Clinton/Sanders Debate: Two Old Northeast Progressives “Swapping Stories”

Hil-Bern-600nrdIn case you didn’t know, didn’t care, or you just didn’t want to watch a couple of old white “Progressives” from the Northeast lie like rugs on National Television, there was an actual Democrat Presidential Candidate Debate held in Prime Time on Thursday, and not in the dead of night on the Weekend.

Politico.com reports that

The niceties are finished.

After a string of debates where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders discussed (and occasionally disagreed about) the fine points of progressive policy, the two finally had a full-fledged throwdown Thursday night.

Clinton accused Sanders of going negative on the campaign trail, telling the Vermont Senator at the Democratic debate that his campaign was smearing her name.

“I think it’s time to end the very artful smear that you and your campaign have been carrying out in recent week,” Clinton said after Sanders talked about getting money out of politics.

Sanders has boasted about not receiving money from Wall street, and has pointed out in recent weeks that Clinton has received large sums in exchange for speaking.

“Sen. Sanders has said he wants to run a positive campaign. I’ve tried to keep my disagreements over issues, but time and time again, by innuendo and by insinuation there is this attack that he is putting forth,” Clinton said.

“Which really comes down to anyone who ever took donations or speaking fees from interest groups has to be bought, and I absolutely reject that Senator. I really don’t think those attacks by insinuation are worthy of you,” Clinton continued

Then she leveled the challenge: “If you have something to say, say it. But I have never changed a view or a vote because of a donation I’ve received.”

Hold on a second. We’ll get back to this “Challenge”

Now about the lies…

Foxnews.com reports that

WASHINGTON –  Hillary Clinton cast the financial industry as an adversary in her presidential campaign — despite the money that industry has poured into her White House effort. Bernie Sanders once again mischaracterized the share of the wealth taken by the very richest Americans.

A look at some of the claims in their latest Democratic presidential debate:

CLINTON on Wall Street: “They are trying to beat me in this primary.”

THE FACTS: Wall Street is not the anti-Clinton monolith she implied. People in the securities and investment industry gave more than $17 million last year to super political action committees supporting her presidential run and nearly $3 million directly to her campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org, a campaign-finance watchdog. Wall Street is the top industry donating to her effort, ahead of the legal profession, non-profit institutions and others.

Clinton is taking heat from Sanders over her Wall Street ties, which go back decades.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Clinton has brought in more money from the financial sector during her four federal campaigns — for Senate and president — than her husband, Bill Clinton, did in his quarter-century political career. In all, more than $44 million was raised for her campaigns. This includes more than $1 out of every $10 of the money contributed for her 2016 campaign.

Clinton has often talked about how much she has raised from teachers, as opposed to big corporate interests. But the $2.93 million given directly to her campaign last year by people in the securities and investment industry surpassed the $2.88 million given by people in education, OpenSecrets found.

SANDERS: “Almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent.”

THE FACTS: This has been a common mantra by Sanders but it relies on outdated numbers. In the first five years of the economic recovery, 2009-2014, the richest 1 percent captured 58 percent of income growth, according to Emmanuel Saez, a University of California economist whose research Sanders uses.

That’s a hefty share, but far short of “almost all.” In the first three years of the recovery, 2009-2012, the richest 1 percent did capture 91 percent of the growth in income. But part of that gain reflected an accounting maneuver as the wealthiest pulled income forward to 2012 in advance of tax increases that took effect in 2013 on the biggest earners.

Many companies paid out greater bonuses to their highest-paid employees in 2012 before the higher tax rates took effect. Those bonuses then fell back in 2013. And in 2014, the bottom 99 percent finally saw incomes rise 3.3 percent, the biggest gain in 15 years. Average wages also showed signs of picking up last year as the unemployment rate fell, suggesting the bottom 99 percent may have also seen gains in 2015.

CLINTON: “I am against American combat troops being in Syria and Iraq. I support special forces. I support trainers. I support the air campaign.”

THE FACTS: Clinton makes a dubious distinction. Although it can be debated whether certain types of military personnel fit the definition of “combat” troops, there is little doubt that special operations forces like those now operating both in Syria and Iraq do.

In the fall, a special operations soldier was killed in a firefight in Iraq during a joint U.S.-Kurdish commando raid on an Islamic State prison.

The Pentagon recently sent up to 200 special operations troops to Iraq to carry out a range of risky missions, including raids against Islamic State targets.

Pilots of fighter aircraft, bombers and other warplanes that have flown over Iraq and Syria, dropping bombs and missiles on Islamic State targets on a daily basis, certainly are engaged in combat.
Clinton said she supports Obama’s reluctance to take the lead in ground combat in Iraq and Syria. But many military members are now engaged in combat.

SANDERS: “You have three out of the four largest banks in America today, bigger than they were, significantly bigger than when we bailed them out because they were too big to fail.”

THE FACTS: Sanders is right that JPMorgan, Bank of America and Wells Fargo are larger than they were in mid-2008, before they received bailout money. But those gains largely reflect mergers and acquisitions that occurred, frequently at the government’s behest, during the financial crisis. JPMorgan bulked up by purchasing Bear Stearns, in a deal facilitated by the Federal Reserve. Bank of America ballooned when it acquired Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo roughly doubled in size when it bought a floundering Wachovia Bank.

But the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul bill, passed in 2010, has forced banks to hold more capital as a cushion against risk and to make future bailouts less likely. That requirement and others has caused several banks, including JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Citi, to shed assets to avoid growing larger and triggering further oversight.

CLINTON on Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal: “I said that I was holding out that hope that it would be the kind of trade agreement that I was looking for. I waited until it had actually been negotiated because I did want to give the benefit of the doubt to the administration. Once I saw what the outcome was, I opposed it.”

THE FACTS: As Obama’s secretary of state, Clinton was far more enthusiastic about the Pacific trade deal taking shape than she became once she was running for president and trying to appeal to the liberal wing of her party. As secretary she had given speeches around the world in support of the deal under negotiation, saying in Australia in 2012 that it “sets the gold standard in trade agreements,” a cheerleading sentiment she echoed elsewhere.

She’s stated since that the final agreement didn’t address her concerns. But the final version actually had been modified to drop certain provisions that liberal activist groups had opposed.

CLINTON: “I am not going to make promises I can’t keep. I am not going to talk about big ideas like single-payer and then not level with people about how much it will cost.”

THE FACTS: Clinton was taking aim at Sanders’ universal health care coverage plan that he calls “Medicare for all,” and a new independent analysis suggests that she was correct about his understating the cost.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget found that the tax increases in Sanders’ plan would only cover about 75 percent of the estimated spending under the plan, creating at least a $3 trillion hole over 10 years.

The analysis was based on Sanders’ estimate of how much his plan would spend. If that turns out to be low, then the financing gap would grow.

The group represents deficit foes from both political parties. Leon Panetta, a CIA director and a defense secretary under President Barack Obama, is a co-chairman of its board.

Remember Former Secretary of State Clinton’s challenge from last night, regarding donations that she has received?

“If you have something to say, say it. But I have never changed a view or a vote because of a donation I’ve received.”

Challenge accepted.

Back in April of 2015, NYMag.com reported that

The qualities of an effective presidency do not seem to transfer onto a post-presidency. Jimmy Carter was an ineffective president who became an exemplary post-president. Bill Clinton appears to be the reverse. All sorts of unproven worst-case-scenario questions float around the web of connections between Bill’s private work, Hillary Clinton’s public role as secretary of State, the Clintons’ quasi-public charity, and Hillary’s noncompliant email system. But the best-case scenario is bad enough: The Clintons have been disorganized and greedy.

The news today about the Clintons all fleshes out, in one way or another, their lack of interest in policing serious conflict-of-interest problems that arise in their overlapping roles:

The New York Times has a report about the State Department’s decision to approve the sale of Uranium mines to a Russian company that donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Global Initiative, and that a Russian investment bank promoting the deal paid Bill $500,000 for a speech in Moscow.The Washington Post reports that Bill Clinton has received $26 million in speaking fees from entities that also donated to the Clinton Global Initiative.The Washington Examiner reports, “Twenty-two of the 37 corporations nominated for a prestigious State Department award — and six of the eight ultimate winners — while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State were also donors to the Clinton family foundation.”And Reuters reports, “Hillary Clinton’s family’s charities are refiling at least five annual tax returns after a Reuters review found errors in how they reported donations from governments, and said they may audit other Clinton Foundation returns in case of other errors.”

The Clinton campaign is batting down the darkest and most conspiratorial interpretation of these stories, and where this all leads remains to be seen. But the most positive interpretation is not exactly good.

When you are a power couple consisting of a former president and a current secretary of State and likely presidential candidate, you have the ability to raise a lot of money for charitable purposes that can do a lot of good. But some of the potential sources of donations will be looking to get something in return for their money other than moral satisfaction or the chance to hobnob with celebrities. Some of them want preferential treatment from the State Department, and others want access to a potential future Clinton administration. To run a private operation where Bill Clinton will deliver a speech for a (huge) fee and a charity that raises money from some of the same clients is a difficult situation to navigate. To overlay that fraught situation onto Hillary’s ongoing and likely future government service makes it all much harder.

And yet the Clintons paid little to no attention to this problem. Nicholas Confessore described their operation as “a sprawling concern, supervised by a rotating board of old Clinton hands, vulnerable to distraction and threatened by conflicts of interest. It ran multimillion-dollar deficits for several years, despite vast amounts of money flowing in.” Indeed, as Ryan Lizzareported in 2012, Bill Clinton seemed to see the nexus between his role and his wife’s as a positive rather than a negative:

Regardless of Bill Clinton’s personal feelings about Obama, it didn’t take him long to see the advantages of an Obama Presidency. More than anyone, he pushed Hillary to take the job of Secretary of State. “President Clinton was a big supporter of the idea,” an intimate of the Clintons told me. “He advocated very strongly for it and arguably was the tie-breaking reason she took the job.” For one thing, having his spouse in that position didn’t hurt his work at the Clinton Global Initiative. He invites foreign leaders to the initiative’s annual meeting, and her prominence in the Administration can be an asset in attracting foreign donors. “Bill Clinton’s been able to continue to be the Bill Clinton we know, in large part because of his relationship with the White House and because his wife is the Secretary of State,” the Clinton associate continued. “It worked out very well for him. That may be a very cynical way to look at it, but that’s a fact. A lot of the stuff he’s doing internationally is aided by his level of access.”

The Obama administration wanted Hillary Clinton to use official government email. She didn’t. The Obama administration alsodemanded that the Clinton Foundation disclose all its donors while she served as Secretary of State. It didn’t comply with that request, either.

The Clintons’ charitable initiatives were a kind of quasi-government run by themselves, which was staffed by their own loyalists and made up the rules as it went along. Their experience running the actual government, with its formal accountability and disclosure, went reasonably well. Their experience running their own privatized mini-state has been a fiasco.

With the revelation of “the gift” of massive quantities of Uranium to the Russians and an Iranian Connection regarding some of the money given to the Clinton Foundation, this is not just a scandal involving money and unscrupulous political ladder-climbing through the peddling of “favors”, the actions of the Clintons crossed the line into the abhorrent abyss of treason.

Clinton does not belong in the White House. She belongs in jail.

And, Sanders need to move to the tiny country of Denmark and like the rest of his life in that failed “Socialist Paradise”

Or, he needs to be fitted with a short white jacket with long sleeves that tie behind the back.

Just sayin’.

Until He Comes,

KJ

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