Recently former Labor Secretary Robert Reich went on MSNBC's All in with Chris Hayes to comment on Jeb Bush's plan to have people work longer hours and increase their productivity. Hopefully, if Senator Bernie Sanders is elected, he'll recruit Robert Reich to be our Labor Secretary once again.
First, Jeb Bush had said:
"We have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That's the only way we're going to get out of this rut that we're in."
The stock markets have been at all-time highs, as have corporate profits — with over $2 trillion stashed away in offshore banks. So who exactly is in a rut?
Then later, after being criticized for blaming American workers for their sad state of economic affairs, he released a statement saying:
"Under President Obama, we have the lowest workforce participation rate since 1977, and too many Americans are falling behind. Only Washington Democrats could be out-of-touch enough to criticize giving more Americans the ability to work, earn a paycheck, and make ends meet."
But Jeb Bush could have also said:
"During my brother's last day of office in January 2009, the labor force participation rate was at it's lowest level in 21 years — ever since 1988 — when Ronald Reagan was still President. My party is against raising the minimum wage to a living wage. We encourage businesses to offshore the better-paying jobs to low-wage countries. My party is against labor unions. We want to weaken or eliminate the National Labor Relations Board so workers have fewer rights. We think CEOs should be able to pay themselves as much as they want, and without equally sharing any gains in productivity with their workers. We don't think women deserve the same pay as men doing the same jobs. That's why I want to be president, to give you more of the same."
The labor force participation rate: From Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush
And Jeb Bush could have also said:
"Ever since 1979, when Jimmy Carter lowered the capital gains tax rate from 40% to 28%, real wages for average workers have been stagnant, and in many cases, have actually declined — while the rich folks got a heck of a lot richer. That is the American way. It's called unfettered capitalism and free markets. And it has nothing at all to do with President Obama's economic policies, because our party has voted down most of those."
Wages vs. productivity (aka corporate profits)
And Jeb Bush could have said:
"If the Republicans in Congress and President Bill Clinton hadn't have given PNTR to China in 2000, then we would have had millions of more jobs than we do today. At that time in 2000, the labor force participation rate had peaked at it's all-time record high. Since then, after we forced millions of Americans into low-paying service jobs, we've also been trying to deny them food stamps and healthcare — while also cutting Social Security and Medicare. Look at our track record — it speaks for itself."
And Jeb Bush could have also said:
"Thanks to another Republican Congress and another Democratic President [Obama], we now have fast-track for more trade deals like TPP, TTIP and TiSA — that I support — which will offshore a heck of a lot more jobs than NAFTA. So let's face it folks — no matter what political party is in charge at any given time, we're both going to screw you, and then we'll just blame the other party — like we always do. We've been getting away with this for decades because we've rigged the political system and stacked the Supreme Court to ensure that it stays this way. Oh, and by the way — the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the labor force participation rate will fall even further by 2022 — no matter who the next president will be, or what party they belong to. But vote for me anyway, because I want three Bushes to be President of the United States, because I'm entitled to be President, because my brother and dad once were."
Those are just some of the things that Jeb Bush won't tell us, but the very things that Senator Bernie Sanders has been telling us for years — and with the honesty that we'll never get from any Jeb Bush or a Hillary Clinton.
Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign raised $11.4 million in the second quarter, and his allied super PAC brought in more than $103 million in the first six months of the year. Right to Rise USA has $98 million in cash on hand. Senator Bernie Sanders seized on this tidbit during a rally in Arlington:
"This money is clearly coming from the wealthiest people in the country. There’s no accident that Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates who take huge amounts of money from the wealthy and the powerful come up with an agenda that represents the wealthy and the powerful."
As for Hillary Clinton, she said (during the 2008 presidential race):
"Based on my 35 years of fighting for what I believe in, I don’t think anybody seriously believes I'm going to be influenced by a lobbyist."
Mother Jones: "But lobbyists would appear to have more than a little influence on her 2016 campaign. Not only is she still accepting donations from them—something President Obama declined to do in his 2008 and 2012 bids—but she is once again stocking her campaign staff with them. There are at least six Clinton campaign staffers who, at one time or another, earned a paycheck as a registered lobbyist. They’ve lobbied for a range of controversial special interests, from the Keystone pipeline to Lehman Brothers to SeaWorld and some of the country's largest corporations."
In a very enlightening interview with The Nation on the issues, Bernie said he doesn't take corporate PAC money; and that if by some accident a company sent them money, he would send it back. So far his campaign has raised $15 million in the last two months — with donations coming from a much wider base than of Jeb's or Hillary's. According to Bernie's aides, they have received nearly 400,000 contributions, with 99 percent of those donations in increments of $250 or less.
In June Bloomberg Politics polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders held 18 and seven point advantages when compared to Clinton on the question of who would "take on Wall Street and financial elites."
According to the New York Times, Hillary Clinton is expected to begin spelling out details of her policies on Monday in a speech about the economy. Meanwhile, her aides say that she will seek to pay for them with higher taxes on wealthy Americans, along with cutbacks and closing loopholes elsewhere; the amounts in play are expected to be substantial.
But with a Republican Congress, that is just "pie in the sky". What can Hillary do with this Congress beyond 2016 that Obama couldn't do today? Hillary is just mirroring Elizabeth Warren's "populism" to get herself elected, that's all. She will say ANYTHING to get herself elected — just like all the Republican candidates.
And it seems both Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush also favor fast-tracking more bad trade agreements; while Bernie Sanders is against them. And he only says what he's believed for the past 40 years. He's not a fake populist.
Hillary's most ambitious ideas may include pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-olds, expanded access to child care, paid sick days and paid family leave, helping to make college students "as debt-free as possible" (whatever than means), a higher minimum wage (how high?), company profit-sharing for employees, legal protections for people in the country illegally, and more financing for medical research.
While those ideas are "nice", they aren't as forthright or nearly as hard-hitting as Bernie Sanders' proposals. Ellen Shipitalo, a graduate student in political studies who attended a recent rally for Hillary Clinton in Des Moines, said:
"When Bernie Sanders talks about a political revolution, I believe it because that’s always been his message. But Hillary? Not so much. No Democrat I know really thinks she’ll change much as president."
Progressive Democrats and liberals may like Bernie Sanders' proposals — a breakup of big banks, $1 trillion for public works jobs, a "Medicare-for-all" system of universal health care — but many Democrats in Congress also view them as impractical given the Republican control of Congress, in part because, of all the Tea Partier's who won seats in their gerrymandered districts. Unless we can pack both chambers of Congress with progressive Democrats, NOTHING "good" can ever be accomplished — no matter what Democrat wins the presidency.
But if a Republican were to become the next President with a Republican Congress, then we can only beg God for mercy. In that scenario, Hillary would be the better of two evils, but only if she has a better chance than Bernie of beating the Republican nominee.
But then again, do we really want to continue with these two political dynasties??