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Lip Service – Caution Democrats At Work!

HueyPLongLook out! The ghost of Huey Long has taken over for all three of Dickens’ spirits and is haunting the Corporate Democrats. How else to explain the recent conversions of the darling of Goldman Sachs’ and Robert Rubin’s Hamilton Project, the Crown family of General Dynamics and Penny Pritzger of the Hyatt fortune suddenly getting all populist and proposing a free community college education for one and all?

President Obama said Thursday that he would propose a government program to make community college tuition-free for millions of students, an ambitious plan that would expand educational opportunities across the United States. …

The proposal would cover half-time and full-time students who maintain a 2.5 grade point average — about a C-plus — and who “make steady progress toward completing a program,” White House officials said. It would apply to colleges that offered credit toward a four-year degree or occupational-training programs that award degrees in high-demand fields. The federal government would cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college for those students, and states that choose to participate would cover the remainder. If all states participate, the administration estimates, the program could cover as many as nine million students, saving them each an average of $3,800 a year.

Mr. Obama will include the program, which would need congressional approval, in his budget for the coming year, his advisers said, and detail it in his State of the Union address Jan. 20. …

White House officials acknowledged in a conference call with reporters that the program was unlikely to win quick approval in Congress.

Huey has also been haunting congressional corporate Democrats, too! Programs and ideas that liberals/progressives and decent people have been politely pushing the Democrats to get behind are suddenly popping up all over! The “Robin Hood” (Tobin) Tax, incentives to raise worker pay, tripling the child-care tax credits – a program that for once redistributes wealth downwards!

All this from an administration that created a budget sequestration process and stood by with its hands in its pockets as a bipartisan deal was cut which rewarded the military industrial complex while failing to address drastic cuts in food stamp benefits and did not extend unemployment benefits for workers displaced by the banksters’ (whom Obama continues to protect) looting of the economy.The same administration that has been aching to cut old folk’s social security to reward his rich buddies. Corporate Democrats came out of the woodwork to support Obama in his attack on poor old folks with rhetoric that would make Frank Luntz wonder which party he works for:

Congressional Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), signaled greater willingness on Wednesday to cut Social Security benefits … Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill that a cut proposed by President Barack Obama in the fiscal cliff negotiations would in fact “strengthen” the program, echoing the claims often made by Republicans about entitlement programs they want to slash. …

The cut involves swapping out the traditional method for calculating cost of living increases, based on the current standard for measuring inflation, for something called a chained CPI, or chained Consumer Price Index.

The cuts would start small, but wind up costing beneficiaries thousands of dollars over time … Pelosi wrapped both her arms around it Wednesday, insisting she does not regard it as a “cut.”

Huey must have clapped these guys upside the head with a spectral clue-by-four!

Really! Look at this stuff:

Striking Populist Tone, Mainstream Dems Push Robin Hood Tax Plan

Taking a cue from the progressive playbook in what observers are interpreting as a more populist tack, mainstream Democrats on Monday unveiled a new economic “action plan” to redistribute wealth from top earners to lower and middle classes.

Among the components included in the proposal, introduced by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) with backing from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, is a Financial Transaction Tax, also known as a Robin Hood Tax, which for years has been a staple of progressive budgetary plans.

The tax places a 0.1 percent fee on financial transactions that, under the action plan, will be rolled in with new reductions in tax breaks for the top 1 percent of earners and placed in the pockets of low- and middle-income households.

The new taxes will reportedly add up to roughly $1.2 trillion over the next decade, which would in turn fund a ‘paycheck bonus credit’ of $2,000 a year for couples earning less than $200,000.

Other elements of Van Hollen’s proposal include incentivizing companies to raise worker pay by placing restrictions on the tax treatment of executive salaries for companies that don’t also increase employees’ income, incentivizing worker training programs, nearly tripling the tax credit for child care and rewarding people who save at least $500 a year.

Holy Born-Again Boomerangs, Batman!

 

Say, does this strike you as being too good to be true?

Gosh, it’s a shame that this change of political orientation has come right after the Democrats got wiped out at the polls. If only this hoped for change could have happened back during the 111th Congress when Democrats owned 2 branches of the government:

The One Hundred Eleventh United States Congress was the meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government from January 3, 2009, until January 3, 2011. It began during the last two weeks of the George W. Bush administration, with the remainder spanning the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. It was composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The apportionment of seats in the House was based on the 2000 U.S. Census. In the November 4, 2008 elections, the Democratic Party increased its majorities in both chambers, giving President Obama a Democratic majority in the legislature for the first two years of his presidency.

Oh, the humanity!

Um, wait:

Why Democrats Are Pushing a $1.2 Trillion Redistribution of Wealth

lip serviceThe Republican Party has just taken over both houses of Congress for at minimum the next two years – so this may seem an odd time for House Democrats to announce major policy proposals to raise the fees paid by the financial services industry and taxes on the wealthy, all in an effort to give a tax break to the middle class.

Yet there was Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on Monday, in a speech at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, proposing a $1.2 trillion redistribution of wealth from the richest Americans to a large swath of middle- and lower-income earners over the next 10 years. …

The proposal comes just days after President Obama called for another major program to aid low- and middle-income workers: two years of free community college for all Americans. The rationale behind that program is that for job seekers today, two years of college is the equivalent of what a high school diploma was a generation ago. When a high school diploma was the ticket to a middle class job, the U.S. made high school free. Now that a little more education is required, the thinking goes, the government should provide that as well.

To be clear, neither of these proposals is likely to go anywhere legislatively in the next two years. What Obama, Van Hollen and the Democrats in general are doing is trying to define the party’s position in advance of the 2016 election. The Democrats want to retain the White House and recapture the Senate – and with those goals in mind, they want to choose the battlefield for the next election and seize the high ground from the outset.

In reality, a soak-the-rich tax plan probably wouldn’t even make it through a Democratic-controlled Congress. But now, with Republicans running the show on both sides of Capitol Hill, Democrats like Van Hollen are in a position similar to the one that allowed their Republican colleagues to offer and vote on countless doomed proposals to repeal, defund, or otherwise damage the Affordable Care Act. With no chance of passage, the proposals are meant not to become law – but to tell voters where the party stands.

Actually, it’s not “to tell voters not where the party stands,” rather, it’s what the party would like voters to believe about whose side the Democrats are on. It’s about maintaining the illusion of choice needed to manage democracy.

[Political scientist and author of Democracy Inc. Sheldon] Wolin believes the democracy of the United States is sanitized of political participation, and describes it as managed democracy: “a political form in which governments are legitimated by elections that they have learned to control”. Under managed democracy, the electorate is prevented from having a significant impact on policies adopted by the state through the continuous employment of public relations techniques.

Wolin’s work would seem to be supported by the recent research findings of Gilens and Page, whose work Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens measures the impact that various sections of the electorate have on public policy:

“Our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts,” Gilens and Page write:

Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

That’s a big claim. In their conclusion, Gilens and Page go even further, asserting that “In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule—at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover … even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”

Do you suppose that a tipping point might be approaching where enough people might be catching on to the scam to make change possible?

 

Political vacuum – a new way of “embracing the suck?”

In Chicago, there is a group that is ready to hold the system accountable:

“We have a Democratic mayor and a one hundred percent Democratic city council, and what has that gotten us?”, asked Michael Collins, a member of The People’s Lobby. “Fifty closed schools and 3,000 teachers laid-off – mostly in Black neighborhoods, closed mental health clinics, slashed library hours and crumbling infrastructure. At the same time, they’re picking our pockets with millions of dollars in red light tickets and giving tens of millions of our tax dollars to the Marriott Corporation to build another hotel we don’t need.”

In 1964, civil rights organizers fought the power of the segregationist Mississippi Democratic Party by organizing their own party – the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. They signed up tens of thousands of African American members following official Democratic Party rules and demanded to be seated at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in place of the Mississippi’s segregationist delegation. Although they weren’t successful, they attracted enormous support for the civil rights movement and helped lay the groundwork for the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

In an article about the move to wrest the Chicago government from Corporate Democrats, what applies locally applies to the national Corporate Democratic party as well:

The Mississippi Freedom Party organizers knew the segregationist state party could never represent their interests, and we can no longer hold out any hope that today’s Democratic Party will put our interests above the interests of their corporate owners. Today’s Democratic Party makes deals behind closed doors that put corporate profits and the interests of the wealthy before our interests. The Democratic Party has embraced many of the right’s policies, including privatization, corporate tax breaks and corporate subsidies. It’s important to note on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday that although these policies hurt all of us, they hurt African Americans and other people of color the most. These policies steal staggering amounts of wealth from poor and middle class people and put it in the hands of the corporate elite – leaving almost no public money to invest in eliminating America’s racial disparities in income, education, housing quality and health care – or anything else, for that matter. These policies are structurally racist.

If history has only one lesson to teach, it is that in precarious moments like this the elite class is unwilling, incapable, or outright hostile to the idea of carrying out the bold and drastic measures favored by the majority. It is up to regular Americans to stand up and to reclaim government as a means for collectively solving our biggest problems.

When Nancy Pelosi was facing difficulty with a segment of the Democrats that were uncomfortable with the budgetary screwing that the Corporate Democrats and the Corporate Republicans had arranged, she told her members to “embrace the suck.”

When the Corporate Democrats and the Corporate Republicans (the bipartisans) conspire, it creates another kind of suck, besides bad legislation that creates austerity, which rewards rich people. It creates a political vacuum – a void that once filled pulls the unserved electorate into it. This is showing up in Europe where in several countries which have not had a party that will oppose the austerity measures imposed by the governmental flunkies of banksters and corporations are seeing new parties rise up to oppose the oppressive bankster-driven politics.

In Spain, a new party, Podemos, has risen and in a little over a year is credibly challenging the corrupt austerity parties for control of the government.

Leader of Anti-Austerity Podemos Party Could Be Spain’s Next Prime Minister

Revealing the country’s increasing resistance to austerity, nearly half of Spanish voters support the rising left-wing Podemos Party’s de facto leader Pablo Iglesias for Prime Minister, according to a poll published Friday by radio station Cadena Ser.

If an election for Prime Minister were held right now, Iglesias would receive 44 percent of the votes, the survey showed—almost twice as much as Spain’s current president, Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party, who would net 23 percent.

The poll also found that 27.5 of Spaniards would vote for the Podemos Party in the upcoming general elections, set to take place on or before December 20, 2015.

Political analysts have noted that the unexpected ascent of Podemos (translated “We Can”) may have broken Spain’s traditional two-party structure, a phenomenon particularly noteworthy given that the party was formed just over a year ago ahead of elections for European Parliament in which it captured a surprising five of the Spanish delegation’s seats.

It seems quite possible that the Democrats and Republicans are toast if a party appears that responds to the desires of the American public which favors a more even distribution of wealth, overwhelmingly oppose cuts in social security, and raising the minimum wage and extending jobless benefits, as well as addressing climate change.

Perhaps congress’ abysmal approval ratings have something to do with the fact that Americans do not feel well-represented by the bipartisans.

Anybody want to start a party?

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joe shikspack

joe shikspack

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