News Release Archive - 2016

Will Trump Keep Promise to Get Rid of “Common Core”?

DIANE RAVITCH, gardendr [at] gmail.com, @DianeRavitch
Ravitch is author of many books, including Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. She is a research professor of education at New York University and served as Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to the Secretary of Education from 1991-1993 under the George H. W. Bush administration. She now blogs at dianeravitch.net.

She just wrote the piece “Trump Education Policy,” which states: “Education was not a subject of great importance during the recent Presidential campaign. It did not come up during the debates and was not often mentioned during the general election. Hillary Clinton ran with the strong support of the two national teachers’ unions and promised to support schools and teachers. Donald Trump announced his education policy while visiting a for-profit charter school in Ohio. He pledged to divert $20 billion in federal funds for school choice, whether charters or vouchers for religious schools. He also promised on several occasions to ‘get rid of’ Common Core, the controversial standards that were widely adopted by the states during Obama’s second term.”There has been widespread speculation about who might be picked as Secretary of Education. And there has been widespread speculation about whether the Trump administration would either trim the Department of Education or eliminate it altogether.

“Some of the names that have been prominently mentioned are Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the public schools of the District of Columbia; Eva Moskowitz, chief executive officer of the Success Academy charter schools in New York City; and Williamson (Bill) Evers of the Hoover Institution. …

“The Common Core divides these three candidates. Rhee and Moskowitz are strong supporters of the Common Core, which they implemented in the schools they have commanded. Breitbart News has already reported that parents who supported Trump are worried that he might back down on his opposition to Common Core by appointing either of them.

“If President-elect Trump wants to take a swat at the teachers’ unions and supporters of public schools, he can’t go wrong with Rhee or Moskowitz. If he wants to show his determination to remove federal support for Common Core, Evers is a good bet. …

“Trump has declared his determination to privatize public schools, to the extent that federal funds can encourage that outcome. No high-performing nation in the world has privatized its public schools; all have strong and equitably resourced public schools, staffed by certified teachers, not well-meaning amateurs. The two nations that did buy into the free-market privatization ideology — Sweden and Chile — have regretted it. Instead of better education, they got greater segregation of students by race, income, religion, and social status.

“The threat to public schools is real under a Trump administration. In the recent election, voters in Massachusetts and Georgia overwhelmingly defeated ballot measures to increase the number of charter schools. Trump won Georgia, but the voters of Georgia turned down the same education proposal that Trump wants to fund.

“Under the terms of current law, states have the power to decide how to use federal funds that are not tied to a mandatory program. If Trump releases $20 billion to the states, it will be left to governors and legislatures to decide whether to protect their public schools. Some deeply conservative states might decide to side with privatization, but it is not at all clear that the parents and local school districts will go along, even in Republican-controlled states.” See Ravitch’s full piece at accuracy.org/blog.

National Popular Vote Needs 105 Electoral Votes to Work

map-2016-campaign-events-v1-2016-11-7PAT ROSENSTIEL, pat[at]ainsleyshea.com
Rosenstiel is with the group National Popular Vote. The group advocates for the National Popular Vote bill, which “would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide (i.e., all 50 states and the District of Columbia).

“It has been enacted into law in 11 states with 165 electoral votes, and will take effect when enacted by states with 105 more electoral votes. Most recently, the bill was passed by a bipartisan 40-16 vote in the Republican-controlled Arizona House, 28-18 in Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate, 57-4 in Republican-controlled New York Senate, and 37-21 in Democratic-controlled Oregon House.”

The group also notes that “On ‘Sixty Minutes’ … President-elect Trump said: ‘I would rather see it, where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes, and somebody else gets 90 million votes, and you win. There’s a reason for doing this. Because it brings all the states into play.’

“State winner-take-all laws are the reason why the vast majority of voters and states are not in play in presidential campaigns. The vast majority of states and the vast majority of voters are ignored because candidates only campaign in a handful of closely divided ‘battleground’ states. Candidates write off states where they are hopelessly behind. They take for granted states where they are safely ahead. In the 2016 general-election campaign:

“Over half of the campaign events (57 percent of the 399 events) were held in just four states (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio).

“Virtually all of the campaign events (94 percent) were in just 12 states (containing only 30 percent of the country’s population).”

See the status of the National Popular Vote bill in each state.

Will Trump Break His Pledge to “Drain the Swamp”?

untitled-ffffRICK CLAYPOOL, rclaypool [at] citizen.org, via Karilyn Gower, kgower [at] citizen.org, @RickClaypool
Claypool is research director for Public Citizen’s president’s office. He just wrote the report “Donald Trump, Clean Government Reformer?” which compiles promises from Trump on clean government and economic policy.

The report highlights the closing Trump campaign ad, in which he states: “Our movement is about replacing a failed and corrupt political establishment with a new government controlled by you, the American people.” Just some of the many other Trump statements the report highlights:

“I will Make Our Government Honest Again — believe me. But first, I’m going to have to #DrainTheSwamp in D.C.”

“I am going to expand the definition of LOBBYIST – so we close all the LOOPHOLES!”

“I am going to ask my senior officials to sign an agreement not to accept speaking fees from corporations with a registered lobbyist for five years after leaving office, or from any entity tied to a foreign government.”

“The rich will pay their fair share, but no one will pay so much that it destroys jobs, or undermines our ability to compete. As part of this reform, we will eliminate the Carried Interest Deduction and other special interest loopholes that have been so good for Wall Street investors, and people like me, but unfair to American workers.”

“We have an amazing tax plan. We’re going to be reducing taxes for the middle class, but for the hedge fund guys, they’re going to be paying up.”

“There is total control of the candidates, I know it better than anybody that probably ever lived. And I will tell you this, I know the system far better than anybody else and I know the system is broken. And I’m the one, because I know it so well because I was on both sides of it, I was on the other side all my life and I’ve always made large contributions.

“And frankly, I know the system better than anybody else and I’m the only one up here that’s going to be able to fix that system because that system is wrong.”

“We can’t fix a rigged system by relying on the people who rigged it in the first place. We can’t solve our problems by relying on the politicians who created them. Only by changing to new leadership, and new solutions, will we get new results. We need to stop believing in politicians, and start believing in America. Before everything great that has ever happened, the doubters have always said it couldn’t be done.”

 

Trump Treasury Pick: Was This Election Goldman vs. Sachs?

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Bloomberg reports: “Mnuchin Said to Be Top Treasury Pick Among Trump’s Advisers” which states: “Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Steven Mnuchin has been recommended by Donald Trump’s transition team to serve as Treasury secretary, according to two people familiar with the process, and the choice is awaiting the president-elect’s final decision.

“Mnuchin, the campaign’s national finance chairman, has been considered the leading candidate for the job. Trump has displayed a pattern of loyalty to his closest campaign allies in early administration selections, and Mnuchin, 53, had signed on at a time when many from Wall Street stayed away.

“Before joining Trump, Mnuchin rose through the kind of elite institutions the president-elect spent his campaign vilifying. Mnuchin was tapped into Yale’s Skull and Bones secret society, became a Goldman Sachs partner like his father before him, ran a hedge fund, worked with George Soros, funded Hollywood blockbusters and bought a failed bank, IndyMac, with billionaires including John Paulson. They renamed it OneWest, drew protests for foreclosing on U.S. borrowers, and ultimately generated considerable profits, selling the business last year to CIT Group Inc. for $3.4 billion.

“Mnuchin, who co-founded hedge fund Dune Capital Management LP, was seen at Trump Tower on Monday. …

“Mnuchin would become the third former Goldman Sachs executive to head the Treasury since the mid-1990s. Robert Rubin and Hank Paulson both ran the Wall Street firm before becoming Treasury chiefs under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively. …

“On Sunday, Trump named another Goldman alumnus, the former Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon, to one of his top posts in his White House, chief strategist and senior counselor. …

“In October 2011 about 100 protesters marched on his Los Angeles mansion, angry about foreclosures. ‘Steve Mnuchin,’ one sign read, ‘Stop taking our homes.’ He and his partners completed the bank’s sale in August 2015.

“California Reinvestment Coalition deputy director Kevin Stein, whose group has accused OneWest of particularly aggressive foreclosure practices, criticized Mnuchin’s legacy on Monday.

“‘Mr. Mnuchin oversaw a foreclosure machine,’ Stein said in an e-mail. Taking the brunt were ‘working-class families, communities of color and seniors.'”

BART NAYLOR, via Don Owens, dowens[at]citizen.org; Angela Bradbery, abradbery[at]citizen.org, @BartNaylor
Naylor is financial policy advocate with Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division.

The group just released a statement: “Fox in the Henhouse: Leading Trump Candidate for Treasury Said to Be Former Goldman Sachs Partner With Ties to Great Recession,” which states: ‘According to media reports, former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. partner Steven Mnuchin is the leading candidate to serve as U.S. Treasury secretary as Trump nears his final decision. Mnuchin has served as Trump’s chief fundraiser since this summer. Mnuchin, described in some reports as an “an investor with so much Wall Street blood in his veins,’ is a former partner at Goldman Sachs, an investment bank that contributed heavily to the financial catastrophe that was the Great Recession of 2008.

“Candidate Trump pledged to tame Wall Street and drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. Instead, President-elect Trump spent last week pouring more sludge in the swamp by naming K Street lobbyists to prominent positions and this week appears ready to put a consummate Wall Street insider, Steven Mnuchin, in charge of the Department of Treasury. Apparently, Trump wants to make America grate again.”

Sanders Delegates Call on Brazile to Resign as DNC Head

The Democratic National Committee has distributed an email to members: “Please join Interim Chair, Donna Brazile on Monday, November 14th at 5 p.m. ET for an important post-election call with President Barack Obama.”

The Bernie Delegates Network reports today: “Hundreds of former Bernie Sanders delegates to the Democratic National Convention have voted overwhelmingly in a straw poll to ‘call for the immediate resignation of Donna Brazile as chair of the Democratic National Committee.’

“The vote, 337 to 13, was 96 percent in favor of urging Brazile to resign. It came in a straw poll by the independent Bernie Delegates Network, which is sponsored by the online activist group RootsAction.org in partnership with Progressive Democrats of America.”

Norman Solomon writes today in The Hill: “For the good of the party: It’s time for Donna Brazile to go,” which states: “At the same time that Brazile was publicly claiming to be neutral in the fierce Clinton-Sanders primary battle, she was using her job as a CNN political analyst to give the Clinton campaign advance notice of questions that would be asked during a CNN debate between the two candidates.

“Yet Brazile seems tone deaf about her integrity breach — just as the Democratic Party establishment has been tone deaf about the corrosive effects of servicing Wall Street and wealthy contributors.”

The Washington Post reported on Nov. 7: “Donna Brazile is not apologizing for leaking CNN debate questions and topics to the Hillary Clinton campaign during the Democratic primary. Her only regret, it seems, is that she got caught.”

DONNA SMITH, donna [at] pdamerica.org
Executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, Smith said today: “We believe the DNC chair must reflect the base of the Democratic Party and the mission for which this party long stood. Clearly, when the party leadership failed to conduct itself impartially during the primary season and then failed to defeat the Republican candidate who is the most dangerous demagogue ever elected to the presidency, it is time for Donna Brazile’s resignation.”

Smith added that “the DNC must either change or it will die. And that change starts with Ms. Brazile’s prompt resignation.”

See petition at RootsAction.

Could Movements Use Trump to Stop U.S. Wars?

DIANA JOHNSTONE, diana.johnstone [at] wanadoo.fr
Johnson just wrote the piece “After the Election: Don’t Panic, Think!” for CounterPunch, which states: “In 2016, the fundamentally undemocratic U.S. two-party system presented the public with the two most hated candidates in history. …

“The unexpected shock of Donald Trump’s victory created mass hysteria, with crowds in tears going into the streets to protest — an unprecedented reaction to an uncontested election. This hysterical opposition is not the best basis for building the new movement needed to oppose a widely rejected political establishment. …

“It is significant that the German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen wasted no time in demanding that Trump choose between friendship with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin on the one hand or NATO and ‘our shared values’ on the other. This is a sign that not only the U.S. war party but also the European NATO machine will be putting pressure on Trump to pursue the very same warlike policies favored by Hillary Clinton. And the disappointed Clintonite opposition is likely to be out in the streets not to oppose wars, but to oppose Trump’s opposition to wars, all in the name of our shared democratic humanitarian values and opposition to ‘dictators.’

“This is the danger of hysterical opposition to Trump. It would be a continuation of the worst aspects of this dreadful campaign, totally centered on denouncing individuals, and neglecting serious political questions. A progressive opposition should leave Clintonism behind and develop its own positions, starting with opposition to regime change wars — even if Trump is also against regime change wars. And indeed, it should push Trump to maintain that position, because he will be under strong pressure in Washington to give it up. The opposition should demand that Trump make good on his promise to avoid war, while opposing his reactionary domestic policies. Otherwise, we are heading for the worst of both worlds.”

Johnstone is author of Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton and Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions.

Stephen Kinzer, a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, recently wrote the piece “Could Trump Reform U.S. Foreign Policy?” for the Boston Globe — which states: “The end of the Cold War obliged the United States to adopt a new foreign policy to deal with new realities. We never did. Instead we lashed out in ways that have weakened our security while wreaking havoc on unfortunate countries. Large numbers of Americans reject this aggressive approach to the world. They want us to concentrate on rebuilding our own declining country. It would be a delicious irony if Trump gives us the post-Cold War foreign policy that we should have adopted a generation ago.”

Correction: An initial version of this incorrectly identified Ursula von der Leyen as the German foreign minister — she is defense minister. 

Trump Didn’t Kill TPP, but TPP Helped Elect Trump

LORI WALLACH, via Chris Tebsherany, ctebsherany [at] citizen.org, @PCGTW
    Wallach is director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

She just wrote the piece “Latest TPP Peril: President Donald Trump,” which states: “The election of Donald Trump did not kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP never had sufficient support in the House of Representatives to be passed following its February 2016 signing. And years of campaigning in the TPP nations against the TPP’s expansion of corporate power by an international coalition of working people, environmentalists, consumer and health advocates and more nations is why no deal on the pact could be reached for years after its planned deadline.

“But the Obama administration’s relentless push for the TPP did help elect Trump. Even if the TPP never goes into effect, its damage will be felt worldwide — in the form of the election of President Donald Trump. Yes, many factors contributed to this outcome. But it was not all racists and other haters who elected Trump. It was also a lot of working class voters who supported President Barack Obama twice. Hillary Clinton suffered her biggest losses in the places where Obama was strongest among white voters.

“Did we have to get to this to end the era of smug Democratic and Republican political elites scoffing at the notion that trade is a salient political issue — and relentlessly pushing more of the same policies to the detriment of a voting bloc otherwise known as a majority of our fellow Americans?”

Veterans Groups Support Drone Documentary at Veterans Day Parade

LISA LING, via Jess Mills, filmrise.com, @aretvet

Today, veteran and drone whistleblower Lisa Ling will walk in New York City’s Veterans Day Parade with international non-profit Veterans For Peace (Chapter 24). Ling, together with members of VFP and Iraq Veterans Against the War, will be handing out flyers at the event in support of the documentary film “National Bird.” Ling is a subject in the film, which centers around the testimonies of whistleblowers. Vietnam Veterans Against War have also shown their support with the president of the New Jersey Chapter 021 confirming endorsement.

Speaking about Veteran’s Day and the release of “National Bird,” Ling says: “It is time for everyone to come together and ask serious questions about what we want our future to look like. The film informs that discussion. Having the support of veterans who have experienced war and militarization first hand, and who understand the need to examine our humanity, feels necessary and important, especially now.”

Ling is very active in her dismissal of the Obama Administration drone program and hopes the support of veteran’s groups will assist in raising public awareness about the program.

AFP reports: “‘I knew I had to do something because I knew what was happening was wrong and it was growing exponentially out of control,’ Lisa Ling, a former drone system technical sergeant in California, told AFP.

“In the documentary Ling shares a letter of commendation she received for having helped to identify 121,000 insurgent targets over a two-year period.

“She asks that viewers ‘do the math’ to estimate how many deaths there have been since America declared war on the Taliban after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the U.S.”

SONIA KENNEBECK, via Jess Mills, filmrise.com, @skdocs
JESSELYN RADACK, via Jess Mills, filmrise.com, @JesselynRadack
Kennebeck is director and producer of “National Bird.” Radack, a whistleblower attorney and counsel to Edward Snowden, is a subject in the film.

The film premieres today, Veteran’s Day, in New York City at Cinema Village, followed by the Los Angeles premiere on November 18 at the Laemmle Monica Film Center, and will continue to roll out in select cities around the country. “National Bird” follows the harrowing journey of three U.S. military veteran whistleblowers determined to break the silence surrounding America’s secret done war.

Kennebeck recently wrote: “Like previous advancements in military technology, combat drones have transformed warfare, outpacing the ability of legal and moral frameworks to adapt and address these developments. A broad, immersive, and thoroughly public discourse is critical to understanding the social cost of drone warfare.”

Trump: Anti-Establishment or Tool of Insiders?

WENONAH HAUTER, Darcey Rakestraw, drakestraw [at] fwwatch.org
Hauter is the executive director of Food & Water Watch

She said today: “While Trump campaigned as a political outsider, his transition team is filled with corporate lobbyists. His agriculture advisors are agribusiness insiders. He has called climate change a hoax, and his energy advisor is a lobbyist for the Koch Brothers. His reported top pick for energy secretary is Harold Hamm, a modern-day oil tycoon.

“Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration will likely be filled with people who will benefit financially from more fracking, more industrial agriculture and factory farms, and expanded deregulation masquerading as trade policy. The people he has indicated will be in his cabinet are the same people who have advocated policies that are destroying our climate and creating a society marked by stratification and racial prejudice. We expect to see more deregulation of industry that will damage our communities, our environment, and our democracy.”

Economic Dynamics Behind Trump Victory

503168-2THOMAS FERGUSON,thomas.ferguson[at]umb.edu
Ferguson is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and senior fellow of the Roosevelt Institute.

He said today: “Everyone’s instinctive response is that ‘the Deplorables’ have won and the American establishment is reeling. The Establishment certainly is. But take a close look at the exit polls:

“Clinton, not Trump, took the two bottom groups with respect to income: Under $30,000 and under $50,000. Trump won all of the rest, sometimes narrowly, but he won them. And white women college graduates only slightly favored Clinton, while trade and state-of-personal-finances badly hurt Clinton. Views of the parties are polarized, but more people have a better view of the Democrats than the Republicans. So Trump now has to make policy for Carl Icahn, Peter Thiele, and his other supporters, while also doing something real for the heartland. The Democrats and the other Republicans all failed at this.

Ferguson’s books include Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems (1995) and Right Turn: The Decline of the Democrats and the Future of American Politics (1987).

Background: Ferguson interview with The Real News, “Who is Supporting Trump?”
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=15165#newsletter1