Sanders’s vs Clinton’s Senate Records

All links below are to search results on congress.gov.

Bernie Sanders sponsored or co-sponsored 6,251 pieces of legislation during his time in Congress (Senate: 2007-present, or nine years; House: 1991-2006, or 15 years). Of these, he was the primary author of, or sponsored, 781 bills. Three of the bills he sponsored became law (two having to do with post offices and one with veterans’ cost of living adjustments). If we include his contributions as a co-sponsor of legislation (5,470), 207 of his bills have become law.

Hillary Clinton sponsored 713 pieces of legislation during her time in the Senate (2001-2009, or eight years), and co-sponsored* 2,677 pieces of legislation, of which 74 became law. Of the three on which she was the primary author, three became law (two having to do with post offices and one with naming a highway).

Quite a bit is unobjectionable on both sides, so I think we need to  understand that when people say that Sanders and Clinton have voted the same way 93% of the time, that number includes a lot of votes on roads and post-offices that no one on either side of the aisle would object to. They’re politically neutral and don’t mean much in terms of choosing between the candidates.

Sanders has 24 years experience as a member of Congress while Clinton has eight years experience, so I think there’s no question about who is more experienced in elected office. Clinton also has four years experience (2009-2013) as President Obama’s Secretary of State, which brings her total experience in Washington to 12 years, exactly half of Sanders’s time.

More importantly, I think you will find more legislation on Sanders’s side that is aggressively on the side of campaign finance reform, and I think there’s no question that Sanders has been able to get more done (over 200 of his sponsored or co-sponsored bills have become law) because he has been much more effective at working with his fellow Congresspersons through his extensive activity co-sponsoring bills.

You might find it interesting to click the links and browse through the legislation each have worked to pass through Congress.

*Corrected from a previous version of this page.

Why Donor Base Matters: Leeches vs. Producers

We all know that there are companies that produce things, like Apple and Google and Microsoft and GM, and there are people who work for them (represented by unions). These companies that produce things are who I’m calling the “producers”: tech and manufacturers and their employees. They are the representatives of our real economy, the ones who make up not only the workforce but the material nature of our everyday lives. Every building you work in, car you drive, road you drive on, and bit of technology that you use are produced by this group.

But I’d like to focus on a different component of our economy: the money handlers. These people take money from one group and distribute it to another. This group is commonly referred to as the FIRE sector: finance, insurance, and real estate. They don’t produce anything: they make all of their money by taking it out of the transaction somehow. They’re like someone who slices a piece of cake owned by one person and then serves it to someone else — all of their wealth consists of the amount of cake they can get to stick to their fingers during the transfer. The difference between the size of the piece of cake they initially collect and the size of the piece of cake that they eventually pass around is their profit: the bigger the cake starts out and the smaller it is when distributed always means more cake for them.

So insurance companies, for example, take your money in the form of premiums and then distribute it to doctors, medical facilities, and pharmaceutical companies in the form of negotiated payments for services. Insurance companies make their money — and they make billions upon billions of dollars every year — by collecting more money in premiums than they pay out in services. So they are motivated to charge premiums as high as the system can bear and pay for as few services as the system will allow. That is where their profit comes from.

The nature of the system motivates insurance companies to pay out very little, of course, and it’s well-known that insurance companies often deny payment not because denial of payment is justified, but because they save money that way: too many people will just pay the bill rather than fight the denial of payment. I worked for the American Arbitration Association briefly in late 1999, and I saw first hand how evil the insurance industry can be as the AAA was moderating a class action lawsuit against Prudential for predatory insurance practices.

That’s the thing with an industry that just sucks money out of a system without producing anything: it only cares about its own short term profitability because its only money comes from there. On the other hand, producers understand that they need educated employees, so they care about education. Producers know how much money they lose from sick workers, so they care about healthcare too. But insurance companies? They don’t benefit at all from an educated populace and don’t care about healthcare except for minimizing payment.

That same kind of thinking extends to the financial sector (in large part) and real estate: they just suck money out of a transaction between parties that are actually interested in and invested in the system as a whole — and I mean as a whole. All of our infrastructure, technology, healthcare, and education are needed by the producers to conduct their business. They may grumble about having to pay for it, but they still need it, and they know it.

So the FIRE sector is essentially a leech on our system that doesn’t benefit from the operations of the system itself. It just needs a host to suck on to stay fat and happy.

During his term in office, Bill Clinton helped deregulate the leeches. Some of the leeches working for Bill then got jobs in the financial sector, working for companies such as Goldman Sachs that were at the center of the 2008 financial crash — who then became major donors to Hillary’s budding Senate career. As we see, the problem is that a leech will just suck and suck and suck and suck until its host is dead, if it’s allowed to do so. It doesn’t matter that the leech will die when the host dies. Leeches are too stupid to understand that. They just want to get as fat and happy as they can as quickly as possible, so all they care about is an unrestricted blood flow.

And that is why we nearly had another worldwide Great Depression in 2008. The leeches ran wild.

So do you understand now why so many people are saying Bernie’s plans are impractical? Bernie’s plans cut out the leeches, and many times the leeches are funding economists and think tanks and even university economic departments.

Under our current system (let’s just look at health insurance), the money flows this way:

  1. Everyday people and businesses pay high premiums to insurance companies.
  2. Insurance companies collect these premiums, usually from employers (cost of administration plus MASSIVE PROFITS)
  3. Doctors, etc., receive payment for services from insurance companies.

Sanders’s plan would collect a 2.2% tax on individuals plus a 6.8% tax on businesses (in PLACE OF premiums) to support this cash flow instead:

  1. Everyday people and businesses pay a relatively low tax (compared to premiums — you are in the top 5% of the population at least if your premiums and the amount of your employer’s payment is more than 8.8% of your own salary).
  2. The federal government collects taxes (cost of administration only, but no profit)
  3. Doctors, etc., receive payment for services from the federal government.

That is why Bernie’s plan will help grow the economy. It will put more money into the pockets of people at the bottom and in their employers’ pockets. It will grow the economy from the bottom up. Obviously: because these are the people who spend their money within the system itself rather than hide it in overseas tax shelters.

Now I know some of you are thinking that big corporations (both leeches and producers) shelter their money too, and they do. But saving money on health insurance premiums benefits small businesses that keep their money here in the US, in the system. Small business accounts for almost 50% of all workers and 60% of job growth since the 2008 crash. The money saved under Sanders’s plans for health insurance and education will benefit a significant number of Americans who live and work in this country and spend their money within its borders. It will help their employers too, because small businesses pay higher premiums (think about that logic for awhile: who benefits from it?). Yes, it will grow the economy.

Education works the same way. The cost of college isn’t just tuition, fees, and room and board. It’s tuition, fees, room and board, and interest on student loan debt (i.e., leech profits).

Just as our health insurance is being run to benefit the insurance leeches, education is being run to benefit banking leeches.

We need the leeches, don’t get me wrong. Health insurance allows us to distribute the risk of serious injury or illness. Loans allow us to buy cars and houses before we’ve had time to save for them, which would be virtually impossible for most of us before retirement. But, the federal government can do the same thing just as well, and we certainly don’t need the leeches running things, because we’ve already seen what leeches do when they have their way. Remember the 2008 financial crash.

Now, the leeches have been supporting the Clintons, including Hillary, and the producers have been supporting Sanders. I’m talking about lifetime donor base. Bernie has every right to make videos like these, and to give speeches like these:

And that’s why I don’t think it’s all that great that Hillary has been raising so much money for downticket Democrats: she’s selling out the whole party to the leeches.

Here’s an overview. Let me start with Bernie Sanders’s donor base. Of his top twenty lifetime donors,

  • 15 are unions. They represent the working and middle class. Producers.
  • 3 are in the tech sector, including Google (his top donor), Microsoft, and Apple. They represent people who actually produce stuff rather than just shift money around. Producers.
  • 1 is the UC system, and educators are well represented on this list in unions as well. Producers.
  • 1 are the trial lawyers, which has for a long time been supporters of the Democratic Party. Service industry.

Now let’s compare that to Hillary Clinton’s top twenty lifetime donors:

  • Her top donor is Emily’s list, an organization working for women’s rights. That’s admirable. Service industry.
  • 2 of her top donors are the UC system and Harvard University. Like the trial lawyers, they have traditionally given to the Democratic Party. Service industry.
  • 2 are major media corporations: Time Warner and 21st Century Fox, the owner of Fox News of all things. Keep in mind that six umbrella corporations control 90% of American media and you’ll understand why news coverage has been so pathetically biased in favor of Hillary Clinton. Producers? Service industry? A little of both?
  • There are 8 large, international, very specific law firms on Clinton’s top 20 list: DLA Piper; Skadden, Arps et al; Kirkland & Ellis; Paul, Weiss et al; Greenburg Traurig LLP; Sullivan & Cromwell; Akin, Gump et al; Ernest & Young (large, multinational audit firm). I have not had the time to research each one specifically, but most of them seem involved in representing the interests of multinational corporations around the world. Trial lawyers as a group don’t appear in the top 20. Leech support.
  • There is 1 manufacturing company: Corning, Inc. Producer.
  • There is 1 entertainment company: National Amusements, Inc. Producer.
  • There are 5 firms from the financial sector, four of them very high on the list: Citigroup, Inc.; Goldman Sachs; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.;  Lehman Brothers; and Morgan Stanley. Nothing but leeches.
  • And, of course, there are no unions. Workers aren’t represented here.

It’s that last group of five that is the most problematic, but of course we should see the law firms as folded into these and the media giants. As you know, in 2008 the world experienced the largest financial crash in history since the Great Depression. The U.S. Senate’s “Levin–Coburn Report concluded that the crisis was the result of ‘high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.'”

Bottom line: Wall Street caused the crash. But who do we mean by “Wall Street”?

  • Citigroup, Inc., Hillary Clinton’s no. 2 biggest donor: Massive recipient of federal bailout money after the 2008 crash. The people who were the architects of loosening regulations in the late 1990s under Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin and Charles Prince, later found themselves on Citigroup’s board of directors pushing it toward the risky practices that led to its insolvency.
  • Goldman Sachs, Hillary Clinton’s no. 4 largest donor: Profited from the financial collapse and was later fined $550 million by the SEC.
  • J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.: Hillary Clinton’s no. 5 largest donor, which has been involved in a long list of controversies. It was fined $88 million by the Office of Foreign Assets Control in 2012 and was investigated by the Department of Justice for its role in the 2008 financial scandal, which found in preliminary investigations that it violated federal securities laws. The SEC has also been investigating this firm, which is also implicated in the Bernie Madoff scandal.
  • Morgan Stanley: Hillary Clinton’s no. 6 largest donor. This firm also has a long list of actions against it, with the Federal Reserve announcing a Consent Order against the firm on April 3, 2012 for “‘a pattern of misconduct and negligence in residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing.’ The consent order requires the firm to review foreclosure proceedings conducted by the firm. The firm will also be responsible for monetary sanctions.”
  • Lehman Brothers: Hillary Clinton’s no. 18 largest donor, this firm is now bankrupt and was found guilty of major financial malfeasance in the 2008 financial scandal, for reasons that included gimmicky bookkeeping.

Four of Clinton’s top six donors and a fifth in her top twenty are implicated in the 2008 financial crash and guilty of massive and destructive financial malfeasance. It’s not just that she’s taking Wall St. money. It’s that she’s taking Wall St. money from its biggest criminals. The Clinton campaign is being supported by large donors: 100 donors alone had contributed $195 million to Clinton’s campaign as of February 2016 while the Sanders campaign has been supported by over 5 million contributors — the largest donor base in history — who have averaged gifts of $27 each.

While the middle class is being squeezed, the largest transfer of wealth in history has been taking place, and it is primarily benefitting the top 1%.

Bill Clinton doesn’t take this at all seriously. He doesn’t take the damage caused worldwide by his policies and donors seriously. He recently, glibly said Sanders supporters believe we should “Shoot every third person on Wall St.”

When he said that, some people who have been paying attention thought, “No, every one of them should be shot,” while others thought, “Yes, and jail the other two.”

There is rampant, destructive criminality at the heart of the Clintons’ donor base, and everyone who observes it has a right to be concerned. Dismissing it just makes it worse. That’s been a common pattern within pro-Hillary discourse: to diminish the negative effects of these measurably destructive policies.

Please, NY voters: vote for producers and not for leeches. In other words, vote for yourself. The leeches have caused enough damage.

And in homage to our current political environment, a video:

Hillary Clinton and the Oil Industry

Hillary Clinton was recently accused by Greenpeace of taking massive amounts of money from the oil industry. Clinton, for her part, is not only denying it, but lying about Sanders being the source of this information (he’s not: Greenpeace itself has been working on this issue for some time — at least since 2012). The Washington Post (who has already been criticized by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting for running excessive negative stories on Sanders) recently came out saying that Greenpeace was falsely reporting oil company influence on Hillary Clinton.

Opensecrets.org listed Hillary Clinton as the fifth largest recipient of oil industry money in 2008, and one of only two Democratic Party Senators in the list of top ten recipients of oil company largess (Sanders does not appear on the list at all). This was 2008. If that’s not enough, on September 20th, 2015 the International Business Times reported that Hillary encouraged audience members in a 2011 speech to think of Iraq as a “business opportunity,” a phrase she repeated in a State Department email that you can read for yourself below. That same email spelled out connections between J.P. Morgan, ExxonMobil, and US involvement in Iraq. From the IBT article:

According to a 2013 email just released by the State Department, Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides in 2011 hosted an “engaging roundtable discussion on investing in Iraq with senior executives from 30 U.S. companies and senior representatives from the U.S. and Iraqi governments.” The email quotes then-Secretary Clinton, apparently one of the senior government representatives in the session, as having said, “It’s time for the United States to start thinking of Iraq as a business opportunity.”

Sirota and Perez note that the email specifically mentioned JPMorgan Chase and ExxonMobil, both of which signed deals with the U.S. government—JPMorgan to run an export-import bank in Iraq and ExxonMobil to redevelop Iraqi oil fields. It is doubtful that too many people will be surprised to learn that there were business interests competing with the U.S. government’s much more loudly touted security and humanitarian motivations in the decision to invade Iraq. Nonetheless, Sirota and Perez include comments from the likes of former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, and former general John Abizaid acknowledging that, in Greenspan’s words, “The Iraq war is largely about oil.”

You can read the State Department email yourself here:

Do you need it spelled out any more than this? Clinton’s oil industry and finance sector donors are vested interests in US policy in Iraq, and they were making large donations — and paying large speaking fees — to Hillary Clinton to buy influence, who worked for their agenda while serving in office.

Any wonder why the FBI is investigating Clinton’s emails?

This is war for profit, and Hillary Clinton is its tool.

 

Understanding “Bernie or Bust”

I’ve been following presidential elections since Ronald Reagan ran for office in 1980. I wasn’t able to vote in that one, but I could vote in a presidential election for the first time in 1984. This election cycle seems to me to be unlike any previous one in that a significant contingent of voters on both sides of the aisle aren’t voting for a party but for a candidate. What I think I’ve seen in the past is a majority of voters affiliated with a party being willing to vote for whomever is the eventual nominee despite their preferences for an individual candidate. For example, I think most of Obama’s voters in 2008 would have voted for Hillary Clinton had she won the nomination, with some holdouts. But I don’t think that’s the case any longer, and we see it in the “Bernie or Bust” phenomenon that’s taking up a lot of the rhetoric on the Democratic Party side. My intent here is to explain the Bernie or Bust phenomenon, not to justify it or condemn it.

Why Bernie or Bust? I see two main reasons:

1. Anti-democratic practices in the management of this year’s primaries by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
2. Hillary Clinton’s donor base and voting record within the context of the following:

a. The 2007-8 financial crash caused by criminal activity in the Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate (FIRE) sectors.
b. The repeal of finance regulations in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 under Bill Clinton, which is widely believed to have led to the 2008 crash and which makes Hillary’s donor base that much more nefarious.
c. The U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, which effectively ended previous campaign finance reform.
d. A massive transferral of America’s wealth upwards in spite of the recession.

A 2013 Gallup poll indicates that 42% of voters now identify themselves as independent. This polling data is supported by a March 2016 Pew survey that indicates 50% of Millennials don’t see themselves as affiliated with any political party. Some venues such as Republic 3.0 have attempted to dismiss these survey results as “myth” by mistakenly identifying “independent” as “those voters who fall in between Democrats and Republicans in their political beliefs.” That very definition, though, is the problem itself: it assumes that most people on the left will invariably identify as Democrat and most on the right Republican, so that people who are “independent” must be politically centrist voters who could be swayed either way.

But what we’re really seeing here is the failure of left/right political thinking to have any meaning at all for most voters. Voters are identifying themselves as independent — whether they are right or left — because they no longer believe either of America’s major political parties represent them. They might be left leaning, but that doesn’t mean they will vote Democrat in the next election (they might vote Green Party or not at all). And they might be right leaning, but they won’t necessarily vote Republican (they might vote Libertarian if at all — as might a smaller proportion of the political left). The two party system is starting to fail, in other words, and the rise of Donald Trump on the right and Bernie Sanders on the left is a sign of America’s disaffection with our two party system.

I am not saying that Sanders is in any way an equivalent to Donald Trump beyond being seen as a political outsider: these two candidates are polar opposites, and Sanders has real widespread appeal, unlike Trump. He beats Trump by about 18 points in head to head polls (according to Real Clear Politics as of March 29th, 2016), while Clinton beats him by a smaller but still decisive 11 point margin. But what both Sanders and Trump have in common is outsider appeal, something that no other candidates on the field have right now.

This influx of independents into the Democratic Party, almost all of whom are there for Sanders, and the general appeal of outsiders explains the first reason for the Bernie or Bust phenomenon:

  1. Anti-democratic practices in the management of this year’s primaries by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Bernie Sanders has attracted many of these independent voters to the Democratic Party. They aren’t there for the Party. They are there for him, because they no longer believe in the Party (for reasons I will explain below). However, the DNC is squandering an opportunity to bring a lot of independent voters into the DNC fold by its mistreatment of the Sanders campaign through voter suppression, through one-sided manipulation of media coverage, and through a manipulation of debate scheduling. The DNC, in other words, has been operating with a tribal mentality that has been unable to accommodate voters who at some point have quit thinking left=Democrat and right=Republican.

I don’t mean to diminish the tribal mentality by calling it tribal: we need to fully come to grips with it. Hillary’s campaign is reaping deserved rewards for the Clintons’ long loyalty to the Democratic Party and for cultivating widespread relationships through fundraising and a number of other activities. Sanders hasn’t always been a Democrat, and he was punished by massive losses in the South for not cultivating these relationships. He’s been a Vermont Senator. That has been his context for many social issues, including gun control.

Furthermore, the Democratic Party isn’t the US government. It is technically a tribe. The problem, however, is that we have a two party system, so for this system to continue working for American democracy neither parties are really allowed to operate as independent organizations, or in other words, as closed-door tribes. When they do so, as they are now, the tribe begins to supplant democratic processes, and that makes the tribe dangerous. It makes the tribe fascist and authoritarian, and to an American population who still believes in at least a nominal democracy — which still exists, by the way, otherwise billions wouldn’t be spent on elections — the authoritarianism of the tribe is completely unacceptable. When the tribe is the gatekeeper to government, its doors had better remain open.

Whether the Clinton campaign or the DNC deliberately orchestrated the events that have given this impression of tribalism or not, there’s no question that the Clinton campaign has been the primary beneficiary of them, so they ultimately reflect badly both on Clinton and the DNC — and I hear nothing but a deafening, telling silence on the part of the Clinton campaign about the horrible betrayal of democracy and democratic practices in Arizona. If she were an ethical candidate, she would be calling for a revote.

Normally independent voters who have recently entered the DNC fold, therefore, feel betrayed by what appears to be anti-democratic management of the Democratic Party primaries, and it doesn’t help at all that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz openly said in a television interview that superdelegates exist to squelch grassroots candidates. That is the tribal mentality in a nutshell as well as everything that is wrong with our two party system. Above all else, Wasserman-Schultz’s comments are a betrayal of the ethos of the tribe itself: the Democratic Party umbrella has always been the place for grassroots activists. If it is no longer that place, one has to wonder what it stands for now.

All of this creates the impression that the DNC is operating a kinder, gentler fascism than Donald Trump’s, but it’s still a fascism in that it is manipulatively anti-democratic, and people are refusing to support that regardless of the consequences. They may be thinking that if American voters want a fascist government, then let them have what they deserve. Or they might be thinking that Sanders can win if he did run as an independent or on the Green Party ticket.

And they might be right, especially if Trump splits the vote on the Republican Party side.

2. The second reason for the Bernie or Bust phenomenon is found in Hillary Clinton’s donor base and voting record, which are very problematic given recent developments in campaign finance reform and especially after the 2008 financial crash. The best place to start is with Clinton’s donor base, which we can best find on opensecrets.org. I would like to explain first of all, though, that opensecrets.org collates information about individual donors and then uses their professional affiliations to point back to companies, business sectors, PACS, and other organizations. I would also like to add that I will be drawing from information about both Clinton’s and Sanders’s lifetime donor base to illustrate longterm support and alliances.

Let me start with Bernie Sanders’s donor base. Of his top twenty lifetime donors,

  • 15 are unions. They represent the working and middle class.
  • 3 are in the tech sector, including Google (his top donor), Microsoft, and Apple. They represent people who actually produce stuff rather than just shift money around.
  • 1 is the UC system, and educators are well represented on this list in unions as well.
  • 1 are the trial lawyers, which has for a long time been supporters of the Democratic Party.

Now let’s compare that to Hillary Clinton’s top twenty lifetime donors:

  • Her top donor is Emily’s list, an organization working for women’s rights. That’s admirable.
  • 2 of her top donors are the UC system and Harvard University. Like the trial lawyers, they have traditionally given to the Democratic Party.
  • 2 are major media corporations: Time Warner and 21st Century Fox, the owner of Fox News of all things. Keep in mind that six umbrella corporations control 90% of American media and you’ll understand why news coverage has been so pathetically biased in favor of Hillary Clinton.
  • There are 8 large, international, very specific law firms on Clinton’s top 20 list: DLA Piper; Skadden, Arps et al; Kirkland & Ellis; Paul, Weiss et al; Greenburg Traurig LLP; Sullivan & Cromwell; Akin, Gump et al; Ernest & Young (large, multinational audit firm). I have not had the time to research each one specifically, but most of them seem involved in representing the interests of multinational corporations around the world. Trial lawyers as a group don’t appear in the top 20.
  • There is 1 manufacturing company: Corning, Inc.
  • There is 1 entertainment company: National Amusements, Inc.
  • There are 5 firms from the financial sector, four of them very high on the list: Citigroup, Inc.; Goldman Sachs; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.;  Lehman Brothers; and Morgan Stanley.
  • And, of course, there are no unions.

It’s that last group of five that is the most problematic, but of course we should see the law firms as folded into these and the media giants. As you know, in 2008 the world experienced the largest financial crash in history since the Great Depression. The U.S. Senate’s “Levin–Coburn Report concluded that the crisis was the result of ‘high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.'”

Bottom line: Wall Street caused the crash. But who do we mean by “Wall Street”?

  • Citigroup, Inc., Hillary Clinton’s no. 2 biggest donor: Massive recipient of federal bailout money after the 2008 crash. The people who were the architects of loosening regulations in the late 1990s under Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin and Charles Prince, later found themselves on Citigroup’s board of directors pushing it toward the risky practices that led to its insolvency.
  • Goldman Sachs, Hillary Clinton’s no. 4 largest donor: Profited from the financial collapse and was later fined $550 million by the SEC.
  • J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.: Hillary Clinton’s no. 5 largest donor, which has been involved in a long list of controversies. It was fined $88 million by the Office of Foreign Assets Control in 2012 and was investigated by the Department of Justice for its role in the 2008 financial scandal, which found in preliminary investigations that it violated federal securities laws. The SEC has also been investigating this firm, which is also implicated in the Bernie Madoff scandal.
  • Morgan Stanley: Hillary Clinton’s no. 6 largest donor. This firm also has a long list of actions against it, with the Federal Reserve announcing a Consent Order against the firm on April 3, 2012 for “‘a pattern of misconduct and negligence in residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing.’ The consent order requires the firm to review foreclosure proceedings conducted by the firm. The firm will also be responsible for monetary sanctions.”
  • Lehman Brothers: Hillary Clinton’s no. 18 largest donor, this firm is now bankrupt and was found guilty of major financial malfeasance in the 2008 financial scandal, for reasons that included gimmicky bookkeeping.

Four of Clinton’s top six donors and a fifth in her top twenty are implicated in the 2008 financial crash and guilty of massive and destructive financial malfeasance. It’s not just that she’s taking Wall St. money. It’s that she’s taking Wall St. money from its biggest criminals. The Clinton campaign is being supported by large donors: 100 donors alone contributed $195 million to Clinton’s campaign as of February 2016 while the Sanders campaign has been supported by over 5 million contributors — the largest donor base in history — who have average gifts of $27 each.

While the middle class is being squeezed, the largest transfer of wealth in history has been taking place, and it is primarily benefitting the top 1%.

Is it that hard to understand why so many voters inherently distrust a candidate supported by criminal financial firms and other big money? Why just being the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee isn’t enough? Why the possibility of being the first woman president isn’t enough? I am excited at this possibility. I have four daughters, and I like what it would mean to them. But for these and other reasons that’s just not enough.

Bernie Sanders’s plan is to build the economy from the ground up rather than just keep transferring wealth upwards with no tangible benefits to anyone else. Rather than paying massive health insurance premiums, he’s asking us to pay a 2.2% tax (2.2% on individuals and 6.8% on employers). Compare a 2.2% tax to your current premiums, which may be closer to 20-30% of your salary, and ask yourself how much better the economy would be doing if the middle and working classes and their employers had that much more disposable income. If you think this plan can’t work, you’re not thinking clearly enough about how much most of us are paying now.

Sanders’s plan to fund education is equally seen as unrealistic, but it is in fact much more realistic than the indefinite extension of a massive student loan bubble that may well be the cause of our next major financial crash. Let’s look at some numbers:

  • As of the time of this writing, US student loan debt is $1.38 trillion.
  • Current number of US college students: 20.2 million.
  • Average cost of tuition, fees, and room and board at US public colleges: $15,640.
  • Total cost per year for all 20.2 million students to attend a four year public college: $316 billion per year.
  • Total 2015 federal spending on education: $102 billion.
  • Total 2011 state spending on education: $170.4 billion.
  • Total 2015 federal spending on the military:  $608 billion, or 16%.
  • Total 2015 federal tax breaks: $1.22 trillion.

Don’t tell me we don’t have the money, right now, to send every American in college to a four year public institution with all tuition paid for by state and federal government. We’re at $270 billion out of $316 billion with the same spending levels. I know there are a great many details to work out, including what we do with private colleges and universities, but covering this gap is only a small percentage of our tax breaks, and even less if we cut some of our bloated and unnecessary military spending.

The money to fund national healthcare and education is easily available in the system. The question we need to ask is, why aren’t we benefitting from it?

We aren’t funding healthcare with a single payer system not because we fear socialism (which in the US only means that my tax money benefits me rather than multinational corporations), but because that would cut out insurance company premiums — those FIRE sector people supporting Hillary’s campaign.

We aren’t funding education directly for all students, again, not because we’re not socialist, but because it wouldn’t benefit the banking industry, which profits from massive student loan debt that is guaranteed by the Federal government; i.e., our tax money — again the FIRE sector people supporting Hillary’s campaign. These are the industries contributing to Clinton’s campaign, and that is the reason why she wants you to believe that Sanders’s plans are impractical.

But please also see the big picture: deregulation under Bill Clinton in the late 1990s led to financial malfeasance in the FIRE sector that then led to a worldwide economic crash in 2008. The US government’s response to that crash resulted in the largest upward transfer of wealth in history — to the sector responsible for the crash. In the meantime, middle class wages have stagnated, and campaign finance reform has been overturned by SCOTUS so that the foxes can raid the chicken coop even more easily than they did before.

So don’t let anyone tell you that this donor base doesn’t matter and doesn’t affect policy decisions. This is the FINANCIAL SECTOR: they don’t pay out unless they get a measurably monetary return. Thinking that way is what they do for a living.

People are not attacking Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. They are attacking her because she is taking money from criminals who have damaged the country and gamed the system — through Super PACS and lobbyists — to work only for them. And I haven’t even mentioned yet the list of scandals associated with the Clintons going back to their days in state government, or Clinton’s votes in favor of war.

But isn’t she being attacked for what was acceptable to male candidates in the past? Doesn’t that indicate discrimination?

No, because campaign finance reform wasn’t overturned until 2010, after Obama first took office. It wasn’t as big an issue the last time she ran for President, which was 2008.

And no, because Obama has been criticized for the same thing since at least 2009 or 2010, when the progressive press started calling him “Bush lite” because of his corporate ties.

And no, because we’ve never had a chance to pick a candidate who wasn’t sold out to the financial sector and multinational corporations until now.

If most millennials don’t trust Clinton, that means that most women in that age range don’t trust her either, which in fact includes 80% of women below 30.

If you’ve read this far, I don’t know that you’re convinced that Bernie or Bust is a smart plan. I don’t know that I want to convince you of that either. But I think you should at least understand why so many people feel that way, and why Clinton is not in fact the safest bet for November. She only wins decisively by 11 points against Donald Trump. She loses to Kasich by almost seven points, and she barely squeaks by Cruz with a four point lead in current polls (March 29th, 2016).

Sanders, on the other hand, beats Trump by almost 18 points, Cruz by more than 8 points, and squeaks by Kasich with a one point lead. It should be clear from polling data that however much the DNC wants you to fear a Trump presidency (it’s all over their fundraising emails), Trump is really only a threat to the GOP, who does not want him to get the nomination. Kasich is the only real threat to a Democratic Party presidency, and he poses the biggest threat to Hillary Clinton, not Bernie Sanders.

Both of America’s major political parties are on the verge of implosion. Big money in politics is the reason, and Clinton, alongside all GOP candidates, are swimming in it. Bernie is the only exception, which is why we have a Bernie or Bust movement.

It is time for the DNC to become less tribal, which it must do if it wants to survive.

 

Trump vs. Hillary, State by State

As of 11:00 p.m. ET, of the fourteen states that have completed both GOP and Democratic Party primaries…

Hillary Clinton has won the following states:

AL, AR, GA, IA, LA, MA, MS, NV, SC, TN, TX, VA

Donald Trump has won the following states:

AL, AR, GA, LA, MA, MS, NV, NH, SC, TN, VA, VT

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have won ten out of fourteen states in common, all of them southern states.

The states voting for Trump are also voting for Clinton. What does that mean?

These are the states that are probably going to vote GOP in the next presidential election. What does that mean for the electability of Clinton in November?