Saturday Morning Post: The Weekly View from Washington
Anyone still doubting the impact of Bernie Sanders’s candidacy on his adopted party should skim the draft platform that Democrats released Friday afternoon. Across the board from Social Security to the death penalty, the document veers left from the party’s recent consensus positions. And the democratic socialist from Vermont can claim credit, since he’s made just such a wide-ranging rewrite of the platform the focus of his all-but-official post-candidacy.
Readers of this note will want to pay particular attention to the platform’s strikingly anti-corporate bent. The last time a Clinton earned the Democratic presidential nomination, in 1996, the furthest the platform went toward chiding corporate leadership was the admonition “that values like loyalty, fairness and responsibility are not inconsistent with the bottom line.” The Friday draft advocates a multi-front attack on corporate power: “Large corporations have concentrated their control over markets to a greater degree than Americans have seen in decades — further evidence that the deck is stacked for those at the top.”
To even the score, the party calls for more muscular antitrust enforcement, cracking down on the revolving door between the private sector and government, zeroing out inversions and ending deferrals on overseas profits. The document declares that “the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies is simply unacceptable,” pledging to impose price controls. And it requests the Justice Department investigate allegations of fraud on the part of fossil fuel companies for misleading shareholders and the public about climate change. But the finance industry gets especially tough attention. The platform backs barring firms from picking the credit agency that rates their product, imposing a financial transactions tax to curb speculation and high-frequency trading, adopting a “modernized version” of Glass-Steagall, breaking up too-big-to-fail financial institutions, and forbidding former financial regulators from lobbying their old colleagues for at least two years.
Trade remains the only front where Sanders appears to have been denied a victory. While the document expresses skepticism about past trade pacts, declaring that too many over the last three decades have “not lived up to the hype,” it equivocates on the 12-nation Trans Pacific Partnership, saying merely that “there are a diversity of views in the party.” Antitrade advocates can make a final push for the party to get off that bubble when the full platform committee meets next week in Orlando.
• Trump narrows veep list
Donald Trump is considering announcing his vice presidential pick before the party gathers in Cleveland on July 17 for its national convention — a move designed to drum up excitement for his flagging campaign. His shortlist is reportedly down to roughly seven candidates, but former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appear to be the leading contenders. Others include Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. CNN
• Lynch flinches in face of Clinton meeting blowback
Battling controversy over her impromptu airport meeting with former President Bill Clinton, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Friday she’d accept the recommendations of career prosecutors from their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Lynch has emphasized the encounter was purely social while acknowledging it looks bad. “I certainly wouldn’t do it again,” she said Friday. Some Republicans still want her to go further by recusing herself from the case. New York Times• Obama’s popularity isn’t rubbing off on other DemocratsPresident Obama’s approval ratings are now hovering reliably above 50 percent — a rare feat for a president nearing the end of an eight-year term. But somewhat curiously, his popularity so far doesn’t appear to be benefitting Hillary Clinton or down-ballot Democrats. That could be because voters continue to harbor complicated and sometimes apparently conflicting sentiments about the economic recovery and the direction of the country. And it may be because Clinton herself is so well-known, voters have already reached their own conclusions about her, independent of their attitudes toward Obama. But the proposition will get its first test this week when Obama makes his debut on the trail for Clinton, appearing alongside the presumptive Democratic nominee at a rally in North Carolina. Cook Political Report
Around the Water Cooler
• Trump tapped his own charity to pay for a collectible football helmet
Donald Trump’s charitable giving, or his apparent lack thereof despite a flurry of pledges over the years, is earning the candidate all the wrong kind of attention. The latest: A Washington Post look into Trump’s activity found that four years ago, the billionaire bought a Tim Tebow-signed football helmet at an auction to benefit the Susan G. Komen Organization. But instead of paying out of pocket for the item, he tapped his own charitable foundation, funded primarily by other people, to cover the cost. That could amount to a violation of IRS rules. Fortune
• Trump cost himself millions by neglecting fundraising
Trump’s campaign has suffered from a money problem. The presumptive Republican nominee finished last month with a shockingly paltry $1.3 million in the bank, allowing Hillary Clinton to outspend him $26 million to 0 in battleground states. He may be in the process of righting his fundraising ship, but his delay in building a serious, professional operation capable of tapping his grassroots strength will likely cost him untold millions — another unforced error for the GOP candidate. NBC News
• The truth about trade
Trade has emerged, improbably, as this election season’s most galvanizing issue. But for all the rhetoric about the ruinous consequences of recent free-trade pacts — and the devastating potential of the pending Trans Pacific Partnership — trade accounts for a relatively small portion of U.S. economic activity and those displaced by it are a small and shrinking share of the workforce. So why all the heat? It may be that trade has become a stand-in for a far more widely felt sense of economic dislocation. Washington Post