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Fri Mar 6, 2015, 11:31 PM

The D.C. Centrists' Straw Men (Huffpo)

The D.C. Centrists' Straw Men
3/4/2015

One of the tiredest clichés in all of American politics -- and a favorite of D.C. "centrists" -- is that economic populism is all about beating up on the rich and redistributing income instead of pursuing economic growth.

A note here before I get into the main point of this piece: In that sentence above I put "centrists" in quotation marks because in Washington, D.C., centrism seems to be about being in line with certain kinds of big-money special interests rather than supporting what the center of the country, in terms of voters, believes. D.C. centrists believe in cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits; not taxing Wall Street tycoons at the same levels as their secretaries; weakening regulations on the kinds of financial speculation that caused the 2008 financial panic; bailing out bankers when they get in trouble, and not prosecuting them when they break the law; and doing trade deals that have historically benefited mostly big business and created bigger trade deficits. Voters are in opposition to all those policies by very big numbers, so those positions certainly aren't centrist to them, but that doesn't seem to matter much to the insider D.C. "centrists."...

...Perhaps most irritating of all, a man who has been bashed for years by a lot of these same "centrists" decided to join them in their critique. Here's Howard Dean quoted in the same article:

"Our program cannot be soak the rich -- that's a mistake and alienates middle class people. But on substance, the Warren wing is correct," said Dean.


"The rhetoric about wealth creation needs to be scaled back because Americans like wealth creation," he added. "The level playing field argument wins it for us. The reason you do not want to talk about 'tax the rich' is because when middle class people hear it, they hear 'they're going to raise our taxes.' Democrats can't do that."

I appreciate Howard Dean saying that on substance the Warren wing is correct. And I know that, having endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, he is now in the uncomfortable place of trying to walk a tightrope between Hillary's politics and the views of his old progressive friends. But let me reassure him and his fellow worriers: Elizabeth Warren and her fellow progressives are not, either in rhetoric or policy, anti-growth or anti-business or out to "soak" the rich (unless by "soak" you mean taxing them at the same rate as their secretaries). And to say that they are is a cliché completely unsupported by anything they are saying.

...Creating new jobs, raising the income of middle-class workers and retirees, investing in the infrastructure businesses need for transportation and a good workforce, investing in the creation of new technologies and products -- these policies are not against economic growth. In fact, they would do more to promote economic growth than any policy proposal I have seen from the corporate-oriented Democrats.

All these things Warren talks about -- new jobs, more money for most people to spend, modern infrastructure, promoting manufacturing and small business, R&D -- do in fact create economic growth. Her entire economic program is about creating sustainable economic growth.

And I looked and looked for all the times where Warren bashes the rich or uses negative "rhetoric about wealth creation" that Dean refers to. I went through every recent speech, committee transcript, and floor debate where she spoke that I could find, and I couldn't find any instances where she said there is anything wrong with being rich or wealth creation. I couldn't find them because they don't exist.

These are the ultimate "centrist" straw men that D.C. insiders set up in order to knock down: that progressive populists don't care about economic growth, and that they bash the wealthy.

Now, I will admit one thing: There are certain big corporations that Elizabeth Warren has spoken ill of. She didn't like it, for example, that HSBC laundered drug-cartel money but no executive went to jail for those crimes. She's not big into Wall Street banks blatantly cheating their customers and clients and never being held to account for it. ...

She wants a level playing field for low- and middle-income folks with the wealthy and powerful. Is that what is so radical that is scaring all these D.C. establishment folks? Seriously? Come on, guys, this is just silly. You don't want accountability for banks that launder drug money and cheat their customers? Look, if you want to make arguments as to why we shouldn't regulate or prosecute Wall Street, make them. If you think progressive taxation or a higher minimum wage is a bad idea, tell us why. But don't set up these ridiculous straw men and tell us that the Warren message is all about stuff she has never said.

Let me close by saying this specifically to my friend Howard Dean: You are a good man who has spent the last decade-plus courageously standing up to D.C. insiders even when they attacked you in these same ways. Don't let yourself be used by these same insiders when they are trashing Elizabeth Warren and other progressives.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-lux/the-dc-centrists-straw-me_b_6800302.html

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Reply The D.C. Centrists' Straw Men (Huffpo) (Original post)
RiverLover Mar 2015 OP
aspirant Mar 2015 #1
Enthusiast Mar 2015 #3
RiverLover Mar 2015 #4
Enthusiast Mar 2015 #2
starroute Mar 2015 #5
RiverLover Mar 2015 #6
aspirant Mar 2015 #7
sabrina 1 Mar 2015 #8
TheKentuckian Mar 2015 #10
4dsc Mar 2015 #9

Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Sat Mar 7, 2015, 02:33 AM

1. I don't know his inner motivation,

but IMO it is wrong. Washington DC has bounced him around for years and maybe he sees this as the door to re-enter the higher game.

I wish him well based on past actions but I must now give his words little credence.

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Response to aspirant (Reply #1)

Sat Mar 7, 2015, 07:19 AM

3. It is beyond disappointing.

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Response to Enthusiast (Reply #3)

Sat Mar 7, 2015, 07:52 AM

4. I agree. nt

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Sat Mar 7, 2015, 07:17 AM

2. K&R! This post should have hundreds of recommendations!

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Sat Mar 7, 2015, 11:01 AM

5. One problem is that the country has unmet needs and the rich have all the money

This isn't about redistribution. It's about the fact that our infrastructure is falling apart, our education system is inadequate, and our nation is sliding on many measures of health and well-being.

It will take money to fix those problems, but the poor and middle class don't have the money to do it. In the immortal words of the Tea Party, they're "taxed enough already."

But the elephant in the room, which the Tea Party is doing its best to camouflage, is that the reason we can't afford those things is that the rich have the money that should have gone into wage increases. The rich are the only ones who can pay to fix our highways and bridges, to maintain world-class universities and a first-rate workforce, and to keep our citizens healthy and productive.

Perhaps the line shouldn't be, "You didn't build that." It should be, "You built that. You profit from it every day. You pay to maintain it."

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Response to starroute (Reply #5)

Sat Mar 7, 2015, 11:09 AM

6. Good post.

Its lords & serfs, modern style.

But back then, the serfs weren't divided into 2 camps against each other so they were able to see who the true bad guys were & didn't waste time fighting each other.

There was also no lord/corporate media to brainwash people.

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Response to starroute (Reply #5)

Sat Mar 7, 2015, 12:43 PM

7. Remember the Federal Reserve

makes money out of thin air and gives it to the filthy rich almost free.

Maybe it's time to have a annual living income for the people with this Fed money and not have trillions and trillions stashed overseas.

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 01:15 AM

8. Howard Dean should be joining Elizabeth Warren. The very people he is defending destroyed his

candidacy for the WH.

There is definitely something in the water in DC. People hang around inside that bubble and they emerge as completely different people.

I wish we knew what causes that.

Warren is right and needs no apologies.

We live in one of the most unequal economic periods in the country's history.

Anyone who denies that, is either too stupid to talk to or about, or they have been coopted.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #8)

Thu Mar 12, 2015, 09:53 AM

10. Of course she is. If anything she is still too conciliatory and attached to a failed paradigm

and just seems like a fresh wind and like a old tent revival preacher of the good news because everyone else is mired so deep in dead wrong as to be worthless or so mealy mouthed and nervous as to be invisible.

Warren isn't even a little radical, the field is just that abysmal.

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Response to RiverLover (Original post)

Sun Mar 8, 2015, 11:08 AM

9. Centrists the 3rd Way cost us the 2014 elections

 

so as a proud progressive I will not vote another centrist for any office.

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