Saturday, January 05, 2019

Now If Pay-Go Isn't Repealed It Will Be All Yertle's Fault


You can't out-progressive Pramila Jayapal. Her vote for Pay-Go Thursday evening made me go back and reexamine my own analysis of Pay-Go. (Spoiler: however well-intentioned she was, she still got this wrong in terms of a policy that defines the Democratic Party.) Ryan Grim did some important reporting at The Intercept yesterday from which I want to draw. Like me, he has nothing but respect for Jayapal. He wrote that she "came to Congress as an organizer and has played a key role in shaping the progressive Democratic agenda on issues like immigration, said she was frustrated about how the debate was framed on social media, in newsletters, and in part by some outlets-- this one included. The conversation, she said, lacked the full context of the ways in which the CPC had defanged pay-go."

OK, that's important and we need to look at it. Jayapal felt that the campaign on the left against Pay-Go "'is so hurtful to the progressive movement because we got so much out of this.' One result, she said, has been to take the focus off the CPC’s major organizing effort to pack powerful committees full of as many progressives as possible. Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez are both angling to land some of those coveted spots, and their opposition to the rules package could make it harder for them to do so." 

Supposedly, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus will get 40% of the seats on the important committees. Sounds good, right? One little problem there. Not everyone in the Congressional Progressive Caucus is actually progressive. Jayapal's co-chair, Mark Pocan, has made membership a farce by selling ($5,000 annual dues) them to "moderate" congressmembers who need cover-- protection from progressive activists-- back in home.

Not all the freshmen who joined the caucus are like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (NY), Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Ilhan Omar (MN). Democratic leadership isn't doing progressives any favors by counting members who are also-- for example-- New Dems. The New Dems are far more strict about ideology than Pocan is and if you're not a Wall Street shill, you don't get into the New Dems. How many members of the Progressive Caucus are also self-admitted, formal members of the New Dems? First the freshmen:
Katie Hill (CA)
Debbie Powell (FL)
Angie Craig (MN)
Susan Wild (PA)
Veronica Escobar (TX)
In the good news arena, two of them, Debbie Powell and Veronica Escobar, have signed on as #GreenNewDeal supporters (as have Jayapal and Pocan) so that's a positive indication. How many other members does the CPC share with the New Dems? First of all, one of the most corrupt politicians in New Jersey-- and that is saying something-- was just made a CPC vice-president by Pocan: Donald Norcross, who doesn't have a progressive bone in his body. That's pretty horrifying. Other New Dems who have been allowed into the CPC-- along with their ProgressivePunch scores:
Don Beyer (VA)- D
Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE)- F
André Carson (IN)- C
Val Demings (FL)- D
Brenda Lawrence (MI)- B
Darren Soto (FL)- F
Adam Smith (WA)- F
So that's 13, so far. Adam Smith, the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, is a living, breathing part of the military industrial complex. Last year only 5 members of Congress (4 Republicans + Pete Visclosky) took more moolah than Smith's $229,650 from the weapons-makers. Since being elected to Congress, the merchants of war have given Smith $1,156,750. And, of course he counts as part of the 40%. So does this guy, who prevented the formation of a Select #GreenNewDeal Committee. Alas, the much ballyhooed 40% has ZERO to do with backing progressive policies, just something to do with being in the club... for whatever reason. Is that a good deal? I can't wait to see the announcements of the new committee assignments!

Jayapal says she had been in serious negotiations with Pelosi "and won significant concessions, including seats on powerful committees, the repeal of a rule that required a supermajority for tax increases, hardened rules around sexual harassment, and strengthened language around the War Powers Resolution, which will make it easier for the House to vote to put an end to U.S support for the war in Yemen." Did Pelosi reluctantly give way on those things in return for Jayapal agreeing to deliver the CPC on Pay-Go, which Pelosi had called one of the three most important things she hoped to accomplish in 2019? Just asking. After all, Pelosi had to deliver for the Peterson Institute folks she's so devoted to here-- and to the New Dems-- even going fo far as to harass Ocasio allies who might have voted against the rule that voting against this rule meant more to her than voting against her for Speaker! Think about that for a second. Former New Dem chair Ron Kind (WI) had his way on this. 
Pelosi has guaranteed that the House will hold a hearing on “Medicare for All,” Jayapal said, noting that critics who argued that pay-go will get in the way of that are wrong. Pelosi and Rep. Jim McGovern, chair of the House Rules Committee, have both said that pay-go can be waived in such circumstances. “The waiving we’ve been working on for a while with McGovern, but honestly we were trying to keep it kind of quiet, because not all of the conservative members know this, and now they’re saying, ‘Oh, you’re going to waive the rules? What do you mean?’” Jayapal said. “So sometimes I’m just like, come on people, let’s be strategic about some of this in terms of what we take on.”

The rules, waivers, and statutes involved in the legislative process can get confusing, so let’s pause for a primer. In 2007, when Pelosi first became speaker, she instituted the pay-go rule. In 2010, under pressure from Blue Dog Democrats, Pelosi made pay-go not just a rule, but a law, one that was also passed by the Democratic Senate and signed by President Barack Obama. The law allows the president to unilaterally sequester money if Congress passes a bill that isn’t paid for, but if a bill specifically bars the presidents from doing so, then the pay-go statute is rendered moot. When Republicans took over in 2011, they converted pay-go to “cut-go,” meaning that any new spending had to be matched with cuts elsewhere.

Because a statutory waiver would have been needed, regardless of the rules package, the smarter play in 2019 was to nail down a promise of rules waivers and fight on other fronts, Jayapal contended, allowing leadership to keep pay-go officially in the rules. Under a scenario after 2020, when Democrats will potentially hold the White House, changing the rule would take on more significance, she said. (On Friday, Jayapal introduced legislation-- co-sponsored by Ocasio-Cortez, Khanna, and Pocan-- to repeal the statutory pay-go rule.)
Unlike the House rule, this would have to be agreed to by Yertle the Turtle and Donald J. Trump. It's an easy, going-nowhere-effort that everybody can sign onto as a cosponsor who didn't join Ocasio, Khanna and Gabbard to actually get rid of Pay-Go on Thursday. Everyone can go home and mislead their activist constituents and claim to have voted against Pay-Go. It's an intellectually dishonest effort by someone who seems embarrassed by her role in betraying her own heartfelt and lofty principles. Co-sponsors, ironically, include Alexandria Ocasio, Ro Khanna and Tulsi Gabbard, the three outstanding members who were ready to take the consequences for bucking Pelosi. The other great heroes of the Revolution who jumped at the chance to sign on to the legislation on day one-- which, may some day live to be vetoed by President Biden-Beto-Bloomberg-- are the crème de la crème of House progressivism: Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Pelosi lieutenant Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), leadership lieutenant Mark Pocan (D-WI), still smarting over the loss of his beloved Joe Crowley, Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), José Serrano (D-NY), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Mark Takano (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ). This is going to be some Congress, right Yertle?

Let me clarify something: the Rules package itself, largely because of Jayapal, was pretty amazing and dealt with a wide range of non-Pay-Go issues-- from sexual harassment to LGBTQ equality-- and for the first time. We can be pissed off about Pay-Go and still celebrate the strategy of actually getting the rest of it done, especially how the CPC used it to finally get a guarantee for a formal Medicare-for-All debate going. One of my friends accused me of introducing too much suspicion and cynicism into the movement. My animus is in no way directed towards the progressives who followed the CPC decision to give up on killing Pay-Go-- not even towards Pocan-- but towards Pelosi, Hoyer and, most of all, the real congressional villain behind this Pay-Go debate, Ron Kind.

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At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please! As long as Nancy wields the gavel, it will never GET to Yertle.

At 2:35 PM, Blogger Gadfly said...

Jayapal had already seen Pelosi defang the climate change committee. So her acceptance of Pelosi's terms on PayGo is either stupid or itself a lie.

At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From this you can infer one of two things.. possibly both. Jayapal was intimidated into running up the white flag... or she was bought (maybe by a seat on a choice committee or by campaign $$ or both).

All the details shared herein are fluff. taxes cannot be raised by a D/R congress because the Ds are cowards and the Rs are Nazis; and both are owned by the billionaire caste (created by previous D/R congresses by not taxing multi-millionaires and corps thus goosing share valuations). That DWT did not offer that disclaimer is indicative of its loyalties and proclivities, of which I haven't doubted for a year now.

Committee seats don't mean much when the chair, handpicked by Pelosi via the money, will simply pretend progressive lege does not exist (they'll claim impossibility to pass, too expensive, paygo or some other canard) and cannot be brought up in committee.
Pelosi's promise to let MFA be heard is also meaningless. The chair of the committee can cut off debate, shelve it at his whim. Opening debate doesn't mean shit.

As for paygo, horse shit! we'll see it invoked many times in the next 2 years to protect the democraps' donors.. and DWT knows it.

this whole piece is a Bernie sandersian exercise in democrap apologizing before the fact. it's horse shit. And jayapal is now dead to me.

At 9:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

starts with "You can't out-progressive Pramila Jayapal."
and the rest of it proves that she's not as progressive as you want to believe.

Can there be no honesty anywhere any more? Do words mean nothing any more?


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