Margaret Thatcher famously said, “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.” Yet socialism is what our re-energized Democrats/ Progressives/ Populists want to run on. From The Wall Street Journal:
Economic Populism Is a Dead End for Democrats
The de Blasio-Warren agenda won’t travel. Colorado is the real political harbinger.
By Jon Cowan and Jim Kessler | Dec. 2, 2013 6:57 p.m. ET
If you talk to leading progressives these days, you’ll be sure to hear this message: The Democratic Party should embrace the economic populism of New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Such economic populism, they argue, should be the guiding star for Democrats heading into 2016. Nothing would be more disastrous for Democrats.
While New Yorkers think of their city as the center of the universe, the last time its mayor won a race for governor or senator—let alone president—was 1869. For the past 144 years, what has happened in the Big Apple stayed in the Big Apple. Some liberals believe Sen. Warren would be the Democratic Party’s strongest presidential candidate in 2016. But what works in midnight-blue Massachusetts—a state that has had a Republican senator for a total of 152 weeks since 1979—hasn’t sold on a national level since 1960.
The political problems of liberal populism are bad enough. Worse are the actual policies proposed by left-wing populists. The movement relies on a potent “we can have it all” fantasy that goes something like this: If we force the wealthy to pay higher taxes (there are 300,000 tax filers who earn more than $1 million), close a few corporate tax loopholes, and break up some big banks then —presto!— we can pay for, and even expand, existing entitlements. Meanwhile, we can invest more deeply in K-12 education, infrastructure, health research, clean energy and more.
A lot more at the link.
The authors continue to note the economic silliness of Senator Warren’s proposals. Social Security, they noted, has been paying out more in retirement benefits than it receives in payroll taxes since 2010,1 and that the benefits calculation formula increases benefits at a faster rate than inflation, but Mrs Warren is calling for an expansion of Social Security and its benefits, and increasing taxes on working people and businesses2 to pay for it. Some of the Democrats absolutely love that!
Activists reach out to ‘the Elizabeth Warren wing’
By Ned Resnikoff | 11/17/13 11:30 AM—Updated 11/17/13 11:48 AM
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has not expressed any interest in running for president. Yet that hasn’t stopped members of the Democratic Party’s left flank from using her name to put pressure on other 2016 hopefuls.
Case in point: When rumored presidential candidate and current Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley visited the key primary state of New Hampshire on Saturday, members of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) were waiting with a sheaf of pro-Warren bumper stickers. The group distributed the stickers at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, a Democratic fundraiser in Manchester, N.H., where O’Malley was the keynote speaker.
— Ruby Cramer (@rubycramer) November 17, 2013
Warren is a popular figure on the left wing of the Democratic Party due to her aggressive focus on inequality and financial reform. Last week, The New Republic’s Noam Schieber floated her as a potential candidate in the 2016 Democratic Party, where should could serve as a foil to the more Wall Street-friendly Hillary Clinton.
The PCCC has not said that it is trying to draft Warren into the race. Instead, the group appears to be trying to demonstrate the popularity of her anti-austerity, pro-financial reform message in the hopes that other Democratic politicians will begin to emulate it.
Emphasis mine; more at the link.
This goes back to the quote from Lady Margaret Thatcher: the socialists/ progressives/ populists seem to believe that there is just plenty of money, plenty of money, for everybody to have a nice income, if everybody would just share and share alike, and if people won’t share voluntarily — those greedy capitalist pigs!3 — why, then, it’s up to the government to make them share. The idea that reducing the rewards for the producers of wealth might do something really radical like lead to a reduction in wealth produced doesn’t seem to occur to them.
And we can see the results of trying to extend more and more benefits to people who have not earned them, from Greece and the other just-slightly-less-sick countries of Europe, with their bloated government benefits programs for which they could not pay, to Detroit, which is going into Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The Democrats might not like the austerity measures, but the responsible leaders in Europe have already seen that those are the only things which might save them from the folly of past profligacy.
Messrs Cowan and Kessler did not seem to think that the victories of Dr Warren in 2012 and Bill de Blasio this year really meant that much in a national sense:
On the same day that Bill de Blasio won in New York City, a referendum to raise taxes on high-income Coloradans to fund public education and universal pre-K failed in a landslide. This is the type of state that Democrats captured in 2008 to realign the national electoral map, and they did so through offering a vision of pragmatic progressive government, not fantasy-based blue-state populism. Before Democrats follow Sen. Warren and Mayor-elect de Blasio over the populist cliff, they should consider Colorado as the true 2013 Election Day harbinger of American liberalism.
The trouble with that logic is that those same Coloradans voted to re-elect President Obama, which meant, inter alia, that they were voting for higher taxes on themselves, and they knew it. Mitt Romney campaigned on running government more efficiently and less expensively, with lower rather than higher tax rates, and he won only 46.13% of their votes, compared to the 51.49% carried by Mr Obama. Given a good enough Democratic candidate,4 and a perhaps not-so-good Republican opponent, a progressive populist actually could win the 2016 election. It would wind up an absolute disaster for our country if such were to happen, and said candidate was able to put his policies into practice, but we have clearly seen, in 2012, that just because a candidate’s policies just flat didn’t work does not mean he couldn’t be elected.
- Note that, in 2011 and 2012, the employee’s portion of Social Security taxes was reduced from 6.2% to 4.2% of gross wages; the 6.2% rate was restored for 2013. ↩
- Messrs Cowan and Kessler put the tab as $750 billion on workers and another $750 billion on employers. ↩
- I’d note here that Senator Warren, that great crusader for the middle class and supporter of the occupy movement, is herself one of the 1%ers, with a $5 million home and a stock and mutual funds portfolio of $8 million. Dr Warren, who had been outspoken that the wealthy need to pay more in taxes, had the option of paying the higher 5.85% Massachusetts state tax — it’s voluntary — rather than the lower, mandatory rate of 5.30%, and chose to pay the lower rate, on an income of $716,000. At The First Street Journal, our word for that is Democrisy. ↩
- Even though it is the position of The First Street Journal that Barack Hussein Obama is the worst President in decades, it is your Editor’s opinion that he was one of the best presidential candidates ever. ↩