MMT on International Trade

Posts in this series
The Deficit Myth By Stephanie Kelton: Introduction And Index
Debunking The Deficit Myth
MMT On Inflation
Reflections On The Deficit Myth
The National Debt Is Soooooo Big
The Wonkish Myth Of Crowding Out

Chapter 5 of Stephanie Kelton’s The Deficit Myth takes up international trade. Trump thinks the US is losing at trade simply because we import a lot more than we export. He promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US. This won him votes in many states where corporations closed US operations and moved production offshore. But it’s a lot more complicated than just the dollars. I’m only going to address a few of the points Kelton raises.

1. Trade has good and bad results

It’s true that for a number of years the US has run a trade deficit with the rest of the world. We import more than we export. This means we send other people dollars and they send us stuff we want, like oil, computers, cars and cars with computers in them that run on oil. That seems like a good trade.

Many poorer countries do not produce enough food, drugs and advanced equipment to meet their needs. [1] Their currencies are weak, so they need dollars to pay for those shortfalls. Giving them dollars for their goods is a partial fix. Also, it means their workers have jobs and can hope for better lives.

It’s a fact that we have lost a lot of good jobs, those with benefits and middle-class pay, and replaced them with poor jobs. Supposedly we get lower prices as a result, though people buying iPhones might wonder. However, most of the benefits from trade go to the richest among us, corporations and their top executives and the lawyers, accountants, and consultants hired to minimize their costs, taxes, personnel, and unions. [2]

Maybe someday foreign holders of US dollars will want stuff themselves, instead of dollars. They might buy stuff from us. If that means increasing our exports of goods and services, then it seems good. If they buy up our land, buildings and equipment, that might not be so good. If they buy our oil and export it to their countries, we might not like that. Its complicated.

2. What about the money?

This seems to bother Trump a lot. He seems to think sending dollars abroad is bad, even if we get useful stuff in exchange, which sounds stupid when you write it down. One real problem is that money spent abroad doesn’t circulate in the US. Your spending is someone else’s income. If American Airlines buys jets from AirBus, that’s money not spent in the US, and less money for Boeing employees to spend here. The result is lowered economic activity here. Kelton has an answer for this.

Let’s start with the two-bucket accounting system from the previous post. Deficit spending by the Federal Government creates a surplus in the hands of Everybody Else. So, if the FG spends $100 and taxes back $90, then FG has a negative balance of $10. EE has a surplus of $10, which is available to increase demand for goods and services.

Let’s now split the EE bucket into two pieces: US and Other Countries. Now suppose people in the US spend $5 on goat cheese from France, part of OC, and French people spend $3 on US movies. The US surplus drops by $5, and increases by $3, for a loss of $2, leaving $8. Those 2 dollars won’t be available to buy stuff in the US, reducing economic activity.

Trump’s solution to this problem is tariffs on imports from OC. Tariffs are taxes. They put money in the FG bucket, and remove it from the funds available to support domestic demand. Suppose the FG imposes $1 in tariffs on imports. The US bucket drops by $1, to $7. If the problem was reduction of demand, that’s perverse.

The real solution is more deficit spending by the FG on US goods. If the FG spends another $2 buying US goods, those two dollars add to the US surplus, returning it to $10. Problem solved, especially for people who like Crottin de Chavignol. [3]

3. It’s the jobs, not the dollars.

The real problem is not the dollars, but the good jobs that disappeared. Kelton doesn’t say so, but in fact sending jobs overseas is the result of corporate decisions, made solely in search of profits. The federal government does not explicitly support this corporate decision, but its policies do not discourage shipping jobs overseas, and in many ways support offshoring of jobs. For example, modern trade treaties contain provisions designed to protect US businesses in foreign countries, and the government is often willing to use force to protect US assets abroad which can cost the lives of our military people to protect the interests of the rich.

Mainstream economists have always praised trade deals as benefiting Americans, despite the fact that the benefits of trade for the most part flow to the rich while the burdens fall mostly on the poor and the middle class. The middle class is shrinking. Part of that is due to the loss of well-paying jobs. The response of Congress has been worthlesss, mostly job retraining and minimal recompense. [2]

Kelton once again offers the job guarantee as a solution. The proposals for legislation contemplate that all jobs will pay at least $15 per hour with benefits, which will keep people reasonably safe. But these are not an adequate replacement for good middle-class jobs. We need more effort put into solving that problem.

I’ll offer one idea. The pharmaceutical business model is to raise the price of their drugs at least annually, so as to increase profits, and thus the price of the stock. As part of the jobs guarantee, the federal government could build plants to manufacture drugs and compete directly. There would be no problem doing this with generic drugs, but the government could also do it with other drugs bearing extortionate prices, like insulin and coronavirus treatments like Remdesivir. Also see this.

The expertise is out there, and the government can buy it. People can be trained to operate these plants, and make an enormous contribution to their fellow citizens. I see this an an illustration of one of Kelton’s normative policy assumptions: the point of the economy is to make our lives better. This is a political choice. It’s not a choice we should abandon to the rich and powerful.

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[Graphic via Grand Rapids Community Media Center under Creative Commons license-Attribution, No Derivatives]

[1]Kelton knows this is a problem. In short, it’s the result of a number of factors, including weak or corrupt governance. The Washington Consensus perpetuates this problem. With better governance and careful attention to some of the ideas in this book, that problem might be slowly corrected. See p.141 et seq.

[2] This entire problem was the result of a consensus among economists on the benefits of trade, a consensus that supported the desires of capitalists and giant corporations. Both liberal and conservative economists and politicians joined the chorus of assent. I discuss the impact of this disaster in four posts you can find here, beginning with The Problem Of The Liberal Elites. TL;dr: liberal elites squandered their influence pushing a bad economic theory. We have no reason to trust their judgment after the damage their advice created.

[3] Alternatively we could try to reduce the trade deficit. Kelton discusses this, but it raises several complicated issues, and I’ll just refer interested readers to pp. 135-6.

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102 replies
  1. Geoff says:

    Well, speaking of international trade, I just found out today that there is an expanded list of poisonous hand sanitizers being sold in the US, and that now the recall has expanded. And sure enough, some that I had was on the list, which kind of pissed me off. So I decided to do some digging. The hand sanitizer, new and improved with methanol, is sold under the brand Blumen. It is produced in Mexico by a company called 4e.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL8N19F28I

    Well, if you recall, when Trump rammed through his epic fail of a tax cut plan, built on complete BS and lies, there were plenty of companies thrilled about it, and KC was but one of them. You might recall how thrilled. So thrilled in fact, that they shuttered a bunch of US plants and laid off thousands. Presumably because they could make stuff in Mexico cheaper.

    https://urbanmilwaukee.com/pressrelease/labor-leaders-slam-trump-for-betraying-working-people/

    Well, apparently it wasn’t cheap enough to just go and make stuff in Mexico, they had to use cheap and unsafe ingredients to do it. And what is our recourse? So far, all I see is that I can register my poisonous product under the 4e recall site. I feel SO much better now.

    https://www.blumensanitizerrecall.expertinquiry.com/

    For further information, and to stop accidentally killing your loved ones by trying to keep them safe, please see :

    https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-methanol

    So, guess what happened in 2016? Yeah, half of 4e was acquired by a US company. And that company was Kimberly Clark. Such a friendly sounding name right?

    • rip says:

      We were distributed lots of these “Blumen” products as being front-line carers for people in our social programs. These products didn’t show up in the first list of FDA warnings. When I saw them in the updated list I noticed that there were two other products “Hecho in Mexico” that were warned as containing methanol. I sent out notices to my immediate cohort to be aware.

      Now that I think on this a bit, I’m not sure I trust “this” government / FDA / CDC / HHS / ETC to be honest about anything at all. It’s all a game for the stable orange honcho.

  2. graham firchlis says:

    Governmental control of the means of production.

    Sounds somehow familiar.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    • John Paul Jones says:

      It’s not control that’s being proposed, but rather the FG becoming a player in the market. The market continues to exist. Building a few factories isn’t the same as nationalizing the banks.

      • graham firchlis says:

        Government has many means of moderating the market short of owning means of production. Unwinding the radical reactionary legal biases increasingly degrading democracy by sytematically advancing corporatist dominionism for the last 50 years would be a better tactic.

        • Bruce Olsen says:

          If pharma were made less powerful through some governmental means it would simply grow even less capable of pursuing any business model other than its current one (of blockbuster drugs, IP abuse, and advertising to stimulate demand). Take those away and what’s left?

          Pharma has already failed as a market, and health care services are equally unsuitable for market-based solutions (as the failure of outsourced EDs during the pandemic has shown).

          • graham firchlis says:

            If we had a comprehensive national healthcare scheme, we could manage consumer drug pricing as other nations do. We got where we are via incremental changes in the law. We can similarly make beneficial changes without nationalizing means of production.

        • graham firchlis says:

          (Disjointed, sorry, can’t deal with the nesting)

          I prefer the emerging Canadian model, federally mandated state operated mixed funding Medicare for All, no opting out, but allowing private practice for coverage gaps like purely cosmetic surgery. Canada has begun experimenting with the British NHS public-private scheme. So long as public health care is adequately funded, the incentive to enter private practice will be severely limited.

          The transition from private practice only to socialized health care has been incremental in every Western democracy. They each may appear to have arisen de novo, but history teaches otherwise.

      • Stacey says:

        Yes, agree! It’s always lost in these types of discussions around owning the means of production that the only two choices seem to be “government” and “Capital”. But the BEST solution to this quandary is always the Worker-Owned Cooperative model because the workers own and manage the means of production and decide how to utilize the surplus and are never likely to collectively decide to move their factory to somewhere else. The government or capital owning the means of production doesn’t change a damn thing for the worker, as Marx makes clear, and as the communists discovered when they took over the decision-maker seats and basically illustrated the Animal Farm pigs changing the mantra from “4 legs good, 2 legs bad” so that now “2 legs are just fine as long as it’s OUR legs!” It doesn’t matter whether capital or government owns the means of production, until democratic work places exist where the people who do the work decide the outcomes, we’ll keep chasing our little curly tails around each other’s pink rotund rumps!

        Look for anything Richard Wolff says on this topic for a wonderful discussion of all things in this topic!

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. Could you do us a favor and revert to your original username, Stacey Lyn, to avoid confusion with any Stacey/Stacy/Staci who may also comment? Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Someone’s afraid of baba yaga. What could go wrong? Probably half as much as goes wrong when big pharma asset strips everything in sight, and tries to monopolize everything from aspirin to Covid vaccines.

      • graham firchlis says:

        False dichotomy. Many broadly beneficial approaches lie between the extremes offered here. Both lead to tyranny. Both should be guarded against.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Your dichotomy. The mixed unwinding of radical reactionary laws you now speak of must include the option for government ownership, as well as government demands for reformed practices, and a much greater willingness to withdraw corporate existence, ownership, and privileges.

        Abusive banks, for example – who pay billions in fines within a decade for illegal conduct, yet remain unreformed – should have their charters revoked. If necessary, the government should step in as an intermediate owner until it resolves succession. Or, it could earlier demand changes in business practices and in executive and board ranks, on pain of being shut down or having their access to federal funds denied.

        The TVA illustrates how government ownership can be used for many purposes at once: to provide essential goods and services the market says it can’t or won’t provide; to provide transparency for costs, prices, and levels of service, which the private sector demands be kept proprietary; and as an example of what happens to chronically bad actors. It’s a principal that should immediately be applied to telecoms companies, for example. US providers offer less than half the internet speed for twice the price available internationally.

        Government contracting is another area wailing for reform. With exceedingly few exceptions, government contracts, their terms, and performance data should be public records. Simple cost of doing business. That should immediately apply to such things as providing election h/w, s/w, and services. (The s/w should be open source or auditable at will by the government.) The list goes on.

    • YinzerInExile says:

      I don’t mean to speak for Ed, who is of course perfectly capable of speaking for himself, but I believe that the proposal for the government to go into the pharmaceutical business was simply one suggestion that he had personally (prefaced by, “I’ll offer one idea”), not Professor Kelton’s proposal. The more basic point is that any government spending (which, in MMT, means the same thing as, “any creation of money”, since government spending is what creates money) that buys domestic goods or services will counteract the leakage of dollars through a trade deficit, if that is what we want to do. Ed might as easily have said that the US could buy PPE for the pandemic exclusively from domestic manufacturers and distribute it for free to healthcare providers; that would have the same effect. Actual government ownership of the means of production is not necessary to the point at issue.

      On the broader question of “structural” trade deficits (meaning that they are in some sense built into the framework we currently have), we discussed in a prior post and its comment threads the notion that, if the US dollar is to be the reserve currency for international commerce, then somehow dollars must get out of the country. The most direct way to accomplish this transfer — and the one most beneficial to US consumers, if you can suspend disbelief for a moment and separate them from their roles as human beings, citizens and people supporting themselves and their families — is for Americans to send money abroad to buy goods and services; in other words, for the US to run a trade deficit sufficient to fund the non-US demand for dollars in international transactions. In any event, dollars have to get overseas; if instead of dollars, our currency consisted of Topps baseball cards (or Warren Mosler’s business cards, in one of the original expositions of MMT), then for those cards to become the reserve currency in international trade, we’d have to run the domestic card-manufacturing facilities to produce more cards than we need in the US and then ship the surplus overseas, which means we’d have to get something in return. It’s just math. Eliminate the trade deficit, and it becomes very, very hard for the US to maintain the advantages it enjoys in international commerce . . . and far easier for some other currency and its issuer to replace the US dollar and secure those advantages for itself and its citizens.

      Finally, returning to the narrower point about the ownership of the means of production, I commend Stacey’s comment in this thread about the democratization of ownership and its benefits. Cooperatives and truly worker-owned enterprises have both primary and exponential secondary and tertiary (and beyond) benefits in keeping money circulating in a community — even a community as large as the entire country. Worker-owned enterprises (and their variations that involve public investment) might perhaps be the topic of an entire other article or series of articles.

    • Ed Walker says:

      Well, I’m not proposing that the government own all of the means of production. But the current system isn’t working, and your blithe assertion that there are alternatives between extremes is subject to a number of practical problems. One obvious step is vastly stepped up antitrust litigation. How long will that take? How many different administrations have to push it to get a final result? And that assumes the current SCOTUS, controlled by intellectually dishonest hacks and economically royalist lawyers doesn’t eviscerate the laws even further.

      Tighter patent regulation might help, subject again to SCOTUS destruction. As I note in the post, we could force licensing of all patents, and take other steps, all subject to eternal litigation paid for out of monopoly profits.

      We need structural change. This is one way to force that, one among many.

    • Ken Scott says:

      Yeah, look at World War Two, where the government took control of industry and allowed them to make a profit, but not obscene profits. If you’re afraid of government control of the means of production, elect better politicians. At least we have some control over the politicians. We haven’t any control over corporate management. I should also point out that the current head of acquisition for the USAF, Will Roper, is currently talking about nationalizing the defense side of the Aerospace Industry, due to it basically becoming a monopoly. He’s talking about nationalizing it to save the industrial base; Wall Street favors monopolies, not competition.

      https://breakingdefense.com/2020/07/air-forces-roper-suggests-nationalizing-advanced-aviation-industry/

  3. bloopie2 says:

    Good post, thanks for that. My comment is spurred by the point about building pharmaceutical manufacturing plants. I don’t know for sure, but I’d bet that such plants are highly automated and don’t employ many workers – especially “unskilled” workers. It could decrease drug prices, but aren’t there better ways to accomplish that? I just don’t see much demand for, say, 10 million unskilled workers. In that regard, I’d be interested to see information on what types of jobs were created by the New Deal – WPA, etc. I know a number of those jobs were directly supportive of artistic endeavors, but I assume the vast majority of those jobs were construction and such – at a time when manual labor was really needed in such industries (let me know if that’s incorrect). Are there tens of millions of manual labor jobs “available” today if we put ourselves to it? Perhaps the government should subsidize US companies that (unprofitably) use human labor to compete against foreign companies that use automation? It’s certainly complicated; lots to think about.

    • Ed Walker says:

      This is a good question because it helps establish the boundaries of an effective job guarantee. A lot of discussion of the jobs guarantee is hand-waving, pointing to the need for more road paving, or more teaching assistants for grade schools. You remind me that maybe I need to read more about the practical aspects of the idea.

      The point of my idea is that we need much more than just manual labor jobs. We need jobs that require and reward education, training and critical thinking. It’s true that the WPA supported a large number of arts workers, including one of my favorites, the Chicago painter Ivan Albright. The CCC and the WPA both were focused on manual labor, but that was then, a time when most jobs were manual labor in factories or in farms, and far fewer were in service industries like health care, nursing homes, and computer infrastructure.

      My pharma example is intended to broaden the idea of jobs in a job guarantee. What happens when there’s a merger and hundreds of people in middle management lose their jobs? Do we expect them to get a job paving streets? A medicine manufacturing company needs middle management, and offers a valid replacement for such workers.

      But it has the added advantage of bringing market discipline to a business model rooted not in providing goods for sick people but in jacking up profits to exploit monopolies.

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      Before Robert Heinlein went nuts and became a “pay for air or get spaced” libertarian, his novels described a network of solar panels lining all the highways. That seems like a reasonable mix of trainable specialized knowledge, broad demand, and environmental/foreign policy benefits.

      Another might be laying fiber optic and establishing local hub ISPs. Lots of room for kinesthetic work and more technical trainable skills.

      We have all this tech that only certain pockets of the country/income brackets have access to; expanding the availability seems like a perfect modern new deal/jobs pool.

      Maybe the FG could subsidize the expansion and spin off regional management as worker owned coops.

      Ofc this assumes good faith, benevolence, and willingness to challenge capitol which we are maybe 3 evolutionary iterations away from.

      • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

        It also assumes whatever follows homo sapiens is a step up; I’m sure sharks and alligators weren’t thrilled to shrink in scale compared to their ancestors. Maybe we will become meaner and more destructive instead.

  4. Andrew Dabrowski says:

    “Trump’s solution to this problem is tariffs on imports from OC. Tariffs are taxes. They put money in the FG bucket, and remove it from the funds available to support domestic demand.”

    Look, I’m with you, but this is a lousy argument, since the point of tariffs is to make US products more competitive in the market place, so that is the argument you should have refuted – which I’m sure you’re capable of.

    • bmaz says:

      That is bunk. Trump’s tariffs just penalize American consumers and have done not jack shit to make American businesses “more competitive”. Don’t peddle that bunk here.

    • Rayne says:

      Did the tariffs make US products more competitive in the U.S. market place, or did the tariffs merely increase the price of Chinese-made U.S. branded products to consumers?

      You need to make your counterpoint, not just whip out propaganda.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      You’re not refuting what Ed said, but what he didn’t say. That’s a lousy argument, one you could have avoided by simply making the point you wish he’d made yourself.

      Tariffs are US taxes imposed on foreign goods sold in America. The tax goes into the FG bucket, but it’s paid by US buyers/taxpayers, not the foreign seller or its government. China doesn’t pay a dime, any more than Mexico is paying for the Wall.

      A tariff does not make US producers more competitive; it protects them from lower-cost competition. That allows them time to make changes that might make them more competitive – or to avoid making them altogether. Trump’s public statements are wrong, but I’m pretty sure the US corporations he’s protecting understand exactly what he’s doing.

  5. graham firchlis says:

    Ed

    Agreed what burdens us now is unbearable in every sense, and what we the people choose to do about it will very quickly determine our long term future.
    Brief does not equal blithe, else everyone here save you could be as easily dismissed.
    All approaches to our future are fraught with risk. We should above all avoid trading one system of excessive power concentration for another. Imagine your wish already granted, with President Trump and his gang in absolute control of US vaccine manufacturing. Feel better?
    Many nations have socioeconomic systems that are broadly just, fair and equitably prosperous. The common theme is a balance between capitalism (property rights) and socialism (human rights) in which both are firmly constrained. They are not us, but we can learn much from them.
    TVA? This is not 1933, at least not yet. Four more years of Trump though….

    • Bruce Olsen says:

      So: you prefer to trust incredibly wealthy and powerful people with little or no accountability–and who as a group repeatedly commit a wide variety of unlawful acts with near-complete impunity–over a government that has historically seen little if any corruption at that same scale, and includes (at least on paper or, ummm, in a voting machine) the means to hold the leaders accountable?

      There’s still a big core of civil servants (sorry, Deep Staters) who are pushing back on Trump. They would continue to push back if he were in charge of US pharma, and the public would react very differently to him screwing with Granny’s medicine than him extorting some random Ukrainistanian politician. And I can’t think of any other modern president even considering such a thing. Except Tom Cotton, if we ever suffer that misfortune (and may the asteroid strike us first).

      • graham firchlis says:

        Sigh. Same false dichotomy. I prefer wrapping all power centers in a net of law defining what can and can’t be done, what responsibilities we impose in exchange for what power we grant.

        I do not share your confidence in the people’s ability to defy a Trump backed by a radical reactionary controlled congress. I am not at all confident that the next election will rout them from power. Covid fears on top of extant voter supression could keep Trump in office. It happened once it can happen again, because the crazies WILL turn out.

        GOTV, like never before. If we don’t chase the wolves out of the house, we’ll never be able to do even simple repairs much less beneficial remodeling.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Ennui does not become you. That “net of law defining” conduct you favor – which would be a good idea, as a way to reform institutions that work more for people than profit – works only as well as the government that creates and enforces it. Which takes us back to what government can and should do and for whom.

          I agree the next election won’t rout Trump and his followers. Cotton, Cheney, Haley and others wait in the wings to take over. They are smarter and more competent, but they aspire to many of the same things. Nor is Trump an anomaly: he is the natural and logical expression of the current Republican Party. But his and its losing in a landslide would move the needle the other way, and create an opportunity for recovery and progressive change.

          • graham firchlis says:

            I am indeed old, ill and weary but ennui? None of it. Perhaps you project.

            Viewing our government as somehow dissociated from the will of the people is a fatal flaw. They are we, like it or not. It is our responsibility to alter government that does not serve our human rights, the general welfare and domestic tranquility. Seeing government as a distinct independent entity is to surrender.

            Setting the bar for a successful electoral outcome at ‘overwhelmingly’ plays into the hands of those who will claim anything less to be illegitimate. Hold the House, 50 Senate seats and Biden by one in the electoral college and I will be delerious with joy. By noon Nov 5th, however, time to sober up and get to work on the 2018 election. Last thing we need is a repeat of Clinton and Obama, both crippled for 3/4ths of thier term by the Radical Reactionaries as a consequence of the lazy Left’s failure to show up.

            Ennui, my ass.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              I was wondering why you sighed so much. Your argument is a strawman. Of course, the government cannot be “dissociated from the will of the people.” The argument is about which people.

              “Overwhelming” is an expression of a double-digit lead, not a set-up that anything else will be “illegitimate.” And I wouldn’t hold my breath about having an electoral result on November 5th, or wait that long to sober up about what comes next.

        • Bruce Olsen says:

          ” I prefer wrapping all power centers in a net of law”

          Gee, it’s a little late for that. Neoliberal institutions have already granted corporations global power by wrapping nations in a net of treaties that both constrains and dictates actions. It will take a heavy lift to dismantle that. And while there’s no net of law that can constrain a lawless POTUS if he has a Senate that continues to silently approve (as the GOP has), individual actions (from within the FG as well as private citizens) have already made a difference in exposing wrongdoing, and current public opinion seems to be overwhelmingly against most of the policies on which Trump seems to be staking his reelection.

          Regarding pharma, the point is that the FG is designed to follow the law, with explicit mechanisms (imperfect as they are) to expose and punish noncompliance. Legal compliance is much lower on the list of most corporations, especially when they can treat it as just another cost of doing business by paying an inconsequential fine. Perhaps a cattle prod of law would help.

          • graham firchlis says:

            Far too late? No, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation openly.

            A heavy lift? Certainly. A 60+ year long effort of incremental corruption took us here, and untangling the mess will take a great deal of effort and certainly some time. Pitchforks in the streets of DC is unlikely and unwise. Real revolutions are unpredictable, too often worsening the people’s lives. Our constitution favors incrementalism. We should embrace that path. Fighting the VRWC whilst dragging the masses towards a novel and unmapped future is the heavy lift. Faster, easier, safer and surer a few steps at a time.

            However selectively begun, sustained government control of the means of production historically has lead to disaster for democracy and the masses.

            An alternate approach is to dramatically revive NIH mediated university funding for new drug development. Uni’s hold the patent rights, U and NIH jointly negotiate commercial licensing with profiteering and other constraints. Royalties support further academic based research. Retail pricing is managed by government through the purchasing power of a national universal health care scheme. Targeted government grants can support orphan drug development and commercialization.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        About that Deep State. Trump is wrong in his definition, of course, which is unavoidable for him, and a way to degrade the term, which helps convince thinking people it doesn’t exist. The devil’s greatest trick and all that.

        Civil servants and public employees are not Deep Staters, except for a few at the top: John J. McCloy, Henry Kissinger, Eugene Scalia, Bill Barr. But those courtiers and their patrons are. David Rockefeller was the avatar of a Deep State patron (oil, the family foundation, Chase Bank, Trilateral Commission). Bezos, Mercer, and Silicon Valley billionaires are contemporary examples.

        C. Wright Mills’s The Power Elite was groundbreaking, but is a little dated. Bourdieu is a hard read. More accessible is G. William Domhoff’s Who Rules America? The latest edition is Studying the Power Elite: Fifty Years of Who Rules America (2017).

        • Bruce Olsen says:

          Interestingly, Mirowski quotes ummm, Keyser Söze as well, when discussing neoliberalism.

          While I intended Deep State as a Trump joke, I didn’t mean to downplay the concept. I’ll add that it perfectly illustrates Mirowski’s thinking on the “double truth”–one for the masses and one for the insiders.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Others have dismissed the DS as if it were a conspiracy theory Trump invented to bash his critics with. If he weren’t so dim and unreliable, his money could have made him a part of it. Maybe that’s why he bashes it.

            One of Groucho’s great one-liners is that he would refuse to join a club that would have him as a member. If Trump wants to join a club, he has to buy it first and admit himself. That defines his relationship with all of society, elections included.

            • Bruce Olsen says:

              Problem is, the actual DS sounds much like a typical NWO conspiracy theory, so normal people dismiss it as a figment of Trump’s mind. Which, of course, is the point.

              Makes me wonder how involved neoliberal writers were in spreading NWO CTs, since NL isn’t far from being NWO writ small.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I think the basic normative principle of MMT as Kelton presents it is the crucial role of democracy. Her vision forces Congress to take a real role in the economy, not this fake back-and-forth about the scary debt and the deficit myth. Congress has to be a responsible institution, if this is to work for the interests of all rather than the interests of a few.

      That’s just as problematic as any of the other fixes for our economic system, and given the craven Republican party, it may even be more problematic than some others. But in my personal view, and maybe Kelton’s, it’s the only one that can work if we want to live in a real democracy.

      I shouldn’t have used the word “blithe”, because any serious discussion of these issues faces enormous practical and political obstacles. I see some hope for change in Congress over the next few years. I hope it’s not too late.

      • graham firchlis says:

        Words, tricky things.

        Change is always hard. I am an incrementalist, because my life experience shows that even the biggest social changes emerge as a consequence of millions of small changes. Hope remains, the last to crawl out of Pandoras box. I share your hopes, if not the exact same means, and hope to live long enough to see young people rise up and claw back the power we’ve lost. As Harvey Milk said, if you want to move people in a beneficial direction ‘You have to give them hope.’

        • Bruce Olsen says:

          Coincidentally, just last night I was reading a book about the American Incrementalary War (1775-1783).

          The ACA tried to cross the canyon in multiple jumps. Perhaps it’s the most that could’ve been accomplished at the time, but it’s become clear that the GOP (and wealthy Dems) would have bitterly contested whatever had been signed into law. The economy would be in far better shape if we’d made it all the way across.

          Incrementalism is fine if you’re in a fundamentally good place. That diesn’t describe the state of the US.

          • graham firchlis says:

            The revolutionary war period you reference was preceeded by over a decade of petitioning the Crown for relief from oppression. The government’s response was to increase the scope and magnitude of oppression, summarized in our Declaration of Independence.

            War was the only option available because a government in which power centers of military strength, wealth and religious authority were combined absolutely prevented incremental change beneficial to the colonists.

            Our constitution seeks to prevent such a unitary power concentration. When the people have bestired themselves, constitutional mechanisms have allowed dramatic beneficial changes without armed revolution.

            The magnitude of our current oppression can likewise be overcome, but only through sustained effort. The people afforded both Clinton and Obama administrations just two years each of marginal power, before returning control of congress to the radical reactionary VRWC dominated Republican Party.

            The significant broadly beneficial achievements in the FDR and LBJ administrations were only possible because the people imposed dominant Democratic congressional power over multiple election cycles.

            The ACA was as good as could be had at the time. If Obama had the congressional margins of FDR and LBJ we would already have universal health care, and a whole lot more.

            GOTV.

            • bmaz says:

              You are relentlessly full of shit. No, the ACA could have had a public option, but Obama did not want it. Most of us here know that because we were around and involved in that fight. But you are new here, prone to acting holier than thou, and do not know squat about who you are talking to. Cool your jets newbie.

  6. sand says:

    Trump frequently attacks the U.S National Environmental Policy Act as weakening our ability to compete internationally. He has sought to soften the law through executive orders.

    This is interesting, because he wants the U.S. to compete in a race to the bottom. Instead of weakening our laws, we can use them to show nascent middle classes in competition countries that they deserve clean air and water too. Funny thing, but once you have enough food to eat, you start looking for clean air and water and good schools for your kids. You start to pressure the local factory to clean up its waste. Even a totalitarian regime can’t stop a motivated army of moms and dads, as Portland demonstrates.

    The U.S. is still (despite the past 3.5 years of incompetence) the most powerful economy in the world. But Trump, true to form, insists on punching down instead of playing to our strengths. Worst. Businessman. Ever.

    Thanks. Read the book. Love the series of posts. (Still waiting for the movie.)

  7. Rapier says:

    The US has had a mostly huge balance of payments deficit for 40 years. We create the credit which creates the money to buy stuff. We are lucky that way. The vast majority of nations can’t run a balance of payments deficit for year upon year upon year. Not to mention having so much of the trade done in their own currency.

    It strikes me as a weakness of a proposed system if only a couple of countries can run large such deficits forever and others can’t at all. It ends up as special pleading.

  8. Epicurus says:

    Mr.Walker’s post is quite timely for me. I just finished a book “The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic” by Ganesh Sitaraman. He addresses what Mr. Walker addresses and much more. I would recommend it to anyone. Sitaraman’s conclusion:

    “When James Madison looked forward from 1830, he recognized that one day “the institutions and laws of the country” would have to “be adapted” to address the proportion being without property.” This task, he said, would require “the wisdom of the wisest patriots.”

    “The wisest patriots of Madison’s day understood Harrington’s dictum that power follows property, (note: I bought this book because of my interest in and the influence of James Harrington and his book The Commonwealth of Oceana on the creation of the Constitution) and they knew that America could not be a republic without relative economic equality. “The great object of terror and suspicion to the people of the thirteen provinces was Power,” Henry Adams wrote in 1870. “Not merely power in the hands of a president or prince…..but power in the abstract, wherever it existed and under whatever name it was known.” These days most commentators look back to the founding era and equate the fear of government power. But for much of American history, the fear of power extended beyond tyrannical government to the accumulation of private power and in particular economic power. Fear of economic power and the belief that Americans had an exceptional level of economic equality were central to the origins of the Constitution. And as time passed and the economic structure of the country shifted, the wisest patriots recognized that reforms would be needed to preserve our republican form of government.

    “Today, with economic inequality rising, the middle class collapsing, and power increasingly concentrated in the hands of economic elites, our middle class constitution is once again at risk. The central question we must ask is one John Adams raised more than two hundred years ago: Is there “such a rage for Profit and Commerce” that we no longer have “public Virtue enough to support a Republic”?”

    • madwand says:

      It seems James Madison may have evolved a little from “we must protect the minority of the opulent from the majority” to your quote “When James Madison looked forward from 1830, he recognized that one day “the institutions and laws of the country” would have to “be adapted” to address the proportion being without property.” This task, he said, would require “the wisdom of the wisest patriots.”

      I would suspect that today’s version of that minority largely believe in Madison’s earlier statement and that things really haven’t changed that much since Madison’s original take. It’s just a lot more veiled and invisible to the average guy.

  9. PeterS says:

    My 11 year old asks, Why can’t we look around the world and find a democracy that’s doing better than us, and copy some of what they’re getting right?

  10. Chetnolian says:

    This is an amazingly inward looking discussion as if the USA was not a major power in its own right. One thing which has always annoyed me is the perception that if another Government adopts policies like some of those being discussed it is aiming to destroy the US. The US approach to the everlasting Boeing/Airbus ( no middle capital B by the way) spat is a good example. Surely in a land which is totally wedded to the benefits of competition the existence of a competitor to Boeing to keep them honest is a good thing?

    The purchase price for an airliner is never the only factor. An Airbus product would not sell in the USA at any price unless it offered other advantages.

    Airbus is in fact a good worked example of the mixed economy approach. It has progressed from a collection of small national government supported businesses to a self-standing private business with limited state aid and very little actual control. In so doing it provides jobs across Europe, and by the way in the USA, China and many other countries, not just in the visible assembly field but also in many component suppliers. To me that seems internationally to Have been a good thing.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Driving a car made in Japan in the United States generates economic activity – advertising, sales, fuel, repairs. But it’s not in the same category as having a car designed and built in the US, which generates R&D, engineering, construction, manufacturing, assembly, and know-how.

      The knock-on effects of the latter are much greater too, such as significant investment in education and training, and in the business skills needed to coordinate and make profitable a much more elaborate business model. They include greater investment in housing, schools, roadways, communities, and so on. There’s no contest. It’s why every other industrialized country in the world has an economic policy driven by its government, not by a handful of lobbyists and the large private sector patrons they work for.

  11. Thelonius M says:

    “This seems to bother Trump a lot. He seems to think sending dollars abroad is bad, even if we get useful stuff in exchange, which sounds stupid when you write it down. One real problem is that money spent abroad doesn’t circulate in the US. Your spending is someone else’s income. If American Airlines buys jets from AirBus, that’s money not spent in the US, and less money for Boeing employees to spend here.”

    You make an equivalence between goods and dollars but then seem to contradict it. After the purchase , don’t we have the Airbus plane here to use? That translates into economic activity here does it not?

      • Chetnolian says:

        Just to show what fair person I am, if I was content to be flying at all I would be quite happy in a 787.

        And I do not want to start being boring on a subject I can speak all day on but Boeing and particularly the Max is a good lesson of what happens when money, which is all Trump cares about, becomes more important than the product.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        As long as senior American executives get all the gate receipts, they don’t care whether the back-up band does the whole concert.

      • Rugger9 says:

        Airbus has the same automation issues that the 737 Max 8 does, look up Qantas.

        Boeing’s issues arise as much from rampant cost-cutting by taking shortcuts suggested by McDonnell-Douglas execs brought in after the merger. All the safety of the DC-10 guaranteed. That attitude change from Boeing led to the idea that the engineering changes really did not create a new platform (which would require simulations to qualify) “officially”.

        • bmaz says:

          I’ve seen the comparisons, and will take Airbus anyway. They have the lowest fatality rate of any airliner manufacturer. I may never fly on a Boeing again, ever. And I will not fly on any airline that wants me too.

    • Ed Walker says:

      I do not say dollars are equivalent to goods, merely that when dollars go out of our economy, those dollars are not available to spend here. The point is that we can replace them if there is inadequate demand. Some goods do generate some economic activity, but others don’t, like cheese and televisions.

    • Jonf says:

      Presumably if you buy the Airbus you think it is a good deal – like less expensive or safer than Boeing’s POS. But it still follows, the money to purchase the jet is now outside the US and therefore Boeing is not paying someone to build that jet.

      • sand says:

        A few notes on Airbus, Boeing, and U.S. jobs:

        Airbus opened a final assembly plant for the A320 series in Mobile, AL in 2015. Big international OEMs know how to play the jobs game. When the $600M plant was announced in 2012, they had it pegged for 1,000 FT jobs, but it looks like they have around 400 W-2 employees. Not totally clear. Probably 1,000+ FTEs with contractors, but many of those contracts are probably on pause right now. Airbus also has engineering in Wichita, KS with around 80 (?) people and 120 staff at their US HQ in Herndon. So buying Airbus supports at least a few US jobs. Airbus just expanded Mobile to support A220 (Bombardier C-series) production.

        Boeing absolutely needs a competitor, and Airbus is it. The only other real option for a competitor is China b/c the industry requires massive capital and is extremely conservative on equipment. It would take many billions at risk to stand up a passenger jet company.

        The balance of power has shifted dramatically to Boeing after Airbus went all-in on the A380 program, which was a huge miss on the marketplace. The A380 program is now history. Boeing’s performance on the 737Max debacle probably shifts the balance a bit.

        Finally, as to governments, jobs, and the need for competition, take a look at some of the defense procurement shenanigans regarding Boeing over the years. https://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-boeing-scandal-story.html. Without Airbus protesting, I’m not sure all of this would have come to light. Clearly, DOD wants things to seem competitive but would prefer Boeing where an award over Airbus is plausible. Airbus likely brings at least some market pressure on technology and price to these procurements.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Good point: “Does anyone believe Senate Republicans would have left town and abandoned 30+ million unemployed Americans if their stocks were crashing?”

    The campaign slogans write themselves. I hope the Dems are taking notes, rather than fighting over whether to give down-ballot Democrats in, say, Florida access to the state party’s voter databases. “All hands on deck!” does not mean just the captain and the first class passengers.

    https://twitter.com/LOLGOP/status/1287378439369043969?cxt=HHwWgoCnifjI290jAAAA

  13. graham firchlis says:

    Currently rereading Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean. She traces the Radical Reactionary anti-democracy movement from John C Calhoun through the Austrian school to our present state of Kochocracy. A must read to fully understand the scope of the challenge we face.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Excellent read. Pulls back the curtain on actors like Nobel economist, James Buchanan, the Kochs, and their de facto takeover of a nominally public university – Georg Mason – to advance their ideology.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump will not throw out the first pitch at a Yankee’s game, owing to his “strong focus” on solving the coronavirus crisis – the one he says is a job for governors and the states, not him and the feds. https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-backs-out-of-throwing-first-yankees-pitch

    LOL. It’s possible that Trump and the Yankees could not agree on security measures, mask wearing, or copyright royalties. But there were one or two other hurdles.

    Donald Trump could not walk the sixty feet, six inches from home plate to the mound. He could not navigate the slope up the ten inch-high mound. He could not grasp a mitt and ball in each hand at the same time: the ball is regulation size and smaller Little League gloves are unavailable, caught up in a trade row with China. He could not throw overhand or under, extend either leg, or push off with one and land on the other. His “pitch” would not make it half way to home plate. If it did, the strike zone would be optional, as all rules are for him. There is no attire or footwear he would find suitable for both his frame and self-image. He would not agree to do it live and uncut, without do-overs.

    • MB says:

      His pitch would have been 30 feet wide of the plate, compared to Fauci’s 20. He would then have to send Kayleigh out to the podium to explain how it was the most perfect opening day pitch by a president of any baseball game in history, even more than Lincoln! When reminded by a reporter that professional baseball didn’t exist in Lincoln’s time, he would turn to the reporter, glare at him and say “typical question from a far-left radical ESPN reporter – that’s fake news, and you know that”.

      (Although the Politico article said “strong focus on the coronavirus”, the words on the actual DJT tweet were “strong focus on the China Virus” – capital C, capital V. As well as “scheduled meetings on Vaccines” – capital V. I suppose the capital letters are intended to emphasize the Importance Of Such Matters Being Attended To)…

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Heavens! Politico normalizing Trump’s behavior, by removing his false xenophobic reference to a pandemic not caused by the Chinese, and making his rant more readable and less offensive than the words he actually used? What could come of that, I wonder.

        • MB says:

          Aiding and abetting normalization of Trump’s truly wacko nature by mainstream media is a form of wish-fulfillment that clings to the notion, even now at this late stage, that gives lie to the delusion that sometimes, now and again, Trump can behave in a “presidential” manner, when that’s actually never the case, even considering the rare straight teleprompter-reading speeches.

          It’s been interesting to watch the uneven evolution of the press in this regard over the last 3+ years. Certainly much of the press has evolved from referring to his “untruths” and “mis-statements” to actually calling them “lies” now. And there’s a tiny crack appearing these days in referring to the “f-word” (fascism) now. I’ve heard both Ali Velshi and Mehdi Hassan (subbing for Chris Hayes) using it. And after all, Madeleine Albright, a poster person for “mainstream” if there ever was one, wrote that book “Fascism: A Warning” and has had multiple interviews about it. And even Yale historian Timothy Snyder, who makes no bones about what he sees, gets occasional interviews on MSNBC.

          Interestingly, Noam Chomsky makes a distinction that I don’t see anybody else making. He refers to Trump as a “tinpot dictator”, and not a budding fascist, because ideologically “pure” fascism means the state controls everything, whereas Trump does the opposite: leaving everyone to their own devices…

    • graham firchlis says:

      RL, on opening day 75 Yankee and Nationals players and coaches took a knee in silent protest just before the national anthem. The move was planned, team managements and MLB were given notice, and the Yankee players at least have vowed to continue the protests. Trump can’t face it.

      This season won’t play out. Already the Marlins are quarantined with more than a dozen covid positive, and the Phillies locked down for exposure. Pointless debacle from the beginning, and sadly Fauci’s eager encouragement will be used to damage his credibility.

  15. Bruce Olsen says:

    Pharma’s main business challenge is managing risk, and—rationally, from their perspective—they’ve chosen practices and policies that prioritize their own risk management needs (as they perceive them) over the needs of the public. Unfortunately, the public gets the short end of the stick.

    Calls to accomplish needed reforms within the confines of “the market” are little more than a rear-guard delaying tactic, which we’ve seen used successfully from tobacco to climate change. No matter how sincerely held, the belief that pharma can be fixed by tweaking the market is either naïve or cynical. So, let’s float a strawman that reforms pharma.

    We’d start by dividing drugs into 2 universes: the Medicare formulary (MF) and everything else. All pharma companies would be reorganized: MF drugs would be split off and moved into distinct, non-profit entities with boards disjoint from the original parent; nothing would change for the original parents, which would remain free to making non-MF drugs.

    For the new MF suppliers, the public would shoulder all the risk of R&D, manufacturing, and supply chain management (essentially all the risk they bear). In exchange, the public would receive the MF drugs essentially at cost. Seems like a fair trade.

    These MF suppliers would contain only R&D, production, and supply chain functions. There would be no more sales commissions, or advertising expense, because the FG would buy all the output. Most legal and finance staff would be eliminated. Bonuses tied to revenue or profitability would vanish.

    We could choose option 1, where the MF suppliers carry out a cost accounting exercise to set prices that include a utility-like markup (say, 3%) for incentive bonuses. They’d have to finance operations somehow and pay back the financing whenever product sells. We can call that option “free enterprise.” Alternatively, we could choose option 2, where the FG directly pays 100% of salaries and capex of the MF suppliers, including bonuses. That’s what would be called the “government ownership of the means of production” option, but note: the two don’t differ in any meaningful way, because the real challenges here (as in command economies) are caused by the FG being a monopsonist—not by the form of ownership pe se.

    One benefit with either option is that without a profit motive, much of pharma’s harmful behavior will wither away. Why develop a minor variation of an old drug simply to extend IP protection (and profits and bonuses)? Why avoid market segments that are too small to justify the risk? These and other current practices will wind down naturally.

    What else could be brought about? As just one example, we could build a genuine, national supply chain for drugs and medical supplies. Hospitals could stop fine-tuning just how much of a pricey drug they keep on hand if they knew a professionally managed depot nearby would have fresh drugs on hand in quantities sufficient for even major emergencies, at no additional cost. Maintaining the inventory could be a source of jobs that are both hard to automate and well-suited to the Job Guarantee. The USPS could be used for transportation. This would also allow the US to play a major humanitarian role in the world, by providing drugs to anyone at the same cost—cheering up the perpetually dour balance-of-payments hawks, strengthening our domestic industry, and making it easier for the US to attract scientific talent.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh fuck me, Doddering Dodd? Another old white man with a very bad history of crappy pro-corporatist legislation? ~smh~

      Can only hope Warren gets to them both and tells them they need to do the right thing by women and persons of color in this country because I doubt they’ll listen to anybody else on behalf of women+POC.

    • BobCon says:

      The article says he’s a member, not that he’s running it.

      This article lists the others: Lisa Blunt Rochester, second term rep from Delaware, Cynthia Hogan, former Counsel to the VP and recently director of government affairs for Apple, and Eric Garcetti, Mayor of LA.

      https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/30/biden-names-vp-selection-committee-225027

      The article also lists top advisors as former Obama White House Counsel Bob Bauer, campaign general counsel Dana Remus and former Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco.

      What isn’t clear from the articles, though, is how much any of these names really matter. What are the odds that Garcetti, for example, is doing much, considering everything that is going on in LA?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The manner in which Biden does this is extremely important. Personnel is policy and his VP slot is much more important than it traditionally is. His picks will have to simultaneously do their jobs and repair the unprecedented destruction Trump’s people will leave behind. On top of the usual task of picking Cabinet members, their top deputies, and hundreds of USAs, there will be at least two Supreme Court picks.

        As for his VP pick, his selection team has seven people, four women, three men. Four members: two men, two women, two of them people of color: 1) Dodd, a former senior Senator, lawyer, lobbyist, and Democratic prince. 2) Rochester, junior Congresswoman from Delaware. 3) Hogan, a white shoe law firm lawyer and Apple senior executive. 4) Eric Garcetti, ivy League educated and overworked Mayor of LA.

        They are assisted by three advisers, one man, two women, all white: 5) Democratic power lawyer Bob Bauer. 6) Ivy League-trained law professor and former clerk to Alito, Dana Remus. And 7) Ivy League lawyer, prosecutor and national security adviser, Lisa Monaco.

        At first blush, it looks like Dodd and Hogan have the biggest voices, followed by Bauer and Monaco. The later Politico article portrays Dodd has having the big voice. But his criticism of Kamala Harris, for example, seems superficial.

        • Bruce Olsen says:

          I hope he treats the decision as if he’s choosing the next POTUS because that’s surely how the GOP will attack the choice.

          • graham firchlis says:

            As he should. Now is not the time for a VP who can’t spell potato.

            Kamala Harris is my choice. Watched her career from the start. She’s honest, rational, strong and hella smart, and her senate seat is securely D. Biden wants to be seen as calmly presidential and Kami will relish the role of warrior princess, shredding Pence while hacking away at Trump.

            BIDEN-HARRIS 2020

            and if things go well the potential for

            HARRIS-BIDEN 2024

            • bmaz says:

              And, exactly who the fuck is it that “you” think is in contention who cannot “spell potato”? Please name check all “you” think cannot do that. Good luck.

              You are suddenly a constant presence here, and are mostly full of shit. You bring garbage, and do so relentlessly. That will not fly here.

              • graham firchlis says:

                Potato obviously referenced Dan Quayle, who along with Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan were chosen not for intellect or experience but perceived short term political gain. Just as obviously it could not refer to anyone on Biden’s rumored shortlist. Any of them can handle the VP role, but for that and possibly the presidency I feel Harris is the better choice.

              • graham firchlis says:

                Kamala Harris goes by Kami, as Joseph Biden goes by Joe.

                Did you not see her in Senate hearings or the presidential debate? She is expert with a rapier, but given an opportunity the battle axe is preferred. (Think Xena, with a better wardrobe.) Don’t believe me, ask Biden. She brings the complete package, and among the contenders she has better debate skills with no hesitation at being verbally brutal when called for.

                • bmaz says:

                  This is more bullshit. Nobody calls her “Kami”. And I have never, ever, seen Joe Biden call her that. Again, you are spewing shit you cannot back up. Seems to be a pattern with you.

                    • bmaz says:

                      You are again full of shit and cannot support it. You remember that trusted commenter thing? This kind of garbage is why you will likely never be one.

                • Rayne says:

                  Sen. Harris has an intra-family nickname. That nickname isn’t “Kami.”

                  If you can’t produce evidence she is regularly called a name other than Kamala, Senator, or Ms. Harris by persons who respect her, you’re marginalizing her with a pet name. Marginalizing a woman of color doesn’t play here.

            • P J Evans says:

              Her rep in California isn’t that great. And she’s still in her first term as senator, with NOT ENOUGH EXPERIENCE to be VP.

              • graham firchlis says:

                Don’t know what you’re seeing. Excepting the presidential primary, I’ve never seen any poll that showed her at anything other than well above water in CA, as good or better than other statewide officials.

                If JFK, RFK and Elizabeth Warren qualify, why not Harris?

                • Bruce Olsen says:

                  I’d suggest she revealed her true self when she chose to shine the spotlight on herself during the debate–instead of someone else who benefited from bussing (unless she was the only such student).

                  That single act displays so many bad judgments that, for me, it was disqualifying.

                  Besides the misguided self-aggrandizement, she should have realized that bringing up bussing would only inflame old GOPers without providing any political value, even to herself. Bussing was the correct thing to do, of course, but it deserves to be brought up within the context of the long struggle for civil rights; using it as a debate tactic trivializes it.

                  Seems to me Katie Porter is far more effective at questioning because she’s firm but non-confrontational. Swinging the axe might drive donations but Porter’s scalping of Jamie Dimon belongs in a textbook.

                  • bmaz says:

                    Had a chance to meet and talk to Porter when she was a long shot candidate in 2018. She is beyond fantastic, and the real deal.

                    • Molly Pitcher says:

                      Katie Porter is impressive and growing in her position. She has out raised her GOP opponent, Mission Viejo Councilman Greg Raths, 30 times over earlier in the Spring. That is why I think it is unlikely that she will be the VP nominee, the Dems don’t want to risk someone weaker in the Rep seat for Orange County when they have just gotten it to be a purple district for the first time in years.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A Politico article pushes the idea that Susan Rice should be Joe’s pick for VP. Rice, 55, is a highly accomplished administrator and technocrat with foreign policy experience. She is tough and smart. Her race and gender are big pluses. But she has limited charisma, no electoral experience or political following, and does not bring a region or swing state with her. She would be more complement than competitor for Joe – Ms. Inside to his Mr. Outside – which gives her an aura more of Dean Rusk than Sargent Shriver.

      For me, there’s a low-energy, kick the can down the road quality to Rice’s candidacy. It is attractive for what it avoids: picking Joe’s successor, and all the infighting that would entail and which Joe would hate. Rice, for example, is outside the electoral mainstream, and would be unlikely to seek Joe’s job in 2024. But she facially meets some of the criteria Joe has promised his VP would have.

      Choosing Rice would avoid picking among more politically experienced candidates, each of whom has a base of support that might be alienated were Joe to pick someone else. The rough and tumble of picking Joe’s successor would be left to “the political process,” which would play out later, albeit during most of Biden’s presidency. But it would formally be outside the White House, allowing Biden, Obama-like, to extend or withhold his imprimatur. Do we really need another four-year campaign among our own?

      https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/27/susan-rice-top-biden-vice-president-383026

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        My concern is not with Ms. Rice, whom I think would be a valuable addition to a Biden administration. My concern is with why Biden might choose her as VP, and the implications of that choice for his party and progressive change.

  16. Molly Pitcher says:

    My concern regarding Amb. Rice, is that she will be red meat to the Bengazi obsessives in the GOP. I wouldn’t mind seeing her in the cabinet where I think she would be an asset. We hardly need to prod them in to action at this moment.

    Eric Garcetti might like to see Kamala Harris as VP in hopes that Gavin Newsom would then appoint him to the empty senatorial seat. Garcetti toyed with the idea of running for President this time around. He also considered going up against Newsom for Governor. He sees a bright future for himself beyond Tinsel Town.

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