Is it time for Democratic Party old guard to step aside?

first_imgCategories: Editorial, OpinionSen. Dianne Feinstein has announced that she’ll be running in 2018 for a fifth term, and since she’ll be 85 next year, that would mean if she wins she’d serve until the age of 91, putting her in a select club. Only four senators in history have served past the age of 90.Meanwhile, the top Democratic leadership in the House is getting a bit long in the tooth as well:Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is 77, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer is 78, and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn is 77.Last week Rep. Linda Sánchez, herself a member of the leadership team, said: “I do think it’s time to pass a torch to a new generation of leaders, and I want to be a part of that transition.”So do the Democrats have an age problem at the top that needs fixing?The answer is “Yes, but. . .” There are good reasons why all those leaders might step aside, or at least begin preparing to do so.But it’s also critical to understand that the Democratic Party can’t decide that it’s time for them to go, because the Democratic Party isn’t an entity with a singular will. California uses a “jungle primary,” in which all primary candidates run on one ballot and the top two finishers – usually two Democrats in statewide races – face off in the general election.That means that to win, an opponent would have to beat Feinstein twice.But it hardly seems insurmountable – her approval ratings are reasonable but not great, and she’s not the kind of politician who inspires fervent affection.So what it would take to oust her is an opponent (or opponents) willing to take a risk on upending the status quo.That applies to the House as well, though there the situation is somewhat different.Nancy Pelosi has said that if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election she would have retired, but she’s sticking around to fight Donald Trump.Those who understand Congress will tell you that Pelosi has been one of the most capable and effective party leaders in American history, both in the opposition and the majority. If a new generation is going to step forward, individuals are going to have to make their own decisions to do so.Let’s start with Feinstein.While she still seems to have her wits about her, it’s just not practical to think that someone in his or her late 80s and even early 90s can function with the effectiveness he or she did when younger.It’s true that Jerry Brown, age 79, is carrying out one of the most vigorous and consequential governorships anywhere in America right now, but even 79 is different from 91.And there’s another reason beyond age that California Democrats might look to someone besides Feinstein: she has long been one of the more conservative Democrats in the Senate despite representing the state that defines contemporary American liberalism.If you’re a California liberal, you don’t have to worry about her age to think that someone else might be a better advocate for your views.There are Democrats considering running against her, including Kevin de Leon, who is currently the president pro tempore of the state senate.center_img It’s not exactly persuasive. And the “Pelosi should step aside because Republicans air ads mocking her” argument is idiotic; no matter who leads the Democrats, they’ll be denigrated and demonized by the GOP as sure as the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.In short, Democrats should be looking for new leadership, but not because they need to do it if they’re going to win in 2018 and 2020.Both of those elections will turn mostly on how Americans feel about Donald Trump.They should do it because they’ll have to eventually no matter what, and it’s never too early to start preparing.But if it’s going to happen, younger Democrats are going to have to take a risk, step up, and convince people that they’re capable of carrying the party forward.Paul Waldman is a contributor to The Washington Post’s Plum Line blog and a senior writer at The American Prospect.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen? But if there’s one glaring failure in her tenure it’s the fact that she hasn’t effectively prepared a line of succession.This happened at a time when, as Paul Glastris and Haley Sweetland Edwards described in 2014, power in the House had become more centralized in the leadership, leaving members fewer opportunities to advance on their own without the blessing of those atop the hierarchy.That’s why Pelosi ought to start preparing the transition now, by announcing that she’s going to stick around through the 2020 election and then retire.It would allow Democrats to continue to rely on her through Trump’s term, when the unity that she has been so good at maintaining will be vitally important.And it would give ambitious younger members the chance to begin making their case, both privately to their colleagues and publicly to the party’s rank-and-file, for why they ought to lead the party in the House.And they need to make the case, because to date they haven’t.The only member of the House who has really tried is Tim Ryan of Ohio, whose argument comes down to “I’m from Youngstown where lots of working-class white people live so I should be a party leader because Youngstown white people Youngstown.”last_img read more

GOP, Trump pull off the Great American Tax Heist

first_imgIt was only added during the reconciliation process, gives owners of income-producing real estate holdings a way around that safeguard, effectively creating a new tax break for large landlords and real estate moguls.”This specifically lines the pockets of the ecosystem of corruption that Trump calls a family.It also lines the pockets of people like Sen. Bob Corker, who mysteriously “coincidentally” switched his vote from a no to a yes on the bill after the language was added.America must make an honest appraisal: Donald Trump is a plutocrat masquerading as a populist.He is a pirate on a mission to plunder.Trump is milking the American presidency for personal gain.If he can give the impression of compassion on his mission to cash out, all the better for him, but the general good, the health of the nation and the plight of the plebeians is not now nor has it ever been his focus. And yet in this budget, they willingly, willfully exploded the deficit, not for public uplift or rebuilding America’s infrastructure but rather on the spurious argument that giving truckloads of money back to businesses will spark their benevolence.According to the government’s own nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the tax bill will lead to “an increase in the deficit of $1,455 billion over the next 10 years.”But be sure, when this bill leads to these predicted deficits, Republicans will return to their sidelined deficit rhetoric armed with a sickle, aiming the blade at the social safety net, exacerbating the egregious imbalance of the tax bill’s original sins.That’s the strategy: Appease the rich on the front end; punish the poor on the back. Feed the weak to the strong.The callousness of this calculation is hidden in the arguments over estimates and evidence, but it is not lost Most Americans see through this charade.According to a CNN/SSRS poll released this week, most Americans disapprove of the tax bill. Furthermore, most believe the bill will benefit the wealthy, in general, and Trump and his family, in particular. His ego is too big for egalitarianism, and his heart too small for it.So he sticks closely to what he knows, the brand of Trump: promoting it, positioning it, defending it and enriching it.Republicans in Congress rushed the bill through for other reasons: to combat the fact of their own legislative incompetence, to satisfy their donors and to honor their long-held belief that the rich are America’s true governing force.The middle class and the poor were never at the heart of this heartless bill.They are simply a veneer behind which a crime is occurring: the great American tax heist.Charles M. Blow is a columnist with The New York Times.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists That, too, was a lie.In September, The New York Times estimated that “President Trump could cut his tax bills by more than $1.1 billion, including saving tens of millions of dollars in a single year, under his proposed tax changes.”That was before the bill was passed and reconciled, when the deal got even sweeter for Trump.As The International Business Times reported this week:“The reconciled tax bill includes a new 20 percent deduction for so-called pass-through entities, business structures such as L.L.C.s, L.P.s and S corporations that don’t pay corporate taxes, but instead ‘pass through’ income to partners who pay individual tax rates on that money.The Senate version of the bill included safeguards that would only allow businesses to take advantage of the new break if they paid out significant wages to employees.But the new provision, which wasn’t included in either version of the bill passed by the House and Senate.center_img Make no mistake: No matter how folks try to rationalize this bill, it has nothing to do with a desire to help the middle class or the poor.This is a cash offering to the gods of the Republican donor class.This is a bill meant to benefit Republicans’ benefactors. This is a quid pro quo and the paying of a ransom.Trump promised to drain the swamp. That was another lie among many.He and the Republicans are in fact feeding us to the gators.Last month at a rally in Missouri, Trump said of the tax bill, “This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing, believe me.” He continued:“This is not good for me. Me, it’s not so — I have some very wealthy friends. Not so happy with me, but that’s OK. You know, I keep hearing Schumer: ‘This is for the wealthy.’ Well, if it is, my friends don’t know about it.” Categories: Editorial, OpinionWith their tax bill, Donald Trump and the Republicans are raiding the Treasury in plain sight, throwing crumbs to the masses as the millionaires and billionaires make off with the cake.America should be aghast not only at the looting but also at the brazenness of its execution.It seems that for as long as I can remember, Republicans have been wringing their hands about deficits.last_img read more

Stock market dive might be good for the economy

first_imgSo far, so pessimistic.But the United States has a history of defying gloomy predictions.Economists predicted “secular stagnation” in the 1940s, right before the 1950s boom, and today there are signs that Fed estimates of R* are too cautious.Jason Cummins, the research chief at a major hedge fund and a candidate to lead the New York Fed, points out that capital expenditure is recovering; expectations of capital expenditure are soaring; and the personal saving rate has fallen back to its pre-crisis low.In Washington, the Trump tax cut means that the government saving rate is falling dramatically as well: We are back on the path to a trillion-dollar deficit.Meanwhile in Silicon Valley, some venture capitalists are shifting to capital-hungry projects — medical robotics, next-gen nuclear fusion, satellites and so on.Globally, healthy economies have dulled investors’ urge to park money in the United States because of its safe-haven status. All of which suggests that savings in the United States will be less abundant, demand for them will be more abundant, and the natural interest rate will move higher.Unless markets suddenly reverse themselves, the recent bondcano probably reflects an awakening.When investors revise up their view of interest rates, bond prices tumble.For many professional money managers, these may well be scalding times.But for the economy as a whole, a higher R* would be a sign that the post-2008 malaise is finally healing. Sebastian Mallaby, author of “The Man Who Knew: The Life & Times of Alan Greenspan,” is the Paul A. Volcker senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing columnist for The Washington Post. More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidation No matter how many jobs the economy created, many feared it would never return to the pre-crisis condition in which buoyant hiring could coexist with decent returns for savers. This pessimism has been most evident among Federal Reserve leaders.Members of the Fed’s monetary committee regularly publish their views of the appropriate long-run interest rate, known as “R*” in the jargon.This is the interest rate that the economy needs to achieve stable inflation and maximum employment.A high R* is generally good news: It means that businesses want to borrow and expand aggressively, so you can get to full employment even when interest rates are relatively high.Workers can do well even as savers do well.Think back two decades, when unemployment was low, wages were rising and savers enjoyed a risk-free 5.5 percent return on their money. Categories: Editorial, OpinionWall Street is always quick with colorful disaster metaphors, and the latest market convulsion has already been dubbed the “bondcano.” The bad news is that, in the judgment of Fed leaders, R* has come down sharply. Since 2012, the median estimate of the long-run interest rate published by monetary committee members has fallen from a bit over 4 percent to under 3 percent — this means that, stripping out inflation, the estimate for the real interest rate has collapsed by about two-thirds.Businesses seem unexcited about borrowing and investing, the Fed chiefs are saying. Interest rates will have to stay low to generate full employment.For anyone with a retirement fund, this is a grim prospect.The lower the return on savings, the more you have to set aside to afford retirement.For the past several years, admittedly, this truth has been obscured: Stocks have had a glorious run as low interest rates have chased savings into the markets.But that portfolio shift is probably over, and may well have overshot. From here on out, workers seeking to build up their retirement funds may have to save more and work longer.  But a little lava spillage can be a hopeful sign.LATEST: Wall Street ends day higher, halting global routFor the first time since the financial crisis of 2008, a strange cloud that has hung over the economy may finally be lifting.By most measures, the economy has performed well since 2008.The recovery has so far lasted for 103 months and will soon rank as the second-longest post-war expansion.GDP is up by 2.5 percent over the past year, not bad for a graying society; unemployment is at a rock-bottom 4.1 percent.But an uneasy feeling has haunted the celebration. How did the economy get stuck in this rut?The gloomy estimates of R* reflect a conviction that, even before the 2008 shock, powerful forces were pushing down on interest rates. The aging of the baby boomers boosted the saving rate.So did the rise in inequality — more of the national income was flowing to people who could afford to save it.The growing supply of capital was met with falling demand for capital, pushing down the natural interest rate further.Slowing productivity gains suggested that there were not that many great machines that businesses wanted to buy — hence sluggish business investment.Even the exciting breakthroughs in Silicon Valley were not capital-hungry.You can launch a ride-sharing company or a digital coin without buying much machinery. last_img read more

Hammerson to sell on Wolsey

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Feeling listless

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Snow Hill plan for mixed use

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Planning: county and local authorities thrash out housing allocations

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RIP Chesterton: 1805-2005

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China virus crisis deepens as whistleblower doctor dies

first_imgA quarantined cruise ship in Japan now has 61 confirmed cases.Li, 34, died early Friday, Wuhan Central Hospital said in a post on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, an announcement that triggered grief on social media — over a doctor who was hailed a hero — and anger over the government’s handling of the crisis.”He is a hero who warned others with his life,” a fellow Wuhan doctor wrote on Weibo after reports of his death emerged.”Those fat officials who live on public money, may you die from a snowstorm,” wrote one angry Weibo user. A Chinese doctor who was punished after raising the alarm about China’s new coronavirus died from the pathogen on Friday, sparking an outpouring of grief and anger over a worsening crisis that has now killed more than 630 people.At least 31,000 people have now been infected by a virus that ophthalmologist Li Wenliang and colleagues had first brought to light in late December.The disease has since spread across China, prompting the government to lock down cities of tens of millions of people, while global panic has risen as more than 240 cases have emerged in two dozen countries. His death also highlights the enormous risks that frontline doctors have taken to treat patients in overwhelmed and under-equipped hospitals in Wuhan, the quarantined city of 11 million people where the virus emerged in December.Medical staff are overstretched and lack sufficient protective gear, the deputy governor of Hubei province admitted Thursday.Li sent out a message about the new coronavirus to colleagues on December 30 in Wuhan — the central city at the epicentre of the crisis — but was later among eight whistleblowers summoned by police for “rumour-mongering.”He later contracted the disease while treating a patient.Censors even appeared to struggle with out how to deal with his death.State-run newspaper Global Times and state broadcaster CCTV first reported on Weibo that Li had died late Thursday, only to delete their posts after the death rapidly surged to be among the top topics on the popular platform.Even the World Health Organization reacted to the first reports of his death to express sadness.Analysts have said that local authorities played down the extent of the outbreak in early January because they were holding political meetings at the time and wanted to project an aura of stability.The first fatality was reported on January 11. The death toll has since soared to 636, with 73 more reported on Friday and an additional 3,000 new infections.- Global spread -The virus is believed have emerged from a market selling exotic animals in Wuhan before jumping to humans and spreading across China and abroad as millions travelled for the Lunar New Year holiday.Some 56 million people in Wuhan and surrounding cities have been ordered to stay home, while several countries have banned arrivals from China and advised their citizens to leave.Major airlines have suspended flights to and from the country.But cases keep emerging.Two cruise ships carrying thousands of holidaymakers in Hong Kong and Japan have been placed under quarantine as authorities test people for infections.On Friday another 41 people tested positive aboard the Diamond Princess in Japan, bringing the total of infected cases on the ship to 61,There were 3,700 people aboard the ship when it arrived in Japanese waters.Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday another cruise ship, the Westerdam, was heading to the country with one confirmed case, and no foreigners would be allowed to disembark.In Hong Kong, 3,600 people spent a second night confined aboard the World Dream, where eight former passengers have tested positive for the virus.Hong Kong has been particularly nervous because the crisis has revived memories of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). That killed nearly 300 people in the city and another 349 on the Chinese mainland in 2002-2003.While the death toll continues to rise, experts have stressed that at two percent mortality, 2019-nCoV is far less deadly than SARS, which killed around 10 percent of the people it infected 17 years ago.The outbreak has nevertheless been declared a global health emergency.Topics :last_img read more

Taman Sari’s evicted residents pursue alternative avenues after court loss

first_img“It’s true that items such as school uniforms can be bought, but what residents want to know is, how is the government going to take responsibility?”On Dec. 12, about 1,200 officers from the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), Indonesian military (TNI) and police were deployed to evict the residents and demolish dozens of houses, affecting at least 33 households that had refused to be relocated.Residents Sambas Sadikin and Budi Rahayu filed their case in court, asking for a postponement and allow them to vacate the land and challenge the environmental permit issued for the Bandung administration to build low-cost apartments. The Bandung Administrative Court ruled in favor of the administration, saying that it had found no irregularities in the issuance of the environmental permit.Read also: Bandung’s evicted residents keep fighting despite defeats. Here’s why. Sambas, 58, was also among the residents who had submitted a report to lapor.go.id.“I did not only lose a house but the place where I was born and raised. That is worth more than gold,” he said. Another evictee, 45-year-old Eva Aryani Effendi, said losing her house also meant losing her livelihood, as she had started a clothing business in her two-story home.“A decades-long business just disappeared. I feel that I have been impoverished by the government,” she said. “I was only given five minutes to gather my things. Now that everything is destroyed, how can I make a decent living?”Enjo, a 38-year-old evictee, said he would continue to fight for compensation. “I am taking a stand because it’s not just about monetary compensation. Evictions shouldn’t be considered a normal thing by claiming to represent the greater good while making others suffer,” he said. “The other victims and I are also citizens that have the right to prosper.”Rizky Ramdani of the Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) said the online reports were part of the residents’ efforts to fight for their rights. “If we do not get a response, then, of course, we will continue to the next step, which is to file a report with the West Java branch of the Indonesian Ombudsman,” he said. Forty-one of the evicted residents, including 12 children, are currently staying at the nearby Al-Islam mosque. Fourteen others have chosen to stay with their relatives or rent rooms outside of Taman Sari. (kmt)Topics : Residents who were evicted from Taman Sari subdistrict in Bandung, West Java, have filed more than 100 complaints to the government’s online public-service complaint system to step up their fight against their eviction. Twenty residents submitted around 120 reports regarding the losses they suffered during the eviction, which occurred in December last year, to the lapor.go.id online portal. The reports included details on loss of property, loss of income, as well as adverse effects on their health. “According to the lapor.go.id mechanism, we should get a response from the government within three days,” Aang Kusmawan of Bandung-based NGO Perkumpulan Inisiatif (Initiative Group), which has been working with the residents, said on Wednesday.last_img read more