It you want to see how badly led and captive the Democratic leadership has become over mindless deficit hysteria, just watch Jim Clyburn dodge Chris Hayes’ questions on MSNBC’s Last Word. In response to Hayes’ initial [wrong] question — how are you guys going to close this deal given GOP opposition to tax increases? — Clyburn explains how proud he is to be part of the Joe Biden group that has agreed to slash federal spending by, we’re told, trillions of dollars.

Hayes then recovers and asks whether Clyburn believes slashing federal spending will help the economy and lower unemployment. That’s one of the most important economic and political question facing the country, but Clyburn doesn’t answer it. Instead he deflects it by telling us he supports a financial transaction tax to fund infrastructure investments.

So? Answer the question, Mr. Clyburn.

I assume Mr. Clyburn is sincere in his support for a financial transaction tax to help fund an infrastructure investment bank, but Clyburn seems unable to connect the economic effects of what the “Joe Biden group” has agreed to and his support for a jobs program. Instead, he’s more interested in claiming we can raise some revenues without raising anyone’s tax rates.

That’s great Jim. With wealthy people hoovering up almost all of the economic growth of the last two decades, with Bush Tax Cuts extended another two years, and with wealthy Americans paying some of the lowest effective tax rates in decades, a Democratic leader is trying to assure us he doesn’t want to raise tax rates on the richest Americans. And we’re supposed to support this Party?

From what little the’ve condescended to tell us, tradeoffs worth fighting for aren’t even on Joe Biden’s dining table. So Clyburn’s support for infrastructure spending is just a nice idea floating out there with no prospects, no meaningful White House support and no leverage in the actual discussions. But gosh, look at all the progress they’ve made in agreeing to 85 percent of what the Tea-GOP wanted but hasn’t even agreed to in exchange for . . . what?

At a minimum, Clyburn could have argued that spending cuts in some questionable, ineffective program areas would be acceptable if there were an agreement to provide even more funding for worthwhile programs to create jobs, rescue states and citiies and prevent continuing layoffs of teachers, police, firefighters and other public workers. He could have said Democrats are demanding that kind of tradeoff in the discussions. But apparently they aren’t.

Where are the peoples’ representative pounding on Joe’s table until Mrs. Adams’ china crashes to the floor, demanding to rescue the unemployed, the impoverished, the uninsured, the victims of disasters, layed off teachers, disenfranchised public workers, funding for financial/environmental/food safety regulation and on and on. Why aren’t these real interests represented at Joe Biden’s table as the non-negotiable positions of the peoples’ representatives?

But these positions can’t be talked about, because the Democrats have forgotten who put them in office. It’s time to return the favor.



John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley