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Dec 31 2015

Echos, not Choices

The piece below is David Dayen’s response to one in The Atlantic by Peter Beinart titled Why America Is Moving Left. I agree with David that “The public might be moving left, but the Democratic and Republican parties are not.”

In fact public opinion is moving rapidly Left but the Neoliberal Washington Consensus is not interested in reflecting the interests and desires of their constituents because they must know ever so much more than us since they went to the best schools and are so successful and wealthy that it has to be the result of superior intellect and exceptionally hard work and perseverance and not mere nepotism and dumb luck.

Please ignore that man behind the curtain and the 40 years of objective, measurable failure of their polices. You see, they would succeed if us proles didn’t fail to execute them properly.

The consider democracy an embarrassing nuisance and actively work to reduce it. As Charlie Pierce put it, “Politics would be so much easier if they weren’t so…you know…political.”

And in this instance the old cliche, “they both do it”, is absolutely, positively correct.

America Is Not Becoming More Liberal
By David Dayen, The New Republic
December 23, 2015

In the new issue of The Atlantic, Peter Beinart argues that America is inexorably moving left. Republicans might retain their grip on statehouses and in Congress, and perhaps even win the White House, but when it comes to domestic policy, he writes, “the terms of the national debate will continue tilting to the left. The next Democratic president will be more liberal than Barack Obama. The next Republican president will be more liberal than George W. Bush.”

I sympathize with his argument. But he’s wrong. The next president certainly will not be more liberal than his or her party’s predecessor.

Yup. I double dog dare you to find a Republican candidate “more liberal than George W. Bush” except The Donald on some economic issues and Rand Paul (remember him?) on Foreign Policy. On the “Democratic” side-

Clinton has endorsed an agenda that puts her mildly to the left of where she was in her 2008 presidential run, that has lapsed somewhat as she’s pivoted to the general election. And in one key area, she’s held to a policy vow that leaves her helpless to pursue anything close to a liberal agenda.

This came up in last weekend’s debate. Clinton maintained an important dividing line between her and Sanders, promising “no middle class tax raises,” a promise she also made in 2008. The problem is that, in her version, the middle class includes families making up to $250,000 a year, which encompasses around 97 percent of the population.

Because Democrats care more about deficits than Republicans—witness all the boasting about low deficits in the Obama era—opposition to broad-based taxes handcuffs the liberal project. Public investment in roads, schools, and other forms of infrastructure dropped in 2013 to its lowest level since World War II and hasn’t moved appreciably since. The country has advanced in several areas in the Obama years, but on the fundamental issue of the size of government, conservatives have succeeded.

For Clinton to double down on the $250,000 marker while making no promise to increase the deficit creates a one-way ratchet for public investment. She can announce all kinds of promising ideas—paid family leave, debt-free college, early childhood education—but if she refuses to either pay for them or decide that paying for them isn’t necessary given their boosts to overall investment, they aren’t likely to occur.

Clinton has rejected a paid family leave bill from her home-state senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, because it would increase individual payroll taxes by 0.2 percent, about a $1.38 increase for the median wage earner. If she opposes that, Sanders said in the debate, “She is disagreeing with FDR on Social Security, LBJ on Medicare.” It’s a disavowal of universal benefits that happen to be the most robust, secure, and popular.

Democratic campaign operatives claim this is necessary, that the public won’t accept broad-based taxes in exchange for more expansive services. If that’s the case, then you cannot claim that America is moving in a more liberal direction. A generation ago, Democrats would make the case that a strong America is worth paying for, that social insurance programs that benefit everyone need buy-in from everyone. And they would also note that taxing things we want to discourage, from cigarettes to high-frequency trades, has salutary effects even if someone who isn’t rich occasionally pays them.

People react negatively to taxes because they don’t feel like they get value for them. Democrats, as evidenced by Clinton, don’t try to tell them otherwise. They tell you that someone else will have to pay. That makes this notion Beinart proposes of an America drifting leftward impossible.

Our Political Class is a bunch of privileged, pampered, crybabies who whine and sulk about being held to account for their corruption and fecklessness. We would do better if we replaced them all by Sortition.

1 comment

  1. ek hornbeck

    Vent Hole

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