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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
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Obama still comes in #3 after FDR and Clinton in stock gains in his first 2,000 days.


As of right now, Obama ranks third behind top finisher Bill Clinton and runner-up Franklin Roosevelt in terms of stock gains, according to our calculations. After Obama, in order, it’s Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, George W. Bush and Richard Nixon. (Yes, Nixon barely made it into the club; he resigned 2,027 days into his presidency amid the Watergate scandal.)

Another surprise, also sure to rankle the right, is that the average stock-market gain under four post-Depression Democrats through each one’s 2,000th day in office has outpaced the average gain of the four Republicans in the era by a factor of nearly 4 to 1. Democratic gains have averaged 133%, while Republican market advances have had a mean of 33%.


Manufacturing jobs have been declining since the 1960's in the US and since the 1970's in every

other developed country. Since the 1960's the only period of increase in manufacturing employment was during the Clinton administration after NAFTA. They had declined steadily for 30 years before Clinton and for 10 years afterwards, just increasing again starting in 2011. To blame a 50-year decline on NAFTA seems to be searching for a boogeyman.

FDR actually proposed an International Trading Organization (ITO) in 1944 (along with the IMF and World Bank) but by the time negotiations were completed republicans controlled congress and would not ratify US participation in the ITO so it died. Who knows if the ITO would have become a reality if FDR had not died in office.

GATT was what created in the FDR/Truman era to promote multilateral control of trade. It was meant to be temporary until the ITO came into force but became permanent when the ITO was rejected by republicans. FDR did not want to see a return to the high tariffs and limited trade of the republican administrations that preceded him. Truman shared his commitment.

FDR created a strong economy and middle class not by going after foreigners and trading with them, but by going after our own 1%. He raised taxes on them, empowered unions, created and strengthened the safety net and regulated the way that banks and corporations did business. He did not blame other countries for our problems. In fact, he increased trade soon after taking office then set up the beginnings of the international trading system that exists today.

"Since 2003, it's not China but Germany, that colossus of European socialism, that has either led

the world in export sales or at least been tied for first. Even as we in the United States fall more deeply into the clutches of our foreign creditors -- China foremost among them -- Germany has somehow managed to create a high-wage, unionized economy without shipping all its jobs abroad or creating a massive trade deficit, or any trade deficit at all. And even as the Germans outsell the United States, they manage to take six weeks of vacation every year. They're beating us with one hand tied behind their back."

European social democracies -- particularly Germany -- have some lessons and models that might make life a lot more livable. Germans have six weeks of federally mandated vacation, free university tuition, and nursing care. But you've heard the arguments for years about how those wussy Europeans can't compete in a global economy. You've heard that so many times, you might believe it. But like so many things, the media repeats endlessly, it's just not true.

Americans don't know how things actually work in European countries. For many people the fact that Germany is neck and neck with China as the number one exporting country -- give or take the rise and fall of currency - must be mind blowing. Even progressives in America don't look overseas for models that work. I find it almost pathological that our exceptionalism infects even those who assume they don't believe in it.

Many Americans think that we've got a trade deficit because we can't compete with China. We've got a trade deficit because we can't compete with Germany in selling things to China. Until people wake up and look at the kinds of things that the Germans are doing to keep their manufacturing base, we're going to continue to run deficits which leave us in the clutches of foreign creditors and compromise our autonomy as a country.

Even progressive Democrats don't have the sophistication of their counterparts on the left in France and Germany in terms of understanding how important it is not to run up a national debt. Here we march against Mexico and put up tariff walls. They don't do that in Europe, they're not that unsophisticated.


Even progressives in America don't look overseas for models that work ... our exceptionalism infects even those who assume they don't believe in it.

Wages in Germany are comparable to and in some industries exceed those of American workers. Germans of course have much stronger unions and social services.

Germany trades with China much more than the US does. Trade with China is a 50% larger part (4.8%) of the German economy than it is in the US (3.2%).

No referendums, of course, but here is a Pew poll from last month.

Americans overall are lukewarm about the two major trade deals under negotiation – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade agreement between the European Union and the U.S., and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade deal between the U.S., Canada and 10 Asian-Pacific countries. About half (53%) of Americans see TTIP as a good thing and 55% say the same about TPP. Democratic support for both treaties is stronger than that of Republicans: 60% of Democrats see TTIP as a good thing compared with 44% of Republicans, while 59% of Democrats look favorably on TPP compared with 49% of Republicans.


While a number of Tea Party Republicans voted in favor of the three Obama-promoted free-trade agreements in 2011, they are viewing the TPP differently because of its magnitude and due to pressure from the Republican base. “Because of its massive size, the TPP has captured a lot more attention from the Right than the Korea pact ever did,” Stamoulis says. “With Republicans’ base much more engaged on the TPP—the Tea Party Nation and others opposing it—I expect to see a lot more Republican opposition this time around, and indeed, we already are seeing that.” The visceral dislike of Obama by many on the Right may add fuel to rightist opposition to the TPP and the fast-track procedure, Stamoulis concedes, but he points out that opposition to corporate-style globalization has been mounting among Republican voters for some time. “Polls showed that Republican voters’ opposition to free-trade agreements existed back during the Bush administration as well,” he notes.


Not really. Suspicion of foreigners - immigration, trade, foreign aid, "us vs them" - might

be part of it. It probably revolves around nationalism/patriotism, at least on a shallow flag-waving kind of level. America = good, foreigners = bad.

It's hard to argue that conservatives don't like 'free trade' agreements due to a perception of the hardship it causes American workers. They don't show such perception with regard to tax policy, fiscal policy, labor policy, safety net policy, corporate regulation policy, etc. Perhaps an economic setback happened to them personally or to someone close to them. They seem to respond to those more than to what happens to 'others'.

If they lose a job or don't get a promotion, it is easier for them to blame a foreigner than it is to figure how American law and culture has weakened unions and labor law and empowered corporations and the wealthy. It is much easier to blame a Mexican or Chinese for their economic hardship than it is to understand how Taft-Hartley and other legislation has weakened unions to an extent not present in any other developed country; or how tax policy has encouraged outsourcing and rewarded rich 'job-creators' while penalizing workers.

It is harder for them to believe that their hardship is the fault of "good ol' American" corporations and "good ol' American" 1% that get richer and richer while they struggle. It must be the poor Chinese worker or the Mexican down the street. FDR was able to explain the connection the power of the American elite and the struggles of the middle class. He did not blame foreigners for our problems and went about taming our own elite. Our current political leadership is not able to do this.

Of course, the talk radio that conservatives listen to plays up these fears and never points the finger at corporations or the 1%.

Of course, he campaigned against and negotiated away most of the high tariffs he inherited

from Hoover and Coolidge.

I think your quote is a fair assessment of his thoughts on tariffs in 1933. After campaigning against high tariffs in 1932 he introduced the RTAA in 1934 which he used to lower tariffs. The quote may have been an expression of his opinion of how limited they should be - compared to the high tariff levels republicans had enacted - since, in the next, year he started to lower them.

And one could argue that his view of tariffs and trade in general evolved over the course of time. As WWII progressed and he envisioned the post-war world, he seemed committed to multilateral organizations that would play a large role in international affairs. The United Nations was the first, proposed in 1942. Then in 1944 his Bretton Woods conference came up with the IMF, the World Bank and the International Trade Organization ("an international institution for the regulation of trade").

I think his later commitment to multilateral governance of international issues was partly a fear that conservatives would regain power in the US and elsewhere and bring about a return to the same high tariffs and isolationism that Coolidge and Hoover had promoted.

From the Roosevelt Institute: The Next New Deal

The driving force behind this effort was FDR's Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, who considered the passage of Smoot-Hawley an unmitigated disaster. Hull had been arguing in favor of freer trade for decades, both as a Democratic congressman and later senator from Tennessee. Given the long-standing protectionist tendencies of Congress -- which reached their zenith with the passage of Smoot-Hawley, the highest tariff in U.S. history -- Hull faced an uphill struggle to accomplish this task. He also had to overcome FDR's initial reluctance to embrace his ideas, as the president preferred the policies of the "economic nationalists" within his administration during his first year in office. By 1934, however, FDR's attitude began to change, and in March of that year the president threw his support behind Hull's proposed Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act -- a landmark piece of legislation that fundamentally altered the way in which the United States carried out foreign economic policy.

Convinced that the country was not ready for a truly multilateral approach to freer trade, Hull's legislation sought to establish a system of bilateral agreements through which the United States would seek reciprocal reductions in the duties imposed on specific commodities with other interested governments. These reductions would then be generalized by the application of the most-favored-nation principle, with the result that the reduction accorded to a commodity from one country would then be accorded to the same commodity when imported from other countries. Well aware of the lingering resistance to tariff reduction that remained in Congress, Hull insisted that the power to make these agreements must rest with the president alone, without the necessity of submitting them to the Senate for approval. Under the act, the president would be granted the power to decrease or increase existing rates by as much as 50 percent in return for reciprocal trade concessions granted by the other country.

It is also important to note that Hull, like many of his contemporaries, including FDR, regarded protectionism as antithetical to the average worker -- first, because in FDR's view high tariffs shifted the burden of financing the government from the rich to the poor, and secondly, because he believed that high tariffs concentrated wealth in the hands of the industrial elite, who, as a consequence, wielded an undue or even corrupting influence in Washington. As such, both FDR and Hull saw the opening up of the world's economy as a positive measure that would help alleviate global poverty, improve the lives of workers, reduce tensions among nations, and help usher in a new age of peace and prosperity. Indeed, by the time the U.S. entered the war, this conviction had intensified to the point where the two men concluded that the root cause of the war was economic depravity.

The U.S. would also champion the 1944 Bretton Woods Accords, which set up the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and after the war, the RTAA would go on to serve as the model for the negotiation of the 1947 General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT), the critical institution upon which the modern global economy stands and the precursor to the World Trade Organization (WTO) established in 1995. Hence, it was U.S. reciprocal trade policy -- a policy that had changed little since its inception during the New Deal -- combined with a newfound determination to play a leading role in world affairs, that guided U.S. policymakers in the mid-1940s towards a new post-war international economic order -- an economic order still largely in operation to this day.


This is the first time I read that the RTAA actually gave FDR the power to unilaterally raise or lower tariffs up to 50% without congressional approval.

I agree. republicans have no reason to give Obama 'fast track' authority. Without it they can pick

apart any TPP that is submitted to them and remove any good provisions (perhaps on environmental or labor issues) in it and leave just the pro-corporate provisions and maybe insert some new ones for good measure. Obama could veto the resulting republican version of the TPP. Even assuming the veto was not overridden what would all that have accomplished?

They don't like Obama or trust him. Why would republicans want to give him an authority that would then prevent their own republican-dominated congress from picking apart whatever Obama were to submit?

Obama would be a fool to submit the TPP to a republican congress without 'fast track' and republicans have no reason to give it to him. People may or may not like Obama but he is not fool.

As you said, he would just walk away from it now.

The only polls I've found on fast track back up what you say about conservatives.

While opposition is relatively uniform both geographically and demographically, the survey data reveals a sharp partisan divide on the issue. Republicans overwhelmingly oppose giving fast-track authority to the president (8% in favor, 87% opposed), as do independents (20%-66%), while a narrow majority (52%) of Democrats are in favor (35% opposed).


On the issue of trade agreements, divisions within the Republican Party are again apparent. Staunch Conservatives are strongly opposed to granting the president fast-track authority: 76% oppose, only 22% favor. Moderate Republicans and Populist Republicans also oppose this proposal; however, their opposition is more muted. Among Moderate Republicans, 53% oppose, 43% favor; among Populists, 57% oppose, 35% favor.

Democratic groups are more united on this issue. Roughly 50% of Liberals, Socially Conservative Democrats and Partisan Poor favor fast track. New Democrats are more likely than any other typology group to endorse the idea — 61% favor.


Isolationist America First group blasted FDR as "warmonger" and "interventionist".

With the attack on Pearl Harbor, a collapse of ‘isms’

That day, the entire AFC cause collapsed on the Soldiers & Sailors floor, felled by the same foe that crippled the Pacific fleet. Three ideological “isms” collided that day: Japanese imperialism aroused American nationalism and, in the process, silenced American isolationism.

In the 15 months before the outbreak of World War II, the America First Committee dominated the national isolationist discussion. Its policies were: defend our shores, denounce FDR’s interventionist agenda and oppose aid to Britain in its war against Hitler. The AFC emerged to counter the interventionist Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies.

Prior to Mr. Nye’s address, the Bellevue Methodist Church choir performed several selections, and speakers stoked the crowd. Among the group was former state Sen.C. Hale Sipe, who referred to FDR as “the chief warmonger in the United States.”

Mr. Nye glanced at the note and, without pausing, continued to harangue his audience. He asked, “Whose war is this?” The thunderous response reverberated throughout the hall: “Roosevelt! Roosevelt!” For another 15 minutes, his assault on the administration continued. Mr. Nye denounced FDR’s arrangement with Britain to exchange 50 destroyers for leases on eight Western Hemisphere bases. Some listeners responded with cries of “Treason,” and others shouted, “Impeach him.”


France’s cash-strapped far right turns to Russian lender. "No one else will give us a cent."

Marine Le Pen stands before a large poster reading "No to Brussels" at a rally ahead of the 2014 European elections.

The French far right’s cosiness with Vladimir Putin’s Russia is back in the spotlight as Marine Le Pen’s party confirms it borrowed nine million euros from a Russian lender, saying “no one else will give us a cent”.

France’s far-right National Front (FN) said Sunday it had borrowed the money from Moscow-based First Czech Russian Bank (FRCB), confirming a report by the investigative news website Mediapart. “We have been looking for loans for some time, to fund our election campaigns. But our bank, like most French and European lenders, categorically refuses to give the FN and FN candidates the slightest cent,” he said. Saint-Just has expressed similar concerns in the past, saying banks were reluctant to lend money to political parties since former president Nicolas Sarkozy was fined 500,000 euros for undisclosed expenses in his failed 2012 presidential bid.

Pointing to Le Pen’s well-known penchant for Moscow, Mediapart said the FN’s Russian funding raised concerns about “possible foreign interference in French politics”. The far right leader has made multiple trips to Moscow since taking over from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2011. She has made no secret of her respect for President Vladimir Putin, repeatedly slamming EU leaders for stoking a “new Cold War” with Russia.

Le Pen's party has described Putin as a "patriot" and a defender of traditional European values, hailing his moves to crack down on LGBT "propaganda".

"The Kremlin is now betting on the National Front," wrote the French weekly. "It deems the party capable of seizing power in France and changing the course of European history in Moscow's favour."


Since this loan has been revealed, it will be interesting to see how French election authorities react to it.

Populism as a ‘thin-centred’ ideology: ranging from the left (‘Chavismo’) to the right ('tea party')

In recent years we have seen established political parties increasingly challenged by populist parties. Populism is essentially a ‘thin-centred’ ideology. It considers society to be separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups: ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite’, and argues that politics should be an expression of the ‘general will’ of the people. Because populism is a thin ideology, it can be easily combined with other (full) ideologies ranging from the left (e.g. ‘Chavismo’) to the right (e.g. the UK Independence party).

Given the diversity of populist phenomena, it is a challenge to talk about there being general causes for the rise and success of populist parties. ... In the analysis, I examined the reason people voted for six parties. Each can be defined as populist, but they differ remarkably in terms of their full ideology. The six parties hail from Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. Both leftwing populist parties (the Socialist party in the Netherlands and Die Linke, the Left party, in Germany) and rightwing populist parties (List Pim Fortuyn and PVV in The Netherlands and List Dedecker and Vlaams Belang in Belgium) were included in the analysis. Drawing on national election surveys in these countries, I found that despite many differences, the voters for these populist parties had three characteristics in common.

The first is that those who vote for populist parties are all dissatisfied with the functioning of democracy. Hardly any other (opposition) party was able to appeal to voters with low levels of political trust to the same extent as populist parties do, suggesting the emergence of dual-party systems. As the representative function of parties eroded as they played their part in governing, voters came to see such parties as more remote and similar to each other.

Finally, while populist parties do not mobilise among one specific social group, it seems that deprived groups are generally more susceptible to populist voting. Rightwing populist parties attract the so-called ‘losers from globalisation’: lower-educated people who are concerned about issues such as outsourcing, immigration and European integration. The leftwing populist Die Linke (formerly the PDS), however, used to give voice to higher-educated civil servants who had become robbed of their elite status after the fall of the Berlin wall.

For two reasons, we should also put the rise of populist parties into perspective. First, they represent a modest, if not marginal, part of the electorate in most western European countries. Most voters are satisfied with the functioning of democracy and will only shift massively to populist alternatives in times of a serious crisis as is currently the case in Greece. Second, populists put issues on the agenda that have been neglected by mainstream parties and also reintegrate certain deprived groups into the political system.


This article deals with populist parties in Europe but the themes seem to apply to the US as well. Even in Europe most of the populist parties are on the right.

The idea that populism is a "thin-centered' ideology apparently means that it can be adapted for use on the left and the right - ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite’ being a staple of both.
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