Friday, January 11, 2013

Xavier Becerra-- A Representative In Congress For Working Families?


Wednesday evening we talked about Norman Solomon's critique of the inability of the Congressional Progressive Caucus-- for whatever reason-- to hold Obama's feet to the fire on a wide range of issues crucial to working families.
The failure of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to stand up to President Obama on many vital matters of principle is one of the most important-- and least mentioned-- political dynamics of this era.

As the largest caucus of Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Progressive Caucus has heavyweight size but flyweight punch.

During the last four years, its decisive footwork has been so submissive to the White House that you can almost hear the laughter from the West Wing when the Progressive Caucus vows to stand firm.

...We need Progressive Caucus members who are progressives first and loyal Democrats second, not the other way around. When the party hierarchy cracks the whip, they should strive to halt the rightward drift of congressional legislation, not add to it.
So... is there anyone, with any modicum of power in DC who we can hope will carry-- effectively carry-- the banner of progressive values and principles (at least until Alan Grayson and Elizabeth Warren get up and running)? Look at the Democratic House leadership. Nancy's best days-- and they were great days-- are behind her. Sorry but, basically, she's one of them now. [sigh]. Then there's Hoyer, Clyburn, Becerra, Israel, Wasserman Schultz and Crowley, except for Becerra a really, really bad bunch. They're corrupt political hacks with a tendency towards conservatism. Not on social issues; they're at least grudgingly pro-Choice and pro-gay and all. But on bread and butter issues, these are not friends of ordinary working families. They're friends of big donors, corporations and K Street. Except for Becerra. I think. I've watched Becerra in action for years. He's good... and he's always getting better.

The deal was cut that leads to Wasserman Schultz becoming the first Jewish Speaker. She's sickening and in a safe district where she will never get a serious challenge, at least not by a Republican. Is there anyone who could stand in her way? Like a first Latino Speaker instead?

Thursday Mike Lillis reported in The Hill that Becerra was willing to go on the record "breaking with the White House and other Democratic leaders [to] oppose any budget package that includes Social Security cuts."
Both President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have signaled a willingness to support a move to index future Social Security updates to the so-called chained consumer price index (CPI), which would reduce projected benefits over the long term.

But Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) said that he's not ready to back such a change, even as part of a much larger budget package.

"We know Republicans are interested in cutting Social Security and Medicare, [and] perhaps there are some [Democrats] who would say, 'If that's what it takes to reach a big deal, we'll do that,' " Becerra said Thursday in an interview with C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program. "I'm not yet convinced that simply because Republicans want to cut Social Security and Medicare, even though there's no justification for doing it… that we should do that."

Pelosi raised eyebrows last month when she defended Obama's support of the chained CPI as part of a broad "fiscal-cliff" deal. Although the provision was not included in the final agreement, liberal critics were irate that top Democrats were ready to accept some Social Security cuts as part of the package.

Becerra, the fourth-ranking House Democrat, was quick this week to praise Pelosi for her work in searching for a long-term strategy to rein in deficit spending. But he warned that he's ready to break with her and other party leaders on the Social Security issue as the deficit talks progress.

"If you want to talk about strengthening Social Security into the future… I'm there, I'm willing to talk about just about anything-- same with Medicare," he said. "But to the degree that you're using benefits that people have paid for, they've earned, to cover deficits caused by unpaid-for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, unpaid-for tax cuts under the Bush administration, then that's a tough one for me to swallow.

"While I respect what the president [and] Leader Pelosi are trying to accomplish," he added, "I have to be convinced that I should be telling my parents that what they paid for… is now going to get cut because someone else spent money for Bush tax cuts for billionaires or unpaid-for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

...Becerra, the only member of the Democratic leadership team to vote against the fiscal-cliff deal, said he did so out of a fear that the relatively small package lends Republicans too many chances in the near future to win additional cuts on middle-class programs.

"This short-term deal creates three new fiscal cliffs, which is not the way you want to run [either] the smallest business on Main Street or the largest economy in the world," he said.

"I'm not interested in now putting the burden of solving these [problems] on the middle class," he added, "and my fear is that we're going to see this gamesmanship played again and again through what will be, essentially, three new opportunities for Republicans to play mischief with our budget."

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