Ignatius Is Right About One Thing

I am no fan of David Ignatius, and take the point raised by Left bloggers that Ignatius' slam of Pelosi is absurd, but there is an interesting and insightful aspect to his column today:

The Democrats' challenge is to fuse populist anger with the party's other dynamic movement -- the call for fiscal reforms made by former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin and other members of the Hamilton Project, which seeks budget-balancing changes in entitlement spending. The goal should be to articulate policies that are at once pro-equality and pro-growth. That's a tall order, especially at a time when the U.S. economy appears to be slowing.

I agree but I think that is the challenge of those Democrats like me who believe that. Ignatius states it is the Democrats' challenge and so it is - but it is my wing of the Party, the pro-free trade, pro-market wing of the Party, that must produce the goods here.

More from Ignatius:

Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury secretary and Harvard economist, suggested the right balance in a column in the Financial Times last month: "The best parts of the progressive tradition do not oppose the market system; they improve on the outcomes it naturally produces. That is what we need today." If the Democrats hope to re-create the "big tent" of a true governing coalition, they have to find policies that bring together the wings of their own party. Successful economic policies will be those that advance the interests of Main Street without destroying those of Wall Street, and vice versa. Solving that puzzle is a big intellectual challenge. It should motivate and unite the Democrats -- from Webb and Edwards to Clinton and Rubin -- as they move toward 2008.

I like this and agree with it. But the Republican demagogy on tax policy, with the enablement of some pro-market Dems, has taken away one of our prime tools. What goes unmentioned in Ignatius' column is Bill Clinton's 1993 tax package, which included an increase in the top tac rate AND an earned income tax credit, that benefits the lower income working class. He also fails to mention the Bush tax cuts that disproportionately favored the rich, blew the budget and exacerbated the income disparities in our nation.

But anyway you slice it, the challenge is for my wing of the Democratic Party to make the persuasive arguments.

< Your Liberal Media | Just Say No to the President's Judicial Nominees >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I just want to be clear (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 06:39:12 PM EST
    about the approach to fiscal reform...

    From Ignatius,

    the call for fiscal reforms made by former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin and other members of the Hamilton Project, which seeks budget-balancing changes in entitlement spending.

    2% of the population owns 30% of the wealth, much of it inherited, and you want to talk about entitlement? Or should we start with corporate welfare?

    Which entitlements should we be discussing? And who is going to pay for Bush's mistakes?

    Link?? (none / 0) (#5)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Nov 18, 2006 at 07:16:37 AM EST
    Hey Che, got a link??

    Hey Jimbo (4.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Nov 18, 2006 at 12:23:28 PM EST
    playing the passive aggressive card today?

    Simply go to the Google and enter wealth distribution.
    I posted this last week. Yet what diff does it make? You won't accept it anyway.

    You can choose your viewpoint from the multitude of hits. But after you strip off the numbers, it all boils down to one thing IMHO. What is your morality? Free-for-all economics that favor the few, or a quality life for everyone, which is easily attainable with our technology and resources? The current aristocracy and their sheep scream about borders but have no allegiance to their fellow citizens, and no loyalty to the ideals of this country when it comes to gaining wealth.

    Numbers vs Taxes (3.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Donna Z on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 09:08:18 PM EST
    The term taxes are commonly thought of as "income taxes" not the source of most of the income generated by the very rich. Also, not included in those taxes is Social Security tax. The politicos play a weird game of numbers when it comes to SSI. We operate with a unitary budget, thus, there really is no "lock box." Both sides pretend there is. The Dems like the concept because they can hammer republicans with the very idea of SSI. The republicans go along because if the dollar amts. were included with regular ole income taxes, the difference in the rate (not the dollars) would blow their cover. (See: The 2% Solution by M. Miller for a more coherent discussion of this shell game.)

    From that same book, Miller outlines what he saw as the faulty thinking among the Clinton Dems. and the Old Dems. The Old Dems think in huge programs that mostly go wrong, while Clinton Dems know how to balance the budget and save money, but they don't know how to spend it. Thus:

    Successful economic policies will be those that advance the interests of Main Street without destroying those of Wall Street, and vice versa.
    is doable. Clinton had a surplus to carry this through, but he also had a fear of being branded a liberal. Main Street lost. The money was left to bush, and you know the rest of the story.

    Donna Z and Bill (3.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Nov 18, 2006 at 02:20:45 PM EST
    Those are both very important points. IMO the Old Dems are not forward thinking on a humanistic level. We're in the midst of the Psychocene epoch.

    And the Pentagon budget, as well as the intel budgets, are obcene. But Eisenhower's warnings were covered over by fear mongering, greedy, hateful men. We have created perpetual conflict to line the pockets of a few dangerous people who actually believe what they're shoveling.

    He also fails to mention the Bush tax cuts that (none / 0) (#1)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 02:48:25 PM EST
    disproportionately favored the rich

    Got a link?  This link sez the opposite.

    According to the new data, the top half of taxpayers ranked by income paid 96.70 percent of the individual income taxes paid in 2004, compared to 86.05 percent in 1949, 89.35 percent in 1959, and 90.27 percent in 1969.

    It is from the joint economic committee.

    Now go find the important stat (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Fri Nov 17, 2006 at 04:58:35 PM EST
    The one that talks about the gap between the rich and poor, how much it's widened since your cited stats -- and which would EXPLAIN your stats.  There were fewer wildly wealthy people then -- wealth was not as concentrated in as few hands as it is now.  The social and political impact of post-Depression reforms was.  Now it is not, and get as rich as you can is somehow seen as a virtue.

    The actual physical burden of taxes is heavier the poorer you get, and that burden has increased as wealth has become concentrated in fewer hands.


    Why go after entitlement spending... (none / 0) (#6)
    by Bill Arnett on Sat Nov 18, 2006 at 11:59:12 AM EST
    ...when cutting the Pentagon's budget in half or more could possibly cure all our ills.

    This "Future Combat System" desired by the neocons uses up to 50 UNDEVELOPED THEORETICAL DEVICES they can't even be sure will work, but they will expend hundreds of billions on yet another system of dubious benefit. Read here or just google Future Combat System + Dod to find the GAO report.

    And this is on top of this absolutely useless Star Wars missile defense system that has cost several hundred billions and STILL stands no chance of stopping a missile attack.

    When we grow wise enough to stop being war-like barbarians dreaming up ever more efficient ways to kill people, and instead use all that money to improve the quality of life for all, especially the least among us, then we will achieve real civilization bound by the common good.

    Otherwise we will get so efficient at destroying things that we may well destroy EVERYTHING, so I say why cut a single dime from entitlement programs that IMPROVE the quality of life instead of developing the means of our own destruction?