NDN Blog

NDN in the News – Summer 2015

Over the past few weeks, NDN has been featured in some of the nation’s biggest newspapers on a range of issues, including the debate over TPA and the President’s trade agenda, income inequality, the Latino Electorate, the 2016 Presidential Campaign, and more. Be sure to check back periodically as will be updating this with our latest press:

The Debate over the President's trade agenda:

2016 and Beyond

Other Press: 


Thank These Democrats for Supporting TPA

Today, the President signed both TPA and TAA. 

Thanks to all of you who put the hard work in to get us to this point.  If you can, and if you haven't already,  please take a few minutes today to thank all of these courageous Senators and Members of the House who took a tough vote (or two!) and voted for TPA:

The Senate - these 13 couragegous Senators voted for final passage: Michael Bennet, Tom Carper, Chris Coons, Maria Cantwell, Dianne Feinstein, Heidi Heitkamp, Tim Kaine, Claire McCaskill, Patty Murray, Bill Nelson, Jeanne Shaheen, Mark Warner, and Ron Wyden.

The House - These 28 courageos Members of the House voted for final passage of TPA: Brad Ashford (NE-2), Ami Bera (CA-7), Don Beyer (VA-8), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Jim Costa (CA-16), Jim Cooper (TN-5), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Susan Davis (CA-53), John Delaney (MD-6), Suzan DelBene (WA-1), Sam Farr (CA-20), Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15),  Jim Himes (CT-4), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Rick Larsen (WA-2), Ron Kind (WI-3), Gregory Meeks (NY-5), Beto O'Rourke (TX-16), Scott Peters (CA-52), Jared Polis (CO-2), Mike Quigley (IL-5), Kathleen Rice (NY-1),  Kurt Schrader (OR-5), Debbie-Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Terri Sewell (AL-7).

There are many ways to thank these members, but the easiest is just to call the congressional switchboard at 202 224-3121, ask to speak to their office and then let their receptionist know that you are grateful for their courage and support of TPA . 

With TPA now the law of the land, we are already looking ahead to the campaign to pass TPP when it is finalized in the weeks ahead.    We will back in touch with you as this effort gears up this fall. 

For more on NDN’s work in support of the President’s trade agenda, including my op-ed, “An Enduring Legacy: The Democratic Party and Free and Open Trade” visit NDN's TPA "Backgrounder"  here.

Release: NDN Applauds the Passing of TPA In the House

 "NDN applauds the House for mustering a majority for trade promotion authority for the second time in the past week. Both chambers have now voted affirmitively in support of advancing TPA, and we are optimistic that Congress can work through the issues that remain so the President can sign it soon.

And we applaud the 28 House Democrats who have now voted twice to pass TPA, and the 14 Senate Democrats who will be called on again to support TPA in the coming days."

- Simon Rosenberg, President of NDN

For more on NDN's work on the President's trade agenda, visit this backgrounder. You can also read our previous statement following last Friday's TPA vote in the House, "On TPA Passing, But Not Passing."

How Greece Could Short-Circuit the U.S. Expansion

 In chaos theory, the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.  This week, Greece, a nation with a GDP smaller than the Philippines, became that butterfly – and its ongoing economic struggles could cause storms that would upend the financial stability of Europe and wreak serious collateral damage on our own economy. 

Greece has flirted with sovereign debt default for more than three years.  The latest talks for another bailout from the European Union and the IMF broke down this week, with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras calling the EU proposal “humiliating and the IMF’s conduct “criminal.”  Normally, the debt troubles of a country with an economy barely one percent the size of our own wouldn’t matter much to us.  But as a member of the EU and the Eurozone monetary union, Greece’s problems can reverberate deeply throughout Europe.  Global investors already are nervous that the EU and IMF may be unable to head off Greece’s looming insolvency.  If the worst happens, Greece’s default could trigger runs on government bond markets in other Eurozone countries seen at risk, including Italy and Spain.  Since Europe’s large financial institutions hold more than $1 trillion worth of those bonds, a Greek default could spark a financial meltdown rivalling even the 2008-2009 crisis,    

This crisis has unfolded in fits and starts for a long time, and the EU and the European Central Bank (ECB) have spent hundreds of billions of Euros trying to support those bond markets and strengthen the banking system.  No one knows if it will be enough to stave off the worst-case scenario.  But if a genuine crisis unfolds over the next month or so, everyone does know that European voters will never accept another bank bailout.  And if Europe’s economy falls into a tailspin, the ECB will have little room to support and stabilize it by cutting interest rates.

Greece’s default also would trigger its exit from the EU and the Eurozone.  No country has ever done so before, so no one knows precisely what would happen next.  Inevitably, the consequences would be destructive.  To begin, if Greece has to abandon the Euro and revive the drachma, its economy would come to a halt.  The government could not pay its employees, vendors or issue pension checks; and untold thousands of Euro-based contracts across Greece and between Greek and foreign concerns would have to be renegotiated.  So, on top of an unfolding financial crisis, the balance sheets of those foreign firms would suffer further, and a rapidly-deepening recession would spread across much of Europe.

These prospects explain why President Obama made the Greek crisis a top priority in his talks at the recent G-7 summit.  The EU is America’s largest trading partner; and perilous times there would quickly affect U.S. jobs and investment – and those costs would increase as the fast-falling value of the Euro would drive up the foreign prices of U.S. exports.  Even more serious, our financial institutions and multinational companies have thousands of deals involving European banks.  In a crisis, that becomes bad news for U.S. stocks: If cascading events threaten the solvency of those banks, many of those deals will become problematic, depressing the value of our own banks and companies.  The results here at home could be a credit crunch, falling employment, and a new recession – and this time, the Federal Reserve could do little to help.

The United States needs a prosperous Europe for not only the obvious economic reasons, but also as our geopolitical partner from the Middle East to the Korean peninsula and the South China Sea.  A weakened Europe, consumed by recession and facing the possible unraveling of a half-century of economic union and political collaboration, won’t be there for us the next time a U.S. president needs support to advance American and western interests and influence. 

What are the odds?  A scenario in which everyone loses usually inspires steps to head off the terrible reckoning.  Yet, events in coming weeks may demonstrate how domestic politics in Greece and across much of Europe put the two sides at such cross purposes that everyone will needlessly suffer.  At this point, calming this butterfly’s wings will require uncommon statesmanship and a real willingness by leaders in Greece, the EU and Washington to take measures that will cost them popular support.  So far, we’ve managed to side-step a serious crisis, and we could see another deal that papers over the problems for a while.  But if Greece and the EU do run out of options this time, your retirement accounts could lose a third of their value over the next year.

This post was originally published on Dr. Shapiro's blog

On TPA Passing But Not Passing

"In what was a confusing outcome today, the House showed they had enough votes to pass trade promotion authority, but it did not actually pass.

We remain optimistic that now that we know there is a majority for trade promotion authority in the House, the President and the Speaker will be able to come up with a new mechanism to bring the vote back and pass TPA soon. We commend the 28 House Democrats who took a very tough vote even though they knew it would not actually lead to the passage of TPA today. Like many in Washington, we are disappointed that the House Democrats walked away from their President and abandoned Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a valuable program which has helped many workers over many decades, and which has put the President's trade agenda in limbo.

And while there is a great deal of finger pointing today, let us point our own finger directly at the House Republican leadership. It wasn’t easy to create a process which would prevent TPA from passing even though the votes were there. But Speaker Boehner did just that today. As the one managing the floor of the House, it is clear now that if he wanted TPA to pass today Speaker Boehner badly miscalculated; and with 100 or so GOPers voting yes on TPA but no on TAA it raises questions of how committed the GOP really was to getting TPA through. Passing TPA required three votes - the rule, TAA and TPA. Speaker Boehner failed to deliver his conference for the first two and yet brought it all up for a vote anyway. "

- Simon Rosenberg, President of NDN

For more on NDN's work on the President's trade agenda, visit this backgrounder.

On TPA, Did Boehner Miscalculate?

It wouldn’t be the first time Speaker Boehner brought up an issue to find he didn’t have the votes or a strategy to get them.  This may be happening again on TAA/TPA.

Last night we saw the first warning sign - the Speaker needed Democrats to bail him out on the rule, an uncommon event in the House.  Rules usually pass easily with straight party line votes.  This morning, in the second test, TAA, news accounts suggest that the Speaker is bringing no more than 100 votes to the table.   Are there really 100 GOPers who are “pro-trade,” supporting TPA but not the modest, historically bi-partisan TAA designed to help every day people cope with the dislocations trade brings?  Why aren’t all the GOPers who are supporting TPA willing to do what is required to pass TPA by supporting TAA?   

As we head into the votes this morning, a few questions for the Speaker:

  • Why couldn’t you deliver more GOPers for a modest TAA if the TPA vote was so important to your conference?
  •  Will you release your public whip list for TPA showing that you have the 195-200 votes needed for final passage?

While I hope we can find the votes to pass TAA and TPA this morning, there are legit and serious questions about how prepared the House Republican leadership was for this vote today.  

NDN Endorses Clinton's Plan to Make Voting Easier

NDN endorses in the strong possible terms the speech and plan offered by Hillary Clinton yesterday to help renew our democracy and bring initial reforms to our political system.

Complaints about our “dysfunctional” democracy have become as common as laments about traffic or the weather in the US. Yesterday Hillary Clinton made it clear that she wasn’t going to accept the status quo and was making political reform and making it easier for every day Americans to participate in our democracy central to her campaign. Bravo! we say to that.

The issue of political reform – particularly ways to make our electoral system more democratic – has been a major issue for me and for NDN for many years. We were significant early funders of the Oregon vote by mail experiment which has now created a system with the highest participation rates in the country. We were among the earliest champions and advocates of the democratizing potential of the Internet, a new political tool that has allowed millions of Americans a far more meaningful way to participate in their democracy. When I ran for chairman of the Democratic Party in 2005, I made “making it easier for everyone to vote” one of the core tenets of my campaign, and I helped advise the DNC on their new efforts in this area last year. I also was the central architect of the plan which added a southern and southwestern state to the early primary window for the national Democratic party, a move, which implemented in 2008, allowed people of color to play a far more meaningful role in picking the Democratic nominee (and look what happened!).

In recent years we’ve aggressively advocated for the center-left to make these matters far more central to our work. We held a major forum on these issues at the Tisch School of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University a few years ago, and have published numerous studies and opinion pieces, a selection of which you can find below. Throughout all of this we have been guided by a simple belief that the center-left could not be a true champion of everyday people unless we helped imagine and build a 21st century political system that made it far easier for everyday people to participate in our democracy.

One thing my many years in politics has taught me is that Presidential primaries are a vital time for political parties and leaders to test out new thinking and new approaches. They are incredibly important for the renewal and regeneration of political leaders and the cultures of their parties. What we saw yesterday in this bold and ambitious speech by Hillary Clinton is that she understands that the single most powerful thing she can bring to 2016 is an inspiring argument for how to make our country better in the years ahead. And with this speech she is off to a great start.

For more from NDN on political reform, read these pieces:

"The Consent of the Governed," 12/17/14. This new analysis takes a look at whether, due to how fewAmericans are able to cast a meaningful vote in a Federal elections our electoral system, is still capable of conveying the “consent of the governed” to those in power in Washington.

"A Wake Up Call For Democrats - Simon's 2014 Post-Election Memo," 11/7/14. Republicans have made substantial gains in recent years, and are a much stronger national party. Democrats have a lot of work to do to compete and win against a resurgent GOP.

Leaving the Reagan Era Behind - Why Political Reform Matters for the Center-Left,” Simon Rosenberg,” NDN, 12/15/12. Some thoughts about the post-Sandy Hook shooting political environment, and the hard, tough struggles ahead necessary to usher in a new and better age of politics.

Has Congress Developed an Undemocratic Small State Bias?” 05/12/12. Ezra Klein referenced some recent research we published on what might be a creeping "small state" bias in Congress. Half of the country now lives in 9 states, the rest in the other 41 states.

Improving Our Democracy: Reforming The Electoral College,” 10/18/12. There may be no more important way to improve our democracy than to reform or eliminate the anachronistic Electoral College.

"The 50 Year Strategy: A New Progressive Era (No, Really!)," Mother Jones, 11/2007. The seminal long-form article by Simon and Peter Leyden which made the case that big changes in demography, media and technology and in the issues in front of the American people was opening a new and promising political age for the American center-left.

Wages Rising in the US

This new data, highlighted by Matt Yglesias of Vox, is extremely important to describing one of the greatest challenges of the modern political era: wage stagnation. After many years in which the wages of the median worker barely moved, over the past 12 months we are finally seeing substantial gains that will be felt in the pockets of many American families.

We will have much more to say on this topic, but note that this chart seems to accompany the decrease in the unemployment rate. That means in addition to outperforming their GOP counterparts, the Democratic Presidents creating more jobs and bringing down deficits, wages have grown in both the Clinton and Obama Eras. 

On FIFA, Fair Play and Our Global System Today

A few issues I’ve spent a lot of time writing about in the last few years have come together in a rather unexpected way these last few weeks. This is a bit of an early draft tying them all together, so indulge me a bit:

At the core of the President’s push for his Pacific trade agreement is an effort to modernize and extend today’s rules-based global trade system. This is a principal reason why I am so personally enthusiastic about TPP and potentially the European agreement to follow, TTIP. It is vital that America, the architect and guarantor of the global system over the past 70 years, take responsibility for updating and renewing this system for a new day.

As I’ve written elsewhere, I believe ensuring that this liberal system prevails in a time of great change and “the rise of the rest” to be the central project of center-left political leaders in the developed world over the next generation. This effort will manifest itself in many ways but today I want to focus on one country’s serial flouting of international conventions that will help illuminate why President Obama’s actions are so important. The country is Qatar.

Qatar has derived its enormous wealth from an illegal oil cartel that has held most of the world hostage for forty years. It has coddled some of the world’s most violent extremists central to the destabilization of the Middle East today. It has broken faith with global airline conventions, unfairly subsidizing its own state airline giving it a competitive leg up against European and American carriers. And perhaps most famously, it is now at the very center of the greatest public corruption scandal of our day, Sepp Blatter’s FIFA.  The farce of their securing the 2022 World Cup will remain the most enduring symbol of the epic corruption at the core of FIFA; that we know now that hundreds of virtual “slaves” have died in the early days of construction for the World Cup brings even greater shame to all those involved.

Many advocates have argued that we need to advance the President’s trade agenda to ensure that China doesn’t write the rules of the road of the next global order.  Along with others, however, I am frankly as concerned about the efforts of countries like Qatar and Russia to forge a far more Hobbesian system based on might and wealth rather than law, convention and “fair play.” As I’ve written elsewhere, bringing the petro-dictatorships of the Middle East and elsewhere into the rules-based global system remains one of the great unfinished projects of this era. The fall of FIFA will perhaps become a catalyst for a global conversation that is much more important than one about how we will manage football in the years ahead; it will become whether we want a world guided by liberal values or ones far more medieval.

Update: Appropriate that one of the world's most corrupt leaders, Vladamir Putin, has come to Blatter's defense.

Update (6/3): BuzzFeed News put out a major article that highlights the reaction in Qatar to the news that Sepp Blatter will step down, including that they have asked members of the host committee to stay off of US soil for fears of having them arrested.

Rob's Incomes Study Featured in Matt Bai Column

In his new column for Yahoo News, which does a deep dive into Rob Shapiro’s new study on incomes, influential journalist Matt Bai writes:"Shapiro's study is a remarkable analysis that refutes much of what we think we know about economic stagnation and inequality."
Intrigued? Well be sure to read the full study and Matt Bai's column to learn more. Rob’s new study is important and compelling work on perhaps the most important issue in American politics today.

I am really proud of Rob, this powerful new study and our decade long collaboration on these issues. For more on our work together, visit this post, which among other things, links to the Time Magazine piece which gave Rob and NDN credit for producing the “Most Important Chart in American Politics Today.” That story detailed the influence our economic work had on the Obama Administration as it prepared for the re-election campaign in 2012 and the impact we had on the UK Labour Party's thinking as well.

And a quick thank you to all our supporters. It is your funding over the years that has made this kind of critical analysis possible.

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