Friday, January 4, 2019

Pelosi: Leggo My PayGo!

As expected, Nancy Pelosi won the House Speakership this week and has thereby solidified her position as chief Democratic Party austerian in service to the rich.

Widely praised as a genius at extracting campaign cash from wealthy oligarchs for her members and for deftly co-opting their loyalty in the process, one of her first orders of business was reinstating the so-called PAYGO rule, which requires that all new spending be offset either by new taxes or by cutting funds from other programs. Critics say the move - which passed on Thursday with only three Democrats dissenting - is a deliberate attempt to prevent such progressive policies as Medicare For All from ever reaching the floor for debate, let alone a vote for actual implementation.

It's also an ideological return to the Obama era austerity politics that immiserated millions of people and paved the way for the Donald Trump victory.

Defenders of the rule point out that it is actually only a toothless little offshoot of the real PayGo law, and that this law, enacted in 2010, can be waived at any time and indeed, has been waived in the past. Of course, the most recent waiver benefited only the richest of the rich, via Trump's deficit-ballooning tax package.

And that leads skeptics to ask why Pelosi would insist on such a redundant rule in the first place. 

Even Paul Krugman of the New York Times, while gushing that Pelosi is "the best House speaker of modern times," observes:
In fact, even the deficit scolds who played such a big role in Beltway discourse during the Obama years seem oddly selective in their concerns about red ink. After all those proclamations that fiscal doom was coming any day now unless we cut spending on Social Security and Medicare, it’s remarkable how muted their response has been to a huge, budget-busting tax cut. It’s almost as if their real goal was shrinking social programs, not limiting national debt.
'Tis a puzzlement. But Krugman just can't bring himself to accuse the neoliberal governing cabal, of which the Democrats are in integral moving part, of subterfuge and actual corruption.

So I did, in my published comment:
As Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page established in their studies of affluence and influence, wealthy donors get what they want from their politicians: a big return on their investment.
And what they don't want is Medicare For All, free public college, expanded Social Security, living wage legislation, a Green New Deal, or just about anything that improves the lives of ordinary people.
The Democratic leadership can't come right out and admit this, so they set up their convoluted PayGo gimmick while glibly assuring their members and constituents that they can waive their silly old rule any time they feel like it.
 Maybe they'll feel like it in another several decades, by which time tens of thousands of the uninsured and underinsured will be conveniently dead, or the ignored climate catastrophe does us in whether we have platinum plans or not.
Right now, they just don't have time to feel like it. If returning and new members accepted money from the DCCC, they'll be forced to spend half of each working day raising more money for the party coffers. (Since the DCCC never funded Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's run for office, she has the rare luxury of serving her constituents rather than the party.)
When the Democrats took back the House in November, most people assumed Nancy Pelosi misspoke when she crowed "Let's hear it more for pre-existing conditions!"
 Not likely. She will indeed go down in history as one of the most effective Speakers our Banana Republic has ever had.
Of course, it's way too early to predict whether "AOC" and her progressive cohort of newbies will develop any real clout within the hallowed halls of Congress. As Bill Scher writes in Politico, she is so far zero for two in her nascent battle against Pelosi, losing in her demand for a climate committee with real teeth and subpoena power, and only enlisting two other Democratic members in the "just say no to PayGo" rebellion.
Pelosi has not exactly hidden her disdain for those on the activist left who push proposals she considers foolish. In a New York Times interview conducted before the midterm elections but published shortly afterward, she sarcastically said, "I have those who want to be for impeachment and for abolishing ICE... two really winning issues for us, right? In the districts we have to win? I don't even think they're the right thing to do."
That's what distinguishes Pelosi from Republican speakers. She does not hesitate to keep her party's idealogues in check.
So the Times, whose hagiographic treatment of Pelosi rivals that of their fawning coverage of the Michelle Obama and Ruth Bader Ginsberg personality cults, voluntarily refrained from publishing Pelosi's disdain for ordinary people until her party and herself were safely back in semi-power. Since her Speakership victory, she has had nothing to say about American border patrols firing tear gas across the border at Central American refugees. But she has been inordinately hasty to say that impeaching Trump is as much as off the table, as is the Democratic House's issuance of a subpoena for his tax returns.

To be fair to Pelosi and as evidence of her true devotion to even-handed bipartisanship, she similarly had nothing to say when Obama's border patrol agents also regularly deployed tear gas against immigrants and refugees. Nor, when the Democrats took back the House in 2006, did she move to bring articles of impeachment against George W. Bush for his illegal invasion of Iraq and for his illegal torture program. In fact, she has joined the rest of the Democratic Party in rehabilitating Bush's bumbling war criminal image by proclaiming a wistful nostalgia for him.

The Nancy and Donald Show is being hyped by the media as a Dancing With the Stars battle of the sexes tango between two aging factions of the Ruling Class Racket. It promises to get huge ratings and lots of clicks as it engenders globs and globs of manufactured outrage and cheers from the populace, who have been carefully taught to define themselves mainly by their party allegiances.

Don't forget to root for your favorite, and be sure to call in or text your uncounted votes before the end of the latest episode.


Erik Roth said...

"Nancy Pelosi Rams Austerity Provision Into House Rules Package Over Objections of Progressives."

"Nancy Pelosi will ‘cut your head off and you won’t even know you’re bleeding,’ daughter Alexandra Pelosi says."

The Doktor - Doug R said...

Is Pelosi tearing America apart by using blatant lies & propaganda to make us afraid of Brown & Black People?
Is Pelosi appointing uber wealthy lobbyists into positions of extreme power in every single cabinet position?
Is Pelosi weakening the global alliances that have so far prevented WWIII?
Is Pelosi doing everything she can to prop up brutal murderous psychopaths like Kim Jong Un, Putin, Erdogan & Assad?
No 4 times - that would be Trump the defiler.

John Merryman said...

One thing to keep in mind is the further the old system sustains itself, the greater the underlaying dislocation and the potential for overall change. As it is now, when the US can no longer issue endless debt, disaster capitalism comes home to roost and we will be paying tolls to use highways that Warren Buffet and company have traded all their treasuries for. The discussion has to go deeper than just protesting the inequities of it all.
My thoughts on the subject:

Anna Radicalova said...

Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced a bill to repeal the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.

Co-sponsors are AOC, Clark, DeLauro, Espaillat, Gabbard, Gomez,Grijalva, Khanna, Lee, Maloney, McGovern, Nadler, Napolitano, Neguse, Omar, Pingree, Pocan, Pressley, Raskin, Serrano, Schakowsky, Takano, Tlaib, Velazquez, and Watson Coleman.

Scott A. Weir said...

Most accurate assessment of the situation I have seen (via Truthout). The charade continues.

Unknown said...

Thom Hartmann called this recurring charade out earlier this week --GOP tax breaks for the rich, and Dems claiming no $ for social programs because we gotta pay down the debt. It's been a cycle for decades.

"The GOP’s Most Successful Scam Is About to Reboot Itself"

GOP either recharges the MIC, or just hands over trillions in tax breaks to the 1% directly. Then the Dems cut, cut, cut social programs --to balance the budget.

"...not only will Republicans (and corporate-funded Dems) block any genuinely progressive spending legislation in 2019 or 2020, but they’ll prevent any possibility of debt-free college, Medicare for All, or a Green New Deal in the entire next presidential term, clear through 2024 or beyond."

Jay–Ottawa said...

It was a snow-filled and slippery night in North America. The unlucky few caught on north-south roads could actually see the wind, a mean force gusting east across the highways. It got worse. Trucks were blown over; cars veered onto shoulders or into culverts. The authorities could do nothing to restore order.

Drivers and passengers opened doors to escape their vehicles and better define their predicament. Risky moves. Would following drivers see them milling around on and off the road?

Look out, look out !–– Then the alarm clock; this was only my recurring nightmare of winter. (More about my nightmares for each season on another occasion.)

Then a great idea occurred to me as I sat up in bed. As was the custom in those days, I slapped my forehead with the back of my right hand. Why not pass a law requiring all trucks and cars to carry reflective yellow vests, always on hand for emergencies?

And so it was done by the Congress––but only after lobbyists for yellow vest manufacturers had deposited enough quids into congressional coffers for the quos to flow. France had long ago passed such a law, their fancy term for the compulsory garments being 'Gilets Jaunes.'

Historians who will come after these times may credit yellow vests with uniting the downtrodden, clothing them with resolve, and triggering revolutions that took hold of the world in 2019. Both right and left were in the streets as brothers and sisters overturning cars and pushing back police lines. And boy, did they ever trash Wall Street.

No one could tell them apart: the yellow vests (YVs) of one party from the YVs of another party. Even the Greens turned out in yellow. The YVs were like a great wind that blew the establishment to shreds. Finally, the game had become all of us vs those damn few. YVs made nobodies into a force, visible and vast.

Thus has my nightmare prompted the genius that makes dreams come true. The next time you look away from your iPhone or take a break from FaceBook, email your representative to press for a yellow vest law. Incidental costs to the government can be offset by transfers from the Defense Department. Tell the generals to support our YVs.

Erik Roth said...

"Democrats are hunting big game – did big money already bag them?
The party of Pelosi and Schiff is not immune to the influence of Wall Street. Grassroots activists must stay vigilant." --

Robert Reich warns:

"Do not ever underestimate the influence of Wall Street Democrats, corporate Democrats, and the Democrats’ biggest funders. I know. I’ve been there."

The Doktor - Doug R said...

The glaring premise missing from all this Dem bashing (some of it is certainly justified) is that the Dems are currently our only hope. Sad as that may be, until we as a people deal with conservatism as the scourge that it is, such is our lot.
The 'stubs are plainly & openly destroying any possibility of worker rights or income equality.

Does anyone on this thread think there is even one republican who cares about income inequality?

There are many Dems who do and say so openly.

Does anyone think the Russians want to see America succeed?

garthpool said...

Social Security has no effect on the deficit. It is easy to verify this fact. Most of us need to do it, including Paul Krugman and Karen Garcia.