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Last updateWed, 08 Apr 2020 5pm

Politics

Presidential Candidates Propose Financial Transaction Taxes, Efforts to Regulate Wall Street Speculation

Presidential CandidatesDuring the 2016 presidential election both Democratic candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), supported a financial transaction tax on Wall Street speculation. Four years later, most every Democratic presidential candidate supports such a measure in 2020.

Sanders introduced a bill (S. 1371) that would direct the proceeds to funding tuition-free public colleges and universities. Senator Elizabeth Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, and former Mayor of New York City Mike Bloomberg all support some variation of a financial transaction tax, in an effort to resolve wealth inequality and fund additional programs such as Medicare expansion.

According to Jeffrey Christakos, Chair of the Department of Accounting and Specialist Professor, The Wall Street Tax Act would impose a tax of 0.1 percent (or 10 basis points) on the sale of all three types of trades, whereas the Inclusive Prosperity Act would impose a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades, a 0.1 percent tax on bond sales, and a 0.005 percent tax on the sale of derivatives.

Some worry, however, that the tax could end up hitting average Americans who have 401(k) plans, health savings accounts, and 529 college savings plans. The Tax Foundation says that the tax would have both a direct and indirect effect on lower and middle-income people, not just the wealthy to whom the tax is directed.

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A Year Later: Trump's Economic Initiative for Women

Trump Initiative WomenUnder the leadership of Ivanka Trump, over 12 million women in the United States have been helped economically in the past year through the White House’s new Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP).

Last February, President Trump launched the initiative with an overview of this program to the public in hopes to inform them.

The goal of this program is to make women more economically successful in order to support themselves and their families.

Their motive with this is to spark overall economic growth and global solidity and tranquility. W-GDP’s main goal, however, is to help 50 million women under this order by 2025.

Since 12 million have been helped so far, their mission is to help roughly around 40 million and more. Jennifer McGovern, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies, said that it is a positive sign to see that Ivanka Trump has made efforts to increase women’s opportunities for work.

“Hopefully, many positive benefits will flow from these investments,” she said, noting that the cause is worthy but much of the investments are happening in other countries.

“It is important to be good global citizens and help women throughout the world, but we can’t forget that here in the United States, some groups of women are still excluded from the labor force for many reasons,” McGovern explained. “It would be great to see a similar investments made in education, training, and support of some of the most vulnerable groups here.”

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Democrat's Disaster in Iowa Leads Some Calling to Change

Democrats DisasterFor the Democratic Party, the Iowa caucus was supposed to be their springboard into primary season, with Iowa setting the tone for who voters would choose to be the nominee to take on President Donald Trump.

Instead, it turned into a picture of chaos, with reports of failed voting apps and unorganized voting precincts all playing out on national television on Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Nearly a week later, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was declared the winner with 26.2 percent (13 delegates) of the votes, barely squeaking out a win over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who garnered 26.1 percent of the vote (12 delegates).

The only other candidates to gain more than 10 percent of the vote were Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren with 18 percent (8 delegates), former Vice President Joe Biden with 15.8 percent (6 delegates) and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar with 12.3 percent (1 delegate).

The reason for the week-long delay in results was due to a computer glitch in some of the mobile apps that the Democratic Party used to count votes.

Even as the votes were being tallied, officials from the Iowa Democratic Party were fielding complaints from poll workers who were having trouble using the app.

While state officials had a backup plan to count each vote manually, it meant that the results could not be reported in real-time and would only slowly become available over the next few days.

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President Trump Issues Executive Order to Combat Human Trafficking in the United States

Human TraffickingPresident Donald Trump signed an executive order to combat human trafficking and online child exploitation last Friday, Jan. 31.

The White House seeks to strengthen and expand supportive services for victims of human trafficking such as medical assistance, housing and shelter services, and education and job training, among others.

The executive order will establish a public website to organize all of these resources needed to fight human trafficking.

The federal government will also be revamping the methodologies of targeting and locating the traffickers, with the goal to eliminate human trafficking in the United States completely.

The executive order designates the White House Domestic Policy Office to be completely devoted to fighting human trafficking, an initiative orchestrated by Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter.

The Domestic Policy Council is in the process of looking for someone to head the new full-time position. The office’s website will also provide public information to help prevent people from becoming victims of human trafficking.

“Human trafficking is an illegal and criminal activity that is happening in different countries and internationally,” said Saliba Sarsar, Ph.D., a Professor of Political Science.

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New Jersey Bans Controversional "Gay Panic" Defense in Courts, Becomes Ninth State in the Nation

NJ Gay PanicNew Jersey became the ninth state to ban the "gay panic defense" and "trans panic defense” for charges of criminal homicide from its courts, on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

The statue, A1796, was introduced in the New Jersey Assembly in January 2018, passing the Judiciary Committee and full floor vote unanimously last December. After resolving Senate amendments, the bill passed both houses on Jan. 13, and was signed by Governor Phil Murphy last Tuesday.

Under previous law, a homicide which would otherwise be murder could be reduced to manslaughter if the jury finds that the homicide was committed "in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation." The new prohibition is intended to prevent a defendant from seeking the reduction of a murder charge to a charge of manslaughter committed in the heat of passion, allegedly provoked by the discovery of, knowledge about, or potential disclosure of the homicide victim's sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to the LGBT Bar, a legal nonprofit that has been on the forefront of getting the gay and Trans panic defenses banned nationwide, the controversial practice is defined as: “a legal strategy that asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is to blame for a defendant’s violent reaction, including murder.”

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Democratic Candidates Shifting in Presidential Primary

Democratic CandidatesWith just over a week remaining before the Iowa Democratic caucuses, the Monmouth University Polling Institute released its latest political poll, showing that former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead the field of candidates, as of Jan. 22. 

According to the poll, which took information from voters that were either registered Democrats or said they tended to lean Democrat, Biden currently has support from 30 percent, followed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (23 percent) and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (14 percent). Other candidates included businessman and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg (9 percent), former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg (6 percent), Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (5 percent), and businessman Andrew Yang (3 percent). No other candidate registered more than 1 percent in the University poll.

Of the candidates with double-digit support, Biden and Sanders saw their polls numbers increase by 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, Warren, who has dropped to third place in the race for the Democratic national, saw her poll numbers decrease by 3 percent.

Stephen Chapman, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Political Science, said that he believed Biden’s rise in the polls was due to his status as the front-runner of the race, with more voters getting behind Biden as other candidates have recently dropped out.

“He is pretty much the one that most mainstream Democrats who are involved on a day-today basis will put their weight behind,” Chapman said of Biden. “In general, you are going to see a thinning of the field at this point.”

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Polling Institute on Presidential Primary

Polling PresidentFormer Vice President Joe Biden remains the clear front-runner among likely Democratic voters in South Carolina.  The Monmouth University Poll finds little has changed in overall presidential primary support, but there is evidence that black voters’ preference for the front-runner varies significantly when age and education are taken into account.

Biden currently holds 33% support among South Carolina voters who are likely to vote in the February 2020 Democratic primary.  This is down slightly from his 39% support level in Monmouth’s July poll. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (16%) and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (12%) are in the second tier of candidate preferences.  Warren has improved on her 9% standing in July while Sanders was at a similar 10% then. California Sen. Kamala Harris has 6% support, which is down from 12% in July.

Other candidates registering at least 2% support in the poll are former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer (4%), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (3%), New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2%), Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (2%), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang (2%).  The remaining nine candidates included in the poll receive 1% support or less. Another 15% of likely voters say they are not yet leaning toward any candidate in this race.

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President Trump Addresses the Nation in His Second State of the Union Speech

President Trump State of Union SpeechAfter a government shutdown pushed back the State of the Union speech by two weeks, President Donald Trump spoke to a joint session of the United States Congress last night, Tuesday, Feb. 5.

During the speech, the president ordered for a solution to end illegal immigration, late-term abortion, and the conclusion of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, while touting a thriving economy and the success of the tax cut bill passed by Congress last December.

“We are considered far and away the hottest economy in the world, not even close,” he said. “Unemployment has reached its lowest rate in over half a century.”

Speaking about the criminal justice reform bill overwhelmingly passed by both chambers of Congress, Trump called for bipartisan action to solve many of the country’s current problems, including passing immigration reform while continuing to protect the ability of legal immigrants to enter the United States.

“We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protect the lives and jobs of our citizens,” he said, while repeating a claim that large Central American caravans are attempting to cross into the United States, which fact-checkers from the New York Times have found to be exaggerated.

In the second half of his speech, Trump delivered several bipartisan lines, including a promise to protect healthcare patients with pre-existing conditions, that drew applause from both parties. At several points, chants of “U-S-A!” could be heard throughout the chamber.

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American Workers and U.S. Economy Hurt by Government Shutdown

US Economy HurtAs a result of the recent five-week government shutdown, 800,000 federal workers were furloughed last month, many working through the shutdown despite not receiving a paycheck.

During the shutdown, a number of banks and financial institutions announced they will assist federal employees who are trying to get by while not being paid.

Discover, Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo are just a few of the many businesses offering help.

Likewise, the nation’s four major cell phone companies, T-Mobile, Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T announced they will help its customers through a variety of methods, such as holding late fees and creating flexible payment plans to keep their customers phones on.

In New Jersey, the longest shutdown in United States history has made life difficult for federal workers, Coast Guard members, and their families.

Since the government shutdown, more than 1,000 federal employees in New Jersey had applied for unemployment benefits.

The federal government shutdown cost the economy $11 billion, according to a new analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released this Monday, Jan. 28. 

Although most of the damage to the economy will be reversed as federal workers return to their jobs, the CBO estimated that $3 billion in economic activity is permanently lost.

Joseph Patten, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science, notes that these economic effects of the shutdown are another example that represents the dysfunction in Washington, D.C.

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Federal Government Reopens After Thirty Five Day Impasse

Federal Government ReopensPresident Donald Trump has signed a bill to temporarily reopen the government for three weeks, on Friday, Jan. 27.

The resolution brought to an ending the partial government shutdown that was a result of a standoff between Trump and Congress regarding funding over a boarder wall

As a result of failing to resolve a dispute between Trump and Congress over a barrier along the Mexico-United States, nine government agencies were left without necessary funding on Dec. 22, 2018.

The following day, Vice President Mike Pence tried to broker a deal. Although an agreement was not reached, Congressional leaders and the White House agreed to continue negotiations throughout the shutdown.

Negotiations were ongoing for 35 days. Congressional Democrats refused Trump’s deals that would include over five billion dollars for a border wall, and some Republicans supported bills proposed by Democrats to reopen government without Trump’s demanded funding.

Despite bipartisan efforts, neither of these bills received the 60 votes needed to close debate and pass in the Senate. 

According to Joseph Patten, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science, the first shutdowns started in the 1970s, but they were largely over bigger budgetary issues.

Unlike those earlier shutdowns, Patten said that this shutdown is over “nothing.”

“We have 700 miles of wall already,” he said, noting the current fencing and barriers that are across the southern border.

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Partisanship in American Politics Causing Disunity

default article imageThe University’s Polling Institute found that few Americans feel that the nation will become more united in the coming year, in a recent poll released on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

According to the report, Republicans appear to be somewhat less negative than Democrats regarding unity of the country.

The poll found that only 20 percent of the public feels that Americans are united and are on the same wavelength on some of our most important values.

These recent results contrast with a similar poll conducted last December, which found that 72 percent of participants said the nation was divided on its core values and 23 percent said the country was united.

The decline in Americans who said that the country was united shows that one of the biggest conversations going on in U.S. politics is that of the political polarization that seems to have taken a hold throughout the country.

The poll even found that 62 percent of Americans feel that the country has become more divided.

“We just held a midterm election where record high turnout demonstrated that politics matters to people. But that doesn’t mean they are particularly optimistic about what the future might hold,” said Patrick Murray, Director of the Polling Institute. “Negative opinion of American politics has not budged at all over the past year.”

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