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Александр Гамильтон
06 мая, 00:00

Republicans Should Remain the Party of Lincoln, Not Jackson

Rich Lowry, NRODonald Trump is trying to do for Andrew Jackson what Lin-Manuel Miranda did for Alexander Hamilton. Trump, like Miranda, is out to restore the reputation of a great American figure once threatened with removal from U.S. currency. Trump doesn’t have the cultural pull of the writer and star of Hamilton, yet his salvage job might influence Republicans, to the party’s peril.

04 мая, 12:32

Lincoln, Not Jackson

Donald Trump is trying to do for Andrew Jackson what Lin-Manuel Miranda did for Alexander Hamilton.Trump, like Miranda, is out to restore the reputation of a great American figure once threatened with removal from U.S. currency. Trump is merely the president of the United States, so doesn’t have the cultural pull of the writer and star of “Hamilton.” But his salvage job has a chance to be influential with Republicans, to the party’s peril.Trump visited the Hermitage in March and said of Jackson in a riff at the end of his tribute, “We build on your legacy.” His Jackson boosterism caused a brouhaha this week when he mused in an interview about Jackson, had he been around a few decades later, perhaps preventing the Civil War.The Jacksonian tradition in America has, until recently, been neglected and Trump is firmly within it. It deserves to be part of the tapestry of the Republican coalition, but the GOP should curb its enthusiasm. It already has a perfectly acceptable — nay, altogether superior — 19th century champion in the person of Abraham Lincoln.Lincoln is a more suitable Republican hero, not just because he was a founding figure in the party; not just because he was on the right side of slavery (Jackson once offered a cash reward for a runaway slave with a promised bonus “for every hundred lashes a person will give to the amount of three hundred”); and not just because he actually, not just hypothetically, saw the Civil War through with determination, principle and wisdom.Lincoln is also an unsurpassed exemplar of the GOP’s core values of personal responsibility and striving.Jackson, for all his flaws, belongs in the American pantheon. Trump’s comment about the Civil War occasioned much obloquy, but he was right about Jackson’s stalwart unionism.In the midst of the nullification crisis with South Carolina in the 1830s, Jackson told a South Carolina congressman before he headed home, “if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find.” When South Carolina Sen. Robert Hayne doubted the old general would follow through, a colleague replied, “when Jackson begins to talk about hanging, they can begin to look out for ropes.”There’s a reason Lincoln reviewed Jackson’s proclamation against nullification when composing his first inaugural address.There are other similarities. At the Hermitage, Trump talked of Jackson’s rise from backwoods obscurity: Lincoln traced the same path. Trump noted Jackson’s regard for common workers; Lincoln felt the same way (“Whatever is calculated to advance the conditions of the honest, struggling laboring man,” he said, “I am for that thing”). Trump celebrated how Jackson challenged the powerful and connected; Lincoln targeted the Southern planter class as a corrupt establishment. Trump remarked on all the abuse Jackson endured; Lincoln got as much or more.So, why wasn’t Lincoln himself a Jacksonian? This would have been the easy choice given how Jacksonian Democrats dominated the areas where Lincoln grew up and made his first forays into elected politics. He instead became a Whig — and then a Republican — largely as cultural choice.The Whigs disdained Jackson as representing “the passions.” He was a slave owner, gambler and duelist, and therefore, according to the Whigs, lacked the cardinal virtue of self-control.They preferred Henry Clay, who said, “All legislation, all government, all society, is formed upon the principle of mutual concession, politeness, comity, courtesy.” Lincoln identified as a Whig, in the words of one historian, “because he preferred what Whigs believed to be a more civilized way of life.” Self-improvement was the watchword for Whigs, who believed deeply in discipline, lawfulness and reason.And this is the rub. This Whig ethic was passed into the DNA of the Republican Party, but risks getting lost in a newly Jacksonian GOP.First, in the course of defending Trump’s tweets and various other wanderings, the party could begin to argue that words and proprieties don’t matter.This would be a turning away from Lincoln. He had a savage wit, and was a brutal insult artist early in his career. Then, he got more serious. His most famous speeches are models of precision, logic and historical knowledge. Certainly, this is how we should want our leaders to speak and think.Second, there is the factor of new Trump voters. In the 19th century, the different cultural emphases of Democrats and the Whigs tracked their different constituencies. To simplify, the Democrats were the party of the subsistence farmers and the Whigs the party of the people most integrated in the commercial economy. Not coincidentally, the Democrats believed in the natural goodness of the people, while the Whigs preached constant striving.With Trump having won the loyalty of a white working class that is, among other challenges, beset by social dysfunction, the temptation for Republicans will be to forget their message of personal responsibility — to emphasize what has allegedly been done to working-class voters rather than what they can do to help themselves.Democrats have long wanted ownership of Lincoln (the late Mario Cuomo wrote a book about this), and now the GOP’s hold on the Great Emancipator is getting cross-pressured by a Republican president. If a swap of Andrew Jackson for Abraham Lincoln is on offer, the Democrats — already scurrying away from their once signature Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners — would be foolish not to take it.The Party of Lincoln should, despite the enthusiasm of President Trump, keep Old Hickory at a healthy arm’s length.

03 мая, 22:46

Mad About Obama's Paid Speeches? Blame Gerald Ford.

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); WASHINGTON ― Former President Barack Obama’s decision to accept $400,000 from investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald for a speech about health care generated plenty of outrage last week that he is monetizing the presidency. Then there was the counter-argument that those concerned about Obama’s new source of income are just racists. But aside from the accusations of racism, this debate isn’t new. Debates about the propriety of ex-presidential behavior trace back to the country’s founding. But the contemporary question begins 40 years ago with an important decision made by Gerald Ford. Yes, Gerald Ford. Few historians would put Ford, the 38th President of the United States, on their list of most influential and important presidents. His accidental ascension to the presidency after the resignation of Richard Nixon is perhaps best remembered for the pardon he gave his predecessor and his oversight of the country’s official retreat from Vietnam. It was Ford’s time as an ex-president that was truly revolutionary. In a break from every ex-president before him, Ford decided to turn the prestige of the presidency into cash. He joined corporate boards and hit the paid-speaking circuit. “[H]e didn’t just commercialize the former presidency; he created the commercialized former presidency,” Ford biographer Thomas DeFrank said in an interview with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. “That’s why I said in my book that every former president should go visit his grave in Grand Rapids and thank him for ensuring that they will be instant zillionaires.” Just like Obama, Ford got serious flak for monetizing the highest office in the nation after leaving it ― from the press, presidential historians and even his former press secretary. Ford even accepted money to hawk a presidential medal collection, signing a 1978 deal with Franklin Mint, which claimed to be the world’s largest private producer of coins. The silver medal set sold for $1,950 and the gold for $2,750.  In a letter featuring his official ex-president letterhead, Ford asked recipients to buy the medals: “From the days of George Washington to our own time, the story of the American presidency has been one of continuing challenge and responsibility. That is why I believe the Medallic History of the American Presidency will provide a meaningful way for many American families to enrich their knowledge and appreciation of the heritage of freedom we enjoy.” “We wish he could earn his way without dragging the presidency into it,” the New York Times responded in an editorial.  Jerald terHorst, Ford’s first White House press secretary, wrote in the Washington Post that he wished his former boss would stop the “huckstering and hustling and merchandising of the presidency.” “Mr. Ford believes in the free enterprise system, and is engaging in that,” Ford’s assistant, Robert Barrett, countered when asked by the Associated Press in 1978. DeFrank later recounted a similar argument from Ford himself: “I will always remember ... him pounding the desk and saying, ‘God damn it, Tom, it’s the free enterprise system at its finest.’” Ford’s reasoning reflects its place in time. The 1970s featured a number of revolutionary decisions in corporate America to decouple itself from its obligations to labor and society at large and enter into the global marketplace, while still asserting its political power in the U.S. Unsurprisingly, income inequality exploded ― arguably leading to today’s record high levels. The nation’s first brand ambassador-turned-president, Ronald Reagan, also benefited from these new post-presidential perks. Japanese firm Fujisankei paid Reagan $2 million to deliver two 20 minutes speeches in Japan in 1989, less than a year after leaving office. Fujisankei paid an additional $5 million to cover costs related to the former president’s trip. Reagan was also criticized for this ―  some guy named Donald Trump even poked fun at him for taking money from U.S. businesses by promoting competitors in Japan. “Former Presidents haven’t always comported themselves with dignity after leaving the Oval Office,”a 1989 New York Times article read. “But none have plunged so blatantly into pure commercialism.” Every president since has followed Ford and Reagan’s lead to varying degrees. George H.W. Bush accepted money for speeches from companies like Amway, Choice Hotels International and Barrick Gold, among others. Bush also received a five-figure honorary role on an advisory board for Barrick Gold, a Canadian mining company. Although a millionaire when he entered the White House, Bush quipped an excuse to the New York Times, “everybody has to earn a living.”  His successor, Bill Clinton, took that to new levels, earning around $100 million from paid speeches since leaving office in 2001. Clinton left office with between $2 million and $10 million in legal debts stemming from his impeachment and disbarment hearings, which put him in a slightly different position than most ex-presidents. He used his early earnings to help pay off these debts and those of some of his White House staff. But continued to amass a substantial fortune from speaking gigs ― and has, as everyone is well aware, received substantial criticism for it. George W. Bush was much less popular when his presidency ended, but still made $15 million from paid speeches in the just the first three years after leaving the White House. Now Obama is taking part in the new ex-president tradition of getting really, really rich. It wasn’t always this way. Harry Truman contemplated this issue upon leaving office in 1953 and decided it was indecorous. Though he received numerous offers to make money after moving back home to Independence, Missouri, he wrote in his memoirs that “I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.” Truman was not a wealthy man in the 19 years he lived after leaving office. He spent much of his time responding to letters from admirers around the country, which he said personally cost him $30,000 a year in postage and related expenses. He did, however, think the government should help defray those costs in some way ― a position that he conveyed to his old friend Speaker Sam Rayburn. Truman’s request entered a long-running debate about what to do with ex-presidents. Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first treasury secretary, worried in the Federalist Papers prior to the ratification of the Constitution about the “half a dozen men who had had credit enough to be raised to the seat of the supreme magistracy, wandering among the people like discontented ghosts.” “Of course the subject would be relieved of all uncertainty and embarrassment if every President would die at the end of his term,” Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president and the only one in history to be elected to two non-consecutive terms, opined in a 1891 speech in Sandwich, Massachusetts. William Howard Taft agreed. In a speech to the Lotos Club in New York City following a failed reelection bid in November 1912, ex-presidents should be administered, “a dose of chloroform … and the reduction of the flesh of the thus quietly departed to ashes in a funeral pyre … to fix his place in history and enable the public to pass on to new men and new measures.” This was undoubtedly a jibe at former President Teddy Roosevelt’s decision to come out of retirement and run in the 1912 election. Luckily for Taft, this practice was never adopted, thus allowing him to become the only ex-president to also serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Millard Fillmore, who like Ford was never elected to the position but rather acceded to the position upon the death of President Zachary Taylor, had earlier appealed for some sort of government support for the former heads of state in the New York Herald in 1873: “It is a national disgrace that our Presidents, having occupied the highest position in the country should be cast adrift, and, perhaps, be compelled to keep a corner grocery for subsistence.” While no former president has ever had to open a corner grocery store to get by, many have found other ways of paying the bills. Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president, was the first to pen a memoir about his life and time in office. Grant died of cancer days after finishing the final draft, but his widow, Julia Grant, received $400,000 in royalties for his memoir, which is still widely considered the finest presidential memoir written before or since.  Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, received a litany of job offers from the business community as his presidency wound down. His reason for rejecting them, “Some of the offers that have come to me would never have come if I had not been President. That means these people are trying to hire not Calvin Coolidge, but a former President of the United States. I can’t make that kind of use of the office.” He added, “I can’t do anything that might take away from the Presidency any of its dignity, or any of the faith the people have in it.” (Coolidge would later take an unpaid board seat at the New York Life Insurance Company.) Truman’s call for support for former presidents garnered sympathy from Democrats in Congress, prompting them to pass the Former Presidents Act in 1958. The bill provides pensions and other benefits to ex-presidents, which have been expanded and increased through legislation in the years since. But Jimmy Carter is the only former president since Ford to follow in Truman’s footsteps in declining to make money through consulting, paid speeches and other means. Carter insisted that it was “inappropriate” for an ex-president to make money in Ford’s “free enterprise system.” To make money, Carter, already the owner of a peanut farm and other real estate holdings, has written more than two dozen books since leaving office. The whole debate over the propriety of ex-presidential money-making now seems rather quaint now given President Donald Trump’s decision to maintain ownership of his real estate and branding business while in the White House, and his regular jaunts to his many eponymous properties. Trump hasn’t even waited until leaving office to monetize the presidency. Take that Gerald Ford. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

03 мая, 22:46

Mad About Obama's Paid Speeches? Blame Gerald Ford.

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); WASHINGTON ― Former President Barack Obama’s decision to accept $400,000 from investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald for a speech about health care generated plenty of outrage last week that he is monetizing the presidency. Then there was the counter-argument that those concerned about Obama’s new source of income are just racists. But aside from the accusations of racism, this debate isn’t new. Debates about the propriety of ex-presidential behavior trace back to the country’s founding. But the contemporary question begins 40 years ago with an important decision made by Gerald Ford. Yes, Gerald Ford. Few historians would put Ford, the 38th President of the United States, on their list of most influential and important presidents. His accidental ascension to the presidency after the resignation of Richard Nixon is perhaps best remembered for the pardon he gave his predecessor and his oversight of the country’s official retreat from Vietnam. It was Ford’s time as an ex-president that was truly revolutionary. In a break from every ex-president before him, Ford decided to turn the prestige of the presidency into cash. He joined corporate boards and hit the paid-speaking circuit. “[H]e didn’t just commercialize the former presidency; he created the commercialized former presidency,” Ford biographer Thomas DeFrank said in an interview with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. “That’s why I said in my book that every former president should go visit his grave in Grand Rapids and thank him for ensuring that they will be instant zillionaires.” Just like Obama, Ford got serious flak for monetizing the highest office in the nation after leaving it ― from the press, presidential historians and even his former press secretary. Ford even accepted money to hawk a presidential medal collection, signing a 1978 deal with Franklin Mint, which claimed to be the world’s largest private producer of coins. The silver medal set sold for $1,950 and the gold for $2,750.  In a letter featuring his official ex-president letterhead, Ford asked recipients to buy the medals: “From the days of George Washington to our own time, the story of the American presidency has been one of continuing challenge and responsibility. That is why I believe the Medallic History of the American Presidency will provide a meaningful way for many American families to enrich their knowledge and appreciation of the heritage of freedom we enjoy.” “We wish he could earn his way without dragging the presidency into it,” the New York Times responded in an editorial.  Jerald terHorst, Ford’s first White House press secretary, wrote in the Washington Post that he wished his former boss would stop the “huckstering and hustling and merchandising of the presidency.” “Mr. Ford believes in the free enterprise system, and is engaging in that,” Ford’s assistant, Robert Barrett, countered when asked by the Associated Press in 1978. DeFrank later recounted a similar argument from Ford himself: “I will always remember ... him pounding the desk and saying, ‘God damn it, Tom, it’s the free enterprise system at its finest.’” Ford’s reasoning reflects its place in time. The 1970s featured a number of revolutionary decisions in corporate America to decouple itself from its obligations to labor and society at large and enter into the global marketplace, while still asserting its political power in the U.S. Unsurprisingly, income inequality exploded ― arguably leading to today’s record high levels. The nation’s first brand ambassador-turned-president, Ronald Reagan, also benefited from these new post-presidential perks. Japanese firm Fujisankei paid Reagan $2 million to deliver two 20 minutes speeches in Japan in 1989, less than a year after leaving office. Fujisankei paid an additional $5 million to cover costs related to the former president’s trip. Reagan was also criticized for this ―  some guy named Donald Trump even poked fun at him for taking money from U.S. businesses by promoting competitors in Japan. “Former Presidents haven’t always comported themselves with dignity after leaving the Oval Office,”a 1989 New York Times article read. “But none have plunged so blatantly into pure commercialism.” Every president since has followed Ford and Reagan’s lead to varying degrees. George H.W. Bush accepted money for speeches from companies like Amway, Choice Hotels International and Barrick Gold, among others. Bush also received a five-figure honorary role on an advisory board for Barrick Gold, a Canadian mining company. Although a millionaire when he entered the White House, Bush quipped an excuse to the New York Times, “everybody has to earn a living.”  His successor, Bill Clinton, took that to new levels, earning around $100 million from paid speeches since leaving office in 2001. Clinton left office with between $2 million and $10 million in legal debts stemming from his impeachment and disbarment hearings, which put him in a slightly different position than most ex-presidents. He used his early earnings to help pay off these debts and those of some of his White House staff. But continued to amass a substantial fortune from speaking gigs ― and has, as everyone is well aware, received substantial criticism for it. George W. Bush was much less popular when his presidency ended, but still made $15 million from paid speeches in the just the first three years after leaving the White House. Now Obama is taking part in the new ex-president tradition of getting really, really rich. It wasn’t always this way. Harry Truman contemplated this issue upon leaving office in 1953 and decided it was indecorous. Though he received numerous offers to make money after moving back home to Independence, Missouri, he wrote in his memoirs that “I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and dignity of the office of the presidency.” Truman was not a wealthy man in the 19 years he lived after leaving office. He spent much of his time responding to letters from admirers around the country, which he said personally cost him $30,000 a year in postage and related expenses. He did, however, think the government should help defray those costs in some way ― a position that he conveyed to his old friend Speaker Sam Rayburn. Truman’s request entered a long-running debate about what to do with ex-presidents. Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first treasury secretary, worried in the Federalist Papers prior to the ratification of the Constitution about the “half a dozen men who had had credit enough to be raised to the seat of the supreme magistracy, wandering among the people like discontented ghosts.” “Of course the subject would be relieved of all uncertainty and embarrassment if every President would die at the end of his term,” Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president and the only one in history to be elected to two non-consecutive terms, opined in a 1891 speech in Sandwich, Massachusetts. William Howard Taft agreed. In a speech to the Lotos Club in New York City following a failed reelection bid in November 1912, ex-presidents should be administered, “a dose of chloroform … and the reduction of the flesh of the thus quietly departed to ashes in a funeral pyre … to fix his place in history and enable the public to pass on to new men and new measures.” This was undoubtedly a jibe at former President Teddy Roosevelt’s decision to come out of retirement and run in the 1912 election. Luckily for Taft, this practice was never adopted, thus allowing him to become the only ex-president to also serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Millard Fillmore, who like Ford was never elected to the position but rather acceded to the position upon the death of President Zachary Taylor, had earlier appealed for some sort of government support for the former heads of state in the New York Herald in 1873: “It is a national disgrace that our Presidents, having occupied the highest position in the country should be cast adrift, and, perhaps, be compelled to keep a corner grocery for subsistence.” While no former president has ever had to open a corner grocery store to get by, many have found other ways of paying the bills. Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president, was the first to pen a memoir about his life and time in office. Grant died of cancer days after finishing the final draft, but his widow, Julia Grant, received $400,000 in royalties for his memoir, which is still widely considered the finest presidential memoir written before or since.  Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, received a litany of job offers from the business community as his presidency wound down. His reason for rejecting them, “Some of the offers that have come to me would never have come if I had not been President. That means these people are trying to hire not Calvin Coolidge, but a former President of the United States. I can’t make that kind of use of the office.” He added, “I can’t do anything that might take away from the Presidency any of its dignity, or any of the faith the people have in it.” (Coolidge would later take an unpaid board seat at the New York Life Insurance Company.) Truman’s call for support for former presidents garnered sympathy from Democrats in Congress, prompting them to pass the Former Presidents Act in 1958. The bill provides pensions and other benefits to ex-presidents, which have been expanded and increased through legislation in the years since. But Jimmy Carter is the only former president since Ford to follow in Truman’s footsteps in declining to make money through consulting, paid speeches and other means. Carter insisted that it was “inappropriate” for an ex-president to make money in Ford’s “free enterprise system.” To make money, Carter, already the owner of a peanut farm and other real estate holdings, has written more than two dozen books since leaving office. The whole debate over the propriety of ex-presidential money-making now seems rather quaint now given President Donald Trump’s decision to maintain ownership of his real estate and branding business while in the White House, and his regular jaunts to his many eponymous properties. Trump hasn’t even waited until leaving office to monetize the presidency. Take that Gerald Ford. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

02 мая, 12:00

What Trump Gets Right—and Progressives Get Wrong—About Andrew Jackson

In the 19th century, Jackson broadened the electorate, but the self-righteousness of some Democrats impedes their efforts to do the same.

29 апреля, 16:00

President Trump, Embrace Hamilton's Kinder And Gentler Nationalism To Make America Great Again

Alexander Hamilton, who extolled “that temperate love of liberty, so essential to real republicanism,” offers us what one might term a “kinder, gentler nationalism.”

28 апреля, 12:43

The Jungle-Warfare Theory of Trump

The president’s assault on the media bears all the hallmarks of a comandante waging asymmetrical combat against a larger force. Except now he’s in charge.

27 апреля, 12:39

Stephen Vaughn, the Hamiltonian at USTR

Vaughn, the current acting U.S. Trade Representative, is a trade lawyer who shares Trump's distaste for recent U.S. trade policy,

25 апреля, 16:03

4 Top Dreyfus Mutual Funds to Add to Your Portfolio

Below we share with you four top-rated Dreyfus mutual funds. Each has earned a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank #1 (Strong Buy)

21 апреля, 19:28

Press Briefing by Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin on Financial Services Executive Order and Memoranda

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room  11:03 A.M. EDT MR. SPICER:  I just want to go over -- first of all, happy Friday.  I want to go over the ground rules, which we adjusted some after a lot of feedback from you guys.  So I appreciate the feedback.   So, first, we're passing out some background material so you can reference them during the briefing, which is something that was suggested by several members in this room that it would be helpful when do background briefings.  So there you go.   Secretary Mnuchin is going to speak on the record, as several of you have requested.  And this part of the briefing is going to be embargoed until 12:30 p.m. to give you guys to write the stories, which was a request that some folks also made.  So I think you went three for three on the requests.  When Secretary Mnuchin is done speaking he'll take some questions.  He’s obviously here to talk about the executive order and memoranda that are being signed later today at Treasury.  When he’s done, he'll take some questions, and then I'll get up and kind of have some fun with you guys -- see who else stops by. So, with that, as long as everyone is clear on the ground rules -- the Secretary is going to come up, he is on the record, embargoed until 12:30 p.m.  He will take questions; they will also be embargoed until 12:30 p.m.  When the Secretary is done, we will clearly transition back to me.  That is then on the record and no embargo. With that, I am pleased to welcome the Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin. SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Thank you.  It's a pleasure to be here. So let me just say a couple of words and then I'm happy to answer questions and clarifications. So, first of all, this will be the President’s first trip to the Treasury, so we are enormously excited to welcome him at the Treasury.  I will say the importance of the Treasury and the location of it on the White House campus is very important and allows constant communication and ease for us to go back and forth.  I think it was not coincidental that it was built next door.   So we are thrilled to welcome him.  There will be a lot of people there outside to greet him, and he will then be coming up, seeing the line of portraits of past Treasury Secretaries, and then coming into my office and signing the executive order and the two memoranda -- with Alexander Hamilton looking over us. So with that, I think you know we have been busy since he signed the initial executive order on core principles, looking at financial reform.  It encompasses all the aspects of Dodd-Frank, but goes much further than Dodd-Frank.  We've already conducted a large number of meetings -- I think we've had over 16 group meetings, and in many of these meetings there’s 50 people in each meeting or more.  So we've been conducting a lot of feedback overall on regulatory reform. These three are specifically designed to focus on certain aspects that are enormously important to the Treasury and to the President, and that fill in with his campaign promise to make sure that Dodd-Frank is not harming our financial system.  But first let me just comment on the tax executive order. Under the previous administration, the tax code has become extremely expensive and burdensome.  Individuals and business spend over 6.1 billion hours; the cost is over $230 billion.  The basic 1040 has grown enormously.  And I think everybody would agree that the tax system is way too complicated and burdensome. So the purpose of this is that the President will be instructing us to review all significant tax regulations since the beginning of 2016, so all of 2016 and this year, and to look at where there are undue financial burdens, unnecessary complexity and requirements, and for us to issue a report that goes through what the issues are and comes up with solutions by repealing or modifying them.  That's the first part of this. The second part of it is two memoranda that review very specifically two important parts of Dodd-Frank.  The first is OLA -- orderly liquidation authority.  We will do an analysis to make sure that this doesn’t encourage excess risk-taking, moral hazard and exposure to taxpayers.  And while that period -- he will direct us not to use OLA unless required by law, in consultation with him.  So in the event that there is a significant emergency and we do need to use it, we have a way of doing it. The second one will be to put a 180-day review on FSOC designation, and I distinguish -- FSOC is a very important council that I chair.  I think the most important part of FSOC is that I can bring the regulators together, get everybody in a room, be able to address important part of regulation.  FSOC also has the responsibility to designate certain entities, and the President will be instructing me to put a hold on that for designations until we do a thorough review and make sure it’s a fair and transparent process. So with that little overview, I’m happy to answer any questions. Q    Mr. Secretary, do you feel that these policies will help to get rid of Too Big to Fail, or at least take a look at -- several conservatives have argued that Dodd-Frank has codified Too Big to Fail.  And second, Chairman Jeb Hensarling, in the House Financial Services Committee, this week introduced a Dodd-Frank bill.  Are you working with him, and do you support that piece of legislation? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, let me just first comment -- we have been working closely with Chairman Hensarling.  We have been in discussions about all different aspects of regulatory reform. It’s obviously a complicated bill, so I won’t go through the entire bill, but I will say we are supportive of him bringing forward this legislation and look forward to working with him and Congress on the specifics of it. In regards to your other question, let me make it absolutely clear, President Trump is absolutely committed to make sure that taxpayers are not at risk for government bailouts of entities that are too big to fail. Q    It was clear to candidate Trump that the tax code was too complex long before he became President.  And he said on the campaign trail, repeatedly, tax reform would be a top priority.  He said it here as President.  Where are you on that?  You’ve made it pretty clear the August deadline is no longer realistic. How far away are you from putting together a tax reform package? And does this slow that process down -- this review? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, let me first comment, President Trump, who was originally candidate Trump, he understood how complicated tax administration reform was even before he became a candidate.  Tax reform is way too complicated.  We said during the campaign, and we’ve said now, we will be working with Congress on a comprehensive tax reform package with the idea to simplify personal taxes, create middle-income tax cuts, and make business taxes more competitive. I want to first focus on the specifics of what we’re doing today.  I did comment yesterday -- I wanted to make sure there is no misunderstanding that we have been working extensively -- from the day I had been confirmed, I’ve been having meetings with the leadership in the House and the Senate on tax reform.  Our staff has been meeting every week.  I’ve been meeting with Chairman Brady every week for the last month or two.  And what I said yesterday is we are very close to coming with the administration’s plan.  So the President is very focused on this. It has been one of his biggest priorities to create economic growth, and we are very focused on that. But I will ask just to hold questions on tax reform for the moment so that we can finish specifics of these.   Yes. Q    Secretary, just reading through here, what are some specific actions available to you to ease these tax compliance burdens? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, there’s -- I mean, just to be clear, what we’re going to do is we are going to go through and look at every single significant regulation that has been done in the last year-and-a-half.  We’re going to determine whether we think they’re needed in the tax code or whether they’re unnecessary, and the tax burden and complexity is too much.  And if we think it’s too much, we will make a recommendation to the President how to change that. Q    Mr. Secretary, in Congress it seems like in the Senate they want to do GSE reform before Dodd-Frank reform.  Is that order you would support?  And what do you think is the biggest holdup to getting a GSE deal? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Okay, well, I’m not going to comment on the Senate’s priority.  I defer to them on that.  But I will say, and I’ve said this from the time period in the campaign and from the minute I was nominated for this position, that housing reform is very important to this administration; that this is not something we’re focused on in terms of legislation in the first half of this year, but again, we’ve been having significant discussions at Treasury with the FHFA, with congressional leadership on this.  And we are committed to working with the House and the Senate on having a reform package that makes sure that we promote necessary liquidity in the housing markets.  These are very important to the economy and we want to make sure in no way do we not have that, but also making sure that we don’t put taxpayers at risk and leave these entities as they are. Q    Mr. Secretary, thank you.  ExxonMobil has requested -- SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  I’m really -- I’m going to ask people first to focus on -- if I could just ask everybody for questions on this, and then at the end perhaps I can answer a few more questions. Q    Mr. Secretary, for those who have just a general understanding that the regulations are tied to underlying law, could you explain why the review is necessary if simultaneously you’re working on a tax reform law?  In other words, aren’t you expending a lot of effort to do something that would be overtaken if the President is proposing new law? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Not necessarily.  I mean, first of all, these are regulations that exist today.  And just to be clear, although the report takes a period of time, that doesn’t mean that we can’t start on the more important things right away. So I think the issue here is this has to do with the complexity of tax regulations.  Some of those issues may be addressed in tax reform.  Some of those things have nothing to do with tax reform, and the President wants to make clear to the American people that we are going to fix the tax code. Q    Mr. Secretary, you’re not commenting on any specific regulations, but some of the most significant tax regulations adopted in this time period are the corporate inversions.  Is that what this is really targeted at?  SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Again, it’s not targeted at just those, it’s targeted at things that are significant and create complexity and undue burdensome situations. Q    It’s certainly one of the things this would be looking at. SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Again, it’s obviously one of the significant things and one of the things we would be looking at.  Q    Just on OLA, do you believe that bankruptcy judges are better equipped to deal with financial contagion risk than regulators? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Let me say that obviously this is a complicated issue.  The bankruptcy code right now doesn’t work, so if entities were going to go through bankruptcy I think it’s important that we have necessary changes to the bankruptcy code. But on the other hand, there is a reason why we have the bankruptcy code.  So this is something we’ll be looking at very carefully as to what the right solution is. Q    And then just to follow up -- Q    Do you have any -- back to the tax inversions.  I mean, -- SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Wait a second, tax inversions aren’t on this.  That -- Q    Well, it's part of the issue of tax review.  Does your staff have any kind of idea of what it would look like if it’s determined that that portion of the tax review was overreaching by the Obama administration or violated the law in some way? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Again, let me just say we’ve got 100 people in the tax department at Treasury right across the street, and they are busy to work at everything.   So -- in the back. Q    Would you have done these reviews without executive presidential order?  What was the purpose specifically of the orders? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Again, I think the purposes of the orders are to make clear what the President and the administration’s priorities are and to signify the importance of these issues to the American people. Q    Mr. Secretary, it seems to me that when you're looking at reviewing the rules regarding inversions, that if you were to roll those back and not get your corporate tax cuts, your tax reform, that you might just start the exodus of companies all over again by removing these rules.  I know that you’re just beginning the review here, but is that part of the calculation?  Is that part of the discussion here -- that these two things would really have to go hand in hand or we could be right back where we were? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, let me just say a general comment -- as I like to say, there were a lot of things coming to this job that I knew a lot about and there are certain things that I had to learn a bit about.  So on my first day in office, Sean was kind enough to invite me over here and I had the pleasure of dealing with the Venezuelan vice president and the Kingpin Act. I can assure you on tax reform, this is an area that I’ve spent a lot of time on.  This is an area that the President and I have worked together during the campaign on.  This is not just something we’ve started thinking about. The priorities are making U.S. business more competitive.  And we’re not going to do anything under this administration that inadvertently makes U.S. business less competitive or encourages U.S. business to go abroad.  We are focused on making U.S. business the most competitive in the world, giving them the tools, and bringing back trillions of dollars. And I can tell you, between the President and I, we’ve literally met with hundreds and hundreds of businesspeople, listening to ideas -- small business leaders, big business leaders.  This administration is open to getting feedback, real-live feedback before we make decisions. Q    Mr. Secretary, a related subject -- on a related subject.  Exxon -- on the same subject -- SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  I’m going to finish these comments.  I have another few minutes. Q    Mr. Secretary, former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke has written that repealing Title 2 to eliminate the OLA would be a major mistake, in his view, and it would imprudently put the economy and the financial system at risk.  Do you envision ultimately repealing Title 2 and eliminating OLA?  Or is there some middle ground you see where you’re going to end up after this review is complete? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, we’re going to do the review and conclude what we think makes sense.  And I would just say -- nothing against him, I have a lot of respect for him -- again, we’re listening to regulators’ views; we’re listening to people who were previously in the administration; we’re listening to people who were impacted by this and we’ll be taking that all into account. Q    Going into the review, can you give us a sense of what you think -- Q    Thank you very much, sir.  India’s financial minister here in the World Bank in meetings, and this will be your first meeting with him under this new Trump relationship.  So what is the future of U.S.-India trade and financial and economic relations, sir? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, let me say, kind of -- I broke out from the IMF meetings to come here today.  I think I had a series of eight bilaterals yesterday.  I think I’ve done four this morning, have a full day tomorrow and the rest of this afternoon. And that’s one of them that I look forward -- we’ve had very constructive discussions with all our counterparts about trade and investment and opportunities for global growth, and I look forward to working with all my counterparts in the G20. So thank you all very much.  Appreciate it.  Thank you, Sean. Q    And then you were going to answer questions after -- Q    Sorry, sir --  Q    You said you were going to answer some tax questions when you were done. SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, I’ll take one more tax question from you, but then I have to go to IMF meetings.  So what was your tax question? Q    Anyone else -- Q    Sir, on Exxon -- SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Tax question. Q    The President has talked a lot about preventing U.S. companies from moving overseas.  That is different from moving profit overseas.  And I just want to know where do you think -- where do you land on that?  Is it okay for U.S. companies to move profit overseas?  Or are you more focused on the jobs side? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, let me be clear, we’re focused on everything.  So we want trillions of dollars to come back onshore, to be re-invested.  And we expect that that will be a major part of tax reform.  And we are committed, through trade policies, tax policies, economic discussions, to make sure that we have free and fair bilateral trade that works in both directions. Q    Sir, on the Exxon, one thing -- request your permission to deal in the Black Sea region.  When can the decision be expected? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Can’t comment on that right now, but -- that’s not something I can comment specifically on at the moment. Q    -- on the difficulty of doing tax reform, if you’re not able to get this healthcare repeal through?  There’s a lot of savings that were expected from healthcare repeal. SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  I think, as you know, the President wants to get healthcare done and he wants to get tax done.  And hopefully we’ll get them both done, but we’re going to get tax done.   Thank you very much. Q    Is there a timeline for that now?  A new timeline? SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  As I said yesterday -- soon.  (Laughter.)   END    11: 25 A.M. EDT

20 апреля, 10:30

Facebook придёт за тобой

За что люблю поколение рок-н-ролла — за остроту мысли и нон-конформистскую жизненную позицию. Представителям этого поколения не запудрить мозги хипстерской лабудой. Потому что они помнят настоящих хипстеров — сороковых годов: они все умерли практически на руках настоящих рокеров. Не промыть им мозги айтишным собачьим языком и не очаровать новым app’ом для смартфончика. После того как проехал по всем Штатам с Бобом Диланом на гастролях, ваши спайсы — для маменькиных сынков. А вейпы вообще для домашних пёсиков. Что вы можете нового рассказать Джонатану Таплину, автору потрясающей книги, которая вышла вчера в Америке под названием "Пошевеливайся и круши. Как Google, Facebook и Amazon загнали культуру в угол и подорвали демократию" (Move Fast and Break Things — How Google, Facebook and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy). Этот человек, ныне профессор Аннандейлского универа, провёл юность с Бобом Диланом (фильм "Последний вальс" и книга Outlaw Blues) и прочими Grateful Dead. Помогал Джорджу Харрисону собирать концерт для Бангладеш. В молодости собирал номинации на "Оскар", "Золотую ветвь" и "Золотой глобус" в качестве продюсера таких картин Мартина Скорцезе, как "Грязные улицы" с Де Ниро, а во взрослом состоянии первым придумал и запустил интернет-формат Video on Demand, где его и доблестно схарчили монополисты типа Sony с Universal. Так что профессор видит всю эту фигню с высокой колокольни. Что там тебе видать, Джонатан? Ответ на этот вопрос — в книге. Смешно и страшно. Высокотехнологичные компании Америки корчат из себя крутых и дико контркультурных. И боссы, и сотрудники ходят в маечках и джинсах на работу, вещают высокопарным языком о том, как их "разрушительные инновации" изменят мир к лучшему. А на самом деле единственное, в чём они преуспели по-настоящему, так это в разрушении демократии в Америке и по всему миру, ускоряя становление олигархии в США и уничтожая культурные и экономические возможности для миллионов людей. "Пошевеливайся и круши" — была любимая поговорка в Кремниевой долине. Но мальчики в маечках забыли об одном, что "культура — это не совсем "раскладушка" от Motorola, которую можно выкинуть в помойку сразу, как только появилась Новая Крутая Вещь". Всё, что пишет Таплин в своей книге, уже знакомо не понаслышке: "В той же Америке прибыли от газетной рекламы упали на 40 миллиардов с 2000 по 2014 год, доходы от музыкальных записей — на 10 миллиардов. За двадцать лет закрылось 5000 независимых книжных и музыкальных магазинов. Facebook проводит скрытые эксперименты по манипуляции сотнями тысяч пользователей, Amazon известен отношением к своим сотрудникам в логистических центрах как к рабам, Google — лидирует по нарушениям авторских прав. Всё это хорошо задокументировано". Почему эти новые гиганты Интернета так опасны? "Потому что они эксплуатируют доминирующие позиции на рынке для того, чтобы нарушать законы стран, где они работают, извлекать сверхприбыли из рекламного рынка, пользуясь простым шантажом, а также постоянно живут на чужом контенте, о чём правообладатель часто просто не догадывается", — пишет Таплин. Директор инновационной лаборатории Аннанберга, который входит в Университет Южной Калифорнии, Джонатан Таплин давно исследует проблему, и она ему видится следующим образом. "Главные технологические компании в основе своей монополистичны. Но всё началось гораздо раньше — ещё Томас Джефферсон требовал ограничения для монополий и пытался добавить эту главу к "Биллю о правах", наряду со свободой слова и прессы, свободой совести и защитой против вражеских армий. Тогда, ещё в те времена, против него выступил Александр Гамильтон, основатель Bank of New York, и он с коллегами победил. Но, не попав в "Билль о правах", закон против монополий реализовался в антитрестовском законе Шермана 1890 года. Именно этот акт позволил в своё время президенту Рузвельту разделить на части трест Джона Д. Рокфеллера Standard Oil. Таплин цитирует Рузвельта: "Первая задача — изменить условия, при которых эти люди аккумулируют мощь, вовсе не направленную на общественное благо". И эти слова опять актуальны как никогда. Автор приводит куски дискуссий по этому поводу на примере сети Walmart (включает в себя гипермаркеты, универмаги-дискаунтеры и овощные магазины), когда эксперты говорили, что ничего страшного не случилось бы, если бы во всей Америке из ретейлеров остался один только Walmart. На что им ответили, что, может быть, для потребителя мало что изменилось бы, а вот для поставщиков настала бы катастрофа, потому что их продавили бы при закупках по максимуму. "Это как раз то, что сейчас происходит с Amazon, — говорит Таплин. — В отношении книгоиздателей. Так как Amazon может отказать издателям в своей огромной базе, то последним приходится соглашаться на бросовые цены. Google и Facebook делают то же самое, отказывая рекламодателю в доступе к миллиардам пользователей, если рекламодателю цены кажутся завышенными по сравнению с рыночными". Автор цитирует показатель индекса Херфиндаля — Хиршмана, который определяет степень монополизации. Значение 2500 определяет высокий уровень монополизации той или иной компании. И следовательно, её степень нарушения антимонопольных законов. Но на рынке интернет-поисковиков Google имеет 7402 пункта — практически в три раза больше критической цифры, и все делают вид, что всё нормально. В ответ на мой вопрос "как насчёт других стран, не только Америки?" Джонатан сказал: — Дело как раз в том, что у них мировое господство. Реальную конкуренцию им составляют только русские на своей территории. В Европе, например, никто не может сопротивляться. — Ты говоришь, что эти компании "закладывают бомбу под основы демократии"? Что ты имеешь в виду? — Прежде всего, всё это началось с проблемы фейковых новостей, благодаря "Гуглу" и "Фейсбуку". Так как ни FB, ни YouTube не волнует содержание их страниц, стало возможным распространение любой лжи на миллиардную аудиторию. При этом навариваясь на рекламе посредством Google Ad Sense. Кстати, теперь мы имеем вообще запредельные вещи: Facebook блокирует любой намёк на наготу, зато транслирует в прямом эфире убийство человека. Я только что выступил в NY Post по этому поводу со статьёй. — Это всё из-за тоталитарной природы монополий? — Хороший термин ты придумал the totalitarian nature of monopolies, я в книге использую несколько иной — regulatory capture — ловушка для регулятора, потому что тот же Google использует своё влияние, чтобы манипулировать регуляторами как в администрации Обамы, так и в администрации Трампа. Практически Big Tech сам выбирает себе регуляторов. — Какие инструменты существуют, чтобы ограничить власть новоявленных миллиардеров в высоких технологиях? — Это может быть антимонопольное законодательство — только если законодатели решат его реформировать в соответствии с задачами сегодняшнего дня, а не времён Рузвельта. Потому что сегодня происходит убийство культуры: скажем, группа, которая на iTunes продаёт миллионный тираж своих песен, может заработать 900 000 долларов, а когда у них на YouTube стрим на миллион, то музыканты в лучшем случае получат 900 долларов. Это надо менять. Таким образом, либертарианство свободного рынка, которое спокойно отправляет в помойку антимонопольные законы, коренится в самой природе Интернета. Но идея децентрализованной сети, которая должна пережить атомную войну, уже давно вошла в противоречие с практикой огромной концентрации власти и силы в руках всего нескольких компаний в мире. "При этом, если бы антигосударственные убеждения молодых интернет-олигархов существовали в такой форме в 1960-е годы, то самого Интернета, скорее всего, не случилось бы". На самом деле мощности этих компаний вполне бы хватило, чтобы защитить те законы, которые они благостно сегодня сами нарушают. Они продемонстрировали свои способности в деле священной борьбы с голым человеческим телом на FB или в деле блокировки незаконной торговли наркотиками — в поисковых запросах и выдачах. И для них не было бы слишком сложно охранять авторское право или делиться своими мегаприбылями с индустриями поставщиков контента, которых они сегодня просто режут без ножа. Не оставляет Таплин и тему президентских выборов 2016 года, когда, по его мнению, "состоялась демонстрация последствий того, как всё те же интернет-компании выпотрошили когда-то влиятельную сферу профессиональной журналистики". И опасность подстерегает не только людей творческой профессии. "Первыми на баррикадах оказались музыканты и писатели всех мастей, потому что именно эта сфера первой пошла в оцифровку. Но ничего, скоро придут и за вами, за вашей работой и за вашими личными данными". Главный вывод новой книги Джонатана Таплина в том, что без изменения законов, без принуждения гигантов соблюдать этические нормы и уважать нужды потребителя, эти охреневшие от вседозволенности и денег юные олигархи с моралью крысы и кругозором танка Т-34 изменят общество ещё больше, нежели они это сделали до сих пор. Правда, это вряд ли будут изменения к лучшему.

19 апреля, 12:46

Can American Democracy Survive The Era Of Inequality?

Only in our obsessively data-driven era could an issue as socially profound as economic inequality be almost exclusively presented as a mathematical abstraction. Over the past 30 years, an equation has malfunctioned in America, and the numbers do not add up. Occupy Wall Street declares solidarity with the 99 percent, and French economist Thomas Piketty has centuries of figures to prove it. The fact that these bloodless metaphors serve as effective political slogans demonstrates the severity of the problem. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) statistically dense stump speeches attacking the 1 percent transformed him from an obscure hippie into the most popular politician in the country. But inequality is not the breakdown of an awesome machine. It is a political crisis ― one that threatens the very foundations of American government, according to a startling new book by Vanderbilt University Law School professor Ganesh Sitaraman. In The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution, Sitaraman argues persuasively that the American Constitution requires a robust middle class to operate, and will break down in the face of prolonged, severe economic inequality. In a narrative that reaches all the way back to ancient Athens, Sitaraman presents the American Constitution as a radical document that broke with all prior Western legal systems by rejecting the idea that significant economic inequality is both natural and inevitable. Where Athens, Rome and subsequent European empires constructed their institutions to prevent class antagonism from devolving into class war, the United States built a legal system that required broad economic equality to function. Other constitutions, Sitaraman told HuffPost, “built economic class right into the structure of government. In England, for example, you’ve got a House of Lords for the rich and you’ve got a House of Commons for the poor. We don’t have anything like that. … And the reason we don’t have that is that the founders looked around and they thought that America was uniquely equal economically in the history of the world.” By not baking class division into the cake, the American system avoided granting explicit privileges and protections to the rich. But the lack of constitutional checks on the power of either the rich or the poor also makes the American republic uniquely unstable during periods of deep inequality. “If the middle class collapses and the gap between the rich and everyone else expands, economic inequality will soon lead to political inequality,” Sitaraman writes. “Eventually, the political system itself will be deformed to stack the deck in favor of the economic elites. Either the republic will transform into an oligarchy, or the people will be seduced by an authoritarian demagogue.” Listen to HuffPost’s interview with Sitaraman in the HuffPost politics podcast, So That Happened, embedded below. The discussion begins at the 19:25 mark.    Sitaraman’s account may surprise many liberals. For decades, the early years of the American government have been the intellectual property of the political right, with tri-cornered hats, fifes and snare drums serving as the iconography of conservatism. To the left, the American Revolution is widely seen as a war waged by wealthy white colonists infuriated by high taxes who somehow never got around to abolishing slavery while they were reshaping their political system (although Alexander Hamilton, an authoritarian who personally profited from the slave trade, is enjoying an odd resurgence of liberal popularity). Sitaraman doesn’t deny the dark side of the founding generation. He bluntly denounces its shortcomings and bemoans the injustices committed against women, African Americans, Native Americans and other minorities throughout U.S. history. But he also teases out a uniquely American egalitarian economic tradition that includes not only the liberal-friendly upheavals of the Civil War and the Great Depression, but the writings of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. “The idea is that everyone within the political community should be relatively equal,” Sitaraman said. “It leaves open a really big question ― who’s in the political community? And that’s the fight that we’ve had over generations.” Jefferson, in particular, comes in as a defender of such internal equality. In a letter to Madison, he claims to have “laid the axe to the root of Pseudoaristocracy” by banning primogeniture in Virginia and abolishing “entail” laws forbidding the division of agricultural estates. Elsewhere, he suggests “laying burthens on the richer classes, & encouraging the poorer ones,” develops a scheme for progressive land taxes, and calls for the government to give property to every man who does not already own at least 50 acres. The founders also acknowledged that laws would need to change over time to preserve the egalitarian nature of the Republic, Sitaraman argues. He quotes an 1829 letter from Madison, in which the co-author of the Federalist Papers predicts that by 1930, an intolerable number of citizens will be “reduced by a competition for employment to wages which afford them the bare necessities of life.” At that point, “the institutions and laws of the Country must be adapted, and it will require for the task all the wisdom of the wisest patriots.” The crisis Madison predicted came to pass in the form of the Great Depression, and American government survived by adopting Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, which lifted millions out of poverty and subjected much of the economy to federal regulation. Sitaraman’s prescriptions for the current crisis are more modest. Taxes should be raised on the rich and redistributed to the poor, either as direct payments, or in the form of more robust social services. Tougher enforcement of antitrust laws would break up heavy concentrations of economic power. Campaign finance reform would reduce the threat of legalized bribery. Unfortunately, none of these reforms will be possible for at least four years,  and they may already be too late. Donald Trump’s rapid rise to the presidency made plain America’s vulnerability to demagoguery. The symptoms of oligarchy have long been obvious in the workings of Congress, where intra-elite squabbles routinely sideline middle-class concerns. One particularly egregious example occurred in 2011. With the economy in the doldrums, the Senate spent more than six months battling over debit-card swipe fees, a fringe conflict between retailers and banks that had little to do with economic recovery. More recently, the Obama administration and Republican leaders expended tremendous effort trying to push through a trade pact that even its supporters believed would have only a minor effect on the flow of imports and exports ― a deal that also would have helped corporate insiders challenge profit-crimping laws and regulations before an international tribunal.  But the depressing state of our politics should not detract from Sitaraman’s outstanding work. It is only April, and The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution may well prove to be the most important political book of the year.   “So That Happened” is hosted by Jason Linkins, Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney and produced by Zach Young. Send us an email at [email protected] To listen to this podcast later, download our show on iTunes. While you’re there, please subscribe to, rate and review our show. Check out other HuffPost podcasts on iTunes here. You can also find us on Google Play Music, RadioPublic, or Acast. Want more witty and informative political banter in your life? Sign up for our Politics email and find out how Trump and his new administration will impact you. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

19 апреля, 12:46

Can American Democracy Survive The Era Of Inequality?

Only in our obsessively data-driven era could an issue as socially profound as economic inequality be almost exclusively presented as a mathematical abstraction. Over the past 30 years, an equation has malfunctioned in America, and the numbers do not add up. Occupy Wall Street declares solidarity with the 99 percent, and French economist Thomas Piketty has centuries of figures to prove it. The fact that these bloodless metaphors serve as effective political slogans demonstrates the severity of the problem. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) statistically dense stump speeches attacking the 1 percent transformed him from an obscure hippie into the most popular politician in the country. But inequality is not the breakdown of an awesome machine. It is a political crisis ― one that threatens the very foundations of American government, according to a startling new book by Vanderbilt University Law School professor Ganesh Sitaraman. In The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution, Sitaraman argues persuasively that the American Constitution requires a robust middle class to operate, and will break down in the face of prolonged, severe economic inequality. In a narrative that reaches all the way back to ancient Athens, Sitaraman presents the American Constitution as a radical document that broke with all prior Western legal systems by rejecting the idea that significant economic inequality is both natural and inevitable. Where Athens, Rome and subsequent European empires constructed their institutions to prevent class antagonism from devolving into class war, the United States built a legal system that required broad economic equality to function. Other constitutions, Sitaraman told HuffPost, “built economic class right into the structure of government. In England, for example, you’ve got a House of Lords for the rich and you’ve got a House of Commons for the poor. We don’t have anything like that. … And the reason we don’t have that is that the founders looked around and they thought that America was uniquely equal economically in the history of the world.” By not baking class division into the cake, the American system avoided granting explicit privileges and protections to the rich. But the lack of constitutional checks on the power of either the rich or the poor also makes the American republic uniquely unstable during periods of deep inequality. “If the middle class collapses and the gap between the rich and everyone else expands, economic inequality will soon lead to political inequality,” Sitaraman writes. “Eventually, the political system itself will be deformed to stack the deck in favor of the economic elites. Either the republic will transform into an oligarchy, or the people will be seduced by an authoritarian demagogue.” Listen to HuffPost’s interview with Sitaraman in the HuffPost politics podcast, So That Happened, embedded below. The discussion begins at the 19:25 mark.    Sitaraman’s account may surprise many liberals. For decades, the early years of the American government have been the intellectual property of the political right, with tri-cornered hats, fifes and snare drums serving as the iconography of conservatism. To the left, the American Revolution is widely seen as a war waged by wealthy white colonists infuriated by high taxes who somehow never got around to abolishing slavery while they were reshaping their political system (although Alexander Hamilton, an authoritarian who personally profited from the slave trade, is enjoying an odd resurgence of liberal popularity). Sitaraman doesn’t deny the dark side of the founding generation. He bluntly denounces its shortcomings and bemoans the injustices committed against women, African Americans, Native Americans and other minorities throughout U.S. history. But he also teases out a uniquely American egalitarian economic tradition that includes not only the liberal-friendly upheavals of the Civil War and the Great Depression, but the writings of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. “The idea is that everyone within the political community should be relatively equal,” Sitaraman said. “It leaves open a really big question ― who’s in the political community? And that’s the fight that we’ve had over generations.” Jefferson, in particular, comes in as a defender of such internal equality. In a letter to Madison, he claims to have “laid the axe to the root of Pseudoaristocracy” by banning primogeniture in Virginia and abolishing “entail” laws forbidding the division of agricultural estates. Elsewhere, he suggests “laying burthens on the richer classes, & encouraging the poorer ones,” develops a scheme for progressive land taxes, and calls for the government to give property to every man who does not already own at least 50 acres. The founders also acknowledged that laws would need to change over time to preserve the egalitarian nature of the Republic, Sitaraman argues. He quotes an 1829 letter from Madison, in which the co-author of the Federalist Papers predicts that by 1930, an intolerable number of citizens will be “reduced by a competition for employment to wages which afford them the bare necessities of life.” At that point, “the institutions and laws of the Country must be adapted, and it will require for the task all the wisdom of the wisest patriots.” The crisis Madison predicted came to pass in the form of the Great Depression, and American government survived by adopting Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, which lifted millions out of poverty and subjected much of the economy to federal regulation. Sitaraman’s prescriptions for the current crisis are more modest. Taxes should be raised on the rich and redistributed to the poor, either as direct payments, or in the form of more robust social services. Tougher enforcement of antitrust laws would break up heavy concentrations of economic power. Campaign finance reform would reduce the threat of legalized bribery. Unfortunately, none of these reforms will be possible for at least four years,  and they may already be too late. Donald Trump’s rapid rise to the presidency made plain America’s vulnerability to demagoguery. The symptoms of oligarchy have long been obvious in the workings of Congress, where intra-elite squabbles routinely sideline middle-class concerns. One particularly egregious example occurred in 2011. With the economy in the doldrums, the Senate spent more than six months battling over debit-card swipe fees, a fringe conflict between retailers and banks that had little to do with economic recovery. More recently, the Obama administration and Republican leaders expended tremendous effort trying to push through a trade pact that even its supporters believed would have only a minor effect on the flow of imports and exports ― a deal that also would have helped corporate insiders challenge profit-crimping laws and regulations before an international tribunal.  But the depressing state of our politics should not detract from Sitaraman’s outstanding work. It is only April, and The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution may well prove to be the most important political book of the year.   “So That Happened” is hosted by Jason Linkins, Zach Carter and Arthur Delaney and produced by Zach Young. Send us an email at [email protected] To listen to this podcast later, download our show on iTunes. While you’re there, please subscribe to, rate and review our show. Check out other HuffPost podcasts on iTunes here. You can also find us on Google Play Music, RadioPublic, or Acast. Want more witty and informative political banter in your life? Sign up for our Politics email and find out how Trump and his new administration will impact you. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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