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Here's why Trump's reemergence is great news for Democrats -- but potentially disastrous for America

Donald Trump formally anointed himself head of the Republican Party at Sunday's Conservative Political Action Conference.

The Grand Old Party, founded in 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin, is now dead. What's left is a dwindling number of elected officials who have stood up to Trump but are now being purged. Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's popularity has dropped 29 points among Kentucky Republicans since he broke with Trump.

In its place is the Trump Party, whose major goal is to advance Trump's Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Its agenda is to exact vengeance on Republicans who didn't or won't support the lie or who voted to impeach or convict Trump for inciting the violence that the lie generated, and to keep attention on his grievances.

As the Trump Party takes over the GOP, anti-Trump Republicans are abandoning the party in droves – thereby weakening it for general elections while simultaneously strengthening Trump's hand inside it.

It's great news for Democrats and Joe Biden.

Democrats couldn't hope for a more perfect foil – a defeated one-term president who never cracked 47 percent of the popular vote, left office with just 39 percent approval and is now hovering at an abysmal 34 percent, whom most Americans dislike or loathe, and a majority believe incited an insurrection against the United States.

The gift will keep giving. Courtesy of the Supreme Court, Trump's tax returns will soon be raked across America like barnyard manure. Expect more of his shady business dealings to be exposed – more payoffs, cheats, and cons – as well as civil and criminal prosecutions.

The Trump Party isn't interested in appealing to the nation as a whole, anyway. It's interested only in appealing to Trump and the base that worships him.

All this is making it nearly impossible for congressional Republicans to mount a strong opposition to Biden's ambitious plans for COVID relief followed by major investments in infrastructure and jobs. Lacking unity, leadership, strategy, clarity or a coherent message on anything other than Trump's grievances, the Trump Party is irrelevant to the large choices facing the nation. Democrats in Washington have the public square all to themselves.

Biden is in the enviable position of getting most of America behind his agenda – and he can do so without a single Republican vote if Senate Democrats end the filibuster.

Democrats have proven themselves capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. But if they and Biden use this opportunity as they should, by this time next year COVID will be a tragic memory, and the nation will be in the midst of a strong economic recovery propelling it toward full employment and rising wages. With the GOP in disarray and rabid Trumpism turning off ever more voters, the 2022 midterm elections could swell Democratic majorities in Congress.

But the emergence of the Trump Party is deeply worrisome for America. It is a dangerous, deluded, authoritarian, and potentially violent faction that has no responsible role in a democracy.

Its Big Lie enables supporters of the former president to believe their efforts to overturn the 2020 election were necessary to protect American democracy, and that they must continue to fight a "deep state" conspiracy to thwart Trump. This is an open invitation to violence.

The Big lie also justifies Trump Party efforts to suppress votes considered "fraudulent." In 33 states, Trumplawmakers are already pushing more than 165 bills intended to stop mail-in voting, increase voter ID requirements, make it harder to register to vote, and expand purges of voter rolls.

Democrats in Congress are responding with their proposed "For the People Act," to expand voting through automatic voter registration across the country, early voting, and enlarged mail-in voting.

The incipient civil war pits a national Democratic Party representing America's majority against a state-based Trump Party composed of a defiant and overwhelmingly white, working-class minority. It's a recipe for a harsh clash between democracy and authoritarianism.

Plus, there's the small possibility Trump will run again in 2024 and win.

What's good for Biden and the Democrats in the short run is potentially disastrous for America over the longer term. One of its two major parties is centered on a Big Lie that threatens to blow up the nation, figuratively if not literally.

Former Clinton official says there's only one way Democrats will ever get anything done

Mitch McConnell may no longer be Senate Majority Leader, but Republicans can still block legislation supported by the vast majority. That's because of a Senate rule called the filibuster. If we have any hope of safeguarding our democracy and ushering in transformative change, Democrats must wield their power to get rid of the filibuster – and fast.

The filibuster is a Senate rule requiring a 60-vote supermajority to pass legislation. Which means a minority of senators can often block legislation that the vast majority of Americans want and need.

It's not in the Constitution. In fact, it's arguably unconstitutional. Alexander Hamilton regarded a supermajority rule as "a poison" that would lead to "contemptible compromises of the public good."

Even without the filibuster, Senate Republicans already have outsized influence. The 50 of them represent 41 and a half million fewer Americans than the 50 Senate Democrats. Wyoming, with 579,000 people gets two senators. California, with 40 million also gets two senators.


The Senate Rule Breaking Our Politics www.youtube.com


Meanwhile, Republican-controlled states are gearing up to pass even more restrictive voting laws along with additional partisan gerrymandering that could enable Republicans in Washington to maintain power for the next decade.

The best way to prevent this is with national election standards through the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act – but these important bills are stymied as long as the filibuster remains in place.

The filibuster is rooted in racism. In the late 19th century, Southern senators crafted the "talking filibuster" – in which a member could delay the passage of a bill with a long-winded speech – in order to protect the pro-slavery Senate minority.

The current version of the filibuster, requiring 60 votes to end debate, was popularized in the Jim Crow era by Southern senators seeking to prevent passage of civil rights legislation. From the end of Reconstruction to 1964, the filibuster was used only to kill civil rights bills.

Senators can now use a process called "reconciliation" to pass legislation on budgetary matters, requiring a bare majority of 51 votes. But the filibuster can still stop bills on voting rights, the climate crisis, campaign finance reform, and other crucial legislation Americans need – and on which Joe Biden has based much of his presidency.

Getting rid of the filibuster is also good politics. As long as the filibuster is intact, Senate Republicans could keep the Senate in gridlock, and then run in the 2022 midterms on Democrats' failure to get anything done.

The good news is the filibuster is a Senate rule. As I said, it's not in the Constitution. It's not even in a law. Like any other Senate rule it can be changed by a simple majority of senators.

With Vice President Kamala Harris now serving as the tie-breaking vote, Senate Democrats can and must abolish the filibuster.

There are a few conservative Senate Democrats who don't like the idea, but Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer can get them to fall in line. That's what leadership is all about. They must end the filibuster and get America moving. Now.

Republicans scramble to blame green energy as Texas freeze leaves their social Darwinist ideology in tatters

Texas's prevailing social Darwinism was expressed most succinctly last week by the mayor of Colorado City, who accused his constituents – trapped in near sub-zero temperatures and complaining about lack of heat, electricity, and drinkable water – of being the "lazy" products of a "socialist government," adding "I'm sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout!" and predicting "only the strong will survive and the weak will perish."

Texas has the third-highest number of billionaires in America, most of them oil tycoons. Its laissez-faire state energy market delivered a bonanza to oil and gas producers that managed to keep production going during the freeze. It was "like hitting the jackpot," boasted president of Comstock Resources on an earnings call. Jerry Jones, billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, holds a majority of Comstock's shares.

But most other Texans were marooned. Some did perish.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the flow of electric power, exempted affluent downtowns from outages – leaving the thriving parts of Austin, Dallas, and Houston brightly lit while pushing less affluent precincts into the dark and cold.

Like the poor across America and much of the world, poor Texans are getting hammered by climate change. Many inhabit substandard homes, lacking proper insulation. The very poor occupy trailers or tents, or camp out in their cars. Lower-income communities also are located close to refineries and other industrial sites that release added pollutants when they shut or restart.

In Texas, for-profit energy companies have no incentive to prepare for extreme weather or maintain spare capacity. Even when they're able to handle surges in demand, prices go through the roof and poorer households are hit hard. That's what's happened in the wake of the deep freeze. If they can't pay, they're cut off.

Rich Texans take spikes in energy prices in their stride. If the electric grid goes down, private generators kick in. In a pinch – as last week – they check into hotels or leave town. As millions of his constituents remained without power and heat, Senator Ted Cruz flew to Cancun, Mexico for a family vacation. Their Houston home was "FREEZING," as his wife put it.

Climate change and income are together splitting Americans by class more profoundly than Americans are split by politics. Yet the white working class has been seduced by conservative Republicans and Trump cultists, of which Texas has an abundance, into believing that what's good for Black and Latino people is bad for them, and that whites are, or should be, on the winning side of the social Darwinian contest.

White grievance helps keep Republicans in power, protecting their rich patrons from a majority that might otherwise join together to demand what they need – such heat and drinking water.

Lower-income Texans, white as well as Black and Latino, are taking it on the chin in many other ways. Texas is one of the few states that hasn't expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving the share of Texans without health insurance twice the national average, the largest uninsured population of any state. Texas has double the national average of children in poverty and a higher rate of unemployment than the nation's average.

And although Texans have suffered multiple natural disasters stemming from climate change, Texas Republicans are dead set against a Green New Deal that would help reduce the horrific impacts.

Last Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott went on Fox News to proclaim, absurdly, that what happened to his state "shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States." Abbott blamed the power failure on the fact that "wind and solar got shut down."

Rubbish. The loss of power from frozen coal-fired and natural gas plants was six times larger than the dent caused by frozen wind turbines. Texans froze because deregulation and a profit-driven free market created an electric grid utterly unprepared for climate change.

In Texas, tycoons are the only winners from climate change. Everyone else is losing badly. Adapting to extreme weather is necessary but it's no substitute for cutting emissions, which Texas is loath to do. Not even the Lone Star State should protect the freedom to freeze.

This article was originally published at RobertReich.org

Inside the rapidly 'shrinking' GOP's plan to keep power over the rest of America -- and how to fight back

The Republican Party is shrinking. It's lost the popular vote in seven of the past eight Presidential elections. Since Trump's attempted coup, more Americans are abandoning it every day.

Yet even as a shrinking minority party, the GOP intends to entrench themselves in power over the majority. Here's their playbook – and what the rest of us can do to stop them.


Unrigging the GOP's Minority Rule | Robert Reich www.youtube.com



1. In presidential elections, they'll continue to try to win enough swing states to dominate the Electoral College and win the presidency.

The answer is to make the Electoral College irrelevant by having states join the growing movement to pass laws giving all their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.

2. In the Senate, they'll continue to try to win enough seats in mostly white, sparsely populated rural states to outvote highly populated urban states.

The answer here is for Congress to grant statehood to Washington D.C., and to work with Puerto Rico, which recently voted in favor of statehood, on a concrete path to self-determination.

3. They also aim to use the Senate filibuster to block the majority. The answer is to eliminate the filibuster, which Senate Democrats can do without a single Republican vote.

4. Finally, the GOP will use its control over state governments to gerrymander congressional districts and gain disproportionate power in the House. And they will pass even more laws making it harder for Democrats to vote.

The answer is to prevent gerrymandering and voter suppression by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act – which Democrats can do with a simple majority of 51 votes once they eliminate the filibuster. The values of the Republican Party do not reflect the values of most Americans. It should not be allowed to silence the voices of the majority.

Here's the disturbing reason it's impossible for Biden to govern from the 'center'

I keep hearing that Joe Biden has to govern from the "center." He has no choice, they say, because he has razor-thin majorities in Congress and the Republican Party has moved to the right.

Rubbish. First, there is no "center" between the reality-based world and the conspiracy-fueled, hate-filled world of today's Republican Party. Second, the problems the country is facing cannot be solved with milquetoast, centrist solutions – they demand immediate, bold action.

I've been in or around politics for 50 years. I've served several Democratic presidents who have needed Republican votes. But the Republicans now in Congress are nothing like those I've dealt with.

Today's Republican Party is a cult.

93 percent of House Republicans voted against impeaching Trump for inciting an insurrection, and Senate Republicans refuse to convict him. This is after Trump's insurrection threatened even their own lives.

The 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are facing backlash from their colleagues, with some even calling to remove Liz Cheney from her leadership position.

But hardly any have condemned the vile conspiracy theories spouted by Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has claimed that the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were "false flags" and that the deadly California wildfires were sparked by a Jewish space laser, among other wild lies.

All of this marks the culmination of the GOP's growing lunacy over the last four years. With Trump at its head, the Republican Party has embraced blatant white supremacy, and now inhabits a counterfactual wonderland of lies and conspiracies.

Even by mid-January, polls show three out of four Republicans don't think Biden won legitimately. 45 percent support the storming of the Capitol; 57 percent say Trump should be the Republican candidate in 2024.

And a growing fringe – including some Republicans in Congress – openly talk of redressing grievances through violence.

With this Republican Party, Biden cannot be a "centrist."

Instead, he must deliver bold change for the American people, refusing to compromise with violent Trumpism. Barring Trump from ever holding public office again. Expelling Trump's co-conspirators from Congress.

Don't listen to people claiming this would be a "distraction" from Biden's agenda. There is no healing without accountability. If we let those who incited this insurrection off the hook, we're inviting it to happen again. And next time they might succeed.

It should all be part of Biden's agenda. Biden must fight for democracy and against authoritarianism – including strengthening voting rights, getting big money out of politics, and taking on the Republican Party's anti-democratic agenda of gerrymandering and voter suppression.

There is no longer a "center" in American politics. No middle ground between lies and facts. No halfway point between civil discourse and violence. No midrange between democracy and fascism.

We either have a future based on lies, violence, and authoritarianism – or on unyielding truth, unshakeable civility, and democracy. Biden and the Democrats must fight for the latter. And we must make them.

Trump is history -- it's Joe Biden who's changing America: Former Labor secretary

While most of official Washington has been consumed with the Senate impeachment trial, another part of Washington is preparing the most far-ranging changes in American social policy in a generation.

Congress is moving ahead with Biden's American Rescue Plan, which expands health care and unemployment benefits, and contains one of the most ambitious efforts to reduce child poverty since the New Deal. Right behind it is Biden's plan for infrastructure and jobs.

The juxtaposition of Trump's impeachment trial and Biden's ambitious plans is no coincidence.

Trump left Republicans badly fractured and on the defensive. The Republican Party is imploding. Since January 6th, growing numbers of Republicans have deserted it. State and county committees are becoming wackier by the day. Big business no longer has a home in the crackpot GOP.

Republican infighting has created a political void into which Democrats are stepping with far-reaching reforms. Biden and the Democrats, who now control the White House and both houses of Congress, are responding boldly to the largest social and economic crisis since Great Depression.

Importantly, they are now free to disregard conservative canards that have hobbled America's ability to respond to public needs ever since Ronald Reagan convinced the nation that big government was the problem.

The first is the supposed omnipresent danger of inflation and the accompanying worry that public spending can easily overheat the economy.

Rubbish. Inflation hasn't reared its head in years, not even during the roaring job market of 2018 and 2019. "Overheating" may no longer even be a problem for globalized, high-tech economies whose goods and services are so easily replaceable.

Biden's ambitious plans are worth the small risk, in any event. If you hadn't noticed, the American economy is becoming more unequal by the day. Bringing it to a boil may be the only way to lift the wages of the bottom half. The hope is that record low interest rates and vast public spending generate enough demand that employers will need to raise wages to find the workers they need.

A few Democratic economists who should know better are sounding the false alarm about inflation, but Biden is wisely ignoring them. So should Democrats in Congress.

Another conservative bromide is that a larger national debt crowds out private investment and slows growth. This view hamstrung the Clinton and Obama administrations as deficit hawks warned against public spending unaccompanied by tax increases to pay for it. (I still have some old injuries from those hawks.)

Fortunately, Biden isn't buying this, either.

Four decades of chronic underemployment and stagnant wages have shown how important public spending is for sustained growth. Not incidentally, growth reduces the debt as a share of the overall economy. The real danger is the opposite: fiscal austerity shrinks economies and causes national debts to grow in proportion.

The third canard is that generous safety nets discourage work.

Democratic presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson sought to alleviate poverty and economic insecurity with broad-based relief. But after Reagan tied public assistance to racism – deriding single-mother "welfare queens" – conservatives began demanding stringent work requirements so that only the "truly deserving" received help. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama acquiesced to this nonsense.

Not Biden. His proposal would not only expand jobless benefits but also provide assistance to parents who are not working – thereby extending relief to 27 million children, including about half of all Black and Latino children. Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah has put forward a similar plan.

This is just common sense. Tens of millions are hurting. A record number of American children are impoverished, according to the most recent Census data.

The pandemic has also caused a large number of women to drop out of the labor force in order to care for children. With financial help, some of them will be able to pay for childcare and move back into paid work. After Canada enacted a national child allowance in 2006, employment rates for mothers increased. A decade later, when Canada increased its annual child allowance, its economy added jobs.

It's still unclear exactly what form Biden's final plans will take as they work their way through Congress. He has razor-thin majorities in both chambers. In addition, most of his proposals are designed for the current emergency; they would need to be made permanent.

But the stars are now better aligned for fundamental reform than they've been since Reagan.

It's no small irony that a half century after Reagan persuaded Americans that big government was the problem, Trump's demise is finally liberating America from Reaganism – and letting the richest nation on earth give its people the social supports they desperately need.

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Democrats should not compromise with the 'GOP cult': Former Labor secretary

I keep hearing that Joe Biden has to govern from the "center." He has no choice, they say, because he has razor-thin majorities in Congress and the Republican Party has moved to the right.

Rubbish. First, there is no "center" between the reality-based world and the conspiracy-fueled, hate-filled world of today's Republican Party. Second, the problems the country is facing cannot be solved with milquetoast, centrist solutions – they demand immediate, bold action.

I've been in or around politics for 50 years. I've served several Democratic presidents who have needed Republican votes. But the Republicans now in Congress are nothing like those I've dealt with.

Today's Republican Party is a cult.


No Compromising with the GOP Cult | Robert Reich www.youtube.com


93 percent of House Republicans voted against impeaching Trump for inciting an insurrection, and Senate Republicans refuse to convict him. This is after Trump's insurrection threatened even their own lives.

The 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump are facing backlash from their colleagues, with some even calling to remove Liz Cheney from her leadership position.

But hardly any have condemned the vile conspiracy theories spouted by Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has claimed that the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings were "false flags" and that the deadly California wildfires were sparked by a Jewish space laser, among other wild lies.

All of this marks the culmination of the GOP's growing lunacy over the last four years. With Trump at its head, the Republican Party has embraced blatant white supremacy, and now inhabits a counterfactual wonderland of lies and conspiracies.

Even by mid-January, polls show three out of four Republicans don't think Biden won legitimately. 45 percent support the storming of the Capitol; 57 percent say Trump should be the Republican candidate in 2024.

And a growing fringe – including some Republicans in Congress – openly talk of redressing grievances through violence.

With this Republican Party, Biden cannot be a "centrist."

Instead, he must deliver bold change for the American people, refusing to compromise with violent Trumpism. Barring Trump from ever holding public office again. Expelling Trump's co-conspirators from Congress.

Don't listen to people claiming this would be a "distraction" from Biden's agenda. There is no healing without accountability. If we let those who incited this insurrection off the hook, we're inviting it to happen again. And next time they might succeed.

It should all be part of Biden's agenda. Biden must fight for democracy and against authoritarianism – including strengthening voting rights, getting big money out of politics, and taking on the Republican Party's anti-democratic agenda of gerrymandering and voter suppression.

There is no longer a "center" in American politics. No middle ground between lies and facts. No halfway point between civil discourse and violence. No midrange between democracy and fascism.

We either have a future based on lies, violence, and authoritarianism – or on unyielding truth, unshakeable civility, and democracy. Biden and the Democrats must fight for the latter. And we must make them.

$1 million annual travel budget? The worst president in history should have his perks canceled

How should the nation respond to an ex-president who has incited an insurrection, brought our democracy to the brink of destruction, and left so much pain and suffering in his wake?

In addition to being convicted in the Senate, which could bar him from running for office again, he shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the cushy benefits former presidents receive.

These benefits were created under the Former Presidents' Act of 1958, which was drawn up after Harry Truman told the House Majority Leader that he was going broke.

The benefits in the Former President's Act now include a yearly pension of over $200,000, an annual $1 million travel budget, an annual $500,000 travel budget for spouses, an office "appropriately furnished and equipped," and staff to operate that office – for the rest of the former president's life.




But what about a twice-impeached former president who did everything he could to attack Black and brown communities, and ended his presidency by inciting an insurrection against the United States government?

Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think someone with that record should receive millions in taxpayer-funded benefits at all, let alone every single year for the rest of his life.

Thankfully, it doesn't have to happen: A simple majority in Congress can pass a law barring this ex-president from the normal perks afforded to former presidents. For the sake of the country, Congress must do so.

He should also be barred from receiving national security briefings now that he's left office. There is no reason that someone this dangerous should be privy to the highest levels of intelligence as a private citizen – especially given his looming legal and financial entanglements with foreign entities. He was already a national security risk in office; as a private citizen, there's no telling what he would do with classified information.

Fortunately, it doesn't take an act of Congress to cut off access to briefings: It's up to Joe Biden, and Joe Biden alone. He has the power to prevent his predecessor from receiving any and all national security briefings. For the sake of America and the world, he must do so.

Regardless of how the impeachment trial in the Senate ends, one thing is clear: Someone who has disgraced the office of the president so maliciously should not reap its amenities for the rest of his life.

No cushy benefits. No national security briefings. No perks for the worst president in history.

The major goal of this week's impeachment trial 'is not to convict Trump of inciting insurrection': Robert Reich

This week's Senate trial is unlikely to convict Donald Trump of inciting sedition against the United States. At least 17 Republican senators are needed for conviction, but only five have signaled they'll go along.

Why won't Republican senators convict him? After all, it's an open and shut case. As summarized in the brief submitted by House impeachment managers, Trump spent months before the election telling his followers that the only way he could lose was through "a dangerous, wide-ranging conspiracy against them that threatened America itself."

Immediately after the election, he lied that he had won by a "landslide," and later urged his followers to stop the counting of electoral ballots by making plans to "fight like hell" and "fight to the death" against this "act of war" perpetrated by "Radical Left Democrats" and the "weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party."

If this isn't an impeachable offense, it's hard to imagine what is. But Republican senators won't convict him because they're answerable to Republican voters, and Republican voters continue to believe Trump's big lie.

A shocking three out of four Republican voters don't think Joe Biden won legitimately. About 45 percent even support the storming of the Capitol.

The crux of the problem is Americans now occupy two separate worlds – a fact-based pro-democracy world and a Trump-based authoritarian one.

Trump spent the last four years seducing voters into his world, turning the GOP from a political party into a grotesque projection of his pathological narcissism.

Regardless of whether he is convicted, America must now deal with the monstrous predicament he left behind: One of the nation's two major political parties has abandoned reality and democracy.

What to do? Four things.

First, prevent Trump from running for president in 2024. The mere possibility energizes his followers.

An impeachment conviction is not the only way to prevent him. Under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, anyone who has taken an oath to protect the Constitution is barred from holding public office if they "have engaged in insurrection" against the United States. As constitutional expert and former Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman has noted, a majority vote that Trump engaged in insurrection against the United States is sufficient to trigger this clause.

Second, give Republicans and independents every incentive to abandon the Trump cult.

White working-class voters without college degrees who now comprise a large portion of it need good jobs and better futures. Many are understandably angry after being left behind in vast enclaves of unemployment and despair. They should not have to depend on Trump's fact-free fanaticism in order to feel visible and respected.

A jobs program on the scale necessary to bring many of them around will be expensive but worth the cost, especially when democracy hangs in the balance.

Big business, which used to have a home in the GOP, will need a third party. Democrats should not try to court them; the Democratic Party should aim to represent the interests of the bottom 90 percent.

Third, disempower the giant media empires that amplified Trump's lies for four years – Facebook, Twitter, and Rupert Murdoch's Fox News and its imitators. The goal is not to "cancel" the political right but to refocus public deliberation on facts, truth, and logic. Democracy cannot thrive where big lies are systematically and repeatedly exploited for commercial gain.

The solution is antitrust enforcement and stricter regulation of social media, accompanied by countervailing financial pressure. Consumers should boycott products advertised on these lie factories and advertisers should shun them. Large tech platforms should lose legal immunity for violence-inciting content. Broadcasters such as Fox News and Newsmax should be liable for knowingly spreading lies (they are now being sued by producers of voting machinery and software which they accused of having been rigged for Biden).

Fourth, safeguard the democratic form of government. This requires barring corporations and the very wealthy from buying off politicians, ending so-called "dark money" political groups that don't disclose their donors, defending the right to vote, and ensuring more citizens are heard, not fewer.

Let's be clear about the real challenge ahead. The major goal is not to convict Trump of inciting insurrection. It is to move a vast swath of America back into a fact-based pro-democracy society and away from the Trump-based authoritarian one.

Regardless of whether he is convicted, the end of his presidency has given the nation a reprieve. Unless America uses it to end Trumpism's hold over tens of millions of Americans, that reprieve may be temporary.

Thankfully, Joe Biden appears to understand this.

Here's the real reason Republicans don’t want Biden’s COVID relief plan to pass

Ten Senate Republican have proposed a COVID relief bill of about $600 billion. That's less than a third of Biden's plan. They promise "bipartisan support" if he agrees.

Their proposal isn't a compromise. It would be a total surrender. It trims direct payments and unemployment aid that Americans desperately need. Biden should reject it out of hand.

Republicans say America can't afford Biden's plan. "We just passed a program with over $900 billion in it," groused Senator Mitt Romney.

Rubbish. We can't afford not to. Millions of people are hurting.

Besides, with the economy in the doldrums it's no time to worry about too much spending. The best way to reduce the debt as a share of the economy is to get the economy growing again.

Beyond COVID relief, Biden has other proposals waiting in the wings, such as repairing aging infrastructure and building a new energy-efficient one. These would make the economy grow even faster over the long term – further reducing the debt's share.

There's no chance that public spending will "crowd out" private investment. If you hadn't noticed, borrowing is especially cheap right now. Money is sloshing around the world in search of borrowers.

It's hard to take Republican concerns about debt seriously when just four years ago they had zero qualms about enacting one of the largest tax cuts in history, largely for big corporations and the super-wealthy.

If they really don't want to add to the debt, they have another alternative: A tax on super-wealthy Americans.

The total wealth of America's 660 billionaires has grown by a staggering $1.1 trillion since the start of the pandemic, a 40 percent increase. They alone could finance almost all of Biden's COVID relief package and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic. So why not a temporary emergency COVID wealth tax?

Let's be honest. The real reason Republicans don't want Biden's plan is they fear it will work.

This would be the Republican's worst nightmare: All the anti-government claptrap they've been selling since Ronald Reagan will be revealed as nonsense.

Government isn't the problem and never was. Bad government is the problem, and Americans have just had four years of it. Biden's success would put into sharp relief Trump and Republicans' utter failures on COVID and jobs.

If Biden gets his plans through, he and the Democrats would reap the political rewards in 2022 and beyond.Democrats might even capture the presidency and Congress for a generation. After FDR rescued America, the Republican Party went dark for two decades.

Trumpian Republicans in Congress have an even more diabolical motive for blocking Biden. They figure if Americans remain in perpetual crises and ever-deepening fear, they'll lose faith in democracy itself.

This would open the way for another strongman demagogue in 2024 – if not Trump, a Trump-impersonator like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, or Trump Junior.

If Biden is successful, though, Americans' faith in democracy might begin to rebound – marking the end of the nation's flirtation with fascism. If he helps build a new economy of green jobs with good wages, even Trump's angry white working-class base might come around.

Biden doesn't really need Republicans, anyway. With their razor-thin majorities in both houses of Congress, Democrats can enact Biden's plans without a single Republican vote.

My worry is Biden may want so much to demonstrate bipartisanship that his plans get diluted to the point where Republicans get what they want: Failure.

Forget bipartisanship. Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans didn't give a hoot about bipartisanship when they and Trump were in power.

If Republicans try to stonewall Biden's COVID relief plan, Biden and the Democrats should go it alone through a maneuver called "reconciliation," allowing a simple majority to pass budget legislation.

If Republicans try to block anything else, Biden and the Democrats should scrap the filibuster – which now requires 60 senators to end debate. The filibuster isn't in the Constitution. It's anti-democratic, giving a minority of senators the power to block the majority. It was rarely used for most of the nation's history.

The filibuster can be ended by a simple majority vote. Democrats now have the power to scrap it. Biden will have to twist the arms of a few recalcitrant Democrats, but that's what presidential leadership often requires.

The multiple crises engulfing America are huge. The window of opportunity for addressing them is small. If ever there was a time for boldness, it is now.

The sedition no one is talking about may be more damaging than the Capitol riots

The sudden lurch from Trump to Biden is generating vertigo all over Washington, including the so-called fourth branch of government – CEOs and their army of lobbyists.

CEOs are being hailed – and hailing themselves – as guardians of democracy. That's after saying they will no longer donate to the 147 Republican members of Congress who objected to the certification of Biden electors, on the basis of Trump's lies about widespread fraud.

Give me a break. For years, big corporations have been assaulting democracy with big money, drowning out the voices and needs of ordinary Americans, and fueling much of the anger and cynicism that opened the door to Trump in the first place.

Their assault hasn't been as violent as the pro-Trump mob who stormed the Capitol. And it's entirely legal. But it's arguably more damaging over the long term.


The Sedition That Nobody's Talking About | Robert Reich www.youtube.com


A study published a few years ago by two of America's most respected political scientists, Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page of Northwestern, concluded that the preferences of the average American "have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically nonsignificant impact upon public policy." Lawmakers respond almost exclusively to the moneyed interests – those with the most lobbying prowess and deepest pockets to bankroll campaigns.

So now, in the wake of Trump's calamitous exit and Biden's ascension, we're to believe CEOs care about democracy?

As Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, put it, "No one thought they were giving money to people who supported sedition."

Yet Dimon has been a leader of a more insidious form of sedition. He piloted the corporate lobbying campaign for the Trump tax cut, deploying a vast war chest of corporate donations.

For more than a decade Dimon has driven Wall Street's charge against stricter bank regulation, opening bipartisan doors in the Capitol with generous gifts from the Street. (Dimon calls himself a Democrat.)

When Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg shut Trump's Facebook account, he declared: "You just can't have a functioning democracy without a peaceful transition of power."

But where was Zuckerberg's concern for a "functioning democracy" when he amplified Trump's bigotry and lies for over four years?

After taking down Trump's Twitter account, Jack Dorsey expressed discomfort about "the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation."

Spare me. Dorsey has fought all attempts to limit Twitter's power over the "global conversation." He shuttered Trump only after Democrats secured the presidency and control of the Senate.

Look, I'm glad CEOs are penalizing the 147 Republican seditionists and that big tech is starting to regulate social media content.

But don't confuse the avowed concerns of these CEOs about democracy with democracy itself. They aren't answerable to democracy. At most, they're answerable to big shareholders and institutional investors who don't give a fig as long as profits keep rolling in.

If they were truly committed to democracy, CEOs would permanently cease corporate donations to all candidates, close their PACs, stop giving to secretive "dark money" groups and discourage donations by their executives.

And they would throw their weight behind the "For the People Act", the first bills of the new Congress, offering public financing of elections among other reforms.

Don't hold your breath.

The fourth branch is already amassing a war chest to stop Joe Biden and the Democrats from raising corporate taxes, increasing the minimum wage, breaking up big tech and strengthening labor unions.

Make no mistake: These CEOs and their corporations don't actually care about protecting democracy. They care only about protecting their bottom line.

Here are 10 ways Biden can be transformational -- even without Congress

We did it. We took control of the Senate from Mitch McConnell. Even so, Republicans may still be able to block key parts of Joe Biden's agenda. But there are plenty of critical policies he can and must enact without them.

Biden's first task is to undo Trump's litany of cruel and disastrous executive orders. He has already announced he'll rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, re-enter the World Health Organization, and repeal Trump's discriminatory Muslim travel ban. And there are at least 48 other Trump policies that he can reverse on day one.

In addition, here are 10 critical policies Biden can implement without Congress:

FIRST: He can lower drug prices through Section 1498 of the federal code, which gives the government the power to revoke a company's exclusive right to a drug and license the patent to a generic manufacturer instead.

SECOND: He can forgive federal student loans—thereby helping to close the racial wealth gap, giving a financial boost to millions, and delivering a major stimulus to the economy.

THIRD: He can use existing antitrust laws to break up monopolies and prevent mergers—especially in Big Tech and the largest Wall Street banks.

FOURTH: He can institute pro-worker policies for federal contractors—who are responsible for a fifth of the economy—such as requiring a $15 minimum wage and paid family leave, and refusing to contract with non-union companies.

FIFTH: He can empower the Labor Department to aggressively monitor and penalize companies that engage in wage theft and unpaid overtime, and who misclassify employees as independent contractors—as Uber and Lyft do.

SIXTH: He can make it easier for people to get health care by eliminating Medicaid work requirements, reinstating federal funding to Planned Parenthood, and expanding access to Affordable Care Act plans. Then it'll be up to us to push him to enact Medicare for All.

SEVENTH: He can ban the sale of public lands and waters for oil and gas drilling. He can further tackle the climate crisis by reinstating the 125 environmental regulations rolled back by Trump and directing federal agencies to deny permits for new fossil fuel projects, and halting all fossil fuel lease sales and permits.

EIGHTH: His Securities and Exchange Commission can reinstate its ban on stock buybacks—so that corporations are more likely to use their cash to invest in workers instead of enrich their shareholders. And he can rein in Wall Street by strengthening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other financial regulators, while his Treasury Department can close many tax loopholes.

NINTH: He can address the cruelty of capital punishment by granting clemency to everyone on federal death row, effectively ending the death penalty with the stroke of a pen. He can address other injustices by having the Department of Justice implement mass commutations for low-level drug offenders, strengthening the department's Civil Rights Division, and reining in rampant police misconduct through consent decrees. And he can undo some of the damage wrought by the racist war on drugs by directing his Attorney General to reclassify marijuana as a non-dangerous drug.

TENTH: He can reverse Trump's cruel immigration agenda by restoring and expanding DACA and raising the yearly number of refugees who can be admitted.

Even with control of the Senate, Democrats' slim majority means that Republicans can still obstruct Biden's policy agenda at every turn. Biden can and must wield his presidential powers through Executive Orders and regulations. The problems America is facing demand it.

Watch:


10 Bold Moves Biden Can Make | Robert Reich www.youtube.com

Former Labor secretary explains how we should hold people accountable for Trump's attempted coup

Call me old-fashioned, but when the president of the United States encourages armed insurgents to breach the Capitol and threaten the physical safety of Congress, in order to remain in power, I call it an attempted coup.

Last week' rampage left five dead, including a Capitol Hill police officer who was injured when he tangled with the pro-Trump mob. We're fortunate the carnage wasn't greater.

That the attempted coup failed shouldn't blind us to its significance or the stain it has left on America. Nor to the importance of holding those responsible fully accountable.

Trump's culpability is beyond dispute. "There's no question the president formed the mob, the president incited the mob, the president addressed the mob. He lit the flame," said Rep. Elizabeth Cheney, the third-highest ranking Republican in the House.

He should be impeached, convicted, and removed from office – immediately.

To let the clock run out on his presidency and allow Trump to seek the presidency again would signal that attempted coups are part of the American system. If Senate Republicans can install a new Supreme Court justice in eight days, Trump can be removed from office within ten.

He should then be arrested and tried for inciting violence and sedition (along with Trump Jr. and Rudy "trial-by-combat" Giuliani).

Those who attacked the Capitol should also be prosecuted. They have no First Amendment right to try to overthrow the U.S. government.

Trump's accomplices on Capitol Hill, most notably Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, should be forced to resign. Knowing Trump's allegations of voting fraud were false, Cruz and Hawley nonetheless led an attempt to exclude Biden electors, even after the storming of the Capitol.

The United States Constitution says that "no Person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress" who "shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against" the Constitution, "or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

Both Cruz and Hawley are eyeing runs for the presidency in 2024. They should be barred from running.

Other abettors are now trying to distance themselves, but their conversions come too late.

Senator Lindsey Graham now says Trump must "understand that his actions were the problem, not the solution," and criticizes the White House for making "accusations that cannot be proven."

Graham had been one of Trump's key attack dogs, even bullying state election officials to change voting tallies. If Graham is not forced to resign, he should at least be censured and stripped of his ranking membership on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Michael Pence finally broke with Trump, but only after remaining mute as Trump lied and bullied his way through the last eight weeks, thereby signaling agreement with his preposterous claims.

McConnell should also resign or be censured and stripped of committee assignments. Pence should be barred from any future public office.

Some administration officials have already resigned in response to the attempted coup. Transportation secretary Elaine Chao said it was "entirely avoidable," and education secretary Betsy DeVos told Trump there was "no mistake the impact your rhetoric had." Other Trumpers are reportedly jumping ship, too.

Yet before Wednesday most of them defended Trump's antics, lavished him with praise, and willingly did his dirty work. Their complicity should forever haunt their reputations and consciences.

Other accessories are Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and Sundar Pichai,CEO of Alphabet, YouTube's parent company.

For four years, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have functioned as Trump's megaphones, amplifying his every lie and rant. When pressured to remove Trump's fabrications about the election, they labeled them "disputed."

Twitter has now permanently suspended Trump, preventing him from sending messages to his more than 88 million followers "due to the risk of further incitement for violence." Facebook has banned him indefinitely. YouTube should be next.

But why did it take an attempted coup for them to act?

Many business leaders who are now denouncing the violence enthusiastically bankrolled Trump's re-election campaign, knowing full well who he was and what he was capable of doing. And they've had no qualms about advertising on his largest megaphones, including Fox News. All are complicit because they knew Trump would stop at nothing.

Fox News's mendacious hosts and producers have no excuse. After repeatedly telling Trump supporters the election was stolen, they're now saying the attempted coup was "understandable" because Trump supporters believed the election was stolen. Morally, if not legally, they share responsibility for this travesty.

All are all part of the ecosystem that led to Trump's sedition. That ecosystem is still in place.

Those who say we should "look forward" to a new administration and forget or dismiss what occurred last week are delusional. Unless all who participated in or abetted the attempted overthrow of the United States government are held accountable, it will happen again. Next time it may succeed.

'Sedition' of Trump-supporting senators has a silver lining: political economist

I've been in or around politics for over a half century now, and I never imagined how low and looney the Republican Party would become. Eleven Republican senators and senators-elect said today they will vote to reject President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s victory next Wednesday when Congress meets to formally certify it.

They are joining a growing movement in the GOP to defy the unambiguous results of the 2020 presidential election and support Trump's bizarre attempt to remain in power with false claims of voting fraud.

Remember: Every state has now certified the election results after verifying their accuracy. Several underwent post-election audits or hand counts. At the same time, judges across America, including Supreme Court justices, have rejected nearly 60 attempts by Trump and his allies to challenge the results.

None of the twelve Republican senators who say they will vote to invalidate the results of the election has made any specific allegations of fraud. At most, they offer vague statements that some wrongdoing may have occurred.

Their most specific grounds for contesting the certification is that many of their supporters believe Trump's claims of fraud – which is circular reasoning, since Trump and many of these same senators have been arguing since the election that fraud occurred without offering any evidence.

The sedition of these twelve United States senators – and I use that term advisedly – will not alter the outcome of the election. It is purely for show, as have been so much of Trump's and his enablers' actions. But the show itself will be a brawl that will only serve to validate in the minds of many of Trump's supporters his baseless claims – dividing America even more.

The one consolation, if it can be called that, is that their cynical ploy will also force other Republican members of Congress to openly choose between doing their constitutional duty and accepting the results of the election, or displaying brazen loyalty to a fading demagogue who has sought to turn the GOP into a personal cult. In short, it will smoke them out: They must openly choose democracy or fascism.

The rest of us can only watch and take careful note. Rarely in American history has a symbolic act carried such significance for the future of the country.

'The appalling reality is that Trump may get away with it': Political economist

Most of the 74,222,957 Americans who voted to reelect Donald Trump – 46.8 percent of the votes cast in the 2020 presidential election – don't hold Trump accountable for what he's done to America.

Their acceptance of Trump's behavior will be his vilest legacy.

Nearly forty years ago, political scientist James Q. Wilson and criminologist George Kelling observed that a broken window left unattended in a community signals that no one cares if windows are broken there. The broken window is thereby an invitation to throw more stones and break more windows. The message: Do whatever you want here because others have done it and got away with it.

The broken window theory has led to picayune and arbitrary law enforcement in poor communities. But America's most privileged and powerful have been breaking big windows with impunity.

In 2008, Wall Street nearly destroyed the economy. The Street got bailed out while millions of Americans lost their jobs, savings, and homes. Yet no major Wall Street executive ever went to jail.

In more recent years, top executives of Purdue Pharmaceuticals, along with the members of the Sackler family who own it, knew the dangers of OxyContin but did nothing. Executives at Wells Fargo Bank pushed bank employees to defraud customers. Executives at Boeing hid the results of tests showing its 737 Max Jetliner was unsafe. Police chiefs across America looked the other way as police under their command repeatedly killed innocent Black Americans.

Here, too, they've got away with it. These windows remain broken.

Trump has brought impunity to the highest office in the land, wielding a wrecking ball to the most precious windowpane of all – American democracy.

The message? A president can obstruct special counsels' investigations of his wrongdoing, push foreign officials to dig up dirt on political rivals, fire inspectors general who find corruption, order the entire executive branch to refuse congressional subpoenas, flood the Internet with fake information about his opponents, refuse to release his tax returns, accuse the press of being "fake media" and "enemies of the people," and make money off his presidency.

And he can get away with it. Almost half of the electorate will even vote for his reelection.

A president can also lie about the results of an election without a shred of evidence – and yet, according to polls, be believed by the vast majority of those who voted for him.

Trump's recent pardons have broken double-paned windows.

Not only has he shattered the norm for presidential pardons – usually granted because of a petitioner's good conduct after conviction and service of sentence – but he's pardoned people who themselves shattered windows. By pardoning them, he has rendered them unaccountable for their acts.

They include aides convicted of lying to the FBI and threatening potential witnesses in order to protect him; his son-in-law's father, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion, witness tampering, illegal campaign contributions, and lying to the Federal Election Commission; Blackwater security guards convicted of murdering Iraqi civilians, including women and children; Border Patrol agents convicted of assaulting or shooting unarmed suspects; and Republican lawmakers and their aides found guilty of fraud, obstruction of justice and campaign finance violations.

It's not simply the size of the broken window that undermines standards, according to Wilson and Kelling. It's the willingness of society to look the other way. If no one is held accountable, norms collapse.

Trump may face a barrage of lawsuits when he leaves office, possibly including criminal charges. But it's unlikely he'll go to jail. Presidential immunity or a self-pardon will protect him. Prosecutorial discretion would almost certainly argue against indictment, in any event. No former president has ever been convicted of a crime. The mere possibility of a criminal trial for Trump would ignite a partisan brawl across the nation.

Congress may try to limit the power of future presidents – strengthening congressional oversight, fortifying the independence of inspectors general, demanding more financial disclosure, increasing penalties on presidential aides who break laws, restricting the pardon process, and so on.

But Congress – a co-equal branch of government under the Constitution – cannot rein in rogue presidents. And the courts don't want to weigh in on political questions.

The appalling reality is that Trump may get away with it. And in getting away with it he will have changed and degraded the norms governing American presidents. The giant windows he's broken are invitations to a future president to break even more.

Nothing will correct this unless or until an overwhelming majority of Americans recognize and condemn what has occurred.

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