Thursday, January 3, 2013

Blue Dogs And Other Dinos, Part III

Today we continue the thread pertaining to DINOs, Democrat In Name Only, not to be confused with the base canard, "RINO," or Republican In name Only, because a Republican is a Republican Is a Republican - the differences, if any, will be found only to be measured in the depths of the Republican's avarice.

The non-Progressive democrats were once termed, Dixiecrats, "The States' Rights Democratic Party (usually called the Dixiecrats) was a short-lived segregationist political party in the United States in 1948. It originated as a breakaway faction of the Democratic Party in 1948, determined to protect what they portrayed as the southern way of life beset by an oppressive federal government, and supporters assumed control of the state Democratic parties in part or in full in several Southern states. The States' Rights Democratic Party opposed racial integration and wanted to retain Jim Crow laws and white supremacy in the face of possible federal intervention. Members were called Dixiecrats. (The term Dixiecrat is a portmanteau of Dixie, referring to the Southern United States, and Democrat.)

The party did not run local or state candidates, and after the 1948 election its leaders generally returned to the Democratic Party. The Dixiecrats had little short-run impact on politics. However, they did have a long-term impact. The Dixiecrats began the weakening of the 'Solid South' (the Democratic Party's total control of presidential elections in the South)  -->

When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 (, Nixon trumped his move via the "Southern Strategy," dragging the former Dixiecrats into its base, changing the GOP via the machinations of Goldwater and Reagan, then evolving into the Tea Party of 2010.

From Wikipedia: "In American politics, the Southern strategy refers to the Republican Party strategy of gaining political support or winning elections in the Southern section of the country by appealing to racism against African Americans.

"Though the 'Solid South' had been a longtime Democratic Party stronghold due to the Democratic Party's defense of slavery prior to the American Civil War and segregation for a century thereafter, many white Southern Democrats stopped supporting the party following the civil rights plank of the Democratic campaign in 1948 (triggering the Dixiecrats), the African-American Civil Rights Movement, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, and desegregation.

"The strategy was first adopted under future Republican President Richard Nixon and Republican Senator Barry Goldwater in the late 1960s. The strategy was successful in many regards. It contributed to the electoral realignment of Southern states to the Republican Party, but at the expense of losing more than 90 percent of black voters to the Democratic Party. As the twentieth century came to a close, the Republican Party began trying to appeal again to black voters, though with little success."

So far so good, but concurrently the Democratic Party in the form of Carter and Clinton reshaped the once progressive, liberal party of FDR and the New Deal to that of the "Blue Dog Democrats," the now-dominant pro-business, conservative faction of the party. (Again, from Wikipedia: "The Blue Dog Coalition, commonly known as the Blue Dogs or Blue Dog Democrats, is a caucus of United States Congressional Representatives from the Democratic Party who identify themselves as moderates and conservatives.

"It was formed in 1995 during the 104th Congress to give more conservative members from the Democratic party a unified voice after the Democrats' loss of Congress in the U.S. Congressional election of 1994. Blue Dog Coalition membership experienced a rapid decline in the 2010s decade, falling from 54 seats in the 111th Congress to only 14 seats in the 113th Congress.)

Most democratic progress ceased and the country reeled towards the insolvency crafted over the years by both sides. The damage has been severe, and only our euphoria to be out from under another GOP president has blinded us to the fact that Barack Obama is not a Liberal or Progressive on many issues outside of race.

As Progressives have united and many of those normally voting Democratic have slowly seen the light, the numbers of Blue Dogs and other DINOs has been trimmed down a little, but not enough to protect us from their maneuvering to weaken legislation such as the Health Care Act. (Yes, we try to turn the term, "Obamacare" into a positive connotation, but successful or not, we'll use the term "health care act" on this site.)

We will NOT be able to move our country forward while Blue Dog Dems are re-elected, we will never achieve a Conservative-free country while Blue Dogs exist, and the possibly of conservatism being legislated out of existence is nil while the Blue Dog quislings survive. They are traitors to their party and aid and abet the GOP Conservatives at every turn and must be stopped.

Only preparation today will ensure our ousting of the remainder of the quisling DINOs in 2014. We need to find out what progressive candidates are considering running for local and state-wide office in our Districts, we must join our local Precincts today, and if we are ever able to get our Democracy back on its feet again we should volunteer to give as much time as we can to efforts to get more citizens registered to vote.

We know it, and They know it: the more people that vote, the fewer Republicans get elected. But the *kind* of Democrat we elect is critical. No more Bachuses, no more..., no more DINOs.

From a letter from Credo, sent yesterday, "Five things you should know about last night's vote," an explanation of the deficit deal:

Dear Joyce, Jnr.,

There's a lot of spin out there about the deficit deal that was cut over the holiday. We wanted to share our thinking on the deal.

Over 20,000 CREDO Action members called their senators, their representatives, the White House and Congressional leadership to stop a bad deal. And we were joined by thousands of other progressives in advocating to save Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, and to let the Bush tax cuts expire for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

And we most definitely had an impact. Cuts to Social Security benefits, which the White House proposed in final negotiations, were blocked. Raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 was also shot down early on when it was floated as a trial balloon. Action by voters who raised their voices made a difference in the debate.

Unfortunately, the White House, which was in a strong position when it went into negotiations with Republicans, chose to cut a bad deal in order to make the overhyped "Fiscal Cliff" deadline. Instead, we should have waited for a new Congress to be sworn in on January 3 — with a Senate which will include progressive champions like Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin, and a House with more Democrats and fewer Tea Party Republicans.

CREDO, along with other progressive groups like PCCC, MoveOn, DFA, ColorOfChange, and others, have said all along that no deal was better than the bad deal on the table.

But last night the House ratified the White House's deal with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. And the White House made the Bush tax cuts permanent for a huge chunk of the wealthiest 2%, giving away much needed leverage for staving off future cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

As Grover Norquist, the anti-tax conservative zealot who famously said his goal was to shrink government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub," tweeted before the vote: "Congress about to make permanent most of the temporary tax cuts that Democrats voted against in 2001 and 2003. Permanent beats temporary."

And Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican House member from Oklahoma crowed, "I would prefer not to raise taxes on anybody. But we protected almost every American. We did it at a higher income level than the President campaigned on. And again, frankly, we've denied him I think his most important piece of leverage in any negotiation going forward."1

The deal didn't address the debt limit or even the triggered cuts (called the "sequester") set in place by the failed 2010 debt ceiling deal. So in just two months, we'll reach a crisis again, and because a key leverage point for raising revenue (rolling back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans) has been surrendered, we'll be in the fight of our life to protect our Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare from benefit cuts.

From our perspective, here are five things you need to know about last night's deal.

1) The Bush tax cuts that were finally set to expire are now permanent.

The Bush tax cuts were set to expire on Jan. 1, 2013. President Obama and many Democrats won election in 2012 based on a promise to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans making $250,000 and above. Had Congress done nothing, the Bush tax cuts for all Americans would simply have expired at midnight on December 31. But the deal that just passed made the Bush tax cuts permanent for households making up to $450,000. This represents a $9,200 tax cut for people making more than $35,000 a month.2 And it will take an affirmative act of Congress to actually raise taxes to undo this hand out to some of the richest Americans (a virtual impossibility with the current Congress).

2) The estate tax exemption just passed is a pure giveaway to the nation's wealthiest families.

As Los Angeles Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik explains:3
There's no purer giveaway to the wealthy than this. The final deal raises the tax to 40% from 35% on estates over $10 million. (That figure is for couples, whose estates are each entitled to a $5-million exemption upon their deaths.) The alternative was to return to 2009 law, which set the tax at 45% on couples' estates more than $7 million.

Who pays the estate tax? In 2011, about 1,800 taxpayers died leaving estates of more than $10 million. Their average estate was somewhere from $30 million to $40 million. Their heirs cashed in on some of the most nimble tax planning on Earth: Although the statutory top rate was 35%, the average rate on estates of even $20 million-plus (the average gross value of which was $65 million) came to only 16.2%.

3) The payroll tax expiration raises taxes on the middle and working classes.

For the last two years, the payroll tax that wage earners pay on their first $113,000 of income to fund Social Security was temporarily reduced by two percentage points.

While the mechanism of this tax cut was problematic from the perspective of those worried about fully funding Social Security, it was a form of economic stimulus that helped put more money in the pockets of working Americans. So most progressives who opposed the funding mechanism still thought that it should be phased out over time or replaced with some other kind of equivalent tax cut (at least until the economy improved).

Instead, the payroll tax holiday was allowed to end abruptly and without anything to replace it, which will result in a jarring two percent reduction in the take-home pay of most workers.

Since the payroll tax only applies to the first $113,000 in income, people who make more than that will see a relatively smaller tax increase. And combined with the now-permanent tax cuts for the wealthy, some of the richest Americans will see a net reduction in the taxes they owe whereas working and middle class workers will see a tax increase.

4) The deficit isn't really the problem.

The deficit hysteria that has become part of the conventional wisdom in DC is really just a way for wealthy elites and corporate interests (and their allies on Capitol Hill) to push for austerity and end programs that benefit most Americans.

America is the richest country in the history of the world and yet we're told by the deficit scolds that we're too poor to fund education or the FDA or pay for food stamps to keep Americans from going hungry. Meanwhile, the very same politicians who plead poverty want to give away billions in unneeded corporate welfare, spend more money than ever to fund the biggest military in the world and cut taxes on the extremely rich. Not to mention the fact that the cost of borrowing is at historic lows. For more on this topic read Dean Baker's piece "Look Beyond the Fiscal Cliff."4

5) The debt ceiling wasn't addressed. In two months Republicans will take hostages again, and we'll be in the fight of our lives to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

The existence of the so-called "Fiscal Cliff" was itself the result of a terrible deal President Obama cut the last time Congress had to raise the debt ceiling. This set up a constellation of automatic tax increases and spending cuts that Congress was feverishly trying to avoid, and which paved the way to yesterday's vote.

But with the Bush tax cuts (one of the Republicans' top priorities) now off the table, we'll spend the next few months dealing with the automatic across-the-board spending cuts (known as the "sequester"), the end of the continuing resolution on the budget that funds the government, and the need once again to raise the debt ceiling.

All of these provide the Republicans with opportunities for hostage-taking, and we know they have their sights set on cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

As Republican Congressman John Fleming told the Huffington Post: "We still have more opportunities. We've got the debt ceiling coming, sequestration. So we're going to get taxes off the table. The president can't say, 'We've got to raise taxes first before we get to spending cuts.' We will have already done that. Now the topic will be spending cuts, from this point out."5

There were some positive things in the bill that was passed. There was no negative change in the way cost of living increases to Social Security benefits are calculated. Unemployment benefits were extended for over two million Americans who are still looking for work. The Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit were extended for the next five years. And the Wind Production Tax Credit was extended for another year, to name a few.

But overall, as Rep. Jim Moran said, "We're going to look back on this night and regret it."6  And even Majority Leader Harry Reid tossed concessions suggested by the White House into his Senate fireplace.7 Reid was soon replaced in negotiations with Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell by Vice President Joe Biden who struck the final deal.

Jim Moran was joined by seven other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in voting no on making the Bush tax cuts permanent for Americans making over $250,000 a year. They were: Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Rep. Pete DeFazio, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Rep. Jim McDermott, Rep. Brad Miller and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici. In the Senate, Tom Harkin also stood up and alone on the floor of the Senate explained that permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts was an absolute deal breaker. These progressive legislators deserve our thanks.

Click here to thank the progressives in the House and Senate who voted to hold out for a better deal and opposed making the Bush tax cuts permanent.

Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Automatically add your name:

Learn more about this campaign

1. Leading House Republican says Obama's deal gave away all his leverage, PCCC's Daily Change, 1/1/13
2. The 'fiscal cliff' con game, Michael Hiltzik, LA Times, 1/2/13
3. ibid.
4. Look beyond the fiscal cliff, Dean Baker,, 1/2/13
5. Fiscal Cliff Vote: House Republicans Caving, Senate Deal Coming to a Vote, Huffington Post, 1/3/12
6. Rep. Jim Moran on Fiscal Deal: 'We're going to look back on this night and regret it', PCCC's Daily Change, 1/2/13
7. Harry Reid Threw Obama Fiscal Cliff Proposal Into Burning Fireplace, Huffington Post, 1/2/13

© 2012 CREDO. All rights reserved.

Paul Krugman's take:

"That Bad Ceiling Feeling

"More thoughts about the fiscal deal:

"One good thing is that the deficit scolds are furious: they had their hearts set on exploiting this crisis to push through benefit cuts, and it didn’t happen — part of the larger good news that Obama didn’t gut Social Security or Medicare this time around.

"And as I pointed out yesterday, the numbers are disappointing, but the disappointment isn’t that big a deal. Let me offer more detail on that.

"Before the deal, it was widely expected that Obama could get $800 billion in revenue. You may wonder how this reconciles with the much bigger numbers in his original proposal; the answer is that part of this came from the estate tax, on which he couldn’t count on backing from Senate Dems, but most of it came from going beyond just getting rid of the Bush tax cuts — he was proposing that itemized deductions be turned into tax credits at a maximum of 28 percent, which would have collected a lot of additional revenue from people in the 39.6 bracket. And that wasn’t something he could get just by going over the cliff.

"So the disappointment, to simplify, is that he got $600 billion instead of $800 billion. Now, you want to scale that by the size of the fiscal problem.

"The deficit is no problem now, but eventually we will emerge from the liquidity trap, and at that point you do want to start stabilizing debt. How big a deal is that? If you look at the CBO numbers, under their “alternative fiscal scenario” (Bush tax cuts extended and realistic spending), in 2022 the deficit would be 5.5 percent of GDP, about 2 percentage points higher than would be required to stabilize debt at 90 percent of GDP.

"So what we eventually need is something like 2 or more points — probably more, because aging and the rise in health care costs won’t stop in 2022. Now, that’s nothing like the catastrophic sense about the budget you get from the usual suspects, but it is big compared with anything we’ve seen so far.

"As I pointed out in the last post, nominal GDP over the next decade should be around $200 trillion. An $800 billion revenue take would be 0.4 percent of GDP; the $600 billion Obama got is 0.3 percent. Not big stuff, and either way the big fight over taxes versus benefit cuts is still to come.

"So, why am I feeling so despondent, and why do so many other progressives, like Noam Scheiber, feel the same? Because of the way Obama negotiated. He gave every indication of being more or less desperate to cut a deal before the year ended — even though going over the fiscal cliff was not at all a drop-dead moment, since we could have gone weeks or months without much real economic damage."

In subsequent posts, we shall examine the DINO phenomenon further and in depth and detail.  In the meantime, re-read this admittedly lengthy post, with its links, and decide again: should Conservatism be criminalized?

"Where there is love there is life."

Mahatma Gandhi