Study Guide: Budget Crisis

1.      FRANCE WANTS NEW GLOBAL FINANCE SYSTEM

http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/0214/g20-business.html?view=print

2.      UK INFLATION RATE

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/02/15/uk-britain-inflation-idUKTRE71E10A20110215

3.      GEITHNER QUIETLY TELLS OBAMA DEBT EXPENSE TO INCREASE TO RECORD

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2011-02-14/geithner-quietly-tells-obama-debt-to-gnp-cost-poised-to-increase-to-record.html

4.      HOW INFLATION IS TURNING BREAKFAST INTO A LUXURY ITEM

http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2011/02/02/how-inflation-is-turning-breakfast-into-a-luxury-item/

Illinois is now looking to foreign Sovereign Wealth Funds to buy it's debt, which is reflective of the fact that the muni market is switching from a "safe" investment dominated by tax-oriented investors to those looking for more risk and higher yield

Illinois postpones $4bn bond sale

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5834daa0-389c-11e0-959c-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz1E2NOJsjG <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5834daa0-389c-11e0-959c-00144feabdc0.html>

  • The sale will occur next week instead of Thursday, said Kelly Kraft, a spokesperson for Pat Quinn, the governor. She said the delay was meant to allow prospective investors time to consider a budget address by the governor on Wednesday.
  • cFor the last few weeks, Illinois has been pitching the bonds to a broad range of international and US investors, including sovereign wealth funds. The bond sale comes after steep state tax increases <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/1288a472-1cdc-11e0-8c86-00144feab49a,dwp_uuid=ea77f440-94f2-11df-af3b-00144feab49a.html> earlier this year, which Illinois projects will reap about $10bn over the next two fiscal years.
  • The state has an unfunded liability of about $83bn, meaning that it has funds to pay just 43 per cent of what it owes, according to projections in its bond offering documents. The SEC has launched an inquiry  <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/293fcc80-3885-11e0-959c-00144feabdc0.html> into statements the state has made about potential long-term savings from pension reform.
  • After weeks of meetings in Asia and Europe, John Sinsheimer, Illinois’ director of capital markets, last week said he was “optimistic” about the bond offering.
  • The bond sale comes amid turmoil in the $3,000bn municipal bond market where states, cities and other public bodies raise money, primarily for infrastructure. Investors have withdrawn record amounts from mutual funds that invest in this type of debt due to fears of rising defaults.

Illinois Union Ally Turns Critic

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/us/10illinois.html?pagewanted=all <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/us/10illinois.html?pagewanted=all>

  • Illinois, one of the nation's remaining union strongholds, has funded less than 50% of the pension benefits it owes retirees—the worst ratio of all U.S. states, according to Moody's Investors Service—and faces a $15 billion budget deficit.
  • Last month, lawmakers—in a move championed by Mr. Madigan—raised the state income tax to 5% from 3%, retroactive to Jan. 1, and Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, is expected in his budget proposal this week to request to issue $8.7 billion in bonds to restructure its debt owed to schools, hospitals, social-service agencies and others.
  • In his more than two decades as Illinois's top power broker, House Speaker Michael Madigan has been a stalwart backer of unions, regularly supporting public-pension benefits with long-term obligations. The unions have returned the favor in campaign donations and endorsements. Last week, Mr. Madigan floated, for the first time, the idea of cutting pension benefits for current state workers. The speaker said lawmakers were working on bills to reduce the pensions, but he declined to give details.
  • The state’s Republican Party <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/r/republican_party/index.html?inline=nyt-org>  chairman, Pat Brady, on Saturday described the whole notion as “the latest example of life in Madiganville,” referring to the longtime speaker of the House, Michael J. Madigan, and introduced an online petition in which residents could urge lawmakers to thwart the tax increase.
  • On a recent afternoon, Tom Cross, the Republican leader of the House, said he believed that the situation in Illinois could be “catastrophic” as early as May or June, then ticked down a four-page list of proposals that he says Republicans have tried to offer as ways to truly sort out Illinois’s mess. On the list: sell half of the state’s fleet of cars, require only one license plate on cars instead of two, combine the state treasurer’s and comptroller’s jobs, ban out-of-state travel for elected officials, and end the remodeling of state offices (carpet included).
  • Mr. Madigan, who is also the state’s Democratic Party <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/d/democratic_party/index.html?inline=nyt-org>  chairman and, in the view of many, the state’s most powerful politician, has sent signals that more spending is not what he has in mind. He has pressed for two constitutional amendments that would make it more difficult to approve benefit increases for pensioners and would hold state spending growth to a level residents see in their salaries.

http://www.suntimes.com/3725598-417/madigan-open-to-discussing-cuts-in-state-pensions.html <http://www.suntimes.com/3725598-417/madigan-open-to-discussing-cuts-in-state-pensions.html>

The comments by House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) set the stage for a contentious spring showdown in the Legislature with the state’s largest public-employee unions, who have vowed to go to the mat to protect retirement benefits for tens of thousands of existing government workers.

“I think we will take some action on the benefit level for state workers midstream,” Madigan said during an impromptu meeting with reporters on the House floor after his legislative chamber adjourned.

Last April, the Democratic-led Legislature and Gov. Quinn raised retirement ages and lessened benefits in a major pension-giveback package that pertained only to new state hires. It was estimated the move would save the state $220 billion in future pension outlays.

Since then, with the state’s five pension systems underfunded by more than $85 billion, statehouse Democrats have faced calls for deeper pension cuts from Republicans and business leaders who want to freeze existing pension benefits for existing state workers and transition them into an all-401(k)-type retirement program like many companies offer.

“You’ve already changed it going forward,” Madigan said of the pension changes for new hires. “But now we are working on bills that would change it midstream. A state worker would be told, ‘All right, you have a state benefit package up to today. Starting tomorrow, it’s going to be a different deal.’”

///////////

WISCONSIN

AFL-CIO ad against WI Budget Cuts

  • SOT: For 50 years WI managers and workers solved problems together but there’s now a move underway by some politicians in Madison, to take away the rights of thousands of teachers, nurses and other public employees. It’s a bill to take away any say they have in the workplace and to eliminate their union.  // It’s unnecessary and its unfair.

Walker Says National Guard could Respond to Unrest, as State Employees Learn of his Budget Proposal (Feb. 11, 2011)

http://www.wuwm.com/programs/news/view_news.php?articleid=7765 <http://www.wuwm.com/programs/news/view_news.php?articleid=7765>

  • The governor revealed Friday that he wants the state Legislature to go into Special Session next week to take up his plan to close a budget deficit. His plan calls for workers to lose nearly all their collective bargaining rights. State employees also would be required to pay more for pension and health care benefits.
  • The governor says he’s briefed the National Guard and other state agencies, to prepare them for any problems with workers, as they learn of Walker’s emergency budget plan.

Wisc. Gov. Briefs National Guard About Unrest After Unions Blast Emergency Budget

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/wisc-gov-briefs-national-guard-about-unrest-after-unions-blast-emergency-budget/ <http://www.theblaze.com/stories/wisc-gov-briefs-national-guard-about-unrest-after-unions-blast-emergency-budget/>

  • This is a shocking development,” said Bryan Kennedy, president of AFT-Wisconsin, which represents 17,000 workers. “It ends collective bargaining for public employees in our state, after 50 years of management and workers solving problems together.”
  • That led Walker on Friday to admit <http://www.wuwm.com/programs/news/view_news.php?articleid=7765>  he briefed the National Guard about potential unrest should state workers take action, a possibility once workers realize the proposal is almost a sure thing. That’s because Democrats are powerless to stop it. Republicans control the Assembly 60-38-1 and the Senate 19-14.
  • Walker said the changes are necessary to avoid up to 6,000 state employee layoffs and the removal of more than 200,000 children from the Medicaid program. The state faces a $137 million budget shortfall in the fiscal year that ends June 30.
  • Under Walker’s immediate plan, all collective bargaining rights would be removed for state and local public employees starting July 1, except when it comes to wages. But any salary increase they seek could  be no more than the consumer price index, unless voters in the affected jurisdiction approved a higher raise.
  • Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the next contract is settled. Public employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues.
  • Walker’s plan also calls for state employees to contribute 5.8 percent of their salaries to their pensions starting April 1. They would have to contribute at least 12.6 percent toward their health care. Those two items would generate $30 million by July 1 and roughly $300 million over the next two years when combined with the other concessions.

Univ of Wisconsin Madison students marched on the capitol (Feb 14, 2011)

  • MADISON (AP) — Hundreds of UW-Madison students and their teachers are telling Gov. Scott Walker to drop a bill that would strip most public workers of almost all their collective bargaining rights.
  • Chanting “kill this bill” and brandishing signs with messages such as “From Cairo to Madison Workers Unite” the students and instructors jammed the corridor leading to Walker’s Capitol office. They poured valentines on the desk of Walker’s office guard that asked the governor not to break their hearts.
  • UW-Madison law student Peter Rickman shouted through a bullhorn the protesters wanted to show their love for UW. After chanting and stomping the floor for a few more minutes, the protesters marched outside without incident.

A LOOK AT THE UNIONS, COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS, PROGRESSIVE GROUPS, PEOPLE WHO ARE ALL CALLING FOR AMERICANS TO TAKE TO THE STREET AND PROTEST (WHETHER IT IS FOR BETTER WAGES, MORE UNEMPLOYMENT, LOWER TUITION ETC…)

Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party

http://revcom.us/a/224online/Statement-on-strategy-en.html <http://revcom.us/a/224online/Statement-on-strategy-en.html>

  • In the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) our Party has set forth an inspiring vision, and concrete measures, for the building of a new society, a socialist society, aiming for the final goal of a communist world, where human beings everywhere would be free of relations of exploitation and oppression and destructive antagonistic conflicts, and could be fit caretakers of the earth. But to make this a reality, we need revolution.
  • Many people insist, “there could never be a revolution in this country: the powers-that-be are too powerful, the people are too messed up and too caught up in going along with the way things are, the revolutionary forces are too small.” This is wrong—revolution is possible.
  • Revolution will not be made by acting all crazy—trying to bring down this powerful system when there is not yet a basis for that—or by just waiting for “one fine day” when revolution will somehow magically become possible. Revolution requires consistent work building for revolution, based on a serious, scientific understanding of what it takes to actually get to the point of revolution, and how to have a real chance of winning.
  • The potential for a revolutionary crisis lies within the very nature of this capitalist system itself—with its repeated economic convulsions, its unemployment and poverty, its profound inequalities, its discrimination and degradation, its brutality, torture and wars, its wanton destruction. All this causes great suffering. And at times it leads to crisis on one level or another—sudden jolts and breakdowns in the “normal functioning” of society, which compel many people to question and to resist what they usually accept. No one can say in advance exactly what will happen in these situations—how deep the crisis may go, in what ways and to what extent it might pose challenges to the system as a whole, and to what degree and in what ways it might call forth unrest and rebellion among people who are normally caught up in, or feel powerless to stand up against, what this system does.
  • All along the way, both in more “normal times” and especially in times of sharp breaks with the “normal routine,” it is necessary to be working consistently to accumulate forces—to prepare minds and organize people in growing numbers—for revolution, among all those who can be rallied to the revolutionary cause. Among the millions and millions who catch hell in the hardest ways every day under this system. But also among many others who may not, on a daily basis, feel the hardest edge of this system’s oppression but are demeaned and degraded, are alienated and often outraged, by what this system does, the relations among people it promotes and enforces, the brutality this embodies.

Day of Rage (America) on Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Day-of-Rage-America/152197368169902 <http://www.facebook.com/pages/Day-of-Rage-America/152197368169902>

  • We want everyone out there to stand with us, with the youth of America. We need our own day of rage. We have planned for this day on Saturday, March 12th. So stand with us and show the capitalists and imperialists that we mean business. No more destruction of our eco-system. Stand up for climate change. Stand up for Jobs. Stand up for Health Care. Stand up for peace and hope.

Saturday, March 19, 2011: Resist the War Machine!

http://www.answercoalition.org/national/news/march-19-2011-resist-war-machine.html

http://www.stopthesewars.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/3-19-11-flyer-8.5x111.pdf

  • In Washington, D.C., on March 19 there will be an even larger veterans-led civil resistance at the White House initiated by Veterans for Peace. People from all over the country are joining together for a Noon Rally at Lafayette Park, followed by a march on the White House where the veterans-led civil resistance will take place.
  • Many people coming to Washington, D.C., will be also participating in the Sunday, March 20 demonstration at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia to support PFC Bradley Manning. Quantico is one hour from D.C. Manning is suspected of leaking Iraq and Afghan war logs to Wikileaks. For the last eight months, he has been held in solitary confinement, pre-trial punishment, rather than pre-trial detention.
  • The ANSWER Coalition is fully mobilizing its east coast and near mid-west chapters and activist networks to be at the White House.
  • Endorsed by (list in formation): ANSWER Coalition, CODEPINK, Courage to Resist, Delaware Valley Veterans for America, Iraq Veterans Against the War, March Forward!, Movement for a Democratic Society, National Assembly, Peace Action, Peace Action Montgomery, Peace of the Action, United for Peace and Justice, United National Antiwar Committee, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, War Crimes Times, War Resisters League, Washington Peace Center, Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait

ACTIVIST QUOTES

Frances Fox Piven, The Nation

  • So where are the angry crowds, the demonstrations, sit-ins and unruly mobs? After all, the injustice is apparent. Working people are losing their homes and their pensions while robber-baron CEOs report renewed profits and windfall bonuses. Shouldn't the unemployed be on the march? Why aren't they demanding enhanced safety net protections and big initiatives to generate jobs?
  • A loose and spontaneous movement of this sort could emerge. It is made more likely because unemployment rates are especially high among younger workers. Protests by the unemployed led by young workers and by students, who face a future of joblessness, just might become large enough and disruptive enough to have an impact in Washington.
  • The out-of-work have to stop blaming themselves for the hard times and turn their anger on their bosses, the bureaucrats and the politicians who are in fact responsible

The Breakdown of Capitalism and the Fight for Socialism in the United States, World Socialist Website

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/sep2010/prog-s02.shtml <http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/sep2010/prog-s02.shtml>

  • The reality of capitalism will provide workers with many reasons to fight for a fundamental and revolutionary change in the economic organization of society. The younger generations of working people—those born in the 1980s, 1990s, and the first decade of the twenty-first century—do not know, and never will know, capitalist “prosperity.” They are the first generation of Americans in modern times who cannot reasonably expect to achieve a living standard equal to, let alone better than, their parents’ generation.

It's time for our April 29, 2019 edition of our Candidate Power Rankings. We get to add two new candidates, write about a bunch of people that have little to no chance of winning, and thank the heavens we are one day closer to the end of all of this.

In case you're new here, read our explainer about how all of this works:

The 2020 Democratic primary power rankings are an attempt to make sense out of the chaos of the largest field of candidates in global history.

Each candidate gets a unique score in at least thirty categories, measuring data like polling, prediction markets, fundraising, fundamentals, media coverage, and more. The result is a candidate score between 0-100. These numbers will change from week to week as the race changes.

The power rankings are less a prediction on who will win the nomination, and more a snapshot of the state of the race at any given time. However, early on, the model gives more weight to fundamentals and potentials, and later will begin to prioritize polling and realities on the ground.

These power rankings include only announced candidates. So, when you say "WAIT!! WHERE'S XXXXX????" Read the earlier sentence again.

If you're like me, when you read power rankings about sports, you've already skipped ahead to the list. So, here we go.

See previous editions here.

20. Wayne Messam: 13.4 (Last week: 18th / 13.4)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

A former staffer of Wayne Messam is accusing his wife of hoarding the campaign's money.

First, how does this guy have "former" staffers? He's been running for approximately twelve minutes.

Second, he finished dead last in the field in fundraising with $44,000 for the quarter. Perhaps hoarding whatever money the campaign has is not the worst idea.

His best shot at the nomination continues to be something out of the series "Designated Survivor."

Other headlines:

19. Marianne Williamson: 17.1 (Last week: 17th / 17.1)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Marianne Williamson would like you to pay for the sins of someone else's great, great, great grandparents. Lucky you!

Williamson is on the reparations train like most of the field, trying to separate herself from the pack by sheer monetary force.

How much of your cash does she want to spend? "Anything less than $100 billion is an insult." This is what I told the guy who showed up to buy my 1989 Ford Tempo. It didn't work then either.

Other headlines:

18. John Delaney: 19.7 (Last week: 15th / 20.3)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Good news: John Delaney brought in $12.1 million in the first quarter, enough for fifth in the entire Democratic field!

Bad news: 97% of the money came from his own bank account.

Other headlines:

17. Eric Swalwell: 20.2 (Last week: 16th / 20.2)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

The Eric Swalwell formula:

  • Identify news cycle
  • Identify typical left-wing reaction
  • Add steroids

Democrats said there was obstruction in the Mueller report. Swalwell said there “certainly" was collusion.

Democrats said surveillance of the Trump campaign was no big deal. Swalwell said there was no need to apologize even if it was.

Democrats said William Barr mishandled the release of the Mueller report. Swalwell said he must resign.

Democrats say they want gun restrictions. Swalwell wants them all melted down and the liquid metal to be poured on the heads of NRA members. (Probably.)

16. Seth Moulton: 20.6 (NEW)

Who is Seth Moulton?

No, I'm asking.

Moulton falls into the category of congressman looking to raise his profile and make his future fundraising easier— not someone who is actually competing for the presidency.

He tried to block Nancy Pelosi as speaker, so whatever help he could get from the establishment is as dry as Pelosi's eyes when the Botox holds them open for too long.

Moulton is a veteran, and his military service alone is enough to tell you that he's done more with his life than I'll ever do with mine. But it's hard to see the road to the White House for a complete unknown in a large field of knowns.

Don't take my word for it, instead read this depressing story that he's actually telling people on purpose:

"I said, you know, part of my job is take tough questions," Moulton told the gathered business and political leaders. "You can ask even really difficult questions. And there was still silence. And then finally, someone in the way back of the room raised her hand, and she said, 'Who are you?' "

Yeah. Who are you?

15. Tim Ryan: 21.6 (Last week: 14th / 20.7)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

When you're talking to less than sixteen people in Iowa one week after your launch, you don't have too much to be excited about.

Ryan did get an interview on CNN, where he also talked to less than sixteen people.

He discussed his passion for the Dave Matthews Band, solidifying a key constituency in the year 1995.

Other headlines:

14. Tulsi Gabbard: 25.2 (Last week: 14th / 25.9)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Tulsi Gabbard torched Kamala Harris in fundraising!!!!! (Among Indian-American donors.)

No word on who won the coveted handi-capable gender-neutral sodium-sensitive sub-demographic.

She received a mostly false rating for her attack on the Trump administration regarding its new policy on pork inspections, a topic not exactly leading the news cycle. Being from Hawaii, the state which leads the nation in Spam consumption, she was probably surprised when this didn't go mega viral.

Other headlines:

13. Andrew Yang: 27.2 (Last week: 12th / 27.1)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Yang has a few go-to lines when he's on the campaign trail, such as: "The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math." Another is apparently the Jeb-esque "Chant my name! Chant my name!"

Yang continues to be one of the more interesting candidates in this race, essentially running a remix of the "One Tough Nerd" formula that worked for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

I highly recommend listening to his interview with Ben Shapiro, where Yang earns respect as the only Democratic presidential candidate in modern history to actually show up to a challenging and in-depth interview with a knowledgeable conservative.

But hidden in the Shapiro interview is the nasty little secret of the Yang campaign. His policy prescriptions, while still very liberal, come off as far too sane for him to compete in this Stalin look-alike contest.

Other headlines:

12. Jay Inslee: 30.4 (Last week: 11th / 30.4)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

If you read the Inslee candidate profile, I said he was running a one-issue climate campaign. This week, he called for a climate change-only debate, and blamed Donald Trump for flooding in Iowa.

He also may sign the nation's first "human composting" legalization bill. He can start by composting his presidential campaign.

Other headlines:

11. John Hickenlooper: 32.2 (Last week: 10th / 32.0)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

John Hickenlooper was sick of being asked if he would put a woman on the ticket, in the 0.032% chance he actually won the nomination.

So he wondered why the female candidates weren't being asked if they would name a male VP if they won?

Seems like a logical question, but only someone who is high on tailpipe fumes would think it was okay to ask in a Democratic primary. Hickenlooper would be better served by just transitioning to a female and demanding other candidates are asked why they don't have a transgendered VP.

Other headlines:

10. Julian Castro: 35.7 (Last week: 9th / 36.2)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Lowering expectations is a useful strategy when your wife asks you to put together an Ikea end table, or when you've successfully convinced Charlize Theron to come home with you. But is it a successful campaign strategy?

Julian Castro is about to find out. He thinks the fact that everyone thinks he's crashing and burning on the campaign trail so far is an "advantage." Perhaps he can take the rest of the field by surprise on Super Tuesday when they finally realize he's actually running.

Other headlines:

9. Kirsten Gillibrand: 38.1 (Last week: 8th / 37.8)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Gillibrand wants you to know that the reason her campaign has been such a miserable failure so far, is because she called for a certain senator to step down. The problem might also be that another certain senator isn't a good presidential candidate.

She also spent the week arm wrestling, and dancing at a gay bar called Blazing Saddle. In this time of division, one thing we can all agree on: Blazing Saddle is a really solid name for a gay bar.

Other headlines:

8. Amy Klobuchar: 45.1 (Last week: 7th / 45.5)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Klobuchar is attempting a run in the moderate wing of the Democratic primary, which would be a better idea if such a wing existed.

She hasn't committed to impeaching Donald Trump and has actually voted to confirm over half of his judicial nominees. My guess is this will not be ignored by her primary opponents.

She also wants to resolve an ongoing TPS issue, which I assume means going by Peter Gibbons' desk every morning and making sure he got the memo about the new cover sheets.

Other headlines:

7. Elizabeth Warren: 45.3 (Last week: 6th / 46.0)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Elizabeth Warren is bad at everything she does while she's campaigning. I don't really even watch Game of Thrones, and the idea that Warren would write a story about how the show proves we need more powerful women makes me cringe.

Of course, more powerful people of all the 39,343 genders are welcome, but it's such a transparent attempt at jumping on the back of a pop-culture event to pander to female voters, it's sickening.

We can only hope that when she's watching Game of Thrones, she's gonna grab her a beer.

Other headlines:

6. Cory Booker: 54.9 (Last week: 5th / 55.5)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Booker is tied with Kamala Harris for the most missed Senate votes of the campaign so far. He gets criticized for this, but I think he should miss even more votes.

Booker is also pushing a national day off on Election Day—because the approximately six months of early voting allowed in every state just isn't enough.

Of course, making it easier to vote doesn't mean people are going to vote for Booker. So he's throwing trillions of dollars in bribes (my word, not his) to seal the deal.

Bookermania is in full effect, with 40 whole people showing up to his appearance in Nevada. Local press noted that the people were of "varying ages," an important distinction to most other crowds, which are entirely comprised of people with the same birthday.

Other headlines:

5. Robert Francis O’Rourke: 60.2 (Last week: 4th /62.6)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

Kirsten Gillibrand gave less than 2% of her income to charity. The good news is that she gave about seven times as much as Beto O'Rourke. Robert Francis, or Bob Frank, also happens to be one of the wealthiest candidates in the race. His late seventies father-in-law has been estimated to be worth as much as $20 billion, though the number is more likely to be a paltry $500 million.

He's made millions from a family company investing in fossil fuels and pharmaceutical stocks, underpaid his taxes for multiple years, and is suing the government to lower property taxes on a family-owned shopping center.

He's also all but disappeared. It's a long race, and you don't win a nomination in April of the year before election day. If he's being frugal and figuring out what he believes, it might be a good move.

But it's notable that all the "pretty boy" hype that Bob Frank owned going into this race has been handed over to Mayor Pete. Perhaps Beto is spending his time working on curbing the sweating, the hand gestures, and the issues with jumping on counters like a feline.

Other headlines:

4. Pete Buttigieg: 62.9 (Last week: 3rd / 62.9)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

When we first put candidates in tiers earlier this year, we broke everyone into five categories from "Front Runners" to "Eh, no." In the middle is a category called "Maybe, if everything goes right," and that's where we put Pete Buttigieg.

Well, everything has gone right so far. But Mayor Pete will be interested to learn that the other 19 candidates in this race are not going to hand him this nomination. Eventually, they will start saying negative things about him (they've started the opposition research process already), and it will be interesting to see how Petey deals with the pressure. We've already seen how it has affected Beto in a similar situation.

The media has spoken endlessly about the sexual orientation of Buttigieg, but not every Democratic activist is impressed. Barney Frank thinks the main reason he's getting this amount of attention is because he is gay. And for some, being a gay man just means you're a man, which isn't good enough.

When you base your vote on a candidate's genitals, things can get confusing.

Other headlines:

3. Kamala Harris: 68.6 (Last week: 1st / 69.1)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

There are a couple of ways to view the Harris candidacy so far.

#1 - Harris launched with much fanfare and an adoring media. She has since lost her momentum. Mayor Pete and former Mayor Bernie have the hype, and Kamala is fading.

#2 - Harris is playing the long game. She showed she can make an impact with her launch, but realizes that a media "win" ten months before an important primary means nothing. She's working behind the scenes and cleaning up with donations, prominent supporters, and loads of celebrities to execute an Obama style onslaught.

I tend to be in category 2, but I admit that's somewhat speculative. Harris seems to be well positioned to make a serious run, locking up more than double the amount of big Clinton and Obama fundraisers than any other candidate.

One interesting policy development for Harris that may hurt her in the primary is her lack of utter disgust for the nation of Israel. There's basically one acceptable position in a Democratic primary when it comes to Israel, which is that it's a racist and terrorist state, existing only to torture innocent Palestinians.

Certainly no one is going to mistake Harris for Donald Trump, but a paragraph like this is poison to the modern Democratic primary voter:

"Her support for Israel is central to who she is," Harris' campaign communications director, Lily Adams, told McClatchy. "She is firm in her belief that Israel has a right to exist and defend itself, including against rocket attacks from Gaza."

Just portraying the rocket attacks as "attacks" is controversial these days for Democrats, and claiming they are responses to attacks indicates you think the Jeeeewwwwwwwws aren't the ones responsible for the start of every hostility. Heresy!

Someone get Kamala a copy of the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion' before she blows her chance to run the free world.

2. Bernie Sanders: 69.2 (Last week: 2nd / 68.3)

CANDIDATE PROFILE

If Bernie Sanders hates millionaires as much as he claims, he must hate the mirror. As a millionaire, it might surprise some that he donated only 1% to charity. But it shouldn't.

It's entirely consistent with Sandersism to avoid giving to private charity. Why would you? Sanders believes the government does everything better than the private sector. He should be giving his money to the government.

Of course, he doesn't. He takes the tax breaks from the evil Trump tax plan he derides. He spends his money on fabulous vacation homes. He believes in socialism for thee, not for me.

Yes, this is enough to convince the Cardi B's of the world, all but guaranteeing a lock on the rapper-and-former-stripper-that-drugged-and-stole-from-her-prostitution-clients demographic. But can that lack of consistency hold up in front of general election voters?

If Bernie reads this and would like a path to credibility, clear out your bank account and send it here:

Gifts to the United States
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Funds Management Branch
P.O. Box 1328
Parkersburg, WV 26106-1328


Other headlines:

1. Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.: 78.8 (NEW)

Joe has run for president 113 times during his illustrious career, successfully capturing the presidency in approximately zero of his campaigns.

However, when the eternally woke Barack Obama had a chance to elevate a person of color, woman, or anything from the rainbow colored QUILTBAG, he instead chose the oldest, straightest, whitest guy he could find, and our man Robinette was the beneficiary.

Biden has been through a lot, much of it of his own making. Forget about his plagiarism and propensity to get a nostril full of each passing females' hair, his dealings while vice president in both Ukraine and China are a major general election vulnerability— not to mention a legal vulnerability for his children. But hey, win the presidency and you can pardon everyone, right?

His supposed appeal to rust belt voters makes him, on paper, a great candidate to take on Trump. The Clinton loss hinged on about 40,000 voters changing their mind from Hillary to Donald in a few states—the exact areas where victory could possibly be secured by someone named "Middle Class Joe" (as he alone calls himself.)

No one loves Joe Biden more than Joe Biden, and there's a relatively convincing case for his candidacy. But we must remember this unquestionable truth: Joe Biden is not good at running for president.

He's a gaffe machine that churns out mistake after mistake, hoping only to have his flubs excused by his unending charisma. But, will that work without the use of his legendary groping abilities? Only time, and a few dozen unnamed women, will tell.

Also, yes. Robinette is really his middle name.

If only Karl Marx were alive today to see his wackiest ideas being completely paraded around. He would be so proud. I can see him now: Sprawled out on his hammock from REI, fiddling around for the last vegan potato chip in the bag as he binge-watches Academy Awards on his 70-inch smart TV. In between glances at his iPhone X (he's got a massive Twitter following), he sips Pepsi. In his Patagonia t-shirt and NIKE tennis shoes, he writes a line or two about "oppression" and "the have-nots" as part of his job for Google.

His house is loaded with fresh products from all the woke companies. In the fridge, he's got Starbucks, he loves their soy milk. He's got Ben & Jerry's in the freezer. He tells everyone that, if he shaved, he'd use Gillette, on account of the way they stand up for the Have-Nots. But, really, Marx uses Dollar Shave Club because it's cheaper, a higher quality. Secretly, he loves Chic-Fil-A. He buys all his comic books off Amazon. The truth is, he never thought people would actually try to make the whole "communism" thing work.

RELATED: SOCIALISM: This is the most important special we have done

Companies have adopted a form of socialism that is sometimes called woke capitalism. They use their status as corporations to spread a socialist message and encourage people to do their part in social justice. The idea of companies in America using socialism at all is as confusing and ridiculous as a donkey in a prom dress: How did this happen? Is it a joke? Why is nobody bursting out in laughter? How far is this actually going to go? Does someone actually believe that they can take a donkey to prom?

Companies have adopted a form of socialism that is sometimes called woke capitalism.

On the micro level, Netflix has made some socialist moves: The "like/dislike" voting system was replaced after a Netflix-sponsored stand-up special by Amy Schumer received as tidal wave of thumb-downs. This summer, Netflix will take it a step further in the name of squashing dissent by disabling user comments and reviews. And of course most of us share a Netflix account with any number of people. Beyond that, they're as capitalist as the next mega-company.

Except for one area: propaganda. Netflix has started making movie-length advertisements for socialism. They call them "documentaries," but we know better than that. The most recent example is "Knock Down the House," which comes out tomorrow. The 86-minute-long commercial for socialism follows four "progressive Democrat" women who ran in the 2018 midterms, including our favorite socialist AOC.

Here's a snippet from the movie so good that you'll have to fight the urge to wave your USSR flag around the room:

This is what the mainstream media wants you to believe. They want you to be moved. They want the soundtrack to inspire you to go out and do something.

Just look at how the mainstream media treated the recent high-gloss "documentary" about Ilhan Omar, "Time for Ilhan." It received overwhelmingly bad ratings on IMDb and other user-review platforms, but got a whopping 93% on the media aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

This is exactly what the media wants you to think of when you hear the word socialism. Change. Empowerment. Strength. Diversity. They spend so much energy trying to make socialism cool. They gloss right over the unbelievable death toll. BlazeTV's own Matt Kibbe made a great video on this exact topic.

Any notion of socialism in America is a luxury, made possible by capitalism. The woke companies aren't actually doing anything for socialism. If they're lucky, they might get a boost in sales, which is the only thing they want anyway.

We want to show you the truth. We want to tell you the stories you won't hear anywhere else, not on Netflix, not at some movie festival. We're going to tell you what mainstream media doesn't want you to know.

Look at how much history we've lost over the years. They changed it slowly. But they had to. Because textbooks were out. So people were watching textbooks. It was printed. You would bring the book home. Mom and dad might go through it and check it out. So you had to slowly do things.

Well, they're not anymore. There are no textbooks anymore. Now, you just change them overnight. And we are losing new history. History is being changed in realtime.

RELATED: 'Good Morning Texas' joins Glenn to get an inside look at Mercury Museum

You have to write down what actually is happening and keep a journal. Don't necessarily tell everybody. Just keep a journal for what is happening right now. At some point, our kids won't have any idea of the truth. They will not have any idea of what this country was, how it really happened. Who were the good guys. Who were the bad guys. Who did what.

As Michelle Obama said. Barack knows. We have to change our history. Well, that's exactly what's happening. But it's happening at a very rapid pace.

We have to preserve our history. It is being systematically erased.

I first said this fifteen years ago, people need clay plots. We have to preserve our history as people preserved histories in ancient days, with the dead see scrolls, by putting them in caves in a clay pot. We have to preserve our history. It is being systematically erased. And I don't mean just the history of the founding of our country. I mean the history that's happening right now.

And the history that's happening right now, you're a problem if you're a conservative or a Christian. You are now a problem on the left, if you disagree and fall out of line at all. This is becoming a fascistic party. And you know what a fascist is. It doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican or an independent. If you believe it's my way or the highway, if you believe that people don't have a right to their opinion or don't have a right to their own life — you could do be a fascist.

Christianity might seem pretty well-protected in the U.S., but that's not the case in many parts of the globe.

On Easter Sunday, suicide bombers made the news for killing 290 innocent Christians in Sri Lanka and injuring another 500. On Tuesday, ISIS claimed responsibility for the massacre. Of course, the Western world mourned this tragic loss of life on a holy day of worship, but we forget that this isn't an isolated incident. Indeed, Christians are discriminated at extreme levels worldwide, and it needs to be brought to light. And whenever we do highlight brutal persecutions such as the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka, we need to call them what they are — targeted attacks against Christians. Sadly, many of our politicians are deathly afraid to do so.

RELATED: Hey media, there is absolutely a war on Christians!

A 2018 Pew Research Center study found that Christians are harassed in 144 countries — the most of any other faith — slightly outnumbering Muslims for the top of the list. Additionally, Open Doors, a non-profit organization that works to serve persecuted Christians worldwide, found in their 2019 World Watch List that over 245 million Christians are seriously discriminated against for their religious beliefs. Sadly, this translates into 4,136 Christians killed and 2,625 either arrested, sentenced, imprisoned, or detained without trial over the year-long study period. And when it comes to churches, those in Sri Lanka were merely added to a long list of 1,266 Christian buildings attacked for their religion.

These breathtaking stats receive very little coverage in the Western world. And there seems to be a profound hesitation from politicians in discussing the issue of persecution against Christians. In the case of the Sri Lanka bombings, there's even a reluctance to use the word "Christian."

After the horrific Pittsburgh Synagogue and New Zealand Mosque shootings, Democrats rightfully acknowledged the disturbing trend of targeted attacks against Jews and Muslims. But some of these same politicians refer to the Sri Lanka bombings with careless ambiguity.

So why is it so hard for our leaders to acknowledge the persecutions Christians face?

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, for instance, certainly did — calling the incursions "attacks on Easter worshippers." Understandably, the term confused and frustrated many Christians. Although, supporters of these politicians argued the term was appropriate since a recent Associated Press report used it, and it was later picked up by a variety of media outlets, including Fox News. However, as more Democrats like 2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro and Rep. Dan Kildee continued to use the phrase "Easter worshippers," it became clear that these politicians were going out of their way to avoid calling a spade a spade.

So why is it so hard for our leaders to acknowledge the persecutions Christians face? For starters, Christianity in democratic countries like the U.S. is seen differently than in devastated countries like Somalia. According to Pew Research, over 70% of Americans are Christian, with 66% of those Christians being white and 35% baby boomers. So while diverse Christians from all over the world are persecuted for their faith—in the U.S., Christians are a dominant religion full of old white people. This places Christians at the bottom of progressives' absurd intersectional totem poll, therefore leaving little sympathy for their cause. However, the differing experiences of Christians worldwide doesn't take away from the fact that they are unified in their beliefs.

By refusing to name the faith of the Sri Lankan martyrs, politicians are sending a message that they have very little, if no, concern about the growing amount of persecution against Christians worldwide.

Martyrs don't deserve to be known as "Easter worshippers." They should be known by the Christian faith they gave their lives for. Decent politicians need to call the tragedy in Sri Lanka what it is — a vicious attack on the Christian faith.

Patrick Hauf (@PatrickHauf) is a writer for Young Voices and Vice President of Lone Conservative. His work can be found in the Washington Examiner, Townhall, FEE, and more.