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Hillary Clinton’s speech on Monday morning outlined her intention to make closing the income gap the cornerstone of her economic policy. Raising incomes for the middle class, she said, is the “defining economic challenge of our time.”

You can imagine how that might have rubbed the right wing the wrong way.

Clinton’s remarks were an apparent rebuke to GOP candidate Jeb Bush, who said last week that Americans needed to work longer hours, but made no mention of raising wages. “He must not have met many American workers,” Clinton said in her speech, which acknowledged that growth is important, but GOP promises of “growth” leave middle-class Americans behind.

In a video released by his campaign Monday afternoon, entitled “4 percent,” Bush called Clinton and her Democratic allies “defeatist” and asserted his own plan to achieve 4 percent economic growth and create 19 million jobs, while decrying the “deeply pessimistic view that is embraced by the progressive liberals in our country.”

The National Review‘s Charles C. W. Cooke accused Clinton and her ilk of being “stuck squarely in 1938.” Cooke took particular issue with what he characterized as her Luddite and statist attitude toward the so-called “sharing economy” or “gig economy,” in which people patch together their income from a series of self-employed side jobs. The gig economy is powered by a host of websites (like Airbnb, Uber, and Etsy, to name just a few) that make it possible for anyone to become an independent contractor as a hotelier, cabbie, or stay-at-home tchotchke maker — but without any job security, insurance, or full-time benefits. Hers is an “intolerably prescriptive perspective,” Cooke says, that unfairly cracks down on would-be freelancers.

The country of the “Clinton-Sanders-Warren-O’Malley project,” Cooke writes, is one “in which our heinously outdated, grossly illiberal, neo-Prussian educational system is to be set more firmly in place — even as it crumbles and falls. It is a country in which the state must determine which firms are Good and which firms are Bad, and reward or punish them according to its whim. It is a country in which Upton Sinclair is an up-and-coming writer, and in which anybody who doubts the efficacy of federal control is in danger of falling headfirst into a rendering vat.”

Stephen Moore from Fox News accused Clinton of caving to pressure from far-left Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and “slamming the door on the successful centrist agenda of her husband” in favor of recycling a tired, bankrupt economic agenda that has no chance swaying “everyday Americans.”

Clinton had said in her speech that she intended to strengthen regulation “beyond Dodd-Frank,” and Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, took this as an indication that Clinton “doesn’t actually understand how the economy works.”

In a video posted on BreitbartFiorina said that Clinton’s speech was “a bundle of contradictions and a litany of progressive prescriptions,” which exposed Clinton as a “card-carrying member of the political class” since she failed to call out the federal government for its incompetence and corruption. Clinton’s proposals, she said, were an example of “crony capitalism at its worst.”

 Photo: mSeattle via Flickr

President Trump and former Vice President Biden at first 2020 presidential debate

Screenshot from C-Span YouTube

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Donald Trump is claiming that he will still debate despite the rule change that will cut off the candidates' microphones while their opponent delivers his initial two-minute response to each of the debate's topics. But everything else Trump and his campaign are saying sounds like they're laying the groundwork to back out.

"I will participate," Trump told reporters Monday night. "But it's very unfair that they changed the topics and it's very unfair that again we have an anchor who's totally biased." At his Arizona rally Monday, Trump attacked moderator Kristen Welker as a "radical Democrat" and claimed she had "deleted her entire account," which is false. Trump's campaign manager, Bill Stepien, went further in his whining about the debate.

Stepien touted a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates as "Our letter to the BDC (Biden Debate Commission)." That letter came before the CPD announced that it would mute microphones for portions of the debate in response to Trump's constant interruptions at the first debate, though Stepien knew such a decision was likely coming, writing, "It is our understanding from media reports that you will soon be holding an internal meeting to discuss other possible rule changes, such as granting an unnamed person the ability to shut off a candidate's microphone. It is completely unacceptable for anyone to wield such power, and a decision to proceed with that change amounts to turning further editorial control of the debate over to the Commission which has already demonstrated its partiality to Biden."

Shooooot, here I thought it was generous to Trump that the microphones will only be cut to give each candidate two uninterrupted minutes, leaving Trump the remainder of each 15-minute debate segment to interrupt.

But what did Stepien mean by "other possible rule changes," you ask? What was the first rule change? Well, it wasn't one. Stepien wrote to strongly complain that "We write with great concern over the announced topics for what was always billed as the 'Foreign Policy Debate' in the series of events agreed to by both the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign many months ago." Welker's announced topics include "Fighting COVID-19, American families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership," Stepien complained, using this as a launching pad to attack Biden on foreign policy.

Except this debate was never billed as a foreign policy debate. It's true that in past years, the third debate has sometimes focused on foreign policy, but here in 2020, the CPD's original announcement of debate formats and moderators said of the third debate, "The format for the debate will be identical to the first presidential debate," and the first debate "will be divided into six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on major topics to be selected by the moderator."

So even before the CPD finalized the decision to prevent Trump from interrupting for two minutes in each of six segments, so 12 minutes out of a 90-minute debate, Team Trump was falsely complaining that the debate was rigged. No wonder—as a Biden campaign spokesman noted, the Trump campaign is upset "because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous Covid response."

Trump has lost one debate and backed out of one debate. If he goes into this one with the attitude he's showing now—attacking the moderator, attacking the topics, enraged that he can't interrupt for two entire minutes at a time—he's going to lose this one, badly, once again hurting his already weak reelection prospects. So which will it be? Back out and have that be the story, or alienate one of the largest audiences of the entire presidential campaign by showing what kind of person he is?