Concrete Material Benefits: “Better Deal” vs. “People’s Platform”

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer’s “Better Deal” platform has gotten some favorable press, being framed as a “populist turn,” and Democrats plan to “spend the next fifteen months talking about it.” Our Revolution‘s “People’s Platform” (#PeoplesPlatform) has gotten far less coverage, the party establishment is silent about it, and it’s gotten virtually no coverage in the press. (To their credit, Robert Borasage and Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote pieces comparing and contrasting the two, soon after a “Better Deal” was issued.) In this post, I’ll compare and contrast the way the two platforms deliver concrete material benefits[1]. (I’ll leave tactical issues like process, framing and voter appeal for another day.) At the end of the post, I’ll say a brief word on anti-trust, a key differentiator between the two. Now let’s look at the two platforms:

Figure 1: A Better Deal

From the United States Senate Democrats:

Today, Democrats are offering A Better Deal that will focus on three goals:

Raise the wages and incomes of American workers and create millions of good-paying jobs: Our plan for A Better Deal starts by creating millions of good-paying, full-time jobs by directly investing in our crumbling infrastructure and prioritizing small business and entrepreneurs, instead of giving tax breaks to special interests. We will aggressively crack down on unfair foreign trade and fight back against corporations that outsource American jobs. We will fight to ensure a living wage for all Americans and keep our promise to millions of workers who earned a pension, Social Security and Medicare, so seniors can retire with dignity.

Lower the costs of living for families: We will offer A Better Deal that will lower the crippling cost of prescription drugs and the cost of a college or technical education that leads to a good job. We will fight for families struggling with high monthly bills like childcare, credit card fees, and cable bills. We will crack down on monopolies and the concentration of economic power that has led to higher prices for consumers, workers, and small business – and make sure Wall Street never endangers Main Street again.

Build an economy that gives working Americans the tools to succeed in the 21st Century: Americans deserve the chance to get the skills, tools, and knowledge to find a good-paying job or to move up in their career to earn a better living. We will commit to A Better Deal that provides new tax incentives to employers that invest in workforce training and education and make sure the rules of the economy support companies that focus on long-term growth, rather than short-term profits. We will make it a national priority to bring high-speed Internet to every corner of America and offer an apprenticeship to millions of new workers. We will encourage innovation, invest in advanced research and ensure start-ups and small business can compete and prosper.

(OK, I said I wouldn’t look at framing, but for those new here I just couldn’t help underlining the familiar weasel words; I don’t know which Democratic strategist has sold these guys on the Washington Generals-style “fight for” verbiage, but I wish they’d just stop it. “Fighting for” and never winning isn’t a good look.)

Figure 2: The People’s Platform

From Our Revolution:

Medicare for All: H.R. 676 Medicare For All Act

Free College Tuition: H.R. 1880 College for All Act of 2017

Worker Rights: H.R.15 – Raise the Wage Act

Women’s Rights: H.R.771 – Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act of 2017

Voting Rights: H.R. 2840 – Automatic Voter Registration Act

Environmental Justice: Climate Change Bill – Renewable Energy (More details soon!)

Criminal Justice and Immigrant Rights: H.R. 3227 – Justice is Not For Sale Act of 2017

Taxing Wall Street: H.R. 1144 – Inclusive Prosperity Act

And now let’s compare the two. Compared to the #PeoplesPlatform[2]:

“A Better Deal” is not a serious effort. The Better Deal is a list of bullet points supported by White Papers. The People’s Platform is a list of actual legislation, which elected representatives can be pressured to support, and around which hearings could be organized. Which is the more serious? (To be fair, you can argue that since bullet points and white papers appeal more directly to the political class, especially the more wonkish elements of the press, “A Better Deal” is indeed more serious. I’ll leave that one up to the judges.)

“A Better Deal” offers trivial benefits. To caricature — see below on antitrust for a more serious topic — the Better Deal offers cheaper cable, cheaper beer, and cheaper prescription drugs. Well and good, but isn’t saving thousands of lives and billions of dollars with #MedicareForAll the truly better deal? Politically and morally? And doesn’t the Democrat Party’s willful refusal to focus on, or even name this issue, reinforce the “never, ever” message sent by the Clinton campaign debacle?

“A Better Deal” delivers many benefits indirectly, through the market. The #PeoplesPlatform delivers the universal concrete material benefits — Medicare for All, free college tuition, raising wages — using government as a vehicle (which is appropriate when benefits are universal; markets don’t do universal). The Better Deal, by contrast, focuses on tweaking the market to deliver benefits, in such a way that the role of government is not visible. For example, the Better Deal’s solution for lower cable and beer prices — the bread and circuses parallel is almost too exact — is better policy on antitrust. Suppose their approach works (see below) and cable bills are lowered by some unknown amount. Will the consumer perceive the benefit as a result of government action? Or as how the benefit will be marketed: A voluntary action freely undertaken by beneficent corporations? If you want to create a virtuous cycle where government action brings perceived benefit, strengthening popular support for further government action, bringing more benefits, how does that happen if the benefit is delivered indirectly, though the market, and imperceptible as a public good achieved by government?

“A Better Deal” does not address electoral infrastructure issues. The People’s Platform includes “Automatic Voter Registration.” The Better Deal does not address expanding the Democrat’s electoral base at all. That seems odd; one would think the Democrats would wish to bring maximum electoral power to bear on those opposed to their platform.

A Note About Antitrust

“A Better Deal” has this to say on antitrust:

We will crack down on monopolies and the concentration of economic power that has led to higher prices for consumers, workers, and small business – and make sure Wall Street never endangers Main Street again.

(Once again, I’ve helpfully underlined the functional equivalents of “fight for.”) That’s not very meaningful, so we turn to Schumer’s Op-Ed:

Right now our antitrust laws are designed to allow huge corporations to merge, padding the pockets of investors but sending costs skyrocketing for everything from cable bills and airline tickets to food and health care. We are going to fight to allow regulators to break up big companies if they’re hurting consumers and to make it harder for companies to merge if it reduces competition.

(Once again….) Leaving aside Schumer’s odd failure to mention ginormous Silicon Valley monopolies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google, this is still pretty vague, so we turn to the Democrat’s White Paper (PDF) on this topic. Laudably, the paper proposes standards that seem to be tougher — we await forthcoming legislation — but “standards are wind,” as they say, so we look for an enforcement mechanism. Here it is:

A new consumer competition advocate: In recent years, antitrust regulators have been unable or unwilling to pursue complaints about anticompetitive conduct. Our new competition advocate would research current market activity, receive consumer complaints, and proactively recommend [3] competition investigations to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ). The advocate will consider the full range of potentially anticompetitive behavior, from traditional areas like price fixing to newer challenges like the role that online platforms[4] play in keeping our markets fair and open. The advocate’s recommendations would be made public, and the regulators would be required, if they choose not to pursue a recommended investigation, to publicly justify why. This office would devote resources to ensuring complaints about market exploitation and anticompetitive behavior are treated seriously and regulators are held accountable. In order to inform the public on the general status of the markets, the office would also compile and publish data regularly on market concentration and abuses of economic power. It would also provide demographic breakdowns, including the impact of market concentration on communities of color.

I hope I don’t seem like I’m a pro-monopoly curmudgeon if I say that the “competition advocate” seems like pretty weak tea, to me. I’ve helpfully underlined the powers of this new office, and I don’t see “enforcement” there. I grant that a “bully pulpit” for anti-trust is a good thing, but don’t we have a President for that?[5] And Senators, who can hold hearings to perform every single function listed? Critically — once again, a serious effort with legislation would clarify this — the nature of the competition advocate’s funding is left unstated. Will the competition advocate be independently funded, as through successfully collected fines? Or will the advocate be funded by the very department it is supposed to force to “publicly justify” its failure to pursue recommendations?

One cannot help comparing the “Better Deal” proposal with the approach taken by the European Commission to one “online platform”:

The European Commission has fined Google €2.42 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another Google product, its comparison shopping service.

The company must now end the conduct within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Google has come up with many innovative products and services that have made a difference to our lives. That’s a good thing. But Google’s strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn’t just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals. Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors.

What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate. And most importantly, it denied European consumers a genuine choice of services and the full benefits of innovation.”

Here are Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s powers. They are, in fact, rather similar to those proposed by the “Better Deal” white paper, with an important exception I have underlined:


  • Mobilising competition policy tools and market expertise to contribute, where appropriate, to creating jobs and promoting growth.
  • Developing the economic and legal approach of assessing competition issues and monitoring the market.
  • Effectively enforcing competition rules in the areas of antitrust, cartels, mergers and state aid.
  • Strengthening the Commission’s reputation worldwide and promoting international cooperation in competition issues.

David Dayen, in “The Quiet Audacity of the Democratic ‘Better Deal,'” frames the “Competition Advocate” as part of a larger, and fresh, Democrat approach to governance. Excerpting the key portions of his thesis:

The Democrats continue to roll out their agenda, and I’m noticing a pattern. Want to lower the cost of prescription drugs? They’ve got a “price gouging” enforcer, the director of a new agency dedicated to investigating drug manufacturers that jack up the cost on their products. How about breaking concentrated corporate power across all fields? They’ve got a consumer-competition advocate who would recommend investigation of monopolistic industries to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission….

[These new proposed agencies] stand out, particularly because the new suggested positions duplicate existing structures within the federal government. The FTC (and, to a lesser extent, the Food and Drug Administration) is supposed to monitor drug prices, as well as other monopolies. ….

Of course, building new agencies with targeted missions was a hallmark of the New Deal. And like under FDR, these Better Deal agencies are an admission that the current framework is fatally corrupted, unresponsive to public needs. …

The Better Deal isn’t entirely about building a new government atop the old one. But that tendency stands out, and, while it’s something of a dodge, it’s also as quietly radical as anything we’ve seen recently from a major political party.

OK, grant the validity of this technocratic approach. If you want to “build a new government atop the old one” because “the current framework is fatally corrupted,” why leave the enforcement function in the corrupt framework, instead of moving it to the new one? And what about funding? Will that be a function of of the existing, corrupt framework, too?


A famous meme is “This is why we can’t have nice things.” A Better Deal says three things: (1) “You may have slightly better things,” and (2) “You must get those better things through the market,” and (3) “We will make the market work by adding new layers of complexity atop the system we all know is corrupt.” Whether this is a winning strategy is, again, one I’ll leave to the judges. For myself, I believe that a platform that delivers universal concrete material benefits, especially to the working class, is the way forward for a Democratic Party, or whatever party succeeds it, if Democrats go in another direction. Considerations of justice and electoral politics aside, a key form of collective brain damage inflicted over the last forty years by neoliberals of both parties is the belief that government can’t deliver benefits effectively. (Granted, neoliberals went out of their way to sabotage government’s ability to do just that, so the belief has a basis in reality.) I believe the remedy for that brain damage is, unsurprisingly, government that delivers benefits effectively (which is why #MedicareForAll is an important wedge issue, but adopting the simplest and most rugged form of single payer is also important, as opposed to some Swiss Watch-like program with lots of complications and dials and moon phases and such). A government that delivers benefits effectively is also a prerequisite for many other policies, chief among them dealing with climate change.


[1] So I’m not an anarchist. Sue me.

[2] I’d use a #BetterDeal hash tag, but all the usage examples seem to have been invented by random Twitter posters who oppose it. Since Twitter is heavily read by journalists, this also supports the idea that the Better Deal is not a serious effort.

[3] What on earth does “proactively recommend” mean? Is it opposed to “passive-aggressively recommend”?

[4] I suppose that “online platforms” means Amazon, Facebook, and Google, but it’s hard to say. Unlike AT&T, Time-Warner, Anheuser-Busch, and Luxottica, among others, no online platform is actually named.

[5] President Theodore Roosevelt: “We can not tolerate anything approaching a monopoly, especially in the necessaries of life, except on terms of such thoroughgoing governmental control as will absolutely safe guard every right of the public.”

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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.


    1. Anonymous

      They cant make things better because the 20 year old international binding agreement GATS and its progeny, which the US is pushing, forces ever increasing privatization and then globalization of those privatized (formerly public) jobs, on all of us, in a one way manner. Like a fish trap. This agreement blocks everything we need to do. It blocks the entire New Deal. Systematically. And both parties are in on it. So, what we’re seeing is play-acting. A sham.

      Also, jobs are being traded like money. Allegedly high minimum wages are being framed in the WTO as deliberate acts of sabotage to keep other countries “temporary service providers”, i.e. high skill workers who can stay here and work for years – as long as they are tied to a foreign corporation, out.

      This argument goes back decades. Its kind of like an identity theft where somebody who said they were in charge of you maxed out the national credit card – getting rich in the process, and now we’re being asked to pay with the jobs and other forms of market access that we are alleged to have promised.

      The middle class does not expect to suddenly have the rug pulled out from underneath it, the rug of historically higher wages being paid here because of rules limiting the numbers of workers who foreign corporations can bring along with them, without whom they could not move service jobs offshore as quickly. But its coming.

      This shift is why they are using these trade deals to gut the safety net. Otherwise we would have to raise taxes or cut military spending and create one. We’re expected to lose 40% of our planet’s jobs from automation in the next decade or so, and the US is projected to lose 41% from offshoring, in the next decade or so due to services liberalization. The two cohorts are not the same and there is definitely overlap, but I would not take any comfort from that. I actually think the automation figure is conservative, and I think the offshoring figure is wildly pessimistic – optimistic from the perspective of India, and other big outsourcing suppliers, (are there any anywhere close?) because most of those jobs will be automated not offshored. Plus they will alienate America and the EU and Australia.. because we- undercutting the core jobs here- are their business model..

      So, the developing world won’t be satisfied. They will still be way behind and they are nuts to have put their trust in known con artists like the Clintons and Trumps and Modi’s of the world. And they know it.

  1. Tom Stone

    “A better deal” run through my decoder ring translates as “We’ll spit on it first, maybe”.

  2. Left in Wisconsin

    What is crazy about the Dems is that they are, just as much as Trump, hand-waving an agenda they have no intention of following through on. But, unlike Trump, they refuse to make the (surely to be broken) promises that win votes. It’s like they really, really don’t want to win. Too many participation gold stars in pre-school?

    1. a different chris

      Agree on the no intention, but they are so stupid that “cable bills” managed to get in there. CABLE bills? If they had said “internet access” well that would make sense.

      Now in truth cable bills are a real issue, in that the rhymes-with-hicks but with a “d” that run the cable monopolies are horrible, bloodsucking wretches. But my point is it sounds really stupid and, if I was a Rethug, I would use that to derail a debate right quick.

    2. John D.

      It would be more accurate to say yes, they want to win, but they only want to win on their own terms. Which means doing nothing to rock the boat when it comes to possibly offending their donors or pissing off Big Money. Which means, in turn, doing nothing substantial for most of the grubby peasants whose votes they still want.

      For years, the Republicans managed to win elections by throwing red meat to the rubes while providing concrete service to their own donors, but that little game plan doesn’t work so well anymore. (It certainly paved the way for someone like Trump to waltz along and highjack everything.) Even so, the business-friendly “centrist” crowd in the Dem party must have been jealous as hell of that set-up, and I suspect that’s why they’re so furiously angry that the identity politics crap hasn’t gone so well. They must have thought they’d finally found their version of the GOP’s red meat strategy.

      1. OH

        That’s precisely what it is. The Democrats are willing to win if they can do it without scaring the billionaires. If the only way to win is to encourage the kind of talk that scares billionaires, then why not take a dive and use the loss to advance your intra-party struggle against the liberals.
        Self-identified liberals are pretty consistent voters for the less of 2 evils. Only the conservatives are stronger voters than the liberals. 80% of liberals vote for the lesser of 2 evils, it’s a long and strong tradition.
        Weak, milktoast, 2 face candidates like Clinton, only suppress the votes of independents. The “purists” are small in number and are not influenced by year to year fluctuations in the quality of the milk toast – such as the update from Obama brand milk toast to Clinton brand milk toast.

  3. mle detroit

    There’s this:

    It appears to be intended to pressure Democratic congress critters into supporting the Big Eight platform items. They’ll all say “I’m a co-sponsor” of course — that’s not the same as doing anything more.

    I hope there are folks who have time to show up at town halls on such short notice.

    1. Vatch

      Yes, some Democrats will co-sponsor these bills, but do nothing to get them passed. Only one of the bills (HR1144) directly threatens oligarchs in the financial industry. HR1144 will impose a transaction tax on the sale of securities. Interestingly, it only has 23 co-sponsors. In comparison, HR676 has 116 co-sponsors, HR15 has 161 co-sponsors, HR771 has 121 co-sponsors, and HR2840 has 117 co-sponsors. Only HR3227 has fewer co-sponsors than HR1144, and it was introduced in the House more recently than any of the others.

      That HR1144 has so few co-sponsors tells me that Democratic lawmakers are afraid to even appear to be threatening the wealth of the richest people in the country. Such bills can provide a good litmus test of who is really sincere about opposing the billionaires and the executives of the financial industry. That’s one reason why HR790 and HR2295 (S1020) should be included in the People’s Platform. Admittedly, HL790 has 56 co-sponsors, but that’s still a lot fewer than most of these bills.

      1. Octopii

        It’s worth noting that Keith Ellison is HR1144’s sponsor, the second in command of the DNC. LOL.

  4. flora

    Thanks for focusing on anti-trust.
    The Dem “better deal” seems to focus on price/cost to consumer, while any anti-competitive practices not related to cost are given a lagging and offhand mention.

    There’s a market for alternatives to near monopoly google and facebook, but weak or non-existent anti-trust enforcement has allowed these 2 to buy up or crush the competition in other ways, creating a hostile environment for new startups in these two areas alone
    It even allows these 2 companies to arbitrarily determine what users will see in search results and newsfeeds, which is pretty darn anti-competitive.

    Keeping out competitors who might create better search results or better social media environments harms consumers.

    The track record of the last Dem pres’s DoJ enforcement of anti-monopoly regulations against near-monopoly companies violating anti-competitive practices is, well, were there any enforcement actions?

    Thanks for this post.

    1. OH

      Karl Marx theorized that under Capitalism, monopolies are possible. It was considered very radical, “how dare you make that claim”

  5. Watt4Bob

    For myself, I believe that a platform that delivers universal concrete material benefits, especially to the working class, is the way forward for a Democratic Party, or whatever party succeeds it, if Democrats go in another direction.

    Trumps base, or a significant portion of it has been so effectively propagandized that they reflexively reject any attempt to provide universal concrete material benefits because in their imaginations universal concrete material benefits means taking from those who work and giving to those who don’t.

    We have to figure out how to refute the Republican’s Southern Strategy until then, we’re stuck with an eternal excuse for more austerity.

    1. a different chris

      I am not convinced the South will forever and anon not change. Like everything else in the world that doesn’t not change.

      Even if it takes it a while, we got a lot of other states, doncha’ know?

      1. OH

        As I understand from Howard Zinn, the South did change pretty good after the Civil War, and that was the reason for the original Ku Klux Klan. The fact that the racist movie Birth of a Nation slandered the reconstruction era, portraying drunk black legislators putting their bare feet on the tables, is more evidence of the good things which were underway. As I understand, poor whites were even getting a better deal under reconstruction. Then, the movie Birth of a Nation inspired a revival and a new incarnation of the KKK, which is the one we all know. The Northern Troops left the South, mostly so they could go and break up strikes in the North, and they left the Reconstruction project to the terrorism of the KKK, and the chance was destroyed.

    2. Yves Smith

      No, the big conservative bugaboo is providing services for immigrants, plus the belief that government = bad, incompetent, high cost. Recall how at town halls, many Republicans are now demanding single payer. However, many have been indoctrinated to believe that single payer will leave them paying ginormously more in taxes and net worse off. It’s not the universality, it’s the falsehoods about the NHS, Canadian and French health care systems that are at the root of conservative opposition there.

  6. John k

    Dont need new bureaucracy. Need a pres willing to enforce vigorously existing anti trust laws. Is the last such JFK? People say Bernie would have been hobbled by rep congress… first of all, if he won the nom he would have brought out millions that didn’t vote, the house might not be rep. But either way, pres can enforce existing law… bank reg, anti trust, jail white collar criminals, all upsetting elites of both parties but enormously popular… well, that’s what populist means… elites advocate unpopular policies.

    Donors dictate dem objectives. Most important objective is to keep progressives from power. Winning or enlarging party always secondary to that. Concrete benefits? Don’t make me laugh… none of the new posturing is intended to be even slightly effective.

    1. Norm

      As I recall, in 2008/9 Obama was hobbled by a Democratic congress. I’m not suggesting that Obama wasn’t really ok with that, but it has been proven time and time again that the Democratic Party is a pretty easy institution from which determined oligarchs can readily find enough votes to turn.

    2. Richard

      I think what is often overlooked, is that when Dem. party elites shut down popular alternatives, and take your pick, a huge part of what they’re doing is simply protecting The Party. It can’t be seen as a potential vehicle for reform; no precedents allowed of effective governance. Otherwise we get landslide victories and all sorts of hard to manage excitement, maybe even some ambitious politicians inspired by the moment who may not be Sound. A huge bother for the leadership, who must then work to destroy their own majorities. Obama in ’09 and Johnson in ’65 are examples of this process in action.
      I am borrowing here from the ideas of Walter Karp, who I highly recommend to NC readers! Out of print, mostly, but so worth the time!

  7. seabos84

    sure is a lot of words to read.
    I suppose if I weren’t 57 and hadn’t voted FOR these lying sell outs for decades, I might put some effort into reading what you put so much effort into. oh well.
    unless they hand me $100,000 in benjamins, with the taxes already paid, what is interesting is how they might as well be Ronnie RayGun or Heil Herr Trump when it comes to having any credibility with respect to being on my side. If any of the current Dem-0-RAT$ or their enabling Dim-0-CRAP$ were on fire, I wouldn’t spend any of my precious time to pee on any of ’em.
    New blood, only, period.

    1. a different chris

      I think I would have to appropriate some of my precious time to watch… now waste my precious pee? No.

  8. dao

    Is the better deal the best deal they can come up with? Will it be improved upon to become a much better deal? Or improved even further to become the best deal ever?

    Or will they scale back the better deal to become merely a good deal? Perhaps scaled back even more to become a fair deal? Or scrapped altogether to be no deal at all?

    1. OH

      The funny part is they’ll be called communists no matter how much they water it down trying to gain the approval of the America-hating rich.

  9. annenigma

    A Better Deal is all talk and no action. There’s no meat on those old Hope and Change bones, even after 8 years of Obama having the megaphone and bully pulpit which he let go to waste, instead dressing up nice, turning on the charm, telling jokes, crooning, and making everyone feel good and otherwise not ruffling feathers, especially the banksters.

    Were the Democrats all waiting for their mother/a woman (Hillary) to take charge? No wonder they’re still in meltdown mode – their mommy didn’t win and she can’t pick up after them now. Their new slogan should be ‘GET TO WORK’ and they should take their own advice.

    On the other hand, the People’s Platform is solid, real, and believable because the commitment has already been shown through legislative action they’ve initiated and supported, unlike the Better Dealers who have actually had the nerve to vote to kill the prescription drug import bill.

    Slow-rolling a bunch of nice words over the course of the next year is the Better Dealers idea of work, as if we didn’t have enough of that for the past 8 years. Frankly, I think their real work involves preserving, protecting, and defending Capitalism – in effect trying to do the Republicans job better than they do and for the same clientele.

    A Better Deal? Ha! They don’t even dare publicly discuss the ripoff of a trillion/year on ‘national security’ that could be cut in half to provide some for real security for people instead of defense contractors and other corporations.

    No Guts, No Glory.

    1. OH

      There’s nothing quite as exciting as imperceptible tiny goals, taking stances on social issues long after they become safe politically, being really really polite to conservative republicans, watering everything down, not scaring rich people, and fair play or at least partially reduced injustice for everyone who is willing to really really really work hard! One day. But I mean WORK!

  10. ChiGal in Carolina

    Once again, a succinct summary of the current state of play. You sir, are invaluable, and I will share widely.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      adding, the NCDems have just authorized a Progressive Caucus and the first meeting in Orange County is Wednesday. Me, I’m seriously thinking of joining the DSA but I need to check out rules in this state for voting in primaries. But I will go to see what it’s about, and hopefully a bunch of the folks who will be there will have read this piece by then.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  11. a different chris

    >and make sure Wall Street never endangers Main Street again.

    Yeah that was nearly 10 years ago but hey don’t rush into it… didn’t/won’t affect anybody you know, right?

  12. PhilM

    What a post. The positive virtues of perspicacity of analysis, perspicuity of language, fair-mindedness, and wit; the negative virtues, namely the absence of baseness, envy, or resentment. Lambert remains a flicker of hope in a journalism sector that looks every day more and more like the monkey-cage in a dystopian fantasy. Sure, it may only be a matter of time until we find out that the Chancellor is really the Sith Lord we have been searching for; but in the meantime it’s nice to have a bit of active practical optimism from somebody as smart as he is.

  13. ChrisPacific

    I confess that when I first read it, I scanned through for instances of “fight for” (fight back, fight to, etc.) as potential bullshit tells – i.e. these are the areas where Democrats intend to try really hard, fail, and blame it on the Republicans (all the while ruthlessly suppressing any progressive efforts along the same lines that pose enough of a risk of actually succeeding to upset their big donors). I counted five, focused around wages, healthcare and reining in big corporations. Sounds about right.

    1. OH

      “We should put a cinnamon shaker on the counter because doing that will probably increase our milk toast sales. Just don’t ever add any speck it to the milk toast or we will have to throw it away.”

  14. Claire

    ” A key form of collective brain damage inflicted over the past 40 years by neoliberals of both political parties is the belief that government can’t deliver benefits effectively.”

    “I believe that the remedy for that brain damage is, unsurprisingly, government that delivers benefits effectively.”

    The People’s Platform seems to simply assume that the bureaucratic centralism which sunk the former Soviet Union has not been largely instituted in the United States of 2017.

    The New Deal was already exhausted by the 1960s through a trajectory of over-bureaucratization.

    In 2017 we have the National Security Bureaucracy effectively running American society and a powerful centralized State operationalizing neoliberalism.

    Without a radically reconstructed civil society sufficiently strong to sustain social tasks previously carried out by central authority it will be impossible to launch a post-New Deal model of social organization.

    Our modern managerial bureaucratic elite needs to be check-mated not facilitated.


  15. Laughingsong

    “OK, I said I wouldn’t look at framing, but for those new here I just couldn’t help underlining the familiar weasel words . . . ”

    Might as well underline the whole damn thing, really. Do they want some syrup with all that waffle?

  16. Temporarily Sane

    The Democrat party seems to labor under the delusion that the voting public will eventually come around and allow itself to be hoodwinked (again) by BS talking points wrapped in flowery PR speak and fail to notice all their promised “policies” are 100% rhetoric and 0% actual policy.

  17. JBIRD

    This is some semi coherent thinking as I am organizing my thoughts on the fly and on my cell phone. I do have a point I’m aiming at though.

    I don’t know if this has any real relevance, but I occasionally debate some people on a board that drifted right over to John Birch Society or maybe Francisco Franco territory. Since I’m left of Bernie Sanders it can get interesting.

    However, there are some very strong agreements on the wholesale corruption, the elites sucking up all the wealth, the bankers made whole while most people got reamed. Even on the dislike of the increasing police militarization with the accompanying increase in violence and shootings.

    And we very strongly agreed that if people could again get decent jobs that allowed you to have a life and to take care of your family all this uproar would just go away. Also whoever did this would be the ruling party.

    Do not get me wrong as there are massive disagreements on the details. Like what size our government should be, on taxes, and very much on social issues. More and more people though are having the impoverishment of most Americans, the increasing wealth inequality, corruption, and brutality of the law (if you’re poor, the police are not your friend. Being Black merely adds to it.) being shoved into their face. And they don’t like it. Even if you are doing fine, ones sense of fairness is not.

    Now why do I bring this up you might wonder. Well, the different proposals being offered, the red meat being fed to the masses are merely some oil on every more rolling water. Seems to me that the political, economic, and social elites believe (pray?) that their oil will keep the water in the pan. Talk, talk, talk, but the sales pitch is getting kinda old now, and they just don’t understand how bad it is becoming. If you can’t pay the rent, or get your kids shoes, or even loan a friend a twenty, fancy plans and slogans are merely salt. Ideology does nothing for that and it’s hard to blame the liberals or conservatives who are having the same problems. All the talk in the news about how fabulous the economy is doing is a phantasm. Even in Blue California, more employed people are living in their vehicle

    More “proposals” or “action plans” or tax cuts. Talk, talk, talk. More empty words but very little doing something effective for us and not the elites

    At some point soon, maybe because of a rush Constitutional Convention, or a hachet job of an impeachment, or a Katrina, or who knows, what will tip the our political and economic institutions from legitimacy to illegitimacy.

    What happens then I don’t know, but considering the freak out over even peaceful events like Occupy Wall Street or Standing Rock, I believe the Security State will be unleashed on us.

    1. funemployed

      My guess is the next major financial crisis will do the trick. Agree about the security state (I think that’s started already – remember standing rock? – intensification is the logical next step without a fundamental revolution).

      Maybe the NC commentariat will get lucky and all get tossed in the same Gulag, then we can corrupt the guards with our charm and wit, get a garden and a brewery and a library of illegal books, and watch the world burn from the comfort of our nooks.

  18. sharonsj

    The Dems still don’t understand that the reason why Trump happened is that hope and change didn’t happen. The Dems decided not to prosecute Wall Street for fraud nor Bush for lying us into war. In fact, they’ve helped perpetuate the failed and endless wars on terror and drugs, and Wall Street continues to rig the markets.

    And it’s not only the federal government. I’m tired of paying 20% of my income to property and school taxes and getting little in return. In fact, state governments are more dysfunctional than Washington and more concerned with birth control, abortion, where you can pee, and not taxing the rich. But the Dem establishment doesn’t appear interested in retaking local elections either. As Bernie Sanders said, they are more concerned with staying in first class while the Titanic sinks.

  19. Bill Perdue

    Neither wing of the DP has any real answers to the problems facing the working class.

    We need socialized medicine, housing, and education.

    We need constitutional guarantees for good wages, stipends for student workers, retirees and the unemployed and underemployed.

    We need the deconstruction and demobilization of the US military murder machine and the end of wars of aggression and war spending.

    We need the robust prosecution of those who promote racist, misogynist and homophobic violence and a 100% tax on the income of religious cults like the roman, baptist and mormon cults.

    Democrats and Republicans of all stripes cannot and will not do any of that. Socialists can and will.

  20. Devamitta

    The Dems are fighting hard. They are fighting hard to not stand for substantive and clear policies and to dupe voters into thinking they have their back.

  21. Code Name D

    So you want to beak up the TBTFB? Well we will give you an “anti-trust advocte” that will stand on the side line and nag already existing corupt to do something about the handfull of bad apples out there.

    To me at least, the “better deal” is an attempt to qualsh the people’s platform in a point by point refutaton. It proves that they are at least feeling the presure and tring to respond to public demand.

    But at the end of the day, the “better deal” is nuthing new. Hell, Clintion ran on many of these planks. The only thing they did was shift around the wording a bit. It’s “we have a plan – to come up with a plan” sort of thing.

    The only real debate seems to be between the idea that this id the Dem’s “best effort” for chage and are simply contrained by the lack of magination and intulectual bankruptsy. Or if this is a sinical ploy to supress the popular will and to protect the status qou from change,

    To me, this is a distinction without a diffrence becaus the outcome will still be the same.

    It is adding yet more presure to Democratic reformers like Sanders and Kent Uger who feel that a third party is futile and we must side with the Democrats (fight for change from within.) The better deal is yet more evidence that the Dem leadership, for what ever reason, refuse to change.

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