One of the most maddening things about our politics these days is that there really is no left in our politics anymore. All we have is the center and the right. For the best explanation of this read this article by Alex Pareene, Republican deficit insincerity will save Social Security.
It is hilarious how much the centrist deficit-hawk Grand Bargain cheerleaders detest Obama and blame him for his failure to get a Grand Bargain, because he often seems like the only person in Washington who legitimately, sincerely wants one.
So Barack Obama did his “charm offensive” — he spoke, in real life, to Republican members of Congress — and everyone agreed that it didn’t count because he didn’t mean it.Reaching out to people in order to attempt to persuade them to support a policy goal onlycounts if you sincerely want to speak to those people, everyone knows that.
The problem isn’t actually that Barack Obama was insufficiently charming. The problem is much more simple: He is campaigning for policies Republicans don’t support. Barack Obama wants to cut the deficit. Republicans don’t care about the deficit. Barack Obama wants to cut the deficit by raising more revenue and cutting social insurance programs. Republicans hate taxes and don’t actually want to cut social insurance programs for old people. So, “charm” is not really the problem.
As the budget battle at the national level rages, there’s something that must be acknowledged. We have not had anything close to what today would be considered a left, or far left fix to our economic woes – something similar to the New Deal in the 1930′s. The stimulus of 2009 was way too small and a mere pittance compared to the New Deal.
On the GOP side Paul Ryan has again released his budget, (to less fanfare each time), and it just keeps getting worse. But on the other side the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has released their budget. It’s called the Back To Work Budget.
We’re in a jobs crisis that isn’t going away. Millions of hard-working American families are falling behind, and the richest 1 percent is taking home a bigger chunk of our nation’s gains every year. Americans face a choice: we can either cut Medicare benefits to pay for more tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or we can close these tax loopholes to invest in jobs. We choose investment. The Back to Work Budget invests in America’s future because the best way to reduce our long-term deficit is to put America back to work. In the first year alone, we create nearly 7 million American jobs and increase GDP by 5.7%. We reduce unemployment to near 5% in three years with a jobs plan that includes repairing our nation’s roads and bridges, and putting the teachers, cops and firefighters who have borne the brunt of our economic downturn back to work. We reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion by closing tax loopholes and asking the wealthy to pay a fair share. We repeal the arbitrary sequester and the Budget Control Act that are damaging the economy, and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid, which provide high quality, low-cost medical coverage to millions of Americans when they need it most. This is what the country voted for in November. It’s time we side with America’s middle class and invest in their future.
The Economic Policy Institute Policy Center provided technical assistance in developing, scoring, modeling, and analyzing the Back to Work budget. EPI’s analysis can be seen here: The ‘Back to Work’ budget: Analysis of the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget for fiscal year 2014
It’s a plan from the left that is missing from the conversation. The CPC always releases a budget, and it always gets little to no mention. But it deserves to be in the conversation, at the least, Whose Budget Polls Best – Ryan or Progressive Caucus? The reality is that neither one of these budgets has a chance of passing, House Progressives have the best answer to Paul Ryan.
Is the House Progressives’ budget likely? Of course not. One involved staffer described it to me as a “wish list.” But that makes it the perfect analogue to Ryan’s budget.
Consider what Ryan’s budget asks President Obama to sign into law: the repeal of Obamacare, his signature law. A voucherization of Medicare. A plan that would cut deep into both food stamps and Medicaid and then convert those programs, perhaps the two most important components of the safety net, into block grants managed by the states. A revenue-neutral tax reform that would leave only two brackets — one at 10 percent, the other at 25 percent.
It’s a fantasy budget, completely untethered from real-world concerns about what could pass, or what will be acceptable to the party that got more votes in the last election and currently controls both the White House and the Senate. When Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” pointed this out, Ryan replied, “Well, we believe it should [happen]. That’s the point. This is what budgeting is all about, Chris. It’s about making tough choices to fix our country’s problems.” It’s a vision, in other words, not a plan.
Ryan’s budget is a conservative wish list for solving the problems that animate today’s conservatives: The growth of the federal government’s domestic programs, the rising debt, the increasingly complex tax code, and the sluggish economy. The House Progressive Caucus’s “Back to Work” budget is the precise mirror image. It’s a liberal wish list for solving the problems that animate today’s liberals: High unemployment, entrenched economic inequality, and global warming. And just as Ryan’s budget not only eschews tax revenues, but also lowers tax rates, the House Progressives don’t just eschew net spending cuts, they actually increase spending.
The American people would benefit tremendously from a discussion of these two plans. With only the center and the right in the discussion, and the left, left out, the conversation just keeps moving further and further to the right.
But our current political and media climate cannot offer such a thing. We have a president who is to the right of Nixon on economics, and a GOP that’s incomprehensible. And it’s hard to see who or what is going to start pulling our politics back to the left, but that is what’s needed. To see what I mean go watch this video.
The only way to change this is for a vociferous push back from the left and offering an alternative view of how we can move our country and state forward. But it will start with making sure everyone who wants one can get and good paying job, and that health care is provided to everyone. And should be starte with raising the minimum wage.
In the next election we must make sure the Democrats begin to focus on actually fighting for a budget and policies like these. Because the Democrats did not campaign on anything like this in 2012. And nothing will change with our government until more people are elected that believe this is the kind of government we need. We must make the Democrats start campaigning on these issues, a pushback from the left, otherwise they will never be turned into actual policy.