How Inequality is Eroding Democracy (with Heather C McGhee)


it’s she’s palaces uses the vice president for policy and outreach at d most high heather how you doing great thank heaven michael als much lesser uh… it’s recently uh… you guys released a report called stacked gak which uh… kind of goes into some real
detail about how uh… wealth in the qualities really a
road ng uh… the quality of american democracy
and really kind of uh… miss aligning our priorities and i
think that this probably confirms a lot of people’s
into his impressions of what’s going on but you guys don’t have much sort of
greater by detail in this report and connect allotted dot sanders twenty if
you could give what you think the kind of key takeaways
are from this report what the most sort of important lessons to draw from that are yeah i mean we acted went about tried it
really put from lumberton see what the most
rigorous political on social fine three search was saying about the link between
political equality and economic inequality you’re totally right michael did it actually intuitive you know we know that
when people who have a lot of money because of a campaign finance system but
be able to influent uh… elections and the coldplay over
politicians once they’re in office they’re going to the politicians are
going to cater to their entrance but we we have what we wanted to keep
out what how much their interest were misaligned the vast majority of of working
americans and particularly on economic issues but if you can’t think about you know
you’re sort of bloomberg billionaire you know bumping fall back up to me that he
really cares about that now huh feel different uh… from direct about
there’s no reason why a wealthy person would have at different opinions and working a
middle class people social issues issues of environmental
um… protections issues of marital quality in
civil rights what where the social implica find three
search really found that the interest at birch it when it comes to the basic questions
about how the economy shipping ordered how high the minimum wage should be how high taxes should be the role of
regulation in making and the corporate uh… structure also think about but if a priority for example report fact act showed at that you know wealthy people i think that higher education should be
invested in absolutely think that there should be more money in education but
more importantly they think the taxes should be well and
the deficit should be addressed and fell when it comes down to that
prioritisation a lot of their deficit-cutting and tax-cutting interest win out over that you know she would accept a deal more
revenue in order to pay for higher education popular spot that public opinion poll
elite saving support right makes perfect sense and i think
another kind portent thing to highlights from this report which really struck me
was that uh… ski said that the lower income voters are voting hot higher
rates may have i think since the mid nineteen sixties and i think that is very interesting
because there’s this kind of uh… i would say that there’s a certain even among some people on the left
there’s this kind of comparable narrative like well you just need to activate certain
constituencies you need to get people voting you need to get people kind of in
the process of a certain way i’m a national it’ll be a response to their
policy concerns and i think what we’ve seen we’ve seen yet the numbers are up quences report
high since the enactment nineteen sixties you saw african-american voters uh… you know facing down home kind of systemic efforts the
disenfranchised them to still exercise their right to that’s a vote but yet in the broader context of this
report register voting but civic life political influence of participation
uh… lower income voters are really systemically us screened out even as
they’re sort of theoretically doing what everybody’s been saying they’re supposed
to do is is that right i date rape um… so basically you know one of the reasons
i mobile in my career got into posterior
around the questions of what the rules are on voting it because of that contract right back everyone voted at any rate at the wealthiest that we
would have a different shape of our democracy even if you walk around the
halls of congress in the cockpit you know even permitted closer to the world
they’ll say that one of the problems of protecting you know food stamps and medicaid is
that quote unquote the portal bo uh… what we seen is that and i think it does have to
do with um… the requisition about politics in
the growing inequality and how much people who have feel that way they have something at stake and
decisions are being made in capitals in washington there checking them and very home uh… we have being the rate uh… opm broke as shit patient co-op amount
working-class spokesman low-income folks among and people of color in a minute however their is uh… significant gap between the lowest
income helpful voting rates uh… and the highest
income couple and part of that have to do with the rules of our election
process and we’ve got this archana stamp that is really wrapped up in red
tape needless red tape um… so that for people who are uh…
you know working three jobs who move a lot mobility rate for a lot
higher among had to go down the economic ladder um…
it is needlessly complex to be sure that you are registered to vote in the right place in in any case three days before an
election so that part of the agenda cbf making sure that donors don’t have
my palate in voters doing campaign finance reform but the commissioner although this have became power to exercise their freedom
to vote and that means things extremely
registration universal registration really saying that the government we
have to have a commitment to lowering the barriers to vote it’s almost like there’s two tracks that
i see in this report things have democratic participation the it’s sort
of like you do you know airport or something where you have business class
and everything’s kinda designed to get people faster and faster access uh… and easing former company c_n_n_
everybody else has more barriers of wait a second that’s a delay that’s a problem
this is a new form of identification each show that sort of what it seems
like that we have this fast track process and in the czar the
process as gets more more bureaucratic more more cumbersome offer have for
billy just having most people’s voices heard in the process and really great maglev magnetic
irreparably i’d like to have a lot of that really the case and you’ve got
people who you know pay the extra amount to do the
clearest bandwagon but they don’t even have to shovel to bury ideally more that
that that it and flashed at their carpet which went through and and it’s true i
mean that um… if you talk to elected official uh… dot process having to raise big-money immuno ten thousand dollar or
more checks neend that you spend your evening and your
days calling through people with hi network i thought can afford to write
the check and you went into their concern day-in and day out and those on the phone call answer can go to the people you have to meet
with the people you have to have five hundred
dollar plate fundraisers where and it’s simply this spiller the political malate that’d be incurred in the halls of power uh… and when you look at how much va the don’t have class tends to be far more obsessed with the
deficit pressures job creation which makes a lot
of and because it go a deficit that will virtually college
um… higher uh… and they don’t aren’t very tentative to that massive
employment at worst fini uh… in the country in peril it really because make it different and
i don’t think there’s any better example of the dominance of the democrats ovr
political agenda tend the deficit session that we have
seen at a time of year depression for the rest of the country right now that’s that’s really it’s the
kind of next when i want to get into and also global tidak full-tilt into sort of in the next
up is you’ve written it excellent piece recently and clean election law social
getty suit but you said something out that i found
really striking and i actually don’t remember whether it was an odd
television interviewers article or maybe the conversation we’ve had uh… where you said that deficit uh… obsession first of all too misalignment as i think we’ve
establishes conversation is you’ve established reports tab list between of
very small sector of society and doubt really the broader base americans not
just uh… you know working lower-income americans but really even a very broad middle class of americans are
you know facing this jobs crisis in this kind of a new mexicana me uh… that you
said that this deficit person obsession is also about a real fear of democracy and i just
think that’s fascinating because if you look in the euro zone this are scary team budget you know deficit fetishes and is
much clearer in terms of of the sort of anti-democratic tendency because you basically have uros and ministers
imposing these really a harsh budgets on you know places like resort spain that’s very explicit in marika it’s less directs in a certain
sense it’s more like these kind of more kind of complicated and delayed process
he’s like the sequester on things like that but at the same time through both the obsession wisdom the wrong issue to begin with and then a
locking ourselves into these agreements that delay our ability to really respond
anticipate to what the actual crisis is you’re seeing this we’ll what you call
the real fear of democracy and the future and i just love for you to get
into the more of that i deal with us now four uh… correction upper crust uh…
acrobat employers uh… we basically you’re right and i think
it’s a it’s a really great example to show how etc bascially i democratic what’s going on
here but you really have sort of bureaucrats and other countries behaving
carrom your own country budget but here again it it is similar in this
and pay you god elected officials who may be a
representative in congress for fellow but who are fundamentally beholden to
someone other than the prep that majority of their constituents which the
democrats and we had about forty years of amounting economic conventional with them that basically broke but the financial crisis of two thousand
eight the inequality air collapsed enough on
it and we had the orthodoxy that set that regulation
with at that patrick needed to be low in the capital needed house all of the
power and share it economic ecosystem really really show itself to be deeply flawed not just in terms of
measurement of how well most of the country was dealing with a tween big gap
between wages and productivity of the stagnating incomes at the middle of the
crying at the bottom while they were skyrocketing at the top all of that but that actually show that
it was terrible for catholic women sap there was an incredible opportunity or a realignment politically coming up financial crisis and i do believe that uh… the people who
have been calling the shots for very long time uh… became terrified of what that
would mean uh… became terrified of the idea of
the kind of economic realignment that happened after the first gilded age in this country and after the
reports and crash where we really did do anew economic quarter of a new
paradigm and as long as paradigm which is one that that tolerate can in fact incurred
inequality one that is deeply unresponsive to what keeps working
families up at night providing cost of college uh… job quality uh… childcare you’re going to have the potential for
awhile functioning democracy q change it and clearly and very scary four you principal where the plutocrats kirk thank that we would have a responsive to mop
chrissy where the desire to have people here real
realignment in our economy in a real government to the practical application projectpath ekkuva only way to tied the hands of fat arcade to make sure the campaign finance
system uh… become less and less regulated so
that the the big-money continued can compete with quote shape the agenda in
washington but also to put a fiscal straitjacket on
what could be the government response i mean if you look at all the debates
around what percentage g_d_p_ there can be in government spending you know that caller numbered eighteenth
twenty of twenty one but each percentage of g_d_p_ represents company could be a real contender for
working families right at the patrick percentage point g_d_p_ three college right into another program vanish point
g_d_p_ pork universal child care really truly universal child care the for you know deeper more more robust retirement marburg br about retirement for the
government to pick up that pat employees have been walking away from applications
and pension security folks do you think i think that could be on
the table if we had a more sponsored tomography so
when a favorite there this fear of democracy uh… it really used about the people who have been calling
the shots for the past forty years being very afraid that the affects the shops that they are called bambi
affected happened picture back etc are going to really awaken uh… a democratic polity that’s going
to demand a lot more no only way to make sure that doesn’t happen it to keep it
in the prosperity oscar checker right now and i i just have to sit at
that if they elected he said the plutocrats is the point where or civil
work i think that’s right epochs buddy uh… so do you do you
think that it just a sort of one uh… kind of addendum on this question is
this idea of so dearest of the money in the special
interest component obviously we’re gonna of course elaborate on that further but then there’s this other idea that i
think assignment johnson uh… who’s at m_i_t_ think he wrote a book and about the financial
crisis he said also that this notion there’s the idea of kind of like
cognitive capture in the washington and policy class that part of it is their is
this kind of corruption special interest money but there’s also just this
inability to think outside of these really really narrow a
policy initiatives in frameworks that people been operating out of for decades
of even as the kind of overwhelming empirical evidence comes in that it
doesn’t work that there’s a serious problem uh… that people still cannot
kind of access a different way of thinking what do you think of that way of looking
at it yeah actually i think that’s a major
part of a particular when it comes to regulator right and people who are not theoretically you know raising campaign funds although of
course they are looking for the next job when they leave office and so often at the royal palm
towards industry amp a lot of that have to do with uh… the lobbying that happens and you know i
mean i have i’ve had many regulator meetings and i know that i’m and my colleagues at the only people who
are coming in or week ahead of time who are not saying inadequately can really go dvd on the farm to make sure that they have
to look within these regulations are onerous felker it it will likely in the
politicians are calling for donor list if you’re really hearing all the time can very well educated well-dressed powerful and rich people setting if u act in what is the broad public interest
you will crash the economy and you will be you know sort of course he did have
one of the you know if it’s too good right events happen in the you’re on your worldview so we definitely have uh… that issue and
i think it it’s also very hard when you think about washington at the and how much the sort of course sectional lobbying encouraged to help her for the fact that the
defense industrial doctor just sort of like the regulatory industrial uh… influence-peddling class at
surrounded up in washington comes from a you know of dairy narrows the american people and their in the conventional wisdom any
is fundamentally conservative even if
people do you have sort of liberal and if you don’t bury it issue
fundamentally conservative man in the graphic prints of the term in terms of uh… conservative uh… against change and barry uh… disapproving of of radical notion powell
really disrupt the day-to-day because the status quo include current
in washington a problem their it up a lot of economic pain e ammonia the people who are setting
policy and you don’t feel a lot of economic pain
and knew that the capital has been booed uh… so it really hard to and i wouldn’t be them little i would set up by the rules
are creating pic status quo because pumping out is really hurting when there is really just tranquil
olympic too much comfort uh… among our party elite brian uh… and it’s certainly a kind of
lack of empathy in humanizing outside of those really narrow confines not you
have the greet a new peace in the new york amsterdam news uh… talking about the clean elections
bill that i think is a currently in the new york state legislature i think uh…
fair yeah i’d love you to just talk what’s in that bill wise important
what’s that about so i mean we had a chance here in new
york and new york who have there for to be the first state put this in connecticut pat’s really
fundamental uh… transformational campaign finance
reform tempted combat training being considered by the
perfectly letter greater activities nominally about by governor cuomo um… system
would it do a few things one in the lower imperfect sky-high contribution
limits back uh… that parag and kind of personal contact in albany most importantly it would maps donation on private small dollar
carnations uh… optics extra one but it basically
replicating i’m to new york city system until it means in fact in practicality
that instead of you know going to the five dollar-a-plate
fundraiser candidates for office and all that he would be door
knocking in their neighborhoods listening to the concerned that their
actual constituents giddings small dollar donations and
having a match that they met a fifty dollar donation meant hundreds of dollars um… to them and we’ve scene city level with became kind of public
match para donation in neighborhoods like patrick
director approx highland now proc uh… chinatown where they’re more
working class neighborhood multiple times option at much twenty
four times more important to the city council representative bill
goodling perfect and those donations are to the state
legislative council bound to the state legislators in that neighborhood because baylor but
if you’re still working on that that propelled system have it’s something that could be a real
contender it’s completely constitutional under the
court sort of current jurisprudence and it was
a really a diversified her but don’t have a as well as potentially
coconut but you don’t have to be a millionaire
are no millionaire to run if you have publicly financed election basically between now and and of the
fashion in albany um… early that hammer um… there’s gotta be a lot of a lot of
pressure put on state legislators and on cuomo to make good on the uh… yeah go and so so just really in terms
of this calling your representatives having a
very kind of after public voice in assisting really does have a shot at
towson absolutely uh… something that you know
i mean governor cuomo really quite disappointed
efficacy and he’s put himself out here in saying he wants to be melbourne of
the campaign finance reform governor and the first one access to the tmc united you’ve been doing proper public
statements about it and so that means that basically if he skiers from the people of new york is offering
a pretty good from progresses across the country but this is something that they’re
watching uh… it’s going to mean held at all do it
takes to push it over p the line you know i mean pink the
governor’s looking at twenty sixteen he wants to have it but if you can’t eat you know pushed
through gun control late afternoon experiments and i think you booking to make a name
for himself on this issue i think you ought to recognize it the a little less cynical about it that the system is broken and mac albany is one of the enough to
functional uh… legislatures in the country and people are able to use of a shell
corporations to get five hundred thousand dollar unrestricted yet advocate funneled too uh… two candidates and that you know when it comes down to an
elected official actually don’t like to spend all their time fundraising they
would like to be free from that and we’re about to release a report that
came out that looks at the experience of connecticut but you know that’s a little
you can answer that yes sir yeah tam so in connecticut after they got it was put
in jail science without any paid they had a appetite for public financing
first american reporting proposed in new york and what uh… the demands for poor author power made it a bunch of interviews but
different uh… interest groups and public
interest groups and legislators current and former from connecticut there was a really a brand new kind of
politics after public financing uh… legislative listened a lot more
into their constituents and they did too obvious buddies didn’t have the power that they
had before under the broken system because
they couldn’t come checks in one hand and a bill model legislation in the
other and people really felt like there was
further changes in the tenor politics in uh… in connecticut and poorer you know what matters techniques the policy change used-car after two thousand eight party that impact working and
middle-class families getting a fair hearing and in fact hacking the cupcake sick days because increasing the minimum wage iconic uh… an in-state dream act there’ll be a lot of things that when
you know as the fact that report shows people who are that they’ll have
practice setting the agenda where isn’t the minimum wage unpaid if they’re going
to be you know if the priority not very hard but once you have to plan systematic
action relying on uh… working in the class donors fee different nepal right now and and the case of genetics
end by the way i just want to see the name of your piece in the new york and
singers is let the people pay the piper and uh… the kinetic examples really is
really inspiring i think also because you know connecticut doesn’t necessarily
have the emailing image of a state like uh… you know maybe vermont or
something of being kind of uh… relatively smaller cleaner something and
you know as you said the governor went to jail there’s been a lot of issues in
connecticut so if this as a serious and i think an eticket uh… it’s a really
powerful model and yet if you’re if you live outside of new york uh… albany is
pretty unbelievable notorious so i had this could be a great
testing ground tougher that as well onto and the guy sore but i think what’s the
kind of really important take away maybe with the kind of wrapped assaulted
gather is that their is this the social issues it’s all
interconnected obviously in the social issues are profoundly important and and
key whether it’s marriage equality ur gun control of the environment but
they’re is this entire pieces economic issues that really are going to the
heart to the of really the future of whether
we can see her mobility and kind of upward grows and people
having an opportunity to go out fill their potential or even just have
security dignity as they were tired as they with their lives and the disconnect
between a donor class and and those policies that affect people
sort of being achieved uh… are really really of ideal so that these kind of things
like clean elections and stuff like that they’re not just sort of nice good government issues the really go to the heart of whether or
not we’re going to have policies and policies uh… up past and and legislated that address
the kind of core crisis facing middle-class working-class people today expiry and obviously deal with this sort of
killer fact absolutes from uh… from uh… princeton political scientist
battle-weary bartels she ran the numbers and found that women uh… d opinion of uh… don’t working and middle-class
paper each from the donor clack elected official behavior so closely tracks without the democrats
but in fact the bottom third of d income
distribution tax no apparent impact hero under behavior collector that says well cecil that’s really
disheartening but the lesson the placing the optimistic about so if
we follow your lead in the past clean elections it seems like that in the all
could become the donor class and hopefully ever makes politics okay ok thank you so much other it’s
just great talking with you

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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