Tag Archives: Hillary Clinton

Clinton proposes tax on trading

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is proposing new taxes on large-volume trading in financial markets, one of several measures designed to appeal to the party’s liberal nominating base as she squares off against insurgent rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont). The challenger’s left-wing economic populism has won him traction in some early nominating states, putting pressure on Clinton to maneuver her campaign to guard against a repeat of 2008, when a relatively unknown Barack Obama swept the party off its feet with an appeal to passion and principle.

Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. (Photo: www.hillaryclinton.com).

Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail. (www.hillaryclinton.com).

Clinton’s strength is seen as her experience and pragmatism, although clearly the campaign is focused on the nomination, and not the inevitable pivot to the center (rhetorically, at least) that marks most presidential bids as they begin to look towards the general election.

I hope to dissect some of her proposals in greater detail in the coming days. The tax on so-called high-frequency trading, is actually a tax on order cancellations in financial markets. This is designed to penalize large-volume, computer-driven trading strategies, which Clinton and some other critics blame at least in part for market meltdowns and flash crashes; it is also designed to discourage “spoofing,” a technique that can involve submitting open orders in an effort to push the market one way or the other, and later canceling them.

Debate will no doubt ensue as to whether imposing new taxes on market trading is likely to achieve the “fairness” and stability proponents claim to desire. These new costs would however, very likely do two things:

  • Reduce market liquidity, by making it more expensive to trade. Lower liquidity means higher spreads (the difference between bid and ask), which also makes transactions more costly. These direct and indirect costs will hurt both institutional and individual investors.
  • Increase the cost of risk management. Small and large traders alike often rely on series of continually adjusted stop orders to protect profits and cut losses. These systems can rely on orders that are placed and later canceled and replaced with a new order to reflect market movement. Taxing order cancelations will make it more expensive to manage risk in this way, thereby potentially injecting even more risk into capital markets.

Politico and others have reported that former Secretary of State Clinton is relying on former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) and Gary Gentler (who helped craft Dodd-Frank) to advise her on economic matters.



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Filed under 2016 Democratic Primaries, 2016 Presidential Election, Economy, Finance & Investing

McCaskill on presidential nominating

The Democratic Change Commission has recommended ending the use of unpledged superdelegates and moving back early primary contests to a later date, as reported by The Kansas City Star Prime Buzz on Wednesday. Thanks to Combest for the link.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) co-chairs the thirty-seven member commission along with Rep. James Clyburn (D-South Carolina). Larry Gates, state chairman for Kansas Democrats, also serves on the panel.

The Barack Obama campaign and DNC jointly announced its creation in August of last year, and it was made official by a resolution at the national convention. Any changes that are actually adopted could technically be in place by 2012, but wouldn’t have any practical effect until 2016, when the Democratic nomination is once again an open contest.

I haven’t read the full report – it doesn’t appear to be on the DNC website – but this would seem to be a mixed bag.

The idea of moving back some primary contests seems to be a good thing. America’s “permanent campaign” for the presidency is unhelpful on several levels: it takes elected officials away from their duties, or puts them at a campaign disadvantage if they stay in Washington and their home states to fulfill them fully; it discourages potentially good candidates who are daunted by the prospects of a lengthy, grueling campaign march; the campaign and press coverage slowly but steadily become more negative over time; and by diffusing the contest over a long period of time, voters tend to tune out. Plus, the extended nomination process simply becomes wasteful and annoying at some point.

The impact of such a change would seem to be lessened if the first contest – the Iowa caucuses – are not also moved back but again this seems to be, from a purely analytical standpoint, a good thing.

I’m not quite as sure on the other key recommendation, the idea to not let superdelegates pledge their support to whomever they wish. (Superdelegates are current and former elected officials who have been vested with a convention vote for the nomination). Doesn’t that defeat the very purpose of superdelegates? Perhaps not entirely. You still get to be a delegate, and even have the word “super” in front of your position. But without the pop. That’s going to chafe some among party elite.

Ending the use of superdelegates would seem to take the party back to the days before the Hunt Commission of the early 1980s, when superdelegates were established. The idea then – a decade after the McGovern Fraser Commission lead to lackluster candidates like McGovern, Carter and Mondale – was to give those with proven political judgment and the best interests of the party in mind a strong voice in the process. The perk was also designed to retain white, Southern, moderate and conservative Democrats in the party and at the convention, as the party drifted left during the sixties and seventies.

Ending superdelegates as we know them would make the Democratic nomination process more purely democratic. For some people, that’s a good thing. However, it’s not always a recipe to produce a candidate most likely to win general elections.

There was a lot of talk about superdelegates last year when Barack Obama established momentum in the nomination process but many superdelegates had already pledged their support to Hillary Clinton. Some feared a disaster (think 1968, Chicago) if Obama out-performed Clinton but yet was not awarded the nomination. It’s true that this would have caused some fireworks, especially given the historic racial dynamics at play.

In the end though, some superdelegates switched their support, and those who stayed with Clinton (in particular, those who did so in contrast to popular vote results in their home state) were not enough to change the natural outcome of the election. The superdelegates as a whole acted prudently, and Democrats won the election. Why the impulse to change things now?

As I said – a mixed bag, it seems. We’ll see if the party adopts the changes and how things shape up. It might be years before we know for sure how this will affect the Democratic Party and its future presidential candidates.

[UPDATE: 01/01/10, 5:25 p.m. CST] In his 1993 book Out of Order, political scientist Thomas E. Patterson offers an extensive critique of the media’s role in the presidential nominating process and general election campaign. While critical of modern political journalim, he writes that much of its shortcomings arise from its current miscast role as mediator, rather than message-carrier during presidential contests.

To improve the election process and facilitate responsible coverage thereof, structural reforms must be undertaken. Among these, says Patterson, is the shortening of the campaign calendar. I am indebted to Patterson for his insights on this and related topics. Also, to Dr. William Horner of the University of Missouri for his instruction on the same and other subjects during a lively and informative semester studying politics and the media.

UPDATE II: 6:36 p.m. One last thing: it would seem that by eliminating superdelegates’ independence, some power shifts from party structure to the plebiscite system. In doing so, you take influence away from people with the most information, and give it to those who have less (though of course, primary voters do tend to be motivated and informed relative to the electorate at large). In so doing, the media’s role again becomes enhanced, leaving it to “organize” political choices for voters during the nomination phase. This is not the strong suit or even proper role of the press, according to Patterson, and from this point of view such a change would not seem to strengthen or improve the process.

There’s so much more to discuss here, but I’ll try to leave it at that. I do highly recommend Patterson’s book if you’re interested in press coverage of presidential elections. Or for a more recent take, The Way to Win, by Mark Halperin and John Harris, which looks specifically at the current media environment and its effects on modern elections.

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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Democratic Party

Gingrich should not run, nor will he

Newt Gingrich

But he still has a valuable role to play…

There’s been some scuttlebutt recently about Newt Gingrich getting into the 2012 race. I love Newt. He is widely regarded as an excellent ideas guy, and rightly so. He speaks on policy issues in ways that I wish a lot more Republican politicians would (or could). But let’s be honest. His time is past.

Hailing from suburban Altanta, Georgia, Gingrich is the former speaker of the House of Representatives. He lead the “Republican Revolution” with his Contract With America in 1994. It was a tidal wave in American politics, a dramatic rebuke and restraint on Clinton‘s initial liberalism that had strayed from his moderate marketing in the ’92 presidential campaign.

Gingrich left Congress in some level of disrepute, having suffered some defeats in key battles with Clinton, lost seats in Congress and ending his second marriage in divorce. He stayed out of the limelight for a while, as was necessary and proper.

In recent years, the former history professor has emerged as an energetic and prolific source of potential solutions – conservative and often innovative – to a wide range of public policy challenges. The country, not to mention the Republican Party, is the better for it.

This is a role for which Gingrich is perfectly suited. Someone who sparks thought and debate within the party and the larger body politic. A man well versed in history and politics to inform and persuade others.  But an ideal candidate he does not seem to be.

For starters, there’s the personal baggage. That doesn’t or shouldn’t necessarily rule him out in and of itself, but the baggage is particularly unsightly in this case. He’s on his third wife, after at least one of the first two relationships ended amidst his infidelity. Calling then-First Lady Hillary Clinton “a bitch” doesn’t help either, particularly when it is your mom who reveals the insult to Connie Chung on national television.

Call me petty or uninspired but I don’t think the American people will take well to a guy whose name is “Newt.” Particularly when followed by “Gingrich.” Yes, the people elected a “Barack Obama,” but despite its exotic flavor it has a nice ring to it and does not call to mind a particular amphibian creature.

But the main reason he should not run is that the Gingrich persona is too strongly associated with the past, when elections are always about the future. Rightly or wrongly, the dynamic, colorful, controversial Gingrich will always be remembered for his role in the events of the Nineties. Add to this the fact that while he may be healthy, the former Speaker is not as young as he used to be, in an age when Americans seem to be leaning towards more youthful presidents (Obama, Bush, and Clinton were all at least moderately young by historical standards).

Gingrich has made some noises himself recently about running. His line is essentially that if there’s a conservative philosophical gap in the GOP primary field, that will be reason for him to run, and if there’s not, then he won’t. That’s all well and good. But realistically speaking that gap – I don’t think – will be there. After all, we saw at least several solid conservatives run in 2008: Mitt Romney, followed at varying distances and for varying reasons by Fred Thompson, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter.

I think Gingrich knows he won’t run, either. He understands the odds stacked against even a capable contender, the grueling nature of a lengthy campaign, and what he would have to leave behind in terms of the good life he has now built as an analyst and advocate. However, by lightly fanning the flames of a potential bid, he keeps his stock high and attention focused.

I’ve been in politics too long to be bothered by any cynicsm in that kind of strategy. I say more power to him. Because the man and his ideas more than merit the party’s and the nation’s attention.

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Filed under 2012 Presidential Election, Republican Party

Obama vs. Fox News

There’s been some hot topics in the couple days that I’ve been away, including Obama‘s war on Fox News. There’s been a lot of good stuff written about this, and it’s generally falling into two categories:

1) It’s not right, and or not presidential. All of the right and a lot of the middle is saying this.

2) Whether it’s right or not, it’s not politically adviseable. Generally I’m seeing this from more left-leaning sources, but I think this could be emphasized by anyone.

There have also been a couple pieces from some genuinely far left sources, falling into a third category defending the action.

Here’s my quick take:

A couple days after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, presumably for signaling his willingness to talk to the world’s anti-democratic, anti-American thugs,  Obama wages war on an American press outlet.

I’ve not heard a lot of direct criticism of FNC reporters by the White House, or even of specific FNC anchors. In fact, when asked by veteran media observer Howard Kurtz whether a reporter like Major Garret was an objective journalist, White House communications director/Mao Zedong admirer Anita Dunn replied in the affirmative. Presumably then, much of what the White House objects to is the commentary, or editorial content of the station.

(Of course, for years liberals have also complained more generally about the channel’s news product. However, a major study by Jeffrey Milyo* and Tim Groseclose several years ago actually documented that “Special Report,” the channel’s main evening news program, was among the closest to the ideological center of all the major news sources they examined, along with “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer*”  and a couple others. And Hillary Clinton would have told you during the primary that it was Fox News where she got the fairest shake from the media. It has long been my view that while FNC does lean right, it certainly leans no more in that direction than any of its competitors lean to the left. But I digress).

So, what are we to make of the White House’s decision to target and attack Fox News based in large part on its opinion-programming? Like so much from this White House, it is petty and pedantic, political and partisan. Dressed up, of course, in principled pragmatism.

Of all the broadcast, satellite or cable television stations in the country, there is none like Fox News, whose dynamic and popular on-air talent regularly question and aggressively criticize the president. So by targeting the network, the White House – whose occupant ran on the idea of bringing people together, laughably disingenuous though it was – signals that it will not tolerate a single such voice of dissent. Instead, the president’s operatives will fan out in an attempt to discredit and marginalize the “enemy”.

Folks, this is our president. This is his White House. This is his administration. This is the America he seeks to remake. It is inappropriate behavior, to say the least.

Now, as a pure political matter, I do believe this results in a net loss for Obama, in the short, medium and long term.

Firstly, you lose the biggest audience in cable news. Yeah, a lot of them weren’t with you to begin with, but a few of them were and a good chunk of them could go either way. Contrary to what some liberal commentators might have you believe, Fox does indeed draw more than just die-hard conservatives. It’s #1 for a reason.

Second, anytime you go negative, there’s always a splash. Meaning you get wet, too. You normally think of this in application to going negative with campaign commercials, but this is essentially the same thing. It tarnishes him. Because people instinctively know that it’s unpresidential; that it is a misuse of the majesty of the office.

Thirdly, it raises FNC’s profile. As could be expected from anyone, but particularly the ever-savvy Murdoch, Fox is playing this up big time. And they should. Not only because it’s their right and their story, but because it is in fact a big deal.

Fourthly – and this is related to point one – you harden FNC’s conservative base even more against you. You fire them up. They didn’t care for you to begin with. Now you’ve more than cemented the notion that you have something against them; you’ve straight up called them the enemy. So now you’re the enemy.This is exactly the sort of thing that gins up turnout in midterms.

So, long story short, while the president’s actions are alarming, they will also come back to bite him in the end.

* University of Missouri grads:)

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Filed under Barack Obama, Media Bias

Careerists at State push Hillary, Obama to isolate Honduras

According to an anonymous source at Foggy Bottom, staff of the State Department have recommended to Secretary Hillary Clinton that the U.S. declare recent events in Honduras as a “military coup,” according to a Reuters piece today. The move would prevent the Central American nation from receiving $150 million in American aid.

Firstly, this leak is unacceptable. Was it authorized? If so, by whom – the White House? Or by Clinton’s team itself, to make it look in advance as though an impending decision by Clinton was not her personal political judgment, but rather than consensus wisdom of career professionals at State?

Or it was a real leak – someone with an axe to grind, who went to a reporter anonymously, without authorization? Perhaps to pressure the administration to isolate Honduras?

Whatever the identity of the leak, it’s all pretty much the same end game. Whoever was doing it has a problem with the democratic, peaceful preservation of power in Honduras and presumably would rather see a left wing thug like Manuel Zelaya in office. And assuming the source for the story is accurately representing the staff consensus at State, this story is also a disturbing commentary on the mass of career employees at the country’s diplomatic nerve center.

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Filed under Central America

McCain-Feingold piece on NRO

The editors of National Review have weighed in on the current court case over McCain-Feingold, sparked by a political documentary that took aim at Hillary Clinton. The case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission will impact how stringently the government may apply the regulations of McCain-Feingold in the future, including restrictions on books and films.

One of the gems from A Clear Danger to Free Speech:

“A documentary film criticizing a senator deserves at least as much constitutional protection as a work of pornography.”

Well said. Unfortunately, many of our distinguished politburo members senators don’t see it that way.

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Filed under General & Miscellaneous