Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Saturday, December 7th, 2013.


Pathetically Centrist Third Way

Obama Administration

Paul Krugman comments on the Third Way:

So progressive Democrats have seized on an op-ed by the group Third Way — an op-ed attacking Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio for their terrible, horrible economic populism — as a way to start reclaiming the party from the “centrists”. And it’s working: the centrists are very much on the run.

Why? Part of the answer is that the Democratic party has become more progressive. But I would argue that the centrists are also suffering from their own intellectual bankruptcy.

How so?

I mean, going after Warren and de Blasio for not being willing to cut Social Security and their “staunch refusal to address the coming Medicare crisis” ??? Even aside from the question of exactly what the mayor of New York has to do with Medicare, this sounds as if they have been living in a cave for years, maybe reading an occasional screed from the Pete Peterson complex.

This is literally true, as I’ll explain in a bit.

On Social Security, they’re still in the camp insisting that because the system might possibly have to pay lower benefits in the future, we must move now to cut future benefits. Oh, kay.

But anyway, they declare that Medicare is the bigger issue. So what’s this about “staunch refusal” to address Medicare? The Affordable Care Act contains lots of measures to limit Medicare costs and health care more generally — it’s Republicans, not progressive Democrats, who have been screaming against cost-saving measures (death panels!).

See, for example, Ruth Marcus, who sorrowed over the President’s recent economic populist speech as a missed opportunity.

Now for the tough love. On the debt and entitlement spending, Obama did not only miss an opportunity – he kicked it in the teeth. “When it comes to our budget, we should not be stuck in a stale debate from two years ago or three years ago,” he said. “A relentlessly growing deficit of opportunity is a bigger threat to our future than our rapidly shrinking fiscal deficit.” Yes, the deficit is shrinking, but Obama’s snappy language evades the bigger point: Dealing with the long-term debt and entitlement spending should be a progressive goal. Over time, a debt of such magnitude slows the economic growth that the president correctly identifies as an essential element of solving the inequality problem. It diverts scarce resources from investing in America’s future to paying interest to foreigners. And speaking of resources, the growing claims on the budget of programs for the elderly inevitably pit the nation’s most vulnerable children – the very ones who the president worries are being denied the American Dream – against its seniors. Curtailing Medicare and Social Security costs in a way that protects the neediest beneficiaries ought to be a national priority. Too bad the president couldn’t – wouldn’t – rouse himself to say so. Speaking truth to power is easier when the power is not in your own party, and when your own power is at such a low ebb.

They just can’t get beyond the idea that we must cut Medicare and Social Security for the sake of the young folks. It doesn’t matter how much data you dredge up showing that cutting these programs would hurt the economy, not help it. Just let’s see how the young folks like it when they are stuck with their aging parents’ medical bills.

Charles Pierce:

They’re never going to let this go. They are like dogs with a chew toy. This one touches all the bases.I “I’m a liberal so everything I have always believed has been doomed by a glitchy website.” In the long run, Teh Deficit will eat us in our beds. Social Security and Medicare always are lumped together, even though the former does not have anything to do with the federal budget. The best thing any Democratic president can do is reject his party’s most fundamental difference with the lunatics on the other side. (You will note that Marcus treats Paul Ryan, that great fake, much more gently, wrapping him tightly in her arms against the nasty old president’s nasty old citations of things Ryan actually has said.) The problem with today’s youth is not that they can’t find work, or that student loan scams are burying them under debt, but that some greedy old person somewhere is making $1200 a month. Kicking granny onto the ice floe is “speaking truth to power.” And Ruth Marcus is a pink balloon.

Back to Third Way — there really are ties between Third Way and the Pete Peterson complex. Third Way founder Jonathan Cowan has another group he calls “The Can Kicks Back.” According to SourceWatch:

The Can Kicks Back (TCKB) describes itself as a “non-partisan, Millennial-driven campaign to fix the national debt and reclaim our American Dream.”[1]

According to the Washington Post, The Can Kicks Back is a “group of young deficit hawks making it their mission to warn the Millennial Generation about the dangers of an out-of-control deficit.”[2] The group is the champion of stunts and videos, like handing out bags of empty tin cans to reporters[3] and teaching Alan Simpson to dance Gangnam style (see video). Simpson and Erskine Bowles of the Simpson-Bowles Commission are on the group’s board, and it has the same goal as the campaign to Fix the Debt (a “grand bargain” by July 4; see below for more).

Nothing says “millennial-driven” better than Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles. I can hear the violins playing “Younger Than Springtime” even now. Here’s the video cited above, btw:

Yes, I’m sure this really resonates with the young folks. (/sarcasm) It’s like watching Lawrence Welk conducting the Greatest Hits of the Rolling Stones.

SourceWatch says that The Can Kicks Back appears to be “not only a partner but a project of the Peterson-funded Fix the Debt campaign.” So, yeah, there’s your connection.

Also, too, Lee Fang found out Third Way uses a lobbying firm that also works for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Third Way calls itself “Senate-focused progressive advocacy group.” No, you don’t get to call yourself “progressive” and advocate cutting social programs like Social Security. This is like “Mercenaries for Peace” or vegans promoting the American Angus Association.

See also “Third Way Op-Ed Writer Says Elizabeth Warren’s Backing Of Social Security Plan Was The ‘Final Moment‘” and (from last year) “Third Way’s Jon Cowan: Once Again, Ginning Up Faux Youth Outrage.”

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Kirsten Gillibrand: Discuss

Obama Administration

See New York Times article about New York’s junior senator. I’ve been withholding judgment on Kirsten Gillibrand, because at the time she was first appointed to the Senate the word was she was more of a “centrist” than a liberal. But she represented a largely Republican district, I understand, so maybe she was just catering to her voters, and now that she’s in the Senate her inner liberal is coming out. We’ll see.

She is sometimes mentioned as a possibility for the presidential nomination in 2016. Seems unlikely, but who knows.

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