Saagar Enjeti blasts Biden’s potential administration after reports from The American Prospect detail how strategic consultants will define Biden’s cabinet.
The American Prospect: How Biden’s Foreign-Policy Team Got Rich
Transcript00:00all right Sagar what’s on your radar00:01well the RealClearPolitics average has00:03Joe Biden up 8.7% Achon average over the00:07last three weeks nationally and in every00:09single battleground state and yesterday00:11we featured this map on the show it00:13shows that the upper bound of what is00:16electoral possibility in November is a00:18massive electoral landslide none of this00:21is a guarantee as we learned in 2016 but00:24what does it mean is that we have to00:26start taking very seriously what it00:29actually means for Joe Biden to become00:31President of the United States and00:33commander-in-chief this is especially00:35relevant after the most recent deep00:37state plot to derail Afghan peace00:39negotiations and the bipartisan push to00:41keep thousands of troops in Afghanistan00:43for no reason our friends over at the00:45American Prospect gave us a distressing00:47look into what exactly we’re dealing00:49with here on the national security front00:51if Biden ever ascends to the Oval Office00:54and just how deep the swamp will extend00:57inside the prospect details how to close01:00Biden associates Anthony blinken and01:02Michele Flournoy decided to start a01:04boutique consulting firm for defense01:06contractors and fortune 100 companies01:09after they unexpectedly found themselves01:11without a job in here with Hillary01:13Clinton’s administration blinken and01:15flora Noyes practice entails helping01:17tech companies try to get Pentagon01:19contracts helping defense contractors01:21get more contracts and basically01:23advertising itself as a one-stop01:25consulting shop for any massive01:27corporation that wants help influencing01:29the national security or diplomatic01:31swamp now in a particularly galling01:33section of their website the pair01:35literally advertise that they can help01:37major companies quote develop a strategy01:39for expanding market access in China01:42blinken and Flournoy are not going to be01:45low-level aides in a Biden01:46administration floor annoy was well01:49known in Washington to be the next01:51Secretary of Defense in waiting under01:53hillary clinton administration i01:54personally attended an event with her01:57and biden in 2016 in which biden02:00jokingly called her Madame secretary and02:02which she jokingly referred to Biden as02:04mr. president blinken on the other hand02:06was deputy national security adviser02:08under Obama and a Deputy Secretary of02:11State02:12recent Biden campaign event he was02:15introduced as quote senior foreign02:17policy advisor and the rest of Biden’s02:19foreign policy team is exactly the same02:21as the prospect lists including Nicholas02:23burns of the Coen Group Kurt Campbell of02:26the Asia group Tom Donilon of Blackrock02:29Investment Institute Wendy Sherman of02:32the Albright Stonebridge group and02:34former Hillary adviser Jake Sherman of02:36macro advisory partners you beginning to02:39sense a theme here former very high02:41ranking national security officials now02:43working as outright consultants for02:45finance Sears and Chinese companies and02:47defense contract or companies who take02:49those people on as clients does any of02:52this bother Joe Biden02:53well when the prospect asked his02:55campaign for comment this is what they02:57had to say quote there’s a difference03:00between consulting and lobbying and that03:03here’s a pretty strong line there so03:05presumably we don’t have to have a ban03:07on people who were consultants at one03:09time on another since I am one myself it03:12is just too good to be true03:14what’s disgusting about this is the pure03:17nakedness of it all Michele Flournoy as03:20they point out literally serves on the03:21presidential intelligence advisory on03:23the CIA directors external advisory03:26board on the Pentagon’s defense policy03:28board she has access to very classified03:30and important information who knows what03:32she is and isn’t using to influence her03:35advice to the most powerful corporations03:37in the world under Biden they will this03:40is only going to ramp up a member of the03:42firm that floor annoyin blinken found it03:44even admitted to the prospect that Biden03:46would be great for business saying quote03:48think about it if Biden were to win we03:50do think that companies will start03:52coming to West exec for hey what is the03:55Commerce Secretary thinking the clear03:57picture we’re getting here Biden and his03:59team is that they’re not rigidly04:01ideological if they were outright04:03neo-cons04:04in a way I would respect it more but04:06worse they are transactional neo04:08liberals who will tell you with a04:10straight face that they believe in04:12making the country a better place while04:13enriching themselves off perpetuating04:16the status quo that can’t afford to get04:18out of Afghanistan because it would hurt04:20their clients they can’t afford to pull04:23back from Europe because it would hurt04:24their a bit04:25consult companies who want to do04:27business with NATO the grifting list is04:30on and on and on and the wholesale04:33ownership of Biden’s foreign policy team04:34by this system and his inability to push04:37back against it is a signature of some04:40very troubled times to come in the next04:42four years if he ever ascends to the04:45presidency and crystal I mean I don’t04:47know if you read this piece but it is04:48stunning because it’s not just blinking04:50and floran wise he points out every04:52single person works for some consultancy04:55group and then not even that it’s just04:57it’s the naked lack of reporting why04:59does this have to come from a05:01progressive left outlet you should in05:03the new york times be investigating this05:05is manna ford stone level stuff right05:07yeah they don’t care because it’s just05:09normal it’s like a normal grift of05:11washout yet that everybody is just like05:13oh yeah you know she made a couple05:14million bucks here a couple million05:16bucks they’re gonna be the next defense05:17secretary who knows how many contracts05:19gonna steer their way to somebody’s05:21friend oh good just normal now they’re05:23like the fish swimmin in the ocean they05:25can’t see the water this is just like05:26the way things are done indeed I mean it05:29reminds me a lot of you know when we05:31were talking about hunter Biden05:35congressman Ted Louise like people serve05:37on boards right make money the fact that05:41is normal doesn’t mean it’s okay that05:43actually makes it so much worse and I05:46really encourage people to go read this05:48piece it’s it’s such an important look05:50inside the way that policy is actually05:53made and the human beings who are at the05:56table and the interest sometimes that05:58are secret by the way they’re not06:00upfront about life they don’t have I’m06:03also you know I’m also working with06:04Northrop Grumman just so you know so06:06when I’m advocating for like this06:07missile system that they have to make06:09you might want to know that piece of06:11information I mean that is literally06:12laid out in this piece and it is06:15completely common operating procedure in06:17this town so on the one hand it’s just06:19like it’s so normal that they don’t even06:21think to report on it and look into who06:24the individuals are who they represent06:26how that might influence their policy06:28and on the other hand the other piece of06:30this is like so much of our political06:32coverage I touched on this yesterday06:34when we were talking about Susan Rice’s06:35potential VP06:37or any of the other potential VP picks06:39it’s all just treated as horserace yes06:42and personality driven and like06:44demographic driven like what boxes do06:46they check rather than actually digging06:49into the substance and the policy and06:51what that might mean for an06:52administration especially when you do06:54have someone like Joe Biden that’s the06:55other piece that’s interesting here is06:57they talk about the way that he’s a06:58perch for the policy it sounds actually07:00a lot like Trump yeah it’s very07:02personality driven he has this like07:03glad-hand approach he he believes in07:06these personal relationships many of07:08which have gotten him into a lot of07:09trouble in terms of his decision-making07:11trusting people and leaders that he07:13really has arrested one of the best07:15parts of the piece yeah about I forgot07:17actually this because this is my07:18background he was the guy who backed07:21Nuri al-maliki right Iran who is the07:24person who started a sectarian civil war07:26gave rise to Isis Andrew into the07:29country after he was like his but yeah07:33and it was like fighting walked into07:34Iraq thinking he was dealing with to07:36Delaware political bosses is like yeah07:38it turns out the sunni-shia conflict is07:40a lot more complicated right and then07:42maybe we should apply a little bit more07:43intellectual rigor there that is07:45actually the piece that worries the most07:47because you can see it right now on07:48Afghanistan because Biden and his team07:51are like Oh Trump wants to get out of07:52Afghanistan they’re gonna abandon Biden07:55has a record of pushing restraint in07:57Afghanistan his entire record was saying07:59hey don’t do this let’s do the08:00counterterrorism thing even in 2006-200708:03he was writing op-eds against the surge08:05which is a long history of being anti08:08intervention whenever that was the08:09politically convenient kind of08:11contrarian thing to do right but this08:12goes to show with Susan Rice doing the08:15Afghanistan thing and I played his08:17comments here over last week we talked08:18about dereliction of duty for Trump and08:20all of that about how we have to stand08:22up to the Russians I just that’s when08:23you really knew this is a truly08:25transactional non-ideological figure who08:28will go wherever the winds blow that is08:30a disaster that is how you got Libya08:33Libya was the politically convenient08:35thing to do how did it work out for08:37everybody right maybe it would’ve been08:38better to have somebody hot saying yeah08:40nobody talks about that one well and08:42here’s something too exactly like what08:44you’re saying when you08:45have someone who doesn’t have like a08:47fixed ideology that they’re committed to08:50or an agenda overseas that they’re08:52committed to then the people that you’re08:54talking about here blink it in Flournoy08:55and all the rest they’re the ones that08:57fill in the gaps they’re the ones that08:59actually drive the policy then once it’s09:00set the range of options that are09:02available so just like we’ve seen with09:04Trump where he’s like I want to get out09:06of out get it like that’s just not even09:07an option that’s put in on the table09:09they’re like your options are you can09:10increase by five thousand ten thousand09:12or seventy-five thousand right it’s like09:13but I want to get out I don’t understand09:15that’s how they get you that’s what they09:17do every single time it’s and it’s not09:19just and some of these people are09:21ideological and then some of them just09:23have you know personal professional and09:25monetary direct monetary interests in09:28serving this particular role because09:30yeah why that well look if they go in09:32the administration they’ll cut all the09:33ties specifically those industries09:35they’ve got all those connections still09:37they know where their breads gonna be09:38buttered after they exit the09:40administration so don’t think that just09:42because they technically cut ties at09:44that point means that they have really09:46like the independence of thought doesn’t09:48even matter they admit it they’re on off09:50basically on background to this prospect09:52reporter being like yeah you know if09:54Biden being the president that’d be09:55great for us great for people we’ll call09:57for us and be like what is the former09:58West deck partner who’s now the Commerce10:01Secretary think about X that is worth10:03billions to companies right if they’re10:05like hey we need to know which way the10:07administration is probably going to10:08swing on the new Chinese tariffs that is10:10literally worth hundreds of billions of10:12dollars same on the defense secretary if10:14they’re gonna on Yemen that was the10:15example that was given there whenever10:17she was talking about how Michele10:18Flournoy was advocating I think of more10:21Patriot missiles for for Saudi Arabia10:23she failed to disclose we’re not10:25disclosed nobody knows she won’t even10:27admit which defense contractor she works10:29for and wouldn’t deny that Raytheon who10:32manufactures these Patriot missiles was10:34one of her company the only thing they10:36would say is quote one of the defense10:38primes which is one of the five largest10:40defense codes and they said like it’s10:41one of their contracts it’s in the10:43ballpark10:43know if you really want to understand10:45why we have the foreign policy that we10:48have why we keep getting into these10:49conflicts overseas that we can that’s10:51what once we get in that you can never10:53ever get yourself out of this piece10:55really lays10:57like the nitty-gritty of how that works10:59and look it is the norm basically almost11:02without exception with a few outlier11:05exceptions almost anyone who ended up in11:07the presidency these the type of people11:09who would come in and it’s by partisan I11:12mean the same ideology the same monetary11:15interest pervades both parties we saw it11:17with the Afghanistan peace that we11:19covered yesterday the amount of support11:21in Congress bipartisan support to11:24prevent the president from drawing down11:26troops in Afghanistan a place that we11:28have been for years and years and years11:30and where American lives are still being11:32put at risk for what for what this piece11:37really lays out like the internal11:39details of how exactly that girl highly11:41recommend everybody read it and I’m11:43looking forward to your raid our next11:44crystal
Saagar Enjeti speaks to Biden’s appeal to neoliberals.
Biden’s approach is the opposite of what he needs:
- economic neoliberalism
- liberal social virtue signaling
Keeping track of the Jacksonians, Reformicons, Paleos, and Post-liberals.
I like to start my classes on conservative intellectual history by distinguishing between three groups. There is the Republican party, with its millions of adherents and spectrum of opinion from very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, and yes, liberal. There is the conservative movement, the constellation of single-issue nonprofits that sprung up in the 1970s —
- gun rights,
- right to work
— and continue to influence elected officials. Finally, there is the conservative intellectual movement: writers, scholars, and wonks whose journalistic and political work deals mainly with ideas and, if we’re lucky, their translation into public policy.
We can save our broken economic system from itself.
Despite the lowest unemployment rates since the late 1960s, the American economy is failing its citizens. Some 90 percent have seen their incomes stagnate or decline in the past 30 years. This is not surprising, given that the United States has the highest level of inequality among the advanced countries and one of the lowest levels of opportunity — with the fortunes of young Americans more dependent on the income and education of their parents than elsewhere.
But things don’t have to be that way. There is an alternative: progressive capitalism. Progressive capitalism is not an oxymoron; we can indeed channel the power of the market to serve society.
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s regulatory “reforms,” which reduced the ability of government to curb the excesses of the market, were sold as great energizers of the economy. But just the opposite happened: Growth slowed, and weirder still, this happened in the innovation capital of the world.
The sugar rush produced by President Trump’s largess to corporations in the 2017 tax law didn’t deal with any of these long-run problems, and is already fading. Growth is expected to be a little under 2 percent next year.
This is where we’ve descended to, but not where we have to stay. A progressive capitalism based on an understanding of what gives rise to growth and societal well-being gives us a way out of this quagmire and a way up for our living standards.
Standards of living began to improve in the late 18th century for two reasons:
- the development of science (we learned how to learn about nature and used that knowledge to increase productivity and longevity) and
- developments in social organization (as a society, we learned how to work together, through institutions like the rule of law, and democracies with checks and balances).
Key to both were systems of assessing and verifying the truth. The real and long-lasting danger of the Trump presidency is the risk it poses to these pillars of our economy and society, its attack on the very idea of knowledge and expertise, and its hostility to institutions that help us discover and assess the truth.
There is a broader social compact that allows a society to work and prosper together, and that, too, has been fraying. America created the first truly middle-class society; now, a middle-class life is increasingly out of reach for its citizens.
America arrived at this sorry state of affairs because we forgot that the true source of the wealth of a nation is the creativity and innovation of its people. One can get rich either by adding to the nation’s economic pie or by grabbing a larger share of the pie by exploiting others — abusing, for instance, market power or informational advantages. We confused the hard work of wealth creation with wealth-grabbing (or, as economists call it, rent-seeking), and too many of our talented young people followed the siren call of getting rich quickly.
Beginning with the Reagan era, economic policy played a key role in this dystopia: Just as forces of globalization and technological change were contributing to growing inequality, we adopted policies that worsened societal inequities. Even as economic theories like information economics (dealing with the ever-present situation where information is imperfect), behavioral economics and game theory arose to explain why markets on their own are often not efficient, fair, stable or seemingly rational, we relied more on markets and scaled back social protections.
We are now in a vicious cycle: Greater economic inequality is leading, in our money-driven political system, to more political inequality, with weaker rules and deregulation causing still more economic inequality.
If we don’t change course matters will likely grow worse, as machines (artificial intelligence and robots) replace an increasing fraction of routine labor, including many of the jobs of the several million Americans making their living by driving.
The prescription follows from the diagnosis: It begins by recognizing the vital role that the state plays in making markets serve society. We need regulations that ensure strong competition without abusive exploitation, realigning the relationship between corporations and the workers they employ and the customers they are supposed to serve. We must be as resolute in combating market power as the corporate sector is in increasing it.
If we had curbed exploitation in all of its forms and encouraged wealth creation, we would have had a more dynamic economy with less inequality. We might have curbed the opioid crisis and avoided the 2008 financial crisis. If we had done more to blunt the power of oligopolies and strengthen the power of workers, and if we had held our banks accountable, the sense of powerlessness might not be so pervasive and Americans might have greater trust in our institutions.
The neoliberal fantasy that unfettered markets will deliver prosperity to everyone should be put to rest. It is as fatally flawed as the notion after the fall of the Iron Curtain that we were seeing “the end of history” and that we would all soon be liberal democracies with capitalist economies.
Most important, our exploitive capitalism has shaped who we are as individuals and as a society. The rampant dishonesty we’ve seen from Wells Fargo and Volkswagen or from members of the Sackler family as they promoted drugs they knew were addictive — this is what is to be expected in a society that lauds the pursuit of profits as leading, to quote Adam Smith, “as if by an invisible hand,” to the well-being of society, with no regard to whether those profits derive from exploitation or wealth creation.