Friday, April 13, 2018

Do The Two Political Parties Stand For Anything (Other Than Careerism)?


The rock-solid set of principles the Democratic Party once stood for has weakened... a lot. Thank Bill Clinton and his transactional politics for a lot of that. Choice doesn't matter, nor does marriage equality, unions, the legitimate aspirations of working families. The DCCC is out recruiting NRA allies. "But you need to adopt Republican-lite positions to win in that state (or district) is something I hear from faux Democrats on Twitter nearly every day. The Republican wing of the Democratic Party-- the New Dems and Blue Dogs-- stand for nothing except careerism, their own careerism. And that is the ascendant wing. Recently in Jackson, Mississippi Bernie Sanders told a large and enthusiastic crowd that "the business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure. People sometimes don’t see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama. He was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy. But behind that reality, over the last ten years, Democrats have lost about 1,000 seats in state legislatures all across this country." Even the Congressional Progressive Caucus, originally founded by Bernie, seems to be going along for the ride more often than many progressives feel comfortable with.

How many members of the Progressive Caucus are also members of the New Dems? Well... there's Don Beyer (VA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE), André Carson (IN), Val Demings (FL), Ruben Kihuen (NV), Brenda Lawrence (MI), and Jared Polis (CO). And how many New Dems have the Progressive Caucus endorsed so far this cycle? Angie Craig (MN) and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL). And there are mixed stories about Florida conservative Darren Soto (FL), a New Dem and big NRA ally who doesn't appear on the CPC website but who was endorsed a few weeks ago. A few days ago, a candidate Blue America is still in the middle of vetting called me, excitedly, to tell me he has been endorsed by the Progressive Caucus. At one time that would have been a huge plus for Blue America. It doesn't mean much any more. This year it endorsed establishment insider Liz Watson over genuine progressive leader Dan Canon (IN-09). They endorsed Gina Ortiz Jones over genuine progressive leader Rick Treviño (TX-23). They endorsed hackish establishment shill Mike Levin over progressive Doug Applegate (TX-49), Steve Horsford over Amy Vilela (NV-04)...

The Democratic Party was once constantly pushed in a progressive direction by a strong, vibrant Progressive Caucus. The Progressive Caucus is no longer strong, no longer vibrant, no longer capable of pushing the Democratic Party in any direction. They're becoming a subsidiary of the New Dems. Instead of offering an alternative to the corrupt centrist Joe Crowley as the next Speaker, I'm hearing they're going to actually back Crowley! You want to know why the Democratic Party doesn't stand for anything worthwhile any longer? Don't just blame the Blue Dogs, the New Dems, Pelosi, Hoyer... blame the Progressive Caucus... for transforming itself into a big nothing pie of complacent identity politics.

You know who's just as bad-- or even worse-- than the Democrats? The pathetic Republicans. John Harwood, writing for CNBC yesterday, took on the hollowness the GOP has already fallen into. "The business model of the modern Republican Party," he wrote, "does not produce real-world budget discipline. So today, GOP lawmakers turn to make-believe."
Within the last four months, the Republican president and party leaders in Congress took two actions that dramatically expand federal deficits. On a party-line vote, they cut taxes by $150 billion a year, then increased spending by $150 billion a year in cooperation with Democrats.

Now, as the Congressional Budget Office projects the return of $1 trillion annual deficits, congressional Republicans plan a gesture for constituents alarmed by rising debt. The House will vote on Thursday on a constitutional amendment requiring lawmakers to balance the federal budget.

The amendment lacks enough support to pass. Nor would GOP lawmakers want it to, since they have demonstrated unwillingness to make the policy choices the amendment would require.

In a second gesture, the White House is preparing to ask Congress to rescind some of the spending increases that Trump signed weeks ago. Bipartisan opposition from lawmakers who just affirmed them with their votes makes it unlikely such a proposal can pass.

Evidence suggests that gestures are the best the 21st century GOP can do. Decades of evolution have produced overlapping but disparate Republican segments whose priorities consistently drive deficits up.

Backers of supply-side economics dominate Republican tax policy. Urged on by GOP donors on Wall Street and in executive suites, they press continually to cut taxes.

Advocates of limited government welcome the resulting reduction of federal revenue. They want Washington to do less.

But proponents of strengthening America's military posture want more, so they pursue larger and larger Pentagon budgets. And older, working-class whites who disdain Wall Street and depend on government programs increasingly define the GOP voting base.

Specifically, those voters want to protect their benefits under Social Security and Medicare, both now ballooning as the massive baby boom generation retires. Conservative ideologues opposed those programs from their inception but have failed to roll them back.

No Republican faction openly disavows deficit reduction. But when President George W. Bush sought to fundamentally restructure Social Security in 2005, a Congress controlled by fellow Republicans declined.

In winning the presidency two years ago, Trump promised not to touch Social Security or Medicare benefits.

House Speaker Paul Ryan keeps exhorting his colleagues to curb them but hasn't succeeded, and on Wednesday, he announced his retirement.

The GOP has forced cuts to the narrow slice of the budget that finances other domestic spending, recently through the 2011 budget sequestration law. In practice, however, Ryan and other Republicans found those constraints too severe to sustain and acquiesced in Democratic attempts to relax them.

The central difference between the parties on budget discipline is that Democrats, while backing higher spending, have also backed higher taxes to finance it. Republicans keep supporting tax cuts even while failing to shrink spending.

The result: since Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981, all three Republican presidents before Trump left office with higher federal deficits than they inherited. One Democratic president (Bill Clinton) departed with a budget surplus; the other (Barack Obama) saw the deficit decline by two-thirds as a share of the economy.

That record has not deterred Republican claims that their policies will eventually reduce red ink. Last fall, the Trump administration insisted its tax cut would stimulate enough economic activity to boost annual growth to 2.9 percent over the next 10 years.

"Not only will this plan pay for itself," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin predicted, "but it will pay down debt."

The CBO concluded this week that Mnuchin's forecast is a fantasy.

Its report projects annual economic growth of 1.9 percent over 10 years-- mirroring the long-run outlook from before the tax cut passed. It projects the deficit growing from $665 billion in Trump's first year in office to $1 trillion in his fourth.

It envisions the national debt rising by $1.5 trillion above previous projections to reach $27 trillion by 2027.

When he backed the tax cut, retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker cited his belief that it would not increase the budget deficit. After this week's CBO report, Corker fretted, "If it ends up costing what has been laid out here, it could well be one of the worst votes I've made."

Corker's House colleagues need not fear the same from their balanced-budget amendment vote Thursday. It won't change the deficit by even a single dollar.

And the trade agreements that have hollowed out the identification of blue collar workers with the Democratic Party? You want to blame Reagan and George H.W. Bush? George H.W. Bush couldn't pass NAFTA. Bill Clinton promised Wall Street and Big Business he would-- and he let Rahm Emanuel loose on Congress to accomplish it. That's when the Democratic Party turned into a big pile of stinking shit-- that and when Obama appointed Debbie Wasserman Schultz head of the DNC and allowed her to undercut the 2016 primaries to guarantee a win for Clinton's wife, a guarantee that brought America the Mafia presidency of Donald J. Trump.

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At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only thing the two faces of the corporatist party stand for is to receive their bribes from the corporate sector. All other times, they show their disdain for the rest of us by remaining seated.

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I mean WOW!!

A nearly accurate takedown of the democraps. If anything it softsells how shitty they are.. but it's your best effort so far. Well done calling the CPC out for being just another corrupt hapless feckless arm of the corporations masquerading as progressive-ish.

So... and I will continue to be pedantic... how many times can you write truths like this but still advocate supporting a few BA additions to the same corrupt hapless feckless caucuses just so Pelosi and scummer have greater leverage to demand even more corruption from their big donors?

Seriously. You truly humiliate yourself with your willful, relentless cognitive dissonance.

At 7:37 PM, Blogger Larry Piltz said...

This is to the 2nd Anonymous posting. To me, it seems clear that the only humiliation is in your abject capitulation to an inadequate and dangerous status quo. It's not wisdom that takes you there. Or any wish for something better. It's weakness. And arrogance. You actually appear to believe you know the truth more fully than DWT and likely anyone else not agreeing with you that the proper response is to just give up. Failure is your motto and motif. Congratulations?

At 10:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry, you totally miss the point. I'm not asking DWT to give up. I'm asking them to change their strategy (assuming that their goal is actual substantive change in DC... it may not be).

Anyone awake during the Pelosi gambit of 2006-2008 has seen this recipe baked before. And the resulting cake fell flat and burned to a crisp such that 15 million voters were so pleased that they stayed home in 2010.

DWT wants us to contribute to and vote for a few more cherry-picked candidates who will add to Pelosi's and scummer's caucus totals giving them both more leverage to demand bigger bribes.
As we saw in 2006, they'll get their bribes, but the democraps won't do anything to hinder trump (cheney/bush back then) gambling on the continued shit-show being so horrible that the democraps win back both chambers and the white's house in 2020.

As we also saw in 2008 with obamanation, they'll refuse to address anything in the voter mandate, will serve the corporations and they'll lose millions of voters again in 2022.

And we saw what that led to in 2016. The shittiest democrap candidate ever losing to an even shittier Nazi candidate.

I know the truth because I've seen it before. When you conduct the same experiment with the same initial conditions and use the same apparatus, you will get the same results.

We need a different left party than the one that only pretends to be left. DWT wants to keep the pretend left party. It's wrong.


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