Archive

August 24th, 2016

Bold strokes rather than tax code tweaks

    The Question: How should the next president address wealth inequality?

 

    Over the final few months of the election, The Post will be asking policy experts to weigh in on the critical questions our presidential candidates should be addressing - but often aren't. This week, we're discussing tax policy solutions for wealth inequality.

 

    Whether the next president should try to reduce economic inequality is beyond question. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have run on fixing a system they characterize as "rigged" against those on the wrong side of the inequality divide - as did, of course, Bernie Sanders, whose campaign was built on reversing historically high levels of income and wealth inequality.

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America can't turn its back on Asia

    As the world watches the U.S. presidential election with bewilderment and unease, America's allies in Asia are particularly concerned about the possibility of U.S. disengagement from the region. In Japan and South Korea - America's most important allies in the Asia-Pacific - the rise of Donald Trump, along with inward- looking rhetoric from others across the U.S. political spectrum, has been seen as an indication of a broader shift in public sentiment. Tokyo and Seoul fear that many Americans believe that withdrawal from international alliances and institutions can, to use Trump's formulation, "make America great again."

    Isolationism and protectionism took a firm hold on U.S. politics during the primaries. In his foreign policy speeches, Trump declared that "America First" would be the overriding theme of his administration, and the Asia-Pacific doesn't appear to register in his worldview at all. But a U.S. withdrawal or fundamentally reduced U.S. military presence in Asia would not only undermine regional security; it would also ultimately weaken the United States at home and abroad.

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Obamacare Hits a Bump

    More than 2 1/2 years have gone by since the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, went fully into effect. Most of the news about health reform since then has been good, defying the dire predictions of right-wing doomsayers. But this week has brought some genuine bad news: The giant insurer Aetna announced that it would be pulling out of many of the “exchanges,” the special insurance markets the law established.

    This doesn’t mean that the reform is about to collapse. But some real problems are cropping up. They’re problems that would be relatively easy to fix in a normal political system, one in which parties can compromise to make government work. But they won’t get resolved if we elect a clueless president (although he’d turn to terrific people, the best people, for advice, believe me. Not.). And they’ll be difficult to resolve even with a knowledgeable, competent president if she faces scorched-earth opposition from a hostile Congress.

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Lest We Forget: 96 Years Later

    This past week marked the 96th anniversary of women winning the vote. Please note that the word was winning, not given. It was a long difficult struggle. In the words of Carrie Chapman Catt, an early suffragist and founder of the League of Women Voters: " It took George Washington 6 years to rectify man's grievances by war, but it took 72 yeas to establish women's rights by law."

    Almost a century later we are on the cusp of electing our first woman President. Faced with one of the oddest, nastiest elections in memory--or is it our entire history?--we dare not celebrate yet. Little did those women, and supporting men, think we would be waiting this long for a woman President.

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August 23rd

Trump's shakeup further imperils the GOP

    Shaken by the fact that he's losing, Donald Trump has fled into the parallel universe of the extreme right -- and apparently plans to stay there for the remainder of the campaign. Let's see if the rest of the Republican Party is dumb enough to follow him.

    Trump has reportedly been feeling "boxed in" and "controlled" by the few people around him who actually know something about politics. Advice from these professionals to tone it down must be responsible for his slide in the polls, he seems to believe. So he has hired as chief executive of his campaign a man named Stephen Bannon, who will not only let Trump be Trump, but encourage him to be even Trumpier.

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Trump doubles down on Trump

    Before it ever really got started, the makeover of Donald Trump from amateur political outsider to a controlled and controllable presidential candidate has now been ditched -- by the Republican nominee himself.

    His Gotta Be Me declaration on Wisconsin television signaled the predicable end to the effort by veteran operative Paul Manafort to "pivot" the crude and free-swinging winner of the 2016 Republican primaries away from the style with which he rolled over a bunch of weak sisters. "I am who I am," Trump said, and "I don't want to change."

    Such a pivot never was in the cards or in the makeup this self-delusional egomaniacal bullyboy. He has now surrounded himself with even more enablers pushing the notion that what got Trump to third base this year will bring him the rest of the way home on Nov. 8.

    But to cover the remaining 90 feet to home plate, Trump now needs much more than bombast and boisterous campaign rallies, drawn by his wildly irresponsible stoking of public anger at Washington.

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Voting is not the same thing as democracy

    If a new poll turns out to be a good prediction -- it shows Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton by only 6 percentage points in Texas -- I'm going to get to vote in a competitive state this November. Thrilling!

    Of course, it will be only my second time in nine presidential elections. Like most states, Texas typically isn't competitive at the presidential level.

    Strike one against the Electoral College is that it turns voters in such states into bystanders. That's why some want to abandon the Electoral College and let the popular vote totals determine election outcomes.

    I get it. In my first presidential election, Ronald Reagan took Arizona, where I voted, by 34 percentage points. That's the biggest blowout I've voted in, but other states where I've voted for president -- Arizona twice, California twice, Texas three times -- have had margins of 21, 13, 13, 21, 23 and 16 percentage points. The exception to these landslides was when I lived in Indiana in 2008. Barack Obama prevailed by a single percentage point -- just under 20,000 votes.

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Trump's Bannon bomb

    If you thought the old Donald Trump campaign was wild and crazy, just wait for the new Trump campaign now that Breitbart's Steve Bannon has taken over as chief executive.

    The new leadership -- with Bannon and pollster Kellyanne Conway displacing Paul Manafort of the Ukranian Connection at the top of the heap -- is likely to steer Trump even more in the direction of the European far right. It also tells you something that Bannon sees Sarah Palin, about whom he made a laudatory documentary, as a model for anti-establishment politics.

    Bannon is close to Nigel Farage, the former head of the right-wing UK Independence Party, who offered "massive thanks" to Breitbart News for supporting the party's successful campaign on behalf of Britain's departure from the European Union. "Your UKIP team is just incredible," Bannon told Farage during an interview after the June Brexit vote.

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Suburban voters shun Trump in three key states

    Donald Trump's presidential campaign has a lot of problems. Near the top of the list is this: Suburban voters want nothing to do with him, especially in three states where he needs to compete.

    The latest indicator was this week's Washington Post survey, which showed Hillary Clinton up by 14 percentage points in Virginia among registered voters and eight with likely voters. The driving force: she enjoys a 45-point advantage in the voter-rich Washington suburbs, almost double the margin rolled up there four years ago by President Barack Obama.

    This follows similar findings in Philadelphia's suburbs, where Clinton's big lead threatens to put Pennsylvania out of Trump's reach.

    A Marist College poll out this week shows the Democratic nominee with a 14-point lead in Colorado. Lee Miringoff, director of the poll, says looking at the statewide response, "You can extrapolate that she has almost a 3-to-1 lead in the Denver suburbs." This is a bigger advantage than Obama held while carrying the state in 2008 and 2012.

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August 22nd

Trump is tanking among women and college-educated whites

    Two states very much worth watching as signs for the Trump-pocalypse are Virginia and Colorado. They both represent, in somewhat different ways, the demographic challenges that Republicans face in national elections these days -- challenges that Trump is making a whole lot worse.

    A new batch of Quinnipiac polls neatly illustrates the dynamic. They find that Hillary Clinton is leading Trump among likely voters in Virginia by 50-38, and leading in Colorado by 49-39. In Iowa, a less diverse Midwestern state, it's much closer, with Clinton ahead by 47-44.

    But it's the numbers among key demographics that are really striking. In both Virginia and Colorado, Clinton holds huge leads over Trump among women and college-educated whites. Notably, in both states, more than 60 percent of both these voter groups have strongly unfavorable views of Trump. Not just unfavorable views of Trump. Strongly unfavorable views of him.

    The numbers in Virginia:

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