Archive for the ‘libertarian’ Tag

If I Were A Democrat…   Leave a comment

Who would I vote for in the 2020 Democratic primary coming in like 13 months?

Well I’ve run them down and here’s a list. Go read my analysis of the 13 top front runners.

If I had to vote in the 2020 Democratic primary, I’d vote for either Tulsi Gabbard or Pete Buttigieg because they have some level of competence and seem to have some libertarian ideas, but I think they both fail on the economic literacy test and I don’t think we need anymore presidents who are economic illiterates. The last time we had a president who actually knew something about economics, Ronald Reagan was in the White House and he was far from the perfect libertarian candidate.

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If Trump and either Gabbard or Buttigieg were in the general election, I’d be tempted to vote for either of them. If it came down to Joe Biden or Trump, I would definitely vote third-party or (increasingly considering) not vote at all.

Yes, there are other people in the race and if they suddenly break out of the single-digit poll numbers, I’ll look at them, but for now – well, I’m going to go look at the other fields.

Posted June 28, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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A Moderate Choice?   Leave a comment

This is my series looking at the Democratic candidates from a libertarian perspective. There are 23 declared candidates. I’m working off the following list of 13 because they have qualified for the debates later in June. I’m looking at them from lowest rating to highest.

Last, but not least because he’s the media’s favorite – Joe Biden – everybody’s handsy gaffe-master can’t-take-anything-seriously uncle.

Image result for image of joe biden touching

Let’s be clear. I LIKE Joe Biden. He was really the only good part of the Obama administration. Every time someone I knew would want to lynch (I mean, impeach) Barack Obama for his very real crimes against constitutional checks and balances, I’d point out that Uncle Joe would become President and they’d almost always change their mind. Meanwhile, I found Biden’s antics to be a laugh riot. Who can forget his advice that we take care of the intruder at our door by firing a shotgun through the door? (Note to self, don’t do things that will get you sent to prison for a decade or might kill a family member). Or — I actually appreciated this one — when he said he wouldn’t get on a subway during the swine flu event. (His wife being a doctor, I assumed he’d gotten some real advice from her that was better than the dangerous message coming from the CDC that there was nothing to worry about from a variant of the H1N1 virus – pay no attention to the 5% of the world’s population that died from another variant of that virus called the Spanish flu.) If you ever wanted to know what the straight dope was on almost any Obama administration policy, you just needed to listen to Uncle Joe and wait for some form of verbal diarrhea to occur. I didn’t want him to be president, but I like to be entertained by the circus in DC and Joe filled that need. Mike Pence hasn’t been nearly as entertaining, but hey, he’s in Trump’s rather entertaining shadow.

Joe is running for president now and the media thinks he should be the nominee. He’s running into a few issues with Democrats, who I think are racing to the left and leaving moderates like Biden behind. The last time that happened, by the way, Reagan won a second term by a landslide because of all the “moderate” Democrats who became progressive Republicans. Ooo, you mean like Trump did? Just a thought there.

I applaud Joe for taking a markedly different tack than his 473 Democratic challengers. Instead of trying to outdue everyone in showing us what a socialist he is, Biden touts his bipartisan credentials and cites Donald Trump as an aberration. This may be a tricky tactic for the primaries, where you must appeal to the base, but Joshua Spivak of Recall Elections notes that the huge untold story of the 2016 election is the astonishing success of the Libertarian Party. He suggests Joe Biden should aim for those voters in 2020.

Third parties never win in national elections in the US and rarely win in statewide elections except in a few odd-duck situations, but some observers believe they have swung elections nonetheless. Would Al Gore have won the 2000 election if the Green Party hadn’t been a factor (almost 3%) in that very close election?

The Libertarian Party had never before received more than 1.1 percent of the vote in a presidential election until, with former-New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and very-much-not-a-libertarian-lead-balloon Massachusetts Gov. William Weld serving as their ticket, the party rocketed to 3.24 percent of the general election vote. In two of the critical states that Trump flipped, Michigan and Wisconsin, Johnson topped 3.6 percent. In Pennsylvania, the third normally Democratic stronghold that voted GOP, Johnson received 2.4 percent.

Numerous independent candidates have received more than 3 percent of the vote, notably Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 runs, but the Libertarian Party is different. They have run a candidate in every presidential race since 1980 and regularly field candidates in federal and state races throughout the country. Johnson’s performance in 2016 is the biggest percentage for any third-party since the Socialist Party under Eugene Debs in 1920 topped 6 percent of the vote.

It’s possible that the Libertarians have struck a nerve — especially as the Republican Party under Trump moved away from fiscal conservativsm and other libertarian ideals, and as core libertarian issues such as marijuana legalization have come to the forefront of the societal and political discussion. Things like ending mass incarceration and scaling back on the US empire also have resonated with some Democratic voters displeased with their party’s nominee. Still, Spivak believes another possibility seems more likely.

The Libertarian Party may have been the choice of the conservative voters who did not want to vote for Trump and could not pull the lever for Hillary Clinton. Yeah, that’s where I lived in 2012 when I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Obama or Romney, so it’s possible people came to the same conclusion in 2016. Spivak things one of the reasons for Trump’s surprise victory was the cratering in support for Johnson in the waning months of the election. The media flogged Johnson hard as “an idiot” after he flubbed a question on Syria (he didn’t recognize Aleppo – which might have been the first time most Americans had been aware that city existed). In September 2016, Johnson polled at 9 percent, which fell off heavily by Election Day.

If this is true, have ex-Republican voters who voted for Johnson in 2016 now acclimated to Trump enough to be willing to give him a second term or will they vote Libertarian again? Could Biden persuade these rogue voters to return to the two-party system and vote for the Democratic nominee?

Biden could possibly woo independent voters because Biden sounds bipartisan. He could definitely appear so to the mushy middle of uninformed voters. But this is a libertarian analysis of Joe Biden and this libertarian (who has never been a member of the Libertarian Party) is not convinced Uncle Joe ought to be president.

Let’s look at reality. I don’t think presidents make an economy. There’s still enough of a free-ish market in the United States that the economy rides its own waves. However, presidents can make the economy worse. We know this from history. Every time the United States economy seemed to be turning a corner on the Great Depression, FDR would do some voodoo crap and the economy would tank, usually starting in key areas where FDR’s administration was meddling. At the time, people may not have realized that, but looking back 80 years, there’s not a lot of argument that FDR prolonged a two-year depression into a 12-year one.

Trump is not responsible for the good economy the US is experiencing after eight years of Obama’s destructive policies, but his regulatory and tax reforms have helped an improving economy whereas Obama’s “stimulus” and near-doubling of the US regulatory code hurt a flagging economy. If you need a metaphor, consider regulation and taxation to be bricks on a pickup bed. The economy Obama inherited was already chugging to climb a steep hill and he slowed the climb by piling weight in the truck bed. Just as the economy was finally overcoming those burdens (against Obama’s best efforts to stall the economic engine altogether), Trump came along and took out a lot of bricks (and added a few of his own). He did it just as the economy was finally cresting despite Obama’s policies and, thanks to that fortunate timing, the economy is now up and unemployment is way down.

So why does former Vice President Joe Biden insist American workers “have been getting the shaft?”

Speaking before my husband’s former socialist involuntary society — the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — Biden settled on one example: occupational licensing reform.

Did you know hair braiders have to get a license that in some states takes hundreds of hours of training? In fact, there are a lot of government-created hoops skilled workers have to jump through to engage in their occupations. Kudos for Biden recognizing that we need to “restore America’s ability and individual American’s ability to fight for their own dignity.”

I found it ironic and not a little weird for the union members in the crowd to applaud the kind of government deregulation their leadership has fought against for decades. They almost could have been gathered at a rally paid for by libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch. Was it pragmatic centrism or cognitive dissonance? You tell me. After I spoke at a public meeting and said very much the same thing Biden said the other day, our house got egged and my husband was told by the shop steward to “shut that bitch up or you won’t be working anymore.” The IBEW (I-Boo, as Brad calls them) is no friend of the working class.

Biden, the blue-collar anti-Trump, hopes to make this sort of thing his brand as the rest of the primary pack continues to sprint farther and farther to the left.

So should libertarians vote for Joe Biden.

I wouldn’t. It’s mostly progressive media outlets that seem to see a libertarian bent to Biden. Third-party voters tend to be more informed on the issues than main-party voters are, which is why they are third-party voters, and I think most thoughtful libertarians know a lot more about Joe Biden than the progressive media do. For example, we know that a younger Joe Biden was the primary architect of the disastrous War on Drugs.

We also are aware that, while Joe Biden is one of the few DC politicians who has not amassed a fortune from being a DC politician, he has used his influence to enrich his family. If you’re already suspicious of government in general, government influence to enrich family members just looks bad to us.

Moreover, the handsyness is just plain creepy. No man should be smelling my hair if he’s not married to me. If Gary Johnson or Justin Amash starts that sort of behavior, they won’t get my vote either.

Is He Making Things Up?   3 comments

I’m continuing my rundown of the massive Democratic primary field, starting with the lowest ratings and working my way upward. You can check out my previous articles by following the links below. And, you’re always welcome to comment.

Senator Cory Booker’s (D–New Jersey) announcement that he will be seeking his party’s nomination for president set off a flurry of speculation about the candidate’s ideology, chances of success, and whether or not his drug dealer friend T-Bone was ever real. Depending on the articles you read, he’s a hero (once went on a 10-day hunger strike, kept the budget of a typical New Jersey food-stamp recipient for a week, carried a woman out of a burning building, helped shovel a 65-year-old man’s driveway and rescued a freezing dog). I don’t know if any of these things are anymore real than his drug dealer friend and I’m not all that impressed with some of them (my son has been shoveling the driveways of older people in our neighborhood, entirely for free, often without their knowledge, since he was in junior high school).

Booker, 49, was the first black US senator from New Jersey and the first vegan senator. Before that he was mayor of Newark, where he’d been on the City Council since he was 29 years old.

He’s a career politician who is also a member of the political elite, worth more than $4.1 million and gifted with a newly-signed New Jersey state law that will allow him to run for president and the U.S. Senate at the same time, if he chooses. 

Although he derides Citizens United v. FEC, Booker already has a super PAC helping him with his election. And, if you’re into following the money, First Daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, collected $41,000 worth of donations for Booker’s 2013 Senate special election campaign and conducted a fundraiser for him at their Park Avenue home. My reporter spidey senses are all tingly over that news.

Critics point to Booker’s popularity with Wall Street: From 2013 to 2014, when Booker ran in both a special and a general U.S. Senate election, he brought in $2.2 million from the securities and investment industry, more than any other senator that cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org data. From 2017 to late 2018, he fell lower on the list, with $439,000 from Wall Street workers and PACs. He also drew flack in the 2012 presidential election for saying the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital were “nauseating.” Booker does, however, vote against Wall Street interests occasionally.

In February 2018, Booker announced he would no longer accept corporate PAC contributions, one of now seven senators to make such a pledge. The word “corporate” is key: Booker has since taken donations from the PACs of membership organizations and unions. Yeah, that would make him seem a bit unethical. In his campaign finance disclosure report covering July through September, he listed $9,225 received from a handful of PACs, including those connected to the Transport Workers Union, National Air Traffic Controllers and Environment America Voter Action group. Booker has also raised corporate PAC money for his 2020 Senate reelection campaign — and he can transfer all that cash to his presidential campaign effort: An analysis by NJ Advance Media found that two-thirds of the $505,000 in PAC donations Booker received came from corporate committees from January 2015 to January 2018.

Booker’s January 2017 vote opposing a symbolic measure to allow prescription drug imports from Canada faced backlash, especially with supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who backed the amendment. Booker was one of 13 Democrats that voted “no”, saying the measure didn’t guarantee the safety of the imported drugs. (He later teamed up with Sanders on new drug import legislation.) New Jersey is home to many large pharmaceutical companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, and Booker has received large donations from the industry: During his 2013 and 2014 campaigns, Booker took in almost $330,000 from pharmaceutical company PACs and employees, the second-most of any congressional candidate behind Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.  

In 2014, Booker was backed by a super PAC called the Mobilization Project. It spent $532,000 supporting him, and donors included Edward Nicoll, cofounder of Structural Wealth Management LLC ($137,000), mattress maven Michael Fux ($100,000) and billionaire hedge fund manager Seth Klarman ($100,000).

Then there are his links to corporate media outfits. In March 2012, Booker co-founded a video curation startup called Waywire, which counted Oprah Winfrey, ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner as investors. He reported he had an interest of between $1 million and $5 million in the company.

Former Booker donor and ally Linda Watkins Brashear was sentenced to eight years in federal prison for her involvement in a bribery scheme while leading the now-shuttered Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. at a time when Booker, as mayor of Newark, was also chairman of the development corporation’s board. Brashear admitted to doling out $1 million worth of contracts to family and friends in exchange for bribes. Booker and his lawyers said he was not aware of the kickback scheme and noted he never attended a meeting of the agency. Last year, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by the agency’s trustees against Booker.

So there’s a lot about Cory Booker that is sketchy, but I want to focus on his views on the increasingly salient issue of housing.

As rents and home prices continue to rise for likely Democratic primary voters in progressive, coastal cities, candidates for the party’s nomination are expected to peddle some sort of solution.

All three sitting senators running for the Democratic 2020 nomination (Booker, Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D–Calif.)) have introduced housing bills that provide a glimpse of how they’ll approach the issue.

Booker’s bill—the Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity or (HOME) Act—was introduced back in August 2018, and would do two major things.

First, it would offer renters making less than 80 percent of area median income (which usually qualifies one for affordable housing or federal housing assistance) and spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent, a tax credit worth whatever amount they are spending above that 30 percent threshold. The tax credit would be refundable, meaning even those with no federal income tax burden could still benefit from it.

Booker’s bill would also condition federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)—a federal housing grant program with a rather spotty track record—on localities adopting “inclusionary” land-use policies designed to increase housing supply and access.

The HOME Act includes a laundry list of policies that might satisfy this requirement, including a lot of things libertarians could get behind like upzoning, eliminating off-street parking requirements, eliminating height requirements, streamlining permitting, and even making development “by-right” (meaning local bureaucrats wouldn’t have the discretion to shoot down a code-conforming project).

Conversely, Booker’s bill would reward localities for adopting a number of more interventionist policies, including increasing the number of rent-controlled units, banning landlords from asking prospective tenant about their criminal history, and taxing vacant land.

It’s not a free marketer’s dream bill, but the focus on removing local restrictions on housing supply are welcome. By threatening to take away funding from more restrictive municipalities, Booker’s bill includes a lot more stick compared to his carrot-offering competitors in the Democratic primary.

Warren’s housing bill, also introduced last year, would have set up a $10 billion fund to reward communities that made development easier, but her bill did not threaten to take any federal funding away from cities that didn’t play ball, blunting its effectiveness and making it less palatable than Booker’s bill.

Harris’ housing bill, by contrast, totally punts on the question of local restrictions on development. Instead, the California senator’s proposal would issue refundable tax credits to “cost-burdened” renters making as much as $125,000 a year. Uh, yeah, that’s about three times what I make, so you can imagine how I feel about that. Rather than make housing more affordable, this approach would likely just raise costs for renters by subsidizing demand, while doing nothing to address restrictions on supply.

It’s still not a good reason to vote for him if you desire smaller government.

Halfway There — Maybe   3 comments

I’m continuing my rundown of the massive Democratic primary field, starting with the lowest ratings and working my way upward. You can check out my previous articles by following the links below. And, you’re always welcome to comment.

Assuming he didn’t blow it in the debates over the weekend, Pete Buttegieg is poised as a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

pete buttegieg

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttegieg does not hold an office that traditionally serves as a springboard to the presidency. That seems not to matter in the Trump era. Democrats find Buttegieg is thoughtful, even intellectual. He’s a Rhodes scholar, attended the University of Oxford, served his country in the Navy and was deployed to Afghanistan, and worked in the private sector before returning to his hometown where he took up politics. He’s a married gay man, but he’s managed to avoid engaging with his fellow presidential candidates in the culture war’s unwinnable arms race.

And while his fellow presidential aspirants are pandering to the lowest common denominator, promising the world and ignoring constitutional impediments, Pete Buttegieg is talking about ideas. Among them, the very concept of liberty itself.

“We’ve allowed our conservative friends to get a monopoly on the idea of freedom,” Buttegieg conceded in a recent speech to a group of supporters in South Carolina. But the kind of freedom conservative syndicalists promote was, he argued, defined too narrowly. “Freedom from,” he explained. “As though government were the only thing that could make us unfree.”

Oddly, though, he went on to illustrate that it is, in fact, coercive governmental institutions that are most often responsible for curtailing liberty.

And that’s a problem for some Democratic observers, who say Buttigieg sounds a lot like a libertarian. Democratic journalists really don’t know much about libertarianism, which is based on the founding principles, including voluntary association.

A thoughtful politician, Buttegieg’s intellectual journey seems to have led him halfway to small government libertarianism. Perhaps nothing better illustrates this internal conflict better than his response when asked where he stands on fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A, whose owners oppose same-sex marriages like his own. “I do not approve of their politics, but I kind of approve of their chicken,” he said. “Maybe, if nothing else, I can build that bridge.” Maybe he can, but the current behavior of the modern Democratic Party wants any hand in its construction.

For libertarians, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, appears to be a welcome addition to the far-left-leaning Democratic primary. After all, his views on foreign intervention and free college are small consolations in a field that is largely set on growing the scope of government.

Some of Buttigieg’s other positions, however, put him at odds with libertarian voters.

Several Democratic candidates have expressed a desire to expand the Supreme Court in hopes of weakening the influence of conservative justices. I guess they feel that if they can’t get a majority with nine, they’ll manage one with 15. This has been tried before and it scared the Supremes enough that they did whatever FDR wanted for a decade, must of which was later ruled to be unconstitutional.

In a speech at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Buttigieg suggested expanding the court to 15 justices. This new court would be composed of five conservative justices, five liberal justices, and five rotating appellate justices, each unanimously agreed upon by their peers. That might sound good if you despise simple majority decisions, but there are a number of complications immediately recognizable, but I’m just going to note one.

The proposal gives justices more power by choosing who gets appointed. This both goes against an important check on the judicial branch, and is likely unconstitutional, as presidents are the only people allowed to appoint justices.

Buttigieg has previously invoked his military service to criticize endless war. He’s also used his experiences to speak positively about national service. Though he hasn’t presented any official positions, his sentiments on the latter indicate that he would be comfortable with mandatory national service. While his proposal remains vaguely stated, he explained to Rachel Maddow that he sees national public service as a means ot bridging social divides. And he may well be right. Take 18-year-olds, force them to work for the government for a couple of years, brain-wash them with propaganda and, viola, you’ve created a whole generation of youth corps drones.

Though Buttigieg has yet to truly commit to a major campaign proposal, his thoughts should not be taken lightly. If libertarians are looking for a mainstream candidate who will not join pointless wars, then Buttigieg aligns with their views. If they’re looking for a firm commitment to shrinking the size and scope of government, they may not find much common ground in this candidate.

La Raza Candidate?   2 comments

I’m continuing my rundown of the massive Democratic primary field, starting with the lowest ratings and working my way upward. You can check out my previous articles by following the links below. And, you’re always welcome to comment.

This article comes out just before the first Democratic debates. I’m sure there will be more to say after that. I’ll finish the last three candidates next week.

Democrats have a chance of beating Trump with Julian Castro on the 2020 ticket

Castro has never won an election for statewide or federal office, but he’s running for president. Before Donald Trump, that would have been all you needed to know about him. We would have labeled him “unqualified” and been done with him.

Of course, he’s Hispanic and served in the Obama administration, so he is doing way better in the polls that someone who isn’t highly qualified for the office he’s seeking and we’re in the post-Trump era when everyone can run for president, despite what offices they’ve never held before. I blame Obama for that because he’d been in the Senate for two-and-half minutes before he was elected to the White House. But Julian Castro also shares with Obama that he is a member of an intersectional group. What can I say – Democrats like to tick that box of having the first (name that ethnicity) candidate.

Castro, a lawyer, served as mayor of San Antonio, the nation’s seventh-most-populous city, from 2009 to 2014. So, he does have a little bit of a track record.

In 2012, Castro delivered the Democratic National Convention’s keynote address, prompting pundits to dub him the “Latino Barack Obama” — Obama delivered the Democratic National Convention keynote address in 2004. By 2014, Obama had tapped Castro as Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary. Hillary Clinton considered Castro as her presidential running mate, but instead chose Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia. Would that have made a difference? Maybe.

Since leaving HUD in 2017, Castro’s profile has decreased, and he hasn’t received nearly the attention of prospective presidential candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, who remain in federal office.

Nevertheless, Castro, 44, formed an exploratory committee in December, declaring in a not-so-veiled shot at President Donald Trump that “Americans are ready to climb out of this darkness.” So he’s not going to woo a lot of Trump votes.

Here’s more on Castro’s political and financial history:

  • The U.S. Office of Special Counsel concluded in 2016 that Castro had violated the federal Hatch Act by using his official government position as HUD secretary to advocate for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Castro acknowledged the error and that proved penance enough for President Obama, who declined to fire or otherwise penalize Castro. I think we know how I feel about impunity. Right there, I would not vote for him because I don’t believe in government officials getting away with stuff the rest of us would go to jail for.
  • Castro says he’s “not going to take any PAC money” as a presidential candidate and is discouraging anyone from forming a super PAC to benefit his candidacy. But in August 2017, Castro formed a PAC, Opportunity First. From that point into late November, Castro’s PAC has raised nearly $500,000, almost exclusively from donors in Texas, California, Florida, New York, Washington, Maryland and Virginia. The PAC during that time spent nearly all that it’s raised, with most of the money going toward consulting fees, fundraising services and Castro’s travel. It has spread some money among several dozen other “young, progressive” federal– and statelevel politcians, including the campaigns of U.S. Reps. Colin Allred, D-Dallas ($3,700); Xochitl Torres Small, D-New Mexico ($1,000); Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa ($1,000); and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York ($500).
  • Castro is a past client of the Perkins Coie law firm, whose political law group chairman, Marc Elias, represents dozens of leading Democrats and served as general counsel for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. One of the final expenses in 2016 for Castro’s San Antonio mayoral campaign committee before ceasing operations: a $10,292 “legal services” payment to Perkins Coie. Castro’s Opportunity First PAC also uses Perkins Coie.

Castro’s mother Maria founded La Raza Unida political party in San Antonio. His twin brother Joaquin represents San Antonio in the U.S. House of Representatives.

If you’ve never listened to a modern La Raza speech, especially in Spanish, you have not heard racism at its finest and most vitriol.

He is clearly working a Southwest strategy, assuming Latinos will vote for one of their own. That could be a smart move and will certainly affect Beto O’Rourke’s chances. In his campaign launch speech Castro endorsed “Medicare for All” which would create a massive, inefficient and expensive medical care plan that would force everyone of join the public medical care system. Many moderate Democrats consider this a drastic approach.

He supported the Black Lives Matters movement and spoke about the need to address climate change.

Castro, whose grandmother was born in Mexico, has sought to use his family’s personal story to criticize Trump’s border policies – including criticizing the president by name in his launch speech.

“Yes, we must have border security, but there is a smart and humane way to do it. And there is no way in hell that caging children is keeping us safe,” Castro said.

I think he’s a typical 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. He’s ignorant on the economics of medical care and climate change and he thinks the answer to our country’s problems is to force everyone to a one-size-fits-all set of programs. My main issue with him is that as a libertarian I can’t vote for more government, but the biggest stumbling block for me is his support of racist groups. You all know how I feel about racism. It’s wrong even if coming from an intersectional group. I’m an American Indian, but I don’t support programs that put non-Indians at a disadvantage against Indians. And when I see his mother’s background and his support of Black Lives Matter – I think he will be as damaging to the racial reconciliation progress of this country as Obama was. Will he start demanding reparations for the descendants of slaves and chicanos sometime in the near future? I fear so. And that won’t solve any problems – anymore than Reconstruction’s carpet-baggers fixed the South after the Civil War. I keep hoping we will resume progress toward a post-racial era, but a President Castro has the potential to keep the veins open and prolong the rage, if not make it even worse.

Libertarian-Lite?   6 comments

This is my series looking at the Democratic candidates from a libertarian perspective. There are 23 declared candidates. I’m working off the following list of 13 because they have qualified for the debates later in June. I’m looking at them from lowest rating to highest.

I’ve been mostly negative about the 2020 Democratic candidates because most of them are statist control freaks who seem unfamiliar with basic math or economics.

But Tulsi Gabbard is cut from a slightly different cloth. It is a different enough pattern from the usual Democratic fare that Ron Paul came out in mild support for her. He didn’t endorse her and didn’t say he would vote for her, but his comment set the libertarian blogs on fire, making my analysis a bit easier.

I found there are a lot of pros and cons and some commentators feel the pros very well could balance out all the cons.

Dr. Paul was asked about the number of candidates in the Democratic Party, and specifically, which ones looked promising. Dr. Paul praised Gabbard’s outspoken disdain for the ongoing wars and nation building, but clarified he didn’t agree with her on economics. Still, there is now a push to get Libertarians behind Gabbard.

Libertarians are largely anti-war and anti-foreign intervention, which is why commentators are a bit obsessed with Gabbard, who ran for Congress on ending the “war on terror” and the war in Syria. Unfortunately, Gabbard has no political platform lined out on her presidential page.

War is a big issue to libertarians and I want to see the country end those wars too, but not at the expense of domestic issues. Gabbard is not proposing saving the war budget so it can be spent on paying down the debt or returned to the people it was coerced from. No, she has her own plan for spending all that money. She already has several ideas laid out like environmental policies, net neutrality, jobs programs, housing programs, government mandated GMO labeling, Medicaid for all, social security, and more.

Just because Gabbard is good on war doesn’t mean that she is the right choice for president. While stopping the overseas slaughter and nation-building is important, we need to balance that against plans to overhaul the economy to be state-owned.

A Gabbard presidency would inevitably end in less foreign intervention, but far greater domestic intervention. Many argue that this will happen anyways. Yeah, it will! The enslavement of the American people has been underway for a century. It’s not going to stop anytime soon. However, I believe it will come at a much quicker pace under Gabbard. Once we lose any ground to the government, the likelihood that we ever see an ounce of it again is a pipe dream. Maybe Gabbard will end the wars, but she could become JFK instead. And, even if she doesn’t end the wars, she will surely still advocate for the programs that she currently would fund with the war budget. Therefore, creating inflation, theft, and extortion.

I am a libertarian who still votes, although increasingly I wonder why. I voted for Gary Johnson in the last two presidential races, not based on what he said (which was often confusing), but rather his record. As the governor of New Mexico, he had a list of liberty-minded successes, which also led to prosperity in New Mexico. I will vote for people when I believe that they will do right. I am not going to vote for a socialist simply because Ron Paul says that of the two dozen, or so, democratic candidates, Gabbard looks to be the most promising. Gabbard would have to demonstrate some economic literacy before I could even begin to contemplate voting for her.

Gabbard is an intriguing and highly charismatic person, and the push for a presidential run makes sense. I think she is a political reality in the landscape and certainly worthy of a lot of discussion. I believe she is a probable front runner for the Democrats in 2020, and could very well have a shot to win the presidency.

But, before I get too carried away with assuming her frontrunner status, it’s important to point out a few of the things that might hold her back with Democrats.

She isn’t their perfect candidate in terms of policy positions, and in terms of the Democrats’ understanding of where she sits on the left-right political spectrum. Her thinking can be difficult to pin down, and her place on such a linear spectrum can be very confusing to people who see politics that way as right-left. This is because Gabbard holds a couple of libertarian-like social positions.

She states that she is personally opposed to gay marriage but supports withdrawing the government from making such determinations. She personally opposes abortion, but doesn’t believe government should interfere with such personal choices. While libertarians understand these positions well, based upon a two-dimensional, linear understanding of political positions, Garbbard a mystifying figure on social positions for the majority of Democrats. From the perspective of a majority of Democrats, these positions can be a challenge. Many in the LGTBQ community openly state that they don’t trust her because of what they view as ambiguity. Through the narrow lens of liberal vs. conservative, it’s hard to place these positions on that flat line. Vehement pro-choice people in the Democratic Party demand a purist position. They don’t like ambiguity.

She is anti-war in the big picture, being very vocal in opposition to war in Syria, and opposing continued US military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. But, she also was openly opposed Obama in his deal with Iran, and it was a very unfavorable position for Democrats to oppose their hero and idol on much of anything. And, while she opposes war in general, she calls herself hawkish, and strongly supports covert military action involving small forces in surgical attacks; something many Democrats and libertarians see as distasteful operations with too many collateral casualties.

Gabbard is also a decidedly anti-establishment figure within the party. She withdrew from being a party leader in order to better support Bernie Sanders when all the other party leadership were plotting to override his bid for president in favor of Clinton. The open opposition she has had on occasion with Obama is a huge negative not only to the majority of Democrats but especially to party leadership. While being overall anti-establishment can be a positive for her among the common everyday Democrats, it can be a hindrance if party leadership does to her what they did to Sanders.

That being said, party leadership likely cannot afford to override majority support this time around. Not without risking a major schism in the party that could destroy cohesiveness and potentially turn some of the faithful away. Using super-delegates to lock out anti-establishment candidates will likely not stand in 2020, lest there be a mass exodus of people fed up with the status quo. In this sense, Gabbard’s position as the anti-establishment rock star helps her tremendously when the entire country’s mood is anti-establishment. The frontrunners on both sides in this past season’s primaries were all anti-establishment, save for Hillary Clinton.

For many Democrats (and sometimes Republicans), certain states of gender, minority, and religious affiliations, can override policy positions in terms of importance and qualifying factors for support. For many Democrats, the fact that Talks Gabbard is a female, Samoan-American Hindu checks off three of the intersectional boxes that can be more important than where she stands on policy. Sometimes Democrats (especially those further to the left) can overlook a lot of policy positions in support of electing a minority figure. For them, electing the first whatever minority president with a Democrat label is at least just as important, if not more important, than electing someone who agrees with them politically.

Her large support of entitlement programs also overrides a lot of other policy positions for the majority of Democrats. For many in the party, support for things like universal healthcare and shoring up Medicare and Medicaid are more important than social or foreign policy. Entitlement programs are a very big deal in the Democratic party.

Lastly, Democrats and Republicans alike always express the sentiment that their candidates should represent moderate positions to make them more palatable for centrists, assuming that support from their party members is automatic and that independent voters are the ones who elect presidents. Political policy arguments give way to believed moderation in importance for both parties. While making a case for policy is actually what wins elections, there is a dogged belief that only moderates can win. Tulsi Gabbard feels like a political moderate, and therefore a very desirable candidate to many Democrats.

I didn’t think Trump would win the 2016 election, so it’s easy to be wrong in predicting political movements and candidacies, but that’s my analysis. I like Gabbard among the Democratic hopefuls, I still likely wouldn’t vote for her. However, I think a whole lot of people would. If she can offer enough free things and special advantages to enough groups of people, while having the right message defined, it’s very possible that Trump (or whatever Republican) could get a very strong challenge in 2020, and Tulsi Gabbard may very well occupy the White House, if not in 2020, sometime in the future.

Posted June 20, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in politics

Tagged with , , , ,

Voter Bribery Writ Large   7 comments

I’m continuing my rundown of the massive Democratic primary field, starting with the lowest ratings and working my way upward. And, my have the mighty fallen, as today I look at Bernie Sanders. You can check out my previous articles by following the links below. And, you’re always welcome to comment.

We are finally moving into the main competition for the Democratic nomination. I’m not saying that none of the ones I’ve already analyzed could win the nomination, but that it is highly likely they won’t. The Democrats much more tightly control their nomination process than do the Republicans.

Medical Insurance

A gaffe is when a politician tells some obvious truth he wasn’t supposed to say. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) committed a gaffe in February when she admitted that Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) “Medicare for All” proposal would oust close to 200 million Americans from their existing health insurance arrangements, a prospect that causes public support for “Medicare for All” to plummet from 56 percent to 37 percent. Harris thus helpfully illustrated why Sanders’s proposal is so pie-in-the-sky bonkers that it would never pass Congress.

But, don’t worry, Kamala Harris has an incremental approach that will accomplish the same thing – kind of like that frog boiling in the slowly warming pot of water. By insisting she is merely seeking a level playing field where the public option may compete with private insurance, Harris is fooling us into believing that there’s ever a level playing field between government and private industry. All the power rests with the government because it has a monopoly on force and can ignore economic realities and just tax everybody to pay for what it wants.

And remember, medical insurance is not health care. It’s not even guaranteed access to health care. I qualify for “free” medical care through BIA services, but long wait times and poor quality have convinced me that government-sponsored medical care sucks. I’d rather pay for real doctors from my own pocketbook.

Economy

Harris wants to create a federal subsidy for rent payments which would enrich landlords in the same way that tuition subsidies have enriched colleges and health subsidies have enriched insurers and providers, both at the expense of actual consumers..

Here’s some of what Professor Tyler Cowen wrote for Bloomberg about the proposal:

One of the worst tendencies in American politics is to restrict supply and subsidize demand. …The likely result of such policies is high and rising prices, restricted access and often poor quality. If you limit the number of homes and apartments, for example, but give buyers subsidies, that is a formula for exorbitant prices. That is what makes early accounts of Senator Kamala Harris’s economic plans so disappointing. …Consider Harris’s embrace of subsidies for renters, as reflected by her recent sponsorship of the Rent Relief Act of 2018. Given the high price of housing in many parts of the U.S., it is easy to see why the idea might have appeal. But the best and most sustainable way of producing cheaper housing is to build more homes and apartments. The resulting increase in supply will cause prices to fall… That is basic supply and demand, with supply doing the active work. The Harris bill, in contrast, calls for tax credits to renters. …There is an obvious problem with this approach. If you subsidize renters, that will push up the price of apartments. Furthermore, economic logic suggests that big rent increases are most likely in those cases where the supply of apartments is relatively fixed, a basic principle of what is called “tax incidence theory.” In sum, most of the gains from this policy would go to landlords, not renters.

In other words, this is a perfect plan for a politician who understands “public choice” theory. The people think they’re getting a freebie, but the benefits actually go to those with political influence and power.

Then Harris proposes a $2.7 trillion tax cut. What? I believe people should be able to keep any money they earn, so my instinct was to cheer, except whenever a politician offers something that sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.

Now let’s look at her $2.7 trillion tax cut. I believe that people should be allowed to keep the lion’s share of any money they earn, so my gut instinct is to cheer.

Kyle Pomerlau of the Tax Foundation has done the heavy lifting and looked closely at the details. He has a thorough explanation of her plan and its likely impact:

The “LIFT the Middle-Class Act” (LIFT) would create a new refundable tax credit available to low- and middle-income taxpayers. …LIFT would provide a refundable credit that would match a maximum of $3,000 in earned income ($6,000 for married couples filing jointly). …The credit would begin to phase out for single taxpayers starting at $30,000 of adjusted gross income (AGI) and $80,000 for single taxpayers with children, and begin phasing out for married taxpayers at $60,000 of AGI. The phaseout rate for all taxpayers would be 15 percent. …LIFT’s impact on the economy is primarily through its effect on the labor force. LIFT phases in from the first dollar of earned income to the maximum credit of $3,000 per tax filer. It then phases out starting at different levels of income, depending on a tax filer’s marital status and whether they have children. These phase-ins and phaseouts create implicit marginal subsidies and tax rates that impact individuals’ incentive to work.

Put simply, Harris is proposing a new version of the earned income credit, which subsidizes some taxpayers for working while penalizing other taxpayers for the same behavior.

For taxpayers in the credit phaseout range, tax liability would increase by 15 cents for each additional dollar earned. This means that these taxpayers would face an additional implicit marginal tax rate of 15 percent, which would reduce these taxpayers’ incentive to work additional hours. In contrast, taxpayers in the phase-in range of the credit would get $1 for each additional $1 of income they earn. As such, these taxpayers would benefit from an effective marginal subsidy rate, or negative marginal tax rate, of 100 percent. A negative tax rate of 100 percent would increase the incentive for these taxpayers to work additional hours.

Kyle crunches the numbers to determine the overall economic impact:

While the positive labor force effects of the phase-in of the credit could offset the negative effect of the phaseout, we find that, on net, the size of the total labor force would shrink under this policy. This is primarily due to the large number of taxpayers that would fall in the phaseout range of the credit relative to the number of individuals that would benefit from the phase-in. …We estimate that the credit…would reduce economic output by 0.7 percent and result in about 825,906 fewer full-time equivalent jobs.

Wow! It would seem impossible to design a $2.7 trillion tax cut that actually hurts the economy, but Senator Harris has succeeded in that dubious achievement and has figured out how to create an anti-supply-side tax cut. It’s gets worse, though. The tax cut is

refundable,” so the money goes to people who don’t pay taxes. It is government spending being laundered through the tax code. Harris claims to be cutting taxes, but part of what she’s doing is expanding redistribution and making government bigger, which will encourage more fraud). She also has been pretty cagey about how she plans to pay for her proposal.

Considering the poor design and upside-down economics of the rent subsidy scheme and the new tax credit, the bottom line is obvious: Kamala Harris wants to buy votes, and she has decided that it is okay to hurt the economy in hopes of achieving her political ambitions.

Does that make her presidential material?

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