Why do Trump, Pence, DeVos and Republicans Support Charter Schools, Education Vouchers, “privatizing” Social Security and Medicare/caid? What Does Supporting “Small Government” Mean? And, Will Trump Build a Statute of Ayn Rand on the Washington Mall?

Almost all the people I know are shocked and appalled at the election of Trump. I will not rehash the autopsy, the deep analysis and commentary parsing the election. I will examine why Trump, Pence, Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos, Speaker Paul Ryan and many of their wealthy supporters believe they have the true path.

Adam Smith, an 18th century Scot, political scientist and economist wrote The Wealth of Nations, often referred to as the “bible of capitalism.”  Smith coined the term, “invisible hand,” that somehow by “pursuing his own self-interest” the rich benefit all of society.

The rich…are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society …  Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.                                                                                       

Couple the writings of Smith with German Sociologist Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism  who examines the theosophy of John Calvin, the concept of predestination, the concept that economic success is proof that you are one of the select, chosen by God for salvation.

Historian R. H. Tawney wrote,

Adam Smith …  saw in economic self-interest the operation of a providential plan… The existing order, except insofar as the short-sighted enactments of Governments interfered with it, was the natural order, and the order established by nature was the order established by God.

Tawney, a Christian Socialist reviled what he saw as a perversion of religion,

A society which reverences the attainment of riches as the supreme felicity will naturally be disposed to regard the poor as damned in the next world, if only to justify itself for making their life a hell in this.

For centuries wealth melded with religion.

At the other end of the spectrum is Karl Marx, the antithesis of Adam Smith. (Read a comparison of Smith and Marx here).

The European depression of the 1920’s and the Great Depression began with the stock market crash of 1929 challenged long standing economic theory. The “invisible hand” did not reach down from the heavens,

FDR, assuming the presidency in 1933, in the very depths of the depression vigorously intervened; federal program after program to put the nation back to work. FDR was viewed as a savior, elected four times, who led us out of the depression as well as our leader during World War Two.

Keynesian economic theory, the government has a crucial role to play; deficit spending to create demand and put us back to work was not universally accepted.

On the other side of the coin are the followers of Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged, (1956), her magnum opus that has become the guiding light for those on the right, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan.

Rand savaged the post-FDR view of the role of government that she defined as “collectivist.”

Collectivism is the tribal premise of primordial savages who, unable to conceive of individual rights, believed that the tribe is a supreme, omnipotent ruler, that it owns the lives of its members and may sacrifice them whenever it pleases.

 a philosophy of supreme self-reliance devoted to the pursuit of supreme self-interest appears to be an idealized version of core American ideals: freedom from tyranny, hard work and individualism. It promises a better world if people are simply allowed to pursue their own self-interest without regard to the impact of their actions on others. After all, others are simply pursuing their own self-interest as well.

Rand is enormously popular across college campuses today. The “hero” of Atlas Shrugged is John Gault, “… a ruthless captain of industry who struggles against stifling government regulations that stand in the way of commerce and profit. In a revolt, he and other captains of industry each close down production of their factories, bringing the world economy to its knees. ‘You need us more than we need you’ is their message.”

Do Ryan, Pence and DeVos worship statues of Gault?

The sharpest critic of our public school system is the Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Freedman; in his Capitalism and Freedom (1962) Freedman laid out his views of education, views clearly at the core of the Trump/Pence/DeVos education philosophy,

Governments could require a minimum level of schooling financed by giving parents vouchers redeemable for a specified maximum sum per child per year if spent on “approved” educational services. Parents would then be free to spend this sum and any additional sum they themselves provided on purchasing educational services from an “approved” institution of their own choice. The educational services could be rendered by private enterprises operated for profit, or by non-profit institutions. The role of government would be limited to insuring that the schools met certain minimum standards, such as the inclusion of a minimum common content in their programs, much as it now inspects restaurants.

 With respect to teachers’ salaries, the major problem is not that they are too low on the average, but that they are too uniform and rigid. Poor teachers are grossly overpaid and good teachers grossly underpaid. Salary schedules tend to be uniform and determined far more by seniority, degrees received, and teaching certificates acquired than by merit.

If one were to seek deliberately to devise a system of recruiting and paying teachers calculated to repel the imaginative and daring, and to attract the mediocre and uninspiring, he could hardly do better than imitate the system of requiring teaching certificates and enforcing standard salary structures that has developed in the largest city and state-wide systems. It is perhaps surprising that the level of ability in elementary and secondary school teaching is as high as it is under these circumstances. The alternative system would resolve these problems and permit competition to be effective in rewarding merit and attracting ability to teaching.

I understand, and vehemently disagree with this perverse combination of philosophy, religion and a defense of ruthless aggrandizement. I am far more sympathetic to Karl Marx, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”.

Thirty years ago I exchanged my apartment and lived in Paris for a month, my first trip was to the The Communards’ Wall (Mur des Fédérés) at the Pere Lachaise cemetery ”… where, on May 28, 1871, one-hundred and forty-seven fédérés, combatants of the Paris Commune, were shot and thrown in an open trench at the foot of the wall. … the wall became the symbol of the people’s struggle for their liberty and ideals.”  Rationalizing the plutocracy, the oppression that has created an underclass, the use of religion to justify inequity is despicable. My ancestors lived in ghettos, oppression was their reality, pogroms a fact of life, and, those who failed to flee Europe died in the holocaust. My wife’s forbearers were transported in slave ships. We live in a nation, far from perfect; however a nation that has offered opportunity to generations of immigrants. Immigration is our life-blood; we receive the “first round draft choices” from around the world; immigration has a Darwinian aspect.

An “invisible hand” is not hovering to “save us,” greed, racism, anti-Semitism, avarice can steer our nation to anarchy, can set neighbor against neighbor. We face an uncertain future.

Pence, DeVos and Ryan worship at the altar of Rand and Freedman.

Does Trump worship at the altar of Machiavelli?

Trump Nominates Betsy DeVos and Declares War on Public Education: Vouchers, Charters and School Choice on Steroids

You may have been “happier” with Michelle Rhee or Eva Moskowitz?

Trump nominated Betsy DeVos, the wife a the scion of the DeVos family (Amway), one of the wealthiest families in the nation.

Will DeVos be the next Cathy Black or the deconstructor of public education?

DeVos has been the leader of the Michigan Republican Party, a major fund raiser for the Republican Party, an early supporter of Marco Rubio and her husband has led the assault on labor in Michigan;  lost to Jennifer Grandholm for the governor of Michigan in 2007 and has been in the forefront of the anti-labor assault.

Dick” DeVos,

“The Greatest Generation did not just win a World War, they labored shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow workers to create and sustain value-added enterprises. By contrast, ‘big union bosses have engaged in cozy deals and political backroom dealings in order to advance their personal agendas, not those of their members,’” 

 “By casting off the practice of forced unionization; Michigan now publicly declares to other states and in fact the world, that we embrace freedom for our workers, true equality in the workplace and that we are ready to compete with anyone, anywhere to create economic opportunity for our Michigan families.”

President Randi Weingarten wasted no time in trashing Betsy DeVos,

“The president-elect, in his selection of Betsy DeVos, has chosen the most ideological, anti-public education nominee put forward since President Carter created a Cabinet-level Department of Education. 

“In nominating DeVos, Trump makes it loud and clear that his education policy will focus on privatizing, defunding and destroying public education in America. 

“DeVos has no meaningful experience in the classroom or in our schools. The sum total of her involvement has been spending her family’s wealth in an effort to dismantle public education in Michigan. Every American should be concerned that she would impose her reckless and extreme ideology on the nation.

Dana Goldstein, the author if the acclaimed Teacher Wars: a History of America’s Most Embattled Profession parses DeVos’s attacks on public education in Michigan; a state in which charters perform poorly, well below public schools. With access to unlimited dollars DeVos passed legislation creating unregulated charter schools; in spite of legislative attempts to bring accountability to Michigan charter schools DeVos and her cronies successfully derailed the bill.

In an article in Slate  Goldstein paints a picture of DeVos as the Bill Gates of the educational far right who sees her role as creating a totally choice system. Using her fortune to impose her will on the public education.

Decisions as to the nature of schools is left to states and across the nation a handful of states have lenient charter laws, some restrict charters to not-for-profit sponsors, others for -profit and a few on-line for-profit schools.  The feds can provide dollars to existing charters schools; the creation and monitoring of charter schools is a state responsibility.

The battle over Title 1 dollars will dominate the new school wars. Republicans in the House have supported making Title 1 dollars portable, in other words turning them into vouchers that would follow the student to public, private, charters,  for-profits,  religious, or, even home schooling. The result would be dramatic reductions in dollars in the poorest public schools. A transfer of public taxpayer dollars from public schools to the free market, with for-profit schools reaping the dollars.

Diane Ravitch and the Network for Public Education have documented misuse and outright corruption in states with unregulated charter schools as well as extremely poor outcomes in voucher plans.

On the other hand the Trump/DeVos Department will be far less intrusive in states than the Obama/Duncan/King department. The Civil Rights Division of the USDOE has been activist pursuing innumerable challenges to states: Title 9 (Equity for Women in Sports programs), disproportionality (excessive numbers of minority children in Special Education classes as well as suspensions). The acceptance of Title 1 dollars gives the feds the authority to intervene, if they choose. One would expect DeVos would be a far less activist Secretary in these areas.

Under Senate rules a majority is required to confirm cabinet nominees; the Republicans hold a 52-48 majority and barring a catastrophic performance before the committee one would expect confirmations; although the dems will pressure the nominees in the process.

With virtually unlimited dollars DeVos had a free a hand in Michigan. The ability to flit from home to home; the family owns a compound in Vero Beach, Florida and a number of homes in Michigan. Dick DeVos is an accomplished pilot. Whether Betsy can maneuver the rocky shoals of public scrutiny is to be decided. Her actions will be perceived as hostile to cities, hostile to public schools, hostile to the poorest, the attacks will be unrelenting. Maybe she has alligator skin and can cast off the sticks and stones; maybe, like Cathy Black, her wealthy, elitist background will make her ill-prepared for public service.

Will the (de)formers, for example the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), progressive democrats in most arenas jump on the Trump/DeVos band wagon? Frederick Hess, a leading charter supporter has already endorsed DeVos.

Public education across the nation is at risk.

Trump, New Federalism and the Devolution of Government: Will Political Rhetoric Morph to Political Pragmatism?

Have you ever given any thought to why our nation is called the United States of America? Are we “one nation, indivisible” or fifty states retaining power delegated and not prohibited by the 10th Amendment?

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

A little history:

The Revolutionary War (1776-1783) was grueling, the colonial armies lost battle after battle, the British controlled the cities; it became a war of attrition with the British people increasingly resisting the expense of the war.

The rebellious colonies needed a governmental structure and the Articles of Confederation (drafted: 1776, affirmed: 1781) loosely aligned the thirteen colonies. By the end of the war the governing structure was subject to criticism, in fact, the Articles threatened the existence of the new nation.

After the war, nationalists, especially those who had been active in the Continental Army, complained that the Articles were too weak for an effective government. There was no president, no executive agencies, no judiciary and no tax base. The absence of a tax base meant that there was no way to pay off state and national debts from the war years except by requesting money from the states, which seldom arrived.

The nation struggled through the eighties, and in the spring of 1787 delegates trickled into Philadelphia. There was agreement that the Articles must be amended; however, Madison and Hamilton had different ideas. The delegates came and went, threatened to leave permanently, schemed, formed alliances, compromised and in September affirmed a new document: a constitution.

Throughout the fall and winter, one by one the states ratified the new constitution. The Federalists and the anti-Federalists argued pro and con across the nation;  Madison, Hamilton and Jay wrote 85 essays, the Federalist Papers, today we would call them op eds.

Hamilton and Madison proposed instead of the absolute sovereignty of each state under the Articles of Confederation, the states would retain a” residual sovereignty” in all those areas which did not require national concern.

This assent and ratification is to be given by the people, not as individuals composing one entire nation, but as composing the distinct and individual States to which they respectively belong.

Survival as a respected nation required the transfer of important, though limited, powers to the central government. They believed that this could be done without destroying the identity or autonomy of the separate state

The constitution remained silent on the question of slavery, even though most of the states attending the convention had outlawed slavery. The question of slavery was “reserved” for the states.

The passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, in the waning months of the Civil War required extensive political maneuvering by Lincoln. The Reconstruction Amendments were slowly and inexorably eroded by the Black Codes in the decades after the war. The Supreme Court deferred to the states in a number of decisions. For example, in 1896 the Court ruled that “separate but equal” public facilities were constitutional.

It wasn’t until the Great Depression and the actions of President Roosevelt that the federal government began to act aggressively. Presidents, from Roosevelt to Obama increasingly interpreted the constitution in a way that shifted powers away from state capitals to Washington.

Opposition to an increasingly activist role of the executive and or legislative branches is called New Federalism.

New Federalism is a political philosophy of devolution, or the transfer of certain powers from the United States federal government back to the states. The primary objective of New Federalism, unlike that of the eighteenth-century political philosophy of Federalism, is the restoration to the states of some of the autonomy and power which they lost to the federal government as a consequence of President Franklin Roosevelt‘s New Deal.

As a policy theme, New Federalism typically involves the federal government providing block grants to the states to resolve a social issue. The federal government then monitors outcomes but provides broad discretion to the states for how the programs are implemented. Advocates of this approach sometimes cite a quotation from a dissent by Louis Brandeis in New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann:

It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.

Conservative Justice Rehnquist limited the expanding powers of the federal government,

The broad language in these opinions has suggested the possibility of additional expansion, but we decline here to proceed any further. To do so would require us to conclude that the Constitution’s enumeration of powers does not presuppose something not enumerated, and that there never will be a distinction between what is truly national and what is truly local. This we are unwilling to do.

In the modern era Obama, faced with an obstructionist Republican Congress used his executive authority to issue regulations to create policy without Congress.   Regulations issued by governmental departments and executive orders evade the necessity of Congressional approval.  The President reshaped the national education landscape through his power of the purse, Race to the Top; and, aggressively utilizing the assumed powers of the Secretary of Education, a presidential appointee.

The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was a resounding defeat for the president. The law undermines his entire eight year education policy initiatives. The law devolves education policy to the states. Does the bipartisan passage of ESSA presage additional erosion of the powers of the executive?

This evening I was listening to former general and head of the CIA David Petraeus being interviewed at the New York Historical Society; the interviewer, Max Boot, a highly regarded military historian and frequent contributor to Foreign Affairs and other prestigious journals. Petraeus is widely reported as candidate for Secretary of State in the Trump cabinet. Boot began by listing a number of outrageous Trump assertions regarding foreign policy. Petraeus immediately differentiated “political rhetoric” and governing.

Will Trump continue the erosion of the power of the states or will the Congress succeed in restoring authority to the states?

Will a huge infrastructure bill, crafted by the executive enrich the billionaires, as NY Times columnist Paul Krugman fears, or, provide block grants to the states to determine priorities and projects?

Will Trump cave to the right wing of the Republican Party and reduce taxes and pay for the reduction through slashes to Social Security and Medicare/Mediacid?

Will we get the “Build the Wall,” “Internment Camps,”  “Fiscally Reckless” Trump  or the president who sheds “political rhetoric” for pragmatism?

We await the direction of the nation over the first hundred days of the new administration.

Meandering Toward an ESSA Plan: Can the Commissioner/Regents Satisfy the Electeds, Parents, Teachers and Create a More Equitable Learning Environment?

Where you ever driving down a dark road, lost, you keep on driving, maybe, just maybe you’re not as lost as you think you are, and, it’s a long drive back … unfortunately I fear the folks at State Ed are on that road.

At this point in the process of constructing an ESSA plan the state has identified 36 “High Concept Ideas” and seven questions that it is asking the education community. (Read the High Concept Ideas and Questions here).

The first High Concept Idea:

To ensure all schools are provided with accurate measurement of their students’ academic proficiencies, NY proposes to determine a State-designed rigorous action that will lead to improvements in the participation rate of schools that did not test 95%of their students (as opposed to an action designed by USDE).

So, the most important High Concept Idea, the idea that leads the list is an “idea” that might reduce the number of opt out parents. I understand, we live in a political world, and, it is the political side that votes budgets; increasing the participation rate, in theory, will make the governor, the legislature, and the activist parents happier.

Will Johnny and Mary and Jose and Jamaal learn to read better and calculate better and think better?

The process of creating an ESSA plan forces the state to take a look at itself: have we been moving in the right direction? Are our students ready for post-secondary education, be it college or career? And, if not, why not? And, how can we change direction? And, what direction?

The Union Leader, a New Hampshire newspaper has a relevant article. New Hampshire is in the midst of a major change in direction, moving away from the age-old standardized test to performance tasks and project-based pedagogy.

… when we do hire new employees we find many are ill prepared for the 21st century workplace. Young workers who lack strong communication skills, who struggle with spreadsheets and many who lack the math skills needed to be successful in the world of work today. This challenge is felt in every sector from advanced manufacturing to health care to professional services.

The problem is an outdated understanding of what graduates should be able to do when transitioning from school to the job market.

Business has changed dramatically over the past two decades, and skills that are needed now are far different from those just a short time ago. Think of social media managers, app developers and cloud based engineers – positions that were not heard of 10 years ago. Teamwork, problem solving, technical and critical thinking skills are in high demand, but many employers are having a hard time finding these qualities in graduates from schools that up to now have been focused on old education models of lecturing and exams.

In every classroom, in every school and district the prime emphasis is the grades 3-8 tests and in high schools graduation rates; which equates to passing regents exams. The Work Group on Regents Exams also reported at the Regent Meeting; one of their recommendations was an appeals process for students who failed regents exam: the local district, upon a review of the student’s record could change the failing grade to a passing grade!!  The Work Group chair bemoaned kids who failed regents numerous times; instead of asking why the student failed, instead of perhaps modifying the instruction, for example teach Algebra 1 in a four-term sequence rather than a one year course, the Work Group simply wants to pass the student along to the next teacher in the higher level course. Repeating the course numerous times is foolish, the “answer” is asking ourselves what we can do to intervene so that the student doesn’t fail in the first place.

Later in the day Michael Cohen, the president of ACHIEVE and Linda Darling-Hammond leader of the Learning Policy Institute made presentations to the Board of Regents.

Read presentations:

Michael Cohen, ACHIEVE, “College and Career Readiness. Equity and ESSA,” (http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/Full%20Board%20Monday%20PM%20-%20MCohen.pdf)

Linda Darling-Hammond, Learning Policy Institute,” ESSA and Equity – Opportunities to Close the Opportunity Gap,” (http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/Full%20Board%20Monday%20PM%20-%20ESSA%20and%20Equity_0.pdf)

Cohen compared New York State with other states and took a deep dive into New York State data; his first slide lays out a troubling picture.

* Too many NY students leave high school poorly prepared for college and career

* There are significant “preparation gaps” based on race, ethnicity and income.

* State policies can help improve preparation and close gaps – but not as NY has designed them.

Darling Hammond is clear and concise,

* States are expected to adopt challenging Academic Standards for all students

* Assessments must measure “higher order thinking skills and understanding.”

* These may include “portfolios, projects or extended performance tasks.”

* Scores must be based on multiple assessments during the course of the academic year rather than single summative assessments.

When teachers use and score performance assessments, they [the teachers] can develop a deeper understanding of academic standards and student learning, which translates into more effective teaching and thereby enhances equity.

Take a few minutes and read the presentations from Cohen and Darling-Hammond.

The final plan will not be submitted until mid-July, many months to continue to craft a plan. The process is a unique, states  rarely have an opportunity to make “mid-course corrections,” unfortunately states are like ocean liners, it takes many miles to even change course; and. of course, the problem of Newton’s First Law of Motion  – momentum.

“Why do you do it this way?”

“This is the way we’ve always done it.”

Moving from the traditional classroom to a classroom described by Darling-Hammond is a huge jump that requires buy-in from school districts, school leaders, and, most importantly, the teachers. The lesson from the Common Core, hopefully learned, is the commissioner is not Moses, s/he cannot simply hand us the new Ten Commandments.

Vermont is moving towards adopting performance tasks in lieu of standards tests, the phase-in is in Year 3, each year another cohort of districts entering the process.

On one hand I’m concerned, on the other optimistic; we have a long road ahead of us.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   

But I have promises to keep,   

And miles to go before I sleep,   

And miles to go before I sleep.

Trump Lite or the Dark Donald: A Reagan Impersonator or a Proto-Fascist?

Will the president-elect govern as Trump lite, a blustering demeanor outside; following a Reagan agenda, or, will candidate Trump, the dark, retributive Donald be the dark, retributive President Trump?

At the Wednesday regularly scheduled Delegate Meeting the expected victory lap became a wake. UFT President Mulgrew scraped the agenda and asked the delegates: what happened in your school today? How should the union respond?

Students were frightened and angry:  Would their parents be deported? What would happen to them? Would high school students be barred from attending college? Read the Mulgrew letter here.

AFT President Weingarten, an undefeatable campaigner for Hillary wrote in a letter to her membership,

Throughout this campaign, Donald Trump promised to fix the rigged economy. He promised to restore America’s middle class, to bring back the country’s manufacturing and industrial base, and to restore dignity and opportunity for Americans—values that we as trade unionists understand intimately…. as Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday, we owe President-elect Trump the chance to lead. We will also hold him accountable for the promises he made to restore the sense of greatness and opportunity that too many Americans feel they have lost, while at the same time we will continue the fight for everyone’s liberties.

Rumors abound: Gingrich as Secretary of State, Giuliani as Attorney General, Ben Carson as Secretary of Education. During the campaign Trump did lay out his plans for his first hundred day in the White House; however Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell “… mostly made nice with Trump but also shot down or expressed little enthusiasm in some of his plans.”

What follows is my 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again. It is a contract between myself and the American voter — and begins with restoring honesty, accountability and change to Washington

Therefore, on the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue the following six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC:

* FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;

2/3 of Congress, the requirement for a constitutional amendment are going to vote themselves out of office? – not likely!!!

* SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);

Hiring freezes at the federal level are commonplace, and fade away in time as the agencies whine they can’t impose the agenda with reduced staffs

* THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;

Not sure what this means, there is a lengthy process to amend federal regulations; others are solely at the whim of the President.

* FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;

Okay with me, I’m not sure his senior Republican colleagues will be happy, ending the possibility of lucrative jobs after elected office.

* FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;


* SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

Thought it was illegal, if not, agreed,

Trump goes on to what he calls “restore security and constitutional rule of law.”

Additionally, on the first day, I will take the following five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:

* FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama

I guess he means cancel every one he doesn’t like, I think there is only one “executive actions, memorandum and orders” in place that a court has ruled unconstitutional, a few are currently being litigated.

* SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States

Scalia was the most conservative justice on the court; he will be replaced by another conservative nominee who has to pass senatorial scrutiny. In other words we will return to the court before the death of Scalia.

* THIRD, cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities

There are cities that have refused to cooperate with federal law enforcement in immigration matters; I don’t know if “canceling federal funding” is permissible under current statute.

* FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back.

The “2 million criminal illegal immigrants” range from misdemeanors to serious felonies; some are currently incarcerated, others completed prison/jail, or paid fines, or, have disappeared. Many of these “illegal immigrants” under current law are entitled to legal due process. A hugely complex and expensive initiative, and, the serious felons should be deported.

* FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.

It currently takes 18 – 24 months to vet immigrants from “terror-prone” parts of the world – we currently do “extreme vetting.”

Next, I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 90 days of my administration.

“Work with Congress” means working with the Democratic Minority Leader in the Senate. The Senate cloture rule requires 60 members to move to close debate; Republicans will have a slim two vote majority, far below the cloture requirement. With the retirement of Harry Reid it appears that Chuck Schumer (NY) will become the Democratic leader (A proud graduate of James Madison High School, Brooklyn). Schumer is a tough negotiator with tentacles across the political and economic spectrum; from Wall Street to Black churches. Trump needs Schumer to pass any legislation, and, Schumer has many years of experience and is highly regarded in the Senate on both sides of the aisle.

Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act. An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification,

“Grow the economy 4%” without runaway inflation has eluded the best economic minds in the nation. We have returned to the pre-2008 recession levels, unemployment rates are low; however, the demand side is lagging and companies are hoarding cash. No one is opposed to tax simplification as long as it is fair. and, how do you define fair? Many of our so-called tax loopholes benefit specific segments of our population. Should you not make charitable donations deductable? How about excluding real estate taxes? By the way, what is a loophole?  “Massive tax deductions:” How do you sharply curtail federal revenue and expect a balanced budget? The Laffer Curve, the theory that tax cuts for the rich will trickle down has been proved incorrect over and over again.

End The Offshoring Act. Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.

“Ending Offshoring: is borrowing from the Democratic play book – will the Republicans in Congress ever agree to this? Will a tariff war benefit American workers?  Moving jobs overseas reduces the workforce and lowers prices on goods, and, if we made TV sets in the US we would pay 3x as much for the TV.

American Energy & Infrastructure Act. Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years. It is revenue neutral.

Infrastructure was also at the top of the Democratic agenda and has already been shot down by Senate Majority Leader Mc Connell. Oil comapnies are not investing because of regulations, they’re not investing due to low oil prices.

School Choice And Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends common core, brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and makes 2 and 4-year college more affordable.

The feds only control Title 1 dollars, less than 10% of the funds spent on education; rules governing education are in the domain of the states.  Remember the feds have no control over standards, namely, the common core. Everyone favors expanding vocational education, currently partially funded through the Perkins Act; and. how do you make 2 and 4-college more affordable without the infusion of federal dollars? Drastic cuts in federal education dollars will be opposed by all segments of the population; targeting cities will make the angry angrier and the poor poorer.

Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act. Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and lets states manage Medicaid funds.

Will Health Savings Accounts provide sufficient dollars to protect all Americans, or, only the healthy ones? Will these accounts include all pre-existing conditions? It sounds a little like the “ice floes for the elderly?”

Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. Allows Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-site childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.

Where do I sign?

End Illegal Immigration Act Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.

Buy stock in prisons!!  Currently if you’re caught crossing the border you’re immediately sent back unless you claim you are fleeing dangerous situations defined in law – almost all asylum claims are denied. Obama has returned over 400,000 illegal border crossers. We can incarcerate instead, we’ll need a lot more prisons, or, maybe we can use the prisoners to build the wall.

Restoring Community Safety Act. Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force on Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police.

Donald, I hate to tell you this, nationally crime statistics continue to drop. Yes, in a few cities crime has been increasing.

“Four urban areas — Baltimore, Chicago, Milwaukee and Washington — accounted for about a fifth of the increase in homicides in 2015. Those cities, however, make up only about 1 percent of the nation’s population.

The F.B.I. data showed that violent crime rose about 4 percent last year from 2014, and homicides increased 10.8 percent. Yet crime over all fell in 2015 for the 14th consecutive year.

And the total number of homicides last year was fewer than 20 years ago even as the country’s population increased, criminologists said. There were 19,645 homicides in 1996 in a nation of 265 million; in 2015, there were 15,696 in a population of 321 million”

Restoring National Security Act. Rebuild our military by eliminating the defense sequester and expanding military investment; provides Veterans with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice;

Does Trump mean we’re going to aggressively intervene overseas? We’re currently fighting wars at arm’s length using drones and military “advisers,” We have been downsizing “boots on the ground,” training more highly specialized units who primarily train foreign allies; will we see a far more adventuresome military or a more isolationist military? No one opposes the VA treatment proposal – how is it paid for?

Clean up Corruption in Washington.  Enact new ethics reforms to Drain the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.

Sounds like Bernie and Elizabeth Warren … does it include repealing Citizen’s United?


A coalition of pro-Trump organizations met in Washington and called on Trump to “Defund Planned Parenthood, outlaw abortions after 20 weeks and codify the Hyde Amendment;” additionally, nominate a pro-life justice to replace Scalia (who was pro-life). How much influence will the pro-lifers have?

Will Trump convince Condoleezza Rice or the “usual suspects” to return to the administration or stick with the blustery and obnoxious  team that he had during the campaign? Running for office and managing a nation require different skill sets.

Ultimately the economy and the international stage will determine the success or failure of a Trump presidency. The stock market will be the first thermometer. The stock market seeks certainty and quakes at uncertainty. The wisdom of crowds, the nervousness of investors, and the confidence in a Trump presidency will be reflected in stock prices. If investors are nervous and flee the market for bonds and gold, if the market tumbles it drags down the president-elect. On the night of the election and it became evident that Trump would be victorious the market dipped 800 points, recovered the next day and soared to new highs, The market is fickle, Trump’s support of a half trillion dollar infrastructure program buoyed investors; however, that was just one day. If Trump ignores the debt ceiling will markets crash?  A 1933 Germany scenario?

On the international scene Trump will be tested and goaded. If he backs away from NATO, backs away from Asian allies and demands monetary concessions will our former partners comply, or, call his bluff? If Trump calls China a rogue nation and accuses them of currency manipulation how will China react?  Will they dump billions of US notes that they hold?  Become more aggressive with their neighbors?  Are we going to see a president more or less engaged on the international scene? Will he commit American foot soldiers in the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria?  Will the Shia fundamentalists who may replace ISIL be better, or worse?  The international stage is fraught with danger and shifting alliances. Iran and Saudi Arabia are bitter enemies; Saudi Arabia is a ruled by a few thousand princes in a repressive plutocracy, as well as funding terrorist organizations around the Middle East: do we take sides? Butting heads with China or the EU, or committing to US military involvement in faraway places could satisfy American hawks, cost billions, antagonize the Trump base as well as the majority of our nation, or, the unthinkable, result in a nuclear catastrophe.

A majority of American voters did not support Trump; will he make attempts to win over a rightfully suspicious, angry public? Or, play to his base constituency, or, simply be Donald, the dark, brooding real estate tycoon who has always managed to bully and coerce his way through his next project.

Dangerous times.

America Votes NO and Elects Trump: Speculation on a Trump Presidency


Last week the New York Times gave Clinton a 93% chance of winning, on the eve of the election a 83% chance – what happened?

The pollsters were wrong, again.

Wrong in the Brexit plebiscite, wrong in the Columbia FARC plebiscite and wrong in the Trump/Clinton presidential election.

I blogged about the Brexit polling miscue here and here , and,  at length, about the shortcomings of the presidential polling here.

The pollsters are not to blame for outcomes; they’re just bad at their job, predicting elections.

The American voting public, at least a majority of the public voted to reject politics by voting for the outsider. Yes, part was an anti-Obama vote, part was an anti-Hillary vote, anti-immigrant, homophobic, misogynistic  and, much of the vote was a rejection of our political system. The Republicans have been obstructionists and the Democrats kept pushing an agenda that would resonate with their core voters.  Trump was the outsider who will clean out the stables; of course, it is altogether more likely he will push for the standard Republican agenda.

The Trump/Republican economic agenda: back to the tax cuts for rich that will trickle down to the rest of us, called the Laffer Curve, and failed terribly forty years ago. See a detailed and somewhat wonky explanation on why it is “snake oil” here.

The Trump campaign rhetoric, repeated in his victory speech last night: rebuilding America, a massive infrastructure initiative, an excellent idea (except Trump wants non-union jobs!); however, how do you fund it?  If you add in massive tax cuts you can only fund through borrowing and Trump also plans to reduce the deficit. The way to lower taxes and increase spending is by cutting the largest budget cost: Medicare and Medicaid.  They are the largest single government expense, excluding defense, spending that Trump wants to increase. Of course, many of the older white Trump voters pay their medical expenses under Medicare/Medicaid.

Will Trump actually “build a wall,” round up the undocumented and send them back? Negate all the environmental protections, i. e., the Clean Air Act; deny Global Warming and revive the coal industry?

The first signs will be his cabinet choices; he can go back to the Bush era choices, respected but conservative, or, pick Giuliani for Attorney General and other outliers with little or no experience. The cabinet choices will set the tone for his term.

In education: supporting charter schools and vouchers at the federal level, perhaps sharp reductions in federal funding, and a much less intrusive US Department of Education (A good thing!) While Trump is against the Common Core; states adopted the Common Core, it is not a required federal program. Testing and accountability are at the core of the Republican agenda.

I was disappointed that Hillary did not jump on board the Diane Ravitch pro public education, pro teacher band wagon. In Massachusetts and Georgia pro charter school initiatives on the ballot were soundly defeated and in Oregon and Kansas attempts to defeat pro education judges went down. Randi Weingarten and the teacher union in New York City campaigned 24/7, I just felt the Hillary campaign took teachers for granted and they should have been louder in her support for public schools.

Will Trump get along with the Republican Congress, or, try to dump Ryan as Speaker and seek a more malleable Speaker?  On the Senate side, apparently a 51-49 split with Schumer as the Democratic Minority Leader; Senate rules require 60 votes to bring a bill to the floor, gridlock will likely continue.

I must admit I fear the worst outcomes.

The president appoints over 3,000 to staff the federal bureaucracy. The Republican agenda is to roll back eight years of Obama policy; rules governing the environment, banking, food protection, worker protection, unions, national parks, etc.

Weakening and/or destroying unions and public employee defined benefit pensions are at the heart of the Republican/Trump play list.

I can’t imagine Trump on the international stage: how will he deal with China, our major trading partner, or NATO and EU partners? Third World and Latin American nations? Will he be adventuresome or isolationist in foreign policy? Will he abandon NATO for Putin, his new found friend?

I picture the new Secretary of State: “No, Mr. President you can’t do that, it’s dangerous,” and. the Donald blustering, “Do it, I’m the President.”

My major fear: the impact on the world economy, in a fragile world economy, a recovering American economy,  I fear Trump will drive our nation and the world into a catastrophic economic times.

I hope I’m wrong.

The Election: Musing on the Future of Politics – Is There a Path to Bipartisan Politics?

Early Tuesday morning, at 6 am in New York City, polls will open across the nation and tens of millions of Americans will choose a president; millions will have already cast ballots in thirty-four early voting states voting. Unfortunately about a third of eligible Americans will not bother voting.
The polling is all over the place, I tried to parse the polling a few days ago (Read here), and, it was nice to see a Washington Monthly agreeing; it’s all about the low and haphazard polling response rates.
As the sun dips early on Tuesday, daylight savings time ended on Saturday, crowds will back up at polling locations as voters return from work. As the polls close, 9 pm in New York City, we’ll be glued to our media of choice. If the map is blue, if Hillary takes New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North /Carolina and Florida, the sweep will be on. If not, a long, long night.


A quick lesson: the candidate with the most votes doesn’t necessarily win – each state has a number of electoral votes equal to the members of Congress, fifty-one separate elections.

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

a total of 535 electoral votes plus three for the District of Columbia – 538 electoral votes – a majority, 270, required for victory.

The District constituting the seat of government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a state, but in no event more than the least populous state.

Whoever is elected, hopefully Hillary, will face a sharply divided partisan Congress. Politics in this nation is broken, and we broke it.

Electoral politics has always been nasty. Opponents of George Washington called him “King George,” convinced he would rule as a monarch.Jefferson did everything he could to denigrate and damage Hamilton, his bitter enemy (Read The Hamilton Affair: A Novel, Elizabeth Cobbs – 2016). Lincoln was portrayed as a gorilla. Republican candidate James Blaine accused opponent Grover Cleveland of fathering an illegitimate child and marched through the streets chanting, ” Ma. Ma, where’s my pa?” After Cleveland won his admirers marched through the streets chanting, “Went to the White House, ha ha ha.”

Politics in the nation was party politics; we pulled the lever for our party without too much concern over the candidate. Party politics began to unravel in the 60’s; the sharp divisions over the war in Vietnam and civil rights legislation moved the parties in different directions. Tom Hayden and others led a revolt at the 1968 Democratic National Convention that shattered the party and resulted in two terms of Richard Nixon and a party that has never fully recovered. (Sol Stern reminds us of the impact of Hayden here) The traditional Democratic Party: labor unions, the progressive left, minorities, women, the young has been battling internally for the soul of the party. Jimmy Carter won as a reaction to the Nixon impeachment, Clinton and Obama actually ran outside the party, neither was the choice of the party fathers.

The Republicans put together a Southern Strategy, appealing to covert and overt racist sentiments prevalent among whites in the South. Add the gun crowd, the Evangelicals, disaffected white males; a voter base that elected white Republicans throughout the South, and, elected Donald Trump as their candidate, a candidate far outside the Republican camp. The Republican strategy was usurped by a reality star.

In spite of the wails of progressives about the nature of elections today we get the elections we deserve; constant, unrelenting personal attacks erode support for the opposition. If your goal is to lower taxes on the wealthy, outlaw abortion, convert Medicare to a voucher program, recreate segregated schools by supporting vouchers, you can only accomplish it by destroying your opponents. To the public issues are boring, sex, violence and scandal mean eyes on the screen. For eight years the Republicans attacked Bill and Hillary, personal attacks weakened Bill’s ability to pass legislation. Republicans would lose national debates over issues; they have succeeded, to some extent, in impairing Bill Clinton and Obama’s ability to govern. Paul Krugman says it much better than I can here.

Progressive democrats abjure “dirty politics,” and lose elections.

Effective teachers know they have to meet the students where the students are before they can raise them to where we want them to be. Democrats who proudly remained “above the fray,” disconnected from the sans-culotte; politics, from time to time, means rolling in the mud, it is not an intellectual pursuit.

Donald Trump may become president because he tapped in to the dark side of Americans, The harder the hit at a football game the louder we cheer, concussion protocols are booed; smashing an opponent into the boards at a hockey game, or better, a fight, wild cheers. Obnoxious (to me, obnoxious) lyrics in rap are commonplace, TV shows and movies trivialize the most violent acts, and we choose to click on newspaper articles that involve sex, violence and corruption.

Social media provides a platform for the vilest exchange of insults.

Southern strategys within the Republican Party made Donald Trump possible. The Grand Old Party isn’t so grand; Tea Party versus Evangelical versus mainstream (i. e., Paul Ryan) may not be able to dance. On the Democratic side the left, or progressive or Bernie wing, whatever you want to call it, is in combat with the “electeds” wing, the Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid party leaders. Too many Democrats are sitting on the sidelines during this election cycle, in my view like the angry child crying because s/he didn’t get his way.

A freshman House member met with Speaker Sam Rayburn, “Mr. Speaker, I noticed that in the Rivers and Harbors Bill cities without either a river or a harbor are receiving funding,” Rayburn (perhaps apocryphally) “Young man, you’re messing with the testicles of the universe.”

Lyndon Johnson, with Rayburn as Speaker of the House, passed the most significant civil rights legislation since the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. Johnson was able to “wheel and deal,” to offer this thing for that vote, the ebb and flow that had characterized the legislative process.  The progressives ended:”ear marks,” (Read progressive view attacking the process here) that created the space for the deal-making).  Lincoln probably offered jobs in exchange for votes to pass the 13th Amendment in Congress.

All of the above brings me back to Federalist # 51,

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

 Madison’s simple words, But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?  is prescient. Anyone can sit at a computer and anonymously spew the most vicious hate.

If we turned off the TV set, refused to buy newspapers that spew hate, conducted civil discourse on social media sites, “unfriended” the haters, maybe, just maybe, the political strategists would change their ways.

Will the Republicans continue playing the attack dog?  Continue to obfuscate, to pursue a path of politics by destruction? Will the Democrats choose party leaders with the ability to negotiate and fight?

The best path for the parties, both Democrat and Republican, to rebuild, to recreate themselves, is to produce meaningful bipartisan legislation:

* A massive infrastructure law: tens of billions to reconstruct highways, bridges and rails.

* Full participation in environmental initiatives: global warming, alternative fuels, energy independence

* Continue to build a coast to coast cyber highway.

  • Figure out ways to fund higher education – graduates without deep debt

Can you imagine President Clinton, Democratic and Republican leaders standing on the same stage, rebuilding their parties and the nation?

Or, another round of self-destructive hyperpolitics.