My Farewell To The Democratic Party

There are two major parties in this country. And both of them are Republican parties.

There’s a traditional, old-line, conservative Republican Party, which now operates under the name the “centrist” Democratic Party of Barack Obama. And there’s the new Republican Party that’s a Tea Party confection.

Both variants of Republican, though different in many ways, share some basic economic views. They accept the present situation in which the overall economy largely operates to serve the interests of Wall Street and its banks. They believe that it’s natural and inevitable that for there to be overall growth in the economy, all, or virtually all new wealth generated by such growth, must gravitate upwards in order for their to be any job creation. They are also incapable of distinguishing between jobs and good jobs, assuming both have equal worth.

A Democratic Party of true progressives, who put people above investors, the middle class above economists’ warped definitions of “growth,” is not merely missing in our present politics, it will never again emerge — except in the form of lies at election time.

I don’t need a Democratic Party like this. I won’t bother voting for it in the future. “But the other guys are even worse” argument will no longer get me to the polls.

I’ll only vote for a true progressive party. Here’s what some of its economic policies might look like.

1. Equal tax rates on all income, the earned and all forms of the unearned, with the new revenues generated (overwhelming from the richest) NOT going toward deficit reduction or entitlement support, but reducing the tax burden of the working middle (today mostly in the 15 and 25 percent income tax brackets). The vast new spending this would generate would work to reduce deficits by itself; would lift more people out of poverty and thus lessen the need for much entitlement spending; and would also NOT reduce investment, but increase investment because spending generates investment, not vice-versa.

2. An equal Payroll Tax on all earned income (no cap) and on unearned income of all sorts. The extra revenue generated here would NOT go into the Social Security Trust, a bogus con that simply allows more government borrowing, but toward reducing the rates of all parties that would pay the new Payroll Tax rate of 4 or 4.5 percent, companies as well as individuals. This would not only spawn a huge spending burst, but generate incentives for more hiring by companies now over-burdened with the higher Payroll Tax rate they pay on their employees.

3. A transaction tax of one percent on securities transactions. This is NOT an attempt to generate revenue, as is true with the usual one-quarter percent securities transaction tax proposals. It is aimed at stopping the flash trading on Wall Street that wastes so much capital on gaming rather than doing what capital markets are supposed to do -— invest in productive enterprises.

4. Reintroduce a national usury limit. There was such a limit until the surge in inflation that came in train with the 1979 oil shocks. A new national usury law would thus have to be linked to the CPI and would change from year to year depending on prevailing inflation. It might be 12 percent today when official inflation is low and rise as the CPI rises. The overall effect of this law, applied retroactively, would be to release many American from debt peonage to credit card issuing banks, spawn new spending in consequence, and as an added benefit, make banks parties in fighting against the so-called “chained-CPI” that President Obama foolishly fancies because the phony low CPI numbers a chained-CPI would generate would hold down credit card issuing banks’ own permitted lending rates.

5. Allow student loans to be included in bankruptcy filings. The fact that they aren’t today is literally destroying the futures of countless young Americans and destroying their ability to make contributions to the economy and the country as a whole. As for the argument that this will lead to everyone declaring bankruptcy upon graduating college, that’s an incredibly stupid argument. So many negative consequences come with a bankruptcy filing that only an idiot would go this route without a real need to do so.

These are a few ideas for a new American progressive party to replace the present brain dead and moribund Democratic Party. NOTE: There’s no call for new new taxes here, only shifting the present overall tax burden in ways that animate the economy. This is trickle up economics that would benefit all Americans.

(Only 8 more days left to help support Kay Wood’s The Big Belch project on Kickstarter.)

  

9 Comments

  1. Agreed. USA no longer has a progressive major party…and very little in the way of progressive thinking that manages to bubble to the surface. Yours is a refreshing article. Thank you. Add the absorption by the neocons of both parties’ foreign policy/military/quasi-military thinking to the economic policy you describe and the rightward drift (now more than a drift) becomes even more apparent.

  2. I am surprised that so many have already forgotten the lesson of the 2000 election in which Ralph Nader’s candidacy almost certainly swung the election to GWB. I don’t doubt that in many ways the Dems are just as bad as the Rs, but it seems very likely that without Nader this country would have avoided the Iraq debacle and perhaps the 9/11 attack as well. IMO, an inequitable tax system is simply not very important compared with the foreign policy incompetence of the Republican Party.

  3. Let’s go back even further and consider what a second four years of Bush 1 would have yielded. Thanks for screwing that up Perot.

  4. Shall we look back? Yes. Let’s look back.

    How about 2010 when a group that would have been thought of as a fringe, the Tea Party, suddenly appeared and has totally redefined American politics…for the worse.

    Let’s also look back further. To 1928. Try to imagine a pol seriously proposing New Deal policies that year. Then ask yourselves…could we be closing in on economic horrors even worse than what followed shortly after 1928? And is my progressive agenda really nearly as radical as New Deal policies after 1932?

    Forget 2016. 2014 comes first. That’s where the progressive surge will begin — big time. Because it’s time is coming…Very soon…Indeed it’s really here alerady, just below the surface where the mainstream media rarely if ever looks….

  5. There is a big difference between supporting your idealogical brethren inside the Democratic Party and outside of it as your article implies that you will do. The latter approach is almost certain to be helpful to the Republicans as it was in 2000.

    Also, isn’t it a bit hyperbolic to write that the Tea party has totally redifined Amereican politics? Their positions are consistent with the nuttier elements of the Republican Party going back to at least Goldwater.

    I agree almost compoletely with your agenda, BTW. I just think that the only reasonable chance of moving the political process in that direction is through the support of progressives inside the Democratic party and that the approach that you at least imply will be counter productive.

  6. Hi Steve,

    I don’t believe the progressives within the Democratic Party will ever gain (or regain) control of that party. I think it has been hopelessly wedded to Wall Street with all that entails in terms of policy setting. I think the party as a whole lacks a vision, and the next charismatic candidate it puts up, following in the Clinton-Obama mold, will spout left at election time and then scramble to accommodate the right when election time is over.

    I don’t think the progressives in the Democratic Party should be supported there. I think they should leave. And without doing a Glenn Beck here, and telling you the awful things I think are just over the horizon, I think we better have a progressive alternative in place very soon that is better suited to soon-to-appear realities that the two version of Republicanism now in place will be at a total loss to confront.

  7. The Dems lost their voice. The GOP has many flaws but they are GREAT at getting out messages that make their platform not only heard but broadly accepted even among unaffiliated voters. The majority of people want to limit government now, even though the majority don’t buy in to the GOP.

    The Left needs to learn how to get their own message, their own brand out there. They’ve lost their voice and therefore their influence. If they on’t figure out a way to get their message out, they’re screwed.

  8. I agree with MS and tidbits. Democrats were progressive at one time but that time was long ago. Now we seem to have Republican Toys in the Attic and Republican Light. This country is desperate for an infusion of people and ideas dedicated (beyond lip service) to the problems of environment, income inequality, education, healthcare, and (last but not least) a democracy that responds to more than a tiny percentage of the people.

  9. It’s settled then. We will have 4 parties that will prob breakdown 30 30 20 20. Should make electing a president pretty straight forward.

    The entire system needs to be revamped.

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