Monday, August 20, 2018

The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party Will Always Fight The Progressive Vision Harder Than They Fight Republicans


Although it's completely what the DCCC encourages, the best Democratic congressional candidates aren't just hoping to get swept into office by the anti-red wave. The best candidates arguing beyond what the Republicans have done to us into what the Democrats will do for us. Progressives are talking about Medicare-For-All, free state colleges and universities, spending real money to tackle the opioid crisis, passing a paid medical and family leave program, job guarantee, incentivizing veteran hiring, a massive investment in green infrastructure, moving towards 100% renewable energy, student loan debt relief... As NBC News reported Sunday, "Democratic candidates are sending a message: We're the party that isn't afraid to think big." The DCCC and their establishment candidates is campaigning for the status quo ante. Progressives are pursuing a transformative policy agenda.

The Democratic establishment is more conservative than the Republicans. They both sing from the same hymnal but the GOP is always ready to abandon fiscal responsibility for their priorities-- tax cuts, corporate subsidies, the military-- but Democratic leaders are too scared to. "Democratic congressional leaders are sending a parallel message: We're the party of responsible budgets. Elect us if you're mad about President Donald Trump racking up trillion-dollar deficits with his gigantic tax cut."

Brian Schatz, progressive senator from Hawaii, toldNBC that "The instinct that some Democrats have, which is born out of a sense of responsibility as the 'governing' party, is to explain exactly how you're going to pay for everything and how it all adds up. It puts you at a total disadvantage because you're already constraining your priorities." That's the clarion call the Democrats on the Senate Buget Committee learned from their 2015-16 Chief Economist, Stephanie Kelton,who left that position to work as the Bernie campaign's economic advisor. (She's a founding fellow of the Sanders Institute and head of the Center for the Study of Inequality and Social Justice at Stony Brook University.) When I read Schatz's quote, I thought he must have been on the Budget Committee when Kelton was there. But he wasn't. He was on Appropriations.
While the party is united in its disdain for the Republican tax cuts, some on the left are concerned that Democrats are undermining their agenda by branding themselves as fiscal hawks.

Ascendant progressives, with backing from many of the party's biggest names, are demanding tens of trillions of dollars in new spending. Finding ways to pay for it all won't be easy and an increasingly vocal minority say Democrats shouldn't bother. After all, it worked for Trump, didn't it?
Ro makes an important-- a crucial-- point

Misleading-- often dishonest-- reporting is causing confusion among voters, as well as among office-holders of the costs. Take Medicare-For-All. You hear incredible numbers about what it will cost, numbers that never take into account what healthcare costs now. Here's the NBC report doing it:
The left's wish list is headlined by a single-payer health care plan in Congress that two nonpartisan studies, one by the liberal-leaning Urban Institute and one by the libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center, each estimate would cost the federal government $32 trillion over 10 years. Supporters argue the plan could reduce overall health care spending by trimming overhead and negotiating lower prices, but it still requires a massive new source of tax revenue.

New proposals on issues like education, jobs, and taxes, all backed by prominent Democrats likely to run for president, add up to trillions more in new spending or tax credits. And if single-payer stalls, more modest tweaks like expanding Obamacare subsidies would still add to the pile.

Reversing the Republican tax cuts can only pay for so much and Senate Democratic leaders already plan to use $1 trillion for their infrastructure plan.

So some are proposing another approach: Just don't say how you'll pay for things.

When Schatz put out a plan for debt-free public college earlier this year, which he estimated would cost $950 billion over 10 years, he pointedly declined to name how he'd finance it. If he had his way, more Democrats would do the same, at least until Republicans are willing to accept higher taxes to tackle the debt.

"The basic problem is that Republicans have gotten us to negotiate against ourselves while they spend money like drunken sailors whenever they're in charge," Schatz said. "If we're going to make progress on college affordability, on health care, and on our core values... we shouldn't be playing their game."

Rep. Ro Khanna D-CA), who introduced a $1.4 trillion bill to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, says Democrats should follow the GOP's example and argue their plans will pay for themselves, even if nonpartisan analysts like the Congressional Budget Office disagree.

"I think Trump has shown the myopia of austerity politics," Khanna said in an interview. "We need to talk about how our investments will lead to economic growth, but instead we get all tongue-tied talking about who ought to pay for it."

But Democratic leaders, some of whom proudly helped pass President Bill Clinton's balanced budgets, are taking a more traditional approach, setting up the potential for conflict if Democrats win back control of the House or Senate.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi D-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) indicated to The Hill in June that they would reinstate "pay-as-you-go" rules if they retook Congress, a requirement that new spending be offset by cuts or revenue. While Congress has waived these requirements in the past, the news prompted an uproar from progressives.

"We need infrastructure, we need debt-free college, we need universal child care-- all of these are items that pay dividends to our society and require upfront investment," Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told NBC News. "Pay-go stifles any idea about smart investments."

On the campaign trail, Democrats also see some political upside in attacking Republicans for deficit spending, especially in red-leaning states and districts.

"I think all Americans should care about the deficit and debt and the Democratic Party definitely is the party of fiscal responsibility," Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told NBC News in May. He noted that Senate leaders were emphasizing legislation, like the infrastructure package, that was fully paid for.

In Tennessee, Senate candidate Phil Bredesen is touting his balanced budgets as governor and promising to pursue them again in Washington. In Ohio's 12th Congressional District, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ads attacked the GOP tax bill using a classic fiscal conservative frame: "When you buy a car or house or go on vacation, you have to think about how you're paying for it-- but that's not how it works in Congress," a voice-over said in one TV spot.

As the debate heats up, some on the left are asking a more radical question: What if deficits just don't matter?

Stephanie Kelton, a professor at Stony Brook University and former economic adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has become a rising star on the left while making the case that the government can print more and more money with little negative consequence, so long as there are idle resources available to justify the spending.

"I have a strong sense the American people would care very little about the government's budget outcome if the government was delivering a good economy," Kelton told NBC News.

Kelton is the most prominent face of Modern Monetary Theory, a school of economic thought that de-emphasizes deficits and argues the government can take on far more debt than is commonly accepted.

House Democratic candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called Kelton a "rock star" and participated in a video conversation with her in May. Like Kelton, she has called on Democrats to aim high on policy, even if it means ignoring deficit scolds.

One proposal closely associated with Modern Monetary Theory has gained a solid foothold with Democratic politicians: A federal jobs guarantee. Top-tier 2020 prospects such as Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand D-NY), and Sanders have backed a bill that would establish a pilot version in select areas. Supporters see it as a way to pump resources into depressed regions and push private employers to raise wages.

Scaling it up nationally wouldn't be cheap, which is where Kelton's theory comes in. While there's no CBO score of the Senate bill, her own proposal to provide a $15 an hour job to anyone who wants one estimates its cost at about $400 billion a year.

Some of Kelton's ideas dovetail with more common liberal views that the government should run higher deficits during downturns and that President Barack Obama made a mistake not pursuing a larger stimulus in his first term. But Modern Monetary Theory's broader conclusions are still intensely controversial, even among left-leaning economists, with critics warning that too much debt could lead to out-of-control inflation.

"The downside risk of getting this wrong on the deficit side is that you've essentially wrecked your economy, maybe for a generation," said Jim Kessler, senior vice president for policy at centrist think tank Third Way and a former adviser to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

[Note: Kessler works for Third Way, a very conservative, corporately funded political operation that works to persuade centrist Democrats, like Schumer, to move further right.]

Many figures on the left are also making a case that blends deficit concerns with progressive goals. They say that Democrats need to prepare voters for higher taxes.

This was a key argument underlining Sanders' 2016 run-- that Democrats had grown too timid about proposing broad taxes to finance broad benefits and proposed an estimated $15 trillion menu of taxes over a decade that would disproportionately, but not entirely, target wealthy households and corporations. While far short of outside estimates of his health plan, it was nonetheless a big break from recent Democratic presidential candidates.

Some activists think the public is ready for this conversation. Sean McElwee, co-founder of Data for Progress, recently released survey data on ideas like expanded public housing, free tuition at public colleges, and paid leave that were paired with proposals to raise income tax on households making over $200,000 and payroll taxes by 0.2 percent. He estimates they'd find majority support in most congressional districts.

"I'm not afraid of taxes," McElwee told NBC News. "Our argument is that the American people have been so beaten down by capitalism, so [hurt] by the system, that if you offer them a progressive policy it doesn't matter how much Republicans scream about taxes, you can still win. And the data show that."

But Kessler, the Third Way executive, worries that Democrats are mistaking the unpopularity of the latest Republican tax cuts with a newfound openness to pricier government programs, which will face more scrutiny if control of government shifts.

As evidence Kessler, pointed to struggles in blue states to pass their own version of single-payer health care, including a ballot initiative in Colorado that failed in 2016 with just 21 percent support. Republicans are already beginning to launch attacks on midterm candidates advocating Medicare for All.

"For better or for worse, voters see a tax cut as different than government spending," Kessler said. "Public opinion plummets as soon as voters hear about the cost."
"The voters I am talking to," said Mike Siegel, a progressive Democrat from central Texas, more in touch with Texas' populist roots than Third Way's dog-eat-dog corporatism, "are seeing hospitals close and flood control facilities fail, at the same time that the richest Americans take over $1.5 trillion out of the government for tax cuts. It's obvious that the money is there to pay for the basic needs of the people. We can afford it. And we can't accept the premise that the richest country in the world cannot afford healthcare for all, housing for all, quality public schools and a dignified retirement.

"Professor Kelton reminds us that the federal budget is not a household budget. Our government can print currency to pay for our needs. There are certain limits, of course, but we know that Republicans are okay incurring deficits to pay for tax cuts and to expand military spending. We must put healthcare, housing, education, and retirement on the same footing."

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At 7:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Democratic candidates are sending a message: We're the party that isn't afraid to think big."

No. The party has been sending MIXED messages for 37 years. They have candidates who will talk like republicans; candidates who are allowed to talk like democrats; but their deeds are always a little of the former and NONE of the latter. Nearly 4 decades of this and voters still hear what they want to hear and believe in fantasy, thus still elect democraps in spite of what they DO.

You can call the dichotomy a simple case of it having 'wings'. But when they have numbers enabling them to actually DO, they never do anything that the so-called democratic wing is promising.

With the billions in donations at stake and knowing that all the same neoliberals in the positions of tyrants of the party, this cannot change.

And the money has their future ensured as they've bought and vetted lines of succession as well.

The so-called "democratic wing" is a small insurgency, has nobody in the leadershit and is impotent to affect anything they say.

The democrap party is a lie. After nearly 4 decades, one might think EVERYONE would have figured this out. But these are americans... dumbest motherfuckers on earth... reproved every election cycle.

At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In support of 7:07:

The "democrats" were handed a mandate in 2008 with majorities in both houses of Congress and the Oval Office. What did they accomplish? They gave us the Heritage Foundation plan for medical corporation profits. And nothing else of significance.

How many times did we hear the excuse that the Senate wasn't veto-proof? Many. How many times did obamanation work the other side of the aisle for votes? ZERO. How many times did obamanation go over the heads of the Congress to the true power in this nation, We the People, in order to apply pressure? ZERO.

obamanation bragged to Univision in December of 2012 (too late to matter to his re-election) that he ruled like "a moderate 1985 Reagan Republican". In response to a question as to which president he admired, "Ronald Reagan" was the answer. Yet too many still believed in his "hopey-changey" mumbo-jumbo and expected him to act like a leader instead of kicking his base to the curb and hippie-punching.

obamanation almost made me puke when he resumed running as a liberal in his 2012 campaign after doing ZERO that could be described as liberal in the previous four years. And no one called him on it.

This nation is an economic collapse away from totalitarianism without the pretenses of democracy, such as voting in elections. I hate that I am going to be just as afflicted as those who voted to have this happen to this nation.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, 8:05, all he needed to do in 2009-2010 to get his shit done was work his own senate caucus. They had 60. remember?

he did not. In fact, the whole charade was choreographed by him and harriet reid to PRETEND to try and fail when, in fact, their JOB was to do only what the money wanted, like the corporate bailout called ACA.

What they did do was not in the mandate. But much of that mandate they REFUSED to do... like put bank criminals in prison.

As soon as he started naming his cabinet after the 2008 election, we should all have known we'd been had... I know I did... but I didn't vote for that fraudulent pos anyway. I voted green -- Cynthia McKinney.


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