Thursday, August 10, 2017

Finally, Democrats are looking in the mirror. That's reason for optimism - Thomas Frank

Faced with this cornucopia of good choices, however, our modern Democrats managed to pluck out a lump of coal. Schumer prefaced the rollout of A Better Deal by saying: “In the past, we were too cautious; we were too namby-pamby. This is sharp and bold.” 
Modern-day Democrats are constitutionally incapable of sharp and bold; Nancy Pelosi’s op-ed announcing the Better Deal in the Washington Post, for example, is swimming in the same sort of ambiguous futurific formulas that Americans are wary of but that Democrats seem to love...... The Guardian
After reading this article I don't see reason for optimism. In fact I see the possibility of the demise of the Democratic Party if the 2018, 20 elections prove to be a disaster -- and with so many senate seats up for grab the Republicans have a chance to increase their majority, even if they lose seats in the house. We are heading to a one party system nationally and locally -- except for urban areas.
Read Schumer’s op-ed and you discover that what this actually means is giving employers tax cuts to encourage them to “train workers for unfilled jobs”.
That’s right: it’s a reference to the so-called skills gap, one of the most backward but fact-resistant articles of faith in the Washington credo. Accepted by leaders of both parties, it essentially blames unemployment on workers themselves: the reason people don’t have jobs is because they aren’t skilled enough to get those jobs, presumably because they didn’t study the right thing in school.
Everything comes back to education, which makes a lot of sense to an elite that rationalizes its rule by educational credentials. But in truth, what American business leaders need in order to fill those vacant positions is not a tax cut – they need to offer more pay.
I'm tracking articles on the internal issues facing the Democratic Party -- a good chunk of my discussion with a caller from the Dems yesterday trying to raise money was related to this issue. Ed Notes reader Abigail Shure sends me loads of these, including this one. He argued with me about this Better Deal stuff -- I wish I had read this before he called. I raised the dysfunction of the NY State Dems - and this NY Times piece makes that very point-  Tensions Flare as Cuomo Confronts Democratic Rift - the headline in the newsprint editions was starker about Cuomo's role -- State Democrats' Rift Looms Larger as Cuomo's Star Rises

I mentioned Cuomo, Booker and Rahm Emmanuel as "stellar" Dems.

I emphasized the Dem Party abandonment of unions, their base. Just look at Emanuel in Chicago and his war on the teacher union -- which he seems to be winning.

Frank makes this point:
Making it easier to form unions is another idea that would pay off hugely for Democrats down the line, as workers discover the power of solidarity and begin to identify once again with the other constituencies of the left. Truth be told, there are dozens if not hundreds of Reagan/Clinton/Bush policies that Democrats could promise to reverse that would open the door to working people.
Below is the first part of the article with a link to the rest.

At the end of July, the leadership of the Democratic party bestirred themselves from their comfortable Washington haunts and paid a visit to a small town in Virginia, where they assumed a populist guise and announced before the cameras of the world that they were regular folks just like you.

The occasion for this performance was the launch of a Democratic party manifesto that bears the uninspiring name, A Better Deal. Its purpose, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer wrote in the New York Times, was to “show the country that we’re the party on the side of working people”.

Famous for being one of Wall Street’s greatest friends in Washington, Schumer makes for an unlikely populist. Still, reacquainting Democrats with their working-class roots is a worthy goal, and a politically necessary one these days. 

Working people have been deserting the Democratic party for decades, making possible numerous Republican triumphs. Furthermore, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out how to appeal to them in the fourth decade of the great race to the bottom.
Adopting some of Bernie Sanders’s proposals would be eminently suitable for such an endeavor: universal healthcare, free college, going after the big banks, to name a few. 

Making it easier to form unions is another idea that would pay off hugely for Democrats down the line, as workers discover the power of solidarity and begin to identify once again with the other constituencies of the left. Truth be told, there are dozens if not hundreds of Reagan/Clinton/Bush policies that Democrats could promise to reverse that would open the door to working people.

“It is time,” she writes, “to ignite a new era of investment in America’s workers, empowering all Americans with the skills they need to compete in the modern economy.”
Empowering Americans with skills for modernity? If the Democrats mean, workers will be paid more, why not just say it? Even the noncontroversial promise (noncontroversial among liberals, I mean) to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour is clouded on the Better Deal homepage with enough wishy-wash to make one doubt the sincerity of the party’s Solons. 

Besides, one can’t help but remember that the liberals have had many opportunities to act on their good ideas. Take their determination to “aggressively crack down on unfair foreign trade” and their many vows to take action against high prescription drug prices. Both would be awesome! 

But then recall: just last year, the Democratic administration was aggressively doing exactly the opposite, working hard to pass the wildly unfair Trans Pacific Partnership, which (among other things) would have increased Big Pharma’s power to gouge consumers of prescription drugs.

A Better Deal is not even particularly liberal. Consider the vague promise that I mocked about giving people skills for the “modern economy”. Read Schumer’s op-ed and you discover that what this actually means is giving employers tax cuts to encourage them to “train workers for unfilled jobs”.

That’s right: it’s a reference to the so-called skills gap, one of the most backward but fact-resistant articles of faith in the Washington credo. Accepted by leaders of both parties, it essentially blames unemployment on workers themselves: the reason people don’t have jobs is because they aren’t skilled enough to get those jobs, presumably because they didn’t study the right thing in school.
Everything comes back to education, which makes a lot of sense to an elite that rationalizes its rule by educational credentials. But in truth, what American business leaders need in order to fill those vacant positions is not a tax cut – they need to offer more pay.

Wages need to go up. Then there will be incentives for properly skilled workers to drop what they’re doing and take those jobs, while other people will go and get the training, etc.

But business leaders don’t want to do that, and so here come the Democrats to get them off the hook with a tax cut. This is completely 180-degrees the opposite of a pro-worker solution.
Now, let us compare the Democrats’ manifesto with one that actually succeeded. For the Many, Not the Few was the title of the Labour party’s proposal to voters as the UK headed for its general election in June, and as you might surmise from the manifesto’s title, it was made of considerably sterner populist stuff than its American counterpart. 

Both documents bang away at a “rigged” system; both acknowledge the alienation of ordinary people in these post-recessionary times, but the British iteration is strong where Better Deal is weak; its demands are clear where ours are vague; it is remarkably free from New Economy cant and quite specific about its aims. For example: a national investment bank. Public ownership of public utilities like water and the mail (!).
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/10/finally-democrats-are-looking-in-the-mirror-thats-reason-for-optimism?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+USA+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=238818&subid=18260840&CMP=GT_US_collection


2 comments:

  1. Thanks Norm! I am seeking a roadmap for Democrats. I have had no luck so far.

    Abigail Shure

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Democrats are like the pro banker, pro globalist, New Labor in the UK. They miscalculated that identity poltics would consolidate the base that was fragmented by corporate affiliation. Remember that in 2015 all but one Democratic senator voted against a Rand Paul bill to audit the Federal Reserve. The vote failed by 6 votes. I guess we will never know where the 16 trillion that was doled out to world banks post 2008 went. The genie escaped. Half of America caught on that the Dems are pro bank globalists. Crying over social justice stuff is the front. They are bankrupt.

    ReplyDelete

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