Monday, March 20, 2017

Ro Khanna: "The American People Want More Idealism And Substance From Progressive Politics"


Chuck Jones speaks truth to power-- calls out the liar-in-chief

You remember Chuck Jones, the president of the United Steelworkers Local 1999 who fought to keep Carrier in Indiana long before Trump noisily inserted himself, ineffectively as it turns out, into the conflict. Last week, Jones penned an essay for Huff Po, How Democrats Lost Union Workers, saying the problem went well beyond the horrible choice between Trump and Hillary. "A map of Indiana," he wrote, "can show you what went wrong for the Democratic Party and what’s going wrong for the country. Not just the Carrier plant, that’s shipping 550 jobs to Mexico, but another one of our local’s plants, Rexnord Bearings, has 300 jobs headed to the same city, Monterrey. In Huntington, near Fort Wayne, 700 jobs from the same corporation as Carrier-- UTC-- are headed there as well. Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes South Bend, has two Elkhart plants, Harman International and auto-parts maker CTS Corp., shipping more than 350 jobs overseas. The 2nd District used to be a lock for Democrats, and was at least competitive the past 30 years. Now it’s elected a Tea Party Republican to her third term.
The DNC wanted to know why traditional Democratic areas in the industrial Midwest have gotten away from them. It’s because too many manufacturing plants have been getting away from us-- and too many Democratic leaders have been AWOL. When it comes to how they and their families are going to survive, too many workers can’t tell one party from the other.  Yes, we’ve stood up for the safety net and social justice-- we’re not one-issue Democrats. But Indiana, along with much of the industrial Midwest, has been getting hammered by rigged trade deals that have left thousands of Hoosier families stranded. It’s upended our world.

We’re not against trade. But the trade deals we’ve been given by Republicans-- and too many Democrats-- have betrayed people who work for a living. Don’t lose sight of the fact-- because too many politicians already have-- that for these family breadwinners, it’s over. Often middle aged or older, they now look forward to a fraction of their pension, if that, and any dreams they had for their kids getting a leg up into the middle class are gone. For too many it’s been a life of despair leading to alcoholism, bankruptcy, broken families, even suicide. I’ve seen it.

...My message to the Democratic Party is that we need leaders with the guts to stand up to Wall Street and defend working people... donors be damned. Working people will take notice.

...For the Democratic Party to even begin to turn this around, we need to see leaders standing with us when we bargain with corporations. When workers organize, they need to march with them into the boss’s office and demand their rights be respected. A great example of that was recently in Mississippi where Sen. Bernie Sanders marched with Nissan auto workers fighting for a union. That’s how you’ll win back workers, not just the ones you lost last November, but the ones you’ve been losing for decades. And we’ll get the 50 percent on the sidelines to start thinking voting might matter, and that putting heat on politicians can get results.

In Detroit I just stated what I saw on the ground. And what I saw in the Indiana primary was workers, and not just in manufacturing, getting excited about Bernie Sanders like no other candidate ever. His straight talk, consistent positions, and refusal to kowtow to conventional wisdom, made him damn near a hero. But the unvarnished truth about last year is this: after Bernie was eliminated, a lot of workers started drinking the Trump Kool-Aid or just plain took a pass on the election. Many had been Obama voters. Those who did throw in with HRC-- men, women, black and white-- did it without the kind of enthusiasm you need to bring others along.

But it was a situation decades in the making. The Republicans created Trump, he’s theirs; but too many Democrats built the vacuum that Trump filled.

In Detroit I reminded them that the Democratic Party needs to continue to be the home of working families. Trump’s a fraud, and the Republicans don’t have our back. But if the party wants these voters to come home, it needs to stand up for them.
Ro Khanna is the freshman congressman from the Silicon Valley. He was elected 4 months ago with thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from employees at pharmaceutical companies. But that didn't stop him from making this blistering maiden floor speech last month. Watch it:

"The pharmaceutical industry is a cancer on this body; The pharmaceutical companies contributions are a cancer," he told his colleagues (and the nation, including PhRMA lobbyists, who pay close attention to that kind of talk). And that isn't the only way Khanna's thinking was in sync with Jones'. Last week he penned this OpEd for the Sacramento Bee on industrial policy and the future viability of the Democratic Party. I don't think it's going to make his House colleagues any more happy than his comments about PhRMA made their lobbyists.
The U.S. economy is moving from the industrial to the digital age. We are seeing transformation in how technology impacts our homes and businesses. We communicate more rapidly and frequently than ever.

And with that comes the urgency for people to learn and apply new skills to be part of the changing workforce. Yet the impact of automation and globalization has created unprecedented inequality.

Recently, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi was asked by a New York University sophomore at a CNN town hall how progressives can offer a bold economic vision that differs from conservatives: “We’re capitalists, that’s just the way it is,” she replied.

But too often the national economic debate stalls between free market conservatives who want less regulation and liberals who want greater government participation. Economists such as Joseph Stiglitz and Robert Reich explain that government sets the rules that create the free market. The problem with our economy is that the rules have been rigged in favor of the wealthy and the connected.

Congress must take bold, transformational action to make the rules of the economy more just.

Take for instance the Affordable Care Act “repeal and replace” debate. In reality, Republicans are rushing through a massive tax break disguised as health policy. The GOP plan is an ill-conceived and bureaucratic bill and should be used as a jumping off point to discuss the simplest policy solution to fix our health care system: Medicare for All.

In the budget blueprint released last week, President Donald Trump included a $1 trillion giveaway to Wall Street investors, but dismantles training programs that enable workers to win jobs of the modern economy. Trump, who hosted a show called The Apprentice, should be funding apprenticeship programs around the country.

The stock market has bounced back from the Great Recession, but working families are not seeing gains in their paychecks. In addition to raising the minimum wage, closing the gender pay gap, and supporting paid family leave, Congress should help working families by dramatically expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. That would place money in the pockets of working families to correct decades of no wage growth.

While working families seek a decent wage, corporations exploit our tax rules. If a family making $48,000 is required to pay taxes on all their income, shouldn’t the same be expected of a multinational company based in the U.S.? That is why we must close the “check-the-box” corporate loophole that allows foreign subsidiaries of multinationals to avoid tax. By eliminating this 1990s corporate giveaway, the U.S. could collect billions of dollars in new revenue and discourage companies from going offshore.

Wall Street reform champions long have asserted that the rules of the stock market favor wealthy individuals who benefit from short-term profits. A 1982 Securities and Exchange Commission rule, written by a former Wall Street banker, allows corporations to make large purchases of their own stock, sending profits to shareholders and executives. This rule should be repealed and such buybacks should once again be scrutinized for market manipulation. A financial transaction tax on stock trades and bonds would generate hundreds of billions of dollars and reduce risky, high-speed trading.

In accepting his re-nomination at the 1936 Democratic National Convention, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said: “These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power.”

FDR’s language and programs were far bolder than the consultant-crafted platitudes that too many Democrats have run on these past few election cycles. Members of Congress must see that the American people want more idealism and substance from progressive politics. We neglect their voices at our own peril.

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At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might ask WHAT progressive politics. As it stands, the scant few progressives first must win seats running as, essentially, independents since no DxCC $upport is offered and, often, DxCC ma$$ively $upports their primary opponents.

While some progressive-ish stuff can appear on the D platform, follow-through on those planks after election has not been seen in over 3 decades.

TBTF is worse; Dimon and Blankfein are not only not in prison, both are still directing their respective criminal enterprises; nobody is in prison for torture nor starting arbitrary wars nor for extrajudicial murders/incarcerations; newer and worse FTAs waft upward under D admins; and every cycle, SSI, Medicare, Medicaid are threatened by the right and meekly, if at all, defended by the so-called left. They get billions from corporations and billionaires... and that is who they serve.

The American people, when polled, seem to want progressivism in a lot of areas. Yet they never vote that way. So it is impossible to state dogmatically that they want more substance/idealism. There is anecdotal evidence that the poor, almost half of americans at present, want it. But they vote much less than the rest... who display schizophrenia on the subject.

At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no evidence that voters even want progressivity in their politics. When presented with a progressive candidate, voters don't even regularly elect one.

Absent progressive candidates, voters are perfectly willing to elect a corrupt corporatist stooge, false populist, complete drooling moron or an overt Nazi.


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