Levees Not War
Protect the Coast with Multiple Lines of Defense.

Posts Tagged ‘Silence of the Dems’

The Social Contract, Explained by Elizabeth Warren,
Paul Krugman, and Robert Kuttner

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

*

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. . . . You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.”

*

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

Elizabeth Warren, the consumer protection reformer and Harvard law professor who is now campaigning to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, has given one of the most direct and cogent explanations of the social contract we’ve ever heard. (It’s an idea that is not talked about often enough.) One way of describing the social contract, also known as the social compact, is of putting the Golden Rule into practice in society through the mechanisms of government for the benefit of all: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Share and share alike. It’s something children can understand, but not many bankers or senators.

Briefly, the idea of a social contract is of a mutually beneficial system that serves both the ordinary folk and the wealthy, and makes demands on all, a two-way street of reciprocal obligation and fulfillment. The closest the U.S. has ever come to enacting a social contract is through FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society. It is an ideal, never quite reached completely, but its essentials were in place not so long ago and could be restored by determined, sustained effort. Robert Kuttner has written about how during the boom decades after World War II a “managed, rather than laissez-faire, brand of capitalism . . . delivered broadly shared prosperity, as well as greater security for both the system and individuals” (The Squandering of America [2007], p. 6). More from Kuttner below.

Let’s go straight to Dr. Warren herself.

I hear all this, you know, “Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.”—No!

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear.

You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.

You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.

You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.

You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea—God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.

But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Isn’t this more or less the idea behind “United we stand, divided we fall”?

As Steve Benen at Washington Monthly notes of Warren’s remarks, “First-time candidates don’t usually articulate a progressive economic message quite this well.”

We have written lately about how the Democrats seriously need to sharpen and toughen up their communication skills. We hereby nominate Elizabeth Warren as one of the chief instructors and exemplars at the Democrats’ School for the Mute. The school also needs a disciplinarian. The Democratic party cannot depend on the skills of Barack Obama alone—though he has lately been showing signs of improvement. Every senator, every representative who wears a D after his or her name should be in intensive training. Dr. Warren—whose talk about economic fairness prompted Jon Stewart to say, “I want to make out with you!”—is the Teacher of the Week. (Click here for her Huffington Post blog posts.)

 

*

*

We were alerted to the good professor’s comments by Paul Krugman’s well-titled column “The Social Contract” (see below, after the jump, for a full version, highlighted and underlined as a convenience for our readers). After explaining why President Obama is right to assert that the wealthy should bear part of the burden of reducing the budget deficit, Krugman cites the “eloquent remarks” made this week by Elizabeth Warren, now on the campaign trail in Massachusetts, countering the assertion that the rich should get to keep all their wealth. It’s hardly “class warfare.” Summarizing Warren’s argument, Krugman writes:

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” she declared, pointing out that the rich can only get rich thanks to the “social contract” that provides a decent, functioning society in which they can prosper.

This column follows several days after President Obama, in remarks in the Rose Garden (Sept. 19) on Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction, asserted with welcome clarity, “Either we ask the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share in taxes, or we’re going to have to ask seniors to pay more for Medicare. We can’t afford to do both. . . . This is not class warfare. It’s math.”

(more…)
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Tumblr+1Digg ThisSubmit to redditPin it on PinterestShare via email


A Cure for “The Silence of the Dems”

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

What kind of future can there be for a political party that defers all its speaking roles to a conflict-averse President who does not want to be too closely identified with his party? And what future for that party’s legacy of “social contract” programs—and the people who need them?

*

“For too long, Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives have acted as if government programs being funded by tax dollars are either settled issues (in the case of SS, Medicare, etc) or can speak for their value themselves (NEA, Amtrak, Post Office, etc). None of those things are true.

“All the Democratic, Liberal, and Progressive analysts are sitting around scratching their heads, wondering why Perry is actually gaining support by saying things like [‘Social Security is a Ponzi scheme’].” —Pat Armstrong, aka Cousin Pat from Georgia

[ Note: The following was posted late on 9/10 as “Rx for ‘The Silence of the Dems’ ” but is being re-posted for better visibility now that 9/11’s all-eclipsing 10th anniversary has passed. ]

*

A Fix for the Deficit That Worries Us Most

Over the weekend, our friend Cousin Pat from Georgia (below), the Station Manager of Hurricane Radio, wrote some compelling comments in reply to “Pass This Jobs Bill” that should be taken to heart by as many readers as possible—particularly those of the liberal, progressive, Democratic stripe. Particularly the donkeys in the Democratic party machinery, who, like their G.O.P. counterparts, never listen to anyone under them. And so we’re bringing the discussion up from the basement of that post’s comments section to the front page here, which as you already know ranks somewhere between the New York Times and The Onion in influence on the thinkers and powers that be. Seriously, though, we wish the lion-hearted geniuses at the Democratic National Committee and on the committee to re-elect the president would tune in 24/7 to Hurricane Radio.

Pat, who describes himself as “a pragmatic, just-left-of-true-center Democratic voter,” debuted at Levees Not War last October when we posted a lengthy excerptfrom his hot, lucid rant titled “Why the GOP Is Going to Win in November.” Unfortunately, he was absolutely correct. Sadly, every word still rings true. See for yourself.

In reply to our account of President Obama’s “assertive, even imperative” address to the joint session of Congress Thursday night, Pat wrote:

I was wondering who that guy was giving the speech. 

What makes me angry is that, had this type of language been used in the first go-round, and these types of policies been more highlighted in the first stimulus, he may have gotten more with less drain on his political capital. 

Even with this new language and policy, he’s facing an uphill battle because the last stimulus was a modest policy win coupled with an absolute political disaster. 

But you know what they say about the best time to plant a tree.

We have complained before about “the Silence of the Dems” and said so again toward the end of “Pass This”: “The Democratic party has a serious communications deficit and had better start training its members in sharp, focused, disciplined public speaking.”

In reply to Pat we wrote:

[Obama] and his party need to emphasize repeatedly as one of their Top 3 Messages that government / public agencies serve many vital, necessary functions (safety inspections, air traffic safety, postal service, Social Security & Medicare, education, transportation, etc.), and in these essential ways “your tax dollars” are not being misspent. But many of us citizens all across the spectrum dislike gov’t in part because we feel we’re not getting much return on the taxes we pay—so much of the application of tax $ goes overseas. And because one party in particular constantly rails against the very idea of government. This may not have been your point, exactly, but do you agree? ¶ On another point, when is the best time to plant a tree?

(more…)
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Tumblr+1Digg ThisSubmit to redditPin it on PinterestShare via email


How Deep Is Our Disgust with Obama and PussyDems

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Obama and Democrats Must Defend Social Security, Medicare—and the Middle Class—Before They’re Gone

In “Our Cowardly Congress,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof points out that last week’s Shutdown standoff happened only because the cowardly Democrats—the PussyDems, we now call them—opted not to vote on a full year’s budget last fall when they had a majority in both houses of Congress:

. . . this mess is a consequence of the Democrats’ own failure to ensure a full year’s funding last year when they controlled both houses of Congress. That’s when the budget should have been passed, before the fiscal year began on Oct. 1. But the Democrats were terror-stricken at the thought of approving spending bills that Republicans would criticize. So in gross dereliction of duty, the Democrats punted.

Right, we remember now: Facing a tidal wave in the mid-term elections, and seeking to deny Republicans any more openings for attack (as if that would stop them), Democrats opted not to cast a vote for more spending. They chose not to speak up for social spending or investments in infrastructure during a depression; feared to speak up for their own money-saving health care reform bill, and so on. And why? Because they knew the President would not back them up. Had Obama been more forceful—or the least bit audacious—in defending domestic spending in a nation with at least 10% unemployment, with some 24 million unemployed or under-employed, the Democrats would have had more courage. The president shows little interest in being the leader of what we thought was his own party.

Last fall and summer, before the midterm elections, was also when the Democrats, again lacking protection by the putative head of their party, shrank from voting against extension of the Bush tax cuts. This made room for the Tea Party–drunken Republicans to come roaring in in their domineering way and force an extension of the tax cuts for billionaires while Obama sang “Kumbaya.”

Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the Democrats’ ranking member on the House Budget Committee, told Rachel Maddow last week that when House Majority Leader John Boehner demanded $32 billion in cuts, Obama came back and offered $33 billion. As the G.O.P.’s threats and demands escalated through the week, they ended up with $38.5 billion in cuts—in a struggling economy that needs all the spending it can get. Firm negotiating, there, Mr. President. You really held the line. Paul Krugman observes that it looks as though “the president’s idea of how to bargain is to start by negotiating with himself, making pre-emptive concessions, then pursue a second round of negotiation with the G.O.P., leading to further concessions” (“The President Is Missing”). Did we mention this was the same week Obama officially announced he’s running for re-election?

Why Re-Elect a President Who Won’t Lead His Party?

We contributed money and volunteered for his campaign in 2008, but we really don’t see why Obama deserves reelection, or what he would do with a second term other than cave in to Republicans week after week. To us he is more of a Republican than our idea of a Democrat. Can we have a real stand-up, fighting Democrat instead, or at least some protector of the middle class and the social safety net? Anthony Weiner for president, anyone? At the rate we’re going, Obama and the Democrats will stand aside while Medicare and Social Security are shredded, and Obama will praise the Republicans for their willingness to compromise.

“Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya . . . Someone’s sleeping, Lord, kumbaya . . .”


Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Tumblr+1Digg ThisSubmit to redditPin it on PinterestShare via email


Mad Tea Party with Chainsaws and Clowns

Friday, April 8th, 2011

“From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.”Denis Diderot (1713–1784)

“I love gridlock. I think we’re better off when we’re gridlocked because we’re not passing things.”Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Feb. 2010

*

Amid all the talk and worry of a Shutdown Showdown, is anyone else noticing that this crisis is happening as the United States is embarking on yet a third or fourth simultaneous, costly war? We and other prophets could see this thing coming even before last November’s mid-term election when the Republicans were already warning that a Shutdown might be necessary to curb Washington’s “out of control spending,” though of course they hoped it wouldn’t have to come to that. And if it did happen, it wouldn’t be their fault. (Remember 1995?) A budget crisis complete with the grinding of chainsaws and the flashes of bloody meat cleavers was foreseeble last December when the Republicans were forcing an extension of the Bush (now Obama) Tax Cuts for Million- and Billionaires. Yes, the party demanding billions in spending cuts is the same that fought furiously for a high-end tax cut that will add $700 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years. The same one that sold us the $3 trillion Iraq war.

The Obama administration, which has gotten itself backed up against a wall yet again by “seeking common ground” and waiting again till the 4th quarter to speak up, warns that a government shutdown could furlough over 800,000 federal workers, interrupt military pay, and slow tax refunds.

We blame the Tea Party-infused Republicans for this mess, but we also hold the timid, mute Democrats responsible. (Democrats have already agreed to $33 billion in cuts and still the Mad Tea Party demands more blood.) And We the People are also responsible for this because we have not demanded forcefully enough that Congress and the White House stand up against this madness. Some of Us even voted for these extremists.

It’s Not About the Budget Deficit

“Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.”

—Alan Wolfe, “Why Conservatives Can’t Govern

Those driving the G.O.P. do not care about creating jobs or providing relief for the 24 million un- or underemployed—nor it seems do those trying to appease them. The ideologues are forcing this fight not so much to reduce the deficit as to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood or any abortion or family-planning services; to cut funding for NPR, health care reform, and the new consumer protection bureau; and to prevent regulation of greenhouse gases by the Environmental Protection Agency. (In 1995, too, G.O.P. insistence on unrelated policy objectives forced a shutdown.) Some of the basic, public-protecting functions of government are being gutted while the president seeks “common ground” (and reelection). Where are the forceful voices of the pro-government faction of the Democratic party? Why do they not boast of the many good accomplishments of the last two years? Why didn’t they before the mid-term elections? (See “A Failure to Communicate—Not a Failure to Govern” and “Yes We Can Pass Good Legislation.”) Do the networks still allow Democrats to appear before a camera? Are progressive Dems allowed inside the Meet the Press studio?

Who knows what will happen? No one knows how this plays out. It cannot end well, though, with an overly conciliatory, “post-partisan” president who wants to find common ground with extremist ideologues intent on shutting down the government. All we know is that it’s time for Democrats and moderates and any sane, responsible Republicans still breathing (Dick Lugar is one) to stand up and begin, at last, to make the case for why government is good and necessary and must be not only preserved but reinforced with tax revenues from corporations and the very well-to-do—many of whom (like the Koch-funded “Americans for Prosperity” and “FreedomWorks”) have fueled this fire. It is pathetic that the one nation on earth with the most stable, long-lasting democratic, representative  government with a built-in balance of powers, so carefully constructed by wise and prudent men, is now apparently at the mercy of zealots driven by corporate money and 24-hour anti-government propaganda. Verily, the rich are killing us all.

They will over-reach, they will have to retreat some, but will the moderate general public ever rise up and say “Enough!”? We have little hope in our elected officials. The determined and courageous pro-labor citizens of Wisconsin and elsewhere in the Midwest give us some hope, but how bad does it have to get?

*

See also:

Is Barack Obama a Manchurian Republican?

Sanctimonious Purists Unite: An Open Letter to Obama and Biden

No “Kumbaya” for Billionaires

A Failure to Communicate—Not a Failure to Govern

In Defense of Liberalism and Good Government

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Tumblr+1Digg ThisSubmit to redditPin it on PinterestShare via email


Tyranny Disguised as Fiscal Discipline

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

*

“. . . to secure these rights [including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . . . whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it . . .”

“In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”Declaration of Independence

 

On the night of Weds. March 9, after weeks of massive opposition rallies and national attention, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and his Republican allies in the state senate pulled a legislative maneuver to pass a bill that strips the state’s public workers of the right of collective bargaining. Wisconsin’s teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public workers had held and cherished the right to bargain for improved working conditions since 1959. These workers agreed to the fiscal remedies Walker sought, but refused to surrender their right to collective bargaining. He forced his bill through anyway, by trickery. Ironically, it was on another March 9 that Congress passed the first piece of FDR’s New Deal legislation, the Emergency Banking Act of 1933.

There was no fiscal crisis in Wisconsin when Walker took office on Jan. 3. But there was a big deficit after his first legislative priority as governor, to give Wisconsin corporations some $140 million in tax breaks.

What makes Walker’s action most reprehensible is his absolute refusal to meet with his opponents or to listen to the tens of thousands of people in the streets objecting to his scheme for “fiscal repair.” Collective bargaining is a right that would only be taken away by a tyrant, and only by force and deception. (Former labor secretary Robert Reich calls it a coup d’etat.) In Walker’s refusal to meet with or listen to the people he was elected to govern, he violates the very principles of representative government.

“Conservative” Is Not the Word for Someone Like Scott Walker

In the fall of 2009 as the Tea Party movement was growing louder and more raucous, we posted a piece titled “Are ‘Conservatives’ Conservative? Are They Even American?” The obviously provocative title irritated a number of our gentle readers—ungentled them, you might say. We said the question was asked not about ordinary citizens, with whose distress we largely sympathize, but about “the elites, the elected officials who until recently held the White House and majorities in Congress, certain corporate executives and right-wing think tankers and pundits who identify themselves as conservatives.” (more…)

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Tumblr+1Digg ThisSubmit to redditPin it on PinterestShare via email


Sanctimonious Purists Unite

Friday, December 10th, 2010

“People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position, and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves, and sanctimonious about how pure our intensions are and how tough we are.”

President Obama, in reply to a question about “what your core values are, what specifically you will go to the mat on”

White House press conference, Tues. Dec. 7, 2010

*

An Open Letter to Obama and Biden

NO DEAL

Unfair, Unaffordable  |  No “Kumbaya” for Billionaires

Dear President Obama and Vice President Biden:

You can denounce us “sanctimonious purists” if you like, but one thing you should understand is that we’re not just disgusted with the deal you’ve struck with the Republicans; it’s your timing, and the fact that this desperate compromise did not have to happen. What we oppose is your habitual over-readiness to compromise, your unwillingness to fight before you get backed into a corner. We’re not interested in your readiness to fight Republicans next year (we’ll believe it when we see it); we’re angry about your failure to fight them on these issues in 2010. For the past year you could have been speaking out loudly, publicly, in a sustained fighting-mode campaign, for the continuation of unemployment insurance benefits and against the extension of the Bush tax cuts. Instead you signaled a willingness to find “common ground.”

You never pushed for the unemployment extension when you had a chance, and when you had big Democratic majorities in Congress. You didn’t take the lead to embolden Congressional Democrats before the midterm elections, making big speeches in the districts of the wavering, cautious members of Congress up for reelection. (They weren’t bold, either, but had you taken the lead they would have had more calcium in their spines.) You didn’t meet with Congressional Democrats before you cut this deal with the Republicans, according to Senator Mary Landrieu, who denounces this deal’s “almost moral corruptness.” Now, if Mary Landrieu is disgusted, then the outrage cannot be said to be limited to “liberals.”

Why should a Democratic-majority Congress vote for a measure Republicans want, a deficit-deepening measure for which the GOP will later hypocritically blame them? This is part of the GOP strategy. Let Dems do the lifting, then blame them. You know how Republicans operate.

We’re very concerned that if the tax cuts are extended, their cost to the Treasury will be used (again) as a rationale for cutting Social Security, Medicare, health care reform, and other social safety-net programs. As Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont has written in his letter to Speaker Pelosi, “Without a doubt, the very same people who support this addition to our debt will oppose raising the debt ceiling to pay for it.” You didn’t address this, and you can’t blame the “sanctimonious purist” liberals for this predicament.

*

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Tumblr+1Digg ThisSubmit to redditPin it on PinterestShare via email


Is Barack Obama a “Manchurian Republican”?

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

[ cross-posted at Daily Kos ]

Are you a Manchurian Republican? When we sent money to your campaign and went door-to-door to get out the vote and made phone calls for Obama for America, were we helping elect a (soft) Republican? If not, then prove you’re a Democrat.

Thus begins our latest letter to the president. More riveting excerpts below. We suspect it will get more attention from you, gentle readers, than from the Oval Office.

We posed the Manchurian question in a letter written in frustration after Obama’s failure to stand up firmly against extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%; his silence amid chatter about curtailing or privatizing Social Security and Medicare; his chronic lack of any definite, robust job-creation plan for Main Street (Wall Street’s been taken care of); and, the hottest-burning frustration just now, his repeated capitulations to our Republican tormentors and his . . . captors? Friends? BFFs?

The letter was sent after his post–midterm election summit meeting last week with McConnell and Boehner—the meeting that had been scheduled earlier but was abruptly canceled by the GOP leaders because of unspecified “scheduling conflicts,” a slap in the president’s face. Once the “no compromise” Republicans deigned to meet with the chief executive, he apologized for not having reached out to them more in the past two years. (We don’t know yet whether he crawled in to that meeting on his hands and knees; the White House press office has not replied to our inquiries.) Just the day before the meeting, Obama had announced his cynical decision to freeze federal workers’ pay for the next two years in order to save $5 billion—less than the U.S. spends in Afghanistan every month. Does he not realize that taking away these workers’ income, besides being morally wrong, also reduces their spending power and thus sets the economy back even further? (This is why unemployment benefits are stimulative to the economy generally.) Politically astute, too: what a way to win federal workers’ votes in 2012. What will he do when Republicans actually shut down the government, as they’ve been chattering about doing for months now? Find “common ground”?

(more…)

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Tumblr+1Digg ThisSubmit to redditPin it on PinterestShare via email


A Failure to Communicate—Not a Failure to Govern

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

[ cross-posted at Daily Kos ]

Not Good, But Could Have Been Worse

A party that governs well but communicates poorly was set back by a party that obstructs well but is more interested in holding power than in governing.

What could have been a hideous wipeout following a grotesque campaign season was instead a series of setbacks, strong disappointments, and some reliefs and bright spots. Among the setbacks we sadly count the Illinois and Pennsylvania senate races where the Democratic candidates came very close. Among the strong disappointments were the losses of progressives like Russ Feingold, Alan Grayson, and Tom Perriello. Ouch. But we were relieved by the victories of senate majority leader Harry Reid, California senator Barbara Boxer, and among the bright spots are the gubernatorial victories of Andrew Cuomo in New York and Jerry Brown in California.

But the Democratic party is in serious trouble in the midsection of the country, with painful losses from Pennsylvania west to Wisconsin . . . Obama already is not strong in the South (which sometimes includes Florida), and that’s not likely to change. (Also disappointing was Charlie Melancon’s loss to David Vitter in Louisiana; Vitter ran against Obama, disregarding Melancon.) Obama and the Democratic party must get something in gear—something like employment, jobs programs, and a focused communications department—to regain support among the Rust Belt and Midwestern voters.

How to Interpret the Election?

Of course Republicans are claiming a mandate, but that’s ridiculous (and not at all supported by this CBS exit poll). We think the election results are more a matter of a sick economy (see below), Democrats’ failure to clearly explain and promote their accomplishments, and massive GOP and conservative negative advertising + 24/7 Fox News propaganda (aka the Republican Noise Machine). While Republicans insist the election results are a “referendum on Obama’s agenda” and “the voice of the American people,” let’s not forget that the GOP Tea Party candidates’ ads and secret, shadow groups’ attacks on Democrats were funded by millions of dollars from Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Spending on congressional campaigns was expected to reach $4 billion. The GOP started campaigning around the inauguration; the Democrats, preoccupied with legislative accomplishments (see below), were late to the game. Further, remember that the so-called Tea Party, though it had grass-roots origins, has largely been co-opted and the Tea Party as it is now is not a people’s movement in the traditional sense: it is corporate-sponsored, establishment-driven. Ask Dick Armey and the billionaire Koch brothers. So much for “the voice of the American people.”

And “It’s the Economy, Stupid.” Comparisons with the 1994 midterms (after Clinton’s first 18 months) are common, but the economy is far worse now, with unemployment officially at 9.6 percent (it’s actually much higher). A closer comparison—which Republicans don’t mention—would be 1982, after Reagan’s first 18 months, when the unemployment rate was about 10 percent: Democrats gained 27 seats, cementing their majority. In 1994 unemployment was about 5.6 percent. It is now about 9.6 percent, with some 15 million people out of work, and that’s only counting the people who have not given up in despair and not counting the under-employed (those working part-time instead of full-time). Reporter Robert Scheer says some 50 million Americans have either lost their homes through foreclosures or their home values are underwater: the amounts owed on their mortgages exceed the property’s market value. (We recommend Sheer’s new book, The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.)

Need we add that the Republicans have done nothing to help create jobs, but instead have blocked extensions of unemployment insurance, voted against tax breaks for small businesses—often voting against their own ideas—and massively resisted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Stimulus). They wanted to intensify the economic pain and thwart the president in order to regain power. This will be their strategy for the next two years as well. Gird your loins.

Much Accomplished, Much More to Be Done

This blog has complained possibly too much about what the president and the Democrats have not done. Perhaps most frustrating, though, is that the Democrats in Congress and the White House failed to communicate to the nation the astonishingly productive legislative record that they have accomplished over the past 21 months. With bill after bill, the Donkey kicked ass, but you’d never know it from them.

On Monday, Nov. 1, The Rachel Maddow Show produced a 15-minute segment highlighting the many accomplishments of the 111th Congress. The list is impressive—“the most legislatively productive 21 months in decades”—and we only wish the DNC had boasted far and wide about these bills. With more effective messaging (and a stronger focus on job creation, of course), the Dems could have countered the GOP distortions and rallied stronger base support and thus invigorated voter turnout.

Take a look at these achievements (and spread the good word):

  • Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to help victims of pay discrimination—especially women—challenge unequal pay. Signed by President Obama January 29, 2009.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 expanded health insurance coverage to more than 4 million children and pregnant women. Signed by President Obama February 4, 2009.
  • Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (2009), giving about $6 billion over 5 years and increasing the number of full-time and part-time national service (AmeriCorps) volunteers from 75,000 to 250,000. Creates new programs focused on special areas like strengthening schools, improving health care for low-income communities, boosting energy efficiency and cleaning up parks, etc. Signed by President Obama April 21, 2009.
  • Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (2009) sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), described by Money magazine as “ best friend a credit card user ever had.” Credit Card Bill of Rights signed by President Obama May 22, 2009.
  • College student loan reform, March 2010: as part of the health care reform legislation, a provision “that would cut funding to private student lenders and redirect billions of dollars in expected savings into grants to needy students” (W.Post).
  • Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gave FDA power to regulate tobacco. Signed by President Obama June 22, 2009.
  • Hate Crimes Prevention Act (aka Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act), made it a federal crime to commit assault based on victim’s gender, sexual orientation, etc. Signed by President Obama Oct. 28, 2009.
  • Car Allowance Rebate System (aka “Cash for Clunkers”): Begun in June 2009, and by August the auto industry was reporting strong sales—only about a half year after GM and Chrysler were bailed out by Washington. Boosted sales of safer and more fuel-efficient cars, helping clear the air and stimulating the economy.
  • Veterans benefited from the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010, and the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. The American Legion said “in our view the real successes [of the 111th Congress] were the passage of bills that affected nearly every veteran in America.”

All this is even before the big-ticket items of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka The Stimulus), the monumental (and incremental) Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (health care reform: click here for healthcare.gov), and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010), which included establishment of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, presently being (unofficially) headed by Harvard law professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren.

(more…)

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Tumblr+1Digg ThisSubmit to redditPin it on PinterestShare via email