Democrats Defend Social Programs — Win

How Democrats Win: Defending the Social Safety Net

By RICK PERLSTEIN Thursday, August 18, 2011, TIME | 181 COMMENTS
Charlie Neibergall / AP; Hulton Archive / Getty Images


I was flattered to learn from Joe Klein’s Aug. 15 column in TIME that Barack Obama is reading my book ­Nixonland. The book is about the “separate and irreconcilable fears” over the past 50 years that have come to define the increasingly acrimonious cohabitation of Americans on the left and on the right. I assume Obama turned to it for insight about how he might help turn down the volume in our political conversation. But there’s also a story inNixonland about how the Democratic Party wins, why it loses and the good things that happen when the party gets the formula right. I surely hope Obama did not miss it.

It concerns the two major axes upon which major national elections get fought. Sometimes they become battles over the cultural and social anxieties that ordinary Americans suffer. Other times they are showdowns about middle-class anxieties when the free market fails. Normally, in the former sort of election, Republicans win. In the latter, Democrats do — as we saw in 2008, when the tide turned after John McCain said “the fundamentals of the economy are strong.”

Consider 1960. Even with all that ­famous 1950s prosperity, 1959 saw a recession. Richard Nixon blamed his defeat on Dwight D. Eisenhower’s failure to use government to subdue it. John F. Kennedy, meanwhile, enhanced New Deal programs like Social Security — and a promise to extend that legacy with ­Medicare was central to his appeal. People remember the U.S.’s first televised presidential debate for the contrast between JFK’s cool and a frantic and sweaty Nixon. What’s forgotten is what made Nixon so frantic: Kennedy’s unanswerable argument that Democrats had created those programs while Republicans opposed them.

Presenting himself as the face of calm in confusing times was essential to JFK’s victory, as it is essential to any President’s victory — which is why the Democrats lost in 1968. Nixon effectively associated them with the protesters in the streets. But even then, Nixon almost lost after his opponent Hubert Humphrey enlisted labor unions in a gargantuan last-minute push concerning which party had created Social Security and Medicare and which seemed indifferent about preserving them.

Two years later, Nixon thought he had another one in the bag — the 1970 elections, in which he campaigned tirelessly for Republican candidates, then gave an ­election-eve TV speech blaming Democrats for the “thugs and hoodlums” in the streets. Only he made a terrible mistake: he sounded just as frantic and ugly as the forces he claimed the GOP would subdue.

In contrast, the Democrats ran a response to Nixon’s hysterical election-eve address from Edmund Muskie, the calm, quiet Senator from Maine, who sat in an armchair and asked Americans to vote against a “politics of fear” that insists “you are encircled by monstrous dangers” and instead choose a “politics of trust.”

You might say Muskie’s was a very Barack Obama sort of speech — but with a difference. It was overwhelmingly partisan. It excoriated Republicans for the way they “cut back on health and education for the many … while expanding subsidies and special favors for the few.” In other words, it was just the kind of speech Obama will not give.

That year, the GOP went bust at the polls. Then, in 1972, the Democrats ran a candidate whose speeches were more frantic than any in history. George ­McGovern, following a then fashionable theory that the middle class was prosperous enough to take care of itself and that unions were pretty much irrelevant, spoke to working-class concerns less than any Democrat had before. He lost 49 states.

McGovern didn’t give what Lyndon B. Johnson used to call “Democratic” speeches — LBJ’s shorthand for talking about which party gave the people Social Security, Medicare and the Tennessee Valley Authority and which one was willing to toss them over the side. LBJ gave such speeches all the time in 1964 — and he won 60% of the popular vote.

Here’s what LBJ knew that ­McGovern didn’t: There are few or no historical instances in which saying clearly what you are for and what you are against makes Americans less divided. But there is plenty of evidence that attacking the wealthy has not made them more divided. After all, the man who said of his own day’s plutocrats, “I welcome their hatred,” also assembled the most enduring political coalition in U.S. history.

The Republicans will call it class warfare. Let them. Done right, economic populism cools the political climate. Just knowing that the people in power are willing to lie down on the tracks for them can make the middle much less frantic. Which makes America a better place. And which, incidentally, makes Democrats win.

GOP Wants to Have Its Cake And Eat It, Too

RNC Is Suddenly Upset At Obama For Proposing Medicare Cuts That The RNC Wants

Reince Priebus
First Posted: 8/4/11 03:24 PM ET Updated: 8/4/11 03:24 PM ET, The Huffington Post by Jason Linkins
Over the course of the debt ceiling negotiations, whenever news broke that entitlement cuts were being put “on the table,” you could typically rely on hearing from all manner of parties who were opposed and/or concerned about the program taking a hit. Typically, you’d hear protests emanating from progressive circles — Democratic politicians, liberal pundits, left-leaning blogs. But oddly enough, a new voice is keening in the wilderness today: the Republican National Committee. What now?

Yes, that’s right. On the RNC’s “Issues” page, under the oddly creepy headline, “Reach Out And Touch Medicare,” the Committee wants to remind you that, “For The Record…It Was Obama Who Offered To Cut Hundreds Of Billions In Medicare During The Debt Debate.” It’s a pretty selective remembrance! The bipartisan Gang Of Six also sought steep cuts to Medicare — $400 billion worth to recipients. Their talks broke down when Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) demanded further cuts. It wasn’t good enough for another Republican — Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — either. He wanted substantially bigger cuts as well. (And let’s recall that Ryan is the author of a celebrated Medicare plan that reduces Medicare costs by not paying for Medicare anymore.)

So, the RNC’s protesting headline seems a little off. It probably should read something more like, “For The Record … Obama’s Proposal To Cut Billions Of Dollars From Medicare Is Something With Which We Are In Total Agreement.” But this is actually old hat for the RNC — new Chairman Reince Priebus is simply adopting the “talk out of both sides of my mouth” technique that his predecessor, Michael Steele, popularized.

(The plan wrought by the debt ceiling negotiations, and endorsed by Obama, makes no cuts to Medicare in the first round, leaves it up to the super committee to do so in the second, and forces a trigger cut to Medicare on the provider side if no resolution can be had in committee or in Congress. Make no mistake, though, massive cuts on the provider side will have consequences for recipients.)

The cynical counterpunch here is to pinpoint that brief period of time that House Speaker John Boehner was trying to shop the terms of the “grand bargain,” which included $1 trillion in new revenue, and write a memo titled, “Remember, America, John Boehner wanted to raise your taxes!”

But one good thing has come from this: after much of the latter-day rhetoric which included constant complaints from the GOP that the White House never contributed a plan, now they suddenly remember there was one! (And it included cutting Medicare, something the RNC wants to do desperately.)

Still Waiting for Those ‘Jobs’ Bills, GOP

In 200+ Days The House GOP Has Voted To Kill 1.9 Million Jobs And Created 0

July 25, 2011

By Jason Easley, PoliticusUSA

It has been 202+ days since Republicans took back control of the House and promised to create jobs. During this time they have passed legislation that killed 1.9 million jobs and created 0.

Instead of creating jobs, House Democrats contend that the GOP has passed legislation that would kill 1.9 million US jobs:

Before you get the wrong idea, the GOP has passed legislation since they have taken control of the House. Here is a partial list of House Republican accomplishments:

Voted to repeal health care reform on behalf of the health insurance industry;

For big polluters, Republicans passed a bill to undermine our ability to provide a healthier environment for our children, eliminating every tool EPA has to address serious public health threats from carbon pollution, including increased childhood asthma;

Voted to protect taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil and speculators driving up gasoline prices, and against gasoline anti-price gouging legislation for consumers;

Voted to provide more tax cuts for millionaires, and protect tax breaks for corporations shipping jobs overseas;

Voted to strengthen the role of special interests in our elections (by ending the Presidential Election fund that promotes small campaign donations) and against disclosure of foreign countries, companies, or individuals donating to presidential campaigns;

Voted to cripple public radio stations, particularly in rural areas, while not saving taxpayers one dime;

Voted to cut off key federal funding for Planned Parenthood — devastating the primary source of health care, especially preventive services like contraception, cancer screenings, breast exams, and HIV testing, for millions of women across the country; and

Voted for an unprecedented, radical assault on women’s health care – for the first time restricting how women with private insurance can spend private dollars in purchasing health insurance.

So far the big signature achievement of this GOP majority was the vote to kill Medicare, but they may soon top themselves if they do not vote to raise the debt ceiling and allow the US to default.

The House GOP has also vote against 10 Democratically proposed job creation bills including:

An American jobs effort to end government contracts rewarding corporations that ship American jobs overseas. [Vote 19]

Build America Bonds to Create Jobs Now Act – leveraging public dollars to strengthen the private sector, growing our economy by rebuilding America’s schools, hospitals, and transit projects, supported by American businesses, the construction industry, mayors and governors. [Vote 38, Vote 30, Vote 189]

American Jobs Matter Act – to give preference in federal contracts to U.S. manufacturers that create jobs here at home. [Vote 257]

National Manufacturing Strategy Act, which calls on the President to lay out a plan to help ensure American manufacturers can compete, grow, and thrive. [Vote 279]

Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing Technology Act to help ensure the cars of the future are built here in the U.S., by investing in a broad range of near-term and long-term vehicle technologies to improve fuel efficiency, support domestic research and manufacturing, and lead to greater consumer choice of vehicle technologies and fuels. [Vote 310]

Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act to provide our government with effective tools to address unfair currency manipulation by countries like China, which could help create 1 million American manufacturing jobs by leveling the international playing field for American workers and businesses. [Vote 9, Vote 199]

The House GOP has passed more bills related to defunding Planned Parenthood (1) than they have passed to create jobs (0).

The day after the GOP took base the House, John Boehner said, “As you heard me say last night, we are humbled by the trust that the American people have placed in us and we recognize this is a time for us to roll up our sleeves and go to work on the people’s priorities: creating jobs, cutting spending and reforming the way Congress does its business. It’s not just what the American people are demanding — it’s what they are expecting from us.”

We are a little past the 200 day mark and the House GOP have yet to pass a bill that would create a single job. The only spending they are willing to slash is related to the poor, the disabled, women, Social Security and Medicare, but they have changed the way that the Congress does business by being so hardline that House of Representatives is irrelevant as a policy making body and has become an obstacle to agreement on even the most basic of legislation.

House Republicans have pulled a bait and switch on the American electorate. They ran a campaign based on job creation, but once elected set out to implement a corporatist and socially conservative agenda. This is no different than the bait and switch that Rick Snyder and Scott Walker pulled on voters in Wisconsin and Michigan.

How many Americans would have voted Republican in 2010 if they knew on Election Day that the GOP agenda was not to create jobs, so that they could possibly defeat Obama in 2012?

The truth is that House Republicans have no interest in creating jobs, because a prosperous economy would mean the reelection of Barack Obama. For this reason alone, it is a safe bet that the number of bills that House Republicans will introduce to create jobs between now and November 2012 will remain at zero.

Shifting the Cost to the Elderly

Congressman John Olver (MA-01), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, just posted this both on his Facebook page and his official website.  It depicts future Medicare costs to the government and to the beneficiary in 2022 and 2030.  I thought I’d pass it along!

Howdy Ya’ll

“Yesterday, Texas lawmakers in the state house passed a 142-page measure in special session that could drastically change how 6.6 million Texans benefiting from Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP programs receive their care. The bill — which includes two controversial amendments that have yet to be adopted by the state Senate — strongly mirror the reforms offered in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget.”

Let me get this straight, so senior citizens are those in the United States that turn up in the largest numbers to vote and you want to strip them of their Medicare?  I realize that we need to rein in spending to some extent, but do we really think that providing quality affordable health care to our nation’s elders is something that should not be a priority?  And just to think, the elderly is only one faction of the population affected by this, this type of legislation also affects the poor and children.  Essentially, this bill attacks our nation’s most vulnerable.  Great.

Original article.