Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Palace Intrigues

The punditocracy's second-favorite topic this week (after Trumpmania) is whether Joe Biden will run, and if he runs, whether he'll pick Elizabeth Warren as his running mate. Also, rumors are flying that, not so very much behind the scenes, President Obama is doing everything in his power to mess with the Hillary Clinton candidacy. (After all, it is his FBI -- not the GOP -- that has picked campaign season as the optimal time to begin combing through all her emails. As if Obama didn't know that for the whole time that she was Secretary of State she was using a private account.) 

Machiavelli Muses

  Most of this is speculation, of course, and way beyond my investigatory capabilities as a blogger from the sticks. But one speculation is easily debunkable, and that is the possible endorsement of Biden by Elizabeth Warren. Unless she has totally gone over to the dark side, this is not going to happen. The truth is that not so very long ago, he was her Public Enemy #1.

It's all there in a 2003 book she wrote with her daughter Amelia, called The Two Income Trap.

Before she founded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, before Obama threw her under the bus, before she became a politician and a powerful senator, Warren was that rare bird, a Harvard economics professor with a side gig as a consumer advocate. It was her task to go after the credit card industry predators ruining the lives of struggling middle class families -- particularly those headed by single mothers -- and arm-twist congress-critters into keeping the bankruptcy laws working in favor of the families being crushed by usurious debt. She discovered that in the previous 20 years, the number of women filing petitions for bankruptcy had gone up by 662 percent.

"Having a child is now the single best predictor that a woman will end up in a financial collapse," she wrote in the preface to her book. She found that bankruptcy was becoming the biggest cause of family change: more than death, divorce, heart attacks, cancer, graduations and other disruptions.

She called it the "two income trap" because no longer can a even a married woman go to work to help out in hard times and make extra money for non-essentials, no longer can a mother stay home when a child, spouse or elderly parent gets sick, without fear of financial collapse. Now they were in the workforce just to barely break even. And when finances collapse, it's mainly the women who bear the brunt and take the blame and the responsibility, Warren wrote. 

Long before the 2008 financial collapse, home foreclosures were skyrocketing.

And Senator Joe Biden represented Delaware, the Credit Card Industry Capital of the World. The bankers who were his political donors wanted to make it harder for people to discharge their debts via personal bankruptcy.

Biden, who'd been trumpeting himself as a champion of women's rights in his capacity as sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act, was anything but when it came to championing their economic rights. He was also co-sponsor of bank-friendly reform legislation that has made it difficult if not impossible for families struggling with credit card and medical debt to declare bankruptcy and start afresh.

"And in a statistic with special significance for Senator Biden," Elizabeth Warren wrote, "more women will be victimized by predatory lenders than will seek protection from an abusive husband or boyfriend."

"Senators like Joe Biden should not be allowed to sell out women in the morning and be heralded as their friend in the evening," she added while scoffing at his campaign literature featuring glossy photos of himself with National Organization of Women (NOW) officials.

That other self-professed champion of women, Hillary Clinton, also voted with Biden and the Republicans in favor of the banks and against debt-ridden mothers, in 2001. This was a total flip-flop from her previous stated position. As Warren wrote, "The bill was the same, but Hillary Rodham Clinton was not. As First Lady, Mrs. Clinton had been persuaded that the bill was bad for families, and she was willing to fight for her beliefs. Her husband was a lame duck at the time he vetoed the bill; he could afford to forgo future campaign contributions. As New York's newest senator, however, it seems that Hillary Clinton  could not afford such a principled position. Campaigns cost money, and that money wasn't coming from families in financial trouble."

Sweet Nothings... Joe and Hillary

I'd have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Warren met Biden at his Naval Observatory digs this past weekend. Her agreeing to become his running mate on a possible Democratic ticket would be as grotesque as her quitting the Senate to become a lobbyist for Citigroup.

Not going to happen. I predict she either stays neutral, or if she endorses anybody, it will be Bernie Sanders, who has joined in her proposal to break up the big banks by introducing legislation to do just that. If Hillary wins the nomination, Warren will be forced to make a token appearance at the convention -- and that should be the sum of her curbed enthusiasm.

Sanders, by the way, just got the endorsement of Cornel West. This should help put a dent into the punditocratic meme that Bernie and black people don't get along.


Jay–Ottawa said...

I hope Elizabeth Warren's day comes in my lifetime. Until then, most lefties agree, it's Bernie's turn at bat.

Despite Black Agenda Report's close-to-mocking non-endorsements

of Bernie Sanders, I'll send him a little money and promise my November vote under any one of three scenarios:

1. AFTER he wins TOP spot at the Democratic convention (VP doesn't count for anything); or

2. If (failing to beat Hillary) he bolts the Democratic convention and delivers his followers to Jill Stein; or

3. If (failing to beat Hillary) he stamps his feet on the way out of the convention and pulls a Bull Moose by running as an impassioned independent.

Until any one of those three conditions is met––or until he boldly reverses his standing promise to endorse the winner (Hillary or, if she stumbles badly, Joe Biden, the DNC's understudy back-up guy) at the Convention––I am persuaded by Bruce A. Dixon that, intentionally or not, Bernie is sheep-dogging progressives for the DNC.

I am open to persuasion, but, please, not of the "lesser of two evils" variety.

Meredith NYC said...

Thank you Karen, for quoting Warren book. Your post should be a NYT column to set them straight instead of the dreck they have lately. And quoted on msnbc instead of just flashing pics of Biden, with daily speculation. The media hot air quotient has been soaring.

Good for Cornell West endorsing Sanders. Get him on TV to tell why! Sanders makes jobs a 1st priority as he should, but that doesn’t mean that criminal justice/police reform aren’t also his top priorities. It just means that he must emphasize jobs, and living standards--not the top priority of other candidates.

Inequality is finally become a campaign issue, long, long after Occupy forced the media to even mention it. Super pac candidates can’t go outside the parameters their sponsors set. Sanders is as supportive of redressing racial injustice as anyone, and more so.

Re Warren....I read her other book--A Fighting Chance--re the middle class downward path. A lot of bankruptcies were from medical bills for serious illness--and that's unknown in other nations. Much cc debt was to pay that down, even for the insured.

Warren outlined the huge well financed fight by corporations against consumer protections---re the terms of bankruptcy and cc debt, which became one of the biggest profit sources--as admitted by top execs. Usury laws on interest rates were nullified.

( btw, msnbc has a story maybe from nyt, about how black communities who won court cases on lead poisoning in their homes, are being exploited by profit makers for the money awards they won---don’t have the details.)

Also women and men, many middle aged, were fired, jobs shipped to Asia, then lost benefits. Then their kids got into huge college tuition debt, trying to improve their futures. Both generations were swamped with low rate credit card offers---a corporate riches scheme---the downwardly mobile hanging on, making only the minimum cc payment, thus never pay it off, so the profits compound. How many times can you kick people when they’re down--and there's no redress in this world renowned US democracy!

The Great Wealth Transfer upward from the majority to the 1 percent proceeded relentlessly, all legal, and excused by the usual excused of 'freedom' from big govt invasive regulations.

To paraphrase Churchill:
Never, in the history of a democracy, have so few taken so much from so many.
...Has so much been taken from so many by so few.
Which do you prefer, or phrase it another way.