Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Will Harry Reid's Sell Out Of The Middle Class Help Solidify An Open Rebellion Caucus?


Trouble for America

John Nichols post-election piece for The Nation, Democrats: The Party of Pablum, is pretty harsh... but completely on track, a track the geriatric, sclerotic Democratic congressional leadership is now utterly incapable of dealing with.
When Bernie Sanders gets to griping about the Democratic Party, which happens frequently, he asks, “What does it stand for?” The independent senator argues that, after years of sellouts and compromises on issues ranging from trade policy to banking regulation, and especially after letting campaign donors and consultants define its messaging, the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman has become an ill-defined and distant political machine that most Americans do not relate to or get excited about. His point has always been well-taken, but it was confirmed on November 4. How else can we explain voters who chose Mitch McConnell senators and Elizabeth Warren policies?

...While voter suppression and low turnout are huge concerns that must be addressed, voters who came to the polls on November 4 were sufficiently progressive and populist to support minimum-wage hikes, paid sick leave, crackdowns on corporate abuses of the environment, expansion of healthcare and radical reform of a money-drenched campaign-finance system. They just didn’t elect Democrats. Of course, personalities, dark-money interventions and plenty of other factors were at play. But the consistent pattern of progressive policy votes in combination with Republican wins provide the starkest evidence of the extent to which the Democratic Party was an incoherent force in 2014.

Sanders and members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus tried to get Democrats on message throughout the year. Warren wowed the crowd at Netroots Nation in July, where she outlined a platform centered on economic populism but also including progressive social, environmental and political reforms. But the memo never got to most candidates, consultants, party chairs and leaders. And the results were devastating-- not just at the federal level but in the states, where Republicans grabbed governorships and eleven new legislative chambers. Midterms are usually rough for the party of the sitting president, but the 2014 defeats ran deeper, and in many cases will be harder to reverse.

At the root of the problem is a delinking of politics from policy. Increasingly, Democratic candidates in major contests run as “brands” carefully constrained to make a lowest-common-denominator appeal that is satisfying to campaign donors and insiders in Washington but that makes little sense to voters. While GOP candidates rage cynically against “elites” and “crony capitalism,” Democrats peddle pablum. As such, they don’t excite even their own base. What excited activists were those initiative and referendum campaigns; indeed, some of the biggest rallies I witnessed during the 2014 campaign were organized by backers of minimum-wage hikes and “Move to Amend” campaigners for an end to corporate influence on politics and policy. They were right to be excited: they were on their way to big and meaningful victories because they were fighting for big and meaningful-- as well as popular-- proposals. That’s a lesson Democrats should ponder, because as Stephanie Taylor of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee reminds us: “When elections are about nothing, Democrats lose.”
Yesterday Igor Volsky reported at ThinkProgress that Harry Reid "compromised" with the Republicans that will allow them to eliminate tax breaks for the middle class, provide massive corporate tax breaks, end breaks for green energy companies while continuing to subsidize Big Oil and Gas. Sounds more like caving in than compromising, no?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has reached a compromise with House Republicans on a package of tax breaks that would permanently extend relief for big multinational corporations without providing breaks for middle or lower-income families, individuals with knowledge of the deal tell ThinkProgress.

Under the terms of the $444 billion agreement, lawmakers would phase out all tax breaks for clean energy and wind energy but would maintain fossil fuel subsidies. Expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit would also end in 2017, even though the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that allowing the provisions to expire would push “16 million people in low-income working families, including 8 million children into-- or deeper into-- poverty.” The proposal would help students pay for college by making permanent the American Permanent Opportunity Tax Credit, a Democratic priority.

...The costs of the package will not be offset... On Monday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew also blasted the emerging agreement as “fiscally irresponsible” and doing “very little for working families.” He said, “Any deal on tax extenders must ensure that the economic benefits are broadly shared. We are committed to working with Congress to address the issue in a manner that is fiscally responsible and extends critical tax benefits for working families.”
The "Democratic-controlled" Senate will be voting on this nightmare package-- a lovely gift for the Republican donors who bought the GOP their big victories Nov. 4-- next week. If you haven't read Gaius Publius' post a Senate Open Rebellion Caucus now is the time to do so. It should be interesting to watch which Democrats stand with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown and Brian Schatz and which will stand with Reid and the Republicans. House Democrats are scratching their heads and wondering why Reid is trying to give away the store. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, is opposing the Reid deal with the Republicans. "The overall package is simply unacceptable and adds more than $400 billion to the debt. Unless our economy works for every American, it isn't working." And, then, of course... will we see a veto of this attack against the middle class and against a cohesive, forward-looking energy policy?

Progressives in the House, like CPC co-chairs Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison, didn't beat around the bush. They oppose the Reid-McConnell deal and in a joint statement, they explained that "The tax extension package will once again be a boon for corporate profits while largely leaving out middle-class and low-income families who are struggling just to get by. If we can find hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to make corporate tax breaks permanent, we should be able to help those struggling to find work. We should be making permanent those tax breaks that help working families without adding restrictions that exclude children in need. This deal is a permanent step backwards for those who think we have a system that is rigged in favor of the wealthy."

Labels: , , , ,


At 1:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My questions appear before the diatribe in the hopes of improving the chances for answers:
1) who, besides Sanders, Warren and Merkley comprise the alleged Open Rebellion Caucus?
2) how many state legislatures are NOT in control of the GOP? (deep defeats for sure)
It's a little too late for that abolition of the electoral college amendment, eh?

The chances of a sustained senate "Open Rebellion Caucus" are slim at best.

Sure, the concept it makes for article-fodder immediately after a mid-term election, that is, still within the lame duck session of congress.

Of course, in the upcoming new congress the GOP will be in control of the senate.

If, as G.P., notes the teabaggers were such a headache for Democrats. To the extent that was true had to do with the scurrilous and treacherous (appearing as spineless) Reid.

Ms McConnell is no Reid and any real opposition the hoped-for Open Rebellion Caucus may generate will bounce of the the shell of that turtle, (if not get them sanctioned outright.)

The one-vote defeat of the the Keystone XL pipeline bill is hailed as proof of said Open Rebellion Caucus. I'd suggest a caucus worth such a name would have blocked the existence of such bill in the lame duck session.

As I have explained in a prior comment, that vote, in regards the new majority of the senate means that only 4 new Dem votes will be needed to over ride any presidential vetoes that MAY occur (and I am NOT basing anything important on that negligible possibility!)

I'd suggest that is the Open Rebellion Caucus to watch.

John Puma

At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Democrats just re-elected Reid as party leader, so they must be on board with this overt betrayal of the American working class. Toadying must pay very well!

Back to work, serfs! Productivity is slipping and not delivering the desired profits!


Post a Comment

<< Home