Feeling the Bern — again


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FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2019, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sanders, whose insurgent 2016 presidential campaign reshaped Democratic politics, announced Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 that he is running for president in 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2019, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sanders, whose insurgent 2016 presidential campaign reshaped Democratic politics, announced Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 that he is running for president in 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)


FILE - In this Nov. 27, 2018, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks about his new book, 'Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance', at a George Washington University/Politics and Prose event in Washington. Sanders, whose insurgent 2016 presidential campaign reshaped Democratic politics, announced Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 that he is running for president in 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)


Sen. Bernie Sanders says he’s running for president in 2020

By JUANA SUMMERS

Associated Press

Tuesday, February 19

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose insurgent 2016 presidential campaign reshaped Democratic politics, announced Tuesday that he is running for president in 2020.

“Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump,” the 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist said in an email to supporters. “Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.”

An enthusiastic progressive who embraces proposals ranging from Medicare for All to free college tuition, Sanders stunned the Democratic establishment in 2016 with his spirited challenge to Hillary Clinton. While she ultimately became the party’s nominee, his campaign helped lay the groundwork for the leftward lurch that has dominated Democratic politics in the Trump era.

The question now for Sanders is whether he can stand out in a crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates who also embrace many of his policy ideas and are newer to the national political stage. That’s far different from 2016, when he was Clinton’s lone progressive adversary.

Still, there is no question that Sanders will be a formidable contender for the Democratic nomination. He won more than 13 million votes in 2016 and dozens of primaries and caucuses. He opens his campaign with a nationwide organization and a proven small-dollar fundraising effort.

“We’re gonna win,” Sanders told CBS.

He said he was going to launch “what I think is unprecedented in modern American history” — a grassroots movement “to lay the groundwork for transforming the economic and political life of this country.”

Sanders described his new White House bid as a “continuation of what we did in 2016,” noting that policies he advocated for then are now embraced by the Democratic Party.

“You know what’s happened in over three years?” he said. “All of these ideas and many more are now part of the political mainstream.”

Sanders’ campaign raised $1 million in 3 1/2 hours on Tuesday morning, according to a person familiar with the campaign, who wasn’t authorized to publicly disclose the early numbers and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sanders could be well positioned to compete in the nation’s first primary in neighboring New Hampshire, which he won by 22 points in 2016. But he won’t have the state to himself.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, another Democratic presidential contender, was in New Hampshire on Monday and said she’d compete for the state. She also appeared to take a dig at Sanders.

“The people of New Hampshire will tell me what’s required to compete in New Hampshire,” she told shoppers at a bookstore in Concord. “But I will tell you I’m not a democratic socialist.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of nearby Massachusetts will be in New Hampshire on Friday.

One of the biggest questions surrounding Sanders’ candidacy is how he’ll compete against someone like Warren, who shares many of his policy goals. Warren has already launched her campaign and has planned an aggressive swing through the early primary states.

Shortly after announcing her exploratory committee, Warren hired Brendan Summers, who managed Sanders’ 2016 Iowa campaign. Other staffers from Sanders’ first bid also have said they would consider working for other candidates in 2020.

The crowded field includes a number of other candidates who will likely make strong appeals to the Democratic base including Harris and Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. The field could also grow, with a number of high-profile Democrats still considering presidential bids, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

While Sanders had been working to lay the groundwork for a second campaign for months, it was unclear whether he will be able to expand his appeal beyond his largely white base of supporters. In 2016, Sanders notably struggled to garner support from black voters, an issue that could become particularly pervasive during a primary race that could include several non-white candidates.

Last month, he joined Booker at an event in Columbia, South Carolina, marking the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. In 2016, Sanders lost the South Carolina primary, which features a heavily black electorate, by 47 points.

Sanders also faces different pressures in the #MeToo era. Some of his male staffers and supporters in 2016 were described as “Bernie bros” for their treatment of women.

In the run-up to Sanders’ 2020 announcement, persistent allegations emerged of sexual harassment of women by male staffers during his 2016 campaign. Politico and The New York Times reported several allegations of unwanted sexual advances and pay inequity.

In an interview with CNN after the initial allegations surfaced, Sanders apologized but also noted he was “a little busy running around the country trying to make the case.”

As additional allegations emerged, he offered a more unequivocal apology.

“What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign — or any campaign — should be about,” Sanders said Jan. 10 on Capitol Hill. “Every woman in this country who goes to work today or tomorrow has the right to make sure that she is working in an environment which is free of harassment, which is safe and is comfortable, and I will do my best to make that happen.”

Sanders announcement revives criticism from Clinton backers

By ELANA SCHOR

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The tension between supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton resurfaced on Tuesday after the Vermont senator announced his second run for the White House.

Longtime Clinton aide Philippe Reines tweeted that the media had given Sanders a “WELCOME BACK!” reception despite his 2016 primary loss while telling Clinton to “go away.”

Jess McIntosh, a communications adviser to Clinton’s 2016 campaign, focused on Sanders’ contention on Vermont Public Radio that “we have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age.”

McIntosh shot back on Twitter: “If Bernie is going to start this contest telling us he’s at a disadvantage as a white man it is going to be a LONG year.”

Sanders is running against four women this time around — Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar — as well as three candidates of color in Harris, Cory Booker and Julian Castro.

A representative for Clinton didn’t immediately comment on Sanders’ candidacy.

An enthusiastic progressive who embraces proposals ranging from Medicare for All to free college tuition, Sanders stunned the Democratic establishment in 2016 with his spirited challenge to Clinton. While she ultimately became the party’s nominee, his campaign helped lay the groundwork for the leftward lurch that has dominated Democratic politics during the Trump administration.

The question now for Sanders is whether he can stand out in a crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates who embrace many of his policy ideas but are newer to the national stage.

Belles of the ball: Dem freshmen courted by 2020 hopefuls

By LAURIE KELLMAN

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Elizabeth Warren gave a nod to the first two Native Americans elected to Congress. Sen. Jeff Merkley got a moment on-camera with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And virtually all of the Democrats who would be president have reached out to freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham in early-voting South Carolina.

Think of it as dancing with the freshman stars, 2020 edition.

Democrats hoping to defeat President Donald Trump are engaged in a furious courtship of congressional newcomers, a sign of the energy the freshmen bring to a party looking for a new generation of leaders, direction and know-how.

For the political suitors, there’s credibility to be gained from the younger, more diverse and social media-savvy members of the biggest new class since Watergate. The freshmen, meanwhile, are finding mentors among the presidential dreamers, as well as aligned interests in their ranks on such issues as climate, health care and more.

But there is risk, too, for the belles of the early Democratic primary ball. Only weeks after their Washington debuts, the freshmen lawmakers are still developing from candidates into lawmakers and representatives, building voting records and raising money for their own re-election bids. And some have discovered the downside of their fame, having been embroiled in controversy due to their statements and proposals.

“If you are newly elected and you take your eye out the district and you’re staring at the shiny bright object of a presidential campaign, you are making it harder to get re-elected,” said former Rep. Steve Israel, the House Democrats’ chief campaign strategist for four years. The attention may be flattering, Israel said, but his advice is to do the sometimes grueling constituent casework. “Keep your feet on the ground of your district, and not in the silver clouds of a presidential campaign.”

But the presidential candidates are calling. And name-dropping in public. Some, such as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his own $110 million contribution to the midterm Democrats, have raised and spent big money that helped elect the newcomers. But as of yet, the 2020 candidates are making few if any explicit requests for commitments of support.

New York’s Ocasio-Cortez is a close ally of Sen. Bernie Sanders, but she hasn’t announced which presidential candidate she’s backing now. Still, her dance card is fast filling up. Every presidential candidate except Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio has signed on to the so-called Green New Deal, a moonshot she is championing to combat climate change. Merkley of Oregon was there when Ocasio-Cortez headlined the GND unveiling in Washington at an unusually well-attended event for a statement-making resolution that won’t become law. And a day after formally launching her presidential campaign, Warren gave Ocasio-Cortez a big nod in Iowa, home of the first presidential nominating caucus.

“It is terrific to see Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez come in and put a tremendous amount of energy behind this,” Warren said in Davenport.

The House freshmen also are playing a role in Warren’s struggle to move past her claim of Native American ancestry early in her career. Last fall before the historic midterm elections, Warren released a DNA test showing “high confidence” in her distant Native American ancestry, a move intended to put the issue behind her. But that caused significant unhappiness among some supporters. Trump kept the issue alive by repeatedly mocking Warren as “Pocahontas.” Warren apologized twice over two weeks this year leading to her presidential announcement Feb. 9. Within days, she was back in Washington making an unannounced visit to a major Native American conference.

Freshman Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico, one of two Native Americans elected to Congress, introduced her. Warren noted that she and Haaland are working on legislation together on Native American issues.

“That ‘Thank you’ is especially heart-felt for my friend and colleague, Congresswoman Deb Haaland,” Warren said in prepared remarks for the National Indian Women Honor Luncheon, where she introduced Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, the chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts. The campaign said Warren was there to support her friend. “I also want to acknowledge another friend who made history this past year, Congresswoman Sharice Davids,” a Kansan and Native American. Davids, she added, is “another barrier-breaking woman whose leadership is a deep inspiration to us all.”

Sanders, the 2016 phenomenon who has not yet said he is running again, this month reached out to soothe Rep. Ilhan Omar after she tweeted that members of Congress support Israel because they are paid to do so. Omar “unequivocally” apologized, but it wasn’t the first time the Minnesota Democrat had sparked charges of anti-Semitism. The controversy continued simmering the rest of last week.

“I talked to Ilhan last night to give her my personal support. We will stand by our Muslim brothers and sisters,” Sanders said Thursday on a conference call hosted by Jim Zogby, co-chair of the DNC’s Ethnic Council. The remark was first reported by Jewish Insider and confirmed with Sanders’ office by The Associated Press.

Virtually every candidate has paid a visit to freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham. His victory over Katie Arrington, a Trump-supported Republican, flipped a House seat in a district the president won by nearly 13 percentage points in 2016.

Even before the November elections, many potential Democratic White House hopefuls reached out, such as New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker. Former Vice President Joe Biden endorsed Cunningham and campaigned with him. So did Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

The parade of potentials has continued in the months since, though Cunningham has received no formal request for an endorsement, his spokeswoman said. Cunningham is widely viewed as aligned with former Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, in part because a key aide who helped Cunningham pull off his upset has signed up as O’Rourke’s state director.

Similarly, freshmen Rep. Chris Pappas in first-in-the-nation New Hampshire says he’s played something that sounds like a tour guide exceptionally early in the cycle. It helps that he is co-owner of the Puritan Backroom, a restaurant famous for chicken tenders that’s been in his family for more than a century and is a frequent stop for presidential candidates of both parties.

“I’ve seen a few candidates,” Pappas said in a phone call. “They want to get a sense of what’s on people’s minds.”

AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace and writers Elana Schor in Washington and Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

Follow Kellman on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com//APLaurieKellman

The Conversation

How slavery’s lingering stain on the US Constitution spoils Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax proposal – for now

February 14, 2019

Author: Beverly Moran, Professor of Law and Sociology, Vanderbilt University

Disclosure statement: Beverly Moran 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: Vanderbilt University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

Key Democrats are proposing ways to make the rich pay more taxes.

I believe one of the most promising is Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax. There’s only one snag: It is arguably unconstitutional.

Under her proposal, households worth more than US$50 million – about 75,000 families – would pay a rate of 2 percent a year on assets. Above that the tax would be 3 percent. As opposed to an income tax, this would be levied on things like real estate, cars and stocks.

As a tax scholar interested in economic inequality, I can see the appeal of a wealth tax. The U.S. is growing increasingly unequal, and the best way to reverse that trend is by taxing wealth.

Nevertheless, a clause in the Constitution forbids direct taxes on wealth like the one proposed by Sen. Warren. The reason lies in the compromises our Founding Fathers made over slavery.

Slavery and the Constitution

The specific culprit is Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution, also known as the Apportionment Clause.

“Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States … according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons … three fifths of all other Persons.”

Written by delegates at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, this passage contains two compromises deeply rooted in Southerners’ fear that their Northern neighbors would politically overwhelm them to the detriment of legal slavery.

One of them is likely familiar to most Americans: the three-fifths compromise, which counted slaves as a fraction of a person for determining representation for each state. This addressed Southern states’ small population problem.

The slave holding states had relatively few people spread across lots of land, compared with the North’s large populations living in relative density. In addition, while Southern states had many slaves, Northern ones had very few.

Northern delegates didn’t want to tally slaves for the purposes of representation in the House, but, without them in the count, the South’s already small population shrunk by more than a third.

So to protect the South from perpetual political minority status, delegates reached the three-fifths compromise. The three-fifths compromise was abolished by the 14th Amendment.

Why Warren’s tax is unconstitutional

The second compromise was apportionment. This is what makes Warren’s wealth tax unconstitutional in my view.

Even with the three-fifths compromise, Northern states had a proportional advantage in the House of Representatives that would make it easy to pass taxes targeting the South while leaving the North relatively unscathed, such as taxes on land and slaves.

To avoid regionally focused taxes, the delegates agreed that “direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states.”

A direct tax is a tax on a thing, like wealth and income. An indirect tax is a tax on a transaction of a thing, like the taxes on the sales of estates, property and most goods.

This means that the amount of a direct tax paid per person in one state must be the same per person in every other state. So if a tax costs Alabama $1,000 per person, the impact on Minnesota and California must be the same. It doesn’t matter who actually pays the tax, so long as the per capita cost for each citizen is the same across every state.

For example, imagine a country with two states, each with 10 acres of land. But one state has five people and the second contains 25. The federal government imposes a wealth tax of $5 per acre.

Both states send $50 to the federal government. The per capita cost of the tax, however, is $10 in one state and $2 in the other. That result violates apportionment.

That’s the problem I see with Warren’s wealth tax. It is a direct tax without apportionment. Because wealth is unevenly distributed across the population and across states, the total tax paid in each state cannot produce an equal per capita tax.

You may protest that the income tax is a direct tax and clearly not apportioned. Indeed, there was no regular income tax until Congress passed the 16th Amendment in 1913, which gave the federal government the “power to lay and collect taxes on incomes … without apportionment.” Prior to that, Congress for short periods levied taxes on incomes to pay for the Civil War, but the Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 1895.

Constitution’s last remnant of slavery

The solution to Warren’s problem is to expand the 16th Amendment to allow a federal tax on wealth.

But doing so is difficult to achieve. Congress must pass an amendment with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate, followed by passage by three-fourths of the state legislatures.

I believe the wealth tax is worth the trouble, however, because it addresses the core of American inequality: wealth concentration. The richest 1 percent now own more wealth in the United States than at any time in the last half century. So long as income is taxed but wealth is protected, the gap between the ultra rich and the rest of us will grow.

One thing that stands in the way is a 200-year-old provision meant to support slavery by increasing slaveholders’ power.

In the 21st century, what senator, representative or state legislator wants to stake his or her reputation by standing in support of the last remnant of slavery left in the U.S. Constitution?

Comment

David Morley: Thank you for such an interesting and clearly explained article. I’m outside the US so this is completely new to me – your clear explanation of the detail was much appreciated.

Interesting that in France Macron recently, and unpopularly, got rid of the wealth tax, while another Frenchman – Pikkety – has demonstrated that something has to be done about increasing disparities in wealth if we are not to end up with very stratified and divided countries in which some work while others live off capital.

FILE – In this Jan. 30, 2019, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sanders, whose insurgent 2016 presidential campaign reshaped Democratic politics, announced Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 that he is running for president in 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122352677-1bf16efb8c044a06a7d15b174b6922a3.jpgFILE – In this Jan. 30, 2019, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Sanders, whose insurgent 2016 presidential campaign reshaped Democratic politics, announced Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 that he is running for president in 2020. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

FILE – In this Nov. 27, 2018, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks about his new book, ‘Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance’, at a George Washington University/Politics and Prose event in Washington. Sanders, whose insurgent 2016 presidential campaign reshaped Democratic politics, announced Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 that he is running for president in 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2019/02/web1_122352677-5dd7648879064f10a722a3da5b856b71.jpgFILE – In this Nov. 27, 2018, file photo, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks about his new book, ‘Where We Go From Here: Two Years in the Resistance’, at a George Washington University/Politics and Prose event in Washington. Sanders, whose insurgent 2016 presidential campaign reshaped Democratic politics, announced Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 that he is running for president in 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
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