Corrupt Corporatists Steve Israel And Debbie Wasserman Schultz Declare Fratricidal War Against Progressives

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Lambert here: Note how DwT highlights the importance of TPP to Democratic outsiders, as I suppose we might call them.

By Down with Tyranny, originally published at that blog.

Steve Israel, de facto head of the DCCC (and the most outspoken member of their recruitment committee) and with a new title Pelosi invented for him, Chair, Policy and Communications, Israel’s war against progressives is multi-faceted. Although Pelosi, when giving him his new job, said that he “has consistently proved the depth of his wisdom and the strength of his strategic vision in making our case to the American people,” she overlooked the fact that under his catastrophic chairmanship, the DCCC– largely because of him and only him– managed to lose a net of 8 seats in a year when Obama won the country and a much smarter DSCC chairman just about swept the field and won tough races in Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Israel’s incompetence and /or lame strategy cost the Democrats CA-10 (Denham), CA-21 (Valadao), CA-25 (McKeon), CO-06 (Coffman), FL-10 (Webster), IL-13 (Davis), MI-01 (Benishek), MI-06 (Upton), MI-11 (Bentivolio), MN-02 (Kline), MN-06 (Bachmann), NV-03 (Heck), NJ02 (LoBiondo), NJ-03 (Runyan), NJ-05 (Garrett), NY-11 (Grimm), NY-19 (Gibson), NY-22 (Hanna), NY-23 (Reed), NY-27 (Collins), NC-08 (Hudson), NC-11 (Meadows), NC-13 (Holding), OH-06 (Johnson), OH-16 (Renacci), PA-06 (Gerlach), PA-07 (Meehan), PA-08 (Fitzpatrick), PA-12 (Rothfus), PA-15 (Dent), TN-04 (DesJarlais), VA-02 (Rigell), WI-07 (Duffy) and WI-08 (Ribble). [bolded districts were won by Obama as Israel’s depth of wisdom and strength of his strategic vision were leading the Democrats to another defeat.]

In 2014 Israel led the DCCC to an even more disastrous year by following his same lame playbook. He lost a net of 13 seats, primarily conservaDems who he had counseled to vote with the GOP at every opportunity, like Ron Barber (Blue Dog-AZ), Joe Garcia (New Dem-FL), John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA), Brad Schneider (New Dem-IL), Dan Maffei (New Dem-NY), Pete Gallego (Blue Dog-TX), Nick Rahall (Blue Dog-WV). 3 other right-wing Democrats– Bill Owens (New Dem-NY), Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC) and Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT)– knew they would be defeated and retired, their seats all going to Republicans. Israel’s only victories were for right-wing Democrats Gwen Graham (Blue Dog-FL), Brad Ashford (Blue Dog-NE) and Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA), Aguilar the only one likely to retain his seat in 2016.

So yesterday Chairman Strategic Vision lashed into progressives again in an interview with Alex Brown for the National Journal, denouncing them for fratricide for daring to side with working people against the corporate TPP. Neglecting to mention that on June 12 a preliminary TPP vote narrowly passed the House (219-211, only 28 wretched excuses for Democrats voting in favor, Israel railed against Democratic allies, saying “We have to stop the fratricide. It’s hard enough to go up against Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers. Our members shouldn’t have to go up against Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers– and [members’] friends.”

The “friends” Israel referred to are the labor and progressive groups that have gone after the 28 Democrats in the House and 13 in the Senate who voted to pass Trade Promotion Authority in June. That measure limits Congress to an up-or-down vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade deal that will land on Capitol Hill early next year. TPP has been a key priority of the Obama administration, but is opposed by most Democrats.

The AFL-CIO has been among the most vocal opponents of the deal, running ads against Democratic supporters like Rep. Ami Bera and holding protests in the districts of others. The group also cut off campaign funding for Democrats during the TPA fight, a move ostensibly aimed at focusing resources on the trade battle but one that was perceived as an implicit threat to would-be supporters.

Meanwhile, progressive groups like Democracy for America have tried to line up primary challengers to pro-trade Democrats. “We will not lift a finger or raise a penny to protect you when you’re attacked in 2016, we will encourage our progressive allies to join us in leaving you to rot, and we will actively search for opportunities to primary you with a real Democrat,” the group’s chair, Jim Dean, said in a statement following the vote.

…“It’s absolutely absurd to ask anyone who cares about income inequality… to ignore a very clear betrayal like this vote for fast-track authority,” said Democracy for America’s Neil Sroka. “They’re living in a fantasyland if they think organizations like ours are just going to ignore these votes.”

Sroka added that electoral victories are hollow if they only empower Democrats who vote with the other party. “Democrats would be best served by voting like Democrats and actually standing up and fighting for working families,” he said. His group will be urging allies not to give to the DCCC or any other organizations that may end up funding trade supporters.

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Lujan was careful not to call out any Democratic allies, and he said outside groups are free to use their resources as they please. But he did remind labor that Democrats have been their strongest allies on a number of political issues. “I’d encourage our friends in labor that, as we look for partnerships down the road and we advocate to make sure that people get a fair wage for a hard day’s work… those are issues that as Democrats we share with labor,” he said.

That sentiment isn’t new. In June, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said he had “urged our friends in labor to have respect for the decisions of members.” He listed off issues like collective bargaining and the minimum wage where Democrats have worked to boost labor’s goals.

…Added Sroka: “If Democrats fail to retake the House, they need to seriously look at [trade] as one of the reasons they failed to do it… If Ami Bera is defeated, it’s not because progressives didn’t stand up and defend Ami Bera. It’s because Ami Bera took a vote that makes it impossible for anyone who cares for working families in this country to support him.”

Notably, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who heads the Democratic National Committee and voted for TPA, said she has heard nothing about such a backlash– an issue on which every other member of the House seems to have an opinion. She said she met recently with labor leaders, including the AFL-CIO, without it coming up. “I’ve honestly not heard any threat whatsoever to any Democrat related to the trade deal,” she said. “I have a hard time commenting on something that I haven’t heard.”

Still, many of the other members in her caucus say the focus should be on winning the House– not a single trade vote. “I have committed to making sure we win back the majority, and that starts with returning incumbent Democrats in swing districts—including those that I sometimes disagree with,” Kildee said. “Obviously, I think this is important to labor, and I think they should take a strong position. … But I think we should focus on the long-term battle as well as the short-term battle.”

Wasserman Schultz, a congenital liar, is very much aware that labor is helping recruit a strong Democratic candidate to run against her in a primary next year, presumably Tim Canova, a professor of law and public finance at Nova Southeastern University.

A Sanders supporter, Canova has been critical of Wasserman Schultz’s performance as chair of the DNC, including her role in limiting the presidential debates. “It’s bad for Democrats and bad for the country, but she’s apparently decided that it’s good for her own career to hitch her wagon to Hillary Clinton– but it’s a wagon filled with a lot of baggage and broken promises to American workers.

“People are just tired of being sold out by calculating and triangulating politicians. Wasserman Schultz has become the ultimate machine politician. While she stakes out liberal positions on culture war issues, when it comes to economic and social issues, she’s too often with the corporate elites. On too many crucial issues– from fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the war on drugs and medical marijuana and mass incarceration, to her support for budget sequestrations and austerity– Wasserman Schultz votes down the line with big corporate interests and cartels: Wall Street banks and hedge funds, Big Pharma, the private health insurers, private prisons, Monsanto, it goes on and on. It’s easy to say you’re for doing something about climate change and the environment, for pay equity, raising the minimum wage, or getting money out of politics, but it’s mostly just talk when you’re taking so much corporate money at the same time. That’s why the TPP is so insidious. It will shift the costs of environmental protection, health and safety and labor standards from corporate wrongdoers and wealthy investors to the taxpayers who have been taking it on the chin for so long. In many ways, Wasserman Schultz no longer has a choice. She’s become an establishment machine politician who has to turn her back on taxpayers, working folks, students and the elderly poor, unfortunately it’s all to line the pockets of the same corporate interests that are funding her campaigns. In today’s politics, the worst have no convictions, which may explain all their flip-flops on big issues, from Hillary Clinton on Keystone Pipeline to Wasserman Schultz’s indecision on the agreement with Iran. After playing Hamlet for weeks and blocking a DNC resolution, she finally came around to support the Iran agreement, but only when it became pretty clear she would have lost her post as DNC chair, a message apparently delivered in person by vice president Biden. It must be exhausting to have to constantly answer to wealthy campaign donors and corporate lobbyists when making these decisions.”

As of now, there is still no primary challenger for Steve Israel… but we haven’t given up looking. As soon as one does, he or she will be on this page, along with other progressive candidates.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.



    You know you are among the unrepresented, disenfranchised left when you balk at hearing DFA described as a progressive organization!

    DNC spends 25 years working for income inequality and deeper impoverishment of vast swathes of the working poor and lower and middle middle classes, profiting from bankrupting homeowners (via bank donors), giving away the Bush tax cuts and continuing the hemorrhage of purse on middle east illegal wars, and then finds itself with a numbers problem….boo hoo hoo!

    Where’s Alan Grayson in this mess?

    1. Zach Braff

      I think that’s true about DFA, sadly — just because Howard Dean is vaguely associated (why does he never mention it when he’s on TV?), that doesn’t mean it’s progressive. Was the DNC a progressive organization when he ran it?

      They’re no fans of Alan Grayson btw, speaking from personal experience. When I lived in Burlington, I knew multiple people @ the org, and most were very cynical about him. But if there were ever “a Progressive, but a Progressive who can get things done!”

      I think “the cult of the savvy” sways too many Democrats – especially professional ones – away from staking out what should be easy, self-apparent moral positions in favor of Bill Clinton-era centrist triangulation. I don’t think Wasserman-Schultz, Israel, Hillary have any qualms about courting powerful donors, because they’re savvy realists who see a broken system and want to be in the center.

  2. Benedict@Large

    Can we please get a replacement for Pat Murphy (FL-18). He was the replacement for Alan West, but every single time I’ve checked his vote, he’s voted the same way as West would have. (He couldn’t even see fit to vote against cuts to food stamps.) Pat only runs as a Democrat because he can’t survive GOP primaries.

    1. cybrestrike

      Patrick Murphy is running for the Senate. He’s up against Alan Grayson in the Democratic primary in Florida. The DCCC has put all their eggs in their basket supporting Murphy, unfortunately. He’s pretty terrible on a whole slew of issues–but Grayson has a small lead in initial polling. I’m supporting Grayson, and while he may have some issues…he’s a lot better than Murphy, who donated the max to Mitt Romney in 2012, was a Republican up until a few years ago, and was rumored to have met with John Boehner about switching to the GOP (they allegedly passed on the offer) while in the House.

      Grayson should win a close primary, but when it comes to the real race, he will have a tough fight on his hands.

  3. allan

    “[Stenny Hoyer] listed off issues like collective bargaining and the minimum wage where Democrats have worked to boost labor’s goals.”

    Some of us are old enough to remember when EFCA was going to be one of the top Dem legislative priorities for 2009, when they controlled the House and Senate and were moving into the WH. Not only do DC Dems think their base is stupid, they apparently think we’re senile.

      1. Ed123

        Right…I remember the promise and optimism as an organizer in 2008…was suppose to lead to a huge blitz, double membership, save labor. Then, nothing. And I still voted for him in 2012 :/

  4. Steven D.

    Democrats for the Donor Class. I’ll just throw in Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland. Classic TPA traitor. Voted for cloture. Only voted no on passage after he was sure it had enough votes to pass.

    1. Steven D.

      I meant the senator from Wall Street. Then he led the opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, trying to entice Democrats with a “reasonable” sanctions bill loaded with poison pills. So Cardin’s also the senator from Sheldon Adelson.

  5. Pwelder

    Just a point of fact here: The idea that PA-15 (Dent) – a district in which I still have many family and other connections – was winnable by a more competent DCCC chair bears no relationship to the realities there. Not that I’m a fan of Israel or Wasserman-Schultz, but if this assertion about PA-15 is representative of the article’s grounding in the facts then the piece should be taken with a large grain of salt.

    1. Vatch

      You appear to have a good point. According to the Wikipedia and Ballotpedia “Charlie Dent” articles, the Republicans have consistently trounced the Democrats in recent years in PA-15:

      2014: Dent ran unopposed.
      2012: 56.8% to 43.2%
      2010: 54% to 39% to 7%
      2008: 59% to 41%.

  6. Bearpaw

    It takes real chutzpah to whine about someone opposing you for opposing them, while claiming that you’re on their side. Especially the bit about accusing them of siding with the people whose side you keep taking.

    Doubletalk worthy of Republicans.

  7. Tyler

    Elections aren’t everything, but the GOP must lose control of the House and the Senate for positive change to occur in America and the world.

  8. Adam Eran

    Not only did Ami Bera recruit the likes of the Sierra Club to endorse him–relying heavily on their volunteers–then stab them in the back with his vote on the TPP, he actually plaigarized lobbyist talking points to pen an editorial supporting TPP. He also recently voted for the Monsanto-favoring “Dark Act” that forbids GMO labelling mandates throughout the U.S.

    But perhaps his most egregious sin is the fact that he recently sponsored a “Budget Workshop” about Federal spending that turns out to be put together by former Nixon Treasury Secretary Pete Peterson’s Concord Coalition. Peterson’s agenda: privatize Social Security and Medicare. Bera calls making the government a drag on the economy “fiscal responsibility.” My only question is: Where was that “fiscal responsiblity” when multi-trillion-dollar wars and bank bailouts were the issues? Why must we only be “fiscally responsible” when safety nets are the issue?

    Bera may yet be primaried, but he’s certainly shown his true colors.

    BTW, he won by less than 1500 votes in one of the most expensive races in the country last time he ran.

    1. Vatch

      one of the most expensive races in the country last time he ran.

      Interesting. I suspect he wants to get huge campaign donations from the potentates who support the TPP. I hope the voters in his district give him what he deserves.

  9. kimsarah

    With “friends” like Israel, Hoyer and Wasserman Schultz, who needs enemies?

    They might not “leave” the Democratic party, but the party sure could leave them.

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