Sunday, April 26, 2020

Joe Biden, That Noted Bolshevik

I didn't want this Michelle Goldberg column to go by without comment. She makes the same case about Biden's relative progressivism that I have made many times, with some additional bolstering from my old friend Larry Mishel:
"Lawrence Mishel, a well-known labor economist, has been a critic of centrist Democrats for decades. “My adult lifetime has covered the Carter, Clinton and Obama years, and labor policy has never been a priority,” Mishel, the former president of the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank, told me. In the 2016 primary, he voted for Bernie Sanders. This year he supported Elizabeth Warren. (So did I.)
But when Mishel saw Joe Biden’s labor policy, he was thrilled. “I think that if you had asked me in 2016 whether we would ever see an agenda like this, this is beyond my hopes,” he said.
Biden’s proposals go far beyond his call for a $15 federal minimum wage — a demand some saw as radical when Sanders pushed it four years ago. While it’s illegal for companies to fire employees for trying to organize a union, the penalties are toothless. Biden proposes to make those penalties bite and to hold executives personally liable. He would follow California in cracking down on companies like Uber that misclassify full-time workers as independent contractors who aren’t entitled to benefits. He’d extend federal labor protections to farmworkers and domestic workers.
Mishel said that no Democratic nominee in his lifetime has presented “as robust and fleshed out a policy suite on labor standards and unions.”...
[S]hould Biden become president, progressives have the opportunity to make generational gains."
Ah but politicians never keep their promises, right? Wrong, oh so very wrong!
"[C]ontrary to conventional wisdom, most politicians attempt to keep their campaign promises. Writing in The Washington Monthly in 2012, the political scientist Jonathan Bernstein surveyed the research on campaign pledges. Presidents, he wrote, “usually try to enact the policies they advocate during the campaign. So if you want to know what Mitt Romney or the rest of the Republican crowd would do in 2013 if elected, the best way to find out is to listen to what they are saying right now."
Not only that (with the last word from my old pal Jared Bernstein):
"[I]t’s clear that he’s moving leftward. Biden recently came out for tuition-free college for students whose families earn less than $125,000. He endorsed Elizabeth Warren’s bankruptcy plan, something that would have been unimaginable in 2005, when Warren, then a Harvard law professor, charged onto the public stage to fight a regressive bankruptcy bill that Biden supported.
After long supporting the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for most abortions, Biden gave in to pro-choice pressure to come out against it. His climate plan already went beyond any of Barack Obama’s initiatives, and he’s pledged to make it even more robust. Biden’s health care proposal falls far short of single-payer, but it is, as Paul Waldman wrote in The Washington Post, “surprisingly liberal.”
It will be in Biden’s political interests to try to make good on these commitments. “I’ve worked with him for a while now,” said Jared Bernstein. “He really believes you achieve political success by either doing what you’ve promised to do or getting caught trying like hell.”
Sounds good to me!
Campaign promises matter, and his platform shows a distinct leftward drift.

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