Sep 13 2012

Can You Accept Simpson Bowles-Sh!t and Still Call Yourself a Democrat?

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

No, unless you somehow think RW DLC and third way Democrats forever have the right to dictate their failed policies and complicity in the Great Divergence. No. Real Democrats, if any exist anymore, don’t believe in austerity or the coming GRAND SELLOUT in Congress after the President likely wins reelection. We warned it was coming as soon as the Bush Tax Cut Sellout was passed by Democrats. It was easy to see, but none are as blind as those that refused to see. You know who you are.

It would be different of course if partisans didn’t let Democrats enable Republican lies and ignorance about deficits and national accounting, but they do as Bill Clinton did in his speech at the DNC sticking the part about Simpson Bowles at the end. Deficits are only dangerous political tools as long as Democratic voters are complicit in accepting the whole stupid debate about who rung up the debt. He was probably hoping you wouldn’t pay attention to that part, but maybe not. After all, he once told us how he really felt.

Former President Bill Clinton has quite the skewed view on interest rates (Interest rates went up as he was balancing the budget, not down) regarding deficits and his disastrous surpluses he brags about. As the great Stephanie Kelton, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City took note of, even mainstream “progressive” journalists are now admitting reality so why must we indulge these deficit fantasies or sit through another convention full of them?

We’re Not Broke and the Clinton Surpluses Destroyed the US Economy

Two of our nation’s most influential progressive journalists – Slate’s Matt Yglesias and Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal –  just took on two powerful economic myths.

1. The Myth that The US Government is Out of Money

2. The Myth that A Government Surplus is  a Sign of Fiscal Responsibility

It’s hard to imagine a more empowering message.  As word spreads, elected officials in both parties will lose their primary excuse for inaction on on a whole range of neglected and underfunded programs.  “I’d love to help, but I’m all tapped out,” simply won’t sell.

There is no conceivable time in this new normal of high unemployment that there will ever be a need to balance the federal budget or tackle the debt because there would have to be full employment in order for deficit spending to drive prices up; that’s it. Anything else sputtered is absolute garbage and it hurts real people whose productive capacity and dignity is then wasted for a lie. Unless Democrats want to try to directly hire people via the employer of last resort (which they proudly don’t have the stomach for) then the long term unemployed might as well be garbage to them as they are to the Republicans.

After all, structural unemployment was another lie told by a number of speakers at the DNC. You see, just because the Republican convention was 100% BS, doesn’t mean Democrats can’t be honest with themselves about their own deficit lies at the DNC affecting the lives of Democratic voters now and in future elections as far as the eye can see. Pointing these painful political and economic realities out is essential so we can get a conversation going about the right things. Therefore, progressive Democratic critics are an essential part of the base and always have been whether some people like it or not, but it’s not our fault some proudly forgot their history.

The hard fought battles won that changed peoples lives via the New Deal banking reforms of 1933 were waged and won by those that swam upstream even against their own party apparatus, not the brain dead fish that went with the flow while bragging about how fast they were moving but didn’t even know. So unlike those fakers, the gains from the past to the future belong to movers, shakers, and muckrakers.

Like the great Neo Chartalist Keynesian economist James K. Galbraith and populist Jim Hightower that hales from my state, the late great Molly Ivins once wrote eloquently about this dynamic; a major problem within the Democratic party that still exists is that they have all collectively lost their inner Eugene McCarthy. It’s time we remembered this lesson again like the separation of powers curbing the executive and actually representing Democratic constituents instead of enabling undemocratic gangs of six or eight and sellout backroom deals.

I will not support Hillary Clinton for president

Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation. Enough clever straddling, enough not offending anyone This is not a Dick Morris election. Sen. Clinton is apparently incapable of taking a clear stand on the war in Iraq, and that alone is enough to disqualify her. Her failure to speak out on Terri Schiavo, not to mention that gross pandering on flag-burning, are just contemptible little dodges.

The recent death of Gene McCarthy reminded me of a lesson I spent a long, long time unlearning, so now I have to re-learn it. It’s about political courage and heroes, and when a country is desperate for leadership. There are times when regular politics will not do, and this is one of those times. There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief.

If no one in conventional-wisdom politics has the courage to speak up and say what needs to be said, then you go out and find some obscure junior senator from Minnesota with the guts to do it. In 1968, Gene McCarthy was the little boy who said out loud, “Look, the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.” Bobby Kennedy — rough, tough Bobby Kennedy — didn’t do it. Just this quiet man trained by Benedictines who liked to quote poetry.  

There was a lot of pressure to fall in line back in 1968 too before LBJ declined to run after Eugene McCarthy’s strong showing in the Democratic primary in NH. You have to wonder what would have been had he not stepped up to run given the massive toll Vietnam was taking, specifically on the poor, who had no other options. It was a brave bold step Eugene took with lots of risk, and I’m sure many would say ill advised, even traitorous, as the hard hats were not fond of the antiwar movement back then. However, It was a risk worth taking even criticizing the Democratic President that passed the Great Society and the Civil Rights Acts. MLK took a similar even bolder step in his famous anti-Vietnam speech.

From that speech, we all need to remember even today that at a certain point silence becomes betrayal. In that sense, Eugene and MLK held the same POV when it came to the war in VIetnam. The general consensus back then, much like today, was that there was much to lose and not much to gain for going against the grain of the Democratic party apparatus; specifically if you were a part of it or gained favor from working with it. That made speaking out against it all the more courageous. Today that courage is gone.

We can hear the loss of our party’s inner Eugene McCarthy through every quiver of every word spoken by every Democratic politician in defense of their President, Majority Leader, and House Speaker right or wrong; even the most progressive Congressman or Senator falls prey to this. It’s as if they are not working for their constituents, but for the political party apparatus in D.C whatever that turns out to be; even if it’s cutting Social Security. So basically those on the blogosphere telling Democratic critics of Democrats to STFU and GTFO of the party have a lot of studying to do, as usual.

Perhaps they don’t even know the history of the party they claim or why Bobby Kennedy picked up the anti-war message now forgotten and changed for the better (on his way to win the nomination and likely general election) before his tragic assassination? Perhaps they don’t remember know Hubert Humphrey took the safe route continually supporting the Vietnam War until it was too late. However, Republicans never took the House or Senate in 1968 or 1972 and you can partially thank Eugene for that as well as LBJ’s domestic achievements (which McGovern didn’t speak well enough of ignoring working class concerns in 72) despite his failings on foreign policy.

And despite Vietnam, Hubert Humphrey was a real Democrat who tried to get President Jimmy Carter to reject the neoliberal third way deficit fetishist destruction that won the 1980 election for Reagan early. This would start the Great Divergence in tandem with the sellout Democrats and Republicans that passed Taft Hartley from years earlier over Truman’s veto coming to fruition. Rick Perlstein(author of Nixonland) has a good account of this.

America’s Forgotten Liberal

For progressives today, however, the joke’s on us. In the 1970s the Democratic Party turned its focus from a New Deal-inspired politics of economic security toward a Watergate-inspired embrace of institutional reform. The move was explicitly anti-you-know-who: “We’re not a bunch of little Hubert Humphreys,” proclaimed Gary Hart, the leader of the “Watergate Babies” Democratic Congressional class of 1974.

Their reforms, however, largely failed in their intention to liberalize the nation. Conservatives and business interests were able to bend the new campaign finance rules and Congressional committee systems to their own ends. That, in turn, helped bring about what Paul Krugman calls the “Great Divergence”: the economic inequality that has made a mockery of ordinary Americans’ aspirations to join and stay in the middle class.The trends were already in evidence during the presidential season of 1976. The only thing missing was any organized Democratic response among the candidates – besides, that is, Hubert Humphrey, who was once more an also-ran for the Democratic nomination.


In 1976 he joined Representative Augustus Hawkins, a Democrat from the Watts section of Los Angeles, to introduce a bill requiring the government, especially the Federal Reserve, to keep unemployment below 3 percent – and if that failed, to provide emergency government jobs to the unemployed.

It sounds heretical now. But this newspaper endorsed it then, while 70 percent of Americans believed the government should offer jobs to everyone who wanted one. However, Jimmy Carter – a new kind of Democrat answering to a new upper-middle-class, suburban constituency, embarrassed by industrial unions and enamored with the alleged magic of the market – did not.

Smiley faceThese new kinds of Democrats allured with magical markets, structural unemployment lies, bond vigilantes, and confidence fairy tales have largely failed to live up to the New Deal and Great Society at a time when these platforms need to be expanded on and even better. You would think that would bother more people who call themselves Democrats. You would think the memories of FDR, LBJ, Truman, Eugene McCarthy, and Hubert Humphrey would elicit the same kind of knee jerk defenses as the guy who hired the men who ruined the world in his cabinet.

But sadly you would be wrong. These things matter whether we’re in an election or not. It doesn’t hurt any Democrats’ chances if they are discussed. In fact, it’s why candidates like Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio are probably going to pull it out despite being against so much big money, because he has these discussions with his constituents that don’t want more free trade agreements the President pushed at the DNC. They also want the banks broken up and support his reintroduced Safe Banking Act as they did in 2010 before the President worked to defeat it.

There’s really nothing besides an unenlightened herd mentality that states we all must dance to the beat of the same drum, even though that third way “New” Democratic sound is directly in tune with Republican free market fantasies that have led us all astray.

But today neoliberalism is still over if you want it.  


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  1. priceman

    But that was a long long time ago in a party that’s now far far astray.

  2. sartoris

    As written, progressives cannot support Simpson Bowles.  In its original form the plan is just a mess.  The current plan offers some tax reforms that I support (taxing capital gains as normal income) but has some tax ideas that are just ludicrous (not taxing foreign profits at all).  Additionally, the changes in Social Security are simply unacceptable. Eliminate the cap on income that is subject to SSA withholding and lower the full retirement age from 65 to 62, and the early retirement from 62 to 60.  The DOD budget needs to slashed in half.  The only approach to the so called debt crisis that should be supported by progressives is to increase revenues by tax reform.    

  3. Funkygal

    frame it out deep into the shit hole.

    There is a  problem with your premise – you buy into the notion that Dems were some kind of populists to begin with. Read “Democrats A critical History” by Lance Selfa and you will see what I am saying. Here is a review which captures the essence of the book :

    http://www.zcommunications.org… – review of Lance Selfa’s “Democrats A critical history”.

    The U.S. ruling class profits from a narrow-spectrum system wherein one business party is always waiting in the wings to capture and control popular anger and energy when the other business party falls out of favor.

    The parties are not simply interchangeable, however. It is the Democrats’ job to police and define the leftmost parameters of acceptable political debate. For the last century it has been the Democrats’ special assignment to play “the role of shock absorber, trying to head off and co-opt restive [and potentially Left, P.S.] segments of the electorate” by posing as “the party of the people.” The Democrats performed this critical system-preserving, change-maintaining function in relation to the agrarian populist insurgency of the 1890s, the working-class rebellion of the 1930s and 1940s, and the antiwar, civil rights, anti-poverty, ecology, and feminist movements during and since the 1960s and early 1970s (including the gay rights movement today).  

    It is just that the turn to the right was more pronounced from the 70’s onwards.

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