‘A Staggeringly Bad Idea’: Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would ‘Kneecap the Progressive Agenda’

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She is currently writing a book about textile artisans.

Once again, corporate  Democrats are determined  to snatch defeat from the jaws of their recent House electoral victory.

As Common Dreams tells the story, in A Staggeringly Bad Idea’: Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would ‘Kneecap the Progressive Agenda’:

Nearly three-quarters of the American public and a historic number of Democratic lawmakers support Medicare for All, but the House Democratic leadership is considering using its newly won majority to impose a rule that would “recklessly betray” the grassroots forces that put them in power by making single-payer and other progressive priorities impossible to enact.

According to a list of Democratic proposals obtained by the Washington Post, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—who is currently fighting back against efforts to prevent her from becoming House Speaker—is pushing for a rule that would “require a three-fifths supermajority to raise individual income taxes on the lowest-earning 80 percent of taxpayers.”

In response, MoveOn.org called the proposal “a staggeringly bad idea.”

Though the proposed rule is framed as an effort to protect the financial well-being of middle class Americans, Eric Levitz of New York Magazine pointed out that “while progressives are committed to increasing the discretionary income of the bottom 80 percent, that does not necessarily mean keeping their tax rates frozen at historically low levels.”

Levitz in For First Act in Power, Democrats Consider Making Their Own Agenda Impossible to Pass grasps the full significance of these rules, which would effectively gut the ability of Democrats to enact a progressive agenda:

This week, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi unveiled a list of new procedural rules that her caucus intends to implement when the next Congress is seated. Most of these measures are unobjectionable “good government” reforms. But one of them would create a new — and all-but-insurmountable — obstacle to the passage of many of the policies that the Democratic Party claims to support.

This proposal is, in effect, a progressive revision of an existing House rule: Under Paul Ryan’s leadership, the current Republican majority established a supermajority requirement to raise income taxes on anyone. …

To be sure, in the present context, with Mitch McConnell leading the Senate and Donald Trump in the White House, the supermajority requirement is of no real consequence. The Republican Party is not going to sign off on middle-class tax hikes — or at least not to finance new social spending. Once procedural rules are established, however, they can be difficult to eliminate. There are plenty of Democrats in the House who don’t want to be forced to chose (publicly) between voting for higher taxes on the middle class and against a priority of the progressive base. Such lawmakers are sure to value (and thus, insist on the preservation of) a procedural obstacle that allows them to forgo voting on legislation that forces them to make such hard choices by rendering such bills impossible to pass without GOP buy-in (which is to say, impossible to pass). [Jerri-Lynn here: my emphasis]

ll this would be a bit less problematic if the Democratic Party had overcome its allergy to deficit spending (and/or accepted Modern Monetary Theory as its personal truth). But it hasn’t: In addition to forbidding tax increases on the bottom 80 percent, Pelosi has vowed to honor the “pay as you go” rule, which requires the House to fully finance any and all new government spending.

I’ve included the extended quotation for its shoutout to MMT –  which I am pleased to see,  is garnering increasing traction in more and more places.

What Gives?

What’s going on here? This new rule would prevent Democrats from ’pursuing  policies with broad popular support, – e.g, free college, Medicare for all, and instead embrace Republican spending constraints. Admittedly, at present, as  Levitz recognizes, with Trump as  President, and Republicans in control in the Senate, this might seem to be an abstract concern. But why should Democrats be legitimizing and indeed doubling down and accepting such austerity arguments?

As the Common Dreams account makes clear, the restriction has been opposed by the likes of Richard Phillips, senior tax policy analyst for the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Democracy for American, and Stephanie Kelton:

I ask again: why the rush by Democrats  to shackle their majority power?

Is this proposed rule really motivated by angst over busting the budget?

Or sincere concern over alienating voters who don’t want to see their taxes increased?


Now, readers who’ve absorbed the implications of MMT know that taxes don’t finance spending, for those countries that issue their own fiat currency. So I’m not going to  discuss that issue here, as plenty of other posts lay out the basics of MMT, and this post isn’t about whether any US politicians – explicitly or implicitly – embrace its tenets.

Here’s what I do want to discuss. This crazy tax rule is indeed intended to shackle House Democrats and maintain the ridiculous tax-cutting fetters promoted by Republicans – and, on many occasions, endorsed and extended by Democrats – over the last decades.

Why would Democrats possibly want to do this?

Are they mere masochists, who enjoy losing elections?

Answer: IMHO, the mainstream leadership is running a bit scared. They’re not stupid, and they know that not only are their preferred policies electorally unpopular, but there’s a chance – a small chance – that some of these progressive initiatives might take fire – e.g., Medicare for all, free college. So they want to prevent serious consideration of such popular ideas.

Now, I understand that even if the House were to pass such initiatives they’d be squashed by the Senate, or quashed by Trump’s veto.

That Pelosi seriously proposes these procedural rules is further evidence that the Democratic leadership responds to donor demands rather than voter concerns – unless she is congenitally stupid. And I don’t think so.

Instead, let me suggest what motivates her behavior.

Allow me to insert a chart, taken from Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, and Jie Chen’s latest money and politics paper, Big Money—Not Political Tribalism—Drives US Elections.

The link takes you to the summary version of the article; see here for the complete text.

What the chart makes clear is that Pelosi is second only to Mitch McConnell in being beholden to big money interests.

Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere.

Paying the Piper

Now, while Pelosi and other corporate Democrats attempt to adopt rules that restrict their ability to pursue electorally popular policies, I see some signs of small green shoots.

Pelosi’s bid to serve once again as Speaker of the House looks at present no means assured. As was widely reported yesterday, 16 House Democrats have written a letter opposing her leadership bid, according to the Washington Post, Sixteen dissident Democrats vow to oppose Pelosi as next speaker:

“We are thankful to Leader Pelosi for her years of service to our Country and to our Caucus,” her opponents wrote. “However, we also recognize that in this recent election, Democrats ran on and won on a message of change.”

This represents a serious threat, for as the WSJ reports in Nancy Pelosi Works to Quell Dissent Within Her Party, discussing her leadership bid:

A preliminary vote on the speakership is scheduled for next week, when Democrats will endorse their candidate. Mrs. Pelosi, 78 years old, is running unopposed thus far.

Pelosi only needs to win a majority of votes cast, and she’s expected to clear this preliminary hurdle. But the breakdown of the vote itself will signal the likelihood  of whether she’ll ultimately be re-selected as Speaker, a position she held from 2007 through 2011.

According to the WSJ:

Democrats will control at least 232 House seats after winning dozens in the midterms, which gives them a majority. Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee, predicted that if Mrs. Pelosi “gets 190 votes, 200 votes, I think that’s a pretty good indication” she could be speaker. If she garners significantly less than that in next week’s caucus vote, “that would probably embolden those who want change.”

The more serious reckoning will follow in January, once the new Congress is seated. Again according to the WSJ:

A final vote will come in January, when the new Congress is sworn in. Mrs. Pelosi is seeking to become the first House speaker to regain the gavel after losing it since Democrat Sam Rayburn of Texas did so in 1953. Her detractors, who are all-but resigned to her winning in next week’s caucus vote, are trying to block her path on the House floor in January.

The January vote will involve all House members, Democrats and Republicans alike, and Mrs. Pelosi will need a majority of those who vote for a candidate. If Democrats don’t gain any more seats from the five undecided races, and all members vote for a candidate, Mrs. Pelosi can lose as many as 15 Democrats and still win the 218 votes needed for a majority, assuming all Republicans vote against her. Lawmakers can vote “present,” instead, which would shrink the number of “yes” votes she needs.

CNN has done the math, in Understanding the math Nancy Pelosi faces in the race for House speaker. If every member of the incoming House votes for a candidate – 16 Democrats could votes for someone else, and she’d still have a bare majority. Note that 16 Democrats signed the letter, and assuming they all vote no, that means she can’t lose any more support.

If her opponents eschew voting outright no, and instead opt to vote present, up to 32 of them can vote present and she would still win – albeit with a smaller majority.

Let’s hope that the latest pushback against this insane tax rule succeeds in warning Pelosi– or whoever is selected as the next speaker of the House – that this supermajority tax rule will doom the Democrats to further electoral oblivion – and should therefore not be adopted, whatever their donors might prefer.

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    1. rd

      The Democrat leadership is more focused on maintaining the campaign contributions and PACs that benefit them than differentiating themselves from the GOP.

      If the Dems are going to make headway over the next few years, it is going to have to be on stabilizing, repairing, and improving healthcare funding and coverage structure, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It is clear that the Democratic leadership is not there.

      The Democratic leadership appears to be believe that people are voting Democratic through huge enthusiasm instead of holding their nose voting for the only option. That leaves them as vulnerable in 2020 as in 2016.

      1. Lambert Strether

        They also want to appeal to wealthy suburban Republicans. So it’s a two-fer: (a) Prevent #MedicareForAll (IMNSHO, their #1 policy goal and (b) install the sort of supermajority approach to taxes that Republicans like (which, when Republicans take power again will almost certainly be revised for the worse). So, the galaxy brains in the Democratic strategist world have decided to steal the Republicans’ clothes on taxes…

        1. redleg

          The Dem status quo’s overarching goal is to become what the GOP was 10-12 years ago on a moving average. And they might just do it, unless those meddling kids can stop them.


      I, for one am not suprised. The CPS formerly the DNC. The CPS not good for Working lower, middle, upper middle class persons and families.

      1. Darius

        They’re passive reactors. They want the Republicans to set the agenda for them. Then they’ll meet them halfway.

      2. Eureka Springs

        It’s been an effing broken record as long as this 53 year old can remember.

        People who vote for this or play along in any way should be angry with themselves, not Nancy, Chuck or Dem… Aristocrats. It’s a party where you will either be hazed relentlessly or your punch bowl will be spiked with thorazine if you are lucky.

    3. Tom Stone


      Change is inevitable, if there is no longer a method for peaceful change…

    4. JBird4049

      And the reason it’s being done. It provides political cover for the continued ratfvcking of most Americans and by extension most people on Earth. “They” know it is getting harder to have enough people regardless of their beliefs to accept the oligarchic Kleptocracy so comes out the more subtle lies.

      Whatever you do, don’t fall for the “liberal Democratic” versus “Republican conservative” shtick as whatever truthfulness it had or had is now being used for political Kabuki.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      Does the House adopt and/or change a whole new set of rules for itself every two years? Or does a rule, once adopted, remain a rule unless and until it is overtly rescinded?

    1. a different chris

      That is absolutely true. And the question is: why? She is a mega-millionaire. She is also 78 years old. If you are at Ms Pelosi’s wealth, power and age and cannot tell people to GF themselves and do what needs to be done, then that is really sad.

      She’s another counter-example to the “if people have what they need, they will just drop out and stop working” post that I already criticized below. People just don’t function like we think they should. Especially the ones at the top.

  1. ambrit

    This bodes ill for the Geezer cohort.
    If a strict constructionist ethos prevails on taxes, I look for the “Return Of The Grand Bargain.” The Return, known as a revanche in French, will give super dry powder to anti-New Deal activists. (I know, I know, return, in French is retour. But, come-on now, who wants to smear his or her political opponents as ‘Retourists?’ That sounds like the bicycle race.)
    Anyway, a shackled tax structure can easily be used as a ‘reason’ for limiting or rolling back social welfare programs. There’s the coming battleground.
    If Trump understands this, he’ll veto the tax shackle bill and proclaim his support for “Good Old American Compassion!”
    If he pulls this off, he’ll coast to victory in 2020. Plus, he might get that pesky old 22nd Amendment repealed too!

    1. Glen

      Indeed, it’s fair to say that the biggest enablers of Trump 2020 will be Pelosi and the corporate Dems.

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      the thing that jumps out at me in all the reporting I’ve seen on Nancy’s Folly/Betrayals…even in places like Common Dreams…is the acceptance of the myth that the goptea is fundamentally against deficits.
      That they give one damn about the budget.
      It’s nonsense.(as I’m sure that all of you know)
      the biggest argument for the veracity of MMT, in my view, is the damned pentagon.
      trillions of dollars created for destruction and death and the all seeing eye of sauron…and aircraft that can’t function in the rain…but We, the People are forbidden a civilised healthcare system, bridges that don’t collapse or wages we can live sensibly on.
      I really look forward to the speaker vote in the full house in January…how many goptea will vote for Nancy?
      and more interestingly, perhaps, how will Team Blue spin it?
      When I go on alternet with a quiverfull of vote tallies, what language will be used to counter the obvious implications?
      That, as I’ve been insisting for decades, the Demparty is not on our side///

      1. ambrit

        Someone should interest Sanders in forming now a shadow cabinet to float policy proposals. Why not act like the Party Out of Power in a Parliamentary system and begin preparing to govern today. It would go a long way to giving organizational sinews to the Neo-Democrat faction.
        This would obviate the big “but they’re not ready to lead” argument the “usual suspects” trot out whenever a non standard political contender steps into the ring. It also lends support to insurgents by demonstrating the viability of parallel institutions.
        I’ll echo Lambert in saying that the “Real Opposition” needs to develop a stable of contenders. This will be good practice and polish for future politicians.

        1. philnc

          “Why not act like the Party Out of Power in a Parliamentary system”?

          Because we don’t have a parliamentary system, but a system that has proved to be structurally unrepresentative.

          If we had a British-style parliamentary system, the Democrats would be the government right now, and not just a shadow. Of course we’d also need proportional representation, and maybe ranked choice voting, to break the current duopoly.

          1. philnc

            … but I completely agree that the new Congress should start acting like principal branch of government it’s supposed to be, and organizing a shadow cabinet could be a way of rationalizing the policy making that has traditionally been done through legislative committees.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Trump will not be interested in Good Old American Compassion. Trump will be interested in conspiring with the Catfood Democrats led by Catfood Speaker Pelosi to cut or abolish Social Security and Medicare.
      I think we are learning why Trump so badly wants Pelosi to be speaker.

      Trump’s economic adviser is Steven Moore and Steven Moore will always advise Trump to abolish Social Security and Medicare.

      And I hadn’t thought about it, but of course Catfood Pelosi’s “PayGo” and “Supermajority needed to raise taxes on the lower 80%” are designed to create a Visible Deficit Crisis to be solved by having a BiPartisan Catfood Coalition abolish Social Security and Medicare, just as McConnell said would be necessary.

  2. RUKidding


    Pelosi then: Impeachment is off the table

    Pelosi now: no Medicare for All for you rubes (pardon me whilst I luxuriate on my platinum plated health care + fabulous pension for life all funded by you chumps).

    Democratic voters who don’t “get” this are really pissing me off. I see far too many endorsing this worthless politician and heaping praise on her for mad leadership skillz. Yeah, she’s got skillz alright, but who benefits from them? No you ‘n me, Jane & John Q Public, as apposed to Big Daddy WarBuck$.

    1. scraping_by

      You must always make the distinction between the voters and the voters the MSM allows you to see. There is little enough new hole/air time/eye space and much of it is taken up with glittering nonsense like reality shows, pop musicians, race conflict, abortion, etc. Even elections are a poor proxy for public sentiment.

      As a general thing, the Deplorables are more sophisticated than their image in the chattering class, and their goals tend toward concrete goods that will benefit their lives. The silly little soap opera that is presented as politics (impeachment, confirmation hearings, investigations, etc.) are just another distraction from what the citizens want to do with government.

  3. Anonymal

    This is actually a really good idea, one of the first things the DNC has thought of that has an ounce of helping the middle and lower classes since the Clinton years.

    I’m not surprised Progressives are against helping the Middle class, that isn’t their target market. I am surprised the DNC would extend such a protection down form the upper classes, though.

    1. Yves Smith

      Wowsers. Let’s start with taxes don’t fund spending at the Federal level, but Team Dem refuses to understand that. Taxes serve to drain spending so as to control inflation.

      Next, the fallen middle class is one of the targets of progressives. What do you think single payer and strengthening Social Security are about? Do you not understand that benefits to the middle class are the net of spending v. taxation? The whole point is that modest tax increases on the middle class make it more viable to tax the rich proportionately more and provide programs that are net benefits to the middle and lower class. If you paid 5% more of your income in taxes to get free healthcare, I can pretty much guarantee you’d be ahead unless you have a very high income.

      1. EoH

        Thank you for that.

        As for Pelosi’s apparent attempt to hamstring her own majority by imposing a 3/5 majority requirement, it would give the GOP veto power over Democratic initiatives. But it would do nothing to restrain a future GOP majority, which would toss the rule, just as it ignores deficits when it wants to give tax cuts to the wealthy.

        To jump on the bandwagon, her move could only be an attempt to corral her own progressive wing. That’s the one supporting her against a poorly planned attempt on her right to deny her leadership of the House. A good deed never goes unpunished.

        If Pelosi is serious about this 3/5 requirement, she may find that her progressive wing has a long memory, and that her continued leadership would not survive a 2020 blue wave. Her proposal would sell a lot of pitchforks.

    2. Richard

      Speaking as a member of the middle class (in terms of income), I think Pelosi’s idea is the sort of horrible, corrupt, passive/back-stabbing lethality that the dems specialize in. So yes, you’re right in a way. It really is them, and pelosi, at their most awesome.
      Taking away any chance that I may have of having health care independent of my employment, the freedom that would allow me and millions of other u.s. people, taking away the chance for that, in advance of any fair vote, really is the dems at their most cutting edge and appealing, isn’t it?

    3. redleg

      The anti-progressive Dems and MAGAs are staunchly against Single Payer/Medicare for All. Forcing employer provided insurance greatly reduces workers’ ability to leave a bad job or negotiate compensation/working conditions. Single payer/MFA is the most progressive, middle class friendly, labor friendly, small business friendly policy that could happen in the USA.

    4. James Cole

      It’s a wedge maneuver. She thinks Progressives will be baited into responding that taxes should be raised on the lower 80% (as some evidently have) which will discredit them politically (as Pelosi sees it).
      The better response is: fine, we don’t need to increase taxes on anyone to fund spending on social programs.
      The thing to fight head-on is pay-as-you-go.

  4. David

    The Dems like Pelosi know its all a promote for the progressives – give them intangibles that “dont cost” real money – a new gender perhaps… instead of just Transvestites / TransGenders / TranSexuals / go the full monty and promote TransBeastials or whatever

    These people are all TransMental and easily distracted by the next new shiny status – that puts them in the……. cool kids club without spending a dime.

    The country cant afford to keep people around who are overweight / bad genetics / drug users / drunks / inability to assess risk / 68 IQ’s / etc – that die off before 65 years old now – $31 Trillion is a low cost number.

    If the medicare for all was put in place, the Defense and CIA budget would be cost prohibitive even for MMT – why not wait for the illegals permanent status. Give them low level minimalist gratuities to keep them alive for slave labor camps, easily cut off as necessary and gain permanent control of government and the stealing of the elections at the margin will be less necessary

    1. JW

      I’m physically sickened by the level of rabid bigotry in that comment.

      If the big economic tent includes bigots shouting loudly, a lot of people will prefer to stand outside it.

    2. CarlH

      Although I try to avoid these types of comparisons, this reads as if from the diary of a certain sort of German in the 1930’s. Perhaps I am not comprehending particularly dry sarcasm when I see it?

  5. Samuel Conner

    A point that has been made repeatedly at NC is that the Ds do not appear to want to govern in the interest of a substantial majority of the population. That hypothesis helps to explain the lack of what Lambert calls “core party-building functions” like voter registration drives in non-election years.

    Majority-favored policies are a bad idea if you don’t actually want to govern. Enacting them might give the people the sense that they have power, and can hold the government accountable. A disempowered and disocraged electorate seems to be preferable (from the perspective of both parties, to be fair).

    1. Samuel Conner

      “discouraged”, that is.

      Or, IOW, the attitude of our rulers appears to be “you can’t have what you want, so stop trying.”

      Government “of, by and for the people” may not have yet perished from the earth, but it is looking quite anemic in US.

      1. Jeff W

        Sheldon Wolin called it “inverted totalitarianism.” From The Nation, 2003 (a bit dated but Wolin developed the idea over for the next decade):

        Elections have become heavily subsidized non-events that typically attract at best merely half of an electorate whose information about foreign and domestic politics is filtered through corporate-dominated media. Citizens are manipulated into a nervous state by the media’s reports of rampant crime and terrorist networks…and by their own fears about unemployment. What is crucially important here is not only the expansion of governmental power but the inevitable discrediting of constitutional limitations and institutional processes that discourages the citizenry and leaves them politically apathetic.

        [Emphasis added.]

        There are lots of aspects to the political apathy angle—the tamping down of expectations; the ever-present downward counterfactualism of “It could be worse” (i.e., be thankful for the status quo); the relegation and dismissal of genuinely popular policy to “pie-in-the-sky,” “sparkle pony,” “never ever” status and the denigration and marginalization of those who propose it; the focus on the trivial and the “horse race” in political coverage; the crazily complex maze of eligibility requirements and means testing for any proposal that might benefit the public; the placing of blame and shame on the public for their lack of involvement. It all fits together to keep the populace in a state of exhausted resignation regarding the narrow range of policy options open to them.

  6. Darius

    Is it unrealistic to imagine that a progressive caucus candidate would emerge if Pelosi really was going down? I never was well disposed to Pelosi, but with this paygo stuff, she’s dead to me. Stunningly bad politics. She’s in a bubble if she thinks this will fly. This one step forward two steps back politics between Democrats and Republicans points us toward the cliff.

    1. scraping_by

      As an argument, it’s the Dem version of “The money isn’t there.” The Reps accomplish this by allowing billionaires public assets without paying for them. The Dem version has always been, “We need to pay for war.” Looked at it that way, the solution is obvious.

  7. Michael Hudson

    Pelosi did the same thing years ago when Obama care was first opposed by Dennis Kucinich advocating single payer. Pelosi blocked him from even opening discussion of this on the House floor. Her control was totalitarian.
    Surprisingly (or as a stunt), the new right-wing “army and CIA” Democrat elects want to dump Pelosi on the ground that she is too “leftish.” She IS radical, but on the financial right wing of the party.

    1. ambrit

      Oh. I hadn’t looked at precisely who was calling for her ouster.
      This looks like the Overton Window is being dragged on over into the neighbours yard!
      Who these “reformist” Democrat Party operatives suggest as Pelosi’s replacement will tell the tale.
      Will this burgeoning Democrat novo-apparatchik versus Corporate Dem factors battle be substantive, or more Kayfabe?

  8. Pft

    Sadly people can not comprehend the simple fact that government as sovereign can create the money it spends into the economy. It does not need to come from taxes which are paid from money created out of thin air by the Feds banks for loans that charge interest. Taxes were meant to ensure that the government could pay the interest on debt, which as I have pointed out is not required. Government should be the creditor and not the debtor . The credit is backed by the nations land and capital, resources and productive capacity which altogether dwarf the Feds assets

    Taxes are useful mainly to control behavior and reduce wealth inequality.

    1. paulmeli

      The Federal Government creates $ from thin air, no banks required.

      The Federal Government creates bonds from thin air, no banks required.

      The Federal government is a creditor only in a technical sense as a consequence of double-entry bookkeeping.

      The Federal Government does not need to “borrow” that which only it can create. The banking system was created by and is governed by Congress. The banking system is below Congress in the hierarchy of power.

    2. Carl

      And also, if you, a member of the taxpaying public, became aware that your taxes weren’t actually funding most of the government’s activities, wouldn’t that delegitimize taxpaying in your mind? And wouldn’t that lead to more non-compliance, as the IRS puts it?

  9. Synoia

    Quelle Surprise:

    Democrats are also looking to pursue a “more thoughtful process” surrounding the process for removing a sitting House speaker.

  10. Knute Rife

    I am shocked, SHOCKED to find that the DNC/DLC/DCCC Dems want to block every part of the progressive agenda.

  11. fries

    My two cents: Pelosi and other “moderate” progressives are very reasonably afraid that the “not-so-moderate” progressives will take over the party, demand free stuff for everybody, and get steamrolled by Trump and Company in 2020. The DNC went to great lengths in 2016 to keep Bernie from getting the nomination for this very same reason (oops, didn’t work). To win in 2020 you have to appeal to the independent voters, and the thinking is that those independents aren’t ready or willing to support the far left agenda. And for the Democrats to lose in 2020 would mean the unthinkable: up to seven young conservatives on the Supreme Court.

    1. willf

      To win in 2020 you have to appeal to the independent voters, and the thinking is that those independents aren’t ready or willing to support the far left agenda.

      70% of Americans, including 40% of Republicans, support Medicare for All. How “far left” can it be?

    2. Amfortas the hippie

      ^^^”…and the thinking is that those independents aren’t ready or willing to support the far left agenda….”^^^
      My own informal polling in the feedstore, as well as much of the current polling out there, says just the opposite…that the People are quite ready for a New New Deal.
      It ain’t 1953.
      “socialism”, and other trigger words, have lost their scary implications.
      and that “unthinkable” forever Rightwing Scotus is all but a fait accompli…Dems have done zero to counter it…even when they had the damned power.(Merrick garland?lol)

    3. Sastun

      Any wins, even symbolic, for the progressive agenda is a direct threat to the power of the corporate dems within their party. They absolutely don’t want the discussion shifted towards conversations about free college, universal healthcare etc., as any acknowledgement of actual policy highlights their own inadequacies.

      I don’t think their strategy requires a justification of trying to achieve a 2020 victory, but can be explained more readily by an earnest attempt to put these *family blogging* progressives in their place, so they can get back to the business of running THEIR party.

  12. The Rev Kev

    Since the Democrats want so badly to meet Republican demands and desires, perhaps they should just own up and amalgamate themselves with the Republicans and form a new political party. They could call themselves the DemReps or perhaps the RepCrats. Kinda make it official like. From my perch, they tend to follow similar policies anyway so what would be the difference?

  13. tokyodamage

    “Now, readers who’ve absorbed the implications of MMT know that taxes don’t finance spending, for those countries that issue their own fiat currency. So I’m not going to discuss that issue here, as plenty of other posts lay out the basics of MMT”

    So now apparently I need to know MMT to figure out what Pelosi is doing?

    I’ve read this site for years and thanks to the reporting here, I could lecture at tedious length about the details of the 2008 crash, Big Tech corruption/surveillance, and the intricacies of America’s Syrian foreign policy. . . but somehow the phrase “taxes don’t finance spending” might as well be written in Old Norse to me. Am I the only one?

    Most of those MMT articles on NC seem only for people with PhDs .

    I tried watching the “Jeff Epstein’s MMT for dummies” video which you linked to a few weeks ago. . . but it was tragically, sadistically boring.

    If all the lefty economists think MMT is the answer to USA’s problems, and the fate of the country is in the balance . . . then why isn’t anyone making a serious effort to explain it to us uneducated masses?

    Based on NC’s track record of being right about everything else, I assume MMT is probably good for some reason. But as soon as anyone talks about MMT I feel like I’m back in art school, listening to some goon talk about “semiotic cathexis” and watching the rest of the class rub their chins and pretend they ‘get it’.

    1. JW

      Google the parable of buckwell island mmt. You’ll understand it in 3 minutes.

      By the way, this only applies to federal spending not state or local, and not for countries like Panama that don’t have their own currencies, or euro zone countries, or countries that depend on bonds issued in dollars…really MMT only fully applies to a few mega economies like US, Canada, Japan, China, UK, Russia…

    2. Mr.P

      You are arguing that your ignorance of MMT is justified.
      What is your issue with MMT?
      “I don’t understand it” is not a valid answer.

    3. Paul O

      ‘then why isn’t anyone making a serious effort to explain it to us uneducated masses?’

      How would you like (expect) that to happen? There are no lack of resources available for those that go looking (no PhD required). In who’s interest would it be to ensure that does not happen?

    4. anon y'mouse

      tokyodamage: i find it upsetting that no one has responded to your frustration with anything but equal frustration when they could have used the same number of words and letters to explain it to you.

      mmt: the CReator of a Thing (who can limitlessly create it over and over again) does not ever NEED to borrow units of those Things (however they accomplish that: bond sales being preferred here, it seems) nor TAx those Things out of anyone else’s hands. the CReator of a Thing can just create more.

      Our government is the CReator of all actual dollars in existence. it can create and spend at will. rationality limits this spending to not cause negative impact on the economy at large (inflation, buying up all of the resources of a country so that no one has anything but the government, etc). our government has set up certain technical and “legal” rules so that the power of the Public Purse can’t be abused, but that has morphed into “unless we bring enough in in Taxes to cover SSI/Medicare/SNAP/name your policy here, we will have to cut it down or cut it out”. notice that the military spending is NEVER dealt with in the same way. why is that? because our “representatives” and the MIC understand that the government has endless dollars for planes that don’t fly, and software that doesn’t do anything but drive thousands of employees to contemplate suicide or early retirement.

      1. sd

        Taxes are an important part of MMT as it encourages the user to accept the currency on offer as by necessity you are required to pay your taxes with it.

    5. JBird4049

      To be honest, modern orthodox economics, which is like much of modern “art” or “music” that being an obscurant ideology; it confuses and misleads most people of any educational level so that the entrenched wealthy elites can remain so. Real scholarship like art can inform, enlighten, and entertain.

      The neoliberalish monopsony like entertainment industry better described as the ruling Regime’s Ministry of Propaganda, which is the same as current college economics; it’s something that confuses with fantasy masquerading as scholarship, science, or art; I never much liked hip hop but once the industry got its vampiric hands on it, it went from music that annoyed me, but was art to monetized garbage like much of current music of whatever category you can name.

      End old dude’s rant.

      Sorry for that. What I meant to say is that current economics is used as a weapon to impose austerity by conflating the economics of a country that issues or makes its own money with the states, municipalities, and families that have to get that created money.

  14. EoH

    Pelosi has a problem. She can block the GOP Senate’s legislative proposals, but it can block hers. She needs to do more to limit the harm and to recover from Trumpism – and she needs to run on a set of achievements to be accomplished between now and 2020.

    What goals could she aim for? This one seems designed to extort big bucks from corporate sponsors, lest she loose the left and its pitchforks on their profits. Surely, Shirley, she has more productive aims in mind.

  15. Newton Finn

    Rules are made to be broken. So if “pay-go” passes, it will be approved only in order to be repealed. At this moment, perhaps THE most important political task is to drive the self-evident axioms of MMT deeply into the minds of the young. My boomer generation has largely become “old cigar butts” of men and women (to borrow a phrase from Eig’s biography of Ali), and they are fast disintegrating.

  16. Larry Coffield

    Pelosi just reelected Trump to sustain her big donors, Her insistence to appease them means operating within the neoliberal bandwidth. Unless MMT is being promoted, why would anyone bother to vote for rainbow fascism as opposed to bulldog fascism?

    Bannon and Trump praise Pelosi while claiming socialism is the greatest threat to American freedom Little Stevie was railing against Sanders and Corbyn being the greatest threats to humankind by expanding his administrative state. Nearly every poll showed that Bernie could have cleaned everyone’s clock if the DNC crooks didn’t frame him.

    In either case, more economy insecurity catalyzing the next nazi. A Democrat strategist said on RT that the party bosses planned on revisiting TTP . When asked if that won’t elevate the class warfare within the party, she said Republican outreach would compensate for the loss of Justice Democrats, i.e., green socialists.

    When we once again refuse to vote for another HRC turd, blame ignorance, bigotry, spoiler trolls, but millions of smart, enserfed students and workers are fighting to survive and clearly understand nothing within the Trump/Pelosi axis will provide a sustainable environment with sustainable employment . The devolution continues into extinction without MMT adherent. We will not chose between de-facto republicans and de-jute republicans.

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