Politics

Rubio’s Concession Speech

I’m no fan of Marco Rubio. In many ways, his policies are even more extreme than the vast majority of the Republican Party, despite his favored position in the establishment (he opposes abortion even in the case of rape, for example). However, I thought he gave a very powerful (and surprisingly gracious) concession speech after losing Florida to Donald Trump in last night’s primary, particularly this line:

“In our veins runs the blood of people who gave it all up so we would have the chances they never did. We are all the descendants of someone who made our future the purpose of their lives.”

Interesting despite the fervent anti-immigration sentiment currently popular among people participating in the GOP primary this year, two of the three candidates left are children of immigrants and the third one is the grandchild of immigrants.

The Worldwide Impact of 1MDB

A bit late on this article, but Michael Peel and Jeevan Vasagar at The Financial TImes write about the ever-growing global fallout and implications of the Malaysian government’s failed 1MDB “sovereign wealth fund”:

It is not just a matter of domestic politics. The impact of the cases is being felt way beyond Malaysia’s borders due to the amount of money allegedly involved and its scope. The parties said to be affected include foreign officials, leading banks and offshore financial centres, with transactions stretching from Kuala Lumpur to the Cayman Islands and from Abu Dhabi to New York.

1MDB has become a test of regulators’ ability, and desire, to penetrate a web of dealings that take full advantage of the privacy and cross-border complexity available in the global financial system. It is also being seen as a measure of how well authorities deal with cases of suspected grand corruption.

Honestly at this point I just wish Malaysia wasn’t only well-known for global calamities. Before, no one I talked to in the States even knew what Malaysia was. Now, when I tell someone I’m from Malaysia the usual response is “oh, isn’t that where that plane disappeared?” (and then the inevitable “do you know where it is?” Yeah, because clearly all Malaysians have been hiding this secret for the last couple years…)

Why My Heart Isn’t With Bernie

There used to be a common saying (that I hear less of recently) – “my head is with Hilary, but my heart is with Bernie.” The notion was that while us progressives wanted policies that looked like Bernie’s, we knew that they were unrealizable dreams. I used to think that, too. But I have recently come to realize how thoroughly unworkable his plans are, and honestly, I don’t even think I want his policies as dreams.

The independent Tax Policy Center conducted an analysis of Sanders’s tax plan (emphasis mine):

“He estimates his “Medicare for all” health plan alone would cost nearly $1.4 trillion annually. To help finance it, he’s proposing a 6.2 percent employer tax, which he calls an “income-based health care premium” (and which would likely be passed on to workers). And a 2.2 percent income-based tax on most households. And income tax rate hikes on income in excess of $250,000, with a top rate of 52 percent, a level the US has not seen since 1981. And big rate hikes on most investment income, which would be taxed at the same rate as wages. And he’d expand the estate tax and cap the value of deductions at 28 percent for those making $250,000 or more.

And even with the wildly optimistic tax revenue projections his campaign releases, there’d still be a big revenue shortfall that would have to be covered by other tax increases. Politifact also notes:

“With Sanders’ proposed taxes, costs would need to be trimmed by roughly 42 to 47 percent — a tall order when “the most generous estimates of how much you could cut cost are on the order of 20 percent,” said Sherry Glied, a professor of health policy and economics at New York University who’s served in the George H.W. Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations.”

As a fiscally conservative progressive, there’s just no way I could support Sanders with a clear conscience.

Money Isn’t Everything in Politics

Much has been written about the sheer amounts of money flowing into political campaigns in the post-Citizens United era. However, to a certain extent money’s role is still heavily circumscribed by the fact that people actually make decisions and don’t necessarily believe every ad they see and hear (something I keep telling my far-left friends). The individual’s role is still present in the modern political system, I believe. Certainly not as prominent as it was in say, Lincoln’s day, but then again fewer individuals could vote then.

POLITICO on the results coming in tonight from New Hampshire’s primary:

“Cruz’s third-place finish also reflected badly on Rubio and Bush. Cruz spent less than $600,000 in the state yet finished ahead of fourth-place Bush who, between his super PAC and campaign, spent as much as $36 million on television. Rubio spent about $15 million and finished in a close fifth.”

Based on the numbers coming in from the NYT with 84% of precincts reporting, that means Jeb(!) Bush and his associated SuperPACs spent upwards of $1,200 per voter and still came in fourth. Rubio spent a comparatively frugal $560+ per vote. And Cruz? Just north of $20 per vote.