November 18, 2017—With the Trump administration and its Republican allies across the country unable to shake themselves from our civilization's carbon nightmare, others are forging ahead. Tesla Corporation has now unveiled its latest contribution to sustainable transportation: a fully electric 18-wheeler with a 400-mile capacity battery that can be charged in a half-hour. The truck sports faster acceleration and better hill-climbing capacity than today's deisel models.
November 17, 2017—Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both lambasted U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multi-national trade pact championed by President Obama. The Trump administration has withdrawn from the treaty negotiations, but other participants, including Australia and Japan, have forged ahead. Earlier this month 11 countries agreed to the basic outlines of a treaty which will have to be ratified by each of those nations' governments. While many on the left opposed the TPP and other such agreements, others caution that the U.S. will lose economic gain as well as political and cultural leverage in staying outside the pact.
November 16, 2016—Thoughtful observers have had a chance to digest the Senate version of a Republican tax "reform" unveiled last week, and the verdict is in. The plan will add $1.5 trillion to a federal debt that is already too large; it will raise taxes for many middle- and working-class families; and it will do little or nothing to spur economic growth. It's chief function will be to place more resources in the hands of the idle rich, further exacerbating the increasing level of inequality in American society. Just as troubling, many are concerned that the projected deficits will soon be used as a pretext to attack vital government services like Medicare and Social Security. The New York Times column by Thomas Edsall ("Story at"), one of the most astute and thorough commentators on social democracy priorities, discusses the House version, but the basic outlines are the same as the Senate plan. In the Washington Post piece, former treasury secretary Robert Rubin pinpoints the five greatest dangers of the proposals to a cohesive and well-functioning nation.
November 16, 2017—We realize that "dog bites man" is not news. Nor is "Trump lied." We could not resist, however, passing along this bit of analysis from the Washington Post: 1,618 false or misleading statements in less than 300 days, or roughly 5.5 per day.
November 15, 2017—The Guardian offers an update on the presidency of Emanuel Macron, now in its sixth month. Measure's taken by the centrist social democrat to create what he considers a more eonomically viable France, particularly his government's revision of France's highly restrictive employment code, have not been an easy sell to the French left. Tilts to the right, with lower taxes on wealth and a minor adjustment in housing credits, though largely symbolic, have given Macron's political enemies plenty of easy fodder and frankly puzzled The Social Democrat. Macron's government has promised a major inititiative aimed at connecting French citizens with employment opportunities, through training and apprenticeships, early in 2018. The Social Democrat eagerly awaits the contours of an effort that should be at the core of any social democratic government.
November 15, 2017—Someone once said that though the cost of living keeps going up, it remains popular. Something similar can be said today of the Affordable Care Act. Despite the best efforts of the Accidental President to permanently disable it, with the enrollment period cut in half, a negligible marketing effort and, most importantly, the withholding of cost-sharing subsidies, this year's enrollment figures are on target to best last year's by a wide margin. Will this put an end to Trumpian rhetoric about a death spiral? Of course not.
November 12, 2017—The Accidental President is moving aggressively to fill federal judgeships held vacant in the final two years of the Obama administration by a contrarian Senate. Working rapidly with the Republican-controlled Senate, Trump is on pace to invest with lifetime tenure a record number of what the New York Times calls "a particularly conservative group of judges." These judges will make their mark on legal matters as diverse as gerrymandering, the rights of criminal defendants and abortion law. If Social Democracy can ever recover in America, there will be much damage to undo.
November 12, 2017—The 23rd "Conference of the Parties" (COP), the annual event at which world leaders meet to confront human-induced climate change, is in progress in Bonn, the Federal Republic of Germany. This year's focus will be on achieving greater transparency in efforts by signatory nations, which include every country in the world except the U.S., to curb the emission of greenhouse gases. Though all signatories have made pledges to reduce emissions, cooperation is voluntary and processes are in many cases lacking in the transparency that would permit outside evaluation. The U.S., which in spite of the Accidental President's notification of U.S. withdrawal cannot formally abandon the treaty until 2020, has sent a delegation to the conference. It's dubious orders: to convince other nations to continue burning fossil fuels. Meanwhile a host of Democratic pols, from mayors to senators to governors, are working on the margins of the conference to convince delegates not to rule out future U.S. participation.
November 10, 2017—A little more than a week after House Republicans unveiled their tax blueprint, their co-partisans in the Senate have offered their own version. Major differences with the House version include maintaining the home mortgage interest deduction on houses worth up to $1 million (as opposed to $500,000 in the House bill), a larger deduction for small businesses, and a larger child tax credit. Both bills cut the rate on corporate profits from 35 to 20 percent, and both versions eliminate deductions for state and local taxes—a provision that will hurt those states, chiefly Democratic, with activist governments. Both bills envision adding nearly $1.5 trillion to the nation's debt over 10 years. A Reuters "Factbox" outlines the key differences between the House and Senate measures.
November 9, 2017—Denver's Inititiative 300, which requires large buildings constructed in the city to install rooftops gardens, potentially in combination with solar panels, has been approved by voters. The city of Denver is characterized by one of the nation's worst "heat island" effects; the rooftop vegetation legislated by the initiative will help counter the problem. The vegetation will have the added benefit of absorbing CO2, the most prevalent planet-warming greenhouse gas.
November 8, 2017—Democrats wracked up major gains in yesterday's off-year elections, winning governors' seats in Virginia and New Jersey, adding 7 seats in the still Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates, and flipping the general assembly of Washington State to the blue column, solidifying a phalanx of Democratic control up and down the entire West Coast. In another gain for social democracy, Maine voters approved a referendum measure to accept the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which will expand healthcare access for the state's low-income residents. Some observers are already calling a shift in the nation's political landscape (and here).
November 7, 2017—Democrats will be hoping to score some gains in Tuesday elections, most especially in governor's races in Virgina and New Jersey, but also in Washington State, where the turn of a single seat could result in a phalanx of Democrat-controlled state governments up and down the West Coast.
November 2, 2017—In an ongoing effort to clarify the party's positions, congressional Democrats today released a set of proposals in support of union labor. Their goals include insuring that government employees continue to enjoy the same rights to organize as private employees, a ban on the permanent replacement of striking workers, restrictions of management campaigns to discourage unionization and, most significantly, a ban on so-called "right to work" laws.
November 2, 2017—The House of Representatives today fired their opening salvo in a bid to drastically restructure the U.S. tax code in favor of business and the wealthy. Chief provisions lower the rate on corporate profits from 35 to 20 percent, eliminate inheritance taxes and reduce the current number of individual income tax brackets from 7 to 3, with the highest marginal rate of 39% applied only to income over $1 million, as opposed to one-half million currently. A substantially higher standard deduction will mean lower tax bills for many middle-class families, but the loss of personal exemptions and the mortgage interest and state and local taxes deductions will cause the taxes of others to rise. In contradiction to Republicans' perennial demands for a balanced budget, the plan would add $1.5 trillion to the U.S. government's debt in 10 years. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi correctly stated that "if you're the wealthiest 1 percent, Repbulicans will give you the sun, the moon and the stars, all of that at the expense of the great middle class." The bill will undergo extensive revisions, most likely, before being passed in the House, and will then need to be reconciled to a still-develping Senate measure. The plan is broken down in a Washington Post article and with a set of charts in the New York Times.
November 3, 2017—The House of Representatives on Friday voted to continue funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. Democrats vow to fight the measure in the Senate, however, due to added provisions which adversely affect Medicare and ACA clients. The program insures access to healtcare for some 9 million American children.