Saturday, September 12, 2020

Joe Biden's Signal


 Only five weeks late, Bernie Sanders and Will Bunch have good advice for Joe Biden:

That suggestion should have come before August 11, when the former vice president announced as selection of his running mate the former California Attorney General who in January, 2017

vaguely acknowledged The Intercept’s report about her declining to prosecute Steven Mnuchin’s One West Bank for foreclosure violations in 2013, but offered no explanation.

“It’s a decision my office made,” she said, in response to questions from The Hill shortly after being sworn in as California’s newest U.S. senator.

“We went and we followed the facts and the evidence, and it’s a decision my office made,” Harris said. “We pursued it just like any other case. We go and we take a case wherever the facts lead us.”

Mnuchin is Donald Trump’s nominee to run the Treasury Department, and served as CEO of OneWest from 2009 to 2015. In an internal memo published on Tuesday by The Intercept, prosecutors at the California attorney general’s office said they had found over a thousand violations of foreclosure laws by his bank during that time, and predicted that further investigation would uncover many thousands more.

But the investigation into what the memo called “widespread misconduct” was closed after Harris’s office declined to file a civil enforcement action against the bank.

Harris’s statement on Tuesday doesn’t explain how involved she was with the decision to not prosecute, or why the decision was made.

That of course is Kamala Harris, whose interest in challenging power and wealth when she had the opportunity in California was far exceeded by her current interest, shared with Joe Biden, of becoming a "first." It may be the first black woman to be the vice presidential nominee of a major party, the first Asian-American woman to be the vice presidential nominee of a major party, or the first to rock out in Chuck Taylor All Stars.

In any case, her nomination certainly is historic, crucial to those who symbols as more important than, say, governance. Moreover, it offers an opportunity to juice black voter turnout, which would have been the case with any of the other black women Biden was considering.

But there probably was no other candidate on Biden's long list of possibilities (each a woman, as he had promised) who would have most dramatically epitomized the candidate's emphasis on appealing to the emerging Democratic demographic: young, educated, affluent, and oh, so hip.

Perhaps "Middle Class Joe" assumed he himself would fill the ticket's need to staunch the flow of working-class and poor whites voting against the Democratic Party.  That would be a dangerous assumption, one arguably held four years ago by Hillary Clinton, who had last been seen in electoral politics wiping the floor with Senator Barack Obama among those voter, when she went on to lose that group to Donald Trump.

Biden could start with with Social Security. The President advocated cutting Social Security benefits back in March, roughly eight months before his order (since derailed) to postpone collection of payroll taxes, which he realized would undermine Social Security.  The former vice president should not simply mention the issue but pound it home.

The nominee could more often address other financial deregulation and other economic matters, not simply patting his back for "Obamacare," which Americans recognize as inadequate, is insufficient.   And if the Democrat believes the pandemic itself will be sufficient, he is apparently fooling himself.

So go at it, Joe, and do your best. And pull it off with a straight face, which will be just a little harder to do since August 11, 2020.


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