What Biden Would Mean for Russia

Joe Biden
American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech on board the USS Freedom in Singapore, July 27, 2013 (USN/Karolina A. Oseguera)

With Joe Biden favored to win the American presidential election in November, Vladimir Putin’s days of comfort may be coming to an end.

Unlike Donald Trump, who has coddled the Russian leader, accepted his denials of 2016 election interference and lifted sanctions on Putin ally Oleg Deripaska, an oligarch who funded pro-Russian political parties in Ukraine (which were advised by later Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort), the Democrat considers Putin a “thug”, a “dictator” and a threat to “the foundations of Western democracy.”

Unlike Trump, who has given up America’s power to shame, Biden insists America should lead “not just by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.” Read more “What Biden Would Mean for Russia”

What Biden Wants

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 4 (Phil Roeder)

Joe Biden could become the most progressive president of the United States since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

That might sound odd after he was declared a “centrist” and the “establishment” candidate in the Democratic primaries.

The former vice president isn’t as left-wing as some of his former rivals, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. He doesn’t want to break up big tech, defund the police, forgive all student loans or nationalize health insurance.

But the whole Democratic Party has moved to the left and Biden has moved with it. He has involved Democrats and allies from the left to the center, including environmental and minority rights groups, gun control advocates and trade unions, in drafting his program. Left-wing congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez helped write his climate policy. Biden incorporated Senator Cory Booker’s proposal to tie federal funding to looser building codes in his housing plan.

The result is that Biden has buy-in from across the Democratic coalition, which — provided the party wins not just the presidency but the Senate in November — means his plans stand a good chance of becoming reality. Read more “What Biden Wants”

Biden’s Housing Plan Emulates Europe

Seattle Washington
Homes in Seattle, Washington, April 21, 2011 (Harold Hollingsworth)

One of the areas in which I think America should emulate Northwestern Europe is housing.

Stagnant wages, restrictive building codes and underinvestment in construction have caused home prices to rise faster than wages in eight out of ten metro areas in the United States.

Young Americans are one-third less likely to own a home at this point in their lives than their parents and grandparents, delaying their wealth accumulation and possibly family formation. Among young black Americans, homeownership has fallen to its lowest in more than sixty years. Americans of all ages are less likely to move, which has contributed to a decline in social mobility and an increase in regional inequality.

I like the Dutch system, which is a combination of government-built social housing rented out at below-market prices and rental subsidies, which can reach up to a third of the average private rent, and for which about one in five households qualify.

Turns out that’s close to Joe Biden’s plan. Read more “Biden’s Housing Plan Emulates Europe”

Democratic Primary News

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech in Des Moines, Iowa, January 4 (Phil Roeder)
  • Joe Biden has become the presumptive Democratic nominee.
  • Bernie Sanders and Tulsi Gabbard, his last two opponents, have ended their campaigns and endorsed the former vice president.
  • So have Barack Obama, the former president, and Elizabeth Warren, another former rival. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Biden Is Not a Centrist

Joe Biden
American vice president Joe Biden gives a speech on board the USS Freedom in Singapore, July 27, 2013 (USN/Karolina A. Oseguera)

Media reports commonly describe American presidential candidate Joe Biden as a “centrist”. He’s not.

Michael Bloomberg is a centrist. Biden may be moderate compared to his Democratic rival, Bernie Sanders. But compared to the more likely alternative, Donald Trump, Biden is decidedly center-left.

This is not just semantics. If a centrist wins the Democratic nomination, some of Sanders’ supporters may be reluctant to vote for him. A center-left candidate, which Biden is, deserves their support. Read more “Biden Is Not a Centrist”

Democratic Primary News

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8, 2019 (Gage Skidmore)

Joe Biden is now the clear frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in the United States.

  • Delegates: Biden has won 642 pledged delegates against 566 for Bernie Sanders so far. 1,991 are needed to win the nomination outright.
  • States: Biden won ten of the fourteen states that held primaries on “Super Tuesday” and he is polling in first place in Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri, which vote next Tuesday. Sanders is ahead in Washington state.
  • Popular support: Biden’s national support has shot up from under 20 percent to an average of 34 percent since he won the South Carolina primary a week ago.
  • Party support: Sixty more prominent Democrats have endorsed Biden in the wake of his South Carolina victory.
  • Competitors: All other major candidates have quit, most recently Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

Democratic Primary News

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa, July 4, 2019 (Gage Skidmore)
  • Joe Biden has risen in the South Carolina polls seemingly at the expense of the other center-left candidates.
  • Biden has also taken a commanding lead in the endorsement primary, most recently winning the support of South Carolina’s most prominent Democrat: Congressman James Clyburn.
  • Bernie Sanders has far less support from party officials, but he has won the endorsement of New York mayor Bill de Blasio, himself briefly a 2020 hopeful.
  • Biden needs a win in South Carolina, where one in six Democratic voters are black, to breathe new life into his campaign.
  • Sanders is wildly popular in California, the largest state to vote on Super Tuesday, March 3, but Biden leads in the few polls that have been conducted in Florida and Georgia. In North Carolina, Texas and Virginia, Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Sanders are neck and neck.
  • Bloomberg won’t be on the ballot in South Carolina. Read more “Democratic Primary News”

My Take on the Democratic Primary

I learned in 2016 not to make predictions. First Brexit happened. Then Donald Trump won the American presidential election. I didn’t expect either. Indeed, I went so far as to urge Republicans in the United States to purge Trump’s nativists from their party after what I was sure would be his defeat.

I allowed my own biases to reject what the polls showed to be very real possibilities. Rather than improve my predictions and try harder to be neutral, my resolution has been to prioritize analysis of what is happening over what could happen and own up to my biases, sometimes explicitly, so you can better make up your mind. This is an opinion blog, after all, not a newspaper.

To that end, I’m giving you my take on the Democratic presidential primaries, which kick off in Iowa on February 3. I don’t think I’m a partisan for any candidate, but my thoughts and feelings about them probably inform everything I write about the election. Best then to share them.

I’m excluding Michael Bennet, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang. All are polling under 4 percent nationally and far below the 15 percent support needed to win delegates in Iowa. Read more “My Take on the Democratic Primary”

The Underestimated Joe Biden

Nguyễn Phú Trọng Joe Biden
American vice president Joe Biden listens as Nguyễn Phú Trọng, the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, makes a speech in Washington DC, July 7, 2015 (State Department)

Former vice president Joe Biden has consistently led the polls, with 25 to 30 percent popular support, as well as the endorsement primary, which tracks support from prominent party members, for the Democratic presidential nomination in the United States.

The only other candidate with such a solid base is Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, but his support is under 20 percent and few elected and party officials back him.

So why are we treating Sanders’ supporters as true believers and Biden’s, as Jonathan V. Last puts it, as “just a group of voters who haven’t abandoned him yet”? Read more “The Underestimated Joe Biden”

Romney-to-Clinton Voters Prefer Biden

Joe Biden
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa, August 8 (Gage Skidmore)

In the six states that could decide the outcome of the 2020 election in America, Joe Biden outpolls his Democratic rivals, in particular among minority voters and white voters with a college degree.

The New York Times reports that middle-income voters in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin prefer the relatively centrist former vice president over the more left-wing Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The head-to-head figures against Donald Trump are mostly within the margin of error and probably not predictive a year out from the election.

But they do give Democratic primary voters vital information as they make up their minds about whom to nominate. Read more “Romney-to-Clinton Voters Prefer Biden”