Angelo Codevilla – Does America Have a Ruling Class?
1. America’s Ruling Class
2. Has Homeland Security Been a Failure?
3. What’s Wrong with the CIA?
4. Are We Winning the “War on Terror”?
5. The Superiority of the Founders’ Foreign Policy
America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution
The only serious opposition to this arrogant Ruling Party is coming not from feckless Republicans but from what might be called the Country Party — and its vision is revolutionary. Our special Summer Issue cover story.
By Angelo M. Codevilla – From the July 2010 – August 2010 issue
As over-leveraged investment houses began to fail in September 2008, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties, of major corporations, and opinion leaders stretching from the National Review magazine (and the Wall Street Journal) on the right to the Nation magazine on the left, agreed that spending some $700 billion to buy the investors’ “toxic assets” was the only alternative to the U.S. economy’s “systemic collapse.” In this, President George W. Bush and his would-be Republican successor John McCain agreed with the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. Many, if not most, people around them also agreed upon the eventual commitment of some 10 trillion nonexistent dollars in ways unprecedented in America. They explained neither the difference between the assets’ nominal and real values, nor precisely why letting the market find the latter would collapse America. The public objected immediately, by margins of three or four to one.
When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term “political class” came into use. Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public’s understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the “ruling class.” And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.
Although after the election of 2008 most Republican office holders argued against the Troubled Asset Relief Program, against the subsequent bailouts of the auto industry, against the several “stimulus” bills and further summary expansions of government power to benefit clients of government at the expense of ordinary citizens, the American people had every reason to believe that many Republican politicians were doing so simply by the logic of partisan opposition. After all, Republicans had been happy enough to approve of similar things under Republican administrations. Differences between Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas are of degree, not kind. Moreover, 2009-10 establishment Republicans sought only to modify the government’s agenda while showing eagerness to join the Democrats in new grand schemes, if only they were allowed to. Sen. Orrin Hatch continued dreaming of being Ted Kennedy, while Lindsey Graham set aside what is true or false about “global warming” for the sake of getting on the right side of history. No prominent Republican challenged the ruling class’s continued claim of superior insight, nor its denigration of the American people as irritable children who must learn their place. The Republican Party did not disparage the ruling class, because most of its officials are or would like to be part of it.
Never has there been so little diversity within America’s upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America’s upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and “bureaucrat” was a dirty word for all. So was “social engineering.” Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday’s upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed. All that has changed.
Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America’s ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.
The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners — nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who created and doth sustain us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity. Our classes’ clash is over “whose country” America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark’s Gospel: “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
The Political Divide
Important as they are, our political divisions are the iceberg’s tip. When pollsters ask the American people whether they are likely to vote Republican or Democrat in the next presidential election, Republicans win growing pluralities. But whenever pollsters add the preferences “undecided,” “none of the above,” or “tea party,” these win handily, the Democrats come in second, and the Republicans trail far behind. That is because while most of the voters who call themselves Democrats say that Democratic officials represent them well, only a fourth of the voters who identify themselves as Republicans tell pollsters that Republican officeholders represent them well. Hence officeholders, Democrats and Republicans, gladden the hearts of some one-third of the electorate — most Democratic voters, plus a few Republicans. This means that Democratic politicians are the ruling class’s prime legitimate representatives and that because Republican politicians are supported by only a fourth of their voters while the rest vote for them reluctantly, most are aspirants for a junior role in the ruling class. In short, the ruling class has a party, the Democrats. But some two-thirds of Americans — a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all independents — lack a vehicle in electoral politics.
Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority’s demand for representation will be filled. Whereas in 1968 Governor George Wallace’s taunt “there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference” between the Republican and Democratic parties resonated with only 13.5 percent of the American people, in 1992 Ross Perot became a serious contender for the presidency (at one point he was favored by 39 percent of Americans vs. 31 percent for G.H.W. Bush and 25 percent for Clinton) simply by speaking ill of the ruling class. Today, few speak well of the ruling class. Not only has it burgeoned in size and pretense, but it also has undertaken wars it has not won, presided over a declining economy and mushrooming debt, made life more expensive, raised taxes, and talked down to the American people. Americans’ conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so.
While Europeans are accustomed to being ruled by presumed betters whom they distrust, the American people’s realization of being ruled like Europeans shocked this country into well nigh revolutionary attitudes. But only the realization was new. The ruling class had sunk deep roots in America over decades before 2008. Machiavelli compares serious political diseases to the Aetolian fevers — easy to treat early on while they are difficult to discern, but virtually untreatable by the time they become obvious.
Far from speculating how the political confrontation might develop between America’s regime class — relatively few people supported by no more than one-third of Americans — and a country class comprising two-thirds of the country, our task here is to understand the divisions that underlie that confrontation’s unpredictable future. More on politics below.
The Ruling Class
Who are these rulers, and by what right do they rule? How did America change from a place where people could expect to live without bowing to privileged classes to one in which, at best, they might have the chance to climb into them? What sets our ruling class apart from the rest of us?
The most widespread answers — by such as the Times’s Thomas Friedman and David Brooks — are schlock sociology. Supposedly, modern society became so complex and productive, the technical skills to run it so rare, that it called forth a new class of highly educated officials and cooperators in an ever less private sector. Similarly fanciful is Edward Goldberg’s notion that America is now ruled by a “newocracy”: a “new aristocracy who are the true beneficiaries of globalization — including the multinational manager, the technologist and the aspirational members of the meritocracy.” In fact, our ruling class grew and set itself apart from the rest of us by its connection with ever bigger government, and above all by a certain attitude.
Other explanations are counterintuitive. Wealth? The heads of the class do live in our big cities’ priciest enclaves and suburbs, from Montgomery County, Maryland, to Palo Alto, California, to Boston’s Beacon Hill as well as in opulent university towns from Princeton to Boulder. But they are no wealthier than many Texas oilmen or California farmers, or than neighbors with whom they do not associate — just as the social science and humanities class that rules universities seldom associates with physicians and physicists. Rather, regardless of where they live, their social-intellectual circle includes people in the lucrative “nonprofit” and “philanthropic” sectors and public policy. What really distinguishes these privileged people demographically is that, whether in government power directly or as officers in companies, their careers and fortunes depend on government. They vote Democrat more consistently than those who live on any of America’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Streets. These socioeconomic opposites draw their money and orientation from the same sources as the millions of teachers, consultants, and government employees in the middle ranks who aspire to be the former and identify morally with what they suppose to be the latter’s grievances.
Professional prominence or position will not secure a place in the class any more than mere money. In fact, it is possible to be an official of a major corporation or a member of the U.S. Supreme Court (just ask Justice Clarence Thomas), or even president (Ronald Reagan), and not be taken seriously by the ruling class. Like a fraternity, this class requires above all comity — being in with the right people, giving the required signs that one is on the right side, and joining in despising the Outs. Once an official or professional shows that he shares the manners, the tastes, the interests of the class, gives lip service to its ideals and shibboleths, and is willing to accommodate the interests of its senior members, he can move profitably among our establishment’s parts.
If, for example, you are Laurence Tribe in 1984, Harvard professor of law, leftist pillar of the establishment, you can “write” your magnum opus by using the products of your student assistant, Ron Klain. A decade later, after Klain admits to having written some parts of the book, and the other parts are found to be verbatim or paraphrases of a book published in 1974, you can claim (perhaps correctly) that your plagiarism was “inadvertent,” and you can count on the Law School’s dean, Elena Kagan, to appoint a committee including former and future Harvard president Derek Bok that issues a secret report that “closes” the incident. Incidentally, Kagan ends up a justice of the Supreme Court. Not one of these people did their jobs: the professor did not write the book himself, the assistant plagiarized instead of researching, the dean and the committee did not hold the professor accountable, and all ended up rewarded. By contrast, for example, learned papers and distinguished careers in climatology at MIT (Richard Lindzen) or UVA (S. Fred Singer) are not enough for their questions about “global warming” to be taken seriously. For our ruling class, identity always trumps.
Much less does membership in the ruling class depend on high academic achievement. To see something closer to an academic meritocracy consider France, where elected officials have little power, a vast bureaucracy explicitly controls details from how babies are raised to how to make cheese, and people get into and advance in that bureaucracy strictly by competitive exams. Hence for good or ill, France’s ruling class are bright people — certifiably. Not ours. But didn’t ours go to Harvard and Princeton and Stanford? Didn’t most of them get good grades? Yes. But while getting into the Ecole Nationale d’Administration or the Ecole Polytechnique or the dozens of other entry points to France’s ruling class requires outperforming others in blindly graded exams, and graduating from such places requires passing exams that many fail, getting into America’s “top schools” is less a matter of passing exams than of showing up with acceptable grades and an attractive social profile. American secondary schools are generous with their As. Since the 1970s, it has been virtually impossible to flunk out of American colleges. And it is an open secret that “the best” colleges require the least work and give out the highest grade point averages. No, our ruling class recruits and renews itself not through meritocracy but rather by taking into itself people whose most prominent feature is their commitment to fit in. The most successful neither write books and papers that stand up to criticism nor release their academic records. Thus does our ruling class stunt itself through negative selection. But the more it has dumbed itself down, the more it has defined itself by the presumption of intellectual superiority.
Its attitude is key to understanding our bipartisan ruling class. Its first tenet is that “we” are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained. How did this replace the Founding generation’s paradigm that “all men are created equal”?
The notion of human equality was always a hard sell, because experience teaches us that we are so unequal in so many ways, and because making one’s self superior is so tempting that Lincoln called it “the old serpent, you work I’ll eat.” But human equality made sense to our Founding generation because they believed that all men are made in the image and likeness of God, because they were yearning for equal treatment under British law, or because they had read John Locke.
It did not take long for their paradigm to be challenged by interest and by “science.” By the 1820s, as J. C. Calhoun was reading in the best London journals that different breeds of animals and plants produce inferior or superior results, slave owners were citing the Negroes’ deficiencies to argue that they should remain slaves indefinitely. Lots of others were reading Ludwig Feuerbach’s rendition of Hegelian philosophy, according to which biblical injunctions reflect the fantasies of alienated human beings or, in the young Karl Marx’s formulation, that ethical thought is “superstructural” to material reality. By 1853, when Sen. John Pettit of Ohio called “all men are created equal” “a self-evident lie,” much of America’s educated class had already absorbed the “scientific” notion (which Darwin only popularized) that man is the product of chance mutation and natural selection of the fittest. Accordingly, by nature, superior men subdue inferior ones as they subdue lower beings or try to improve them as they please. Hence while it pleased the abolitionists to believe in freeing Negroes and improving them, it also pleased them to believe that Southerners had to be punished and reconstructed by force. As the 19th century ended, the educated class’s religious fervor turned to social reform: they were sure that because man is a mere part of evolutionary nature, man could be improved, and that they, the most highly evolved of all, were the improvers.
Thus began the Progressive Era. When Woodrow Wilson in 1914 was asked “can’t you let anything alone?” he answered with, “I let everything alone that you can show me is not itself moving in the wrong direction, but I am not going to let those things alone that I see are going down-hill.” Wilson spoke for the thousands of well-off Americans who patronized the spas at places like Chautauqua and Lake Mohonk. By such upper-middle-class waters, progressives who imagined themselves the world’s examples and the world’s reformers dreamt big dreams of establishing order, justice, and peace at home and abroad. Neither were they shy about their desire for power. Wilson was the first American statesman to argue that the Founders had done badly by depriving the U.S. government of the power to reshape American society. Nor was Wilson the last to invade a foreign country (Mexico) to “teach [them] to elect good men.”
World War I and the chaos at home and abroad that followed it discredited the Progressives in the American people’s eyes. Their international schemes had brought blood and promised more. Their domestic management had not improved Americans’ lives, but given them a taste of arbitrary government, including Prohibition. The Progressives, for their part, found it fulfilling to attribute the failure of their schemes to the American people’s backwardness, to something deeply wrong with America. The American people had failed them because democracy in its American form perpetuated the worst in humanity. Thus Progressives began to look down on the masses, to look on themselves as the vanguard, and to look abroad for examples to emulate.
The cultural divide between the “educated class” and the rest of the country opened in the interwar years. Some Progressives joined the “vanguard of the proletariat,” the Communist Party. Many more were deeply sympathetic to Soviet Russia, as they were to Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Not just the Nation, but also the New York Times and National Geographic found much to be imitated in these regimes because they promised energetically to transcend their peoples’ ways and to build “the new man.” Above all, our educated class was bitter about America. In 1925 the American Civil Liberties Union sponsored a legal challenge to a Tennessee law that required teaching the biblical account of creation. The ensuing trial, radio broadcast nationally, as well as the subsequent hit movie Inherit the Wind, were the occasion for what one might have called the Chautauqua class to drive home the point that Americans who believed in the Bible were willful ignoramuses. As World War II approached, some American Progressives supported the Soviet Union (and its ally, Nazi Germany) and others Great Britain and France. But Progressives agreed on one thing: the approaching war should be blamed on the majority of Americans, because they had refused to lead the League of Nations. Darryl Zanuck produced the critically acclaimed movie [Woodrow] Wilson featuring Cedric Hardwicke as Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, who allegedly brought on the war by appealing to American narrow-mindedness against Wilson’s benevolent genius.
Franklin Roosevelt brought the Chautauqua class into his administration and began the process that turned them into rulers. FDR described America’s problems in technocratic terms. America’s problems would be fixed by a “brain trust” (picked by him). His New Deal’s solutions — the alphabet-soup “independent” agencies that have run America ever since — turned many Progressives into powerful bureaucrats and then into lobbyists. As the saying goes, they came to Washington to do good, and stayed to do well.
As their number and sense of importance grew, so did their distaste for common Americans. Believing itself “scientific,” this Progressive class sought to explain its differences from its neighbors in “scientific” terms. The most elaborate of these attempts was Theodor Adorno’s widely acclaimed The Authoritarian Personality (1948). It invented a set of criteria by which to define personality traits, ranked these traits and their intensity in any given person on what it called the “F scale” (F for fascist), interviewed hundreds of Americans, and concluded that most who were not liberal Democrats were latent fascists. This way of thinking about non-Progressives filtered down to college curricula. In 1963-64 for example, I was assigned Herbert McCloskey’s Conservatism and Personality (1958) at Rutgers’s Eagleton Institute of Politics as a paradigm of methodological correctness. The author had defined conservatism in terms of answers to certain questions, had defined a number of personality disorders in terms of other questions, and run a survey that proved “scientifically” that conservatives were maladjusted ne’er-do-well ignoramuses. (My class project, titled “Liberalism and Personality,” following the same methodology, proved just as scientifically that liberals suffered from the very same social diseases, and even more amusing ones.)
The point is this: though not one in a thousand of today’s bipartisan ruling class ever heard of Adorno or McCloskey, much less can explain the Feuerbachian-Marxist notion that human judgments are “epiphenomenal” products of spiritual or material alienation, the notion that the common people’s words are, like grunts, mere signs of pain, pleasure, and frustration, is now axiomatic among our ruling class. They absorbed it osmotically, second — or thirdhand, from their education and from companions. Truly, after Barack Obama described his opponents’ clinging to “God and guns” as a characteristic of inferior Americans, he justified himself by pointing out he had said “what everybody knows is true.” Confident “knowledge” that “some of us, the ones who matter,” have grasped truths that the common herd cannot, truths that direct us, truths the grasping of which entitles us to discount what the ruled say and to presume what they mean, made our Progressives into a class long before they took power.
The Agenda: Power
Our ruling class’s agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof. Like left-wing parties always and everywhere, it is a “machine,” that is, based on providing tangible rewards to its members. Such parties often provide rank-and-file activists with modest livelihoods and enhance mightily the upper levels’ wealth. Because this is so, whatever else such parties might accomplish, they must feed the machine by transferring money or jobs or privileges — civic as well as economic — to the party’s clients, directly or indirectly. This, incidentally, is close to Aristotle’s view of democracy. Hence our ruling class’s standard approach to any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, is to increase the power of the government — meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves, to profit those who pay with political support for privileged jobs, contracts, etc. Hence more power for the ruling class has been our ruling class’s solution not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming. A priori, one might wonder whether enriching and empowering individuals of a certain kind can make Americans kinder and gentler, much less control the weather. But there can be no doubt that such power and money makes Americans ever more dependent on those who wield it. Let us now look at what this means in our time.
By taxing and parceling out more than a third of what Americans produce, through regulations that reach deep into American life, our ruling class is making itself the arbiter of wealth and poverty. While the economic value of anything depends on sellers and buyers agreeing on that value as civil equals in the absence of force, modern government is about nothing if not tampering with civil equality. By endowing some in society with power to force others to sell cheaper than they would, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices — even to buy in the first place — modern government makes valuable some things that are not, and devalues others that are. Thus if you are not among the favored guests at the table where officials make detailed lists of who is to receive what at whose expense, you are on the menu. Eventually, pretending forcibly that valueless things have value dilutes the currency’s value for all.
Laws and regulations nowadays are longer than ever because length is needed to specify how people will be treated unequally. For example, the health care bill of 2010 takes more than 2,700 pages to make sure not just that some states will be treated differently from others because their senators offered key political support, but more importantly to codify bargains between the government and various parts of the health care industry, state governments, and large employers about who would receive what benefits (e.g., public employee unions and auto workers) and who would pass what indirect taxes onto the general public. The financial regulation bill of 2010, far from setting univocal rules for the entire financial industry in few words, spends some 3,000 pages (at this writing) tilting the field exquisitely toward some and away from others. Even more significantly, these and other products of Democratic and Republican administrations and Congresses empower countless boards and commissions arbitrarily to protect some persons and companies, while ruining others. Thus in 2008 the Republican administration first bailed out Bear Stearns, then let Lehman Brothers sink in the ensuing panic, but then rescued Goldman Sachs by infusing cash into its principal debtor, AIG. Then, its Democratic successor used similarly naked discretionary power (and money appropriated for another purpose) to give major stakes in the auto industry to labor unions that support it. Nowadays, the members of our ruling class admit that they do not read the laws. They don’t have to. Because modern laws are primarily grants of discretion, all anybody has to know about them is whom they empower.
By making economic rules dependent on discretion, our bipartisan ruling class teaches that prosperity is to be bought with the coin of political support. Thus in the 1990s and 2000s, as Democrats and Republicans forced banks to make loans for houses to people and at rates they would not otherwise have considered, builders and investors had every reason to make as much money as they could from the ensuing inflation of housing prices. When the bubble burst, only those connected with the ruling class at the bottom and at the top were bailed out. Similarly, by taxing the use of carbon fuels and subsidizing “alternative energy,” our ruling class created arguably the world’s biggest opportunity for making money out of things that few if any would buy absent its intervention. The ethanol industry and its ensuing diversions of wealth exist exclusively because of subsidies. The prospect of legislation that would put a price on carbon emissions and allot certain amounts to certain companies set off a feeding frenzy among large companies to show support for a “green agenda,” because such allotments would be worth tens of billions of dollars. That is why companies hired some 2,500 lobbyists in 2009 to deepen their involvement in “climate change.” At the very least, such involvement profits them by making them into privileged collectors of carbon taxes. Any “green jobs” thus created are by definition creatures of subsidies — that is, of privilege. What effect creating such privileges may have on “global warming” is debatable. But it surely increases the number of people dependent on the ruling class, and teaches Americans that satisfying that class is a surer way of making a living than producing goods and services that people want to buy.
Beyond patronage, picking economic winners and losers redirects the American people’s energies to tasks that the political class deems more worthy than what Americans choose for themselves. John Kenneth Galbraith’s characterization of America as “private wealth amidst public squalor” (The Affluent Society, 1958) has ever encapsulated our best and brightest’s complaint: left to themselves, Americans use land inefficiently in suburbs and exurbs, making it necessary to use energy to transport them to jobs and shopping. Americans drive big cars, eat lots of meat as well as other unhealthy things, and go to the doctor whenever they feel like it. Americans think it justice to spend the money they earn to satisfy their private desires even though the ruling class knows that justice lies in improving the community and the planet. The ruling class knows that Americans must learn to live more densely and close to work, that they must drive smaller cars and change their lives to use less energy, that their dietary habits must improve, that they must accept limits in how much medical care they get, that they must divert more of their money to support people, cultural enterprises, and plans for the planet that the ruling class deems worthier. So, ever-greater taxes and intrusive regulations are the main wrenches by which the American people can be improved (and, yes, by which the ruling class feeds and grows).
The 2010 medical law is a template for the ruling class’s economic modus operandi: the government taxes citizens to pay for medical care and requires citizens to purchase health insurance. The money thus taken and directed is money that the citizens themselves might have used to pay for medical care. In exchange for the money, the government promises to provide care through its “system.” But then all the boards, commissions, guidelines, procedures, and “best practices” that constitute “the system” become the arbiters of what any citizen ends up getting. The citizen might end up dissatisfied with what “the system” offers. But when he gave up his money, he gave up the power to choose, and became dependent on all the boards and commissions that his money also pays for and that raise the cost of care. Similarly, in 2008 the House Ways and Means Committee began considering a plan to force citizens who own Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) to transfer those funds into government-run “guaranteed retirement accounts.” If the government may force citizens to buy health insurance, by what logic can it not force them to trade private ownership and control of retirement money for a guarantee as sound as the government itself? Is it not clear that the government knows more about managing retirement income than individuals?
Who Depends on Whom?
In Congressional Government (1885) Woodrow Wilson left no doubt: the U.S. Constitution prevents the government from meeting the country’s needs by enumerating rights that the government may not infringe. (“Congress shall make no law…” says the First Amendment, typically.) Our electoral system, based on single member districts, empowers individual voters at the expense of “responsible parties.” Hence the ruling class’s perpetual agenda has been to diminish the role of the citizenry’s elected representatives, enhancing that of party leaders as well as of groups willing to partner in the government’s plans, and to craft a “living” Constitution in which restrictions on government give way to “positive rights” — meaning charters of government power.
Consider representation. Following Wilson, American Progressives have always wanted to turn the U.S. Congress from the role defined by James Madison’s Federalist #10, “refine and enlarge the public’s view,” to something like the British Parliament, which ratifies government actions. Although Britain’s electoral system — like ours, single members elected in historic districts by plurality vote — had made members of Parliament responsive to their constituents in ancient times, by Wilson’s time the growing importance of parties made MPs beholden to party leaders. Hence whoever controls the majority party controls both Parliament and the government.
In America, the process by which party has become (almost) as important began with the Supreme Court’s 1962 decision in Baker v. Carr which, by setting the single standard “one man, one vote” for congressional districts, ended up legalizing the practice of “gerrymandering,” concentrating the opposition party’s voters into as few districts as possible while placing one’s own voters into as many as possible likely to yield victories. Republican and Democratic state legislatures have gerrymandered for a half century. That is why today’s Congress consists more and more of persons who represent their respective party establishments — not nearly as much as in Britain, but heading in that direction. Once districts are gerrymandered “safe” for one party or another, the voters therein count less because party leaders can count more on elected legislators to toe the party line.
To the extent party leaders do not have to worry about voters, they can choose privileged interlocutors, representing those in society whom they find most amenable. In America ever more since the 1930s — elsewhere in the world this practice is ubiquitous and long-standing — government has designated certain individuals, companies, and organizations within each of society’s sectors as (junior) partners in elaborating laws and administrative rules for those sectors. The government empowers the persons it has chosen over those not chosen, deems them the sector’s true representatives, and rewards them. They become part of the ruling class.
Thus in 2009-10 the American Medical Association (AMA) strongly supported the new medical care law, which the administration touted as having the support of “the doctors” even though the vast majority of America’s 975,000 physicians opposed it. Those who run the AMA, however, have a government contract as exclusive providers of the codes by which physicians and hospitals bill the government for their services. The millions of dollars that flow thereby to the AMA’s officers keep them in line, while the impracticality of doing without the billing codes tamps down rebellion in the doctor ranks. When the administration wanted to bolster its case that the state of Arizona’s enforcement of federal immigration laws was offensive to Hispanics, the National Association of Chiefs of Police — whose officials depend on the administration for their salaries — issued a statement that the laws would endanger all Americans by raising Hispanics’ animosity. This reflected conversations with the administration rather than a vote of the nation’s police chiefs.
Similarly, modern labor unions are ever less bunches of workers banding together and ever more bundled under the aegis of an organization chosen jointly by employers and government. Prototypical is the Service Employees International Union, which grew spectacularly by persuading managers of government agencies as well as of publicly funded private entities that placing their employees in the SEIU would relieve them of responsibility. Not by being elected by workers’ secret ballots did the SEIU conquer workplace after workplace, but rather by such deals, or by the union presenting what it claims are cards from workers approving of representation. The union gets 2 percent of the workers’ pay, which it recycles as contributions to the Democratic Party, which it recycles in greater power over public employees. The union’s leadership is part of the ruling class’s beating heart.
The point is that a doctor, a building contractor, a janitor, or a schoolteacher counts in today’s America insofar as he is part of the hierarchy of a sector organization affiliated with the ruling class. Less and less do such persons count as voters.
Ordinary people have also gone a long way toward losing equal treatment under law. The America described in civics books, in which no one could be convicted or fined except by a jury of his peers for having violated laws passed by elected representatives, started disappearing when the New Deal inaugurated today’s administrative state — in which bureaucrats make, enforce, and adjudicate nearly all the rules. Today’s legal-administrative texts are incomprehensibly detailed and freighted with provisions crafted exquisitely to affect equal individuals unequally. The bureaucrats do not enforce the rules themselves so much as whatever “agency policy” they choose to draw from them in any given case. If you protest any “agency policy” you will be informed that it was formulated with input from “the public.” But not from the likes of you.
Disregard for the text of laws — for the dictionary meaning of words and the intentions of those who wrote them — in favor of the decider’s discretion has permeated our ruling class from the Supreme Court to the lowest local agency. Ever since Oliver Wendell Holmes argued in 1920 (Missouri v. Holland) that presidents, Congresses, and judges could not be bound by the U.S. Constitution regarding matters that the people who wrote and ratified it could not have foreseen, it has become conventional wisdom among our ruling class that they may transcend the Constitution while pretending allegiance to it. They began by stretching such constitutional terms as “interstate commerce” and “due process,” then transmuting others, e.g., “search and seizure,” into “privacy.” Thus in 1973 the Supreme Court endowed its invention of “privacy” with a “penumbra” that it deemed “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” The court gave no other constitutional reasoning, period. Perfunctory to the point of mockery, this constitutional talk was to reassure the American people that the ruling class was acting within the Constitution’s limitations. By the 1990s federal courts were invalidating amendments to state constitutions passed by referenda to secure the “positive rights” they invent, because these expressions of popular will were inconsistent with the constitution they themselves were construing.
By 2010 some in the ruling class felt confident enough to dispense with the charade. Asked what in the Constitution allows Congress and the president to force every American to purchase health insurance, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi replied: “Are you serious? Are you serious?” No surprise then that lower court judges and bureaucrats take liberties with laws, regulations, and contracts. That is why legal words that say you are in the right avail you less in today’s America than being on the right side of the persons who decide what they want those words to mean.
As the discretionary powers of officeholders and of their informal entourages have grown, the importance of policy and of law itself is declining, citizenship is becoming vestigial, and the American people become ever more dependent.
Disaggregating and Dispiriting
The ruling class is keener to reform the American people’s family and spiritual lives than their economic and civic ones. In no other areas is the ruling class’s self-definition so definite, its contempt for opposition so patent, its Kulturkampf so open. It believes that the Christian family (and the Orthodox Jewish one too) is rooted in and perpetuates the ignorance commonly called religion, divisive social prejudices, and repressive gender roles, that it is the greatest barrier to human progress because it looks to its very particular interest — often defined as mere coherence against outsiders who most often know better. Thus the family prevents its members from playing their proper roles in social reform. Worst of all, it reproduces itself.
Since marriage is the family’s fertile seed, government at all levels, along with “mainstream” academics and media, have waged war on it. They legislate, regulate, and exhort in support not of “the family” — meaning married parents raising children — but rather of “families,” meaning mostly households based on something other than marriage. The institution of no-fault divorce diminished the distinction between cohabitation and marriage — except that husbands are held financially responsible for the children they father, while out-of-wedlock fathers are not. The tax code penalizes marriage and forces those married couples who raise their own children to subsidize “child care” for those who do not. Top Republicans and Democrats have also led society away from the very notion of marital fidelity by precept as well as by parading their affairs. For example, in 1997 the Democratic administration’s secretary of defense and the Republican Senate’s majority leader (joined by the New York Times et al.) condemned the military’s practice of punishing officers who had extramarital affairs. While the military had assumed that honoring marital vows is as fundamental to the integrity of its units as it is to that of society, consensus at the top declared that insistence on fidelity is “contrary to societal norms.” Not surprisingly, rates of marriage in America have decreased as out-of-wedlock births have increased. The biggest demographic consequence has been that about one in five of all households are women alone or with children, in which case they have about a four in 10 chance of living in poverty. Since unmarried mothers often are or expect to be clients of government services, it is not surprising that they are among the Democratic Party’s most faithful voters.
While our ruling class teaches that relationships among men, women, and children are contingent, it also insists that the relationship between each of them and the state is fundamental. That is why such as Hillary Clinton have written law review articles and books advocating a direct relationship between the government and children, effectively abolishing the presumption of parental authority. Hence whereas within living memory school nurses could not administer an aspirin to a child without the parents’ consent, the people who run America’s schools nowadays administer pregnancy tests and ship girls off to abortion clinics without the parents’ knowledge. Parents are not allowed to object to what their children are taught. But the government may and often does object to how parents raise children. The ruling class’s assumption is that what it mandates for children is correct ipso facto, while what parents do is potentially abusive. It only takes an anonymous accusation of abuse for parents to be taken away in handcuffs until they prove their innocence. Only sheer political weight (and in California, just barely) has preserved parents’ right to homeschool their children against the ruling class’s desire to accomplish what Woodrow Wilson so yearned: “to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible.”
At stake are the most important questions: What is the right way for human beings to live? By what standard is anything true or good? Who gets to decide what? Implicit in Wilson’s words and explicit in our ruling class’s actions is the dismissal, as the ways of outdated “fathers,” of the answers that most Americans would give to these questions. This dismissal of the American people’s intellectual, spiritual, and moral substance is the very heart of what our ruling class is about. Its principal article of faith, its claim to the right to decide for others, is precisely that it knows things and operates by standards beyond others’ comprehension.
While the unenlightened ones believe that man is created in the image and likeness of God and that we are subject to His and to His nature’s laws, the enlightened ones know that we are products of evolution, driven by chance, the environment, and the will to primacy. While the un-enlightened are stuck with the antiquated notion that ordinary human minds can reach objective judgments about good and evil, better and worse through reason, the enlightened ones know that all such judgments are subjective and that ordinary people can no more be trusted with reason than they can with guns. Because ordinary people will pervert reason with ideology, religion, or interest, science is “science” only in the “right” hands. Consensus among the right people is the only standard of truth. Facts and logic matter only insofar as proper authority acknowledges them.
That is why the ruling class is united and adamant about nothing so much as its right to pronounce definitive, “scientific” judgment on whatever it chooses. When the government declares, and its associated press echoes that “scientists say” this or that, ordinary people — or for that matter scientists who “don’t say,” or are not part of the ruling class — lose any right to see the information that went into what “scientists say.” Thus when Virginia’s attorney general subpoenaed the data by which Professor Michael Mann had concluded, while paid by the state of Virginia, that the earth’s temperatures are rising “like a hockey stick” from millennial stability — a conclusion on which billions of dollars’ worth of decisions were made — to investigate the possibility of fraud, the University of Virginia’s faculty senate condemned any inquiry into “scientific endeavor that has satisfied peer review standards” claiming that demands for data “send a chilling message to scientists…and indeed scholars in any discipline.” The Washington Post editorialized that the attorney general’s demands for data amounted to “an assault on reason.” The fact that the “hockey stick” conclusion stands discredited and Mann and associates are on record manipulating peer review, the fact that science-by-secret-data is an oxymoron, the very distinction between truth and error, all matter far less to the ruling class than the distinction between itself and those they rule.
By identifying science and reason with themselves, our rulers delegitimize opposition. Though they cannot prevent Americans from worshiping God, they can make it as socially disabling as smoking — to be done furtively and with a bad social conscience. Though they cannot make Americans wish they were Europeans, they continue to press upon this nation of refugees from the rest of the world the notion that Americans ought to live by “world standards.” Each day, the ruling class produces new “studies” that show that one or another of Americans’ habits is in need of reform, and that those Americans most resistant to reform are pitiably, perhaps criminally, wrong. Thus does it go about disaggregating and dispiriting the ruled.
Meddling and Apologies
America’s best and brightest believe themselves qualified and duty bound to direct the lives not only of Americans but of foreigners as well. George W. Bush’s 2005 inaugural statement that America cannot be free until the whole world is free and hence that America must push and prod mankind to freedom was but an extrapolation of the sentiments of America’s Progressive class, first articulated by such as Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson and Columbia’s Nicholas Murray Butler. But while the early Progressives expected the rest of the world to follow peacefully, today’s ruling class makes decisions about war and peace at least as much forcibly to tinker with the innards of foreign bodies politic as to protect America. Indeed, they conflate the two purposes in the face of the American people’s insistence to draw a bright line between war against our enemies and peace with non-enemies in whose affairs we do not interfere. That is why, from Wilson to Kissinger, the ruling class has complained that the American people oscillate between bellicosity and “isolationism.”
Because our ruling class deems unsophisticated the American people’s perennial preference for decisive military action or none, its default solution to international threats has been to commit blood and treasure to long-term, twilight efforts to reform the world’s Vietnams, Somalias, Iraqs, and Afghanistans, believing that changing hearts and minds is the prerequisite of peace and that it knows how to change them. The apparently endless series of wars in which our ruling class has embroiled America, wars that have achieved nothing worthwhile at great cost in lives and treasure, has contributed to defining it, and to discrediting it — but not in its own eyes.
Rather, even as our ruling class has lectured, cajoled, and sometimes intruded violently to reform foreign countries in its own image, it has apologized to them for America not having matched that image — their private image. Woodrow Wilson began this double game in 1919, when he assured Europe’s peoples that America had mandated him to demand their agreement to Article X of the peace treaty (the League of Nations) and then swore to the American people that Article X was the Europeans’ non-negotiable demand. The fact that the U.S. government had seized control of transatlantic cable communications helped hide (for a while) that the League scheme was merely the American Progressives’ private dream. In our time, this double game is quotidian on the evening news. Notably, President Obama apologized to Europe because “the United States has fallen short of meeting its responsibilities” to reduce carbon emissions by taxation. But the American people never assumed such responsibility, and oppose doing so. Hence President Obama was not apologizing for anything that he or anyone he respected had done, but rather blaming his fellow Americans for not doing what he thinks they should do while glossing over the fact that the Europeans had done the taxing but not the reducing. Wilson redux.
Similarly, Obama “apologized” to Europeans because some Americans — not him and his friends — had shown “arrogance and been dismissive” toward them, and to the world because President Truman had used the atom bomb to end World War II. So President Clinton apologized to Africans because some Americans held African slaves until 1865 and others were mean to Negroes thereafter — not himself and his friends, of course. So assistant secretary of state Michael Posner apologized to Chinese diplomats for Arizona’s law that directs police to check immigration status. Republicans engage in that sort of thing as well: former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev tells us that in 1987 then vice president George H. W. Bush distanced himself from his own administration by telling him, “Reagan is a conservative, an extreme conservative. All the dummies and blockheads are with him…” This is all about a class of Americans distinguishing itself from its inferiors. It recalls the Pharisee in the Temple: “Lord, I thank thee that I am not like other men…”
In sum, our ruling class does not like the rest of America. Most of all does it dislike that so many Americans think America is substantially different from the rest of the world and like it that way. For our ruling class, however, America is a work in progress, just like the rest the world, and they are the engineers.
The Country Class
Describing America’s country class is problematic because it is so heterogeneous. It has no privileged podiums, and speaks with many voices, often inharmonious. It shares above all the desire to be rid of rulers it regards inept and haughty. It defines itself practically in terms of reflexive reaction against the rulers’ defining ideas and proclivities — e.g., ever higher taxes and expanding government, subsidizing political favorites, social engineering, approval of abortion, etc. Many want to restore a way of life largely superseded. Demographically, the country class is the other side of the ruling class’s coin: its most distinguishing characteristics are marriage, children, and religious practice. While the country class, like the ruling class, includes the professionally accomplished and the mediocre, geniuses and dolts, it is different because of its non-orientation to government and its members’ yearning to rule themselves rather than be ruled by others.
Even when members of the country class happen to be government officials or officers of major corporations, their concerns are essentially private; in their view, government owes to its people equal treatment rather than action to correct what anyone perceives as imbalance or grievance. Hence they tend to oppose special treatment, whether for corporations or for social categories. Rather than gaming government regulations, they try to stay as far from them as possible. Thus the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo, which allows the private property of some to be taken by others with better connections to government, reminded the country class that government is not its friend.
Negative orientation to privilege distinguishes the corporate officer who tries to keep his company from joining the Business Council of large corporations who have close ties with government from the fellow in the next office. The first wants the company to grow by producing. The second wants it to grow by moving to the trough. It sets apart the schoolteacher who resents the union to which he is forced to belong for putting the union’s interests above those of parents who want to choose their children’s schools. In general, the country class includes all those in stations high and low who are aghast at how relatively little honest work yields, by comparison with what just a little connection with the right bureaucracy can get you. It includes those who take the side of outsiders against insiders, of small institutions against large ones, of local government against the state or federal. The country class is convinced that big business, big government, and big finance are linked as never before and that ordinary people are more unequal than ever.
Members of the country class who want to rise in their profession through sheer competence try at once to avoid the ruling class’s rituals while guarding against infringing its prejudices. Averse to wheedling, they tend to think that exams should play a major role in getting or advancing in jobs, that records of performance — including academic ones — should be matters of public record, and that professional disputes should be settled by open argument. For such people, the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Ricci, upholding the right of firefighters to be promoted according to the results of a professional exam, revived the hope that competence may sometimes still trump political connections.
Nothing has set the country class apart, defined it, made it conscious of itself, given it whatever coherence it has, so much as the ruling class’s insistence that people other than themselves are intellectually and hence otherwise humanly inferior. Persons who were brought up to believe themselves as worthy as anyone, who manage their own lives to their own satisfaction, naturally resent politicians of both parties who say that the issues of modern life are too complex for any but themselves. Most are insulted by the ruling class’s dismissal of opposition as mere “anger and frustration” — an imputation of stupidity — while others just scoff at the claim that the ruling class’s bureaucratic language demonstrates superior intelligence. A few ask the fundamental question: Since when and by what right does intelligence trump human equality? Moreover, if the politicians are so smart, why have they made life worse?
The country class actually believes that America’s ways are superior to the rest of the world’s, and regards most of mankind as less free, less prosperous, and less virtuous. Thus while it delights in croissants and thinks Toyota’s factory methods are worth imitating, it dislikes the idea of adhering to “world standards.” This class also takes part in the U.S. armed forces body and soul: nearly all the enlisted, non-commissioned officers and officers under flag rank belong to this class in every measurable way. Few vote for the Democratic Party. You do not doubt that you are amidst the country class rather than with the ruling class when the American flag passes by or “God Bless America” is sung after seven innings of baseball, and most people show reverence. The same people wince at the National Football League’s plaintive renditions of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Unlike the ruling class, the country class does not share a single intellectual orthodoxy, set of tastes, or ideal lifestyle. Its different sectors draw their notions of human equality from different sources: Christians and Jews believe it is God’s law. Libertarians assert it from Hobbesian and Darwinist bases. Many consider equality the foundation of Americanism. Others just hate snobs. Some parts of the country class now follow the stars and the music out of Nashville, Tennessee, and Branson, Missouri — entertainment complexes larger than Hollywood’s — because since the 1970s most of Hollywood’s products have appealed more to the mores of the ruling class and its underclass clients than to those of large percentages of Americans. The same goes for “popular music” and television. For some in the country class Christian radio and TV are the lodestone of sociopolitical taste, while the very secular Fox News serves the same purpose for others. While symphonies and opera houses around the country, as well as the stations that broadcast them, are firmly in the ruling class’s hands, a considerable part of the country class appreciates these things for their own sake. By that very token, the country class’s characteristic cultural venture — the homeschool movement — stresses the classics across the board in science, literature, music, and history even as the ruling class abandons them.
Each of the country class’s diverse parts has its own agenda, which flows from the peculiar ways in which the ruling class impacts its concerns. Independent businesspeople are naturally more sensitive to the growth of privileged relations between government and their competitors. Persons who would like to lead their community rue the advantages that Democratic and Republican party establishments are accruing. Parents of young children and young women anxious about marriage worry that cultural directives from on high are dispelling their dreams. The faithful to God sense persecution. All resent higher taxes and loss of freedom. More and more realize that their own agenda’s advancement requires concerting resistance to the ruling class across the board.
Not being at the table when government makes the rules about how you must run your business, knowing that you will be required to pay more, work harder, and show deference for the privilege of making less money, is the independent businessman’s nightmare. But what to do about it? In our time the interpenetration of government and business — the network of subsidies, preferences, and regulations — is so thick and deep, the people “at the table” receive and recycle into politics so much money, that independent businesspeople cannot hope to undo any given regulation or grant of privilege. Just as no manufacturer can hope to reduce the subsidies that raise his fuel costs, no set of doctors can shield themselves from the increased costs and bureaucracy resulting from government mandates. Hence independent business’s agenda has been to resist the expansion of government in general, and of course to reduce taxes. Pursuit of this agenda with arguments about economic efficiency and job creation — and through support of the Republican Party — usually results in enough relief to discourage more vigorous remonstrance. Sometimes, however, the economic argument is framed in moral terms: “The sum of good government,” said Thomas Jefferson, is not taking “from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” For government to advantage some at others’ expense, said he, “is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association.” In our time, more and more independent businesspeople have come to think of their economic problems in moral terms. But few realize how revolutionary that is.
As bureaucrats and teachers’ unions disempowered neighborhood school boards, while the governments of towns, counties, and states were becoming conduits for federal mandates, as the ruling class reduced the number and importance of things that American communities could decide for themselves, America’s thirst for self-governance reawakened. The fact that public employees are almost always paid more and have more generous benefits than the private sector people whose taxes support them only sharpened the sense among many in the country class that they now work for public employees rather than the other way around. But how to reverse the roles? How can voters regain control of government? Restoring localities’ traditional powers over schools, including standards, curriculum, and prayer, would take repudiating two generations of Supreme Court rulings. So would the restoration of traditional “police” powers over behavior in public places. Bringing public employee unions to heel is only incidentally a matter of cutting pay and benefits. As self-governance is crimped primarily by the powers of government personified in its employees, restoring it involves primarily deciding that any number of functions now performed and the professional specialties who perform them, e.g., social workers, are superfluous or worse. Explaining to one’s self and neighbors why such functions and personnel do more harm than good, while the ruling class brings its powers to bear to discredit you, is a very revolutionary thing to do.
America’s pro-family movement is a reaction to the ruling class’s challenges: emptying marriage of legal sanction, promoting abortion, and progressively excluding parents from their children’s education. Americans reacted to these challenges primarily by sorting themselves out. Close friendships and above all marriages became rarer between persons who think well of divorce, abortion, and government authority over children and those who do not. The homeschool movement, for which the Internet became the great facilitator, involves not only each family educating its own children, but also extensive and growing social, intellectual, and spiritual contact among like-minded persons. In short, the part of the country class that is most concerned with family matters has taken on something of a biological identity. Few in this part of the country class have any illusion, however, that simply retreating into private associations will long save their families from societal influences made to order to discredit their ways. But stopping the ruling class’s intrusions would require discrediting its entire conception of man, of right and wrong, as well as of the role of courts in popular government. That revolutionary task would involve far more than legislation.
The ruling class’s manifold efforts to discredit and drive worship of God out of public life — not even the Soviet Union arrested students for wearing crosses or praying, or reading the Bible on school property, as some U.S. localities have done in response to Supreme Court rulings — convinced many among the vast majority of Americans who believe and pray that today’s regime is hostile to the most important things of all. Every December, they are reminded that the ruling class deems the very word “Christmas” to be offensive. Every time they try to manifest their religious identity in public affairs, they are deluged by accusations of being “American Taliban” trying to set up a “theocracy.” Let members of the country class object to anything the ruling class says or does, and likely as not their objection will be characterized as “religious,” that is to say irrational, that is to say not to be considered on a par with the “science” of which the ruling class is the sole legitimate interpreter. Because aggressive, intolerant secularism is the moral and intellectual basis of the ruling class’s claim to rule, resistance to that rule, whether to the immorality of economic subsidies and privileges, or to the violation of the principle of equal treatment under equal law, or to its seizure of children’s education, must deal with secularism’s intellectual and moral core. This lies beyond the boundaries of politics as the term is commonly understood.
The Classes Clash
The ruling class’s appetite for deference, power, and perks grows. The country class disrespects its rulers, wants to curtail their power and reduce their perks. The ruling class wears on its sleeve the view that the rest of Americans are racist, greedy, and above all stupid. The country class is ever more convinced that our rulers are corrupt, malevolent, and inept. The rulers want the ruled to shut up and obey. The ruled want self-governance. The clash between the two is about which side’s vision of itself and of the other is right and which is wrong. Because each side — especially the ruling class — embodies its views on the issues, concessions by one side to another on any issue tend to discredit that side’s view of itself. One side or the other will prevail. The clash is as sure and momentous as its outcome is unpredictable.
In this clash, the ruling class holds most of the cards: because it has established itself as the fount of authority, its primacy is based on habits of deference. Breaking them, establishing other founts of authority, other ways of doing things, would involve far more than electoral politics. Though the country class had long argued along with Edmund Burke against making revolutionary changes, it faces the uncomfortable question common to all who have had revolutionary changes imposed on them: are we now to accept what was done to us just because it was done? Sweeping away a half century’s accretions of bad habits — taking care to preserve the good among them — is hard enough. Establishing, even reestablishing, a set of better institutions and habits is much harder, especially as the country class wholly lacks organization. By contrast, the ruling class holds strong defensive positions and is well represented by the Democratic Party. But a two to one numerical disadvantage augurs defeat, while victory would leave it in control of a people whose confidence it cannot regain.
Certainly the country class lacks its own political vehicle — and perhaps the coherence to establish one. In the short term at least, the country class has no alternative but to channel its political efforts through the Republican Party, which is eager for its support. But the Republican Party does not live to represent the country class. For it to do so, it would have to become principles-based, as it has not been since the mid-1860s. The few who tried to make it so the party treated as rebels: Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. The party helped defeat Goldwater. When it failed to stop Reagan, it saddled his and subsequent Republican administrations with establishmentarians who, under the Bush family, repudiated Reagan’s principles as much as they could. Barack Obama exaggerated in charging that Republicans had driven the country “into the ditch” all alone. But they had a hand in it. Few Republican voters, never mind the larger country class, have confidence that the party is on their side. Because, in the long run, the country class will not support a party as conflicted as today’s Republicans, those Republican politicians who really want to represent it will either reform the party in an unmistakable manner, or start a new one as Whigs like Abraham Lincoln started the Republican Party in the 1850s.
The name of the party that will represent America’s country class is far less important than what, precisely, it represents and how it goes about representing it because, for the foreseeable future, American politics will consist of confrontation between what we might call the Country Party and the ruling class. The Democratic Party having transformed itself into a unit with near-European discipline, challenging it would seem to require empowering a rival party at least as disciplined. What other antidote is there to government by one party but government by another party? Yet this logic, though all too familiar to most of the world, has always been foreign to America and naturally leads further in the direction toward which the ruling class has led. Any country party would have to be wise and skillful indeed not to become the Democrats’ mirror image.
Yet to defend the country class, to break down the ruling class’s presumptions, it has no choice but to imitate the Democrats, at least in some ways and for a while. Consider: The ruling class denies its opponents’ legitimacy. Seldom does a Democratic official or member of the ruling class speak on public affairs without reiterating the litany of his class’s claim to authority, contrasting it with opponents who are either uninformed, stupid, racist, shills for business, violent, fundamentalist, or all of the above. They do this in the hope that opponents, hearing no other characterizations of themselves and no authoritative voice discrediting the ruling class, will be dispirited. For the country class seriously to contend for self-governance, the political party that represents it will have to discredit not just such patent frauds as ethanol mandates, the pretense that taxes can control “climate change,” and the outrage of banning God from public life. More important, such a serious party would have to attack the ruling class’s fundamental claims to its superior intellect and morality in ways that dispirit the target and hearten one’s own. The Democrats having set the rules of modern politics, opponents who want electoral success are obliged to follow them.
Suppose that the Country Party (whatever its name might be) were to capture Congress, the presidency, and most statehouses. What then would it do? Especially if its majority were slim, it would be tempted to follow the Democrats’ plan of 2009-2010, namely to write its wish list of reforms into law regardless of the Constitution and enact them by partisan majorities supported by interest groups that gain from them, while continuing to vilify the other side. Whatever effect this might have, it surely would not be to make America safe for self-governance because by carrying out its own “revolution from above” to reverse the ruling class’s previous “revolution from above,” it would have made that ruinous practice standard in America. Moreover, a revolution designed at party headquarters would be antithetical to the country class’s diversity as well as to the American Founders’ legacy.
Achieving the country class’s inherently revolutionary objectives in a manner consistent with the Constitution and with its own diversity would require the Country Party to use legislation primarily as a tool to remove obstacles, to instruct, to reintroduce into American life ways and habits that had been cast aside. Passing national legislation is easier than getting people to take up the responsibilities of citizens, fathers, and entrepreneurs.
Reducing the taxes that most Americans resent requires eliminating the network of subsidies to millions of other Americans that these taxes finance, and eliminating the jobs of government employees who administer them. Eliminating that network is practical, if at all, if done simultaneously, both because subsidies are morally wrong and economically counterproductive, and because the country cannot afford the practice in general. The electorate is likely to cut off millions of government clients, high and low, only if its choice is between no economic privilege for anyone and ratifying government’s role as the arbiter of all our fortunes. The same goes for government grants to and contracts with so-called nonprofit institutions or non-governmental organizations. The case against all arrangements by which the government favors some groups of citizens is easier to make than that against any such arrangement. Without too much fuss, a few obviously burdensome bureaucracies, like the Department of Education, can be eliminated, while money can be cut off to partisan enterprises such as the National Endowments and public broadcasting. That sort of thing is as necessary to the American body politic as a weight reduction program is essential to restoring the health of any human body degraded by obesity and lack of exercise. Yet shedding fat is the easy part. Restoring atrophied muscles is harder. Reenabling the body to do elementary tasks takes yet more concentration.
The grandparents of today’s Americans (132 million in 1940) had opportunities to serve on 117,000 school boards. To exercise responsibilities comparable to their grandparents’, today’s 310 million Americans would have radically to decentralize the mere 15,000 districts into which public school children are now concentrated. They would have to take responsibility for curriculum and administration away from credentialed experts, and they would have to explain why they know better. This would involve a level of political articulation of the body politic far beyond voting in elections every two years.
If self-governance means anything, it means that those who exercise government power must depend on elections. The shorter the electoral leash, the likelier an official to have his chain yanked by voters, the more truly republican the government is. Yet to subject the modern administrative state’s agencies to electoral control would require ordinary citizens to take an interest in any number of technical matters. Law can require environmental regulators or insurance commissioners, or judges or auditors to be elected. But only citizens’ discernment and vigilance could make these officials good. Only citizens’ understanding of and commitment to law can possibly reverse the patent disregard for the Constitution and statutes that has permeated American life. Unfortunately, it is easier for anyone who dislikes a court’s or an official’s unlawful act to counter it with another unlawful one than to draw all parties back to the foundation of truth.
How, for example, to remind America of, and to drive home to the ruling class, Lincoln’s lesson that trifling with the Constitution for the most heartfelt of motives destroys its protections for all? What if a country class majority in both houses of Congress were to co-sponsor a “Bill of Attainder to deprive Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and other persons of liberty and property without further process of law for having violated the following ex post facto law…” and larded this constitutional monstrosity with an Article III Section 2 exemption from federal court review? When the affected members of the ruling class asked where Congress gets the authority to pass a bill every word of which is contrary to the Constitution, they would be confronted, publicly, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s answer to a question on the Congress’s constitutional authority to mandate individuals to purchase certain kinds of insurance: “Are you kidding? Are you kidding?” The point having been made, the Country Party could lead public discussions around the country on why even the noblest purposes (maybe even Title II of the Civil Rights Bill of 1964?) cannot be allowed to trump the Constitution.
How the country class and ruling class might clash on each item of their contrasting agendas is beyond my scope. Suffice it to say that the ruling class’s greatest difficulty — aside from being outnumbered — will be to argue, against the grain of reality, that the revolution it continues to press upon America is sustainable. For its part, the country class’s greatest difficulty will be to enable a revolution to take place without imposing it. America has been imposed on enough.
Story 2: McCain Calls Trump Supporters Crazies — Trump Calls McCain A War Hero Four Times, Loser and Dummy — Accurate Statements All — Videos
Actual Voice of General Patton starting at 1:15 vs. Hollywood
CRAZY – PATSY CLINE – HQ Stereo
Donald Trump on Fox & Friends Defends His Sentator McCain Not A Hero Comments
Donald Trump: McCain’s a War Hero Because He Was Captured, ‘I Like People That Weren’t’
Todd Starnes McCain started all of this mess
McCain: ‘Term Of Endearment’ To Call Trump Supporters ‘Crazies’
Trump: John McCain Is A Dummy & Rick Perry Needs IQ Test
Did John McCain Lie About His P.O.W Record?
McCain POW Cellmate Speaks Out on McCain’s Heroism
Former POW says McCain is “not cut out to be President”
John McCain Losing His Cool
Mean spirited McCain is known for throwing temper tantrums, flying off the handle, blowing his top,seething with anger, accusing others of lying, and of mistreating POW/MIA family members. So how will he treat U.S.? POW/MIA families report…You decide
John Mccain Exposed By Vietnam Vets And POWs
Fact Check: The Washington Post on Donald Trump and John McCain
By SHARYL ATTKISSON
Donald Trump appears to have gotten under the skin of not only Democrats, but also fellow Republicans and the news media. Has that subjected Trump, a Republican presidential candidate, to unfair and/or inaccurate reporting?
An article in the Washington Post today is headlined, “Trump slams McCain for being ‘captured’ in Vietnam.”
The article’s lead sentence states, “Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump slammed Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a decorated Vietnam War veteran, on Saturday by saying McCain was not a war herobecause he was captured by the North Vietnamese [emphasis added].”
Is this report accurate?
In fact, Trump’s actual quote is the opposite of what is presented in the Post’s first sentence.
1. The Post did not provide context at the outset disclosing that McCain and Trump have been feuding, with McCain characterizing some Trump supporters as “crazies” and Trump stating that McCain graduated last in his class in Annapolis. The charged rhetoric continued at the conservative Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa this weekend.
2. When a panelist characterized McCain as a “war hero,” the Post is accurate in reporting that Trump initially said McCain is “not a war hero.” But then, Trump immediately modified his statement saying– four times– that McCain is a war hero:
“He is a war hero.”
“He’s a war hero because he was captured.”
“He’s a war hero, because he was captured.”
“I believe, perhaps, he’s a war hero. But right now, he’s said some very bad things about a lot of people.”
3. Did Trump say McCain is not a war hero because he was captured? No, not in the exchanges represented in the Post.
4. Is the Post’s characterization an accident? It would appear not, because it is repeated in the Post’s caption of the video clip, which also states: “Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a decorated Vietnam war veteran, was not a war hero because he was captured by the North Vietnamese [emphasis added].”
Further, in the Post’s second sentence, Trump is quoted as stating of McCain, “He’s not a war hero…He’s a war hero because he was captured,” but the article selectively left out the phrase Trump had uttered in between: “He is a war hero.”
Trump actually said the opposite of what the Post lead sentence and video caption claim. The Post might have been able to get away stating that Trump “implied” McCain was not a war hero because McCain was captured, but even that would have been a subjective interpretation since Trump had actually stated the opposite.
It’s true that Trump stated one time that McCain is not a war hero. But Trump stated four times that McCain is a war hero–and that was not accurately characterized in the article.
For interpreting and characterizing Trump’s true quote in a way that is at best questionable, and for selectively using some quotes and leaving others out, the Post receives Two Little Devils. (Ratings scale at end of article.)
Obviously, all are free to draw conclusions about any candidate or politician. But the news media has a responsibility to do its best to report accurately and fairly–even when reporters find a candidate and/or his positions to be personally distasteful.
Trump: I don’t need to be lectured
Donald Trump6:46 p.m. EDT July 19, 2015
McCain has abandoned our veterans. I will fight for them.
John McCain has called his own constituents who want a secure border “crazies.” No one in the news media or the establishment, including the Republican National Committee, criticized the senator for those comments.
Now, as respected reporter Sharyl Attkisson has proved point by point, the news media are also distorting my words. But that is not my point. McCain the politician has failed the state of Arizona and the country.
Trump’s low-class outburst: Our view
During my entire business career, I have always made supporting veterans a top priority because our heroes deserve the very best for defending our freedom. Our Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals are outdated dumps. I will build the finest and most modern veterans hospitals in the world. The current medical assistance to our veterans is a disaster. A Trump administration will provide the finest universal access health care for our veterans. They will be able to get the best care anytime and anywhere.
Thanks to McCain and his Senate colleague Bernie Sanders, their legislation to cover up the VA scandal, in which 1,000+ veterans died waiting for medical care, made sure no one has been punished, charged, jailed, fined or held responsible. McCain has abandoned our veterans. I will fight for them.
The reality is that John McCain the politician has made America less safe, sent our brave soldiers into wrong-headed foreign adventures, covered up for President Obamawith the VA scandal and has spent most of his time in the Senate pushing amnesty. He would rather protect the Iraqi border than Arizona’s. He even voted for the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015, which allows Obama, who McCain lost to in a record defeat, to push his dangerous Iran nuclear agreement through the Senate without a supermajority of votes.
A number of my competitors for the Republican nomination have no business running for president. I do not need to be lectured by any of them. Many are failed politicians or people who would be unable to succeed in the private sector. Some, however, I have great respect for.
My record of veteran support is well-documented. I served as co-chairman of the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission and was responsible, with a small group, for getting it built. Toward this end, I contributed over $1 million so our warriors can be honored in New York City with a proper memorial. I also helped finance and served as the grand marshal of the 1995 Nation’s Day Parade, which honored over 25,000 veterans. It was one of the biggest parades in the history of New York City, and I was very proud to have made it possible.
I will continue to fight to secure our border and take care of our veterans because these steps are vital to make America great again!
A Monmouth University poll of Iowans released Monday and conducted over the weekend showed Scott Walker continues to maintain a solid lead in the Iowa Republican caucus, though Trump has gained an edge over the rest of the field and now stands alone in second place.
Of likely caucus attendees, 22% told pollsters that they’d support the Wisconsin governor in next winter’s matchup, but 13% said they would back Trump, who has suddenly catapulted to the front of some national polls. Trump only earned 4% of Republicans’ support in a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg survey conducted in May, a month before Trump announced his campaign and made a string of controversial comments that came alongside his rise.
The Monmouth poll was fielded while Trump found himself embroiled in a new controversy over a remark that seemed to disparage the military record of 2008 nominee McCain while at an event in Iowa. The poll found no change in Trump’s support before and after he made his comment this weekend in Iowa.
“Walker has been a favorite of Iowa voters ever since his well-received appearance at the Iowa Freedom summit in January. More recently, Trump has outmaneuvered the rest of the field to earn the second spot despite his controversial statements over the weekend,” said Patrick Murray, who conducted the poll.
Trailing Walker and Trump is Ben Carson at 8%, Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz at 7%, and 2008 Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee at 6%.
Monmouth polled 452 Iowans from Thursday to Sunday for a margin of error of 4.6 percentage points.
Story 1: Planned Parenthood’s Evil of Killing, Butchering and Selling Baby Parts Regrets Their Tone Not Their Actions– Reminds Me of The Nazis (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) Discussing The Final Solution for The Jewish Question — The Killing of Babies Supported By Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Progressives and Ruling Political Elites — Stop Killing Babies And Lying To The American People — Videos
He that is kind is free, though he is a slave; he that is evil is a slave, though he be a king.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
~Henry David Thoreau
The resolution to avoid an evil is seldom framed till the evil is so far advanced as to make avoidance impossible.
The Holocaust was the most evil crime ever committed.
The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”
Planned Parenthood: Cecile Richards’ Official Video Response
Brenda Lee – I’m Sorry
Senator Lankford Speaks about the Planned Parenthood Video on the Senate Floor
Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts
What So-Called Pro-Choicers Cannot Watch From Start To Finish
The Silent Scream (Full Length)
FULL FOOTAGE: Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts
Abby Johnson Exposes The Lie of Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards’ Attempt To Dismiss Viral Video Backfires!
Caught on Camera: Planned Parenthood Harvesting Babies Organs
Die Wannseekonferenz (1984)
A real time recreation of the 1942 Wannsee Conference, in which leading SS and Nazi Party officials led by SS-General Reinhard Heydrich gathered to discuss the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”.
MAAFA 21 THE BLACK HOLOCAUST
Abortion Inc: Promoting Black Genocide in US?
Planned Parenthood Banks on Fraud
Planned Parenthood’s New Image
Fit vs. UnFit, Eugenics, Planned Parenthood & Psychology, Mind Control Report
Sex Control Police State, Eugenics, Galton, Kantsaywhere, Mind Control Report
Mind Control Hate Propaganda, Hate Speech & Crime, Black PR
Mind Control, Psychology of Brainwashing, Sex & Hypnosis
Margaret Sanger: Eugenicist (1/3)
Margaret Sanger: Eugenicist (2/3)
Margaret Sanger: Eugenicist (3/3)
Eugenics Glenn Beck w/ Edwin Black author of “War Against the Weak” talk Al Gore & Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood’s Racist Founder
Justice Antonin Scalia talks about Roe v. Wade
Auschwitz The Nazis and the Final Solution complete
Auschwitz: The Nazi and the Final Solution (1/5)
AUSHWITZ:THE FINAL SOLUTION CLIP 2/5
Auschwitz: The Nazi and the Final Solution (3/5)
Auschwitz: The Nazi and the Final Solution (4/5)
Auschwitz: The Nazi and the Final Solution (5/5)
Science and the Swastika: The Deadly Experiment
Sterilizing Undesirables: Did The USA Inspire The Nazis?
Keeping Dems Honest: CNN’s Anderson Cooper Puts Truth First and Challenges DNC Abortion Lies
Glenn Beck : Agenda 21 is not a fiction, it’s implemented right now in US and all over the World !
Glenn Beck – Ted Cruz Discusses the Evils of Agenda 21
Bill Whittle What We Believe Full Version
Brenda Lee – I’m Sorry (Live from Canada 1980)
Planned Parenthood head apologizes for ‘tone’ of doctor in covert video
The president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America on Thursday apologized for remarks captured on video that show Deborah Nucatola, an executive of the organization, casually discussing abortion techniques aimed at preserving the internal organs of fetuses for use in research.
But Richards also emphatically defended the organization’s tissue donation program, which she said is purely voluntary for the women and does not yield a profit for Planned Parenthood. And she condemned the group that covertly recorded Nucatola’s remarks, which she said heavily edited the video to make “outrageous claims.”
“We know the real agenda of organizations behind videos like this, and they have never been concerned with protecting the health and safety of women,” she said. “Their mission is to ban abortion completely and cut women off from care at Planned Parenthood and other health centers.”
Richards’s apology came a day after a little-known anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress unveiled the video as part of what its leader said was a 30-month investigation into Planned Parenthood’s tissue donation program. The group alleges Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal body parts to companies that use the tissue for research.
While the video did not prove this claim, it still painted Planned Parenthood in an unflattering light that reignited controversy over the women’s health organization, the nation’s largest abortion provider and a longtime target of anti-abortion activism. It showed Nucatola, the organization’s senior director of medical services, discussing graphically the ways in which abortions can be completed to preserve a fetus’s liver, lungs, heart and other materials for research.
“I’d say a lot of people want liver,” she says in the video, drinking wine and eating salad with anti-abortion activists posing as medical company representatives.
Later in the video, she continues: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
The Center for Medical Research distilled the video into a nine-minute clip, but also posted a longer cut lasting more than two-and-a-half hours showing a fuller context of the discussion. It also posted some supporting documents on its site, and the group’s leader has promised more evidence in the coming weeks.
Planned Parenthood’s president apologized Thursday for a top official’s tone in a controversial video, but she also denied the clip’s allegation that her organization profits from tissue donation.
“Our top priority is the compassionate care that we provide. In the video, one of our staff members speaks in a way that does not reflect that compassion. This is unacceptable, and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements,” said Cecile Richards, the group’s president, in a video out Thursday. “As always, if there is any aspect of our work that can be strengthened, we want to know about it, and we take swift action to address it.”
Since the video’s release on Breitbart earlier this week, conservative elected officials have slammed its contents and called for congressional hearings on the incident, including House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
“I hope that everyone in the country watches it,” said Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri, who called the video “the most horrifying and heartbreaking undercover video I have ever seen” during a Capitol Hill news conference on Wednesday.
But allegations that Planned Parenthood sells baby body organs and tissue are unfounded, she said.
“I want to be really clear: The allegation that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true. Our donation programs — like any other high-quality health care providers — follow all laws and ethical guidelines.”
On Wednesday, Richards used Twitter to criticize lawmakers and presidential candidates
Richards said political attacks are nothing new for her organization, the country’s largest abortion provider.
“Spreading false information is an age-old strategy of people hell-bent on denying women care & shaming them for exercising their rights,” she tweeted.
Several Republican candidates have promised to defund federal dollars to Planned Parenthood if elected. Richards argued that would keep millions from breast exams, sexually transmitted infection exams and sex education.
“Reminder: 1 out of every 5 women has been to PP in her life. Threatening our patients’ care & rights will get politicians nowhere real fast,” she tweeted. “We’ve fought for our patients before, and we’ll fight for them again and again.”
Planned Parenthood exec, fetal body parts subject of controversial video
By Steve Almasy and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
An anti-abortion group has released an online video that it says documents how Planned Parenthood is selling fetal organs for a profit, a felony, while violating medical ethics by altering normal abortion procedures so as to preserve the organs.
Planned Parenthood has countered that it donates the tissue for scientific research and receives only reimbursement for its expenses, which is legal. The group also says it helps people donate tissue “with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards,” according to a statement from spokesman Eric Ferrero.
Later, Ferrero issued another statement saying, “These outrageous claims are flat-out untrue, but that doesn’t matter to politicians with a longstanding political agenda to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood. Women and families who make the decision to donate fetal tissue for lifesaving scientific research should be honored, not attacked and demeaned.”
The group leveling the accusation, the Irvine, California-based Center for Medical Progress, says it shot the video a year ago at a California restaurant. On it, two people purporting to be with a human biologics company speak with a Planned Parenthood doctor over what appears to be a lunch meeting. The Center for Medical Progress says the pair, who are off-camera and never seen, are paid actors.
“Planned Parenthood’s criminal conspiracy to make money off of aborted baby parts reaches to the very highest levels of their organization,” said statement from David Daleiden, who led the undercover project.
The video has drawn the ire of GOP lawmakers in Washington, with House Speaker John Boehner calling for hearings on Planned Parenthood’s abortion practices.
“When anyone diminishes an unborn child, we are all hurt, irreversibly so. When an organization monetizes an unborn child — and with the cavalier attitude portrayed in this horrific video — we must all act,” he said.
On the video, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is seen talking matter-of-factly about the organization’s participation in tissue-donation programs.
Though Planned Parenthood has described the Center for Medical Progress footage as a hit piece by “a well-funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and services,” Nucatola acknowledges in the video that Planned Parenthood’s national office sees the potential for controversy.
“So, we tried to do this, and at the national office we have a Litigation and Law Department that just really doesn’t want us to be the middle people for this issue right now,” she said. “And so we had a conversation, and we said, ‘What if we go out and find everyone who is doing this and present everybody with a menu?’ And at the end of the day they just decided that right now, it’s just too touchy an issue for us to be an official middleman.”
In another part of the video, the doctor tells the undercover actors that “behind closed doors,” Planned Parenthood’s affiliates are discussing how to handle the matter.
“Every provider has had patients who want to donate their tissue, and they absolutely want to accommodate them. They just want to do it in a way that is not perceived as ‘This clinic is selling tissue. This clinic is making money off of this,’ ” she said.
The edited version of the video appears to be missing important context that’s provided in the longer video. For instance, one of the actors asks Nucatola about prices for the organs.
“OK, so when you are, or the (Planned Parenthood) affiliate is determining what that monetary … so that it doesn’t raise any question of ‘This is what it’s about; this is the main,’ what price range would you …” the woman asks, her question trailing off.
Nucatola responds that the price would be between $30 and $100 per specimen, with consideration for what facility is used and “what’s involved.” It’s not clear if a specimen constitutes the entire organ or only samples of it.
Nucatola doesn’t specifically say that the price is for the purchase of the tissue, but the comment troubled bioethicist Art Caplan of New York University, who said after watching the edited version of the video it sounds like Planned Parenthood might be trying to make a profit.
But in the longer version of the video, Nucatola elaborates and appears to say the price is related to the cost of performing the procedure and shipping.
“It just has to do with space issues. Are you sending someone there who is going to be doing everything or is their staff going to be doing it? What exactly are they going to be doing? Is there shipping involved or is someone coming to pick it up?”
Selling fetal body parts — or any body parts — is against federal law, but Planned Parenthood said it makes no profit.
“In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field,” the group said.
Another part of the video also raised concerns for Caplan. Nucatola talks about doctors performing abortions in which ultrasound is used to ascertain the best location to grab the fetus with forceps.
“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver because we know that, I’m not going to crush that part,” she says.
Altering procedures in order to get tissue in the best condition would be a “big no-no,” the bioethicist said, because the patient’s health is paramount and that should be the only concern for doctors. Caplan did not comment specifically on whether the ultrasound procedure would endanger the mother, but he made it clear that any deviation from normal procedures is unacceptable.
“In abortion the primary goal is to give the safest abortion possible,” Caplan said. “Your sole concern has to be the mother and her health.”
There’s a parallel in patient care, he said. When someone is dying, doctors shouldn’t change how they treat the patient in order to harvest good tissue for donation after death.
Doctors should treat the patient as they normally would, and then use whatever is available after death. If a provider is considering how to get the tissue that’s in the best shape, “that’s a huge conflict of interest. … If you modify how someone dies, that’s unethical.”
The Center for Medical Progress also alleges that Nucatola describes a method — using ultrasound to manipulate the fetus so it comes out feet first, or breech presentation, instead of head first, or vertex presentation — that “is the hallmark of the illegal partial-birth abortion procedure.”
Partial birth abortions are illegal, according to U.S. law, which defines them as procedures “in which the person performing the abortion deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother, or, in the case of breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother, for the purpose of performing an overt act that the person knows will kill the partially delivered living fetus.”
On the video, Nucatola describes the best strategy to extract calavarium, or skulls, intact, but it is not clear if she is speaking in general terms or if she is describing Planned Parenthood’s methods. And then, she says nothing about whether the fetus is still alive when it’s delivered.
“And with the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex, because when it’s vertex presentation, you never have enough dilation at the beginning of the case, unless you have real, huge amount of dilation to deliver an intact calvarium. So if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last, you can evacuate an intact calvarium at the end.”
The Center for Medical Progress responded to Planned Parenthood’s written statement about the video and accused Planned Parenthood of lying about obtaining consent from patients and not making a profit on the tissue transactions. It did not offer any further evidence of either claim.
Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, said the anti-abortion group was the one that was lying.
“A well-funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and services has promoted a heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research,” it said.
The statement continued, “Similar false accusations have been put forth by opponents of abortion services for decades. These groups have been widely discredited and their claims fall apart on closer examination, just as they do in this case.”
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), commonly shortened to Planned Parenthood, is the U.S. affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and one of its larger members. PPFA is a non-profit organization providing reproductive health and maternal and child health services. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Inc. (PPAF) is a related organization which lobbies for pro-choice legislation, comprehensive sex education, and access to affordable health care in the United States. In recent years, Planned Parenthood has begun to move away from the pro-choice label to words and phrases that more accurately reflect the entire range of women’s health and economic issues.
Planned Parenthood is the largest U.S. provider of reproductive health services, including cancer screening, HIV screening and counseling, contraception, and abortion. Contraception accounts for 34% of PPFA’s total services and abortions account for 3%; PPFA conducts roughly 300,000 abortions each year, among 3 million people served.
The organization has its roots in Brooklyn, New York, where Margaret Sanger opened the country’s first birth-control clinic. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921, which in 1942 became part of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Since then, Planned Parenthood has grown to have over 820 clinic locations in the U.S., with a total budget of US $1 billion. PPFA provides an array of services to over three million people in the United States, and supports services for over one million clients outside the United States.
Margaret Sanger (1922), the first president and founder of Planned Parenthood
The origins of Planned Parenthood date to October 16, 1916 when Margaret Sanger, her sister Ethel Byrne, and Fania Mindell opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York. All three women were immediately arrested and jailed for violating provisions of the Comstock Act– for distributing “obscene materials” at the clinic. The “Brownsville trials” brought national attention and support to their cause, and although Sanger and her co-defendants were convicted, their convictions were eventually overturned. Their campaign led to major changes in the laws governing birth control and sex education in the United States.
In 1938, the clinic was organized into the American Birth Control League, which became part of the only national birth control organization in the US until the 1960s, but the title was found too offensive and “against families” so the League began discussions for a new name. By 1941, the organization was operating 222 centers and had served 49,000 clients. By 1942 the League had become part of what became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Following Margaret Sanger, Alan Frank Guttmacher became president of Planned Parenthood and served from 1962 till 1974. During his tenure, the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of the original birth control pill, giving rise to new attitudes towards women’s reproductive freedom. Also during his presidency, Planned Parenthood lobbied the federal government to support reproductive health, culminating with President Richard Nixon‘s signing of Title X to provide governmental subsidies for low-income women to access family planning services. The Center for Family Planning Program Development was also founded as a semi-autonomous division during this time. The center became an independent organization and was renamed the Guttmacher Institute in 1977.
Faye Wattleton was the first woman named president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1978 and served till 1992. She was the first African-American to serve as president, and the youngest president in Planned Parenthood’s history. During her term, Planned Parenthood grew to become the seventh largest charity in the country, providing services to four million clients each year through its 170 affiliates whose activities were spread across 50 states.
A Planned Parenthood supporter participates in a demonstration in support of the organization.
From 1996 to 2006, Planned Parenthood was led by Gloria Feldt. Feldt activated the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the organization’s political action committee, launching what was the most far reaching electoral advocacy effort in its history. She also launched the Responsible Choices Action Agenda, a nationwide campaign to increase services to prevent unwanted pregnancies, improve quality of reproductive care and ensure access to safe and legal abortions. Another initiative was the commencement of a “Global Partnership Program” with the aim of building a vibrant activist constituency in support of family planning.
PPFA is a federation of 85 independent Planned Parenthood affiliates around the U.S. These affiliates together operate more than 820 health centers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The largest of these facilities, a $26 million, 78,000-square-foot (7,200 m2) structure was completed in Houston, Texas in May 2010. This serves as a headquarters for 12 clinics in Texas and Louisiana. Together, they are the largest family planning services provider in the U.S. with over four million activists, supporters and donors. Planned Parenthood is staffed by 27,000 staff members and volunteers.
They serve over five million clients a year, 26% of which are teenagers under the age of 19. According to Planned Parenthood, 75% of their clients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
In 2009, Planned Parenthood provided 4,009,549 contraceptive services (35% of total), 3,955,926 sexually transmitted disease services (35% of total), 1,830,811 cancer related services (16% of total), 1,178,369 pregnancy/prenatal/midlife services (10% of total), 332,278 abortion services (3% of total), and 76,977 other services (1% of total), for a total of 11,383,900 services. The organization also said its doctors and nurses annually conduct 1 million screenings for cervical cancer and 830,000 breast exams.
Planned Parenthood has received federal funding since 1970, when President Richard Nixon signed into law the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act, amending the Public Health Service Act. Title X of that law provides funding for family planning services, including contraception and family planning information. The law enjoyed bipartisan support from liberals who saw contraception access as increasing families’ control over their lives, and conservatives who saw it as a way to keep people off welfare. Nixon described Title X funding as based on the premise that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”
In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, total (consolidated) revenue was $201 million: clinic revenue totaling $2 million, grants and donations of $190 million, investment income of $2 million, and $7 million other income. Approximately two-thirds of the revenue is put towards the provision of health services, while non-medical services such as sex education and public policy work make up another 16%; management expenses, fundraising, and international family planning programs account for most of the rest.
Planned Parenthood receives about a third of its money in government grants and contracts (about $360 million in 2009). By law, federal funding cannot be allocated for abortions, but some opponents of abortion have argued that allocating money to Planned Parenthood for the provision of other medical services “frees up” funds to be re-allocated for abortion.
A coalition of national and local pro-life groups have lobbied federal and state government to stop funding Planned Parenthood, and as a result, Republican federal and state legislators have proposed legislation to reduce the funding levels. Some six states have gone ahead with such proposals. In some cases, the courts have overturned such actions, citing conflict with federal or other state laws, and in others, the federal executive branch has provided funding in lieu of the states. In other cases, complete or partial defunding of Planned Parenthood has gone through successfully.
Planned Parenthood is also funded by private donors, with a membership base of over 700,000 active donors whose contributions account for approximately one quarter of the organization’s revenue. Large donors also contribute a substantial portion of the organization’s budget; past donors have included the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Buffett Foundation, Ford Foundation, Turner Foundation, the Cullmans and others. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s contributions to the organization have been specifically marked to avoid funding abortions. Some, such as the Buffett Foundation, have supported reproductive health that can include abortion services. Pro-life groups have advocated the boycott of donors to Planned Parenthood.
Stand on political and legal issues
Planned Parenthood and its predecessor organizations have provided and advocated for access to birth control. The modern organization of Planned Parenthood America is also an advocate for reproductive rights. This advocacy includes contributing to sponsorship of abortion rights and women’s rights events and assisting in the testing of new contraceptives. The Federation opposes restrictions on women’s reproductive health services, including parental consent laws. Planned Parenthood has cited the case of Becky Bell, who died following a septic abortion after failing to seek parental consent, to justify their opposition. Planned Parenthood also takes the position that laws requiring parental notification before an abortion is performed on a minor are unconstitutional on privacy grounds. The organization also opposes laws requiring ultrasounds before abortions, stating that their only purpose is to make abortions more difficult to obtain. Planned Parenthood has also opposed initiatives that require waiting periods before abortions, and bans on late-term abortions including intact dilation and extraction, which has been illegal in the U.S. since 2003.
Planned Parenthood argues for the wide availability of emergency contraception (EC) measures. It opposes conscience clauses, which allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs against their beliefs. In support of their position, they have cited cases where pharmacists have refused to fill life saving drugs under the laws. Planned Parenthood has also been critical of hospitals that do not provide access to EC for rape victims. Planned Parenthood supports and provides FDA-approved abortifacients such as mifepristone.
Citing the need for medically accurate information in sex education, Planned Parenthood opposes abstinence-only education in public schools. Instead, Planned Parenthood is a provider of, and endorses, comprehensive sex education, which includes discussion of both abstinence and birth control.
Planned Parenthood also has a political action committee called Planned Parenthood Action Fund. The committee was founded in 1996 by then new president Gloria Feldt for the purpose of maintaining reproductive health rights and supporting political candidates of the same mindset. In 2012 election cycle the committee gained prominence based on its effectiveness of spending on candidates.
Planned Parenthood regional chapters have been active in the American courts. A number of cases in which Planned Parenthood has been a party have reached the U.S. Supreme Court. Notable among these cases is the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the case that sets forth the current constitutional abortion standard. In this case, “Planned Parenthood” was the Southeast Pennsylvania Chapter, and “Casey” was Robert Casey, the governor of Pennsylvania. The ultimate ruling was split, and Roe v. Wade was narrowed but upheld in an opinion written by Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter. Harry Blackmun and John Paul Stevens concurred with the main decision in separately written opinions. The Supreme Court struck down spousal consent requirements for married women to obtain abortions, but found no “undue burden”—an alternative to strict scrutiny which tests the allowable limitations on rights protected under the Constitution—from the other statutory requirements. Dissenting were William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Byron White. Blackmun, Rehnquist, and White were the only justices who voted on the original Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 who were still on the Supreme Court to rule on this case, and their votes on this case were consistent with their votes on the original decision that legalized abortion. Only Blackmun voted to maintain Roe v. Wade in its entirety.
Other related cases include:
Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth (1976). Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of a Missouri law encompassing parental consent, spousal consent, clinic bookkeeping and allowed abortion methods. Portions of the challenged law were held to be constitutional, others not.
Planned Parenthood Association of Kansas City v. Ashcroft (1983). Planned Parenthood challenged the constitutionality of a Missouri law encompassing parental consent, clinic record keeping, and hospitalization requirements. Most of the challenged law was held to be constitutional.
Planned Parenthood v. ACLA (2001). The American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA) released a flier and “Wanted” posters with complete personal information about doctors who performed abortions. A civil jury and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals both found that the material was indeed “true threats” and not protected speech.
Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood (2003). Planned Parenthood sued Attorney General Gonzales for an injunction against the enforcement of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. Planned Parenthood argued the act was unconstitutional because it violated the Fifth Amendment, namely in that it was overly vague, violated women’s constitutional right to have access to abortion, and did not include language for exceptions for the health of the mother. Both the district court and the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed, but that decision was overturned in a 5–4 ruling by the Supreme Court.
Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (2006). Planned Parenthood et al. challenged the constitutionality of a New Hampshire parental notification law related to access to abortion. In Sandra Day O’Connor’s final decision before retirement, the Supreme Court sent the case back to lower courts with instructions to seek a remedy short of wholesale invalidation of the statute. New Hampshire ended up repealing the statute via the legislative process.
Controversy and criticism
Planned Parenthood has occupied a central position in the abortion debate in the U.S., and has been among the most prominent targets of U.S. pro-life activists for decades. Congressional Republicans have attempted since the 1980s to defund the organization, nearly leading to a government shutdown over the issue in 2011. The federal money received by Planned Parenthood is not used to fund abortion services, but pro-life activists have argued that the funding frees up other resources which are, in turn, used to provide abortions.
Planned Parenthood is the largest single provider of abortions in the U.S. In 2009, Planned Parenthood performed 332,278 abortions (for comparison, 1.21 million abortions were performed in the US in 2008), from which it derives about $164,154,000, or 15% of its annual revenue as of their 2008–2009 calculations. According to PPFA’s own estimates, its contraceptive services prevent approximately 612,000 unintended pregnancies and 291,000 abortions annually. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has argued that the organization’s family planning services reduce the need for abortions. Megan Crepeau of the Chicago Tribune said that, because of its birth control and family planning services, PPFA could be “characterized as America’s largest abortion preventer.” Anti-abortion activists dispute the evidence that greater access to contraceptives reduces abortions.
In the 1920s various theories of eugenics were popular among intellectuals in the United States. For example, 75% of colleges offered courses on eugenics. Sanger, in her campaign to promote birth control, teamed with eugenics organizations such as the American Eugenics Society, although she argued against many of their positions. Scholars describe Sanger as believing that birth control, sterilization and abortion should be voluntary and not based on race. She advocated for “voluntary motherhood”—the right to choose when to be pregnant—for all women, as an important element of women’s rights. Opponents of Planned Parenthood often refer to Sanger’s connection with supporters of eugenics to discredit the organization by associating it, and birth control, with the more negative modern view of eugenics. Planned Parenthood has responded to this effort directly in a leaflet acknowledging that Sanger agreed with some of her contemporaries who advocated the voluntary hospitalization or sterilization of people with untreatable, disabling, hereditary conditions, and limits on the immigration of the diseased. The leaflet also states that Planned Parenthood “finds these views objectionable and outmoded” but says that it was compelled to discuss the topic because “anti-family planning activists continue to attack Sanger . . . because she is an easier target” than Planned Parenthood.
Periodically pro-life activists have tried to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood does not follow applicable state or federal laws. The groups called or visited a Planned Parenthood health center posing as victims of statutory rape, minors who would need parental notification for abortion, racists seeking to earmark donations for abortions for black women to abort black babies, or pimps who want abortions for child prostitutes. Edited video and audio productions of these dialogues seem to capture employees being sympathetic to potentially criminal acts, leading to allegations that the health centers in question are violating the law. An official federal inspection in 2005 by the Bush administration‘s Department of Health and Human Services “yielded no evidence of clinics around the nation failing to comply with laws on reporting child abuse, child molestation, sexual abuse, rape or incest.”
In 2011, the organization Live Action released a series of videos that they said showed Planned Parenthood employees at multiple affiliates actively assisting or being complicit in aiding the underage prostitution ring of actors posing as a pimp and a prostitute. Planned Parenthood conducted a frame-by-frame analysis of the recordings, and said they found instances of “editing that dramatically alter[ed] the meaning of the recorded conversations.”
None of these stings have led to criminal conviction. However, a small number of Planned Parenthood employees and volunteers were fired for not following procedure, and the organization committed to retraining its staff.
State and local court cases against Planned Parenthood
In some states, anti-abortion Attorneys General have subpoenaed medical records of patients treated by Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has gone to court to keep from turning over these records, citing medical privacy and concerns about the motivation for seeking the records.
In 2006, Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, a strongly anti-abortion Republican, released some sealed patient records obtained from Planned Parenthood to the public. His actions were described as “troubling” by the state Supreme Court, but ultimately Planned Parenthood was compelled to turn over the medical records, albeit with more stringent court-mandated privacy safeguards for the patients involved. In 2007, Kline’s successor, Paul J. Morrison, notified the clinic that no criminal charges would be filed after a three-year investigation, as “an objective, unbiased and thorough examination” showed no wrongdoing. Morrison stated that he believed Kline had politicized the attorney general’s office. In 2012, a Kansas district attorney dropped all of the remaining criminal charges against the Kansas City-area Planned Parenthood clinic accused of performing illegal abortions, citing a lack of evidence of wrongdoing. In all, the Planned Parenthood clinic had faced 107 criminal charges from Kline and other Kansas prosecutors, all of which were ultimately dropped for lack of evidence.
In Indiana, Planned Parenthood was not required to turn over its medical records in an investigation of possible child abuse. In October 2005, Planned Parenthood Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota was fined $50,000 for violating a Minnesota state parental consent law.
On December 31, 2012, Judge Gary Harger ruled Texas may exclude otherwise qualified doctors and clinics from receiving state funding if they advocate for abortion rights.
In 1994, John Salvi entered a Brookline, Massachusetts Planned Parenthood clinic and opened fire, murdering receptionist Shannon Elizabeth Lowney and wounding three others. He fled to another Planned Parenthood clinic where he murdered Leane Nichols and wounded two others.
William Sanger (1902–1921)[note 1]
James Noah H. Slee (1922–1943).
Margaret Higgins Sanger (September 14, 1879 – September 6, 1966) was an American birth control activist, sex educator, and nurse. Sanger popularized the term birth control, opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established organizations that evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Sanger was also a writer. She used this method to help promote her way of thinking. She was prosecuted for her book Family Limitation under the Comstock Act in 1914. She was afraid of what would happen, so she fled to Britain until she knew it was safe to return to the US. Sanger’s efforts contributed to several judicial cases that helped legalize contraception in the United States. Sanger is a frequent target of criticism by opponents of abortion and has also been criticized for supporting eugenics, but remains an iconic figure in the American reproductive rights movement.
In 1916, Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, which led to her arrest for distributing information on contraception. Her subsequent trial and appeal generated controversy. Sanger felt that in order for women to have a more equal footing in society and to lead healthier lives, they needed to be able to determine when to bear children. She also wanted to prevent unsafe abortions, so-called back-alley abortions, which were common at the time because abortions were usually illegal. She believed that while abortion was sometimes justified it should generally be avoided, and she considered contraception the only practical way to avoid the use of abortions.
In 1921, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In New York City, she organized the first birth control clinic staffed by all-female doctors, as well as a clinic in Harlem with an entirely African-American staff. In 1929, she formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control, which served as the focal point of her lobbying efforts to legalize contraception in the United States. From 1952 to 1959, Sanger served as president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. She died in 1966, and is widely regarded as a founder of the modern birth control movement.
Sanger was born Margaret Louise Higgins in 1879 in Corning, New York, to Michael Hennessey Higgins, an Irish-born stonemason and free-thinker, and Anne Purcell Higgins, a Catholic Irish-American. Michael Hennessey Higgins had emigrated to the USA at age 14 and joined the U.S. Army as a drummer at age 15, during the Civil War. After leaving the army, Michael studied medicine and phrenology, but ultimately became a stonecutter, making stone angels, saints, and tombstones. Michael H. Higgins was a Catholic who became an atheist and an activist for women’s suffrage and free public education. Anne Higgins went through 18 pregnancies (with 11 live births) in 22 years before dying at the age of 49. Sanger was the sixth of eleven surviving children, and spent much of her youth assisting with household chores and caring for her younger siblings. Anne’s parents took their children and emigrated to Canada when she was a child, due to the Potato Famine.
Supported by her two older sisters, Margaret Higgins attended Claverack College and Hudson River Institute, before enrolling in 1900 at White Plains Hospital as a nurse probationer. In 1902, she married the dashing architect William Sanger and gave up her education. Though she was plagued by a recurring active tubercular condition, Margaret Sanger bore three children, and the couple settled down to a quiet life in Westchester, New York.
Sanger’s political interests, emerging feminism and nursing experience led her to write two series of columns on sex education entitled “What Every Mother Should Know” (1911–12) and “What Every Girl Should Know” (1912-13) for the socialist magazine New York Call. By the standards of the day, Sanger’s articles were extremely frank in their discussion of sexuality, and many New York Call readers were outraged by them. Other readers, however, praised the series for its candor, one stated that the series contained “a purer morality than whole libraries full of hypocritical cant about modesty. Both were later published in book form in 1916.
During her work among working class immigrant women, Sanger was exposed to graphic examples of women going through frequent childbirth, miscarriage and self-induced abortion for lack of information on how to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Access to contraceptive information was prohibited on grounds of obscenity by the 1873 federal Comstock law and a host of state laws. Searching for something that would help these women, Sanger visited public libraries, but was unable to find information on contraception. These problems were epitomized in a (possibly fictional) story that Sanger would later recount in her speeches: while Sanger was working as a nurse, she was called to the apartment of a woman, “Sadie Sachs,” who had become extremely ill due to a self-induced abortion. Afterward, “Sadie” (whose marital status Sanger never mentioned) begged the attending doctor to tell her how she could prevent this from happening again, to which the doctor simply advised her to remain abstinent. A few months later, Sanger was called back to “Sadie’s” apartment — only this time, “Sadie” died shortly after Sanger arrived. She had attempted yet another self-induced abortion. Sanger would sometimes end the story by saying, “I threw my nursing bag in the corner and announced … that I would never take another case until I had made it possible for working women in America to have the knowledge to control birth.” Although “Sadie Sachs” was possibly a fictional composite of several women Sanger had known, this story marks the time when Sanger began to devote her life to help desperate women before they were driven to pursue dangerous and illegal abortions.
Accepting the connection proposed between contraception and working-class empowerment by radicals such as Emma Goldman, Sanger came to believe that only by liberating women from the risk of unwanted pregnancy would fundamental social change take place. She proceeded to launch a campaign to challenge governmental censorship of contraceptive information. She would set up a series of confrontational actions designed to challenge the law and force birth control to become a topic of public debate. Sanger’s trip to France in 1913 exposed her to what Goldman had been saying. Sanger’s experience during her trip to France directly influence The Women Rebel newsletter. The trip to France was also the beginning of the end of her marriage with William Sanger.
In 1914, Sanger launched The Woman Rebel, an eight-page monthly newsletter which promoted contraception using the slogan “No Gods, No Masters“.[note 2] Sanger, collaborating with anarchist friends, popularized the term “birth control” as a more candid alternative to euphemisms such as “family limitation” and proclaimed that each woman should be “the absolute mistress of her own body.” In these early years of Sanger’s activism, she viewed birth control as a free-speech issue, and when she started publishing The Woman Rebel, one of her goals was to provoke a legal challenge to the federal anti-obscenity laws which banned dissemination of information about contraception. Though postal authorities suppressed five of its seven issues, Sanger continuing publication, all the while preparing, Family Limitation, an even more blatant challenge to anti-birth control laws. This 16-page pamphlet contained detailed and precise information and graphic descriptions of various contraceptive methods. In August 1914 Margaret Sanger was indicted for violating postal obscenity laws by sending the The Woman Rebel through the postal system. Instead of standing trial, she jumped bail and fled to Canada. Then, under the alias “Bertha Watson”, sailed for England. En route she ordered her labor associates to release copies of the Family Limitation.
Margaret Sanger spent much of her 1914 exile in England, where contact with British neo-Malthusianists helped refine her socioeconomic justifications for birth control. She was also profoundly influenced by the liberation theories of British sexual theorist Havelock Ellis. Under his tutelage she formulated a new rationale that would liberate women not just by making sexual intercourse safe, but also pleasurable. It would, in effect, free women from the inequality of sexual experience. Early in 1915, Margaret Sanger’s estranged husband, William Sanger, was entrapped into giving a copy of Family Limitation to a representative of anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock. William Sanger was tried and convicted, he spent thirty days in jail, while also escalating interest in birth control as a civil liberties issue.
This page from Sanger’s Family Limitation, 1917 edition, describes a cervical cap.
Some countries in northwestern Europe had more liberal policies towards contraception than the United States at the time, and when Sanger visited a Dutch birth control clinic in 1915, she learned about diaphragms and became convinced that they were a more effective means of contraception than the suppositories and douches that she had been distributing back in the United States. Diaphragms were generally unavailable in the United States, so Sanger and others began importing them from Europe, in defiance of United States law.
On October 16, 1916, Sanger opened a family planning and birth control clinic at 46 Amboy St. in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, the first of its kind in the United States. Nine days after the clinic opened, Sanger was arrested. Sanger’s bail was set at $500 and she went back home. Sanger continued seeing some women in the clinic until the police came a second time. This time Sanger and her sister, Ethel Byrne, were arrested for breaking a New York state law that prohibited distribution of contraceptives, Sanger was also charged with running a public nuisance. Sanger and Ethel went to trial in January 1917. Byrne was convicted and sentenced to 30 days in a workhouse but went on hunger strike. She was the first woman in the US to be force fed. Only when Sanger pledged that Byrne would never break the law, she was pardoned after ten days. Sanger was convicted; the trial judge held that women did not have “the right to copulate with a feeling of security that there will be no resulting conception.” Sanger was offered a more lenient sentence if she promised to not break the law again, but she replied: “I cannot respect the law as it exists today.” For this, she was sentenced to 30 days in a workhouse. An initial appeal was rejected, but in a subsequent court proceeding in 1918, the birth control movement won a victory when Judge Frederick E. Crane of the New York Court of Appeals issued a ruling which allowed doctors to prescribe contraception. The publicity surrounding Sanger’s arrest, trial, and appeal sparked birth control activism across the United States, and earned the support of numerous donors, who would provide her with funding and support for future endeavors.
Sanger became estranged from her husband in 1913, and the couple’s divorce was finalized in 1921. Sanger’s second husband was Noah Slee. He followed Sanger around the world and provided much of Sanger’s financial assistance. The couple got married in September 1922, but the public did not know about it until February 1924. They supported each other with their pre-commitments.
American Birth Control League
Sanger published the Birth Control Review from 1917 to 1929.[note 4]
After World War I, Sanger shifted away from radical politics, and she founded the American Birth Control League (ABCL) in 1921 to enlarge her base of supporters to include the middle class. The founding principles of the ABCL were as follows:
We hold that children should be (1) Conceived in love; (2) Born of the mother’s conscious desire; (3) And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health. Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied.
Sanger’s appeal of her conviction for the Brownsville clinic secured a 1918 court ruling that exempted physicians from the law that prohibited the distribution of contraceptive information to women—provided it was prescribed for medical reasons—she established the Clinical Research Bureau (CRB) in 1923 to exploit this loophole. The CRB was the first legal birth control clinic in the United States, and it was staffed entirely by female doctors and social workers. The clinic received a large amount of funding from John D. Rockefeller Jr. and his family, which continued to make donations to Sanger’s causes in future decades, but generally made them anonymously to avoid public exposure of the family name, and to protect family member Nelson Rockefeller‘s political career since openly advocating birth control could have led to the Catholic Church opposing him politically. John D. Rockefeller Jr. donated five thousand dollars to her American Birth Control League in 1924 and a second time in 1925. In 1922, she traveled to China, Korea, and Japan. In China she observed that the primary method of family planning was female infanticide, and she later worked with Pearl Buck to establish a family planning clinic in Shanghai. Sanger visited Japan six times, working with Japanese feminist Kato Shidzue to promote birth control. This was ironic since ten years earlier Sanger had accused Katō of murder and praised an attempt to kill her.
In 1926, Sanger gave a lecture on birth control to the women’s auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey. She described it as “one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing,” and added that she had to use only “the most elementary terms, as though I were trying to make children understand.” Sanger’s talk was well received by the group, and as a result, “a dozen invitations to similar groups were proffered.”
In 1928, conflict within the birth control movement leadership led Sanger to resign as the president of the ABCL and take full control of the CRB, renaming it the Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau (BCCRB), marking the beginning of a schism in the movement that would last until 1938.
Sanger invested a great deal of effort communicating with the general public. From 1916 onward, she frequently lectured—in churches, women’s clubs, homes, and theaters—to workers, churchmen, liberals, socialists, scientists, and upper-class women. She wrote several books in the 1920s which had a nationwide impact in promoting the cause of birth control. Between 1920 and 1926, 567,000 copies of Woman and the New Race and The Pivot of Civilization were sold. She also wrote two autobiographies designed to promote the cause. The first, My Fight for Birth Control, was published in 1931 and the second, more promotional version, Margaret Sanger: An Autobiography, was published in 1938.
During the 1920s, Sanger received hundreds of thousands of letters, many of them written in desperation by women begging for information on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Five hundred of these letters were compiled into the 1928 book, Motherhood in Bondage.
In 1929, Sanger formed the National Committee on Federal Legislation for Birth Control in order to lobby for legislation to overturn restrictions on contraception. That effort failed to achieve success, so Sanger ordered a diaphragm from Japan in 1932, in order to provoke a decisive battle in the courts. The diaphragm was confiscated by the United States government, and Sanger’s subsequent legal challenge led to a 1936 court decision which overturned an important provision of the Comstock laws which prohibited physicians from obtaining contraceptives. This court victory motivated the American Medical Association in 1937 to adopt contraception as a normal medical service and a key component of medical school curriculums.
This 1936 contraception court victory was the culmination of Sanger’s birth control efforts, and she took the opportunity, now in her late 50s, to move to Tucson, Arizona, intending to play a less critical role in the birth control movement. In spite of her original intentions, she remained active in the movement through the 1950s.
In 1937, Sanger became chairman of the newly formed Birth Control Council of America, and attempted to resolve the schism between the ABCL and the BCCRB. Her efforts were successful, and the two organizations merged in 1939 as the Birth Control Federation of America.[note 5] Although Sanger continued in the role of president, she no longer wielded the same power as she had in the early years of the movement, and in 1942, more conservative forces within the organization changed the name to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a name Sanger objected to because she considered it too euphemistic.
In 1946, Sanger helped found the International Committee on Planned Parenthood, which evolved into the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1952, and soon became the world’s largest non-governmental international family planning organization. Sanger was the organization’s first president and served in that role until she was 80 years old. In the early 1950s, Sanger encouraged philanthropist Katharine McCormick to provide funding for biologist Gregory Pincus to develop the birth control pill which was eventually sold under the name Enovid.
While researching information on contraception Sanger read various treatises on sexuality in order to find information about birth control. She read The Psychology of Sex by the English psychologist Havelock Ellis and was heavily influenced by it. While traveling in Europe in 1914, Sanger met Ellis. Influenced by Ellis, Sanger adopted his view of sexuality as a powerful, liberating force. This view provided another argument in favor of birth control, as it would enable women to fully enjoy sexual relations without the fear of an unwanted pregnancy. Sanger also believed that sexuality, along with birth control, should be discussed with more candor.
However, Sanger was opposed to excessive sexual indulgence. She stated “every normal man and woman has the power to control and direct his sexual impulse. Men and women who have it in control and constantly use their brain cells thinking deeply, are never sensual.” Sanger said that birth control would elevate women away from a position of being an object of lust and elevate sex away from purely being for satisfying lust, saying that birth control “denies that sex should be reduced to the position of sensual lust, or that woman should permit herself to be the instrument of its satisfaction.” Sanger wrote that masturbation was dangerous. She stated: “In my personal experience as a trained nurse while attending persons afflicted with various and often revolting diseases, no matter what their ailments, I never found any one so repulsive as the chronic masturbator. It would not be difficult to fill page upon page of heart-rending confessions made by young girls, whose lives were blighted by this pernicious habit, always begun so innocently.” She believed that women had the ability to control their sexual impulses, and should utilize that control to avoid sex outside of relationships marked by “confidence and respect.” She believed that exercising such control would lead to the “strongest and most sacred passion.” However, Sanger was not opposed to homosexuality and praised Ellis for clarifying “the question of homosexuals… making the thing a—not exactly a perverted thing, but a thing that a person is born with different kinds of eyes, different kinds of structures and so forth… that he didn’t make all homosexuals perverts—and I thought he helped clarify that to the medical profession and to the scientists of the world as perhaps one of the first ones to do that.” Sanger believed sex should be discussed with more candor, and praised Ellis for his efforts in this direction. She also blamed the suppression of discussion about it on Christianity.
Sanger’s 1920 book endorsed eugenics.
As part of her efforts to promote birth control, Sanger found common cause with proponents of eugenics, believing that they both sought to “assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit.” Sanger was a proponent of negative eugenics, which aims to improve human hereditary traits through social intervention by reducing the reproduction of those who were considered unfit. In “The Morality of Birth Control,” a 1921 speech, she divided society into three groups: the educated and informed class that regulated the size of their families, the intelligent and responsible who desired to control their families however did not have the means or the knowledge and the irresponsible and reckless people whose religious scruples “prevent their exercising control over their numbers.” Sanger concludes “there is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped.” Sanger’s eugenic policies included an exclusionary immigration policy, free access to birth control methods and full family planning autonomy for the able-minded, and compulsory segregation or sterilization for the “profoundly retarded”. In her book The Pivot of Civilization, she advocated coercion to prevent the “undeniably feeble-minded” from procreating. Although Sanger supported negative eugenics, she asserted that eugenics alone was not sufficient, and that birth control was essential to achieve her goals.
In contrast with eugenicist William Robinson, who advocated euthanasia for the unfit,[note 8] Sanger wrote, “we [do not] believe that the community could or should send to the lethal chamber the defective progeny resulting from irresponsible and unintelligent breeding.” Similarly, Sanger denounced the aggressive and lethal Nazi eugenics program. In addition, Sanger believed the responsibility for birth control should remain in the hands of able-minded individual parents rather than the state, and that self-determining motherhood was the only unshakable foundation for racial betterment.
Sanger also supported restrictive immigration policies. In “A Plan for Peace”, a 1932 essay, she proposed a congressional department to address population problems. She also recommended that immigration exclude those “whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race,” and that sterilization and segregation be applied to those with incurable, hereditary disabilities.
Sanger’s writings echoed her ideas about inferiority and loose morals of particular races. In one “What Every Girl Should Know” commentary, she references popular opinion that Aboriginal Australians were “just a step higher than the chimpanzee” with “little sexual control,” as compared to the “normal man and Woman.” Elsewhere she bemoaned that traditional sexual ethics “… have in the past revealed their woeful inability to prevent the sexual and racial chaos into which the world has today drifted.”
Such attitudes did not keep her from collaborating with African-American leaders and professionals who saw a need for birth control in their communities. In 1929, James H. Hubert, a black social worker and leader of New York’s Urban League, asked Sanger to open a clinic in Harlem. Sanger secured funding from the Julius Rosenwald Fund and opened the clinic, staffed with black doctors, in 1930. The clinic was directed by a 15-member advisory board consisting of black doctors, nurses, clergy, journalists, and social workers. The clinic was publicized in the African-American press and in black churches, and it received the approval of W. E. B. Du Bois, founder of the NAACP. In 1939 Sanger wrote, “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” She did not tolerate bigotry among her staff, nor would she tolerate any refusal to work within interracial projects. Sanger’s work with minorities earned praise from Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1966 acceptance speech for the Margaret Sanger award.
From 1939 to 1942 Sanger was an honorary delegate of the Birth Control Federation of America, which included a supervisory role—alongside Mary Lasker and Clarence Gamble—in the Negro Project, an effort to deliver birth control to poor black people. Sanger wanted the Negro Project to include black ministers in leadership roles, but other supervisors did not. To emphasize the benefits of involving black community leaders, she wrote to Gamble “we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” This quote has been cited by Angela Davis to support her claims that Sanger wanted to exterminate black people. However, New York University’s Margaret Sanger Papers Project, argues that in writing that letter, “Sanger recognized that elements within the black community might mistakenly associate the Negro Project with racist sterilization campaigns in the Jim Crow South, unless clergy and other community leaders spread the word that the Project had a humanitarian aim.”
Freedom of speech
Sanger opposed censorship throughout her career, with a zeal comparable to her support for birth control. Sanger grew up in a home where iconoclastic orator Robert Ingersoll was admired. During the early years of her activism, Sanger viewed birth control primarily as a free-speech issue, rather than as a feminist issue, and when she started publishing The Woman Rebel in 1914, she did so with the express goal of provoking a legal challenge to the Comstock laws banning dissemination of information about contraception. In New York, Emma Goldman introduced Sanger to members of the Free Speech League, such as Edward Bliss Foote and Theodore Schroeder, and subsequently the League provided funding and advice to help Sanger with legal battles.
Over the course of her career, Sanger was arrested at least eight times for expressing her views during an era in which speaking publicly about contraception was illegal. Numerous times in her career, local government officials prevented Sanger from speaking by shuttering a facility or threatening her hosts. In Boston in 1929, city officials under the leadership of James Curley threatened to arrest her if she spoke—so she turned the threat to her advantage and stood on stage, silent, with a gag over her mouth, while her speech was read by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.
Sanger’s family planning advocacy always focused on contraception, rather than abortion.[note 9] It was not until the mid-1960s, after Sanger’s death, that the reproductive rights movement expanded its scope to include abortion rights as well as contraception.[note 10] Sanger was opposed to abortions, both because she believed that life should not be terminated after conception, and because they were dangerous for the mother in the early 20th century. In her book Woman and the New Race, she wrote: “while there are cases where even the law recognizes an abortion as justifiable if recommended by a physician, I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization.”
Historian Rodger Streitmatter concluded that Sanger’s opposition to abortion stemmed from concerns for the dangers to the mother, rather than moral concerns. However, in her 1938 autobiography, Sanger noted that her opposition to abortion was based on the taking of life: “[In 1916] we explained what contraception was; that abortion was the wrong way no matter how early it was performed it was taking life; that contraception was the better way, the safer way—it took a little time, a little trouble, but was well worth while in the long run, because life had not yet begun.” And in her book Family Limitation, Sanger wrote that “no one can doubt that there are times when an abortion is justifiable but they will become unnecessary when care is taken to prevent conception. This is the only cure for abortions.”
Books and pamphlets
What Every Mother Should Know – Originally published in 1911 or 1912, based on a series of articles Sanger published in 1911 in the New York Call, which were, in turn, based on a set of lectures Sanger gave to groups of Socialist party women in 1910–1911. Multiple editions published through the 1920s, by Max N. Maisel and Sincere Publishing, with the title What Every Mother Should Know, or how six little children were taught the truth …Online(1921 edition, Michigan State University)
Family Limitation – Originally published 1914 as a 16-page pamphlet; also published in several later editions. Online (1917, 6th edition, Michigan State University)
What Every Girl Should Know – Originally published 1916 by Max N. Maisel; 91 pages; also published in several later editions. Online (1920 edition); Online (1922 ed., Michigan State University)
The Case for Birth Control: A Supplementary Brief and Statement of Facts – May 1917, published to provide information to the court in a legal proceeding. Online (Internet Archive)
Fight for Birth Control, 1916, New York]  (The Library of Congress)
Birth Control A Parent’s Problem or Women’s?” The Birth Control Review, Mar. 1919, 6-7.
The Woman Rebel – Seven issues published monthly from March 1914 to August 1914. Sanger was publisher and editor.
Birth Control Review – Published monthly from February 1917 to 1940. Sanger was Editor until 1929, when she resigned from the ABCL. Not to be confused with Birth Control News, published by the London-based Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress.
Collections and anthologies
Sanger, Margaret, The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger, Volume 1: The Woman Rebel, 1900–1928, Esther Katz, Cathy Moran Hajo, Peter Engelman (eds), University of Illinois Press, 2003
Sanger, Margaret, The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger, Volume 2: Birth Control Comes of Age, 1928–1939, Esther Katz, Cathy Moran Hajo, Peter Engelman (eds), University of Illinois Press, 2007
Sanger, Margaret, The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger, Volume 3: The Politics of Planned Parenthood, 1939–1966, Esther Katz, Cathy Moran Hajo, Peter Engelman (eds), University of Illinois Press, 2010
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“The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc. This was evident just this week when, as an example, a young woman in San Francisco was viciously killed by a 5 time deported Mexican with a long criminal record, who was forced back into the United States because they didn’t want him in Mexico. This is merely one of thousands of similar incidents throughout the United States. In other words, the worst elements in Mexico are being pushed into the United States by the Mexican government. The largest suppliers of heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs are Mexican cartels that arrange to have Mexican immigrants trying to cross the borders and smuggle in the drugs. The Border Patrol knows this. Likewise, tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border. The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world. On the other hand, many fabulous people come in from Mexico and our country is better for it. But these people are here legally, and are severely hurt by those coming in illegally. I am proud to say that I know many hard working Mexicans—many of them are working for and with me…and, just like our country, my organization is better for it.”
– Donald Trump, Written Statement released July 6, 2015
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Billionaire mogul Donald Trump announced his 2016 presidential run Tuesday. Below is the text of his speech:
Last quarter, it was just announced, our gross domestic product – a sign of strength, right? But not for us.
It was below zero. Who ever heard of this? It’s never below zero.
Our labor participation rate was the worst since 1978.
But think of it, GDP below zero, horrible labor participation rate, and our real unemployment is anywhere from 18-20%. Don’t believe the 5.6. Don’t believe it.
That’s right – a lot of people up there can’t get jobs. They can’t get jobs because there are no jobs because China has our jobs and Mexico has our jobs. They all have our jobs. But the real number, the real number, is anywhere from 18-19 and maybe even 21% and nobody talks about it because it’s a statistic that’s full of nonsense.
Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger by the day and we as a country are getting weaker. Even our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work.
It came out recently. They have equipment that’s 30 years old and they don’t even know if it works. And I thought it was horrible when it was broadcast on television because boy does that send signals to Putin and all of the other people that look at us and they say ‘OK, that is a group of people and that is a nation that truly has no clue. They don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know what they’re doing.’
We have a disaster called the big lie – Obamacare, Obamacare.
Yesterday it came out that costs are going, for people, up 39, 39, 49 and even 55%. And deductibles are through the roof. You have to get hit by a tractor, literally a tractor, to use it because the deductibles are so high it’s virtually useless. It’s a disaster.N
As an example, I’ve been on the circuit making speeches and I hear my fellow Republicans and they’re wonderful people. I like them. They all want me to support them.
They don’t know how to bring it about, they come up to my office. I’m meeting with three of them in the next week and they don’t know: Are you running, are you not running, could we have your support, what do we do, how do we do it?
And I like them. I hear their speeches. And they don’t talk jobs. They don’t talk China. When was the last time you heard ‘China’s killing us?’ They’re devaluing their currency to a level that you wouldn’t believe it makes it impossible for our companies to compete. Impossible.
They’re killing us, but you don’t hear that from anyone else. You don’t hear that from anybody else.
And I watch the speeches. I watch the speeches and they say ‘the sun will rise. The moon will set. All sorts of wonderful things will happen.’
And the people are saying ‘What’s going on? I just want a job. I don’t need the rhetoric, I just want a job.’
And it’s going to get worse because remember, Obamacare really kicks in in 2016, 2016.
Obama is going to be out playing golf. He might even be on one of my courses – I would invite him. I have the best courses in the world. So I say, you know what, if he wants to – I have one right next to the White House. Right on the Potomac. If he wants to, if he’d like to play, that’s fine. In fact I’d love him to leave early and play. That would be a very good thing.
But Obamacare kicks in in 2016, really bigly. It is going to be amazingly destructive.
Doctors are quitting.
I have a friend who’s a doctor and he said to me the other day: ‘Donald, I never saw anything like it. I have more accountants than I have nurses. It’s a disaster. My patients are besides themselves. They had a plan that was good. They had a plan. They have no plan now.’
We have to repeal Obamacare and it can be replaced with something much better for everybody. Let it be for everybody, but much better and much less expensive for people and for the government. And we can do it.
So I’ve watched the politicians. I’ve dealt with them all my life. If you can’t make a good deal with a politician, then there’s something wrong with you. There’s something certainly not very good and that’s what we have representing us.
They will never make America great again. They don’t even have a chance. They are controlled fully, they are controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors and by the special interests. Fully. They control them.
Hey, I have lobbyists. I have to tell you, I have lobbyists that can produce anything for me. They’re great. But you know what? It won’t happen. It won’t happen because we have to stop doing things for some people, but for our country it’s destroying this country.
We have to stop and it has to stop now.
Our country needs, our country needs a truly great leader and we need a truly great leader now.
We need a leader that wrote the Art of the Deal. We need a leader that can bring back our jobs, can bring back our manufacturing, can bring back our military, can take care of our vets – our vets have been abandoned. And we also need a cheerleader.
You know, when President Obama was elected I said ‘Well, the one thing I think he’ll do well – I think he’ll be a great cheerleader for the country. I think he’d be a great spirit. He was vibrant. He was young. I really thought he would be a great cheerleader.
He’s not a leader, that’s true. You’re right about that. But he wasn’t a cheerleader. He’s actually a negative force. He’s been a negative force. He wasn’t a cheerleader, he was the opposite.
We need somebody that can take the brand of the United States and make it great again. It’s not great.
We need, we need, we need somebody that literally will take this country and make it great again. We can do that.
And, I will tell you, I love my life. I have a wonderful family. They’re saying, ‘Dad, you’re going to do something that’s so tough.’
You know, all of my life I’ve heard that a truly successful person, a really, really successful person – and even modestly successful – cannot run for public office. Just can’t happen.
And yet, that’s the kind of mindset that you need to make this country great again.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I am officially running for President of the United States and we are going to make our country great again.
It can happen. Our country has tremendous potential. We have tremendous potential.
We have people that aren’t working. We have people that have no incentive to work. But they’re going to have incentive to work. Because the greatest social program is a job. And they’ll be proud, and they’ll love it, and they’ll make much more money than they would have ever made. And they’ll be doing so well, and we’re going to be thriving as a country. Thriving. It can happen.
I will be the greatest jobs president that god ever created, I tell you that.
I’ll bring back our jobs from China, from Mexico, from Japan, from so many places. I’ll bring back our jobs, and I’ll bring back our money.
Right now, think of this – we owe China $1.3 trillion. We owe Japan more than that. So they come in, they take our jobs, they take our money and then they loan us back the money and we pay them in interest. And then the dollar goes up, so their deal’s even better.
How stupid are our leaders? How stupid are these politicians to allow this to happen? How stupid are they?
Business mogul Donald Trump announces his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on Tuesday in New York. Trump is the 12th Republican who has announced running for the White House.
I’m going to tell you a couple of stories about trade, because I’m totally against the trade bill for a number of reasons.
Number one: the people negotiating it don’t have a clue. Our president doesn’t have a clue. He’s a bad negotiator. He’s the one that did Bergdahl. We get Bergdahl, they get five killer terrorists that everybody wanted over there. We get Bergdahl. We get a traitor. We get a no-good traitor and they get the five people that they wanted for years. And those people are now back on the battlefield trying to kill us. That’s the negotiator we have
Take a look at the deal he’s making with Iran. He makes that deal, Israel maybe won’t exist very long. It’s a disaster and we have to protect Israel.
So we need people – I’m a free trader. But the problem with free trade is, you need really talented people to negotiate for you. If you don’t have talented people, if you don’t have great leadership, if you don’t have people that know business – not just a political hack that got the job because he made a contribution to a campaign, which is the way all jobs just about are gotten, free trade is terrible.
Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have people that are stupid. We have people that aren’t smart, and we have people that are controlled by special interests and it’s just not going to work.
So here’s a couple of stories. Happened recently, a friend of mine is a great manufacturer, and you know, China comes over and they dump all their stuff.
I buy it. I buy it because, frankly, I have an obligation to buy it, because they devalue their currency so brilliantly. They just did it recently and nobody thought they could do it again, but with all our problems with Russia, with all our problems with everything, everything, they got away with it again.
And it’s impossible for our people here to compete. So I want to tell you this story. Friend of mine if a great manufacturer. Calls me up a few weeks ago, he’s very upset.
I said, ‘What’s your problem?’
He said, ‘You know, I make a great product.’
I said, ‘I know, I know that, because I buy the product.’
He said, ‘I can’t get it into China. They won’t accept it. I sent a boat over and they actually sent it back. They talked about environmental, they talked about all sorts of crap that had nothing to do with it.’
I said, ‘Oh, wait a minute, that’s terrible. Did anyone know this?’
He said, ‘They do it all the time with other people.’
I said, ‘They send it back?’
He said, ‘Yea, so I finally got it over there, and they charged me a big tariff.’
They’re not supposed to be doing that. I told him. Now they do charge you tariffs on trucks when we send trucks and other things over there.
Ask Boeing. They wanted all their patents and secrets before they agreed to buy planes from Boeing.
Hey, I’m not saying they’re stupid. I like China. I just sold an apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them?
I own a big chunk of the Bank of America building at 1290 Avenue of Americas that I got from China in a war. Very valuable. I love China.
The biggest bank in the world is from China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In this building, in Trump Tower.
I love China. People say, ‘Oh, you don’t like China.’ No, I love them, but their leaders are much smarter than our leaders. And we can’t sustain ourselves with that.
There’s too much – it’s like, it’s like take the New England Patriots and Tom Brady and have them play your high school football team. That’s the difference between China’s leaders and our leaders.
They are ripping us. We are rebuilding China. We are rebuilding many countries.
China, you got there now – roads, bridges, schools. You never saw anything like it. They have bridges that make the George Washington Bridge look like small potatoes.
And they’re all over the place. We have all the cards, but we don’t know how to use them. We don’t even know that we have the cards, because our leaders don’t understand the game.
We would turn off that spigot by charging them tax until they behave properly.
Now they’re going militarily. They’re building a military island in the middle of the South China Sea – a military island. Now, our country could never do that because we’d have to get environmental clearance and the environmentalists wouldn’t let our country – we would never be able to build in an ocean.
They built it in about one year, this massive military port. They’re building up their military to a point that is very scary.
You have a problem with ISIS, you have a bigger problem with China.
And in my opinion, the new China, believe it or not, in terms of trade is Mexico.
So this man tells me about the manufacturing. I say, ‘that’s a terrible story, I hate to hear it.’
But I have another one, Ford. So Mexico takes a company, car company, that was going to build in Tennessee, rips it out. Everybody thought the deal was dead. Reported in the “Wall Street Journal” recently.
Everybody said that it was a done deal. It’s going in, and that’s going to be it, going into Tennessee -. great state, great people. All of a sudden, at the last moment, this big car manufacturer, foreign, announces they’re not going to Tennessee, they’re going to spend their billion dollars in Mexico instead. Not good.
Now Ford announces a few weeks ago that Ford is going to build a $2.5 billion car and truck and parts manufacturing plant in Mexico. $2.5 billion. It’s going to be one of the largest in the world. Ford – good company.
So I announced that I’m running for President. I would, one of the early things I would do, probably before I even got in, and I wouldn’t even use – you know, I know the smartest negotiators in the world.
I know the good ones, I know the bad ones, I know the overrated ones. You’ve got a lot that are overrated. They get good stories because the newspapers get buffaloed. But they’re not good.
But I know the best negotiators in the world and I’d put them one for each country. Believe me folks, we will do very, very well. Very, very well.
But I wouldn’t even waste my time with this one. I would call up the head of Ford, who I know. If I was President I’d say ‘Congratulations, I understand that you’re building a nice, $2.5 billion dollar factory in Mexico and that you’re going to take your cars and sell them to the United States. Zero tax – just across the board.’
And you say to yourself, ‘How does that help us, right? Where is that good.’ It’s not.
So I’d say ‘Congratulations, that’s the good news. Let me give you the bad news. Every car, and every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35% tax. Okay? And that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction, and that’s it.’
Now here’s what’s going to happen. If it’s not me in the position, if it’s one of these politicians that we’re running against, you know, the 400 people that we’re – and here’s what going to happen. They’re not so stupid. They know it’s not a good thing. And they may even be upset by it,
But then they’re going to get a call from their donors or probably from the lobbyists for Ford and say ‘you can’t do that to Ford, because Ford takes care of me, and I take care of you, and you can’t do that to Ford.’
And you know what? No problem. They’re going to build in Mexico, they’re going to take away thousands of jobs. That’s very bad for us. So under President Trump, here’s what would happen: The head of Ford will call me back, I would say within an hour after I told him the bad news, but it could be he’d want to be cool and he’ll wait until the next day. You know, they want to be a little cool.
And he’ll say, ‘Please, please, please.’
He’ll beg for a little while, and I’ll say, ‘Sorry, no interest.’
Then he’ll call all sorts of political people and I’ll say ‘Sorry fellas, no interest.’
Because I don’t need anybody’s money. It’s nice. I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m using my own money. I’m not using lobbyists, I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.
And by the way, I’m not even saying that to brag. That’s the kind of mindset, that’s the kind of thinking you need for this country.
So, because we’ve got to make the country rich. It sounds crass. Somebody said ‘oh, that’s crass.’ It’s not crass.
We’ve got $18 trillion in debt, we’ve got nothing but problems.
We’ve got a military that needs equipment all over the place. We’ve got nuclear weapons that are obsolete.
We’ve got nothing.
We’ve got social security that’s going to be destroyed if somebody like me doesn’t bring money into the country. All these other people want to cut the hell out of it. I’m not going to cut it at all. I’m going to bring money in, and we’re going to save it.
But here is what’s going to happen. After I’m called by 30 friends of mine who contributed to different campaigns, after I’m called by all of the special interests and by the donors and by the lobbyists – and they have zero chance at convincing me. Zero. I’ll get a call they next day from the head of Ford.
He’ll say, ‘Please reconsider.’
I’ll say, ‘No.’
He’ll say, ‘Mr. President, we’ve decided to move the plant back to the United States. We’re not going to build it in Mexico.’
That’s it. They’ll have no choice. They have no choice. There are hundred of things like that.
I’ll give you another example: Saudi Arabia. They make a billion dollars a day, a billion dollars a day.
I love the Saudis, many are in this building. They make a billion dollars a day. Whenever they have problems, we send over the ships. We send, we’re going to protect – what are we doing? They got nothing but money.
If the right person asked them, they’d pay a fortune. They wouldn’t be there except for us.
And believe me, you look at the border with Yemen – you remember Obama a year ago, Yemen was a great victory. Two weeks later the place was blown up. Everybody.
And they kept our equipment. They always keep our equipment. We ought to send used equipment, right? They always keep our equipment, we ought to send some real junk because, frankly, it would be – we ought to send our surplus. We’re always losing this gorgeous, brand-new stuff.
But look at that border with Saudi Arabia. Do you really think that these people are interested in Yemen? Saudi Arabia without us is gone. They’re gone.
And I’m the one that made all of the right predictions about Iraq. You know, all of these politicians that I’m running against now, it’s so nice to say I’m running as opposed to if I run, if I run – I’m running.
But all of these politicians that I’m running against now, they’re trying to dissociate. I mean, you look at Bush – it took him five days to answer the question on Iraq. He couldn’t answer the question. He didn’t know.
I said, ‘Is he intelligent?’
And then I looked at Rubio. He was unable to answer the question. He didn’t know.
How are these people going to lead us? How are we going to go back and made it great again? We can’t They don’t have a clue. They can’t lead us. They can’t.
They can’t even answer simple questions. It was terrible, but Saudi Arabia is in big, big trouble.
Now, thanks to fracking and other things, the oil is all over the place. And I used to say it, there are ships at sea, and this was during the worst crisis, that were loaded up with oil. And the cartel kept the prices up because, again, they were smarter than our leaders.
They were smarter than our leaders. There is so much wealth out there that we can make our country so rich again and, therefore, make it great again.
Because we need money. We’re dying. We’re dying. We need money. We have to do it and we need the right people.
So Ford will come back. They’ll all come back. And I will say this – this is going to be an election, in my opinion, that’s based on competence.
Somebody said to me the other day, a reporter, very nice reporter – ‘But Mr. Trump, you’re not a nice person.’
But actually, I am. I think I’m a nice person. Does my family like me? I think so. Look at my family.
I’m proud of my family by the way. Speaking of my family – Melania, Barron, Kai, Donny, Dunn, Vanessa, Tiffany, Ivanka did a great job. Did she do a great job? Jarrett, Laura and Eric. I’m very proud of my family. They’re a great family.
So the report said to me the other day ‘But Mr. Trump, you’re not a nice person. How can you get people to vote for you?’
I said, ‘I don’t know. I think that, number one, I am a nice person. I give a lot of money away to charities and other things.’
I think I’m actually a very nice person, but I said ‘This is going to be an election that’s based off competence. Because people are tired of these nice people and they’re tired of being ripped of by everybody in the world and they’re tired of spending more money on education than any nation in the world per capita. Than any nation in the world.’
And we’re 26th in the world. Twenty-five countries are better than us at education, and some of them are like, third-world countries.
But we’re becoming a third-world country because of our infrastructure, our airports, our roads, everything.
So one of the things I did, and I said, you know what I’ll do? I’ll do it. And a lot of people said ‘he’ll never run. Number one, he won’t want to give up his lifestyle.’
They’re right about that, but I’m doing it.
Number two – I’m a private company, so nobody knows what I’m worth. And the one thing is, when you run, you have to announce and certify to all sorts of governmental authorities, your net worth.
So I said, ‘that’s okay, I’m proud of my net worth.’
I’ve done an amazing job. I started off in a small office with my father in Brooklyn and Queens. And my father said – and I love my father. I learned so much. He was a great negotiator.
I learned so much just sitting as his feet playing with blocks, listening to him negotiate with subcontractors. But I learned a lot.
But he used to say ‘Donald, don’t go into Manhattan. That’s the big leagues. We don’t know anything about that. Don’t do it.’
But I said, ‘Dad, I gotta go into Manhattan. I gotta build those buildings. I’ve got to do it, Dad, I’ve got to do it.’
And after four or five years in Brooklyn, I ventured into Manhattan and did a lot of great deals: the Grand Hyatt hotel, I was responsible for the convention center on the west side.
I did a lot of great deals and I did them early and young, and now I’m building all over the world. And I love what I’m doing.
But they all said, a lot of the pundits on television, ‘well Donald will never run and one of the main reasons is, he’s private, and he’s probably not as successful as everybody thinks.’
So I said to myself, ‘you know, nobody’s ever going to know unless I run because I’m really proud of my success, I really am.’
I’ve employed tens of thousands of people over my lifetime. That means medical, that means education, that means everything.
So a large accounting firm and my accountants have been working for months because I’m big and complex and they put together a statement, a financial statement. It’s a summary, but everything will be filed eventually with the government. And we don’t need extensions or anything, we’ll be filing it right on time.
We don’t need anything. And it was even reported incorrectly yesterday, because they said he had assets of nine billion.
I said, ‘no, that the wrong number. That’s the wrong number, not assets.’
So they put together this, and before I say it, I have to say this: I made it the old-fashioned way. It’s real estate. it’s labor and it’s union – good and some bad – and lots of people that aren’t unions and it’s all over the place and building all over the world.
And I have assets, big accounting firm – one of the most highly respected – $9,240,000,000.
And I have liabilities of about $500 – that’s long-term debt, very low interest rates.
In fact, one of the big banks came to me, said, ‘Donald, you don’t have enough borrowing, can we loan you $4 billion.”
I said ‘I don’t need it. I don’t want it. I’ve been there. I don’t want it.”
But in two seconds, they give me whatever I wanted. So I have a total net worth, and now with the increase, it’ll be well-over $10 billion. But here, a total net worth of — net worth, not assets, not — a net worth, after all debt, after all expenses, the greatest assets — Trump Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, Bank of America building in San Francisco, 40 Wall Street, sometimes referred to as the Trump building right opposite the New York — many other places all over the world.
So the total is $8,737,540,000.
Now I’m not doing that, I’m not doing that to brag, because you know what? I don’t have to brag. I don’t have to, believe it or not.
I’m doing that to say that that’s the kind of thinking our country needs. We need that thinking. We have the opposite thinking.
We have losers. We have losers. We have people that don’t have it. We have people that are morally corrupt. We have people that are selling this country down the drain.
So I put together this statement, and the only reason I’m telling you about it today is because we really do have to get going, because if we have another three or four years — you know, we’re at $8 trillion now. We’re soon going to be at $20 trillion.
According to the economists, who I’m not big believers in, but, nevertheless, this is what they’re saying, that $24 trillion. We’re very close, that’s the point of no return. $24 trillion.
We will be there soon. That’s when we become Greece. That’s when we become a country that’s unsalvageable. And we’re gonna be there very soon. We’re gonna be there very soon.
So, just to sum up, I would do various things very quickly. I would repeal and replace the big lie, Obamacare.
I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively, I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.
Mark my words.
Nobody would be tougher on ISIS than Donald Trump. Nobody.
I will find, within our military, I will find the General Patton or I will find General MacArthur, I will find the right guy. I will find the guy that’s going to take that military and make it really work. Nobody, nobody will be pushing us around.
I will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. And we won’t be using a man like Secretary Kerry that has absolutely no concept of negotiation, who’s making a horrible and laughable deal, who’s just being tapped along as they make weapons right now, and then goes into a bicycle race at 72 years old, and falls and breaks his leg.
I won’t be doing that. And I promise I will never be in a bicycle race. That I can tell you.
I will immediately terminate President Obama’s illegal executive order on immigration, immediately.
Fully support and back up the Second Amendment.
Now, it’s very interesting. Today I heard it. Through stupidity, in a very, very hard core prison, interestingly named Clinton, two vicious murderers, two vicious people escaped, and nobody knows where they are.
And a woman was on television this morning, and she said, ‘You know, Mr. Trump,’ and she was telling other people, and I actually called her, and she said, ‘You know, Mr. Trump, I always was against guns. I didn’t want guns. And now since this happened,’ it’s up in the prison area, ‘my husband and I are finally in agreement, because he wanted the guns. We now have a gun on every table. We’re ready to start shooting.’
I said, ‘Very interesting.’
So protect the Second Amendment.
End, end Common Core. Common Core should, it is a disaster. Bush is totally in favor of Common Core.
I don’t see how he can possibly get the nomination. He’s weak on immigration. He’s in favor of Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can’t do it.
We have to end, education has to be local.
Rebuild the country’s infrastructure. Nobody can do that like me. Believe me. It will be done on time, on budget, way below cost, way below what anyone ever thought.
I look at the roads being built all over the country, and I say I can build those things for one-third. What they do is unbelievable, how bad.
You know, we’re building on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Old Post Office, we’re converting it into one of the world’s great hotels. It’s gonna be the best hotel in Washington, D.C. We got it from the General Services Administration in Washington. The Obama administration. We got it. It was the most highly sought after — or one of them, but I think the most highly sought after project in the history of General Services.
We got it. People were shocked, Trump got it. Well, I got it for two reasons. Number one, we’re really good. Number two, we had a really good plan. And I’ll add in the third, we had a great financial statement. Because the General Services, who are terrific people, by the way, and talented people, they wanted to do a great job. And they wanted to make sure it got built.
So we have to rebuild our infrastructure, our bridges, our roadways, our airports.
You come into LaGuardia Airport, it’s like we’re in a third world country. You look at the patches and the 40-year-old floor. They throw down asphalt, and they throw.
You look at these airports, we are like a third world country. And I come in from China and I come in from Qatar and I come in from different places, and they have the most incredible airports in the world. You come to back to this country and you have LAX, disaster. You have all of these disastrous airports. We have to rebuild our infrastructure.
Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it.
Get rid of the fraud. Get rid of the waste and abuse, but save it. People have been paying it for years. And now many of these candidates want to cut it.
You save it by making the United States, by making us rich again, by taking back all of the money that’s being lost.
Renegotiate our foreign trade deals.
Reduce our $18 trillion in debt, because, believe me, we’re in a bubble. We have artificially low interest rates. We have a stock market that, frankly, has been good to me, but I still hate to see what’s happening. We have a stock market that is so bloated.
Be careful of a bubble because what you’ve seen in the past might be small potatoes compared to what happens. So be very, very careful.
And strengthen our military and take care of our vets. So, so important.
Sadly, the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.
Thank you. Thank you very much.
Remarks by the President on Progress in the Fight Against ISIL
4:10 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend — especially our men and women in uniform. This Fourth of July we were honored to once again welcome some of our incredible troops and their families to share Fourth of July and fireworks at the White House. It was another chance for us, on behalf of the American people, to express our gratitude for their extraordinary service around the world every day.
And that includes the work that brings me here today — our mission to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group ISIL. This is a cause, a coalition, that’s united countries across the globe — some 60 nations, including Arab partners. Our comprehensive strategy against ISIL is harnessing all elements of American power, across our government — military, intelligence, diplomatic, economic, development and perhaps most importantly, the power of our values.
Last month, I ordered additional actions in support of our strategy. I just met with my national security team as part of our regular effort to assess our efforts — what’s working and what we can do better. Secretary Carter, Chairman Dempsey, I want to thank you and your team for welcoming us and for your leadership, including General Austin who’s leading the military campaign. And I want to summarize briefly where we stand.
I want to start by repeating what I’ve said since the beginning. This will not be quick. This is a long-term campaign. ISIL is opportunistic and it is nimble. In many places in Syria and Iraq, including urban areas, it’s dug in among innocent civilian populations. It will take time to root them out — and doing so must be the job of local forces on the ground, with training and air support from our coalition.
As with any military effort, there will be periods of progress, but there are also going to be some setbacks — as we’ve seen with ISIL’s gains in Ramadi in Iraq and central and southern Syria. But today, it’s also important for us to recognize the progress that’s been made.
Our coalition has now hit ISIL with more than 5,000 airstrikes. We’ve taken out thousands of fighting positions, tanks, vehicles, bomb factories, and training camps. We’ve eliminated thousands of fighters, including senior ISIL commanders. And over the past year, we’ve seen that when we have an effective partner on the ground, ISIL can be pushed back.
In Iraq, ISIL lost at the Mosul Dam. ISIL lost at Mount Sinjar. ISIL has lost repeatedly across Kirkuk Province. ISIL lost at Tikrit. Altogether, ISIL has lost more than a quarter of the populated areas that it had seized in Iraq. In Syria, ISIL lost at Kobani. It’s recently endured losses across northern Syria, including the key city of Tal Abyad, denying ISIL a vital supply route to Raqqa, its base of operations in Syria.
So these are reminders that ISIL’s strategic weaknesses are real. ISIL is surrounded by countries and communities committed to its destruction. It has no air force; our coalition owns the skies. ISIL is backed by no nation. It relies on fear, sometimes executing its own disillusioned fighters. Its unrestrained brutality often alienates those under its rule, creating new enemies. In short, ISIL’s recent losses in both Syria and Iraq prove that ISIL can and will be defeated.
Indeed, we’re intensifying our efforts against ISIL’s base in Syria. Our airstrikes will continue to target the oil and gas facilities that fund so much of their operations. We’re going after the ISIL leadership and infrastructure in Syria — the heart of ISIL that pumps funds and propaganda to people around the world. Partnering with other countries — sharing more information, strengthening laws and border security — allows us to work to stem the flow of foreign fighters to Syria as well as Iraq, and to stem, obviously, the flow of those fighters back into our own countries. This continues to be a challenge, and, working together, all our nations are going to need to do more, but we’re starting to see some progress.
We’ll continue cracking down on ISIL’s illicit finance around the world. By the way, if Congress really wants to help in this effort, they can confirm Mr. Adam Szubin, our nominee for Treasury Under Secretary to lead this effort. This is a vital position to our counterterrorism efforts. Nobody suggests Mr. Szubin is not qualified. He’s highly qualified. Unfortunately, his nomination has been languishing up on the Hill, and we need the Senate to confirm him as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, we continue to ramp up our training and support of local forces that are fighting ISIL on the ground. As I’ve said before, this aspect of our strategy was moving too slowly. But the fall of Ramadi has galvanized the Iraqi government. So, with the additional steps I ordered last month, we’re speeding up training of ISIL [Iraqi] forces, including volunteers from Sunni tribes in Anbar Province.
More Sunni volunteers are coming forward. Some are already being trained, and they can be a new force against ISIL. We continue to accelerate the delivery of critical equipment, including anti-tank weapons, to Iraqi security forces, including the Peshmerga and tribal fighters. And I made it clear to my team that we will do more to train and equip the moderate opposition in Syria.
Now, all this said, our strategy recognizes that no amount of military force will end the terror that is ISIL unless it’s matched by a broader effort — political and economic — that addresses the underlying conditions that have allowed ISIL to gain traction. They have filled a void, and we have to make sure that as we push them out that void is filled. So, as Iraqi cities and towns are liberated from ISIL, we’re working with Iraq and the United Nations to help communities rebuild the security, services and governance that they need. We continue to support the efforts of Prime Minister Abadi to forge an inclusive and effective Iraqi government that unites all the people of Iraq — Shia, Sunnis, Kurds and all minority communities.
In Syria, the only way that the civil war will end — and in a way so that the Syrian people can unite against ISIL — is an inclusive political transition to a new government, without Bashar Assad — a government that serves all Syrians. I discussed this with our Gulf Cooperation Council partners at Camp David and during my recent call with President Putin. I made it clear the United States will continue to work for such a transition.
And a glimmer of good news is I think an increasing recognition on the part of all the players in the region that given the extraordinary threat that ISIL poses it is important for us to work together, as opposed to at cross-purposes, to make sure that an inclusive Syrian government exists.
While the focus of our discussions today was on Iraq and Syria, ISIL and its ideology also obviously pose a grave threat beyond the region. In recent weeks we’ve seen deadly attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. We see a growing ISIL presence in Libya and attempts to establish footholds across North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Southeast Asia. We’ve seen attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, France and Copenhagen.
So I’ve called on the international community to unite against this scourge of violent extremism. In this fight, the United States continues to lead. When necessary to prevent attacks against our nation, we’ll take direct action against terrorists. We’ll continue to also partner with nations from Afghanistan to Nigeria to build up their security forces. We’re going to work day and night with allies and partners to disrupt terrorist networks and thwart attacks, and to smother nascent ISIL cells that may be trying to develop in other parts of the world.
This also includes remaining vigilant in protecting against attacks here in the homeland. Now, I think it’s important for us to recognize the threat of violent extremism is not restricted to any one community. Here in the United States, we’ve seen all kinds of homegrown terrorism. And tragically, recent history reminds us how even a single individual motivated by a hateful ideology with access to dangerous weapons can inflict horrendous harm on Americans. So our efforts to counter violent extremism must not target any one community because of their faith or background, including patriotic Muslim Americans who are our partners in keeping our country safe.
That said, we also have to acknowledge that ISIL has been particularly effective at reaching out to and recruiting vulnerable people around the world, including here in the United States. And they are targeting Muslim communities around the world. Numerous individuals have been arrested across the country for plotting attacks or attempting to join ISIL in Syria and Iraq. Two men apparently inspired by ISIL opened fire in Garland, Texas. And because of our success over the years in improving our homeland security, we’ve made it harder for terrorists to carry out large-scale attacks like 9/11 here at home.
But the threat of lone wolves or small cells of terrorists is complex — it’s harder to detect and harder to prevent. It’s one of the most difficult challenges that we face. And preventing these kinds of attacks on American soil is going to require sustained effort.
So I just want to repeat, the good news is that because of extraordinary efforts from law enforcement as well as our military intelligence, we are doing a better job at preventing any large-scale attacks on the homeland. On the other hand, the small, individual lone wolf attacks or small cells become harder to detect and they become more sophisticated, using new technologies. And that means that we’re going to have to pick up our game to prevent these attacks.
It’s also true why, ultimately, in order for us to defeat terrorist groups like ISIL and al Qaeda it’s going to also require us to discredit their ideology — the twisted thinking that draws vulnerable people into their ranks. As I’ve said before — and I know our military leaders agree — this broader challenge of countering violent extremism is not simply a military effort. Ideologies are not defeated with guns; they’re defeated by better ideas — a more attractive and more compelling vision.
So the United States will continue to do our part, by working with partners to counter ISIL’s hateful propaganda, especially online. We’ll constantly reaffirm through words and deeds that we will never be at war with Islam. We’re fighting terrorists who distort Islam and whose victims are mostly Muslims. But around the world, we’re also going to insist on partnering with Muslim communities as they seek security, prosperity and the dignity that they deserve. And we’re going to expect those communities to step up in terms of pushing back as hard as they can, in conjunction with other people of goodwill, against these hateful ideologies in order to discredit them more effectively, particularly when it comes to what we’re teaching young people.
And this larger battle for hearts and minds is going to be a generational struggle. It’s ultimately not going to be won or lost by the United States alone. It will be decided by the countries and the communities that terrorists like ISIL target. It’s going to be up to Muslim communities, including scholars and clerics, to keep rejecting warped interpretations of Islam, and to protect their sons and daughters from recruitment. It will be up to all people — leaders and citizens — to reject the sectarianism that so often fuels the resentments and conflicts upon which terrorists are currently thriving. It will be up to governments to address the political and economic grievances that terrorists exploit.
Nations that empower citizens to decide their own destiny, that uphold human rights for all their people, that invest in education and create opportunities for their young people — those can be powerful antidotes to extremist ideologies. Those are the countries that will find a true partner in the United States.
In closing, let me note that this Fourth of July we celebrated 239 years of American independence. Across more than two centuries, we’ve faced much bigger, much more formidable challenges than this — Civil War, a Great Depression, fascism, communism, terrible natural disasters, 9/11. And every time, every generation, our nation has risen to the moment. We don’t simply endure; we emerge stronger than before. And that will be the case here.
Our mission to destroy ISIL and to keep our country safe will be difficult. It will take time. There will be setbacks as well as progress. But as President and Commander-in-Chief, I want to say to all our men and women in uniform who are serving in this operation — our pilots, the crews on the ground, our personnel not only on the ground but at sea, our intelligence teams and our diplomatic teams — I want to thank you. We are proud of you, and you have my total confidence that you’re going to succeed.
To the American people, I want to say we will continue to be vigilant. We will persevere. And just as we have for more than two centuries, we will ultimately prevail.
Thank you very much, everybody. And thanks to the team up on the stage here with me — they’re doing an outstanding job.
Q Take a question?
THE PRESIDENT: You know what, I will take a question. Go ahead.
Q Every servicemember who is listening to you today, Mr. President, is wondering, are you going to veto the defense bills that are going to pay me? What is your latest thinking on that? Because we’ve heard secondhand through statements of policy that your advisors would threaten a veto. What’s your take, sir? Would you veto the appropriations bills?
THE PRESIDENT: Our men and women are going to get paid. And if you’ll note that I’ve now been President for six and a half years and we’ve had some wrangling with Congress in the past — our servicemembers haven’t missed a paycheck.
But what is also important in terms of our budget is making sure that we are not short-changing all the elements of American power that allow us to secure the nation and to project our power around the world. So what we’re not going to do is to accept a budget that short-changes our long-term requirements for new technologies, for readiness. We’re not going to eat our seed corn by devoting too much money on things we don’t need now and robbing ourselves of the capacity to make sure that we’re prepared for future threats.
I’ve worked very closely with the Chairman and the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to develop a budget that is realistic and that looks out into the future and says this is how we’re going to handle any possible contingency. And we can’t do that if we’ve got a budget that short-changes vital operations and continues to fund things that are not necessary.
We also have to remind ourselves that the reason we have the best military in the world is, first and foremost, because we’ve got the best troops in history. But it’s also because we’ve got a strong economy, and we’ve got a well-educated population. And we’ve got an incredible research operation and universities that allow us to create new products that then can be translated into our military superiority around the world. We short-change those, we’re going to be less secure.
So the way we have to look at this budget is to recognize that, A, we can’t think short term, we’ve got to think long term; and B, part of our national security is making sure that we continue to have a strong economy and that we continue to make the investments that we need in things like education and research that are going to be vital for us to be successful long term.
Q As an Army reservist, I’m curious to know if you have any plans to send any more American troops overseas right now, any additional forces.
THE PRESIDENT: There are no current plans to do so. That’s not something that we currently discussed. I’ve always said that I’m going to do what’s necessary to protect the homeland.
One of the principles that we all agree on, though, and I pressed folks pretty hard because in these conversations with my military advisors I want to make sure I’m getting blunt and unadultered [sic] uncensored advice. But in every one of the conversations that we’ve had, the strong consensus is that in order for us to succeed long-term in this fight against ISIL we have to develop local security forces that can sustain progress.
It is not enough for us to simply send in American troops to temporarily set back organizations like ISIL, but to then, as soon as we leave, see that void filled once again with extremists. It is going to be vital for us to make sure that we are preparing the kinds of local ground forces and security forces with our partners that can not only succeed against ISIL, but then sustain in terms of security and in terms of governance.
Because if we try to do everything ourselves all across the Middle East, all across North Africa, we’ll be playing Whack-a-Mole and there will be a whole lot of unintended consequences that ultimately make us less secure.
All right? Thank you. I didn’t even plan to do this. (Laughter.) You guys got two bonus questions.
Trump was born on June 14, 1946, in Queens, New York, one of five children of Mary Anne (née MacLeod) and Fred Trump, who married in 1936. His oldest brother, Fred Jr., died in 1981 at the age of 43. Trump’s mother was a Scottish immigrant, born on the Isle of Lewis, off the west coast of Scotland, and Trump’s paternal grandparents were German immigrants. His grandfather, Frederick Trump (né Friedrich Drumpf), immigrated to the United States in 1885, and became a naturalized United States citizen in 1892. Frederick married Donald’s grandmother, Elisabeth Christ (October 10, 1880 – June 6, 1966), at Kallstadt, Bavaria, Germany, on August 26, 1902. They had three children.
Trump began his career at his father’s real estate company, Elizabeth Trump and Son, which focused on middle-class rental housing in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. One of Trump’s first projects, while he was still in college, was the revitalization of the foreclosed Swifton Village apartment complex in Cincinnati, Ohio, which his father had purchased for $5.7 million in 1962. Trump became intimately involved in the project and with a $500,000 investment, turned the 1200-unit complex with a 66 percent vacancy rate to 100 percent occupancy within two years. In 1972 the Trump Organization sold Swifton Village for $6.75 million.
In 1971, Trump moved to Manhattan and became involved in larger building projects and used attractive architectural design to win public recognition. He made plans to acquire and develop the old Penn Central for $60 million with no money down. Later, with the help of a 40-year tax abatement from the New York City government, he turned the bankrupt Commodore Hotel into the Grand Hyatt and created The Trump Organization.
New York City had a plan to build the Javits Convention Center on property for which Trump held a right-to-buy option. Trump estimated his company could have completed the project for $110 million but the city rejected his offer and Trump received a broker’s fee on the sale of the property instead. Repairs on The Wollman Rink in Central Park (built in 1955) were started in 1980 with an expected 2½-year construction schedule but was nowhere near completion by 1986. Trump took over the management of the project, at no cost to the city, and completed it in three months for $1.95 million, which was $750,000 less than the initial budget.
By 1989, poor business decisions left Trump unable to meet loan payments. Trump financed the construction of his third casino, the $1 billion Taj Mahal, primarily with high-interest junk bonds. Although he shored up his businesses with additional loans and postponed interest payments, by 1991 increasing debt brought Trump to business bankruptcy and to the brink of personal bankruptcy. Banks and bond holders had lost hundreds of millions of dollars, but opted to restructure his debt to avoid the risk of losing more money in court. The Taj Mahal emerged from bankruptcy on October 5, 1991, with Trump ceding 50 percent ownership in the casino to the original bondholders in exchange for lowered interest rates on the debt and more time to pay it off.
In 2015, Forbes estimated his net worth at $4.1 billion. In June 2015, Business Insider published a June 30, 2014, financial statement supplied by Trump. The statement reflects his net worth as $8.7 billion. Of that amount, $3.3 billion is represented by “Real Estate Licensing Deals, Brand and Branded Developments”, described by Business Insider as “basically [implying] that Trump values his character at $3.3 billion”.
Beyond his traditional ventures in the real estate, hospitality, and entertainment industries and having carved out a niche for the Trump brand within these industries, Trump has since then moved on to establish the Trump name and brand in other industries and products. Trump has succeeded in marketing the Trump name on a large number of products, including Trump Financial (a mortgage firm), Trump Sales and Leasing (residential sales), Trump Restaurants (located in Trump Tower and consisting of Trump Buffet, Trump Catering, Trump Ice Cream Parlor, and Trump Bar), GoTrump (an online travel website), Donald J. Trump Signature Collection (a line of menswear, men’s accessories, and watches), Donald Trump The Fragrance (2004), Trump magazine, Trump Golf, Trump Chocolate, Trump home (home furnishings), Trump Productions (a television production company), Trump Institute, Trump The Game (1989 board game), Donald Trump’s Real Estate Tycoon (a business simulation game), Trump Books, Trump Model Management, Trump Shuttle, Trump Ice, Trump Mortgage, Trump Vodka, and Trump Steaks. In addition, Trump reportedly receives $1.5 million for each one-hour presentation he does for The Learning Annex.
In 2011, Forbes’ financial experts estimated the value of the Trump brand at $200 million. Trump disputes this valuation, saying that his brand is worth about $3 billion. Many developers pay Trump to market their properties and to be the public face for their projects. For that reason, Trump does not own many of the buildings that display his name. According to Forbes, this portion of Trump’s empire, actually run by his children, is by far his most valuable, having a $562 million valuation. According to Forbes there are 33 licensing projects under development including seven “condo hotels” (the seven Trump International Hotel and Tower developments).
In April 2011, amidst speculation whether Trump would run as a candidate in the US presidential election of 2012, Politico quoted unnamed sources close to him stating that, if Trump should decide to run for president, he would file “financial disclosure statements that [would] show his net worth [was] in excess of $7 billion with more than $250 million of cash, and very little debt.” (Presidential candidates are required to disclose their finances after announcing their intentions to run.) Although Trump did not run as a candidate in the 2012 elections, his professionally prepared 2012 financial disclosure was published in his book stating a $7 billion net worth.Estimates of Trump’s net worth have fluctuated along with real estate valuations: In 2015, Forbes listed it as $4.1 billion. On June 16, 2015, just prior announcing his candidacy for President of the United States, Trump released professionally prepared financial disclosure statements to the media stating a net worth of almost $9 billion. Some business journalists have expressed skepticism of the higher net worth estimate.
In 2011, Trump made a rare foray into the stock market after being disappointed with the depressed American real estate market and facing poor returns on bank deposits. He stated that he wasn’t a stock market person, but he also stated that prime real estate at good prices is hard to get. Among the stocks Trump purchased, he stated he bought stock in Bank of America, Citigroup, Caterpillar Inc., Intel, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble. In December 2012, Trump revealed that he also added shares of Facebook to his stock portfolio.
The USFL planned to play its 1986 schedule in the fall, directly opposite the NFL, thanks mostly to Trump’s strong advocacy of direct competition with the older, established league. Two years earlier, Trump sold most of his fellow owners on a move to the fall by arguing that it would eventually force a merger with the NFL—in which the owners of any USFL teams included in a merger would see their investment more than double.
Following the death of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. in March 2014, Trump expressed public interest in purchasing the team. When speaking to the media, Trump has made it clear that should he purchase the team, the Bills would remain in Buffalo.Ultimately, the team was sold to Kim and Terrence Pegula in September 2014.
Turnberry Hotel, Ayrshire, Scotland
The Trump Organization operates many golf courses and resorts in the United States and around the world. On February 11, 2014, it was announced that Trump had purchased Doonbeg Golf Club in the Republic of Ireland. It was confirmed that Doonbeg Golf Club would be renamed Trump International Golf Links, Ireland. In 2006, Trump bought the Menie estate in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland creating a highly contentious golf resort. In April 2014, Trump purchased the Turnberry hotel and golf resort in Ayrshire, Scotland, which is a regular fixture in the Open Championship rota. In June 2015, Trump’s appeal objecting to an offshore windfarm (Aberdeen Bay Wind Farm) within sight of the golf links was denied.
The Miss Universe and Miss USA have been owned by Donald Trump since 1996 and are among the most recognized beauty pageants. The pageant was founded in 1952 by the California clothing company Pacific Mills. In 2015, Trump awarded the Reelz Channel exclusive rights to air the Miss Universe and Miss USA Pageants.
In March 2011, Trump was the subject of a Comedy Central Roast. The special was hosted by Seth MacFarlane, and roasters included Larry King, Snoop Dogg, and Anthony Jeselnik among regular roast participants. Trump’s daughter Ivanka was seen in the audience. In April 2011, Trump attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, featuring comedian Seth Meyers. President Obama used the occasion to present several prepared jokes mocking Trump.
In 2003, Trump became the executive producer and host of the NBCreality show, The Apprentice, in which a group of competitors battled for a high-level management job in one of Trump’s commercial enterprises. Contestants were successively “fired” and eliminated from the game. In 2004, Donald Trump filed a trademark application for the catchphrase “You’re fired.”
For the first year of the show, Trump was paid $50,000 per episode (roughly $700,000 for the first season), but following the show’s initial success, he is currently[when?] paid a reported $3 million per episode, making him one of the highest paid TV personalities. In 2007, Trump received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to television (The Apprentice).
Along with British TV producer Mark Burnett, Trump also put together The Celebrity Apprentice, in which well-known stars compete to win money for their charities. While Trump and Burnett co-produced the show, Trump stayed in the forefront, deciding winners and “firing” losers.
In February 2015, Trump opted not to renew his television contract for The Apprentice, generating speculation of his eventual run for President of the United States in 2016.
He also appeared at WrestleMania 23 in a match called “The Battle of the Billionaires”. Trump was in the corner of Bobby Lashley, while Vince McMahon was in the corner of Lashley’s opponent Umaga with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee.The stipulation of the match was hair versus hair, which means that either Trump or McMahon would have their head shaved if their competitor lost. Lashley won the match, and he and Trump shaved McMahon bald.
On June 15, 2009, as part of a storyline, McMahon announced on Monday Night Raw that he had “sold” the show to Trump. Appearing on screen, Trump declared he would be at the following commercial-free episode in person and would give a full refund to the people who purchased tickets to the arena for that night’s show. McMahon “bought back” Raw the following week for twice the price. His entrance theme “Money, Money” was written by Jim Johnston.
A 2011 report by the Center for Responsive Politics showed that over two decades of U.S. elections, Donald Trump made contributions to campaigns of both Republican Party and Democratic Party candidates. In February 2012, Trump endorsed Mitt Romney for president of the United States. Trump was an early supporter of Ronald Reagan for president of the United States.
At the 2011 CPAC conference, Trump stated that he is “pro-life” and “against gun control.” He has spoken before Tea Party supporters. Trump has expressed himself against the scientific consensus that no evidence links the childhood vaccination to the development of autism.In May 2015, Trump opposed giving President Obama fast track trade authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Instead, he has called for stronger negotiations with China on trade and tariffs if necessary. Trump has advocated a policy of stronger leadership to deal with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which he has blamed for high oil prices.
Trump floated the idea of running for president in 1988, 2004, and 2012, and for governor of New York in 2006 and 2014, but did not enter those races. He ran for the presidential nomination of the Reform Party in 2000, winning the party’s California primary. As Trump publicly speculated about seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released in March 2011 found Trump leading among potential contenders, one point ahead of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. A Newsweek poll conducted in February 2011 showed Trump within a few points of Barack Obama, with many voters undecided in the November 2012 general election for president of the United States. A poll released in April 2011 by Public Policy Polling showed Trump having a nine-point lead in a potential contest for the Republican nomination for President of the United States while he was still actively considering a run. His moves were interpreted at the time by some media as possible promotional tools for his reality show The Apprentice. On May 16, 2011, Trump announced he would not run for president.Public Policy Polling described the events of May 2011 as “one of the quickest rises and falls in the history of presidential politics”. In December 2011, Donald Trump was named among the top six of the ten most admired men and women living, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll.
In 2013, Trump was a featured speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), and spent over $1 million to research a possible run for president of the United States. In October 2013, New York Republicans had circulated a memo suggesting Trump should run of governor of the state in 2014 against Andrew Cuomo. Trump said that while New York had problems and taxes were too high, running for governor was not of great interest to him. In February 2015, Trump opted not to renew his television contract for The Apprentice, generating speculation that he might run for President of the United States in 2016.
In January 2013, Trump (who is a notably popular figure in Israel) endorsed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the 2013 Israeli elections, stating that “A strong prime minister is a strong Israel.” In 2015, Trump was awarded the ‘Liberty Award’ at the ‘Algemeiner Jewish 100 Gala’ in honor of his positive contributions to US-Israel relations.
Trump formally announced his candidacy for president of the United States in the 2016 elections on June 16, 2015, from his headquarters in Trump Tower in New York City. Trump’s announcement speech included the song “Rockin’ in the Free World“.Trump launched his campaign declaring the official slogan, “We are going to make our country great again” with a commitment to become the “greatest jobs president that God ever created”.
Trump is popularly known as The Donald, a nickname perpetuated by the media after his first wife Ivana Trump, a native of the Czech Republic, referred to him as such in an interview.
Trump’s mother, Mary Anne, was born in 1912 at Tong, Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, off the coast of Scotland. In 1930, aged 18, on a holiday in New York, she met Fred Trump and stayed in New York. Born in Queens, New York, Trump has four siblings: two brothers, Fred, Jr. (who is deceased) and Robert S. Trump; and two sisters, Maryanne and Elizabeth. His older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, is a federal appeals court judge.
In 1977, Trump married Ivana Zelníčková and together they have three children: Donald, Jr. (born December 31, 1977), Ivanka (born October 30, 1981), and Eric (born January 6, 1984). They were divorced in 1992. In 1993, he married Marla Maples and together they had one child, Tiffany (born October 13, 1993). They divorced on June 8, 1999. In a February 2008 interview on ABC’s news program Nightline, Trump commented on his ex-wives by saying, “I just know it’s very hard for them [Ivana and Marla] to compete because I do love what I do. I really love it.”
On April 26, 2004, he proposed to Melania Knauss, a native of Slovenia. Trump and Knauss married on January 22, 2005, at Bethesda by the Sea Episcopal Church, on the island of Palm Beach, Florida, followed by a reception at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago estate. Melania gave birth to a boy named Barron William Trump, Trump’s fifth child, on March 20, 2006.
Trump has seven grandchildren: five from his son Donald Jr. (Kai Madison, Donald John III, Tristan Milos, Spencer Frederick and Chloe Sophia) and two from his daughter Ivanka (Arabella Rose and Joseph Frederick).
Trump is a Presbyterian. In an April 2011 interview, on the 700 Club, Trump said, “I’m a Protestant, I’m a Presbyterian. And you know I’ve had a good relationship with the church over the years. I think religion is a wonderful thing. I think my religion is a wonderful religion.” A February 2011 Politics Daily article described Trump as “apparently a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, which is a Presbyterian denomination”. Andrew Cusack in 2008 stated that Donald Trump is a member of New York City’s Marble Collegiate Church. Explaining that church’s organizational relationships, Cusack says “the Collegiate Reformed Protestant Dutch Church is actually a denomination within a denomination” and that the Collegiate Churches are “now part of the Reformed Church of America“. Marble Collegiate Church also states that it is denominationally affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, with the RCA website stating that the RCA has a local church “presbyterian form of government”. Trump does not drink alcohol. Of his daughter Ivanka’s conversion to Judaism he said: “Not only do I have Jewish grandchildren, I have a Jewish daughter and I am very honored by that.”
Trump manages business financing as far as possible without placing himself at risk of personal bankruptcy. Four of his businesses have declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to a 2011 report by Forbes, these were due to over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City: Trump’s Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009)Trump said “I’ve used the laws of this country to pare debt. … We’ll have the company. We’ll throw it into a chapter. We’ll negotiate with the banks. We’ll make a fantastic deal. You know, it’s like on ‘The Apprentice.’ It’s not personal. It’s just business.” He indicated that other “great entrepreneurs” do the same.
Trump’s first corporate bankruptcy was in 1991 when Trump Taj Mahal was unable to pay its obligations.Forbes indicated that his first bankruptcy was the only one where his personal wealth was involved. Time, however, maintains that also in the later 2004 bankruptcy $72 million personal money was involved.
On November 2, 1992, the Trump Plaza Hotel filed a prepackaged Chapter 11 protection plan. Under the plan, Trump agreed to give up a 49 percent stake in the luxury hotel to Citibank and five other lenders. In return Trump would receive more favorable terms on the remaining $550+ million owed to the lenders, and retain his position as chief executive, though he would not be paid and would not have a role in day-to-day operations.
In the subsequent restructuring of these two events Trump had eliminated a large portion of his $900 million personal debt by 1994 and reduced significantly his nearly $3.5 billion in business debt. While he relinquished theTrump Princess yacht and the Trump Shuttle (which he had bought in 1989), he managed to retain Trump Tower in New York City and control of his three casinos in Atlantic City. Trump sold his ownership of West Side Yards to Asian developers as a result of his negotiations with Chase Manhattan Bank. Trump was reportedly paid a premium for placing his well known moniker on the buildings that eventually arose. In 1995, he combined his casino holdings into the publicly held Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. The real estate assets became a source of wealth even when profits had struggled.
The third corporate bankruptcy was on October 21, 2004, when Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts announced a restructuring of its debt. The plan called for Trump’s individual ownership to be reduced from 56 percent to 27 percent, with bondholders receiving stock in exchange for surrendering part of the debt. Trump Hotels was forced to seek voluntary bankruptcy protection to stay afloat. After the company applied for Chapter 11 Protection in November 2004, Trump opted to relinquish his CEO position but retained a role as Chairman of the board. In May 2005 the company emerged from bankruptcy as Trump Entertainment Resorts Holdings.
The most recent corporate bankruptcy occurred in 2009. On February 13, Trump announced that he would resign from the board of Trump Entertainment Resorts and four days later the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At that time Trump Entertainment Resorts had three properties in Atlantic City: Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza, and Trump Marina (sold in 2011). In early August 2014 Donald Trump filed a lawsuit requesting his name be removed from the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino and the Taj Mahal facilities since he no longer runs or controls the company. Trump Entertainment Resorts filed again for bankruptcy in 2014.
In March 1990, after an analyst at Janney Montgomery Scott said that Trump’s Taj Mahal project would initially “break records” but would fail before the end of that year, Trump threatened to sue the firm unless the analyst recanted or was fired. The analyst refused to retract the statements, and was fired by his firm. Taj Mahal declared bankruptcy for the first time in November 1990. A defamation lawsuit by the analyst against Trump for $2 million was settled out of court. The analyst’s statements regarding the Taj Mahal’s prospects were later called “stunningly accurate.”
In January 2002, the Securities and Exchange Commission brought a financial-reporting case against Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc., alleging that it had committed several “misleading statements in the company’s third-quarter 1999 earnings release.” The matter was settled with the defendant neither admitting nor denying the charge.
In 2015 Trump initiated a $100 million lawsuit against Palm Beach County claiming that officials pressured the FAA to direct air traffic to the Palm Beach International Airport in a “deliberate and malicious” act over his Mar-A-Lago estate. The air traffic is allegedly damaging the construction of the building and disrupting its ambience. Trump had previously sued twice over airport noise.
In 1973, the Justice Department unsuccessfully sued Trump Management Corporation for alleged racial discrimination, at which time Trump was the company’s president. The federal government filed the lawsuit against his New York City real estate company for allegedly discriminating against potential black renters to which Trump never admitted, the case was settled out of court in 1975.
A 1991 book, Trumped!!, by John R. O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino, claimed that Trump once said in reference to a black accountant at Trump Plaza: “laziness is a trait in blacks.” O’Donnell claimed he told him: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” Trump responded that O’Donnell was a disgruntled employee.
In April 2011, he questioned President Obama’s proof of citizenship. Trump also questioned whether Obama had good enough grades to warrant entry to Harvard Law School. On April 25, 2011, Trump called for Obama to end the citizenship issue by releasing the long-form of his birth certificate. Obama eventually made a formal statement in efforts by the White House to put the matter to rest with the release of the long-form of Obama’s birth certificate on April 27, 2011. Trump expressed pride at his role in the release of the long-form certificate in a press conference follow-up.
On August 24, 2013, a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney GeneralEric Schneiderman, whose claims were dismissed by the Manhattan Superior Court, had accused Trump of defrauding more than 5,000 people of $40 million for the opportunity to learn Trump’s real estate investment techniques in a for-profit training program, Trump University. On January 30, 2014, the New York court dismissed all of the Attorney General’s fraud claims against Trump, allowing only the licensing aspect of the case to proceed. In October 2014, the New York court found Trump only liable for not obtaining a license to operate the for-profit investment school, Trump Entrepreneur Initiative, formerly known as Trump University. In a separate class action civil suit in mid-February 2014, a San Diego federal judge allowed claimants in California, Florida, and New York to proceed.
On June 5, 2013, Trump tweeted: “According to Bill O’Reilly, 80% of all the shootings in New York City are blacks-if you add Hispanics, that figure goes to 98%, 1% white”. Trump also tweeted: “Sadly, the overwhelming amount of violent crime in our major cities is committed by blacks and hispanics-a tough subject-must be discussed”.
In late October 2014, model Alexia Palmer filed a civil suit against Trump Model Management for promising a $75,000 annual salary but paying only $3,380.75 for three years’ work. Palmer claims to be owed more than $200,000. Palmer charged that Trump Model Management, charged, in addition to a management fee, “obscure expenses” from postage to limousine rides that consumed the remainder of her compensation. Trump attorney Alan Garten claims the lawsuit is “bogus and completely frivolous.”
Illegal immigration comments, 2015
Trump attracted reactions from opponents and defenders regarding comments on undocumented illegal immigration while announcing his candidacy for the U.S. presidency at Trump Tower on June 16, 2015 in New York City. He stated in part, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems…. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
On July 6, 2015, Trump issued a 3-page, 881-word written statement clarifying his earlier comments on illegal immigration, which read in part:
“The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc. This was evident just this week when, as an example, a young woman in San Francisco was viciously killed by a 5 time deported Mexican with a long criminal record, who was forced back into the United States because they didn’t want him in Mexico. This is merely one of thousands of similar incidents throughout the United States. In other words, the worst elements in Mexico are being pushed into the United States by the Mexican government. The largest suppliers of heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs are Mexican cartels that arrange to have Mexican immigrants trying to cross the borders and smuggle in the drugs. The Border Patrol knows this. Likewise, tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border. The United States has become a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world. On the other hand, many fabulous people come in from Mexico and our country is better for it. But these people are here legally, and are severely hurt by those coming in illegally. I am proud to say that I know many hard working Mexicans—many of them are working for and with me…and, just like our country, my organization is better for it.”
– Donald Trump, Written Statement released July 6, 2015.
Reactions to illegal immigration comments
José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs, said that “he is a politician who ignores the context in which it is participating”, with regard to US international economic relations and Trump’s comments.
Univision announced it would no longer carry broadcasts of the Miss USA Pageant. In response, Trump indicated the matter would be handled by legal action, and followed through by filing a $500 million lawsuit against Univision. The complaint asserts that Univision is attempting to suppress Trump’s First Amendment rights by putting pressure on his business ventures.
Paulina Vega, the current Miss Universe, said that, although she repudiates the immigration remarks of Trump, who in turn called her a “hypocrite”, that she cannot give up the crown because her contract forbids it, and she could be sued.
Serta, a mattress manufacturer, also decided to drop their business relationship with Trump.
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Greece Defaults on IMF Loan Despite New Push for Bailout Aid
European finance chiefs shut down Athens’s last-minute request for emergency financial aid
GABRIELE STEINHAUSER and
VIKTORIA DENDRINOU in Brussels and
NEKTARIA STAMOULI in Athens
Updated July 1, 2015 12:12 a.m. ET
Greece became the first developed country to default on the International Monetary Fund, as the rescue program that has sustained it for five years expired and its creditors rejected a last-ditch effort to buy more time.
The Washington-based fund said the Greek government failed to transfer €1.55 billion ($1.73 billion) by close-of-business on Tuesday—the largest, single missed repayment in the IMF’s history.
The failure to pay the IMF was a dramatic, if anticipated, conclusion to a day full of unexpected twists and turns. On Tuesday morning—with the clock ticking toward the midnight expiration on the European portion of Greece’s €245 billion bailout—officials in Athens said they were working on a new solution to the four-month old impasse with creditors.
By the afternoon, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had asked for a new rescue program—the country’s third in five years—to help pay for some €29.15 billion ($32.52 billion) in debt coming due between 2015 and 2017.
Late Tuesday, Greek officials were also raising doubts over their plans for a referendum planned for Sunday, in which the government had asked its citizens to vote against pension cuts and sales-tax increases demanded by its creditors.
Some officials suggested that Mr. Tsipras and his ministers could campaign for a “yes” if a better offer from the rest of the eurozone and the IMF was on the table, while others indicated that the vote might even be called off altogether.
Whether any of these developments would keep Greece from financial meltdown andsecure its spot in Europe’s currency union was still unclear. But the prospect of more rescue loans—however dim—might help buffer some of the effects of the nonpayment to the IMF.
Before Greeks have voted on the measures demanded by creditors, “we will not negotiate about anything new at all,” Ms. Merkel said. Her deputy and coalition partner, Sigmar Gabriel of the Social Democrats, urged Greece to cancel the referendum altogether. “Then one could very quickly gather for talks, initial talks. If that’s not the case, then we should certainly do this after the referendum,” Mr. Gabriel said.
European stocks and bonds fell amid the uncertainty and the euro declined against the U.S. dollar.
But most of the moves were smaller than the declines a day earlier in reaction to Athens’s weekend announcement that the government would call a referendum on whether to accept the terms that creditors are offering and the government’s shutdown of its banking system to prevent a financial collapse.
In Washington, President Barack Obama played down the potential impact of Greece’s worsening crisis on the U.S. and broader global economy. “That is not something that we believe will have a major shock to the system,” he said.
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has been urging his European counterparts to press ahead with bailout talks to find a “pragmatic compromise” that includes both tough economic overhauls and debt relief, to prevent Europe’s economic problems from dragging on U.S. growth.
Greek banks have been heavily dependent on support from the European Central Bank. WSJ’s Charles Forelle explains why the country’s banking sector could turn out to be its Achilles heel.
Eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to discuss Greece’s bailout request, along with new proposals for budget cuts and policy overhauls, in a teleconference Wednesday morning.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told his counterparts Tuesday that these plans would be close to the creditors’ latest demands, Austrian Finance Minister Hans Jörg Schelling said in a television interview.
Mr. Varoufakis also suggested that his government might campaign for a “yes” in the referendum if its new proposals were accepted, Mr. Schelling said.
Other officials were more skeptical that, after four months of at times acrimonious negotiations, Mr. Tsipras’s left-wing government was finally giving in to creditors’ demands.
“The political stance of the Greek government doesn’t appear to have changed,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who presides over the talks with his eurozone counterparts. Mr. Dijsselbloem already said over the weekend that the government would have a hard time convincing creditors and investors that it would implement measures it has to far opposed.
The expiration of the existing bailout and a default on the IMF aren’t expected to have immediate consequences for Greece’s economy. Its banks have already been ordered closed until Monday, after the European Central Bank capped emergency loans to Greek lenders over the weekend. Cash withdrawals by Greeks have been limited to €60 a day for each account-holder since Monday.
On Wednesday, the focus will again be on the ECB, whose governing council is due to meet in Frankfurt.
The council, which includes central bankers from the eurozone’s 19 member states, is reluctant to take any additional steps for now that would inflict more pain on Greek banks—for instance, by forcing them to pay back the outstanding loans just days ahead of the referendum, people familiar with the matter said, despite a growing level of impatience over the central bank’s exposure to Greece.
One largely symbolic option would be for the ECB to raise the amount of collateral that banks have to post in return for the emergency loans, but calibrate the reductions on the face value of assets used for collateral so that Greek lenders would still have enough to cover the existing €89 billion loan pile.
Greek crisis deepens as loan repayment deadline passes
Kim Hjelmgaard and Marco della Cava,
reece’s midnight deadline passed Tuesday for repaying $1.8 billion to the International Monetary Fund and other international creditors, deepening a financial crisis that threatens the Mediterranean nation’s membership in the European Union.
Despite an eleventh-hour effort by Greek lawmakers Tuesday to secure a new two-year debt deal before the deadline, European finance ministers reviewing Greece’s proposal concluded their conference call without offering a bailout extension.
The ministers agreed to convene again Wednesday to further discuss the details of a new series of loans from the eurozone’s European Stability Mechanism, its $560 billion rescue fund.
After the deadline passed (at 6 pm ET), Greece joined Zimbabwe, Sudan and Somaliain being in arrears to the IMF. Fitch Ratings has downgraded Greece’s government debt further into junk territory.
Standing in the way of any new deal from the IMF and other creditors is Sunday’s Greek referendum on whether to accept the terms that would come with a new aid package, which includes tax increases and spending cutbacks after years of recession. There is some dispute over whether such a referendum could be canceled, with some Greek lawmakers arguing that the vote is now set in stone.
Late Tuesday, thousands of Greeks took to the streets of Athens, many of them in support of accepting new bailout terms. A “no” vote would lead to Greece leaving the European Union and abandoning the euro currency.
The $1.8 billion Greece owes is part of a $270 billion aid plan it received from the IMF, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission — 19 eurozone governments — during its financial crisis.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made her position clear Tuesday, telling reporters in Berlin, “We’ll negotiate about absolutely nothing before the planned referendum is held.”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said that his government would step down if “yes” votes prevailed, telling a Greek public broadcasting outlet Monday, “We’ll choose in a sovereign way what our future will be like, we will insist on negotiating.”
President Obama cautioned that a failed Greek economy could have significant ripple effects on markets around the world, adding Tuesday that “what you have here is a country that has gone through some very difficult economic times, and needs to find a path toward growth and a path toward staying in the eurozone.”
But should there be a so-called Grexit — or Greek exit from the European financial community — Obama added that “it is important for us that we plan for any contingency, that we work with the ECB and other international institutions to ensure that some of the bumps that occur in the financial markets are smoothed out.”
Greece had previously indicated it would not be able to make the payment. The IMF said it would not give Greece its customary 30-day grace period before issuing a notice of technical default.
But Athens is not expected to immediately go bankrupt. That would only happen if its non-payment triggers further defaults in its financial system, which is not expected.
Next month, on July 20, Greece is also due to pay the ECB $3.9 billion.
Talks between Greece and its creditors have broken down as Athens has tried to negotiate less onerous repayment terms, mainly centered around austerity measures. Global markets on Monday tumbled over fears that the country’s attempts to strike a better deal could see it forced out of the eurozone. Its membership in the European Union is also at stake.
But markets bounced back Tuesday in Asia, and European indexes moved away from earlier losses after steep sell-offs in those regions helped push the Dow down 350 points in the prior session — its biggest one-day point loss since June 20, 2013.
On Tuesday, U.S. markets edged higher, buoyed by Greece’s new proposal that came against the dominant crisis narrative of the last 48 hours.
Earlier, citing unnamed government sources, Greece’s Ekathimerini newspaper reported Athens was reconsidering a previous proposal by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. No details were provided.
A Greek eurozone exit, it is feared, would reignite the financial contagion experienced during the sovereign debt crisis of 2009 and beyond when billions of dollars were wiped off the value of European government debt and other assets.
Still, while many analysts and officials have warned that Greece leaving the eurozone could have far-reaching consequences for economies and markets across the world, the specific impact of that possible development remains mostly unclear.
“If Greece leaves the eurozone, there is unlikely to be a big bang moment when the country adopts the drachma (the currency it used prior to adopting the euro in 2001),” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, a unit of the ratings firm.
“It will happen over time, as the Greek government issues IOUs that effectively become the new currency,” he said.
Greek Prime Minister Tsipras hinted Monday that he may resign if his nation votes “yes” in the referendum Sunday. Tsipras’ leftist Syriza party insists the vote is being called to strengthen its negotiating mandate with its creditors.
“If the Greek people want to proceed with austerity plans in perpetuity, which will leave us unable to lift our head, we will respect it, but we will not be the ones to carry it out,” he said on Greek television late Monday.
European leaders including Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and French PresidentFrancois Hollande dispute that. They say that Sunday’s vote will effectively be a referendum on whether Greece wants to remain part of the eurozone.
The government has limited cash withdrawals from banks to about $68 per day in a bid to stave off bank runs and keep its financial system from collapsing, triggering protests from groups on both sides of Sunday’s yes or no vote.
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Greece’s bailout expires, country defaults on IMF payment
By ELENA BECATOROS and DEREK GATOPOULOS
y to fall into arrears on payments to the fund. The last country to do so was Zimbabwe in 2001.
After Greece made a last-ditch effort to extend its bailout, eurozone finance ministers decided in a teleconference late Tuesday that there was no way they could reach a deal before the deadline.
“It would be crazy to extend the program,” said Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbleom, who heads the eurozone finance ministers’ body known as the eurogroup. “So that cannot happen and will not happen.”
(AP) An elderly man passes a graffiti outside an old bank in Athens, Tuesday, June 30,… Full Image
“The program expires tonight,” Dijsselbleom said.The brinkmanship that has characterized Greece’s bailout negotiations with its European creditors and the IMF rose several notches over the weekend, when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced he would put a deal proposal by creditors to a referendum on Sunday and urged a “No” vote.
The move increased fears the country could soon fall out of the euro currency bloc and Greeks rushed to pull money out of ATMs, leading the government to shutter its banks and impose restrictions on banking transactions on Monday for at least a week.
But in a surprise move Tuesday night, Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis hinted that the government might be open to calling off the popular vote, saying it was a political decision.
The government decided on the referendum, he said on state television, “and it can make a decision on something else.”
(AP) A demonstrator waves a Greek flag during a rally organized by supporters of the YES… Full Image
It was unclear, however, how that would be possible legally as Parliament has already voted for it to go ahead.Greece’s international bailout expires at midnight central European time, after which the country loses access to billions of euros in funds. At the same time, Greece has said it will not be able to make a payment of 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) to the IMF.
With its economy teetering on the brink, Greece suffered its second sovereign downgrade in as many days when the Fitch ratings agency lowered it further into junk status, to just one notch above the level where it considers default inevitable.
The agency said the breakdown of negotiations “has significantly increased the risk that Greece will not be able to honor its debt obligations in the coming months, including bonds held by the private sector.”
Fitch said it now considered a default on privately-held debt “probable.”
(AP) People stand in a queue to use an ATM outside a closed bank, next to a sign on the… Full Image
Hopes for an 11th-hour deal were raised when the Greek side announced it had submitted a new proposal Tuesday afternoon, and the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers held a teleconference to discuss it.But those hopes were quickly dashed.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she ruled out further negotiations with Greece before Sunday’s popular vote on whether to accept creditors’ demands for budget reforms.
“Before the planned referendum is carried out, we will not negotiate over anything new,” the dpa news agency quoted Merkel as saying.
Greece’s latest offer involves a proposal to tap Europe’s bailout fund — the so-called European Stability Mechanism, a pot of money set up after Greece’s rescue programs to help countries in need.
(AP) The word “NO”, referring to the upcoming referendum, is written in red paint outside… Full Image
Tsipras’ office said the proposal was “for the full coverage of (Greece’s) financing needs with the simultaneous restructuring of the debt.”Dijsselbloem said the finance ministers would “study that request as we should” and that they would hold another conference call Wednesday, as they had also received a second letter from Athens that they had not had time to read.
Dragasakis said the new letter “narrows the differences further.”
“We are making an additional effort. There are six points where this effort can be made. I don’t want to get into specifics. But it includes pensions and labor issues,” he said.
European officials and Greek opposition parties have been adamant that a “No” vote on Sunday will mean Greece will leave the euro and possibly even the EU.
(AP) Demonstrators shout slogans during a rally organized by supporters of the YES vote… Full Image
The government says this is scaremongering, and that a rejection of creditor demands will mean the country is in a better negotiating position.In Athens, more than 10,000 “Yes” vote supporters gathered outside parliament despite a thunderstorm, chanting “Europe! Europe!”
Most huddled under umbrellas, including Athens resident Sofia Matthaiou.
“I don’t know if we’ll get a deal. But we have to press them to see reason,” she said, referring to the government. “The creditors need to water down their positions, too.”
The protest came a day after thousands of government supporters advocating a “No” vote held a similar demonstration.
(AP) Demonstrators gather under the rain during a rally organized by supporters of the… Full Image
On Monday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made a new offer to Greece. Under that proposal, Tsipras would need to accept the creditors’ proposal that was on the table last weekend. He would also have to change his position on Sunday’s referendum.Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the offer would also involve unspecified discussions on Athens’s massive debt load of over 300 billion euros, or around 180 percent of GDP. The Greek side has long called for debt relief, saying its mountainous debt is unsustainable.
A Greek government official said Tsipras had spoken earlier in the day with Juncker, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and European Parliament president Martin Schulz.
Meanwhile, missing the IMF payment will cut Greece off from new loans from the organization.
And with its bailout program expiring, Greece will lose access to more than 16 billion euros ($18 billion) in financial support it has not yet tapped, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because talks about the program were still ongoing.
On the streets of Athens, long lines formed again at ATM machines as Greeks struggled with the new restrictions on banking transactions. Under credit controls imposed Monday, Greeks are now limited to ATM withdrawals of 60 euros ($67) a day and cannot send money abroad or make international payments without special permission.
The elderly have been hit particularly hard, with tens of thousands of pensions unpaid as of Tuesday afternoon. Many also found themselves completely cut off from any cash as they do not have bank cards.
The finance ministry said it would open about 1,000 bank branches across the country for three days beginning Wednesday to allow pensioners without bank cards to make withdrawals. But the limit would be set at 120 euros for the whole week.
With negotiations have broken off in dramatic fashion last week, a cacophony of voices on Syriza’s Left have vowed to prioritise domestic obligations unless creditors finally unlock the remainder of its €240bn bail-out programme. Greece only avoided going bust earlier this month after the government has asked for a Zambia-style debt bundling which will now be due on June 30.
The rhetoric is a far cry from February, when Greece’s finance minister pledged his government would “squeeze blood out of a stone” to meet its obligations to the Fund.
Although no nation has ever officially defaulted on its obligations in the post-Bretton Woods era, Greece would join an ignominious list of war-torn nations and international pariahs who have failed to pay back the Fund on time.
What happens after a default?
In choosing to bundle up four separate June repayments, Greece avoided triggering an immediate default.
But in the event of a delayed repayment, according to IMF protocol, Greece could be afforded a 30-day grace period, during which it would be urged to pay back the money as soon as possible, and before Ms Lagarde notifies her executive board of the late payment.
However, with talks have broken down in acrimonious fashion between the country and its creditors, Ms Lagarde has said she will renege on this and notify her board “immediately”.
Having spooked creditors and the markets of the possibility of a fatal breach of the sanctity of monetary union, Greece may well stump up the cash if an agreement to release the country more emergency aid is reached (that’s looking increasingly unlikely however).
But should no money be forthcoming however, the arrears process may well extend indefinitely.
Greece’s other creditor burden would also start piling up, with the government due to pay another €6.6bn to the European Central Bank in July and August.
Stopping the cash
Although the exact process is uncertain, falling into a protracted arrears procedure could have major consequences for continued financial assistance from Greece’s other creditors – the European Central Bank and European Commission.
“If Greece defaults to the IMF, then they are considered to be in default to the rest of the eurozone,” says Raoul Ruparel, head of economic research at Open Europe.
“Such a scenario would risk the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) cancelling all or part of its facility or even declaring the principal amount of the loan to be due immediately,” say analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Should the EFSF take such a decisive move, it could activate a range of cross default clauses on Greek government bonds held by private investors and the ECB. These clauses state a default to one creditor institution applies to all.
The political and market damage that may ensue would be substantial. Popular sentiment in creditor nations would turn against the errant Greeks, while the position of the ECB in particular could quickly come under the spotlight.
The central bank has kept Greek banks on a tight leash, maintaining that it would only restore normal lending operations to the country once “conditions for a successful completion of the programme are in place”.
A wave of defaults may force the ECB into finally pulling the plug on the emergency assistance it has been providing in ever larger doses since February.
What would happen if Greece left the euro? In 60 seconds
Scrambling for funds
Whatever the outcome, Greece on many measures, is all but bankrupt.
In addition to the half a billion euros plus it owes the Fund this month, the Leftist government will still be paying back the IMF until 2030. In total, its repayment schedule stretches out over the next 42 years to 2057.
Greece makes new aid proposal, seeks debt restructuring
ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece has submitted to creditors a new two-year aid proposal calling for parallel debt restructuring, the office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday, in what seemed like a last-ditch effort by Athens to resolve an impasse with lenders.
The statement came hours before Athens was set to default on a loan to the International Monetary Fund. It was unclear how creditors would respond.
“The Greek government proposed today a two-year deal with the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) to fully cover its financial needs and with parallel debt restructuring,” the government said in a statement.
“Greece remains at the negotiating table,” the statement said, adding that Athens would always seek a “viable solution to stay in the euro.”
If Greece defaults on its debt, it will be the biggest default by a country in history.
Greece is expected to miss a €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) debt payment on Tuesday. That won’t be enough to put it in the record books yet, but it could eventually make Greece default on its entire debt load: €323 billion ($360 billion).
This isn’t the first time Greece has been on the brink. Greece already holds the record for the biggest default ever by a country from 2012 when it went into technical default and had to restructure about $138 billion of its debt. Back then, Greece was quickly bailed out by its European peers. That’s unlikely to happen now.
The Greek government pulled its negotiators from talks with European officials Friday after little progress was made on a debt payment plan and economic reforms. Greece has called for a referendum vote on July 5 on the latest proposal from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.
Greece already holds the record: Greece’s 2012 technical default shattered the previous record set by Argentina in 2001, when the South American nation defaulted on $95 billion in debt. While there are parallels between the two countries, experts say this potential Greek default could be much worse.
“Things are incredibly dire,” says Anna Gelpern, a Georgetown University professor. “For political reasons and market-confidence reasons, they need to deal with the debt…It’s not clear to me how they deal with it without defaulting on anyone.”
Greece won’t officially be in default right away. The International Monetary Fund generally gives countries a month after missing a debt payment before it declares a country in defaulted. However, the markets will most likely judge Greece to be in default by July 1.
Greece’s debt is spread out across the board. Greece owes money to the International Monetary Fund, Germany, France, Greek banks and several others.
But consider this: Whatever happens to Greece, it’s likely to be a long process. Argentina is still in default. But a key difference is that Greece has four times the debt load of Argentina — the next worst default — but Greece’s economy is only half the size of Argentina’s.
While Greece would be the biggest sovereign default, Lehman Brothers had over $600 billion in assets when it filed for bankruptcy in 2008. A Greek default would be smaller and unlikely to rattle the global financial system like Lehman, but it would have a long-lasting impact on the Greek people.
Here are some of the worst sovereign defaults since 2000.
1. Greece — $138 billion, March 2012. Despite going into a technical default, the Greek government is propped up by bailout funds from its European peers. Those bailout funds eventually lead to the current dilemma.
2. Argentina — $95 billion, November 2001. Argentina’s currency was “pegged” or equal to one U.S. dollar for years — a currency exchange that eventually proved to be completely inaccurate. Like Greece is doing this week, Argentina also clamped down on Argentines trying to take money out of the banks. It didn’t help. The country’s economy was nearly three times smaller just one year later, according to IMF data. In July 2014, Argentina went into a technical default after it missed a debt payment to its hold out creditors.
3. Jamaica — $7.9 billion, February 2010. Massive government overspending for years and rapid inflation pushed Jamaica into default five years ago. At the time, over 40% of the government’s budget went to paying debts. Its economy, which depends on tourism, suffered when the U.S. recession began in late 2008.
4. Ecuador — $3.2 billion, December 2008. Ecuador pulled a fast one on its creditors. With a debt payment looming, the Ecuardor’s government, led by President Rafael Correa, just said no to its creditors. He claimed the debt, some which was owned by American hedge funds, was “immoral.” Rich in resources, Ecuardor could have made debt payments, but intentionally chose not to.
Despite Lagarde’s initial reluctance, IMF on the hook for Greece
By By Anna Yukhananov | Reuters – 21 hours ago
By Anna Yukhananov
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As French Finance Minister in 2010, Christine Lagarde opposed the involvement of the International Monetary Fund in Greece.
Now as the country stands on the edge of defaulting on a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) payment to the Fund, Lagarde’s tenure at the head of the IMF since 2011 will be shaped by Greece, which holds a referendum on Sunday that could pave the way to its exit from the euro.
By its own admission the Washington-based institution broke many of its rules in lending to Greece. It ended up endorsing austerity measures proposed by the European Commission and European Central Bank, its partners in the troika of Greece’s lenders, instead of leading talks as it had done with other countries such as Russia and in the Asian financial crisis.
“I think the IMF has missed the opportunity (on Greece), because it has not fully leveraged the lessons it learned from the previous crises it was involved in, due to this asymmetric relationship within the troika,” said Domenico Lombardi, a former IMF board member.
That the IMF lent to Greece at the behest of Europe, which has nominated every IMF Managing Director since the inception of the Fund in 1946, may expose the institution to greater scrutiny, especially as it has $24 billion in loans outstanding to Greece in its largest-ever program.
“When it was clear that the Greek program was underperforming, they did not push back sufficiently against the euro zone, which had at the time a misguided policy emphasis on only austerity,” said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a fellow at the Peterson Institute in Washington.
The involvement of the Fund in Greece and its continued support for decisions driven by eurozone governments caused a deep split in the institution.
Some IMF economists had misgivings about lending to Greece in 2010 within the constraints of the so-called “troika” of lenders, where the Fund would be the junior partner to the European Central Bank and the European Commission.
IMF board members also protested the “exceptional” size of the program, as Athens did not meet the Fund’s criteria for debt sustainability, meaning it would have trouble repaying.
Yet swayed by the fear that contagion in Athens could spread to French and German banks, the IMF agreed to participate in a joint 110-billion-euro bailout of Greece with the Europeans.
“The Europeans have a third of the voting rights (at the IMF), and they have appointed the managing director since the beginning, so essentially it is the governance that has driven the Greek program,” said Lombardi who is now with the Canada-based Center for International Governance Innovation.
Later, the Fund admitted that its projections for the Greek economy had been overly optimistic. Instead of growing after a year of austerity, Greece’s economy plunged into one of the worst recessions to ever hit a country in peacetime, with output falling 22 percent from 2008 to 2012.
While the euro zone’s insistence on drawing a direct link between euro membership and Greece’s debt sustainability and the negotiating tactics of the Greek government have exposed both to questions of credibility, the Fund stands charged as well.
“The IMF’s reputation, too, has been shaken from widespread criticism of the Greek program, including its own admission of its failures,” said Lombard Street Research economist Konstantinos Venetis.
TEMPTATION TO GO BIG
If Greece does default on all $24 billion it owes to the Fund, that will dwarf previous delinquencies from countries like Sudan, Zimbabwe and Somalia.
While the IMF was worried about contagion when it made the loans, it also had institutional incentives for wanting to bail out troubled countries, said Andrea Montanino, a former IMF board member who left the Fund in 2014 after participating in reviews of Greece’s second bailout in 2012.
“The IMF is in a preferred creditor status; the more you lend, the more you earn,” said Montanino, now with the Atlantic Council.
The IMF’s heavy involvement in large bailouts for euro zone countries, which included Ireland and Portugal, have enabled it to build up its reserve buffers in recent years. It is now aiming to store away some $28 billion by 2018.
From interest and charges on the Greek program alone, the IMF has earned some $3.9 billion since 2010, according to figures on the IMF’s website.
“I think the Greek lesson is in the future, the IMF will be much more careful,” said Montanino.
Greece is widely expected to miss a crucial payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday—hours before its bailout officially ends at midnight and the country is left with few, if any, financial lifelines.
Greek officials have already warned the country is unable to pay the 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) due to the IMF by 6 p.m. ET, after reforms-for-aid talks with creditors broke down at the weekend.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup, subsequently tweeted on Tuesday that there would be a teleconference to discuss an “official request” from the Greek government “received this afternoon” at 1 p.m. ET.
The Greek government on Tuesday proposed a new, two-year bailout deal with the European Stability Mechanism. This would be to “fully cover its financing needs and the simultaneous restructuring of debt,” according to a translated press release from the office of the Greek Prime Minister.
Yannis Behrakis | Reuters
A protester waves a Greek flag in front of the parliament building during a rally in Athens, Greece, June 22, 2015.
This comes at a time when Greece’s financial future is in jeopardy. The country will potentially have no access to external sources of cash, once its funding from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) expires at midnight.
Meanwhile, Greece’s banking system is being kept afloat by emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) from the European Central Bank, which is up for review on Wednesday.
Against a backdrop of uncertainty, Tsipras has called a referendum on July 5 of the Greek people on whether to accept the bailout proposals—and accompanying austerity measures—proposed by creditors.
Tsipras has urged the public to vote “no” to more austerity.
“The Greek government will claim a sustainable agreement within the euro. This is the message of NO to a bad deal at the referendum on Sunday,” the translated statement from the prime minister’s office said on Tuesday.
‘Running out of notches’
Meanwhile, credit ratings agencies are increasingly nervous about the country’s solvency.
Fitch Ratings downgraded Greek banks on Monday to “Restricted Default,” after Athens imposed capital controls to prevent an exodus of deposits from Greece.
In addition, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) lowered Greece’s credit rating to CCC- from CCC, saying the probability of the country exiting the euro zone was now 50 percent.
Moritz Kraemer, chief rating officer of sovereign ratings at S&P, told CNBC on Tuesday that the group was “actually running out of notches” for Greece.
“We have the rating at CCC- and that’s pretty much the lowest rung that we have on our scale,” he told CNBC Europe’s “Squawk Box.”
If Greece misses its payment on Tuesday, then the IMF will consider it in “arrears” – a technical term used by the IMF, which is similar to default.
If a country is in arrears to the IMF, it means it won’t get any future aid until the bill is repaid.
Although the IMF payment is dominating headlines, S&P’s Kraemer said that Greece’s bailout program ending at midnight was just as significant.
“Basically after that we’re back to square one,” he said. “So even if there was to be a change of heart in Athens and they did decide to take the creditors’ offer, that’s legally no longer possible as the program would have elapsed.”
Greece’s debt crisis: It all started in 2001…
Yannis Behrakis | Reuters
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In international law, odious debt, also known as illegitimate debt, is a legal theory that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Such debts are, thus, considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred them and not debts of the state. In some respects, the concept is analogous to the invalidity of contracts signed under coercion.
When a despotic regime contracts a debt, not for the needs or in the interests of the state, but rather to strengthen itself, to suppress a popular insurrection, etc, this debt is odious for the people of the entire state. This debt does not bind the nation; it is a debt of the regime, a personal debt contracted by the ruler, and consequently it falls with the demise of the regime. The reason why these odious debts cannot attach to the territory of the state is that they do not fulfil one of the conditions determining the lawfulness of State debts, namely that State debts must be incurred, and the proceeds used, for the needs and in the interests of the State. Odious debts, contracted and utilised for purposes which, to the lenders’ knowledge, are contrary to the needs and the interests of the nation, are not binding on the nation – when it succeeds in overthrowing the government that contracted them – unless the debt is within the limits of real advantages that these debts might have afforded. The lenders have committed a hostile act against the people, they cannot expect a nation which has freed itself of a despotic regime to assume these odious debts, which are the personal debts of the ruler.
There are many examples of similar debt repudiation.
Patricia Adams, executive director of Probe International, a Canadian environmental and public policy advocacy organisation and author of Odious Debts: Loose Lending, Corruption, and the Third World’s Environmental Legacy, stated: “by giving creditors an incentive to lend only for purposes that are transparent and of public benefit, future tyrants will lose their ability to finance their armies, and thus the war on terror and the cause of world peace will be better served.” In a Cato Institute policy analysis, Adams suggested that debts incurred by Iraq during Saddam Hussein‘s reign were odious because the money was spent on weapons, instruments of repression, and palaces.
A 2002 article by economists Seema Jayachandran and Michael Kremer renewed interest in this topic. They propose that the idea can be used to create a new type of economic sanction to block further borrowing by dictators. Jayachandran proposed new recommendations in November 2010 at the 10th anniversary of the Jubilee movement at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.
In December 2008, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa attempted to default on Ecuador’s national debt, calling it illegitimate odious debt, because it was contracted by corrupt and despotic prior regimes. He succeeded in reducing the price of the debt letters before continuing paying the debt.
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U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions: Trade Promotion Authority Legislation Is Not Good For Americans
.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R., Alabama, on June 18, 2015, spoke on the senate floor to address his concerns on the Trade Promotion Authority legislation. He spoke at length and in a round about way said the legislation is seditious and treasonous.
Today, June 23, 2015, Sessions released the following statement after the passing of the TPA:
“Americans increasingly believe that their country isn’t serving its own citizens. They need look no further than a bipartisan vote of Congress that will transfer congressional power to the Executive Branch and, in turn, to a transnational Pacific Union and the global interests who will help write its rules.
The same routine plays out over and again. We are told a massive bill must be passed, all the business lobbyists and leaders tell us how grand it will be, but that it must be rushed through before the voters spoil the plan. As with Obamacare and the Gang of Eight, the politicians meet with the consultants to craft the talking points—not based on what the bill actually does, but what they hope people will believe it does. And when ordinary Americans who never asked for the plan, who don’t want the plan, who want no part of the plan, resist, they are scorned, mocked, and heaped with condescension.
Washington broke arms and heads to get that 60th vote—not one to spare—to impose on the American people a plan which imperils their jobs, wages, and control over their own affairs. It is remarkable that so much energy has been expended on advancing the things Americans oppose, and preventing the things Americans want.
For instance: thousands of loyal Americans have been laid off and forced to train the foreign workers brought in to fill their jobs—at Disney, at Southern California Edison, across the country. Does Washington rush to their defense? No, the politicians and the lobbyists rush to move legislation that would double or triple the very program responsible for replacing them.
This ‘econometarian’ ideology holds that if a company can increase its bottom line —whether by insourcing foreign workers or outsourcing production—then it’s always a win, never a downside.
President Obama, and allies in Congress, have won this fast-track vote. But, in exchange, they may find that they are losing something far greater: the trust of the American people. Americans have a fundamental, decent, and just demand: that the people they elect defend their interests. And every issue to come before us in the coming months will have to pass this test: does it strengthen, or weaken, the position of the everyday, loyal American citizen?”
TPA passes senate! (Traitors)
Victory for Obama as the Senate gives him the go ahead to negotiate Pacific Rim trade deal
ALERT: Senator Jeff Sessions Issues Dire Warning on TPP
McConnell Lauds the Advancement of Trade Promotion Authority
U.S. Senate Sells Out America!
Republican Senators Sell Out America!
Trade Promotion Authority
Senate advances fast-track trade bill for Obama
he Senate on Tuesday voted to advance President Obama’s trade agenda, approving a measure to end debate on fast-track authority.
The 60-37 motion sets up a vote on final passage on Wednesday. If the Senate approves fast-track or trade promotion authority (TPA), it would then be sent to Obama’s desk to become law.
Fast-track authority would allow Obama to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes. The White House wants the authority to conclude negotiations on a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.
Thirteen Democrats backed fast-track in Tuesday’s vote, handing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a major legislative victory. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) voted against the procedural motion.
The Democrats cast “yes” votes even though the trade package did not include a workers assistance program for people displaced by increased trade. The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program was a part of the last fast-track package approved by the Senate in May, but became a key part of opposition to the package among Democrats in the House.
To move fast-track forward, the White House and GOP leaders in both chambers decided to break TAA away from fast-track and to try to approve both in separate votes.
After the Senate votes Wednesday on final passage for fast-track, it will take a procedural vote on a package that includes TAA and trade preferences for African countries known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
McConnell has promised both bills, as well as a customs and enforcement bill favored by Democrats, will reach Obama’s desk by the end of the week.
“If we all keep working together and trusting each other, then by the end of the week the President will have TPA, TAA and AGOA and Preferences on his desk — with Customs in the process of heading his way too,” he said on the floor.
The House has already passed fast-track but it must still vote on the package including TAA, which faces opposition from conservatives.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reiterated on Tuesday his pledge to vote again on TAA as soon as it clears the upper chamber.
“The House will consider TAA once it passes the Senate as part of a new trade preferences bill. And we are ready to go to conference on the customs bill. Our goal is to get TPA and TAA to the president’s desk this week and deliver this win for the American people,” he said in a statement.
The Senate vote to end a filibuster against fast-track appeared in doubt until the final moment as a group of pro-trade Democrats balked at McConnell’s decision to split it off from TAA, a move made necessary to circumvent opposition in the House.
Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Chris Coons (Del.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) refused to say publicly how they would vote.
McConnell’s margin for error shrank further when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is running for president, announced he would vote to block the bill, declaring in a Breitbart.com op-ed that it had “become enmeshed in corrupt Washington backroom dealmaking.”
Other Republican White House hopefuls, including Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, oppose fast-track.
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, held talks with other pro-trade Democrats late into the evening Monday to address their concerns.
He delivered an impassioned speech in favor of the bill shortly before the vote, arguing that it would allow the United States to keep pace with China in the competition for Asian markets.
“This is our chance to set a new course. This is our chance to put in place higher standards in global trade on matters like labor rights and environmental protection, shine some real sunlight on trade agreements and ensure that our country writes the rules of the road,” he said.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who co-wrote the trade bill with Wyden, argued the vast majority of global economic growth will take place outside of the United States over the next decade.
“If our workers, farmers, ranchers and service providers are going to be able to compete in these growing markets, we must have open access to these markets and fair trade rules to boot,” he said on the floor.
Opponents led by Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) warned fast-track would cost thousands of American jobs and allow multi-national companies to evade U.S. law.
Brown reproached his colleagues for voting to give Obama fast-track authority while having little idea of the shape of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade accord that will receive expedited consideration in Congress as a result.
“We’ve gotten the worst of both worlds because we’re voting on TPA and we haven’t been able to see what’s in TPP,” Brown said before the vote.
The AFL-CIO waged a fierce lobbying campaign against fast-track for months.
“It will do nothing to prevent repeating the mistakes of failed trade policies that have contributed to stagnating wages, increasing inequality and the closure of more than 60,000 factories since 2000,” the union wrote in a letter dated Monday.
Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other business leaders applauded the development.
“Today’s vote is an important step towards revitalizing our economy, creating more good American jobs, and reasserting our country’s global economic leadership,” Donohue said in a statement.
Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) missed the vote. McConnell said Corker would have voted “yes” if he had been present, while Brown noted that Lee and Menendez would have voted “no.”
SESSIONS WARNS TPA WOULD CREATE ‘PACIFIC UNION’ AKIN TO EUROPEAN UNION
by JEFF POOR 10 Jun 2015 1302
In a joint appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show on Wednesday,
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
warned against the passage of the so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) currently being considered by the Congress.Sessions argued it was more than just a framework for a process for the president of the United States to use in negotiating trade agreements, but instead was creating an economic union with wide-ranging powers.
“I’ve been there three times and I can tell you it is far more than a trade agreement,” he said. “It is a creating of an economic union. The congressional resource said it is a wide-ranging political and economic partnership that is created where the Sultan of Brunei gets one vote. The president of the United States gets one vote. Twelve countries – they have the ability to add other treaties and pass them. They have the ability to deal with climate issues, wage issues and environmental issues. There’s just no doubt about that.”
The junior Alabama senator went on to explain that he felt it was being kept secret because if the public were aware of this union, which he likened to the European Union, it would be stopped dead in its tracks.
“I think it’s because if the trade commission – if the international commission, the Pacific union that is being created here – were made public, it wouldn’t go anywhere. I just don’t think it has any chance – look, England found out after they joined the EU they can’t fox hunt anymore.”
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Free Market Revolution -The Solution to what Ails America Today
The mission of the Financial Policy Council Inc. (FPC), a research think tank and educational institution, is to formulate and promote sound public policy based on the principles of free enterprise and wealth creation as envisioned by the ideals of the American Founding Fathers.
Our goal is to ensure that America, the land of opportunity where freedom and prosperity have flourished, is not derailed by poorly formulated and reactive economic, fiscal and tax policy. In addition, our goal is to retain and reclaim America’s leading role in the global economic community.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index registered at -9 for the week ending June 7, the sixth straight week the index has been at or below -5.
After climbing steadily during the fall of last year and registering positive scores from late December through mid-February, the U.S. Economic Confidence Index slipped to between -3 and -4 for most of March and April in Gallup’s weekly averages. The index dipped more at the start of May, reaching -9, and has remained near that level since.
Still, on a relative basis the recent weekly index readings are much higher than Gallup found for most weeks between January 2008 and November 2014, when the index ranged from -65 to -3.
Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: Americans’ views of current economic conditions and their perceptions of whether the U.S. economy is getting better or getting worse. The theoretical maximum for the index is +100, if all Americans say the economy is excellent or good and getting better. The theoretical minimum is -100, if all Americans say the economy is poor and getting worse.
For the week ending June 7, 24% of Americans said the economy is excellent or good while 30% said it is poor, resulting in a current conditions score of -6. The economic outlook score of -12, the lowest score for this component since early May, is the result of 42% of Americans saying the economy is getting better and 54% saying it is getting worse.
Americans’ outlook has improved on a variety of economic measures, but their overall confidence in the U.S. economy is registering significantly lower values in the past several weeks than it did from late December to late April.
The recent erosion in confidence may be related to rising gas prices since the beginning of the year. The direction of gas prices in the months ahead could help predict the trajectory of economic confidence, as could other economic information consumers are likely to pick up on, including the monthly government jobs report — which for May was stronger than some analysts expected.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 1-7, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 3,035 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Confidence in U.S. Institutions Still Below Historical Norms
by Jeffrey M. Jones
Only military, small business top historical averages
Military, small business highest-rated institutions overall
Confidence in organized religion, police at all-time lows
PRINCETON, N.J. — Americans’ confidence in most major U.S. institutions remains below the historical average for each one. Only the military (72%) and small business (67%) — the highest-rated institutions in this year’s poll — are currently rated higher than their historical norms, based on the percentage expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the institution.
These results are based on a June 2-7 Gallup poll that included Gallup’s latest update on confidence in U.S. institutions. Gallup first measured confidence ratings in 1973 and has updated them each year since 1993.
Americans’ confidence in most major institutions has been down for many years as the nation has dealt with prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a major recession and sluggish economic improvement, and partisan gridlock in Washington. In fact, 2004 was the last year most institutions were at or above their historical average levels of confidence. Perhaps not coincidentally, 2004 was also the last year Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States averaged better than 40%. Currently, 28% of Americans are satisfied with the state of the nation.
From a broad perspective, Americans’ confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993. The average confidence rating of the 14 institutions asked about annually since 1993 — excluding small business, asked annually since 2007 — is 32% this year. This is one percentage point above the all-institution average of 31% last year. Americans were generally more confident in all institutions in the late 1990s and early 2000s as the country enjoyed a strong economy and a rally in support for U.S. institutions after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Confidence in Political, Financial and Religious Institutions Especially Low
Today’s confidence ratings of Congress, organized religion, banks, the Supreme Court and the presidency show the greatest deficits compared with their historical averages, all running at least 10 points below that mark. Americans’frustration with the government’s performance has eroded the trust they have in all U.S. political institutions. Likewise, Americans’ confidence in banks fell after the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent financial crisis.
The large decline in confidence in organized religion is likely tied to a decline in religiosity overall, but also to scandals that have plagued various religious organizations, most notably the Catholic Church. This year’s 42% score for confidence in the church or organized religion is the lowest Gallup has measured for that institution. The prior low was 44% in 2012.
Confidence in the police, at 52% this year, ties the low for that institution recorded in the first year it was measured, 1993. In the past year, the police have been a major focus of news coverage in several incidents in which white police officers’ actions resulted in the deaths of black men they were trying to apprehend.
Still, the church and the police rank among the highest-rated institutions, trailing only the military and small business among the 15 institutions tested in this year’s poll. Further back in history, the church ranked first or tied for first in all but one survey from 1973 through 1988. Since then, the military has been the top-ranked institution each year except 1997, when small business was first.
Congress is the institution in which Americans express the least confidence this year, with 8% doing so, one point above its 7% rating last year — the lowest Gallup has ever measured for any institution. Congress has ranked last each year since 2010, and a total of 12 times since 1973. Other institutions that have held this unwelcome distinction in the past include big business (nine times), health maintenance organizations (eight), the criminal justice system (six) and organized labor (four). The top- and bottom-rated institutions in each Confidence in Institutions poll are shown at the bottom of this story.
Americans continue to show lower levels of confidence in most of the major institutions central to U.S. society, with only the military and small business getting ratings in 2015 that are above their historical averages. That speaks to the broader dissatisfaction Americans have with the state of the nation more generally over the past decade as the U.S. has faced serious economic, international and political challenges. Americans have tended to be more confident in U.S. institutions when the economy has been strong, such as in the mid-1980s and the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although Americans are now more upbeat about the economy than they were in 2008-2013, they are not yet convinced that the economy is good, given that their assessments of national economic conditions remain more negative than positive.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 2-7, 2015, with a random sample of 1,527 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Confidence in U.S. Branches of Government Remains Low
by Justin McCarthy
Americans’ confidence in presidency up four points, at 33%
Thirty-two percent have confidence in the Supreme Court
Congress retains the least confidence, at 8%
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ confidence in each of the three branches of the U.S. government remains low, with confidence in Congress and the Supreme Court near their all-time lows reached last year. Currently, 33% of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the presidency, 32% are this confident in the Supreme Court, and Congress is still well behind, at 8%.
While Congress has consistently received the lowest confidence rating of the three branches of government, the Supreme Court and the presidency usually track each other closely. This is apart from times when the incumbent president has been extremely popular, as in 1991 and 2002, or exceptionally unpopular, as in 2007 and 2008.
Gallup’s June 2-7 poll found confidence in the presidency rising slightly to 33% from 29% last year, which in turn was just four percentage points above the historical low of 25% in 2007. The uptick in confidence in the presidency this year is consistent with Americans’ higher job approval ratings of President Barack Obama since last fall.
Meanwhile, ratings of the Supreme Court and Congress, which had dropped to record lows in 2014, have barely moved.
Confidence in the Presidency in Obama’s Seventh Year Exceeds Bush’s
The president in office is not mentioned by name in the confidence in the presidency question, but Americans’ evaluations of the sitting president at the time are strongly related to how much confidence Americans place in the presidency as an institution.
Confidence in the presidency as an institution during each year of Obama’s presidency has generally been lower than the comparable year in the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. An exception is Obama’s first year, when Americans had greater confidence in the institution than in the first years of either Bush or Clinton. Also, in Obama’s current year in office, his seventh, confidence in the presidency is higher than the 25% found in Bush’s seventh year — the record low — but lower than the 49% in Clinton’s seventh year.
The highest confidence rating the presidency has ever received is 72%, in March 1991 during the administration of George H.W. Bush shortly after he had succeeded in pushing Iraq out of Kuwait in the Gulf War. However, by October of that same year, after the Gulf War was over, confidence in the presidency had dropped to 50%.
Average Confidence in the Three Branches Is Low, but Has Been Lower
The average confidence rating for the three branches of government combined is 24%, lower than most previous averages since 1991 and well below the high of 50% that year.
But the average of confidence ratings for the three branches of government has been lower — including in 2008 (23%) and 2014 (22%).
Americans’ confidence in two of the three institutions that make up the U.S. government — Congress and the Supreme Court — remains near their all-time lows reached in 2014, while confidence in the presidency, although low, is up marginally compared with last year.
For Congress, low confidence in the institution is nothing new to members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, who have also seen low job approval ratings in recent years. Individual members likely aren’t as interested in Americans’ collective opinions as they are in the views of the voters they must appeal to back home. But the public’s extremely low confidence no doubt weighs on Congress at some level.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, is not directly accountable to the public — and often defies public opinion completely. Although its unelected members serve indefinite terms, confidence in the court is not unsusceptible to a drop in confidence in government as a whole.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 2-7, 2015, with a random sample of 1,527 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Americans have little confidence in most of their major institutions including Congress, the presidency, the Supreme Court, banks and organized religion, according to the latest Gallup poll.
“Americans’ confidence in most major U.S. institutions remains below the historical average for each one,” a Gallup spokesman said in a news release. Only the military, in which 72 percent of Americans express confidence, up from a historical average of 68 percent, and small business, with 67 percent confidence, up from 63, are currently rated higher than their historical norms. This is based on the percentage expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in these institutions, the Gallup spokesman said.
Only 8 percent have confidence in Congress, down by 16 points from a long-term average of 24 percent – the lowest of all institutions rated. The rating is about the same as last year’s 7 percent, the lowest Gallup has ever measured for any institution.
Thirty-three percent have confidence in the presidency, a drop from a historical average of 43 percent.
Thirty-two percent have confidence in the Supreme Court, down from 44.
All in all, it’s a picture of a nation discouraged about its present and worried about its future, and highly doubtful that its institutions can pull America out of its trough. In a political context, the findings indicate that the growing number of presidential candidates for 2016 will have a difficult time instilling confidence in a skeptical electorate that they have the answers to the country’s problems.
“Americans’ confidence in most major institutions has been down for many years as the nation has dealt with prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a major recession and sluggish economic improvement, and partisan gridlock in Washington,” the Gallup spokesman said. “In fact, 2004 was the last year most institutions were at or above their historical average levels of confidence. Perhaps not coincidentally, 2004 was also the last year Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States averaged better than 40 percent. Currently, 28 percent of Americans are satisfied with the state of the nation.”
The Gallup spokesman added: “From a broad perspective, Americans’ confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993.”
Twenty-eight percent have confidence in banks, down from 40 percent.
Twenty-one percent have confidence in big business, down from 24 percent.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in organized labor, down from 26.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in newspapers, down from 32 percent. Twenty-one percent have confidence in television news, down from 30 percent.
The police also have experienced a drop in public esteem, with 52 percent of Americans saying they are confident in the police compared with 57 percent who have been confident in the police historically. Police have been widely criticized in recent months for abusive tactics toward African-Americans, which resulted in the deaths of several black men.
Forty-two percent express confidence in organized religion, down from 55.
“Americans continue to show lower levels of confidence in most of the major institutions central to U.S. society, with only the military and small business getting ratings in 2015 that are above their historical averages,” the Gallup spokesman said. “That speaks to the broader dissatisfaction Americans have with the state of the nation more generally over the past decade as the U.S. has faced serious economic, international and political challenges. Americans have tended to be more confident in U.S. institutions when the economy has been strong, such as in the mid-1980s and the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although Americans are now more upbeat about the economy than they were in 2008-2013, they are not yet convinced that the economy is good, given that their assessments of national economic conditions remain more negative than positive.”
AMERICANS LOSE CONFIDENCE IN EVERYTHING
Poll shows views turning negative on banks, government, religion, police, media
An explosive new Gallup poll shows Americans have lost confidence in almost every major institution – from the U.S. presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court to banks and organized religion.
“Americans’ confidence in most major U.S. institutions remains below the historical average for each one,” a Gallup spokesman said.
Only the military (72 percent) and small business (67 percent) have Americans’ increasing confidence, both of which are now rated 4 percentage points higher than their historical norms, according to the poll.
Congress – which plunged 16 points from its average of 24 points – is the lowest ranking institution at just 8 percent.
Just as numerous presidential candidates attempt to convince America that they have the answers to the nation’s problems, the poll shows only one-third, or 33 percent, of Americans have confidence in the presidency, a nosedive from the historical average of 43 percent.
Likewise, just 32 percent said they have confidence in the Supreme Court, which is down from an average of 44 just before the court announces its decisions on landmark issues such as same-sex marriage and Obamacare subsidies to states without insurance-exchange websites.
“Americans’ confidence in most major institutions has been down for many years as the nation has dealt with prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a major recession and sluggish economic improvement, and partisan gridlock in Washington,” a Gallup spokesman said. “In fact, 2004 was the last year most institutions were at or above their historical average levels of confidence. Perhaps not coincidentally, 2004 was also the last year Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States averaged better than 40 percent. Currently, 28 percent of Americans are satisfied with the state of the nation.”
In 2004, President George W. Bush was re-elected and the U.S. transferred sovereignty and control of Iraq back to the Iraqi people.
At the beginning of 2004, the U.S. economy was booming. Four middle-class tax cuts were extended, including a $1,000-per-couple child tax credit, expansion of the lowest (10 percent) tax bracket, exceptions for the alternative minimum tax, and relief from the “marriage penalty” for two-income families. Another $140 billion in tax relief was granted to U.S. business. Unemployment dropped from 5.7 percent to 5.4 percent.
Regarding the latest poll numbers, the Gallup spokesman added, “From a broad perspective, Americans’ confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993.”
In the last two years, Americans have seen President Obama begin his second term of office. Amid an explosion of legalized same-sex marriage in numerous U.S. states, the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
Americans witnessed the debt-ceiling crisis in October 2013, which resulted in the shutdown of the federal government and furlough of federal workers.
By 2014, the Obama administration had announced its plan to shrink the military budget to $522 billion and slash the Army to a size unseen since before World War II. The nation also saw Americans impacted by a West African Ebola outbreak and revelations that the Veterans Administration had covered up exceedingly long wait times for veterans seeking medical attention.
The year 2014 also saw the rise of terrorist group ISIS and racial riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and St. Louis after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in August. By 2015, riots had broken out in Baltimore, Maryland, over the shooting of Freddie Gray.
According to the Gallup poll, 28 percent of Americans now have confidence in banks, compared to the historical average of 40 percent.
Twenty-one percent said they have confidence in big business, down from 24 percent.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in organized labor, down from 26 percent.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in newspapers, down from 32 percent.
Twenty-one percent have confidence in TV news, down from 30 percent.
Fifty-two percent have confidence in police, down from 57 percent.
Forty-two percent have confidence in organized religion, down from 55.
“Americans continue to show lower levels of confidence in most of the major institutions central to U.S. society, with only the military and small business getting ratings in 2015 that are above their historical averages,” the Gallup spokesman said.
“That speaks to the broader dissatisfaction Americans have with the state of the nation more generally over the past decade as the U.S. has faced serious economic, international and political challenges. Americans have tended to be more confident in U.S. institutions when the economy has been strong, such as in the mid-1980s and the late 1990s and early 2000s.”
While Americans are more confident in the economy than they were from 2008 to 2013, the Gallup spokesman said, “[T]hey are not yet convinced that the economy is good, given that their assessments of national economic conditions remain more negative than positive.”
The Vice President of the United States has the additional duty of President of the Senate. Because the number of seats in the United States Senate is an even number (two senators per state), it is the Vice President’s duty as President of the Senate to cast a tie-breaking vote in the event that “they be equally divided”—an equal number of Senators voting both for and against a motion.
A party that has “an independent state organization… in a majority of the states” is listed as a major party. An “independent state organization” is not to be confused with the organization of an Independent Democrat or Independent Republican.
These parties are based only in states or certain regions and rarely, if ever, offer candidates for national offices. These are all parties that are unaffiliated with national parties. Each state has official state chapters of the major parties as well as some of the minor parties.