NDN Blog

Release: Tillerson failed to make Russian interference in US elections central to his mtgs w/Lavrov, Putin

“Based on his statements in his Moscow press conference this afternoon, Secretary of State Tillerson failed to make the issue of Russia’s interference in US politics and its ongoing efforts to disrupt the politics of our European allies central to his meetings with Russian President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov today. In his opening statement describing the talks he did not mention these ongoing and serious aggressions by Russia. They only came up when Tillerson was queried by a reporter, and his exact words were “we touched on it briefly.”

A direct Russian attack on the American homeland is not peripheral to the US-Russian relationship. Failure by Tillerson to make this far-ranging interference campaign central to these talks and to publicly condemn Russia for their aggressive actions here and in Europe is a tacit sign of approval of these efforts by the Trump Administration. It is also an invitation for Russia and other nations to attempt these kind of interference campaigns again in future elections here and abroad.

I for one reject the argument that what is happening in Syria and North Korea is more important than Russian’s extensive and ongoing efforts to undermine democracy in the US and Europe. These efforts should have been given equal weight to these other global challenges, and should have been central to the talks today. It is another disturbing sign of how Donald Trump’s admiration and relationship for Russia is interfering with his ability to be an effective President for the American people.

A few days ago NDN called on the White House and The Department of Homeland Security to release their plans to prevent the kind of interference we saw in 2016 from happening in this upcoming election cycle, including the special election in Georgia next week. The apparent failure of Tillerson to make these matters central to the talks today makes the production of such a go-forward strategy by the WH even more urgent.”

-Simon Rosenberg, President, NDN

 

Column: The End of Innocence: Trump's Fantasy World Crashes Hard Into The Real One

Today US News published Simon's latest column,“The End of Innocence: Trump's Fantasy World Crashes Hard Into The Real One.”

An excerpt –

"In the coming days, Trump's willingness to shed his clear admiration for Putin and Russia will be central to our emerging Syria policy, and to Trump's broader foreign policy vision. It is also perhaps the most important indicator of his willingness to shed the childish fantasy world his campaign constructed that is causing his early presidency to fail. Whatever Trump believed about Putin, and whatever transactions have gone down between them, Putin is anathema to the American creed. He is working to weaken America and the West on the global stage, advance autocracy as an alternative to democracy, undermine the global consensus about the need to find a better energy paradigm than one based on fossil fuels and has been Assad's funder and partner and thus is directly responsible for the greatest humanitarian crisis in generations. There is a strong argument to be made that defeating Putinism is the most significant challenge facing our new president. And because of this Trump will have to choose. He can be president of the United States or a friend of Putin's. He cannot be both."

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.
 

NDN Calls on WH/DHS To Release Their Plans for Protecting US Elections from Foreign Interference

Today, the advocacy organization NDN is formally calling on the Trump Administration to release its plans for preventing another Russia style attack on our electoral systems in the 2018 election cycle.

Russia’s interference in our elections in 2016 was among the most serious attacks on the homeland of the United States in recent decades, perhaps in all of American history. The success of the operation will certainly encourage Russia, and perhaps other foreign actors, to try again. Foreign actors will be further encouraged if the American President and his Administration continue to discount the threat, and are not doing all that is required to keep America and its electoral system safe. To deter such activity, and to hopefully to prevent its reoccurrence, the Administration must take steps in the coming days to assure the American people they have a plan and are acting upon it.

This is not some far off issue. Special elections for the House of Representatives have begun this month, and there are primary and general elections in several states in 2017 that are already underway. Systems for monitoring foreign activity and creating real time communication with the DNC, RNC and possibly affected campaigns should have already been put in place by the Trump Administration. It is time for the President to act.

Congressional leaders of both parties should be demanding a clear plan from the Administration. The Chairs of the DNC and RNC should work together this time to create systems for monitoring and sharing information. And this time, the Republican Party should commit to the American people that it will not knowingly use stolen materials and disinformation spread by a foreign power to influence an American election, as it did in 2016. This is not a partisan issue, but an American one, and it is time for the Trump Administration to lead an ambitious, bi-partisan, well-staffed and well-funded effort to prevent foreign interference in our elections.

We hope others will join our call, and encourage the Administration to act without delay.

White House Must Release Its Plan to Protect US Elections from Foreign Interference

I released the following statement today: 

 “With consequential elections coming up this year, and one in a few weeks, it is time for the Trump Administration to release its plan for insuring that the type of interference that happened in 2016 isn’t replicated in these upcoming elections.  Among the issues that must be addressed in the Administration’s plan is real time communications and amelioration efforts with effected political parties and candidates, including the malevolent use of social media and fake news used so extensively in 2016.

 “The success of the Russian effort in 2016 will not just embolden Putin’s government, but perhaps others too.  There is perhaps no greater threat to the homeland today than a new rash of aggressive campaigns from foreign actors to interfere in our election process.  Our Commander-In-Chief has an obligation to spell out what steps his government is taking to protect American democracy, starting with the all-important special election in Georgia-6 in a few weeks.  I hope Senators, Members of the House, the media and leading policy makers will press the Administration in the coming days to reveal its plans.”  

Trump's Great Betrayal

A new statement from NDN’s Simon Rosenberg:

“Candidate Donald Trump promised every day Americans his Administration would fight for them. Two months into his Presidency it is clear he has no intention of following through on his promise. These early months of the Trump Presidency could become known as “The Great Betrayal.”

Fair? Let’s take three simple examples:

Health Care – Candidate Trump promised health reform that would cover everybody, lower costs and not cut programs like Medicare and Medicaid. The House GOP health care bill he has endorsed and promoted would dramatically increase the number of uninsured (25m, 7% of US population); would increase costs for everybody, particularly for older people; and would savagely cut Medicaid. His plan would make tens of millions of those people he pledged to fight for sicker and poorer, while giving hundreds of billions of new tax cuts to wealthy people like those he hangs out each weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

Few proposals in American history could do as much harm to working people as the health care plan championed by Donald Trump these past few weeks. It is literally the opposite of what he promised he would do.

His Budget – The partial budget document Trump released last week would make massive cuts in education and job training, transportation and infrastructure, simple environmental protections and many other programs critical for working people to live good and decent lives. Whether working people would get a tax break for all of this is unclear as he hasn’t released a complete budget. But if his budget follows the strategy of his health care plan expect the benefits to flow to those already wealthy with little left for those struggling to get by.

His Staff – Despite his campaign rhetoric, the Trump Administration led by the wealthiest collection of Americans to every lead an American Administration in the modern era of American politics, and perhaps ever. It is full of Wall Streeters, including 5 former executives of Goldman Sachs. Working class champions are as hard to find in the early Trump Administration as those immigration documents of Melania’s he promised back in August.

Based on what he has done in his first months in the White House, it is now clear that Donald Trump lied to the American people about his intentions as President. Rather than championing the working man, Donald Trump has backed proposals that would transfer hundreds of billions of dollars from every day Americans to those already wealthy and well off. It is an astonishing and historic betrayal of the people he promised to serve, leaving tens of millions sicker and poorer and even more with reduced life opportunities. Donald Trump hasn’t shown respect to those he pledged to fight for, he has shown them hostility and contempt. He is far more venal Robber Baron than virtuous populist, far more Calvin Coolidge than Andrew Jackson, far more an oligarch than a man of the people.

I am positing for others to debate that no President in American history as veered as far from the core promises and message of his campaign as Trump has in his first few months. It is Trumpian in its scale, something that I hope becomes known as “The Great Betrayal.”

Column: 5 Ways Trump Could Stop Obama's Expansion

In his new US News column,“5 Ways Trump Could Stop Obama's Expansion,” Simon warns that Trump’s economic policies are more likely than not to derail the long Obama expansion.

According to Simon, there are 5 steps Trump is taking that are likely to weaken growth and hasten a recession:

• Labor market disruptions
• Loss of tourism
• Making America sicker and poorer
• The weakening of the global trade system
• A reckless budget

An excerpt from "5 Ways Trump Could Stop Obama's Expansion" –

"If the president's plans provide huge tax benefits to those already well off – as Bush's did – and create massive deficits, the net result will harm the U.S. economy and the nation's fiscal integrity. The hugely regressive nature of the Trump-Ryan health care bill is a sign of where the GOP is going, and it should worry everyone concerned about a strong, healthy American economy.

So, growth or recession? If the president just kept current economic policies in place, the U.S. would probably be headed for a few more years of growth, possibly even strong growth. But the president isn't keeping those policies in place, and I worry that what he is trying to do will in aggregate threaten our economy more than help it grow.

Our president has made a good living catering to wealthy Americans and foreigners. While that strategy may have worked as a private business, the American people and their economy can prosper only if the tide is lifting all boats, not just those docked at Mar-a-Lago. And that just isn't where America is headed now. So count me as worried about our economic prospects, and the ability of Trump to sustain a long and durable expansion left for him by his predecessor."

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

For more of NDN's work on the Democrats and Republicans' stewardship of the US economy, please review our memo, "In A New Global Age, Democrats Have Been Far Better for the US Economy, Deficits, and Incomes."

"The President Didn't Release A Budget Today" - Statement from Simon Rosenberg

“The President did not release a budget today. Budgets have income and expenditures, surpluses and deficits. This document had none of that. It only detailed the expenditure side of a small portion of the overall budget, which we will apparently not see for another two months. That it has taken the Trump Administration so long to come up with this partial proposal, and is so far behind in producing the traditional document we use to run our nation, should be a concern for all Americans. Being months late on budget blueprints and attacking the government’s system for tracking the economic impact of budgets and legislation (the CBO) is not something global markets and investors traditionally reward.

One reason it is taking so long for this White House to produce a budget is that it is almost certainly proving impossible to translate the President’s promises into a budget that will pass a fiscal laugh test. President Trump has promised to radically reduce revenue to the federal government, while significantly increasing DOD, DHS and VA spending and not touching Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Even with the draconian cuts in domestic programs the Administration offered today it is reasonable to assume that the Administration’s budget, if we are to ever see it, will propose historic increases in the federal deficit and no proven strategy for growth. The last Republican President also significantly reduced revenue and increased defense spending. It brought us a Great Recession, income decline and a ten-fold increase in the annual deficit. Why this strategy will work for President Trump when it didn’t work for President Bush is something that needs some discussion in the days ahead.

Finally, it should be noted that over the last generation of American politics it has been Democrats who have presided over job growth, rising incomes, lower annual deficits and soaring stock markets. During this time two consecutive Republican Presidents brought us recessions, income decline and higher annual deficits. When it comes to the strategy for how to make economies grow and lower deficits the public should be looking to the Democrats and not to the Party of Trump.”

- Simon Rosenberg, President, NDN

For more on the performance of the two parties since the end of the Cold War see this recent memo from NDN.

Column: Why the Return of WikiLeaks Is a Problem for Trump

In his new US News column,“Why the Return of WikiLeaks Is a Problem for Trump,” Simon argues that the new WikiLeaks release reminds us the campaign Russia is waging against the West and the US is an ongoing effort, not something that happened in the past.

An excerpt from "Why the Return of WikiLeaks Is a Problem for Trump" 

"The new Wikileaks release of sensitive CIA documents about its cyber capabilities is many things, but perhaps most importantly it is a reminder that the campaign Russia is waging against the West and the United States is an ongoing effort, not something that happened in the past.

Not only does this new release involve Wikileaks, the main outlet for Russia's stolen materials from the Clinton campaign and the DNC, but a big part of the new dump provides previously undisclosed information about the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence, the unit assigned by President Obama to respond to Russia's interference in our politics last summer.

In a normal time, Russia's re-emergence would be considered the greatest security threat to America and our traditional allies. But the Trump administration has been remarkably silent on the issue. Despite tweeting on issues ranging from the ratings of his old television show to Ivanka's businesses, the new president has not once gone to Twitter to condemn any of these Russian aggressions. Nor has he even acknowledged that Russia intervened in our politics last year (let alone condemned it) or authorized a collective response to its ongoing efforts to disrupt the politics of our most important allies in Europe.

Consider that not only has Russia taken unprecedented aggression in the homeland of the United States, but it is, right now, waging similar cyber/disinformation campaigns inside of many of our most important European allies. It has escalated its activities in Eastern Ukraine. It has broken a 30-year-old nuclear treaty with the United States, deploying new offensive nuclear capacity that threatens Europe. It has propped up the Assad regime in Syria, helping prolong the civil war there and keeping the destabilizing flow of refugees into Europe. And it is even expanding its activities in places like Afghanistan and Libya."

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.
 

Column: The 'Shackles' Are Off

In his new US News column,“The 'Shackles' Are Off,” Simon examines the dangers of Trump's new immigration policies for all Americans not just immigrants.  

Be sure to also read Simon's recent column, "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce"

An Excerpt from "The 'Shackles' Are Off"

"The details of DHS's implementation memos of the president's immigration executive orders deserve special attention. In a memo on new enforcement rules released in the past few days, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly gave his immigration officers total discretion to detain anyone without a warrant, who "in the judgment of an immigration officer ... pose a risk to public safety or national security." The memo wipes away the Obama era prioritization of criminals and recent border crossers, making every undocumented immigrant in the US a priority for deportation (which was the policy till Obama changed it in 2011).

In the daily White House briefing last week, Sean Spicer described this new authority as taking the "shackles off" DHS immigration officers, freeing them up to go round up any one they choose not burdened by Obama era priorities. Anticipating that DHS would conduct wide raids and sweeps in administration officials describe as an "enforcement surge," a second DHS memo had to put in writing that American citizens and green card holders should be released if detained. So to be clear here – the U.S. government is anticipating that DHS immigration agents will be so aggressive that it will be common for U.S. citizens to be swept up and detained in the coming months.

And we've seen this already. An entire plane full of people on a domestic U.S. flight had their IDs forcibly checked last week. Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of the famous boxer and a U.S. citizen, was detained at a U.S. airport for hours. A native-born citizen from Puerto Rica was held in custody for several days before proving his citizenship. What makes this process ever more threatening of course is that the most common American form of identification, a driver's license, does not prove citizenship or convey legal status. Neither native-born nor immigrant Americans typically walk around with their passport or birth certificate. This means that if a citizen is detained it is not easy to prove lawful presence here, and many citizens may end up being held for days. If this feels a bit Orwellian, it is."

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce

US News and World Report has published Simon's fourteenth column, "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce," in his weekly Op-Ed series that will now appear every Tuesday.

This piece was the focus of a recent interview Simon did with KJZZ 91.5, the public radio station in Phoneix, AZ.

Be sure to also read his recent column, "Has Donald Trump Already Abandoned the Fight Against the Islamic State?"

An Excerpt from "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce"

As the White House returns this week to immigration and travel bans, it would be wise for them to do a deep dive on the story of former Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce. Pearce was the legislative leader of Arizona's virulent anti-immigrant wave of a few years ago, culminating in his passing of the famous "papers please" SB1070 bill that became a model for states across the country. Pearce rode these politics hard, using it to become in 2011 the Arizona Senate president, the most powerful legislative position in Arizona.

The core of Pearce's strategy, aided by many of the same people advising Donald Trump, was to create a climate so harsh for undocumented immigrants that they would "self-deport." The anti-immigrant "restrictionists" behind this approach had moved on from seeking direct deportation of all 11 million undocumented immigrants, pragmatically realizing that the cost of direct deportation and the tolerance of Americans for what would be years of raids and broken families made deportation politically impossible. Arizona was the testing ground for this new, refined self-deportation strategy, one that at its core required the terrorizing of immigrant communities to be successful. The more fear, the faster the folks would go and the cheaper and more politically palatable this would all be. Fear, lots of fear, was (and remains) critical for self-deportation to work.

To continue reading, please refer to the US News link. You can Simon's previous US News columns here.

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