Warren highlights her work on economic crisis in Vegas stop
By MICHELLE L. PRICE
Monday, February 18
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Democrat Elizabeth Warren used her first visit to Nevada as a presidential candidate to describe a squeeze on working families and a political system that she says fails to protect homeowners, including the residents of Las Vegas who were pummeled by the mortgage crisis a decade ago.
The Massachusetts senator spoke about her work as a consumer activist and her role overseeing the bailout of banks and insurers a decade ago, a job that brought her to the city to hear from residents struggling to keep their homes.
Warren said her own family almost lost their home when she was growing up and recalled one man she met in her Las Vegas visit a decade earlier who was one of millions around the country losing his home.
“You better believe one reason that I am in this fight is we can never let this happen again. Never,” Warren told about 500 people at a botanical garden and event center northeast of the Las Vegas Strip.
Warren, fresh off a Saturday swing through South Carolina and Georgia, was bundled up in a puffy coat for the unusually chilly Las Vegas weather as she appeared on an outdoor stage with an American flag backdrop and a faux sandstone formation.
Nevada’s early presidential caucus is the first in the West and is seen as a key test of a candidate’s ability to appeal to a state with powerful labor groups and diverse demographics, including a population that’s about 29 percent Latino.
In her speech, Warren condemned predatory mortgages targeted to minorities and said income inequality disproportionately affects communities of color. She also said unions need strengthening and that the country needs comprehensive immigration reform.
The senator described Washington, D.C., as a place that works well for corporations and lobbyists but not families, saying that when a government “only works for the rich and the powerful, that is corruption, plain and simple, and we’ve got to call it out for what it is.”
She called President Donald Trump’s administration “the most corrupt administration in living memory” but didn’t focus on the president during her speech.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Warren said she was ready to take on the president in 2020.
“I think I’ve been going toe-to-toe with President Trump for a while,” she said with a laugh. “I’m not afraid of him.”
In response to Warren’s visit, the Republican National Committee released a statement calling her campaign a “full-fledged apology tour” for her past claims of Native American heritage. The statement referred to her as “Fauxcahontas,” a reference to Trump’s use of the slur “Pocahontas.”
Warren’s event was about 10 miles away from the site a Las Vegas Strip country music festival that became the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in 2017 when 58 people were killed and hundreds were wounded.
Warren was introduced by a local activist with Moms Demand Action, a nonprofit that works to change gun laws, and the senator used part of her speech to praise Nevada for passing an expanded firearm background check law this past week — the first gun-control move by the state Legislature since the mass shooting.
“We need background checks. Not just in Nevada,” Warren said. “We need them all over this country.”
Warren also pitched a catalog of progressive ideas, from her 2 percent wealth tax on those with more than $50 million in assets to Medicare for all, universal child care and early preschool, and a need to lower student debt.
She also dismissed what she called “poo-pooing” of the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to address climate change that she and at least five other senators eyeing the White House are supporting.
Warren said the plan is important and time is running out to tackle climate change. She that while the Green New Deal will be “a big, noisy debate,” Congress needs to start tackling it and passing it in pieces over the next few years.
Near the stage, the campaign debuted a large, white lighted sign that read “Warren 2020” and offered attendees a spot to pose for selfies.
Carolyn Sakamoto and Helen Henson, 75-year-old retired teachers, took selfies in front of Warren’s new lighted sign.
Sakamoto said Warren’s message on health care and making people pay “their rightful taxes” has put the senator at the top of her list of those she’s interested in backing, but mainly she wants to ensure a Democrat is elected in 2020.
“We just want somebody that can win,” Sakamoto said. “A lot of people might be good, but they may not have what it takes to win.”
Henson said Warren is in her top tier of 2020 candidates but has some reservations about supporting the senator because of the stumbles she’s made over her claims of Native American heritage.
“I think that it was an honest mistake on her part, but I think that that’s provided a lot of bad publicity,” Henson said. “She’s just spoken out so strongly from the very beginning about the recession and financial crisis and I just feel like she has a lot to offer on that.”
Henson said it will be hard for Warren to move past the heritage controversy.
“With anyone else, maybe she could,” she said. “But with Trump, I think he’s going to pound it to the ground.”
Democratic candidates spend holiday in New Hampshire, Iowa
By JUANA SUMMERS
Several Democratic presidential candidates are closing out the long holiday weekend on the campaign trail, with stops planned across states key to securing their party’s nomination.
On Presidents Day, much of the campaign trail spotlight moved to New Hampshire, home to the first presidential primary. Three candidates, Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, planned to campaign in the state.
The three senators are crisscrossing the state, making their first trips to it since launching their 2020 presidential bids.
Booker has been in the state for a few days and will wrap up his trip with a house party in Nashua. House parties are a staple of campaigning in the state.
Harris planned an afternoon town hall in Portsmouth and will participate in the Politics & Eggs breakfast on Tuesday.
Klobuchar will hold a meet-and-greet in Goffstown on Monday before a CNN town hall.
Meanwhile, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York was back in Iowa, the leadoff caucus state, with plans to meet voters in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.
Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland, who also is running for president, was campaigning in Iowa as well.
Lincoln’s ‘House Divided’ speech teaches important lessons about today’s political polarization
Updated February 14, 2019
Author: Bradford Vivian, Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Director of the Center for Democratic Deliberation, Pennsylvania State University
Disclosure statement: Bradford Vivian does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Pennsylvania State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
The idea of “two Americas,” or “red” and “blue” states, now dominates public discussion. “Political polarization,” the Pew Research Center reports, “is a defining feature of American politics today.”
But the idea that America is politically polarized isn’t new.
In 1858 Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most important addresses in U.S. history, his “House Divided” speech, when he accepted the Illinois Republican nomination for Senate. The speech marked his entrance into national politics at a time when the nation was profoundly at odds over slavery.
Lincoln’s speech still offers timely lessons about the costs of deep-seated political polarization.
My research examines how communities remember – and sometimes fail to remember – the lessons of the past. Lincoln’s description of the Union as a house divided is well-remembered today. But many Americans fail to heed its deeper lessons about equality and the moral foundations of popular government.
The divided states of America
To cite the language of journalist Bill Bishop’s best-seller, “The Big Sort,” Americans have sorted themselves into distinct, homogeneous groups.
Complex social, moral, legal and even scientific questions are now filtered through the lens of opposing party identifications. Political scientists Daniel Hopkins and John Sides conclude that U.S. “polarization has deep structural and historical roots” with “no easy solutions.”
In his “House Divided” speech, Lincoln addressed a nation even more fiercely divided by partisan acrimony, regional differences and economic tensions than the U.S. of today.
Lincoln began his speech by attempting to predict whether a calamity was coming and if it could be prevented:
“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it … I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.”
The alternative to bitter polarization that Lincoln offered didn’t prevent the Civil War. But it shaped postwar understanding of the territorial, political and even armed conflicts that led to it and the lessons to be learned from it.
Above all, Lincoln stressed in his speech that “a crisis” over slavery was imminent. He asked Americans to choose the common purpose that would best serve their Union – a government of all free or all slave states – before the crisis chose for them.
Lincoln developed the idea that the Union is exceptional in public statements from 1858 until the end of the Civil War. In his First Inaugural in 1861, Lincoln called the Union “perpetual,” and “much older than the Constitution … [N]o State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union.” For years, Lincoln held that Americans belong to the Union before they belong to political parties.
His reasoning purposefully echoed George Washington’s Farewell Address of 1796, which warned Americans that “the spirit of party” is a prime threat to “Union … a main prop of your liberty.” For Lincoln, Americans’ common identification with the guiding ideal of equality should transcend their affiliations with political parties.
Consider the symbolism of Lincoln’s main metaphor, the Union as a house:
“A house divided against itself cannot stand … I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”
Building and maintaining a house is familial and collaborative. Family conflicts are inevitable; households fall apart if families don’t resolve those conflicts.
The metaphor of a house emphasizes interdependence, cooperation and shared purpose. It asks how citizens might build and maintain something together, despite natural differences, rather than live and work separately.
These ideas have been lost in social and political debates today, which are dominated by competing party agendas and talk of irreconcilable “red” and “blue” state mentalities.
Lincoln’s central warning – “A house divided against itself cannot stand” – was rich in moral significance. A house should rest on a firm physical foundation for the safety of the family who lives in it. The Union, Lincoln implied, should rest on a firm moral foundation: a bedrock dedication to equality.
The Union, he believed, cannot be a compact of convenience or a loose-knit confederation. It was founded for a clear moral purpose: to extend conditions of equality to as many people as possible. The “new nation” that “our fathers brought forth” in 1776, Lincoln would say most memorably in his 1863 Gettysburg Address, was “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Commitment to the principle of equality was an essential, not optional, basis of membership within.
Beware false prophets
Bipartisan compromise sounds good – but it can erode fundamental commitments to equality. By 1858, the U.S. had witnessed decades’ worth of political compromises over slavery: the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. All of these measures maintained the institution of slavery while purporting to limit it.
According to Lincoln, such compromises only led to more intense conflict:
“We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.”
Lincoln warned of false political prophets who earned praise for short-term bipartisan compromises without taking a firm stand on fundamental forms of inequality. They aimed to build a “political dynasty,” not a strong union:
“Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by its own undoubted friends – those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the work – who do care for the result.”
Lincoln’s opponent in the Senate campaign, incumbent Democratic Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, claimed to not care whether territories voted to become free or slave states so long as the elections reflected the popular will in those territories. The “machinery” of such compromises over principles of equality, Lincoln said, constructs only “temporary scaffolding,” hastily fabricated to win elections before being “kicked to the winds.”
Equality over polarization
I believe Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech offers alternative ways to imagine the nation than as a patchwork of “red” and “blue” states.
Americans belong to a union first, parties second. Party machinery and false political prophets divide the house of the people; the people have the power to stabilize that house if they choose to do so. The union was founded on a dedication to equality. It retains a firm moral foundation by preserving commitments to principles of equality over region or party.
The primary offense against the principle of equality in Lincoln’s time was slavery. But Americans can apply the logic of his argument to contemporary inequities based on race, employment, gender, voting rights, criminal justice, religion and more. The nation is a house divided, many times over, in all of those cases.
Lincoln didn’t claim that perfect equality could be achieved. But he saw broad commitments to the idea of equality as essential to the ongoing work of creating, as the Constitution puts it, a more perfect union – and a freer one for all.
The union must “become all one thing, or all the other” in order to be truly free. On this guiding principle, Lincoln declared, there can be no partisan dispute and no bipartisan compromise.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on June 14, 2018.
Give Teachers and First Responders a (Big) Tax Break
People who keep us safe and educate our kids shouldn’t have to rely on food stamps or second jobs.
By David Wallis | February 6, 2019
David Lincoln, an experienced paramedic in Brevard County, Florida, makes about $60,000 a year for a 56-hour workweek. He moonlights at an urgent care center for another 19 hours a week to survive.
Without the second job, “I’d be living paycheck to paycheck,” said Lincoln, 43, who fretted that he “crams in” time to play with his 7-year-old daughter because of his busy schedule.
Some Democrats tout big plans to improve the lives of struggling Americans such as Lincoln. Senator Kamala D. Harris, for instance, recently introduced the “LIFT the Middle Class Act,” which would give families earning less than $100,000 a year a monthly $500 payment.
The plan deserves praise, but given Republican control of Washington, it amounts to political theater.
A more modest but achievable proposal — what I call the American Heroes Tax Credit — might be harder to oppose. Let’s give firefighters, EMTs, law enforcement personnel, teachers, nurses, and active-duty military who make less than $100,000 a year a permanent $2,000 annual tax credit.
These are people who work toward the collective good. They deserve recognition — and a ladder up.
An annual Gallup survey ranked nurses, high school teachers, and police among the top five most honest and ethical professions. Firefighters earned the top rating when they were included in the survey after the 9/11 attacks, and their bravery during the recent California wildfires undoubtedly bolstered their standing.
Lincoln has already thought about how he might spend his “raise.” He imagines settling bills and paying for his 7-year-old daughter’s gymnastic classes.
But he believes that his younger fire department colleagues — who often live “with mom and dad” — would particularly welcome tax relief. He recalls that seven years ago, when he made roughly $33,000 — about average for the profession — he relied on food stamps.
Richard Pierce, president of the union that represents Lincoln, argued that low wages drive turnover. That’s a problem faced by teachers in many parts of the country, too.
Governing magazine studied the wages of college-educated teachers older than 25, finding that on average, they made barely 60 percent of what comparable private-sector employees take home. Parents joined picket lines in several states last year for a reason; they don’t want their first-graders educated by a bleary-eyed teacher who stayed up all night driving for Uber.
Meanwhile, new Army privates make about $20,000, and a 2013 Census Bureau report found that 23,000 active-duty service members use SNAP benefits. “I’ve heard so many stories about military parents going without meals so their children can eat,” said Taylor Mille, who works for a food bank in Norfolk, Virginia, a Navy port. “This is wrong on so many levels.”
To be sure, people in professions not covered by the American Heroes Tax Credit might wonder, “What about me?”
Gerald Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, predicts “a spillover effect” as employers in other industries raise wages to retain workers who might leave jobs to fight fires or teach. And, he adds, “there would be some economic stimulus from more money going to lower-wage earners.”
Some localities have experimented with similar tax breaks. Baltimore, for instance, recently started giving police and firefighters who live in the city a $2,500 property tax credit. Pennsylvania allows local fire chiefs to reward volunteer firefighters with earned income and property tax credits.
Former Republican representative Richard L. Hanna sponsored a bill giving volunteer firefighters a $1,000 tax credit in 2013. It didn’t pass, but Hanna still thinks it’s good politics. “Everyone could go back and brag about it” to constituents, he said, because “virtually everyone has a volunteer or paid fire force.”
And everyone — especially politicians — wants to be a hero.
David Wallis is the managing director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. A longer version of this piece ran in The Washington Post. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Trump Said He Would Protect Families — Then Deported My Husband
The president uses racism and fear — and breaks up families like mine — to keep people divided while his billionaire buddies get tax cuts.
By Cindy Garcia | February 8, 2019
A year ago, my husband Jorge was torn from our family and deported to Mexico after living peacefully in the United States for nearly 30 years, working and raising a family with me in suburban Detroit. Just a few weeks later, I was invited by my congresswoman to attend President Trump’s State of the Union address and listened carefully to his words as he promised to “protect” Americans from immigrants like my husband.
In his State of the Union speech this year, Trump again ratcheted up his divisive message and fear-mongering. But his attacks on immigrants don’t make us safer, and they do nothing to help the millions of American citizens who are struggling financially.
Let me tell you from firsthand experience here in Michigan: Immigrants don’t steal jobs. Jobs are lost when corporate executives decide to close factories and cash in while workers are laid off.
My husband never posed a threat to anyone in his entire life. He had no criminal record, not even a parking ticket. We spent a lot of time and money on lawyers for years trying to find a way for Jorge to become a citizen. He was a good provider and good neighbor. Both America and my family were diminished the day he was taken from us.
Since the beginning of his campaign, Donald Trump has stoked fear to move people to support him, and will say anything to keep fanning the flames.
Trump could have offered real solutions that would help struggling families get health care, safe homes, fair wages, and good jobs. Instead, he uses racism and fear to keep people divided and distracted while his billionaire buddies get tax cuts and make bigger profits.
He said nothing about the millions of Americans who suffered through the government shutdown when he couldn’t get his way on a wall most Americans don’t want. We’re supposed to be a democracy, but now he’s desperately grabbing power and threatening to declare an illegal and unconstitutional national emergency to force his wall through.
Not only does this anti-immigrant hysteria do nothing for security — it also undermines the economy. When immigrants have permission to work legally, their incomes rise, our towns thrive, and our whole economy grows for everyone. But by removing the paths to citizenship, he creates a permanent underclass who risk being fired without notice, like the employees at his country clubs.
A wall won’t protect us from the demons in Donald Trump’s head. So how do we protect our families from Donald Trump?
To start with, we should help the Dreamers like Trump said he would. Jorge, my husband, was just a year too old to qualify for it, but the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program has helped hundreds of thousands of young people who, like Jorge, have called America home most of their lives.
We also pinned our hopes on DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) which would have allowed people like my husband to stay after they’d been here so long they’d put down roots and started a family. Instead, in Trump’s America, my husband was ripped from us and sent to a country he has never known.
Trump’s actions are perfectly clear: He’s not interested in keeping us safe, making families strong, or keeping his promises to Dreamers. He’s only interested in staying in power and lining his friends’ pockets.
Well, I’ve got news for him: People aren’t buying these divisive and and hate-filled lies. We know better. We’re demanding solutions that keep families, like mine, together.
Cindy Garcia was born in Michigan and is raising her three children in suburban Detroit. She’s a member of Michigan United, part of the People’s Action network. Distributed by OtherWords.org.