TCG Weekly Digest – November 13th, 2015


Week ending November 13, 2015

Weekly roundup about our democracy and The Common Good community

  • Multiple terrorist attacks in Paris tonight. At least 60 reported dead.

  • Republican debate was substantive; Immigration a flashpoint for candidate sparring

  • Oil prices could set new low

  • Netanyahu and Obama try for cooperation in White House meeting

  • Myanmar holds first free elections in 25 years, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party wins


National poll results: Domestic issues should be the’ priority for the 2016 presidential campaign, including the economy, health care, and roads and bridges:  69% favor domestic issues as the focus of the election vs 21% want focus on foreign policy issues such as ISIS and terrorism.

Gun Safety:  63% are more worried they will be a victim of gun violence than a victim of a terror attack.  

On the economy: the top three issues of importance to voters:

27%  - Economic growth;  22%  - Jobs; 21% – Income inequality  

Immigration:  48% immigration policy should be an immediate priority; 36% say it should be a priority over the next couple of years.  An additional 16% do not think the issue should be a priority at all.

“Crazy” election:  40% say the one word to best describe the 2016 presidential campaign, so far?  “Crazy” tops the list.

“Polarization rules”: “If you’re searching for common ground between Democrats and Republicans on the issues for 2016, you will need to look far and wide,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “Polarization rules, and there is little consensus except when it comes to characterizing the campaign as ‘crazy.’”” Marist [Poll]

Hillary lead is strong in new national poll:  Hillary Clinton’s lead is strong, with 52% support over Bernie Sanders, who has 33%. Martin O’Malley trails with 5%. New York Times/CBS News [More]

2016 Campaign

GOP Debate: Substantive this time, but the exchange did not thin the field: “For now, the choices remain numerous, although hardly similar in what the candidates offer. The campaign has moved beyond the period of introduction. The next phase will bring more heated engagement and with it, perhaps, greater clarity. To date, the campaign has produced anything but.” Dan Balz (TCG Speaker), Op-Ed, The Washington Post [More]

Republican presidential candidates spar over economic issues – from the challenge from China to the Fed’s low interest rate policy: The plans vary, but each of the Republicans on stage said they want to streamline the tax code and lower rates..Sens. Cruz and Rand Paul of Kentucky both highlighted their plans to scrap the current tax code and replace it with a uniform tax on consumption. Mr. Cruz also wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service. Mr. Carson, asked if God would endorse his flat-tax plan over the Trump policy—in which wealthy Americans would pay a larger share—defended his platform and called for eliminating deductions and loopholes.” Patrick O’Connor, Beth Reinhard, Rebecca Ballhaus, Wall Street Journal [More]

GOP hopefuls oppose wage increase: “Drawing a sharp contrast with Democrats, republican presidential candidates voiced opposition to raising the federal minimum wage in Tuesday’s primary debate, casting it as an impediment to national job growth.” Julie Pace and Julie Bykowicz, Chicago Tribune [More]

Immigration and military intervention major sparring point: “The two-hour debate spotlighted the rift between the outsider candidates and establishment governors over how strictly to enforce immigration laws and whether to provide a pathway to legal status for the country’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants or deport them. It also revived a long-simmering dispute over the size and role of the U.S. military, with Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) warning of the potential adverse fiscal effects of increased defense spending and Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Ted Cruz (Tex.) advocating a more muscular American military presence in the world.” Philip Rucker and Ed O’Keefe, The Washington Post [More]

Getting voter enthusiasm: Hillary Clinton’s challenge: “The new poll shows that members of the Rising American Electorate — minorities, millennials, and single women — are significantly less tuned in to next year’s election than GOP-aligned voter groups are….It isn’t enough to simply outline bold economic policies to deal with college affordability, child care (universal pre-K), workplace flexibility (paid family and sick leave), and so forth, though those things are crucial. What’s also required to engage these groups is a reform agenda geared to reducing the influence of the wealthy, the lobbyists, and the special interests over our politics.” Greg Sargent, Op-Ed, The Washington Post [More]

The Economy

Oil price collapsing, could set new low: “The realization of a mega-glut is finally registering within the market,” said John Kilduff, analyst and partner with Again Capital. “I think we’re probably in the midst of another leg lower here. It might not go straight down but we’re on target to make new lows for the year.” Oil futures are down more than 10 percent in the past month… The U.S. government reported Thursday that oil stockpiles rose by 4.2 million barrels last week due to higher imports. That was about four times what analysts had expected.” Patti Domm, CNBC [More]

Is traditional banking unbreakable?: “Banking and financial-services companies are not safe from the immense transformations wrought by technological innovation. For the last decade, digital startups have been penetrating areas traditionally dominated by the financial industry…[and] much of the financial terrain in which technology companies are making the deepest inroads will come into much sharper regulatory focus…In finance, at least, technology firms should not be viewed simply as a threat, but as a source of productivity-boosting innovation.” Dambisa Moyo (TCG Speaker), Op-Ed, Project Syndicate [More]

The Tax Code can never be three pages long, but it could be simpler: “…While the tax code can’t be reduced to three pages, it could be significantly simpler than it is today, and [Carly] Fiorina and most of her opponents have identified a source of both length and complexity: so-called tax preferences… The candidates’ plans would simplify the taxable income calculation, but they have been hesitant to make this calculation too simple for a reason: That would require taking away tax deductions, and people tend to like the deductions they take.” Raymond Biesinger, New York Times [More]

Possible explanation of the deterioration of the working class: “Beginning in the 1980s, the U.S. economy started trending toward greater inequality…A couple of decades later, the lack of family support started to take a big bite out of the emotional health of working-class whites, causing them to turn to alcohol, drugs and suicide once they reached middle age.  I don’t know if this explanation is true. But if so, it means that our laissez-faire, neoliberal economic policy, combined with the pressure of competition from China and other low-wage countries, has had steeper social costs than we anticipated.” Noah Smith, Op-Ed, Bloomberg [More]

 Foreign Affairs/National Security

Multiple terrorist attacks in Paris leave at least 60 dead, 100 hostages: “At least six shootings took place in Paris and three explosions took place at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis late Friday… Two or three gunmen entered the Bataclan concert hall while opening fire on law enforcement… A source earlier told CNN there were six to eight hostage takers, citing a person they were talking to inside the venue.” Ralph Ellis and Steve Almasy, CNN [More]

Combined diplomatic and military approach to Syria brings doubts: “As 50 Special Operations troops arrive in Syria to bolster the most effective opposition groups, the administration is gambling that Secretary of State John Kerry will have more leverage to push Russia, Iran and other players toward two objectives: a cease-fire to limit the cycle of killing and the establishment of a timeline for a transition of power. While Mr. Kerry has been optimistic that diplomacy can end the carnage, he has conceded doubts to aides that his strategy of fast-paced diplomacy can harness so many fiercely opposed forces toward a political solution.” David E. Sanger and Helene Cooper, New York Times [More]

Will Putin get tougher in face of confirmation of terrorism as responsible for Sinai plane crash?: “Mr. Putin has repeated the theme that it is better to attack terrorists on their home territory. His response in the face of any terrorist attack will probably be to double down, analysts said… Soon… he will need to explain the catastrophe at home — especially given the Kremlin’s initial insistence on dismissing the idea that the plane’s downing could be linked to Syria.” Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times [More]

Obama and Netanyahu try to move past their differences: The tortured relationship between Barack and Bibi, as they call each other, has been a story of crossed signals, misunderstandings, slights perceived and real. Burdened by mistrust, divided by ideology, the leaders of the United States and Israel talked past each other for years until the rupture over Mr. Obama’s push for a nuclear agreement with Iran led to the spectacle of Mr. Netanyahu denouncing the president’s efforts before a joint meeting of Congress.” Peter Baker and Jodi Rudoren, New York Times [More]

In Myanmar’s first free elections in 25 years, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party captures a majority: “The landmark election is seen as a test of the powerful military’s willingness to let the country continue along a path toward full democracy, after decades of military-dominated rule in Myanmar, also known as Burma…After the outcome of the parliamentary vote is decided, lawmakers will begin the complex process of choosing a President.” Faith Karimi, CNN [More]

Victory in Iraq as Sinjar retaken from ISIS by Kurdish forces: The takeover “revers[es] the terror group’s takeover of a community where thousands were massacred and tens of thousands were forced to flee 15 months ago…The capture of Sinjar—which is on a highway connecting ISIS’ territory in Syria to its largest conquered city, Mosul in Iraq—is a step toward dividing the ‘caliphate’” Jason Hanna and Ed Payne, CNN [More]

Is TPP too flawed for a simple up and down vote?: “The partners could also agree to a more measured, step-by-step approach, since that would be in the common interest, though not necessarily to the benefit of certain powerful interest groups.” Jeffrey Sachs (TCG Speaker), Op-Ed, Boston Globe [More]

Middle East allies not helping in strikes against ISIS in Syria: “The US prepares to intensify airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, the Arab allies who with great fanfare sent warplanes on the initial missions there a year ago have largely vanished from the campaign… They are primarily engaged in Yemen.” Eric Schmitt and Michael R. Gordon, New York Times [More]

Recurring violence in northern Burundi and Rwanda: The violence in northern Burundi comes as UN human rights chief Zeid Raad al-Hussein warned that security was deteriorating rapidly in the country and that an explosion of violence is close at hand. He told the UN Security Council that ‘the risk to human life, and to regional stability and development, is high.’Catherine Soi, Al Jazeera [More]

European Commission mandates guidelines for labelling products made in Israeli settlements: The EU says settlements constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible. Mr. Netanyahu, who was in Washington on an official visit, called the decision ‘hypocritical and a double standard’ The Israeli foreign ministry has summoned the EU ambassador to Israel and said it would suspend diplomatic dialogue in the coming weeks.BBC [More]

37 killed and 181 wounded in Beirut: The bombers blew themselves up in a busy street in the southern suburb of Burj al-Barajneh, a stronghold of the Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement. The Sunni jihadist group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, but there has been no independent confirmation. It is the deadliest bombing in Beirut since the civil war ended 25 years ago.Lina Sinjab, BBC [More]

 Domestic Affairs

Jonathan Chait on the University of Missouri protests after the Chancellor and President step down: “It’s not just a bunch of weird, unfortunate events that somehow keep happening over and over. It’s the expression of a political culture with consistent norms, and philosophical premises that happen to be incompatible with liberalism. …It’s that the ideology itself prioritizes class justice over individual rights and makes no allowance for legitimate disagreement. ” Jonathan Chait, Op-Ed, New York Magazine [More]

Senate prevents the relocation of Guantanamo Bay prisoners:  the Republican-controlled Congress reacted by rushing through the bill in response to persistent Washington chatter that a new Obama closure plan was set to be announced.Dan Roberts, The Guardian [More]

Federal court rejects Obama executive action on immigration giving quasi-legal status and work permits to illegal immigrants:The 2-1 ruling Monday from the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit is a defeat for the Obama administration.” However, it could be well-timed to let the Supreme Court rule on the issue before Obama leaves office. Josh Gerstein and Seung Min Kim, Politico [More]

Greenhouse gas levels reached a record high in 2014: “The relentless fuelling of climate change is endangering the planet for future generations, the World Meteorological Organization said on Monday. ‘Every year we say that time is running out. We have to act now to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures to manageable levels,’ WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement. Tom Miles, Scientific American [More]


Norton Garfinkle and Harold Holzer: A Just and Generous Nation: Abraham Lincoln and the Fight for American Opportunity: The authors write how Lincoln’s aim was to create  “economic opportunity for the widest possible circle of hardworking Americans.” Publisher’s Weekly [More]