Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Have a Question for Senator Sanders ...

This is specifically related to the end of his interview with Rev Al Sharpton on MSNBC.

I, too, hope that the Democrats stand tall with the working families of America. You see, I was raised to believe, by Southern Democratic and liberal parents, that the Democratic Party was for the working man and the working classes. I was also raised to believe that if you have to work to live, no matter what your social circumstance, that you were working class. No shame in that.

Senator Sanders is not a Democrat. He identifies himself as a Socialist. But it's only recently that he's made direct allusion to the "working class." I truly don't know what the working class is anymore - not in America, at least. Everyone talks about and identifies with the middle class now.

Living in England, as I have for thirty years, educates you in a class system that's inflexible but easily identifiable. For example, Lord Alan Sugar, who started life as a barrow boy in an East End market, is the premier business mogul in the country and sits in the House of Lords. He is the British Trump, but he is identified and will always be identified as strictly working class. Below stairs.

Sir Paul McCartney, Knight of the Realm, will always be a middle class grammar schoolboy. His fellow knight, Elton John, on the other hand (born Reg Dwight of Pinner, Middlesex), would be downstairs in the servants' quarters with Lord Sugar.

So Downton Abbey-ish.

Senator Sanders speaks of the wealthy paying more taxes. I couldn't agree more. In fact, I'd like to see the US raise taxes across the board enough to fund a single-payer National Health program. Yes, I said that, because raising taxes - at least by 30% across the board - would give us what a lot of people rail about: single-payer healthcare. Free at source, but not free. You pay with your taxes. You pay your taxes to your government and it pays for the healthcare you receive.

Senator Sanders, I recall, conducted a showcase filibuster against the tax cut compromise the President effecte around about this time last year - the one which extended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in exchange for various benefits that would help the poor and the working poor and the unemployed for a significant period - you know, the sort of stuff Republicans would rather puke than pass.

All Sanders and others could do was expostulate ad infinitum about how the President had caved, how he'd betrayed the middle classes, when he should have just walked away and let all the tax cuts expire, when he should have shown the Republican party some mettle. (Ne'mind, that would have resulted in no DADT repeal, no START treaty and no First Responders' healthcare bill; we have to show the Republicans). The most oxymoronic moment in the filibuster was finding out that Sanders's comrade-in-arms in all of this was none other than Miss Louisiana Purchase, herself, Senator Mary Landrieu, that noted Progressive. Not.

Landrieu joined, full swing, in helping Sanders to filibuster. Landrieu, bought and paid for corporate whore of the oil industry, the Blue Dog babe suddenly had Progressive heart patterings, which were really a front for her disdain about the President's moratorium on off-shore oil drilling.

Odd, how an avowed Socialist like Senator Sanders failed to dig deep and see the entrenched significance of what this compromise achieved, especially since it concerned that demographic about whom Socialists like Senator Sanders express concern. His nemesis, Washington Post conservative op-ed journalist, Charles Krauthammer, understood the significance perfectly:-

Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010 - and House Democrats don't have a clue that he did. In the deal struck this week, the president negotiated the biggest stimulus in American history, larger than his $814 billion 2009 stimulus package. It will pump a trillion borrowed Chinese dollars into the U.S. economy over the next two years - which just happen to be the two years of the run-up to the next presidential election. This is a defeat?

If Obama had asked for a second stimulus directly, he would have been laughed out of town. Stimulus I was so reviled that the Democrats banished the word from their lexicon throughout the 2010 campaign. And yet, despite a very weak post-election hand, Obama got the Republicans to offer to increase spending and cut taxes by $990 billion over two years. Two-thirds of that is above and beyond extension of the Bush tax cuts but includes such urgent national necessities as windmill subsidies.

No mean achievement. After all, these are the same Republicans who spent 2010 running on limited government and reducing debt. And this budget busting occurs less than a week after the president's deficit commission had supposedly signaled a new national consensus of austerity and frugality.

Some Republicans are crowing that Stimulus II is the Republican way - mostly tax cuts - rather than the Democrats' spending orgy of Stimulus I. That's consolation? This just means that Republicans are two years too late. Stimulus II will still blow another near-$1 trillion hole in the budget.

At great cost that will have to be paid after this newest free lunch, the package will add as much as 1 percent to GDP and lower the unemployment rate by about 1.5 percentage points. That could easily be the difference between victory and defeat in 2012.

Obama is no fool. While getting Republicans to boost his own reelection chances, he gets them to make a mockery of their newfound, second-chance, post-Bush, Tea-Party, this-time-we're-serious persona of debt-averse fiscal responsibility.

And he gets all this in return for what? For a mere two-year postponement of a mere 4.6-point increase in marginal tax rates for upper incomes. And an estate tax rate of 35 percent - it jumps insanely from zero to 55 percent on Jan. 1 - that is somewhat lower than what the Democrats wanted.

No, cries the left: Obama violated a sacred principle. A 39.6 percent tax rate versus 35 percent is a principle? "This is the public option debate all over again," said Obama at his Tuesday news conference. He is right. The left never understood that to nationalize health care there is no need for a public option because Obamacare turns the private insurers into public utilities, thus setting us inexorably on the road to the left's Promised Land: a Canadian-style single-payer system. The left is similarly clueless on the tax-cut deal: In exchange for temporarily forgoing a small rise in upper-income rates, Obama pulled out of a hat a massive new stimulus - what the left has been begging for since the failure of Stimulus I but was heretofore politically unattainable.

Obama's public exasperation with this infantile leftism is both perfectly understandable and politically adept. It is his way back to at least the appearance of centrist moderation. The only way he will get a second look from the independents who elected him in 2008 - and abandoned the Democrats in 2010 - is by changing the prevailing (and correct) perception that he is a man of the left.

Hence that news-conference attack on what the administration calls the "professional left" for its combination of sanctimony and myopia. It was Obama's Sister Souljah moment. It had a prickly, irritated sincerity - their ideological stupidity and inability to see the "long game" really do get under Obama's skin - but a decidedly calculated quality, too. Where, after all, does the left go? Stay home on Election Day 2012? Vote Republican?

No, says the current buzz, the left will instead challenge Obama for the Democratic nomination. Really now? For decades, African Americans have been this party's most loyal constituency. They vote 9 to 1 Democratic through hell and high water, through impeachment and recession, through everything. After four centuries of enduring much, African Americans finally see one of their own achieve the presidency. And their own party is going to deny him a shot at his own reelection?

Not even Democrats are that stupid. The remaining question is whether they are just stupid enough to not understand - and therefore vote down - the swindle of the year just pulled off by their own president.

Well, one year on, and we know that the Democrats didn't vote this down, although Senator Sanders, with some calculated help from some calculating (and rather spineless) Democrats, attepted to railroad this; and if he'd been successful, a lot of people would have been a lot worse off the past year. We also know, one year on, that, although there is no primary challenge as yet on the horizon, a lot of disgruntled and misguided EmoProgs are planning on sitting out the next election. Some are even, perversely, planning on voting for the Republican candidate, whoever that might be.

But my question to Senator Sanders is this: Why is he now showing the utmost concern about the Democrats standing tall and defending working people, when one year ago, he, a Socialist, was filibustering against these selfsame people?

There are Socialists and Champagne Socialists in this world. I'm beginning to wonder if Bernie's not amongst the latter.

1 comment:

  1. Ideology before people is what some on the left believe.