Pathetically Centrist Third Way

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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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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Bill Bush  •  Dec 7, 2013 @1:27 pm

    The Demo centrists will get run over in the middle of the road, because the Reteavangeliban won’t vote for them, and many of the rest of us want some populism for the population, and we won’t pull over for them, either. Obama is as moderate as I can stand. I voted and contributed to him, and I think he got the message with the reaction against Larry Summers. Sure hope so. These young guys think they will work with the conservatives, but the truth is they will just be working for them. The Republican long-term plan is clear, and too many DINOs will be willing to work for what they think are the moderate elements of it. They don’t realize that those things are just words meant to suck in the rubes. We here in NC now have a full-tilt Koch philosophy running the state. It is not good. I’m done with these corporatists. They’re still selling “trickle down” and I’m not buying. Really, who is? In the words of Chris Colfer, “Well, screw that.”

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 7, 2013 @1:36 pm

    Let’s calls ‘em as we see’s ‘em – it’s not “The Third Way,” it’s “The Turd Way.”

    Just a few words solve the problems:
    Cap, taxes, employment, and livable wages.
    1. Eliminate the FICA cap – with a donut hole, if pressed.
    2. Raise the taxes on wealthy individuals, and corporations – and enforce collection.
    3. Create stimulus packages, like we did after “The Great Recession,” that will hire people for needed infrastructure work, and support personnel.
    4. And pay people a wage that will allow them and their families to live at least a lower middle class life.

    And as for claims that doing these things will cause the economy to plummet, steps 2-4 were used to rebuild the economy AFTER The Great Depression, and got us to the point where the greatest government economic stimulus package in the history of the world got us over the hump, and pulled us out of any lingering signs of that depression – that government economic stimulus package, was called WWII.
    We can do the same thing – minus a WW, of course.

    As for raising the FICA tax, why should the ordinary working person pay the tax on all of their wages, but the wealthiest on only their first 110,000+ dollars?
    Let A-Rod and Paris Hilton pay FICA taxes on all of their income, the same a Pete the plumber and Hillary the hairdresser.

    But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
    Our Reich-Wingers will scream: “Soshlizm!” Fashizm!” “Commyounizm!”

  3. Swami  •  Dec 7, 2013 @2:40 pm

    Let’s calls ‘em as we see’s ‘em – it’s not “The Third Way,” it’s “The Turd Way.”

    LOL!.. Is that meant to be derogatory or are you just speaking in Brooklynese?

  4. Dan  •  Dec 7, 2013 @2:43 pm

    Is it my imagination, or does “kick the can” sound suspiciously like “kick the bucket” in that context…

  5. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 7, 2013 @2:44 pm

    Brooklynese, would be “Toid Way.”
    As in, from “Roger Ramjet:” ‘Da doity boid is toidy tree!”

  6. Dan  •  Dec 7, 2013 @2:45 pm

    DINOs working with Reagan got us started on this long, hard road we are on!

  7. Stephen Stralka  •  Dec 7, 2013 @3:16 pm

    If millenials really are so concerned about the deficit and the national debt, I see no reason at all why they would object to tax increases on the wealthiest individuals and corporations. It seems pretty obvious that the people who go screaming about the debt but are only willing to consider cuts, cuts, and more cuts actually have a different agenda than saving Medicare and Social Security.

  8. biggerbox  •  Dec 7, 2013 @3:31 pm

    Oh! Oh! Stuff is starting to make sense!

    I’m currently recovering from major surgery and in the dark early this morning I had the radio on. I have this drug-addled half-memory of the conservative-apparatchick-who-the-Beltway-agees-to-label-neutral-journalist Mara Liasson going on at length about the Third Way. I couldn’t really focus, but I remember thinking “Third Way? Why is Mara Liasson talking about the Third Way? Do they still exist?” It just seemed so out of the blue. But she kept going on and on acting like Third Way was relevant, and embedding conservative bias in her sentences left and right, and then I thankfully fell back asleep. Oh, and look, there it is on the Nice Polite Republican website: http://www.npr.org/2013/12/07/249074818/social-security-fight-exposes-democratic-divide-on-economic-policy

    Those annoying jerks from the Third Way filled some op-ed column-inches for their friends at the WSJ this week! Ah. OK. That now makes sense.

    What has never made any sense is why a non-GOP person with a brain would want to ever pay attention to what the Third Way people are bleating about. They’ve always been transparent shills for the most nonsensical Petersonian tripe.

  9. maha  •  Dec 7, 2013 @4:35 pm

    I hope you feel better, biggerbox.

  10. c u n d gulag  •  Dec 7, 2013 @5:05 pm

    Yes, get better biggerbox.

    Maybe watching some faith healers on Trinity will help.
    No.
    Not unless you send them some money.
    So, forget that.
    Follow the doctor’s orders.

  11. moonbat  •  Dec 7, 2013 @7:23 pm

    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.

    Actually I’m sure that embarassing geezer band, the Rolling Stones, really resonates with young people (/snark).

    I must be living in a cave, cuz I’ve never heard of The Third Way, outside of the informal, 1990s triangulation Clinton did and Tony Blair aped. It sounds like more Republican putting lipstick on a pig.

    I wouldn’t put it past Pete Petersen et al. to be able to con Millennials about the debt. As a card carrying baby boomer, the degree to which younger people gullibly swallow Republican tripe about the country’s finances astonishes me. Or maybe it’s not surprising, given how impoverished their present and foreseeable future look to them, and particularly the impoverishment of their education. A desperate people will believe anything.

    In fact, as the GOP sees itself painted more and more into the corner, expect even greater and desperate appeals to the gullible young to save them.

  12. Doug  •  Dec 7, 2013 @10:57 pm

    Why do I suspect “Third Way” is actually the intersection of Wall St. and K St. and Madison Ave. The hype that this is ‘centrist’ reeks of Madison Ave packaging. The funding for this is Wall Street – (throw in cash from the C of C and Koch Bros.) The real leverage is K Street, the true seat of power in Washington. The majority of Congress is ‘owned’ by K Street. The exchange of cash is delayed until members of Congress leave office but while in office these elected puppets are actually representatives of various K St firms.

    If you want Congress to represent the people – you have to prohibit the corruption of Congress by cutting off every type of payoff by the rich and powerful – before any candidate declares their intention to run, during their time in office, and after they leave office.
    \

  13. moonbat  •  Dec 8, 2013 @2:24 pm

    Great comment at Krugman’s article:

    We need to break the “baloney code”. “Centrist” and “Third Way” actually mean “Stealth Republicans”.

  14. Stephen Kriz  •  Dec 8, 2013 @4:25 pm

    I think we should force that old pervert, Alan Simpson. to disgorge his Congressional pension and Social Security checks and give them back to the U.S. Treasury. Let him eat catfood to survive and see how he likes it! Creepy old bastard…..

  15. joanr16  •  Dec 9, 2013 @9:54 am

    Wishing you speedy recovery, biggerbox!

  16. goatherd  •  Dec 9, 2013 @12:37 pm

    Yes, biggerbox, I hope you’re well mended for the holidays.

  17. Jim  •  Dec 13, 2013 @12:40 pm

    I thought the third way was a conservative republican group, or a southern democratic part of the party system. Kind of like Obama, a very conservative group, business oriented, and aligned with the chamber. Was reading on the Teamsters webblog several days ago, that the chamber and ALEC were very aligned. Working for the same interest, out of Kansas.



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