Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Biden and the Promise of America

It's a new dawn, it's a new day and the editors at The Liberal Patriot consider what it all means, especially in light of Biden's fine inaugural speech. Brian Katulis covers a new economic foundation, Peter Juul considers a new internationalism, John Halpin outlines a new social contract and finally I assess a new politics that may be aborning.
"President Joseph R. Biden, in a necessary and heartfelt call for national unity in his inaugural address, gave all Americans his personal commitment to lead the country with honesty, integrity, and truthfulness and to always level with them through the difficult process of collectively confronting the challenges of our time: the pandemic, economic depression, the climate crisis, ongoing inequalities, and the assault on democracy.
Turning the page on the destructive and divisive Trump years, President Biden laid out a vision of America that “will not fail” if it acts together to build a more perfect union. Although the address centered mainly on his personal bonds with the country, the new president described the basic structures of what he wants a newly united country to achieve, at both the personal and societal levels.
He said: "Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this. Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.
Uniting to fight the foes we face: anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness. With unity we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward work and rebuild the middle class and make healthcare secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world."
Looking forward, TLP’s co-editors examine the core components of national policy and politics that should drive the Biden administration’s efforts to renew America’s promise."
Please click through to read it all at The Liberal Patriot!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

As We Exit the Trump Era....What Do the American People Want?

Well, pretty much what you'd expect, though there are some interesting differences between a new survey (AP/NORC) which asked what problems respondents would like to see the government working on in 2021 (up to 5 responses accepted; open-ended) and another new survey (Morning Consult) which asked for respondents' top priority for Biden to accomplish during his first term (open-ended). For example, climate and social issues are way down the list as a top priority in the Morning Consult poll but do better in AP/NORC as one of a number of problems government should attend to in 2021.
That said, it certainly appears that, above all, people want action on the economy and COVID. To the incoming administration's credit, it does seem like they get this. Hopefully, a new era is dawning. We shall see.

Monday, January 18, 2021

The MLK Solution to Trumpian Populism

My thoughts on this now up on The Liberal Patriot. Check it out....and subscribe!
"Today is a good day to remember that Martin Luther King, Jr. spent the last period of his life trying to organize the Poor People’s Campaign, explicitly conceived as a multiracial movement for economic justice."

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Will the Real Working Class Party Please Stand Up?

People don't like to let go of the idea that the Democrats are, despite everything, still essentially the party of America's working class. This is usually illustrated by reference to Democrats still carrying the nonwhite working class by quite a bit. True, but that is only part of the working class; the overall working class is a different story.

Here are some relevant data:
Using the standard education proxy for class, Catalist data show Democrats steadily losing ground among noncollege (working class) voters since 2008 (as far back as Catalist public goes).
In 2008: +8 Democratic margin
In 2012: +2 Democratic margin
In 2016: -2 Democratic margin
No 2020 data available yet
States of Change noncollege voter data:
In 2016: -6 Democratic margin
No 2020 data available yet
AP/NORC VoteCast noncollege voter data
(No 2016 data available)
In 2020: -4 Democratic margin
So Democrats are losing ground in the working class writ large and, as a result, they are not currently the preferred party of the working class. This is a problem. Denying it is silly. Democrats should not be content with only doing well among nonwhite working class voters (and again there are clear signs of slippage even there) and ceding the rest of the working class to the GOP. This does not make sense on either electoral or ideological grounds.

What Should Biden Do?

The Post asked me to contribute to a special issue of their magazine on what Biden should do once he's in office. The general idea for contributors was not just to recommend the obvious--beat the pandemic, restart the economy--but to come up with an idea that was less obvious but still very important. Below is my contribution, click through for all the various recommendations.
"When Joe Biden assumes office, job No. 1 will be to get the coronavirus crisis under control. Job No. 2 will be returning the economy to full employment and basic health — and more stimulus will invariably be needed to bring the economy back.
But how and where the money is spent will make a big difference. As much spending as possible should go toward ensuring that the economy, when functioning normally, produces better outcomes for left-behind workers and communities. This will not happen naturally, as we can see from the recent experience of the recovery from the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The economy recovered, albeit very slowly, but the economic gap between dynamic large metropolitan areas and the rest of the country — particularly rural and small-town America — widened. Democrats did very well indeed in the former in 2020 but managed only very modest progress, and sometimes none at all, in the latter.
Biden says he wants to be a president “who doesn’t see red and blue states, but a United States. And who will work with all my heart to win the confidence of the whole people.”
There’s really only one way to do this: bringing all parts of America forward to greater prosperity, rather than allowing the current geographic split in economic trajectory to continue. This could entail any number of steps — from universalizing broadband access in rural areas, to investing in rural colleges and infrastructure, to direct employment subsidies in distressed areas — but the important thing is to try. Contrary to the Zen precept, you can’t hit the target unless you’re aiming at it."

Time for a Democratic Brand Reset

Only a few more days of the Orange One! But Joe Biden and the Democrats have a huge challenge ahead of them in terms both of governance success and future electoral success. At The Liberal Patriot, John Halpin has a lucid analysis of the need for a Democratic brand reset to accomplish all this. You will perhaps recognize some of the themes I have touched on in my posts. But there's plenty new here as well. I heartily endorse it all--this is exactly the course the Democratic Party needs to chart.
"Given the upcoming transition to unified Democratic control of government, it would be wise for the party as a whole—and the Biden/Harris administration and congressional leaders, in particular—to acknowledge and take steps to fix its image problem. With Republicans facing their own internal fissures post-Trump, the House majority on the line, and Democrats locked out of many state legislatures, governorships, and Senate seats across the country, the party needs to think clearly about strategies that add voters to its ranks rather than subtract them.
Unfortunately, to many voters, the Democratic party is the one where you get handed a list of 25 rules at the door about what you can and can’t say; and cliques of people—probably lawyers—whisper and size people up; and you can’t find a beer and you just want to get the hell out before the lecture on “Structural Normativity and Late-Capitalist Hegemony” gets going.
Instead, the Democrats need to be the party where people of all backgrounds get together to ensure that everyone has a job and health care. The party that stands up for American workers and businesses in the world, and that fights the bullies and thugs who prey on the vulnerable and weak. The party that welcomes new people and has their back and doesn’t cast out anyone who looks, talks, or thinks differently. The party that believes in a fair shot for everyone and special privileges for none....
With a new Biden administration taking office, it is time for a reset. What needs to be done? This is not an exhaustive list but here are a few ideas to help get the Democratic brand back on track as the party of the people, not the elites."
Read it all! Halpin's ideas for the reset are spot on.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

So, What's in Biden's "Rescue" Package?

Now officially announced. This package is what the administration wants to do first before they try to move another "recovery" package focused on job creation and infrastructure.
By itself this package is quite ambitious and, well, huge. It includes $1 trillion in direct relief for families, $400 billion for vaccination rollout and testing and $440 billion for business support and state and local governments. The scale is impressive. As Matt Yglesias notes:
"The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [2009] was $787 billion which is like $950 billion in today’s dollars. The bipartisan Covid relief bill that passed in December was about that big and the CARES Act was much larger. But despite that, Biden is talking about doing a bill that’s about double the ARRA in inflation-adjusted terms and he’s saying that’s just going to be the first of two bills."
Can the Democrats get it through? Biden says he'll seek bipartisan support. It's smart to at least try but also to not waste much time doing it. A critical paragraph from the Post article on the package:
"Biden...wants to try for a bipartisan majority on his first bill — although his team appears to have conducted little outreach to congressional Republicans on the plan. Democratic aides say that if Republicans do not appear willing to cooperate, they can shift gears quickly and move to “budget reconciliation,” the procedure that would allow them to pass legislation without GOP votes. That’s how Republicans passed their big tax-cut bill after Trump took office, and how President Barack Obama passed the Affordable Care Act."
Yup. Sounds like how it's going to go down. And that's just fine.