Tipping the Scales for Clinton?

The Democratic split between the Sanders and Clinton wings is widening because many Sanders’s backers see party chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz tipping the scales for Clinton and corporate interests, say Bill Moyers and Michael Winship.

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

To paraphrase the words of that Scottish master Robert Burns, the best laid plans of mice, men — and women — go often astray, or “gang aft agley,” as they say in the Highlands. No one knows this better than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Twice now, the flight of her presidential aspirations has been forced to circle the airport as other contenders put up an unexpected fight: In 2008, Barack Obama emerged to grab the Democratic nomination away and this year, although all signs point to her finally grabbing the brass ring, unexpected and powerful progressive resistance came from the mighty wind of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confronts Sen. Bernie Sanders in Democratic presidential debate on Jan. 17, 2016.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confronts Sen. Bernie Sanders in Democratic presidential debate on Jan. 17, 2016.

Certainly, Hillary Clinton is angered by all of this, but the one seemingly more aggrieved — if public comments and private actions are any indication — is Democratic National Committee chair and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Hillary surrogate who takes umbrage like ordinary folks pop their vitamins in the morning.

As we recently wrote, “She embodies the tactics that have eroded the ability of Democrats to once again be the party of the working class. As Democratic National Committee chair she has opened the floodgates for Big Money, brought lobbyists into the inner circle and oiled all the moving parts of the revolving door that twirls between government service and cushy jobs in the world of corporate influence.”

And that ain’t all. As a member of Congress, particularly egregious has been her support of the payday loan business, defying new regulations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would rein in an industry that soaks desperate borrowers. As President Obama said, “While payday loans might seem like easy money, folks often end up trapped in a cycle of debt.”

In fact, according to an article by Bethany McLean in the May issue of The Atlantic, “After studying millions of payday loans, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 67 percent went to borrowers with seven or more transactions a year, and the majority of borrowers paid more in fees than the amount of their initial loan.”

A recent editorial in the Orlando Sentinel notes that 7 percent of Florida’s population “must resort to this predatory form of small-dollar credit – nearly the highest rate in the nation.” What’s more, “Based on a 14-day loan term, the typical payday loan … had an annual percentage rate of 278 percent. Many lenders advertise rates of more than 300 percent.” Let us repeat that slowly… 300 percent!

So why has Wasserman Schultz been so opposed to the CFPB’s proposed rules? She has said, “Payday lending is unfortunately a necessary component of how people get access to capital, [people] that are the working poor.”

But maybe it has something more to do with the $2.5 million or so the payday loan industry has donated to Florida politicians from both parties since 2009. That’s according to a new report by the liberal group Allied Progress. More than $50,000 of that cash has gone to Rep. Wasserman Schultz.

But we digress. It’s the skullduggery going on within the Democratic Party establishment that’s our current concern and as we wrote in March, Rep. Wasserman Schultz “has played games with the party’s voter database, been accused of restricting the number of Democratic candidate debates and scheduling them at odd days and times to favor Hillary Clinton, and recently told CNN’s Jake Tapper that superdelegates — strongly establishment and pro-Clinton — are necessary at the party’s convention so deserving incumbent officials and party leaders don’t have to run for delegate slots ‘against grassroots activists.’ Let that sink in, but hold your nose against the aroma of entitlement.”

Now Wasserman Schultz has waded into the controversy over what happened or didn’t happen last weekend when Sanders supporters loudly and vehemently objected to the rules at the Nevada State Democratic Convention. In truth, some behaved badly at the event and others made trollish, violent and obscene threats to Democratic state chair Roberta Lange via phone, email and social media. There’s no excuse for such aggressive, creepy conduct, and Sanders was quick and direct in apologizing for the behavior of the rowdies and bullies.

But there is a double standard at play here. Why, pray tell, shouldn’t the peaceful majority of Sanders people be angry at the slow-motion, largely invisible rigging of the political process by Wasserman Schultz and the Clinton machine — all for the benefit of Secretary Clinton?

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida.

Wasserman Schultz claims the party rules over which she has presided (and manipulated) are “eminently fair.” She told CNN on Wednesday morning, “It is critical that we as candidates, we as Democratic Party leaders, everyone involved needs to make sure that we can take all the steps that we need to, to ensure that the process is not only run smoothly but that the response from the supporters of both candidates is appropriate and civil.”

In response to the DNC chair’s remarks, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver talked to CNN, too, and said Wasserman Schultz had been “throwing shade on the Sanders campaign since the very beginning. … Debbie Wasserman Schultz has really been a divider and not really provided the kind of leadership that the Democratic Party needs.”

The Nation’s Joan Walsh, a Clinton supporter critical of the Sanders campaign, concurs: “Once again, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz escalated a conflict that she should have worked to defuse,” she writes. “Wasserman Schultz is not helping her friend Hillary Clinton with her attacks on Sanders. Just the appearance of fairness can go a long way in assuaging worries about fairness. Wasserman Schultz’s defiant rebuke to the Sanders camp has made it worse.”

So, too, has her abolition of the restraints that had been placed on corporate lobbyists and big money — now they can write checks bankrolling what doubtless will be swank and profligate parties during this summer’s Democratic National Convention.

At The Intercept, Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani report that a number of the members of the Philadelphia host committee “are actively working to undermine progressive policies achieved by President Barack Obama, including health care reform and net neutrality. Some … are hardly even Democratic Party stalwarts, given that many have donated and raised thousands of dollars for Republican presidential and congressional candidates this cycle.”

This is a slap in the face to progressives calling for a halt to big money and allowing lobbyists to buy our elected officials. And it’s contrary to what Hillary Clinton herself has said about money and politics on the campaign trail.

The Sanders movement has shown that lots of cash can be raised from everyday people making small donations. His supporters and all of us should be outraged that Debbie Wasserman Schultz and convention officials have kowtowed not only to the corporate wing of their own party but also to those high rollers who back the opposition and ideas antithetical to a democracy.

Rep. Wasserman Schultz is facing a primary challenge for the first time this year, her opponent a law professor, activist and progressive Sanders supporter named Tim Canova. But the primary’s not until late August, long after the Democratic National Convention. Unless she steps down now or Hillary Clinton has her removed, Philadelphia will be dominated by someone who represents everything that has gone wrong with the Democratic Party and Washington.

At the convention’s opening session, Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be bringing the gavel down squarely on progressive hopes of returning the party to its legacy as champion of working people and the dispossessed.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Time for her to go.

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com. Michael Winship is the Emmy Award-winning senior writer of Moyers & Company and BillMoyers.com, and a former senior writing fellow at the policy and advocacy group Demos. Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship. http://billmoyers.com/story/democrats-cant-unite-unless-wasserman-schultz-goes/

16 comments for “Tipping the Scales for Clinton?

  1. TaylorGreg
    May 23, 2016 at 00:47

    For the Grassroots of the Democratic Party, this is incredibly disheartening, for they have “expected so much more” from their Party Officials.
    The RNC has been so blatant in manipulating their political agenda, – That Republicans revolted in record numbers & voted for anti-establishment candidate Trump.

    Despite what happened, the DNC is being callous of their own grassroots rebellion, for there is clearly a difference between Clinton & Sanders, but the division is being created by the DNC with the commitment of super delegates at the start of the primary.

    So what will happen in the General Election is hard to gauge, for if the the Republicans reconcile behind Trump, but if Democrats do not unite under Clinton, then……..

  2. Jeremy
    May 22, 2016 at 08:02

    This is why Sanders supporter MUST not vote for HIllary. I am confused when people say that abstaining or voting for a third pary candidate like Jill Stein is a vote for Trump, and he is so crazy we cannot give him a chance. I propose that the policies that Obama and Clinton have enacted are just as crazy, only they just lie about them a lot more than Trump. Clinton will wage more wars, Trump wants to cut NATO spending, and work with Putin to resolve Syria. In terms of avoiding a nuclear war with Russia, I pick Trump if forced to pick between the two. Afterall Hillary called Putin “Hitler.”

    In short, the democratic party takes it for granted that Sanders supporters will just fall in line our of fear of a Trump win. If we reward bad behavior it will only continue. We see this axiom playing out after the bank bailouts and failing to hold the MSM accountable for the Iraq reporting. A vote for Clinton is preserving the toxic status quo, a vote for anyone else (I say Jill Stein) sends a message.

  3. m.
    May 21, 2016 at 23:19

    As I read this, what is the adjective that describes all of this? Sickening? Disgusting? Inhumane? It’s not only time for her to go, it is time for Hillary Clinton to go as well. They do not represent us.


  4. Dennis Merwood
    May 21, 2016 at 22:46

    No more wars for chrissake!
    Where the hell is the “peace” candidate?
    What’s to be gained by the average American by killing all these people in foreign countries.
    Close all foreign military bases. Bring all our troops home. Cut the military budget by at least 30%.
    To hell with Regime Change.
    Its called “The Department of Defense”!
    It’s worth a try isn’t it? What we are doing now isn’t achieving anything, or making America safer. Quite the contrary!
    Tell me why not!

    • Nancy
      May 21, 2016 at 23:56

      Another drone attack today. The new war continues – No Declaration Required. So unacceptable.

    • dahoit
      May 23, 2016 at 11:21

      Trump is the peace candidate,its just you are unaware of it,probably due to false perceptions put forth by the warmongering MSM.

  5. Bill Bodden
    May 21, 2016 at 21:26

    Tipping the scales for more crimes against humanity?

    Hillary and DWS have both shown total indifference to the consequences of waging war on defenseless people and other crimes against humanity. Hillary’s rap sheet goes back to The Balkans and includes (as co-president) a half million Iraqi children estimated to have died because of economic sanctions. (Madeleine Albright said, “We thought it was worth it.” “We” surely included Mrs. Bill Clinton.) Then there were the actual wars on Iraq and Afghanistan followed by regime changes in Libya, Syria and Honduras. DWS, a typical Israel-Firster, was untroubled by the slaughter of thousands of Palestinian women and children. If as appears likely Clinton goes after Putin and Iran as her next victims, she can count on unquestioning support from the current chair of the DNC who may well be promoted to a higher office where she can do much more harm.

  6. Bill Bodden
    May 21, 2016 at 20:20

    Bernie Sanders: I will not support Democratic party chair in her primary: Senator says he would not re-appoint Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC chair if he were president, noting that her primary opponent’s views are closer to his own – http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/21/bernie-sanders-debbie-wasserman-schultz-dnc-primary

    • m.
      May 21, 2016 at 23:29

      Go Bernie!

  7. Bill Bodden
    May 21, 2016 at 18:50

    So why has Wasserman Schultz been so opposed to the CFPB’s proposed rules?

    For the same reason she has been merciless and cold-blooded to anyone she opposes. In particular, I recall her callous and heartless reaction to a question posed to her about the many hundreds of women and children killed during one of Israel’s “operations” against the people of Gaza. I believed then there wasn’t so much as a milligram of compassion for Israel’s victim’s then nor will there ever be any in the future. She will apply this same cut-throat vendetta to get Hillary elected. Hillary as the un-Democratic Party’s nominee for president and DWS as chair of the DNC are all the evidence people with a moral compass need to know this party’s leadership deserves whatever contempt heads its way. Not that they care, as long as they “win.”

  8. Zachary Smith
    May 21, 2016 at 16:51

    So why has Wasserman Schultz been so opposed to the CFPB’s proposed rules? She has said, “Payday lending is unfortunately a necessary component of how people get access to capital, [people] that are the working poor.”

    The woman is a disgusting specimen of humanity. Still, she and Hillary really do make a good pair.

    • Dennis Merwood
      May 21, 2016 at 18:16

      The Democratic Party, and the corrupt DNC, surely does not represent the majority of us progressive voters anymore. If it ever did?

      The more I think about it, I’m thinking that Bernie’s running as a Democrat will be his fatal flaw.

      Come on Bernie. Ditch these barstads!

      We will support your all-out effort to run as a third party. You have lit the fuse Sir. Lets close the deal.

      Give Jill Stein a call. Start a real “democratic socialist” party run on Monday.

      • M.
        May 21, 2016 at 23:25

        Great idea!

  9. ltr
    May 21, 2016 at 16:35

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz, surely time to go. What a disgraceful legislator.

  10. Bart
    May 21, 2016 at 15:58

    Not happy with the exclusive two party system, the insiders guaranteed the candidate of their choice would win thanks to the super delegates. And they had the audacity to admit the super delegates were chosen to prevent unwashed “fringe candidates.”

Comments are closed.