The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is still controversial among people on the far Left and Right who flunked both math and economics. Knitting our largest trading partners together is a no-brainer. Two decades of economic data from the success of NAFTA ought to convince naysayers but some people just prefer illiteracy. President Obama remains well-liked among his base and probably has the political capital to spend on fast-track approval authority if he so desires. I concur with the Club's panelists that he was never as progressive as his early rhetoric led some to believe. He has governed like a center-right President for most of his tenure (much like Ike or JFK in their time).
The Club's panelists are political junkies and watch every turn in the 2016 Presidential race as if it matters. Folks, nothing matters at this stage except fundraising and the "invisible primary" of early party endorsements. The serious candidates are obvious, and the unserious ones are usually corporate executives who have never spent time in Washington, DC. Launching a Presidential campaign as a stalking horse for a Cabinet position makes no sense. Presidential transition teams have their own vetting process for those jobs, and said process has everything to do with sending a message about governance priorities. It has nothing to do with rewarding primary season opponents.
It makes little sense for our local pundits to lament the influence of money in politics. America has always been a stealth plutocracy and the Founders were the wealthiest people of their time. Billionaires don't always get what they want out of elections. Gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson backed Mitt Romney in 2012 and got nothing for the money he spent. The Koch brothers' influence is similarly overblown. I can't take the Kochs seriously when their family patriarch's first political project was the John Birch Society.
Local ballot measures promoting bond issues for BART and school districts are in danger of stepping all over each other. Voters can never remember how much they approved in previous bond issues. Read what I wrote about some recent transit studies that debuted at the Commonwealth Club to see just how much voters need to know before they pull the lever for more bonds. I see no solution to the funding problems facing Bay Area public schools that does not involve eventually winding them down. The various gifted programs for Sacramento public school students worked fine for me, but that was the 1980s. The public school era in our nation's history is probably closing as MOOCs offer vast course arrays free of charge.
Finally, someone mentioned a new local initiative that landlords have launched to give military veterans a break on market rents. These breaks are supposed to go where they do the most good. Homeless veterans should be first in line. I need to remind my readers that not all veterans are homeless. I am a veteran, and I pay my rent and taxes just like the rest of you. I was never issued a begging bowl in the Army.
Have fun next time, Commonwealth Club kiddos, and don't forget to play my "Commonwealth Club Matching Game" available on the Special Reports page of my Alfidi Capital website.