Monday, June 06, 2016

How do you do it?

 And the answer is:  fairies and unicorns!

But you'd still likely face Paul Ryan as your negotiating partner. And I'm trying to figure out how you get something like public-college-for-all passed with Paul Ryan as your counterpart. Given that you just said today that they won't play ball.

To answer that question successfully requires us to think outside of a zero-sum game. You're saying to me, and it's a fair question: "Bernie, if you sit down with Paul Ryan and say, 'Paul, I want a tax on Wall Street speculation to make public colleges and universities tuition-free and to lower student debt,' the likelihood is that Paul won't say, 'Hey, Bernie, why didn't I think of that? Fantastic idea! Let's go forward together.'" So what's the strategy? The strategy – which is unprecedented, and this is where we're talking about thinking outside the box – is to have a president who actually, vigorously goes around the country and rallies the American people, who are in favor of this idea. This is not some sort of fringe idea. The American people want it. And [the president] rallies the American people and makes it clear that people in the Republican Party – or Democratic Party – who are not sympathetic will pay a political price. That changes the dynamics.
That's Bernie Sanders explaining "How To Do It" to Rolling Stone magazine.  This, of course, will work because Bernie Sanders has a magic Barack Obama completely lacks.  And yes, the American people favor his ideas; the problem is, the GOP controls the state legislatures, and has gerrymandered House districts into areas that elect loonies like the Freedom Caucus, and that tail wags the House dog.  They don't care what the "American People" want, they only care what their constituents want.  And their districts have been drawn to be sure those constituents think Ted Cruz is a squish.

And these people are going to listen to the clamor of the public because Bernie?

I'm old enough to remember when a million people poured into the streets protesting a potential war with Iraq.  The then-President dismissed them as a "focus group."

And he got re-elected.  I'm also old enough to remember when people supported, through their representatives, "Obamacare."  And the next year the Tea Party took over the House, and has controlled it ever since.  We still have Obamacare; but as far as the GOP is concerned, the American People still want to get rid of it; and they won't want to replace it with single-payer.

Then there's this, which I also have to address:

Here's a specific policy question that has generated more heat than light. And that is this question of how you would break up the banks. You drew a lot of heat on this after the Daily News interview. I want to understand, what is your preferred policy mechanism for breaking up the banks? Does Dodd-Frank allow you to do it? Or – are you going to need an act of Congress?

Well, you can do it either way. You can pass the legislation that I've introduced, which would require an act of Congress. [Editor's note: The "Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist" Act would, according to Sanders' summary of the bill, "require the breakup of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley within one year of enactment."] Or you can do it with Dodd-Frank. Or you could do, in a sense, a combination of the two by having a Sanders secretary of treasury, in the first 100 days of our administration, make a determination of which banks – if they failed – would bring systemic damage to the economy, i.e., too big to fail. And then take that information, through section 121 of Dodd-Frank, which is the process by which the Fed and other, uh, other regulatory agencies, work to go forward to breaking up these institutions. In other words: We would be more aggressive. On my own, we would have the secretary of treasury coming in saying, "There are six major banks that, if they fail, would bring systemic damage. Let's go forward and under section 121 of Dodd-Frank..." That's what we could do. All right?

Bernie's bill is 4 pages long; the whole thing.  How you specify what "too big to fail" means in clear legal language that won't be subject to court scrutiny immediately in 4 pages is a mystery to me.  Yes, law is complicated and laws can be obtuse, but there's a reason for that and wishing it away won't fix it.  Moving on:  the main reason the banks that were "too big to fail" weren't taken into receivership or otherwise disbanded is that they are literally too big to fail.  And that means not just their collapse would be disastrous, but so would their government receivership.  Such banks function on confidence and trust as much as ability and assets.  Just today NPR reported that the U.S. economy is slowing down, with growth expected at no better than 2% in the near future.  Why?  Uncertainty about the Presidential election in November.

And that's largely just because of Donald Trump.

So you take a JPMorgan Chase into receivership, and who runs it?  Same people who were running it?  Do you, in the parlance, let the Nazis run the government because they know how to do it?  Remember the end of "Patton," when George C. is riding a beautiful white horse in the Spanish Riding School in Vienna?  He was criticized for letting former Nazis run local governments, but Patton knew tossing them out of civil government would create greater chaos (a lesson we learned in Iraq a few decades later).

So, you shut down Chase by letting Chase be run by the same people who made it too big to fail?  But if you don't, it fails.  Government employees don't have the experience or knowledge to run such an institution; and we don't have enough government employees available to do it.  If you want a "soft fall," you need somebody at the controls to guide the plane in for landing (so to speak).  If you don't have that, the plane crashes, and "too big to fail" fails, with all the problems attendant thereto.

Implement Dodd Frank section 121, and disaster happens; a government created disaster.  Don't implement it, and banks remain too big to fail. Or maybe there's an alternative, one implemented over decades, to shrink banks that are too big, back to banks that are just right.

But that wouldn't be revolutionary, would it?

And to conclude, we all walk off to look for America:

What have you learned about America?

I've learned a lot. And that's been one of the fun aspects of the campaign, when you go out and talk to people tonight here in Salem, or people in Sacramento, and you see young people, white kids and black kids, Latinos, older people, working-class people. I was in Atlantic City yesterday morning, where the people who work in the casino industry are under tremendous pressure. They're losing their health care, they're losing their pensions, their pay has been cut because of bankruptcies – by the way, of Donald Trump, among others – and their willingness to stand up and fight back? It's a beautiful thing to see. It has been a very moving and gratifying experience to be working with those kinds of folks.

Salem, Sacramento; and flyover country in between.  Texas is the second most populous state in the Union.  Lots of people down here are working class, or black, or Latino, or "older people."  No love for El Paso?  Brownsville?  Del Rio?  San Angelo?  Houston, most ethnically diverse city in the country?  Dallas-Fort Worth?  Nothing?  All those voters in the South?  Nada?  I mention it only because Bernie has been so dismissive of the South, I notice the exclusion again.  Bernie really is like Trump:  openly and only impressed with the people who agree with him.

And his America is as delimited and narrow as Trump's, too.


  1. This reminds me of a young supporter of Ross Perot among my younger relations who was certain he had all those great ideas he was always promising were "out there" and that was as much as you needed to know before he became president. I have to say that I'm really shocked at that interview, even more so than the one from the Daily News because it's been two months since then and his answers are even less specific.

    I never thought I'd look at Bernie Sanders as a bullet to dodge before April. This is really shocking.

  2. Been thinking a lot about Perot lately, mostly because of Bernie backers on-line telling me the "revolution" will continue even if Bernie doesn't win the nomination.

    Perot's "party" lasted after him, for a little bit. Not very long, though, and the impact it had? Well, it got Clinton elected.....