught in a high school English honors class.

North Carolina teacher Stuart Egan points out that the nominee has a conflict of interest. His wife ran/runs a school that receives state-funded vouchers.

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Why Republican Kneecapping of Trump Won’t Work

The American Research Group (ARG) gets a C+ grade in Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight pollster ratings. They are punished modestly for having a slight Republican bias, and punished heavily for only calling the correct winner in 75% of the 260 polls that Silver analyzed. In other words, they’re less partisan hacks than just crappy pollsters. They do not appear to be good at their jobs.

This could explain why they are the only polling outfit that sees Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire with a lead in her reelection bid against Democrat Maggie Hassan. ARG gives Ayotte a comfortable nine-point lead, outside the margin of error, while three other recent polls have shown the race essentially tied (Public Policy Polling: Hassan +2, WBUR/MassInc: Hassan +1, Boston Herald/FPU: Ayotte +1).

In any case, Ayotte’s reelection prospects are a thin reed to rely on if you want to rationalize Mitch McConnell’s kneecapping of Donald Trump as an essentially rational decision to cut bait on the Oval Office and focus on preserving his Senate majority. Here’s Allahpundit of the right-wing blog, HotAir:

Let’s recap McConnell’s choicer soundbites about Trump over the past two months. On May 4th, the day after Trump won Indiana and Cruz and Kasich dropped out, McConnell endorsed him, albeit tepidly. A month later, after watching Trump spend several weeks talking about the “Mexican” judge in his civil suit instead of Hillary Clinton, McConnell urged him at a press conference to get on message. Three days after that, he tore Trump apart in an interview with Bloomberg, admitting “it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t know a lot about the issues” and hinting that he might yet rescind his endorsement. After that, he stopped taking questions about Trump at his weekly press briefings altogether. Then, two days ago, he was asked on “This Week” whether Trump is qualified to be president. He dodged, saying that’s for voters to decide. And so we arrive at today, with McConnell responding to a question about whether he thinks Trump is a “credible” candidate for the presidency with this withering backhanded reply: “He’s getting closer.”

Question: Does Mitch McConnell want Trump to win? Before you answer, note that when he was asked about Hillary Clinton in this same interview, he described her as “intelligent and capable.” If I told you that Mitch the Knife had described one candidate in a certain race as capable and the other as not quite credible (yet), which one would you assume he’s supporting?

The obvious explanation for his hedging on Trump is that he’s trying to protect his caucus. He had to endorse him for the same reason Paul Ryan did, because it’s unthinkable for a Republican congressional leader to hold out for long on a Republican nominee, but I’m sure McConnell cares more about retaining a Senate majority than he does about Trump winning the White House. If Trump falls far behind Clinton later this summer, McConnell and other top Republicans will shift quickly to a “Save the Senate!” message encouraging ticket-splitting. He’s laying the groundwork for that now: If you’re an independent who’s disgusted with Trump, well, just know that your friendly neighborhood Republican majority leader shares your disgust and strongly believes you shouldn’t punish Republican incumbents for Trump’s sins. So far, it’s working!

The evidence Allahpundit provides that this strategy is working is the aforementioned ARG poll and a generic congressional preference poll from NBC/Wall Street Journal that shows the public tied 46%-46% between Republicans and Democrats. Yet, the overall Real Clear Politics polling average on this question gives the Democrats a two point advantage, and the latest Fox News poll gives the Dems a five point edge.

To his credit, Allahpundit seems to understand that McConnell is engaged in risky business:

The more McConnell and other big-name Republicans badmouth Trump, the more Republican voters who are skeptical of Trump may take it as a green light to abandon him at the top of the ticket so long as they vote in congressional races. We’ve seen several polls lately showing that Trump’s support among Republicans has begun to lag Clinton’s support among Democrats, making his task this fall that much harder. He needs a unified party to stand a solid chance of winning, but the more unified the party is, the easier it’ll be for Democrats to connect Republicans down-ballot to Trump. McConnell’s trying to play a game right now where he both is and isn’t behind the nominee, having endorsed him formally while spending nearly every opportunity since then tearing him down. He’s taking a serious gamble in betting that attacking Trump will somehow inoculate the Senate instead of helping to send Trump crashing to a landslide defeat that ends up dragging the whole party down with him. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating that I don’t think the GOP leadership can be “half-pregnant” towards their nominee. Either they’re all-in for a big win or it’s time to cut him loose. The fact that McConnell keeps kneecapping him suggests that he’s already resigned himself to Trump’s defeat and is doing what he can now to create some distance.

I basically agree with this analysis. I’d add that the way downballot races work in presidential elections, it’s more important that the top of the ticket doesn’t get swamped than it is that you can convince some folks to split their tickets. People will not show up to vote if they’re unwilling to support anyone on the top of the ticket, and if they’re only showing up to vote for the other party’s candidate, you’re going to get stomped. For a ticket-splitting strategy to work, the top race has to remain at least modestly competitive.

So, my money is not on McConnell or Ayotte or any of the other vulnerable senators and representatives who think they can survive by tearing Trump down. A collapse at the top will cascade down and wash away these folks like so much flotsam and jetsam.

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Conflict of Interest: Former Top Obama Officials Plan to Cash in on For-Profit University

This story is shocking. Former officials in the Obama administration, once in charge of regulating predatory the for-profit higher education industry, now want in on the action themselves. Their financier is Obama’s best friend. The story was written by Michael Stratford and Kimberly Hefling. Please read this report as background for what follows.

Mercedes Schneider wrote about it here.

She writes:


Obama’s close friend, Marty Nesbitt, and others are seeking US Department of Education (USDOE) approval to purchase the fiscally-troubled for-profit, University of Phoenix. Nesbitt and former Deputy Secretary of Education, Tony Miller, run a Chicago-based private equity firm, Vistria Group.

Vistria Group is part of a small collective that wants to purchase University of Phoenix, and the for-profit school’s parent organization, Apollo Education, is apparently all in.

USDOE approval would keep the student loan and Pell grant bucks coming to University of Phoenix– which happens to be the subject of three state attorneys general as well as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The price tag for Vistria et al. appears to be $1.1 billion. As it stands, University of Phoenix receives $2 billion annually in public money.

If University of Phoenix goes under, then all of those student loans are forgiven– which means taxpayers foot the bill. If Vistria et al. acquire University of Phoenix, then the goings-on at the school become private. No more requiring that that public be made aware of the salaries of the school’s executives, or that the public be made aware of litigation against the school, or that the public know about pending investigations.

The story was originally posted at PoliticoPro, which is an expensive subscription; fortunately, it is now available for free at politico.com. Here is an excerpt from the original story:

As the Obama administration cracks down on for-profit colleges, three former officials working on behalf of an investment firm run by President Barack Obama’s best friend have staged a behind-the-scenes campaign to get the Education Department to green-light a purchase of the biggest for-profit of them all — the University of Phoenix.

The investors include a private equity firm founded and run by longtime Obama friend Marty Nesbitt and former Deputy Education Secretary Tony Miller. The firm, Chicago-based Vistria Group, has mounted a charm offensive on Capitol Hill to talk up the proposed sale of the troubled for-profit education giant, which receives more than $2 billion a year in taxpayer money but is under investigation by three state attorneys general and the FTC.

What stands out about the proposed deal is that several key players are either close to top administration officials, including the president himself, or are former administration insiders — especially Miller, who was part of the effort to more tightly regulate for-profit colleges at the very agency now charged with approving the ownership change. For-profit college officials have likened those rules to a war on the industry, and blame the administration for contributing to their declining enrollments and share prices.

The proposed sale carries high stakes for taxpayers, students and investors: The University of Phoenix’s financial stability may depend on the $1.1 billion acquisition. If the company were to fail, more than 160,000 students could be displaced and the government would be on the hook for hundreds of millions in student loans.

But the investors’ effort to seek Education Department approval of the school’s ownership change also raises questions about potential conflicts of interest.

“There is at least a taste of unseemliness involved in this,” said Mark Schneider, a former top education official under President George W. Bush. “They regulate it. They drive the price down. …They are buying it for pennies on the dollar.”

Vistria Group said it isn’t seeking special treatment. “We expect the Department to evaluate this proposed transaction on the merits,” the company said in a statement.

Vistria is part of a consortium of investors involved in the proposed acquisition, which has already won over shareholders of the school’s parent company, Apollo Education Group. But now the investors need the Education Department and the school’s accreditors to sign off on the ownership change to keep the federal money flowing — most of it in the form of student loans and Pell Grants.

With those decisions looming, Miller and at least one other former Obama insider have met with staff to Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), looking to reassure some of the loudest critics of for-profit colleges in the president’s own party, several Senate aides confirmed to POLITICO. Those lawmakers have pushed Obama’s Education Department to be even tougher on for-profit colleges.

Miller has also met with staff members working for other committee members, including Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), as well as with Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate education committee. Nesbitt was not part of those Capitol Hill meetings, according to the aides….

But the specter of former insiders pushing the sale of a company in an industry that has long been in the administration’s crosshairs is not lost on critics. For seven years, the Obama administration has waged a crackdown on poor quality and predatory practices at many for-profit colleges, with the president himself excoriating some schools for “making out like a bandit” with federal money, but saddling students with big debts and leaving them unprepared for good jobs. He did not name the schools.

“It’s ironic that a former senior official at the Department of Education — an agency that has intentionally targeted and sought to dismantle the for-profit college industry — would now take the reins at the country’s largest for-profit college,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican who leads the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s higher education subcommittee….

The sale price, which shareholders approved last month after initially balking at a lower price, is considered a bargain by some industry observers. The day Obama was sworn into office on Jan. 20, 2009, the company’s stock closed at $86.54 per share. Today, it’s trading at around $9, although a recovering economy, unfavorable media coverage and the for-profit industry’s general slump have also contributed to that drop.

Some Senate Democrats said they are also uneasy with the investors’ plan to take the university private, which means it would no longer have to publicly disclose information such as executive compensation, lawsuits or when it’s a target of investigations. Those details are useful to prospective students, they say, at a time when the school faces inquiries from both state and federal authorities.

“Essentially, a company that receives more than $2 billion annually from federal taxpayers — nearly 80 percent of its revenue — is going dark, and it’s happening at a time when the University of Phoenix has come under increased scrutiny from state and federal regulators,” Durbin wrote in a March letter to the Education Department.

Republicans think that the Obama officials drove the price down by their regulatory actions, then moved in to buy it at a bargain price.

This transaction is unsavory. It should be stopped. The conflicts of interests and self-dealing are abhorrent.

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BOMBSHELL: Dark Money and the Fight to Defund Public Schools in California!

In 2012, Californians voted on Proposition 30, which raised taxes on the richest citizens in order to raise funding for public schools and charter schools. The measure passed, despite a well-funded effort to defeat it.

A group of unions and progressive activists released a list of nearly 80 wealthy Californians who secretly funded the campaign to defeat Proposition 30. One of them was billionaire Eli Broad, who publicly supported Prop 30 but donated either $500,000 or $1 million to the effort to defeat it.

The progressive activists–called California Hedge Clippers–dug into records to show where the money came from to fight the temporary tax to aid schools.

Individuals named in the group’s report include Silicon Valley tech and investment executive John H. Scully ($500,000), investor and Hyatt Hotel heir Anthony Pritzker ($100,000), developer Geoff Palmer ($100,000) and private equity investor Gerald Parsky ($50,000).

Donors, regulators concluded, contributed money to an out-of-state organization, which circulated funds through a series of other groups and eventually back to California. By then, the identity of the donors was beyond the reach of disclosure laws.

As the money was channeled to California, some transfers were not properly disclosed and therefore violated the law, officials said. Well after the election, a California investigation resulted in $16 million in fines to some of the groups as well as the disclosure of some donors, including Broad, who either gave $500,000 or $1 million, depending on how the source documents are interpreted. The donors were not fined….

Among the names to emerge in the California research is Nils Colin Lind ($50,000), who was at the time an executive at Blum Capital, the firm he co-founded with Richard Blum, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s husband. The larger contributions include $800,000 from machine-tool manufacturer Gene Haas. The researchers also uncovered additional money from the Fisher family, heirs to the Gap fortune and among the most generous supporters of charter schools; their revised total is $10 million.

The list also includes leaders of the charter school movement, such as Scully and Tony Ressler ($25,000), a former longtime board member of the charter group Alliance College-Ready Public Schools.

Like other public schools, charters reaped huge financial benefits from Proposition 30 after it passed in 2012. School officials across the state hope voters in the November election will extend the tax on the wealthiest 2% of earners….

The donors’ money traveled a circuitous path. They contributed to Americans for Job Security, a Virginia trade association. This outfit then passed the money to the Center to Protect Patient Rights in Arizona. The center next sent $11 million to a Phoenix group, Americans for Responsible Leadership, which provided it to the Small Business Action Committee. That committee spent the money on the California campaigns.

In another relay, the Center to Protect Patient Rights provided more than $4 million to the America Future Fund in Iowa, which passed the money to the California Future Fund for Free Markets, a campaign committee supporting Proposition 32.

Not all of the donated money made it back to California. About $10 million was captured by groups in other parts of the country, the researchers said.

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Obama on Populism and Elitism

It’s not often that you see the words “Obama” and “rant” in the same headline. And yet that is exactly what you’ll find in the CBS News report on the President’s remarks at a news conference following the Three Amigos Summit in Ottawa, Canada:  Obama goes on “rant” about Donald Trump’s populism. The unusual pairing of those words is qualified a bit by the quotation marks around “rant.” Obama didn’t shake his fists or pound the podium or even raise his voice. So this is what qualifies as a rant from this oh-so-cool president. But Obama himself noted at the end that he’s about ready to leave office and suggested that perhaps he’s letting loose a bit with his thoughts and feelings. This could get interesting.

You can watch the whole “rant” here:

As the headline above suggests, these remarks were inspired by the tendency lately to refer to Donald Trump as a populist. Obama doesn’t think the term fits.

“I’m not prepared to concede the notion that some of the rhetoric that’s been popping up is populist,” Mr. Obama said, referring to Trump…

Without identifying him by name, Mr. Obama dismissed Trump as someone “who has never shown any regard for workers, who has never fought on behalf of any social justice issues” and who has worked against providing economic opportunities.

“They don’t suddenly become a populist because they say something controversial in order to win votes,” he said. “That’s not the measure of populism; that’s nativism or xenophobia…or it’s just cynicism.”

“Somebody who labels us versus them or engages in rhetoric about how we’re going to look after ourselves and take it to the other guy..that’s not the definition of populism,” he added.

President Obama also noted that Sen. Bernie Sanders could genuinely be called a populist because he has been working on behalf of the people his entire career. The President went on to say that, while he and Sanders agree on goals, they have different ideas about how to get there.

In discussing his own brand of populism, Obama noted that he chose to bail out the auto industry when doing so was only supported by about 10% of the public. “Perhaps that makes me an elitist,” he said. What he didn’t have to say is that, given the opportunity, he’d do it again in a heartbeat.

What’s interesting to me is that words like “populist” and “elitist” seem to be on President Obama’s mind right now as he watches events unfold in everything from the 2016 presidential race to the Brexit vote. In that way, he’s a lot like the rest of us. Just this week I’ve been writing about them too (populism, elitism). Perhaps that’s because those words are being twisted beyond recognition in an attempt to exploit voters’ anxieties and fears. President Obama wanted us all to think about the commitments someone makes over their entire careers before we start throwing them out there.

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