Rob Shapiro

Team NDN on Larry King, MSNBC, Fox - Fighting It Out on the Airwaves

Just as the national debate heats up, the NDN team is stepping up, taking our arguments to the airwaves at an impressive rate. 

Last Friday Rob was on CNBC, I was on Fox and Alicia on Dylan Ratigan's MSNBC show.  Yesterday Rob was on Fox, and today he appeared on both the BBC and CNBC.  Tonight Alicia returns to Larry King, and tomorrow I will be on Fox in the afternoon.   All in all it will be eight appearances in just four days, on all three cable networks, and even a spot on the venerable Larry King.

And our economic policy analyst Jake Berliner has also begun to get in rotation, and is doing a particularly good job. 

I am very proud of the air time the NDN is getting.  At a time of national struggle, it is critical that mature, modern voices take the to airwaves, and engage in the critical debate about our future now playing out 24/7 on cable news.  Our team keeps getting invited back because we have something to say, are not afraid of the fight, and stick to our guns. 

And be sure to catch Alicia tonight on Larry King talking about the important AZ and FL primaries, and the broader lay of the land.   I will be Fox at 230pm tomorrow.  And look for more to come....

Wed AM Update - Will be on Fox today around 230.  If you see it would love your feedback.

13 Days - NDNer on National TV 13 Days in A Row

Alicia's appearances yesterday on Fox and Friends and MSNBC marked the 13th day in a row an NDNer had appeared on a national television news show.  During that time we have discussed just about every major topic out there - from health care to the economy to the census and immigration.  Many of this appearances have been by our rising star, Alicia Menendez, but we have also seen Andres Ramirez, Rob Shapiro and I on a variety of different programs.  Andres even found time to appear in Spanish on La Casa Blanca this past Sunday.

I am proud that at this time of great national debate about our future the NDN team has stepped up to this degree.  If you see us on the tube let us know how we are doing, and what we might be able to do better.  And congrats again to the entire NDN team for this remarkable accomplishment. 

Senators Bennett, Vitter Escalate Their Attack on the Census, Reapportionment

Christina Bellantoni at Talking Points Memo has a must read piece up on the new Bennett Vitter Census Amendment.   It includes a must watch video of Senator Bennett making the case for his amendment. 

Whatever one thinks of the idea of adding another question to the census short form at this very late point in the process, focus must be put on Bennett's stated intent - to count the undocumented immigrants in the U.S. so as to deny their use in the upcoming, every ten year reapportionment process. 

This new Bennett led effort seems to be, among many other things, a direct legal and political assault on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed

The 14th Amendment was designed, of course, to correct the infamous "three-fifths" clause in the original Constitution, which relegated a class of people to be something much less than the rest of us.  It is extraordinary that in the first year of the Presidency of the first African-American President the Senate is seriously considering an amendment which so directly challenges the integrity of the 140 year old legal framework which enabled, for example, Michelle Obama's family to move from slave, to free, and today, to the White House.

There are rumors afoot today that some Democratic Senators and moderate Republicans are considering joining with Bennett and Vitter on this amendment next week, giving them enough votes to pass it.  Before they do they and their staffs better do their homework, and come to a better understanding of the real intent behind this seemingly innocent legislation - to attack the legal framework of the modern civil rights era, to discourage immigrants from participating in the census itself, and to launch a divisive and racially charged campaign over who we are today, and who are becoming.

As I wrote in an essay a few weeks ago, Waking Up to the Coming Battle over the Census, the Republican assault on the census and reapportionment will not end next week even if the Bennett-Vitter Amendment is voted down.  This is going to be a titantic battle, next year and throughout the two year long reapportionment process.  My essay looks at a recent WSJ op-ed which layed out the logic of this fight, which, included, incredibly a reference to the intent of the original Constitution, which of course had been, let us say, not so good on these matters of race and has needed some significant improving.  Our own Rob Shapiro, who helped oversee the preperation of the last census, also weighed in last week with his own take on all this.

Those who have a role in ensuring a fair and accurate census and reapportionment need to begin engaging now in this fight, and not allow the other side to score early and significant victories before every one has their teams and plans together.  The battle has been joined, and it is time to jump in, hard.   

One of the best ways of course the nation has to neutralize this effort will be to pass immigration reform next year, giving the undocumenteds legal status, and thus rendering Bennett, Vitter and all their soon to be vociferous allies mute.

Here's the video of Senator Bennett making his case:

More Enlightened Leadership from South Carolina Republicans

The Huff Po writes about the angry, and ignorant, cry from Rep. Joe Wilson tonight. 

Update: Daily Kos has the video clip in case you missed it. 

For those of us working on the immigration issue these last few years we are not really surprised by this outburst.  There has been perhaps no greater area of collective Republican nuttiness in the past few years than on the issue of immigration, and perhaps no area where their irrational behavior has done more lasting damage to their Party.

Update 2: See NDN's Rob Shapiro debate the issue of the undocumenteds and health care on CNBC the other day in the video clip to the right. His opponent is a leader of FAIR, a group categorized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "hate" group.  They and other anti-immigrant groups have been using this debate over undocumenteds and health insurance for all as a way to get ready for the coming debate over immigration reform early next year.

NDN Kicks Off New Economic Series, Today, Noon

Drop by or watch on-line noon today for the first in a series of new events we will be holding this fall on the global and American economies.  We launch today with Rob Shapiro and the reknown Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati.  Hope you will join us in person or over the web. 

In an essay I released last Thursday, The Key to the Fall Debate: Staying Focused on the Economy, I make the case that the most pressing domestic challenge facing the nation today is to get people working again, and incomes and wages rising.

The Key to the Fall Debate: Staying Focused on the Economy

The last few months have not been particularly good ones for Democrats.  That's the bad news.  The good news is there a clear roadmap for how they can use the coming months to get back on track, and it revolves around staying relentlessly focused on the economy and the struggle of every day people.  

1) The Lack of Income Growth for Average Families is the Greatest Domestic Challenge Facing America Today.   Depending on how you cut the data, American families have not seen their incomes rise in at least eight, and perhaps, ten years.  Even in the Bush recovery, which was by many measures, robust, median incomes declined, poverty levels increased, debt loads exploded.  The typical American family ended the Bush era making $1,000 less than at the beginning. 

Basic economics tells us when productivity increases wages and incomes rise.  When GDP expands, jobs are created at a certain rate.  Neither of these events took place in the Bush era, leading us here at NDN to argue that there is a large structural change being brought about by globalization that is making it harder for the American economy to create jobs and raise the standard of living of every day people.

That median incomes dropped during a robust economic recovery made the Bush recovery different from any other recovery in American history, and has made the current Great Recession different from other recessions.  The American consumer was already in a very weakened state before the current recession, which is why the recession has been more virulent than many predicted, and why the coming "recovery" might be so anemic.  The economy seems to be going through profound, structural change, making old economic models anachronistic.  We are literally in a "new economy" now, one that is not well understood, and one that is confusing even the President's top advisers. 

Simply put, getting people's incomes up is the most important domestic challenge facing those in power today.  It is not surprising that other issues like health care, energy policy and climate change are being seen through a prism of "will this make my life, my economic struggle better today?" because so many families have been down so long, and things have gotten an awful lot worse this year.   Regardless of what they hope to be graded on by the public, the basket of issues that will do more to determine the success of the President and his Party is both the belief that things are getting better, and the reality that they are for most people. 

2) The Public Believes the Economy Is By Far and Away the Most Important Issue Facing the Nation Today.   In poll after poll this year, the public has made it clear that the economy is their most important issue, with really nothing coming in a strong number two.  The new Pew poll out this week maintains the basic ratio we have seen for months: mid 50s say the economy is number one; 20 percent of the American people say health care is their number one concern; and literally "zero" pick energy (see the chart to the right).

While one could mount an argument that one should not govern by polls, one can also ignore them at their own peril.  The country wants their leaders focusing on what is their number one concern - their ability to make a living and provide for their families in a time of economic transformation - which also happens to be, in this case, the most important domestic issue facing the country. 

My own belief is that one of the reasons the President and the Democrats have seen their poll numbers drop is that they have spent too much time talking about issues of lesser concern to people while the economy has gotten worse.   There is a strong argument to be made that the President and the Democrats have taken their eye of the economic ball, and are paying a price for it.  This doesn't mean the President shouldn't be talking about health care, climate change, education, immigration reform, but they must be addressed in ways that reflects both their perceived and actual importance; and as much as possible discussed in the context of long term and short term benefit for every day people and not abstract concepts like "recovery," "growth," "prosperity," which in this decade are things that have happened to other people. 

We have long believed that the lack of a sufficient governmental response to the increasing struggle of every day people has been the central driver of the volatility in the American electorate in recent years (see here and here).  Given the poll and economic data of recent months it is possible that the conditions which have created this volatility remains, and simply cannot be ignored for too long.

3) The Way Forward - Make The Struggle of Every Day People The Central Focus Of the National Debate.    The great domestic challenge facing President Obama is to ensure that, in this new age of globalization and the "rise of the rest," the country sees not "growth" or "recovery" but prosperity that is broadly shared.  Until incomes and wages are rising again, fostering broad-based prosperity has to be the central organizing principle of center-left politics.  It is a job we should be anxious to take on given our philosophical heritage, and one that we simply must admit is a little harder and more complex than many have led us to believe.  

Luckily, the President has been given three significant events in September to begin to make this rhetorical and governing turn - Labor Day next week, and the G20 and UN General Assembly meetings in late September.  He can use this events to re-knit together his argument, weaving in health reform and energy/climate change (and we believe immigration reform too) along the way.  For there is no broad-based prosperity in 21st century America without health care costs coming down (which has to happen to allow us to cover more people), and a successful transition to a low-carbon economy.  Even though the Congressional committee and legislative process requires these to be separate conversations, in fact they are one conversation, one strategy for 21st century American success, one path forward for this mighty and great nation. 

Vice President Biden's speech about the economy today is a very good start in this needed repositioning.  But much more must be done.  In a recent essay I wrote:

There have been calls from some quarters for a 2nd stimulus plan, an acknowledgment that what the first stimulus has not done enough to stop the current economic deterioration.  This may be necessary, but I think what will need to be done is much more comprehensive than just a new stimulus plan.  Future action could include a much more aggressive action against foreclosures, a more honest assessment of the health of our financial sector, an immediate capping of credit card rates and a rollback of actions taken by credit card issuers in the last few months, a speeding up of the 2010 stimulus spending, a completion of the Doha trade round and a much more aggressive G20 effort to produce a more successful global approach to the global recession, the quick passage of the President's community college proposal, enacting comprehensive immigration reform which will bring new revenues into the federal and state governments while removing some of the downward pressure on wages at the low end of the workforce, and recasting both the President's climate and health care initiatives as efforts which will help stop our downward slide and create future growth.

These are some thoughts on how to re-engage the economic conversation but many other people also have great ideas on what to do now that the specter of a true global depression has been averted, and we have the luxury of talking about what to do next.  Which is why NDN is launching a new series of discussions on the global and American economies.  We begin next week with Dr Jagdish Bhagwati and Dr. Rob Shapiro.  Keep checking back on our site for the next events in this important new series based in Washington, DC but also webcast for anyone to watch no matter where they are.

The bottom line - the recent decline in the President's poll numbers are reversible.  The key is for he and his Party to make the struggle of every day people their number one rhetorical and governing concern.  A "new economy" is emerging in America, and it is not has been kind to most Americans.  Getting incomes and wages up in this new economy of the 21st century is in fact the most important dmoestic challenge facing the country, and one the American people are demanding a new national strategy for.  This fall is the time for the President to make it clear to the American people that he understands their concerns, has a strategy to ensure their success in this new economy, and will make their success the central organizing principle of his Administration until prosperity is once again broadly shared.

Shapiro discusses Immigration and Health Care Reform on CNBC

Last week I wrote about how Immigration Reform is NOT Health Care Reform.  Yesterday, NDN fellow Dr. Rob Shapiro was on CNBC discussing undocumented immigrants and health care reform, and set Mark Krikorian from CIS straight:


Monday Buzz: Remembering Ted Kennedy, Local Latinos, Probing the CIA, More

It was a week of expansive quotations for the NDN family in the news. Simon had the kicker quote in a major NPR piece this week about the Justice Department's inquiries into "enchanced interrogation" techniques. From the piece:

The administration said that the practice, known as rendition and condemned by human rights advocates, would proceed with more oversight.

"I think the Obama administration is having a hard time calibrating all of this," says Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the New Democrat Network. "They were left a bad set of practices and realities by the Bush administration."

"The Obama team is finding that unraveling this is harder than they thought it would be, and they're trying," Rosenberg says. "But we're going to be having this debate a long time, and this [inquiry] is an important step."

That debate, he says, will necessarily involve how the country treated terrorism suspects in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"Suggestions that discussion about what happened in the Bush era is either partisan or out-of-bounds is ridiculous," he says. "Laws may have been broken, and our standing in the world was affected."

"We need to have a conversation about this in our country."

Andres was quoted extensively in the Las Vegas Sun about the lack of Latino involvement in local politics:

Andres Ramirez made a bid at becoming only the second Hispanic mayor in Southern Nevada history when he ran for mayor of North Las Vegas against incumbent Mike Montandon in 2005. He lost, in a city where an estimated 38.6 percent of the population is Hispanic. He would have joined Cruz Olague, who held the title in Henderson for two years in the 1970s.

When Ruben Kihuen was elected to the Assembly in 2006, he became the second Hispanic immigrant to become a state lawmaker, after Pablo Laveaga, who was elected in 1875 and hailed from Sinaloa, Mexico. Kihuen was born in Jalisco. He joked at the time about doubling the number of Spanish-speaking voices in Carson City, referring to Moises Denis, who was born in Brooklyn to Cuban parents.

When you go through this litany with Ramirez, who now works as vice president of Hispanic programs for NDN, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, he accentuates the positive.

He notes that most other large counties in the top 15 for Hispanic population have had their large populations for much longer. In Clark County, and Nevada generally, he says, Hispanics "have become a quantifiable political force only since the last census" - less than a decade.

And while Ramirez won't overlook the historical paucity of elected and appointed officials with Latin American backgrounds, he also underlines the impact of those who have worked in other areas, such as former Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority chief Manny Cortez, "one the most powerful tourism officials in the world."

As for politics, Ramirez also points out that the expanding Hispanic population has voted in increasing numbers in the past decade, contrasting the highly contested 1998 race between Harry Reid and John Ensign, when "35,000 Hispanic votes was considered the most you could get," with the recent presidential election, when more than four times as many Hispanics went to the polls.

As for Kihuen and Denis, their victories are the result of lobbying on redistricting from Ramirez and others following Census 2000. The result: District 11, which is Kihuen's, and District 28, which fulfilled its intent with Denis' 2004 election.

Locally, the lack of Hispanic surnames on councils and commissions, Ramirez says, doesn't negate the increasing number of Hispanic staff members whose jobs are to ensure Spanish-speaking constituents are heard.

The rest is a question of "time and maturity." Ramirez predicts a near future that includes the more Hispanic state senators and more candidates for local offices.

Rob was featured in The Age talking about the benefits of a carbon tax:

TRADING of emission permits around the world will become a financial rort that fails to reduce carbon emissions - and will ultimately be scrapped in favour of a simple carbon tax, a former senior official in the Clinton administration has forecast.

Robert Shapiro, former US undersecretary of commerce and author of Futurecast, predicted that the US Senate would reject the emissions trading scheme proposed by President Obama, which is now before it.

Speaking by video to the Trade 2020 conference convened by Austrade and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Dr Shapiro said ''cap and trade'' systems as proposed by the US and the Australian governments to limit carbon dioxide emissions and allow trade in permits do not work as intended.

''Cap and trade has proved very vulnerable to vested interests, and therefore too weak to deliver the necessary emission reductions'', he said. ''Cap and trade creates trillions of dollars of new financial instruments to be traded, and subjected to the next financial fads. China and India will never accept a cap and trade regime.''

A better solution is to impose a carbon tax on emissions and return the revenue from it to households so people are not made worse off, Dr Shapiro said. A similar approach in Sweden has cut emissions there by 8 per cent since 1990 while GDP rose about 40 per cent.

CEDA research director Michael Porter strongly supported Dr Shapiro. CEDA today will release a report urging the Rudd Government to scrap its emissions trading scheme in favour of a carbon tax.

Finally, Simon was also featured in a Politico video about Senator Ted Kennedy. Simon addresses Senator Kennedy's remarkable legacy on immigration reform around the 5 minute mark. Check it out here:

Rob Shapiro's Futurecast Released in Paperback

NDN Globalization Initiative Chair Dr. Robert Shapiro's important book Futurecast: How Superpowers, Populations, and Globalization Will Change Your World by the Year 2020 has been released in paperback. It's a great book, but don't take my word for it, read it for yourself. Some other strong references:

"[Shapiro’s book] is a storm warning at a time when food shortages, higher energy prices and a credit crunch are forcing our heads out of the sand: if readers turn to Futurecast, they will find an argument that gives us a measure of what we should expect from our political leaders - and from ourselves - if we are to continue our civilization on the high plateau we have managed to reach." --The Financial Times

"Rob Shapiro's prescient and insightful book probes the confluence of challenges that society will face in the coming years. He argues that our world has become increasingly interdependent, and we must foster global cooperation to achieve a sustainable existence with equal opportunity for all. Futurecast is a vital resource for anyone seeking to understand the world our children will inherit." -- President Bill Clinton


Touch that Dial!

The inimitable Dr. Rob Shapiro will be on FoxNews today at 11:20 to disucss the GM bailout plan.

Don't be a dope, grab your remote!

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