Who Makes Policy Campaign 2016 Edition

Climate Change, Global Warming, and Taxes -Oh My!!


Photo Credit: https://grist.org/election-2016/


In the article above, the state of California which I would like to say is a very pioneering state has called for taxes to be imposed on carbon pollution. The really interesting part is that they are calling for the tax to be revenue neutral.

“By returning 100% of the taxed revenue to American households, the policy blunts the rising costs of energy produced by burning fossil fuels. In fact, studies project that a majority of Americans would receive a rebate larger than their increase in energy bills; only those who use the most fossil fuel energy would see costs rise more than the rebate. It’s a policy that’s hard to dislike. It makes polluters pay, goes a long way toward tackling the immense threat of human-caused global warming, results in cleaner air and water by reducing the burning of dirty fossil fuels, and has a modestly beneficial overall economic impact.”

Everyone does not agree with these “green taxes” however, “green taxes” are seen as an incentive to lessen environmental burden and preserve the environment. The revenue generated by these taxes, if not returned back to households can also be used for other environmental preservation projects or to cut other taxes, however the return I’m sure is highly attractive to consumers. When faced with the factor that climate change can, and if not halted- will, result in the events depicted by attached U.S map, one would hope to coerce all into supporting anything that supports an environmentally sustainable future.


Policy: For Those of Us Who Are Not Politically Inclined.

You all may remember during our first lecture that I praised the book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism” based off of it’s accessibility, comprehensiveness, and ability to keep my, honestly speaking, less than politically inclined self interested. If any of you are like me, in the respect that politics do not make you warm inside but you know the worth of being informed, the sites, blogs, and podcasts that I will mention below are ones that I think you will enjoy. OPINIONS BELOW:

  1. Chuck Pierce’s http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/ blog. He’s pretty much an American politics historian, he’s also a super lefty, and pretty comical.
  2. Ed Kilgore from NY Magazine;  http://nymag.com/author/Ed%20Kilgore/ , He’s also a historian but (once again in my opinion) and always provides context for the things that we see on the news.
  3.  Heather Digby is a progressive female (Yay!) writer. http://www.salon.com/writer/heather_digby_parton/ and also at her personal blog http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/
  4.  Joy Reid on MSNBC(I forget what time her show airs)
  5.  Slate.com ’s Jamelle Bouie http://www.slate.com/authors.jamelle_bouie.html
  6. Podcasts– The Professional Left, The Majority Report, and Slate’s Political Gabfest(mainly for Emily Bazelon)

These are all a pretty lefty, but that is who I am. Happy Reading and Listening.


Nuclear Disarmament and the Currant State of US-Russia Relations

This report by Brookings is interesting, it’s also a long read and admittedly I have not been able to make it through all the way but it made me ask a question.

In light of the strained relations between the United States and Russia (and who knows what will happen come January 20th) is it even possible for a multi-lateral deal that includes Russia and the United States? Thoughts?

A Scary Thought: Will the US Military Obey Donald Trump?

This recent piece in the Huffington Post raises a rather frightening question:  Would the US Military obey the orders of current Republican nominee Donald Trump should he be elected President in November and become the Nation’s Commander in Chief?

Keep in mind all of what Mr. Trump has promised on the campaign trail that he would do as president:  Carpet-bombing cities in Syria, taking out the families of ISIS fighters, torturing detainees (doing “worse” than waterboarding) and disengaging from NATO, among other things.  Of course, as MSNBC host Joe Scarborough mentioned not to long ago, the Republican nominee mused about why the US wasn’t making use of its nuclear weapons if they have them.

People within the military have expressed concern over Mr. Trump and the possibility of having to carry out orders that range from the highly questionable to the downright illegal (under US and international law).  Whether or not they want to obey the Donald, unfortunately, they are duty bound to do as he say if he is Commander-in-Chief.  As the Post piece points out, disobedience doesn’t have a great track record, and the military tends to ultimately obey orders regardless of how questionable they are.


A Public Face of ISIS Has Been Killed.

It has been reported today by ISIS news agency Amaq that the terror group’s spokesperson, Mohammad al-Adnani, has been killed.  The outlet said in a statement that al-Adnani was killed in the midst of inspecting military operations in Aleppo.  No further information was given on the exact cause of death.

ISIS had this (admittedly insane quote) to say on this occasion:

“After a journey filled with sacrifice and fight against non-believers, the Syrian Gallant knight, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, joined the convoy of martyr leaders…to the filthy and coward non-believers and to the holders of the Christ emblem, we bring the good news, which will keep them awake, that a new generation in the Islamic State … that loves death more than life … this generation will only grow steadfast on the path to Jihad, stay determined to seek revenge and be violent toward them.”

Al-Adnani, possibly the most public face of the terrorist “caliphate”, was known for encouraging supporters in the West to carry out lone-wolf style attacks in countries joining in the US-led coalition to defeat the group, calling it a “religious duty”.  It has even been said that he was next in line to take the helm as ISIS’ leader should anything happen to current head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  A reward for $5 million had been announced by the US State Department for information leading to this “specially designated global terrorist”.

Al-Adnani’s death is the highest profile killing of an ISIS figure at this time.

Twitter/Newsletter Reccomendations

You should absolutely be following Richard Nixon (@dick_nixon) and Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) on twitter. The Nixon account is run by Justin Sherin, a New York playwright, who has spent hours and hours immersed in tapes, books, and videos of the late president. He offers a historical perspective on current events and inserts vintage Nixon humor and brilliance into every tweet.


Bomani Jones is a sports talk radio host, ESPN TV personality, and journalist. He is my favorite follow on twitter and presents insightful views on sports, race, economics, politics, and current events.

The Hill, Roll Call, and POLITICO all offer specialized newsletters sent to your inbox daily. They send concise summaries of all the news and happenings on a number of issues and are helpful to stay current on the issues that we “own” this semester.

The Battle for Mosul

Be on the lookout for a major battle against ISIL in Iraq starting in October. Mosul has been under ISIL control since June 2014 and now US backed Iraqi forces are inching near the major city. “The military offensive, months in the planning, is now tentatively scheduled to begin sometime in early October, with a final battle for Mosul coming at the end of that month.” The battle will be waged by a band of fighters comprised of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, the Peshmerga (Kurdish warriors) and Iraqi Security Forces. All of these groups are receiving support from the United States to the chagrin of our Iraqi and Turkish allies. Long story short, these three groups do not like each other and have all been accused of human rights abuses. But they are all against ISIL and that’s good enough for Washington. It goes without saying, but it will be interesting to see if this makeshift political alliance will be successful and how the groups will get along after the battle.

The Universal Hatred Uniting the Parties in An Election Year

The 2016 election cycle has seen few if any instances where the Republican and the Democratic parties agree on anything. In fact, their policy positions and views of America are so different that Time magazine published a piece after the party conventions titled In Two Clashing Conventions, a Clear Choice for the Nation. In the piece author Alex Altman characterized the difference between the two views by noting that “for four days in Cleveland, Republicans painted images of a country beset by crime, besieged by violent visitors and led by political elites who are either too stupid or corrupt to diagnose the problem.” He went on to say that the Democratic party “…responded to Trump’s despair with defiance. ‘We do not scare easily,’ Vice President Joe Biden declared in one of the week’s best speeches. ‘We never bow, we never bend, we never break when confronted with crisis. No, we endure, we overcome and we always, always, always move forward.'” The point is not that that one side is right and the other is wrong; it is the fact that there seems to be a substantial difference in worldviews between the parties.

The partisan divide is so wide that research by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center concluded that “the 2016 campaign is unfolding against a backdrop of intense partisan division and animosity…For the first time in surveys dating to 1992, majorities in both parties express not just unfavorable but very unfavorable views of the other party. And today, sizable shares of both Democrats and Republicans say the other party stirs feelings of not just frustration, but fear and anger.” This is precisely why it’s hard to believe that the parties have found an issue to rally around, but they have. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, a 12 nation free trade agreement, has provided the very issue that both parties seem to be unified in defeating. Just this last Friday Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., praised Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for promising to not let the agreement move forward for a vote during the “lame duck” session of Congress following the November election. If McConnell holds to his word, it could mean the death of this agreement. So why has this agreement engendered so much hate and cooperation from the usual rivals? The truth is that I’m not sure since most Americans are not aware of what is in the agreement, to begin with. As I began to have conversations about the agreement with many around me, I found that most believe the agreement is still a secret. I also found that despite the lack of knowledge about the agreement, most seem to believe it’s a bad one. So what is the TPP?

The 12 nations making up the free-trade zone are the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada, Mexico, and Japan. The agreement aims to eliminate many of the taxes, fees, embargoes, tariffs, and subsidies that currently exist on American goods entering some of those 12 nations and vice versa. The Obama administration hopes that the agreement will boost trade and create the kind of favorable economic conditions which can jumpstart the struggling American manufacturing sector. There is a sense that much of the negative press that the agreement has received over the last year has been due to the fact that the negotiations were conducted in complete secrecy. But, as President Obama promised a year ago, the full text of the agreement and the government’s assessment of its benefits can now be read in its entirety. To do so one just has to visit any of the following websites.

TPP Full Text

TPP Issue-by-Issue Information Center

USITC Releases Report Concerning the Likely Impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement

It is important to understand what the agreement is, who it impacts, and how before we begin discussing whether or not it is a positive or negative agreement.



Understanding the Middle East

New York Times Magazine posted “Fractured Lands” to their website a few weeks ago. This extensive piece takes a look at the region and the underlying causes of the conflicts that we see today in countries like Syria and Iraq. The piece, at over 40,000 words, is massive (full disclosure: I’ve been reading it since it was posted and have read about half of it) but necessary if we want to begin to understand the conflicts that are concerning heads of state all over the world.

I just wanted to draw everyone’s attention to it because I think it’s critical to analyzing the region and I’d be interested to see what you all think of it. It’s important to keep in mind a few questions while reading. Mainly, what influence can the American military have in solving these conflicts? Obama has been notoriously “hands off” in his approach to Syrian conflict. What role, if any, should the United States play in solving foreign conflicts? Does the war in Syria threaten our national security so severely that we must act militarily to solve it?

For what it’s worth, my own analysis is that the time has come for us to intervene. Granted hindsight is 20/20, but I’m guessing that Obama is regretting not intervening in 2013 when there was evidence that the monster Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people (1,500 people have died in Syrian chemical attacks since the war began five years ago).

I know America cannot solve the worlds problems. I know that it is not wise to intervene in foreign conflicts without a political solution in place (and in the Middle East, where tribalism reigns supreme, that is extraordinarily difficult). Secretary of State John Kerry has been working tirelessly with the Russians to reach some sort of agreement that would allow with a “path forward” for peace. I just honestly think the time has come where American force is needed to end this conflict once and for all. The death toll is reaching 500,000, a migrant crisis is crippling the European Union, and ISIL (despite having some major recent setbacks on the battlefield) is a force we need to take seriously. Enough is enough.

What does Trump’s stance on deportation mean for the U.S economy?

A major theme in Donald J. trump’s immigration reform policy is his proposal to remove 11.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

A report by Moody’s Analytics predicts that “the economy will suffer as Mr. Trump’s deportation policy acts like a negative supply shock, requiring millions of undocumented immigrants to leave the country and resulting in a reduction in the size of the labor force.

The deportation of 11.3 million undocumented immigrants will also have significant negative demand side impact on the economy as the purchasing power of these immigrants also 
leaves the country.

As undocumented immigrants leave the country; the labor market will tighten with the contracting labor force. Labor costs will skyrocket as employers struggle to fill the open job positions.

Recent research has shown that native U.S. workers are imperfect substitutes for immigrants due to different occupation choices and skills. For example, where undocumented immigrants work as manual laborers in agriculture, it is unlikely that many natives are interested in performing these labor-intensive jobs even at modestly higher wages. It is even the case that farms that struggle due to labor shortages may prompt native job losses in upstream and downstream industries.

Mr. Trump’s immigration policies will thus result in fewer jobs, potentially severe labor shortages, and higher labor costs. This will also ultimately cause businesses to more aggressively raise prices for their products.”