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    • Bernie's policies are fairly similar, except possibly regarding international trade--I'm not too sure of where he stands on that these days, but he used to be a protectionist, I think.

      From what I’ve read, Sanders opposed NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the NAFTA replacement (USMCA), because there was no inclusion in the trade deals that (a) would require fair labor practices and protections for all signing countries and (b) would require Climate Change actions by the signing countries. As a result, NAFTA allowed US companies to move production to Mexico where the labor protections and environmental regulations were weaker.

      In the 1970s, Germany’s auto unions tried to get the UAW to increase their pay and benefit demands so that they would both benefit long-term. Instead, the UAW refused, believing they would get more of the production work as the lower labor cost provider. The UAW succeeded in the short-term, until other countries developed their infrastructure enough to become the new lower labor cost provider. China is dealing with the same issue as Vietnam and Bangladesh have started to become lower labor cost providers. IMO, most of the trade deals have been a race to the bottom, benefitting countries with the worst environmental protections and working conditions.

    • IMO, most of the trade deals have been a race to the bottom, benefitting countries with the worst environmental protections and working conditions.

      To be fair, that's the purpose of globalization and trade efficiency - to provide goods and services of equal value for the lowest cost to the consumer. So this is working exactly as people always thought it would, and it's a 'benefit to the consumer'. The fact that balance sheets don't factor in such things as employee health and pollution (which are fawned off on the state, other communities, or the open sea to take care of, for the most part) has always been a problem, IMO. For this reason I've always argued there's no such thing as an open market - open markets require transparency, and someone is always hiding something.

    • I found this Rolling Stone interview from the 2016 election in which Sanders answers the question what is “democratic socialism.”


      To address America’s economic imbalance, you’re proposing a platform of democratic socialism – what does that mean to you?

      Our goal should be a society in which all people have a decent standard of living, not a society in which a few people have incredible wealth while 47 million live in poverty. What it means to me in English is a national health care program that guarantees health care to all people. It means high-quality public education from preschool through graduate school – and one of the important points of the platform that we’re running on is to make public colleges and universities tuition-free. Anybody in this country, regardless of their income, should be able to go get a higher education.

      It means dealing with the fact that significant numbers of people in this country are paying a very large proportion of their incomes in housing. It means that if you’re gonna work 40 hours a week, you don’t live in poverty; that we raise the minimum wage to a living wage.

      Look, nobody knows the magic formula to happiness. But if you have economic security, your life is a lot better than people who are struggling every single day. And I want to create that type of economic security in America.

    • She faced a tough grilling on The View this week about African American support. Do you think she can do well when she gets out of the white voter state primaries?

    • We'll find out soon enough. You know, I have paid a fair amount of attention to the Democratic nomination process, but I can't tell you a single policy position that sets Amy apart from the rest of the pack. I'm not saying differences don't exist--surely they do--but her team better get their communications game together if she wants to win. If she's playing a last moderate standing strategy, she'll be eaten alive by Bloomberg.

    • Both Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar’s weakness is that as US Senators they don’t have to speak to angry constituents as often as a mayor does and, as a consequence, they aren’t as polished at dealing with hostile questions. Take Mayor Pete’s response during the last debate when he was asked about a black man being four times as likely to be arrested in South Bend.

      His answer was classic deflection, and did not answer the moderator’s question, however, it was extremely polished and one could even be convinced that he had provided a satisfactory answer.

      Klobuchar by contrast had a deer in the headlights look to her and couldn’t effectively communicate that

      -One of their guests on the View, Pete Buttigieg, ran a city where a black man was four times as likely as a white man to be arrested and where incarcerations of minorities had increased during his term.

      -By contrast, her team focused on ensuring that the innocents were protected and incarcerations of minorities actually went down during her time as prosecutor.

      -She called for an investigation and therefore cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, however, if there was wrongdoing by the police or one of the prosecutors then there should be consequences.

      Right now, Nevada is having early voting for their caucus. Ballots must be filled out with a first, second and third choice: you can put “uncommitted” for your second and third choices. Among Sanders supporters, there is talk of putting Klobuchar as the second choice in order to reduce the SDEs for Biden and Butttigieg: Klobuchar could become the equivalent of American Idol’s Sanjay, making it harder for a moderate Dem to stand out from a still crowded field.

    • Having lived in Minnesota (St. Paul and Minneapolis), I can say that there is a pretty strong African-American population there. As well as a strong Somali, Latino, and Hmong population. Minnesota is a pretty diverse place.

      Klobuchar should absolutely play this angle more and let people know she's well liked in a state with a lot of diversity. I think that's how she should address this.

    • Most of the politicians who propose legislation for health care have no idea how the system actually works or what's needed for the patients to deliver healthy outcomes. Too many career politicians and lawyers driving policy... not enough Engineers, Scientists, Doctors and rational business men and women who speak facts, understand P&Ls with realistic plans.

      What drives the 2x per capita cost?

      Thought you’d find this interesting on the “rebate” that your insurance company receives from the pharmaceutical companies after you pay full price.

      Pharmacy benefit managers negotiate with drug manufacturers on behalf of insurers. Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, says pharmacy benefit managers are behind the increasingly high drug prices.

      For example, of a $400 insulin prescription, the manufacturer ends up with just $88, and the pharmacy benefit manager requires the manufacturer to give it a 65% rebate price. Instead of allowing the patient to benefit from that rebate, the insurance benefit manager splits that money with the insurance company and “keeps the rest,” according to Ray.

      “The consumer pays the full price, plus a few extra wholesale fees and transfer fees, so the consumer ends up paying $408 for a prescription that the manufacturer’s only making $88 on but the (pharmacy benefit manager) is keeping the majority of the money,” Ray said Monday during a news conference announcing SB272.

    • I somehow have befriended Dr. Berman, who opened the Berman Skin Institute near Stanford hospital maybe 25 years ago. I was one of his first patients, for a rash, and have been back every year since.

      Last week he gave me a tour of his gleaming and expansive new clinic, one of 11 Berman institutes in the Bay Area. He said he had to expand because at low volume, the insurance companies make 3 dollars for every dollar he makes from patient visits. He said you have to get to scale to increase your negotiating power with insurance companies.

      I only know around 6 doctors, but they all say it’s the insurance companies who make all the money and drive up the cost of health care in America. No one who sees patients makes anything close to what insurance execs make. And their business model is frequently to deny care.

    • I have been mentally preparing for another four years of Trump. As much as I like Amy, she is not exciting enough to beat Trump, I don’t think. Trump has a massive operation, a huge amount of cash, and the highest popularity among Republicans ever.

      Further, as even the Europeans admit, world momentum is favoring Trumpism.

    • I only know around 6 doctors, but they all say it’s the insurance companies who make all the money and drive up the cost of health care in America. No one who sees patients makes anything close to what insurance execs make. And their business model is frequently to deny care.

      I remember my dad saying that when he had his own practice (Orthopedics) his upfront malpractice insurance cost was $80,000 per year. That was probably a decade ago, I wonder what it would be now. He sold his practice to the hospital he did surgery in, easier to deal with reimbursement (insurance) and malpractice coverage (insurance).

    • My one counter to this is I believe not being exciting actually helps Klobuchar. I think you have a lot of voters who stayed home last time that are willing to vote for whoever the Democrats put up provided it isn’t someone they view as risky. Klobuchar is viewed as low risk and I think she could get enough of those people to come out and support her. I think a lot of people would be down for a president that isn’t very exciting but instead quietly gets things done and doesn’t embarrass our country. I.e. Trump is exciting, but not in a good way.

    • I found this piece to be the most comprehensive article on all the objections that people have with Michael Bloomberg. I’m a political junkie and so have come across most of them before, but the reporter provides many details that I was unfamiliar with. Regardless of whether you are pro or con on his nomination, this is a great article worth your read to become more informed.

      The writer has been in The New Republic, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post.

      I think it’s a tragic mistake. A plutocrat-on-plutocrat election will just further subvert our already fragile democracy. It will show that nothing matters in a democracy if you have enough money. It will take every comment that Democrats said about the GOP being seduced by Trump and boomerang it back in their faces. It is an act of pure desperation that will alienate giant swathes of the country and put a For Sale sign on democracy, perhaps permanently.

      The “any blue will do” fallacy ignores that parties must stand for something to succeed. Over the years, losing touch with fundamental Democratic concerns has always weakened the party. Shacking up with a billionaire who undermines so many Democratic values because he might win in November? It reinforces the concept that everyone and everything associated with the Democratic Party can be bought.

    • Self-identified Democrats will vote for Bernie or whoever the Democrats nominate. That's not the group of people I'm talking about. I'm talking about independents and moderate/liberal Republicans who could be swayed to cross over to vote for a Democrat. They're much more likely to cross over to vote for Klobuchar than Bernie, imo.

    • That was amazing. I really don’t know much about Bloomberg, but I can see where moderate Republicans could tolerate him when they couldn’t Bernie or Warren. It is so disturbing how big a force money is now in shaping what we believe, and not just about politics.

      The enduring mystery to me is why farmers, coal miners and factory workers love trump so much. They seem so happy at the rallies. I don’t know this writer, but this article has stuck with me since I read it:

    • It will show that nothing matters in a democracy if you have enough money. It will take every comment that Democrats said about the GOP being seduced by Trump and boomerang it back in their faces.

      Thanks for sharing that article. Hasn't Trump already accomplished everything the author argues will boomerang back if the Democrats back a plutocrat? I think democracy has been undermined, DOJ a good example this week... so if we're choosing between two evils I can't imagine we're better off with Trump to avoid a boomerang. We need to restore some order with someone who doesn't need the job I think.

    • Good read. Our democracy is like a frog in boiling water right now, I'm afraid. You just raise it up by one degree at a time and nobody will notice when you're 20 or 30 degrees hotter than you were before. Rome wasn't built in day and similarly, an authoritarian government doesn't come about overnight, either. One slow, incremental step at a time.

    • His pardons today felt like they were from the land of the deranged. If you were to write this story as fiction, no one would read it because it stretches the reality of what’s possible too far.

    • so if we're choosing between two evils I can't imagine we're better off with Trump to avoid a boomerang. We need to restore some order with someone who doesn't need the job I think.

      Okay, you’ve asked a legit question so I’ll answer what I see as a likely future under a President Bloomberg.

      DACA would be restored by executive order. Bloomberg would attempt to negotiate a long-term path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in our country. A Moderate president could result in more moderate Democrats and Republicans in Congress to be elected, in the same way that Trump resulted in more far right Republicans in Congress, so it’s possible over the next eight years that Bloomberg could achieve this.

      We wouldn’t go to war with North Korea or Iran. Relations with Russia is a question mark.

      Normal relations with NATO would resume. Trade wars with Europe would end.

      Trade deals, favorable to corporations over workers, would be signed.

      The stock market would perform well due to increased global stability.

      Trade wars with China would definitely end: a few years ago, Bloomberg Media killed a story on Chinese corruption because of fears it might negatively impact all of his business interests in China. (New York Times). A recent PBS interview in September makes clear that human rights issues would not be a major concern for him:

      In an interview for the PBS television show "Firing Line" in September, Bloomberg drew sharp criticism after seeming to defend Xi’s government as responsive to its people and fundamentally democratic.

      “The Communist Party wants to stay in power in China, and they listen to the public,” he said. “Xi Jinping is not a dictator. He has to satisfy his constituents or he’s not going to survive.” (VOA News)

      Bloomberg would rescind executive orders on allowing coal mines to pollute waterways. At the same time, he probably would not ban fracking, based on his comments in his book Climate of Hope: “Natural gas, when safely and responsibly extracted, has been a godsend for the environment and public health,” and that “fracking allows for the most efficient extraction of natural gas” and that “it makes sense to frack.”

      Bloomberg would not increase taxes on the rich. As a result, he would not be able to pay for the Climate Change actions required without cutting social programs like social security and Medicaid or cutting military spending. It’s doubtful he would get bipartisan support from Congress to do either.

      President Bloomberg would not raise the minimum wage to a living wage, based on his public comments in the past that he’s against raising the minimum wage.

      I don’t know what his true views are on the Affordable Care Act, although it’s safe to assume M4A is not going to happen since it requires taxing the wealthy to pay for it. My guess is that he would implement something closer to Romnycare.

      Basically, under a President Bloomberg administration, the world would become lukewarm for the average American: the world wouldn’t be in continual chaos, things might improve for some, but economically the working and middle class would remain financially stagnant and the gulf between the 1% and the rest of the world would expand even greater.

      My viewpoint, FWIW, is that it’s not enough: being thankful that it’s not four more years of Trump isn’t going to make the world a significantly better place. I totally get the rationale for voting for the lesser of two evils, but the real question for me is whether four more years of Trump is significantly worse than eight years of Bloomberg. Especially when it’s so below what the world could look life if a progressive president was elected.

    • Thanks for that, I appreciate the thoughtful response. Let's zooom out a bit further, say 10 - 15 years. What does the world look like a generation from now when Trump puts in 1-2 more supreme court justices?

    • There is a possibility that if the EU and the UK become more hostile in the economic sector that any American president might end up having a hard time establishing a "normal" trade relationship with both.