CoakleymugStill the formidable force in the 2014 MA Gov. race, Martha Coakley joins us. Of course, we’ll get her to differentiate herself from the other Dems…and likely the other candidates. We may even elicit a few thoughts on the Republicans and their platform.

AG Coakley has a high profile, is well known in the commonwealth as well as respected for her current role. She could become the first woman elected to the position.

We’ll discuss her detailed and wide-ranging platform. She puts herself forward in all the big areas.

If you can join us live, do it Friday, April 25th, at 2:30 PM here. Afterward, you can listen on demand or download her show at that show URL, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page.

Just the two of us had fun today, talking:

  • Mozilla’s Brendan Eich and 1st Amendment
  • Cliven Bundy’s melodramatic victim shtick
  • Bernie Saunders in the 2016 Dem primary mix

We were simultaneously amused and appalled but not surprised that wingers screen about Eich and Bundy. Listen in as we describe how the 1st Amendment worked for everyone in the Eich matter and how Bundy is a dull-witted cheat gaming the system.

Ryan felt particularly strongly about how Sen. Saunders may enter the Dem primary race for President, instead of running as an independent. The ghost of Ralph Nader likely costing Dem’s Florida and thus the 2000 Presidential race by diluting left and independent votes loom in memory.

We agree that Saunders is a solid progressive (self-defined as a democratic socialist, although he caucuses and voted Dem) and with solid ideas. Ryan sees his candidacy as likely pushing the party platform left. He figures Hillary Clinton would win the nomination but then be committed to more left-progressive positions she’d have to pursue as President.

icon for podpress  Eich and Saunders: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Well, boys and girls, we get a break from the asininity of wingers screaming about Colbert, Obamacare and such. The two usual suspects, Ryan and Mike, kick around two subjects this week. Did Mozilla’s CEO Brandan Eich get screwed into resigning for his pro-Prop 8 contribution fairly or unfairly. The other card on our bill is what would a Bernie Sanders run for the 2016 President race mean?

Firefox logo parodyThe affair Eich is rife with naivety, vanity, and a dollop of First Amendment blindness. Sure, he was out of sync with the libertarian geek Firefox community, but, but, but…

Sanders, Vermont’s self-described democratic socialist US Senator, seems ready to declare for 2016. If he does, he won’t expect to win. We’ll discuss what he’ll want, like forcing the wishy-washy Dems to take real positions.

If you can join us live, do so here Thursday, April 17th, at 2:30 PM Eastern. Afterward, you can hear or download the show at that URL, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page.

The Roberts version of the SCOTUS slammed good-government types hard, first with Citizens United and now with McCutcheon v. FEC. Today the Sunlight Foundation’s Lisa Rosenberg (government-affairs consultant) gave me some perspective…and hope. Lisa Rosenberg

Homework note: Get with the program. The 94-page McCutcheon decision is an easy, if infuriating, read. Chief Justice Roberts writes for a four-justice plurality and Justice Thomas adds a five-page concurrence reading basically that the decision didn’t go far enough in freeing money in politics. Then in a lengthy dissent, Justice Breyer writes for the other four with data, case law, and reasons why the decision is addlepated (not his word, but he used fatally flawed). At the least, read the dissent to arm yourself for coming discussions.

She spoke of how she and others in the reform community were not at all surprised by McCutcheon. She views Roberts as a very activist judge with a real agenda to scrap campaign-finance controls. “He has not shown any restraint” on the subject.

Not only did the recent decision overrule considerable case law, Roberts does not seem to understand how politics and campaign finance work, Rosenberg said. For one example, he believes that large political contributions are transmitted to the FEC almost immediately, instead of being handed to the Senate, which eventually produces paper reports that the FEC staff hand types into a database. Perhaps more important, as so clearly delineated in the dissenting opinion, Roberts does not see how wealthy donors, candidates and parties can get around the few existing limits on contributions.

Rosenberg attributes Roberts’ attitudes more to naivete than malice. Moreover, his decision narrowing corruption to quid pro quo instead of buying access and influence will likely lead to increased outrage by the public. She noted that when there is so much money in politics, scandals that fit under Roberts’ naive definition are bound to follow. That likely would catalyze reform.

Listen in as she describes the problems and setbacks. She also sees a future toward a less corrupt system. A first step will be toward transparency in the donation process. She cited the real-time transparency bill that the Sunlight Foundation worked with U.S. Sen. Angus King (ME) to introduce. In the House, Beto O’Rourke of Texas sponsored it as well. This would report huge contributions in hours instead of weeks or months.

That’s not a total solution, rather a step toward correction. She urges people to call and write their Congress folk to support it and pass it as soon as possible.

Following McCutchen, she said responses to billionaires buying influence in elections include voters:

  • Voters can call their Representatives and Senators
  • Groups can gather up many smaller contributions to offset the mega-donations
  • Media can report on contributions

Rosenberg fears that some voters will view the combination of Citizens and McCutcheon with cynicism, as though there is no reason to vote or give that $25 to their candidate or cause. However, she also thinks that Republicans may be surprised at the broader effects. They seem to assume that most of the huge donations will flow to them. She sees leftwingers mobilizing their own wealthy to offset this. While the ideal solution would be to get corrupting cash out of electoral politics, balancing sides while legislation catches up should help.

Listen in as she describes the dire situation, the likelihood of the SCOTUS continuing in this line, and what we can do about it. We start with pushing transparency — “the last remaining tool for the rest of us.”


icon for podpress  Money Screams [29:59m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

The shocks keep slamming. Yes, Citizens United skewered democracy and fairness and reason. Now McCutcheon picks the bones of campaign-finance sanity.

Lisa RosenbergNext Tuesday, earlier than normal, we’ll be talking what is free speech, the power of dollars in elections, and voter options. Our guest will be Lisa Rosenberg, government affairs consultant for the Sunlight Foundation. She has been the lead in tracking these trends there. We’ll get into the one-two body slams, what we can expect and what we can do.

If you can join us live, click here at 1 PM Eastern Tuesday, April 8th. Afterward, her show will be available at that URL, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page.

Hey, you want an absolute, definitive answer on the total effects of raising the minimum wage? You’re not going to get it.

There are lots of stats and opinions floating, some in very thin air. However, you can turn to the US Department of Labor for what the federal and states’ laws are. A better view was in the Dec. Atlantic in Jordan Weissmann’s overview of research and conclusions on the subject,

Today, we kicked around the trends and what we should do. As no surprise to regular listeners, we think it is economically as well as morally right to go up to $10-plus an hour, striving to bring it to an inflation-adjusted 1960s minimum wage. States and countries with higher minimums than our federal $7.75/hour and even guaranteed living wages, as numerous of our Presidents have called for, thrive and have low unemployment. We can easily point here and there and there.

Ryan also spoke of the tepid MA House wage plan (not inflation indexed and demanding reduced unemployment benefits), the pretty good MA Senate version, and a ballot initiative in the works from Raise Up Massachusetts. That group want $10.50/hour. The way our laws work, an initiative with enough sigs becomes a bill for the legislature and if not passed, goes to the ballot. Ryan figures one way or another, this has a good shot.

Listen in as we talk about wages — realities, myths, benefits — productivity and management.

icon for podpress  Minimum wage [31:07m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Mark FisherSmall business owner, erstwhile unemployed guy, and self-identified MA Tea Party Republican Mark Fisher wants to be governor here. He spoke with me today about his vision of what government should and should not be about.

On his campaign site, he details his planks. There and personally, he makes no bones about being a full-platform MA Republican. That is, you can hold him personally accountable for the planks in the recent MA GOP version. (You can see it courtesy of RedMassGroup here; the party does not openly publicize it.)

Click below to listen in to Fisher’s positions. He starts, like the famous the-rents-too-damned-high guy, with the call on the front of his own site, “NO TOLLS.” That is one of his political and moral certainties. He says the MA Pike has been paid for since over 30 years ago, the ads and service area fees pay for road maintenance, so the tolls should go away. Moreover, both the sales-tax and income-tax hikes, billed as temporary, need to each return to 5% as the voters chose. He sees all three as moral issues — “If we can’t trust our government,” he said, “there’s no use talking about anything else.”

I had thought we’d mix it up on health-care. I asked him about it when he appeared recently at a Rappaport Center round table. He claimed that the solution to health-case cost hikes was to let the free market settle it, that said free market had not gotten its chance to work fully. I contended and still do that deregulation from the Weld administration permitted wild capitalism at its worst by the large providers, leading to regional monopolies and price inelasticity. When we got to that near the end of today’s half hour, he deflated me by not disagreeing. He still contends that letting providers across state lines offer various policies in the style of auto insurers would drive down prices, but he agreed that the likes of Partners gobbling up hospitals and doctor groups created regional monopolies.

Fisher drew in his company, Merchant’s Fabrication, with its 7 employees. He spoke of his travails in keeping health care affordable to them, particularly in light of not even being able to get competitive quotes from providers because he pays 100% of this employees’ deductible.

We were farther apart on areas like marriage equality. His Tea Party mind has it that the resolutions to such conflicts need “to be settled in culture.” Of course, he’s down on what he calls activist judges legislating from the bench. You can listen in as he points to the likes of the Boy Scouts easing off on their anti-gay policies as these forces came to bear.

Listen in as he differentiates himself specifically from Charlie Baker. He also feels sanguine headed into this weekend’s MA GOP convention. He has to have 15% of the delegates voting for him to get on the primary ballot. He recognizes that many delegates around the state don’t want to spend the time and money for the convention (Boston this time), but his people have called the delegates and he feels sure he has plenty of votes.

Double Baker note: Fisher has been asking the Baker campaign for a debate. Today, Fisher said that’s not going to happen before the GOP convention because the other camp refuses. Also, Baker’s people are the only gubernatorial hopefuls’ that have not agreed to speak with us. Check our posts and archives for all the others, except Martha Coakley, and her people have scheduled a show with us for next month.

icon for podpress  Mark Fisher [30:48m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Mark FisherFrom the GOP mug with an obvious tea-bag tag he carries, Mark Fisher does not hide his Republican or Tea Party leanings. In fact, he is quick to call himself a full-platform believer in both the MA party and a TP believer.

He’ll join us next Tuesday to stake out and define his turf. We’ll ask about the larger race for MA governor, as well as the closer Republican primary. He is not shy about, well, about anything. You can prime yourself with a visit to his campaign site.

To hear him live, go here Tuesday, March 18th, at 2:30 PM Eastern. Afterward his show will be available to hear or download at the show link, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page.

Falchuk’s Big Fat Populist Vision

March 11, 2014 | Comments Off

Evan Falchuk mugEvan Falchuk seems intent on taking the sport out of MA politics. Like weather talk, bemoaning the shortcomings of Dems and then Republicans is our MA sport without colorful hats and jerseys. He is confident that his new political party will shut your mouth.

Click below to listen in to his vision of the United Independent Party that is at once synonymous with Falchuk and then is is vision of the new commonwealth political order. He starts with the cliché about not having to vote for the lesser of two evils, then zooms into specific details on what he and the UIP would do differently.

You can also check his ideas and platform at his Rappaport roundtable presentation, on his campaign site, and on my commentary at Marry in Massachusetts.

Falchuk is a big vision guy. That includes:

  • Healthcare — squelching the monopolies created that drive up costs and give patients no choices
  • Taxes — repealing the 1915 commonwealth constitutional amendment mandating a flat tax, setting up a commission to define what makes sense heading to progressive tax regs
  • Infrastructure — similar to taxes, defining what makes sense for the next three or four decades and working toward that instead of patch, patch, patch
  • Economic growth — building for more citizens as well as more jobs, while doing what’s necessary to foster health of small and medium businesses

Falchuk also has plans beyond this election. He sees the UIP fielding candidates at multiple levels in MA. He certainly figures he’ll have the resources for this gubernatorial run. He claims to have hundreds of passionate volunteers augmenting his staff, and a vigorous fund-raising effort, including his personal $2 million contribution.


icon for podpress  Evan Falchuk [31:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Evan FalchukFalchuk? United Independent Party?

It’s time you got with the program. Running headlong in the hunt for MA governor is Evan Falchuk. He has strong platform planks and a great conviction that voters here don’t want a Dem or GOP top exec this time. You can get a sense of his positions in my blog post here.

He joins us Tuesday, March 11 at 2:30 PM Eastern and you can go here then if you want to hear him live. Afterward, his show will be available at that URL, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page to hear or download.

We’ll talk his populism, his planks and his strategy.