Michael Hudson: Did the Squad Give Away Their Bargaining Power?

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By Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a research associate at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. His latest book is “and forgive them their debts”: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year

A major reason why Naked Capitalism is my favorite website is the members’ discussion of the Links, Watercooler and the articles selected by Yves, Lambert and Jeri-Lynn. Most other sites that have comments are flooded with unhelpful personalized reactions, ad hominem attacks or personal free association. But Naked Capitalism discussants often add helpful observations, elaborations and references that make the site an intellectual salon. So please contribute!

Most of all is the good judgment among the NC commentariat realizing what a disaster both the Republicans andthe Democrats are. Lambert recently asked the obvious question: Why don’t the Democrats simply get the Senate to remove Manchin and Sinema from their committee positions – or come right out and bring a motion saying that taking money from lobbyists to introduce policies that result in bribes (campaign contributions) is a corrupt conflict of interest. It wouldn’t succeed, but would draw attention to how corrupt the campaign financing process really is in determining what candidates will be on the ballot and what issues they will support.

The problem, of course, is that all the Senators and most Congresspersons do the same selling of their votes. Who is going to propose a law reversing the Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court by the recipients of this special-interest money writing a new law?

Biden promised to get the Blue Dog/New Democrat Thatcherite “centrist” House members (mercenary lobbyists for corporate America and the One Percent) on board. But what about the Senate? What in the negotiated agreement will prevent Manchin and Sinema from killing the bill there?

In any case, the new BBB bill has been distorted into something quite different than what was described until last week. The largest element grafted onto it is the $450 billion tax cut for wealthy homeowners, raising the SALT property tax deductibility in East Coast Democratic states from $10,000 to $72,500. This giveaway is promoted by the same “centrists” who are blocking approval of the BBB because it will “add to the budget deficit.”

It gets worse. Over the weekend we have learned how drastically the early promise of fiscal savings for Medicare drug purchases has been drastically watered down. Instead of letting Medicare negotiate directly with drug companies to bring prices in line with what other countries pay, the new “negotiation” “was the one most substantially changed in the last week: It would apply to fewer drugs, require smaller discounts, and, most critically, shield new drugs from negotiations. … The original House proposal to regulate drug prices would have allowed the government to lower the price of up to 250 expensive drugs, no matter how new or how innovative they were. … The current bill would allow Medicare to negotiate over the prices of no more than 20 drugs each year, and only those that have been around for a while. That is a relatively small subset of the drug universe. The Food and Drug Administration approved 53 new drugs last year alone.”[1]

The article notes that “On average, Americans pay about 250 percent of drug prices in other developed countries,” which “tend to negotiate aggressively for lower drug prices, often by purchasing drugs for the entire nation centrally.” So much for the Blue Dogs’ crocodile tears about the federal budget deficit! Complaining about adding to the deficit is a “tell” that they will continue to oppose pro-labor, pro-consumer policies. They never raise this concern when it comes to military appropriations or tax cuts for the One Percent.

In fact, after teasing the Progressive Caucus for a few months by letting them think that the BBB really was “Bernie’s bill,” they made an about-face and treated it as merely a starting point to be scaled back. That has given new meaning to the word “transformative” for Biden’s Administration. It seeks to transform the economy to favor the Donor Class One Percent.

The six House Democrats who voted against the bill are Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and perhaps the most outspoken member, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. The New York Timespost mortem reported News reported after the Friday midnight capitulation described how Black Caucus leaders negotiated a “trust them” compromise. “The progressives slowly caved. The no votes dwindled from 20 to 10 and finally 6. Ms. Pelosi could only lose 4 Democrats, but aides said she was confident that she could pressure at least 2 of the 6 to vote with her before the gavel came down.”[2]

Did the Squad Give Away Their Bargaining Power?

By capitulating, the Progressive Caucus has lost its single effective bargaining point: its ability to do what Manchin and Sinema have been doing –using the leverage of President Biden’s desperation to get somelaw passed, to do somethingin the wake of Tuesday’s losses in Virginia and elsewhere throughout the country.

I was glad to see some discussants of my Friday NC posting bring up Rome. It indeed provides a precedent to the strategy that led only six Squad members to retreat from the only strong negotiating point available to them: the ability to block the Blue Dog/New Democratic Coalition dilution after the original BBB bill was turned from social welfare support for child care, medical care, parental leave and government negotiation to bring down drug prices into a travesty of the original version. Was it all a trick?

All this has happened before. Rome has some relevant history of the appropriate tactics that the Squad couldhave followed when Pelosi and Biden begged them to accept all the pro-corporate, pro-Wall Street, pro-oligarchy changes to the original plan. By the 370s BC, Rome’s patricians had bone back on their word again and again. Even when they passed pro-debtor laws, the Senators and the courts that they controlled refused to enforce them. So I was glad to see references to Rome in Friday’s discussion.

Rome’s patrician tactic was to block reforms, stalling while the debt crisis got worse and worse. In 376, G. Licinius Stolo and L. Sextius Laturanus were elected as plebeian tribunes and put three bills before the Assembly to provide debt relief by scaling down debts and deduct interest already paid from the principal that was still owed – with and the balance to be paid in three equal annual installments. Livy’s History of Rome( 6.36:12) describes how Sextius and Licinius addressed the patricians:

Is it your pleasure that the plebeians, crushed by debt, should surrender their persons to fetters and punishments sooner than that they should discharge their debts by repaying the principal? That, they should be led off in crowds from the Forum as the property of their creditors? That the houses of the nobility should be filled with prisoners, and wherever a patrician lives there should be a private dungeon?

The alternative to this program, they warned, was that “there would be no limit to the seizure of land by the patricians or the murder of the plebs by the deadly usury until the plebs elected one of the consuls from their own ranks as a guardian of their liberties.”[3]

Livy wrote that the Senate deemed only aristocrats fit to serve, and “refused to allow either the reading of the bills or any other procedure which the plebs usually adopted when they came to vote. For many weeks the Assembly was regularly summoned without any business being done, and the bills were looked upon as dead.” That drove Sextius to reply:

Very good. Since it is your pleasure that the veto shall possess so much power, we will use this same weapon for the protection of the plebs. Come then, patricians, give notice of an Assembly for the election of consular tribunes, I will take care that the word which our colleagues are now uttering in concert to your great delight, the word “I FORBID,” shall not give you much pleasure (Livy, 6.35).

Livy described this fight as lasting for an entire decade, but the fight probably lasted just one year. What is affirmed, is that Licinius and Sextius made an all-or-nothing demand for their three-part program. Military levies could not be enacted without the assent of plebeian tribunes, and even military tribunes were blocked from being elected.

Opponents of the plebeians accused Licinius and Sextius of “seeking kingship” for themselves – what today is called being “left-wing” or “socialist.” But they won the historic rewriting of Rome’s debt laws.

The class struggle went on, of course. The plebeians threatened yet a new secession in 366, and escalated the standoff by electing Sextius as the first plebeian consul. “The patricians refused to confirm his appointment, and matters were approaching a secession of the plebs” (Livy 6.42.11). But again, the hard line taken by the plebeians won.

That didn’t happen in America on Friday night. Just as many Roman plebeians shied from confronting the incorrigible Senate, the Progressive Caucus gave in to President Biden so that he could “save face” from Tuesday’s embarrassing loss in Virginia and other places that rejected DNC-backed candidates. The Democratic Party leadership thought it would win by identity politics to distract voters from the economic issues at hand and the common denominator of voters being wage earners. But the effect was to turn the hyphenated-American identities against each other, aggravating the white/black divide.

The elephant in the room is the DNC. Its Blue Dog leadership has pushed conservative candidates in every primary against the “left,” meaning pro-labor, pro-consumer, pro-environment candidates against those who support the policies that most voters want.

The Progressives could have said, “It’s obvious to us that the DNC has its knives out for us. Our price for support for voting for the bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill is that you assign us dominant position on the DNC. We will no longer be hoodwinked into supporting politicians who represent special corporate interests and the One Percent against the policies that we support.”

Here’s what the Progressive caucus should do from now on: When any National Defense bill comes up, they should emulate the “conservative” tactic and insist on reviewing the budget to see that it won’t increase the national debt. I understand that something like $6 trillion (could this really be the number) is unaccounted for by the Pentagon. Insist on seeing it, and stretch the inquiry out until the bill is killed.

Unlike the Democrats, the Republicans are now the MMT party: They can cut taxes, raise military spending and do whatever they want without concern for the budget deficit, because they know that: “We can simply print the money. We don’t have to borrow. If you don’t believe us, ask Stephanie Kelton.”

I can think of no better site to follow developments than Naked Capitalism. So I’m glad to urge everyone to join this week’s fundraising drive. Please go to the Tip Jar!


[1]Margot Sanger-Katz, “Democrats Choosing Less Risky Path on Drug Prices,” The New York Times, November 6, 2021.

[2]Jonathan Weisman and Carl Hulse, “The Congressional Black Caucus Was Key to the Infrastructure Vote,” The New York Times, November 6, 2021.

[3]Livy 6.37:3. He explained (6.37.4): “There could be no fair or just administration as long as the executive power was in the hands of the other party, while they had only the right of protesting by their veto.”

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  1. vlade

    The strongest weapon the “Squad” (don’t like the name, see Yves comments elsewhere for a long form discussion) has is that it’s not dependent on DNC for election and re-election.

    That is the thing the DNC is really scared off, as the more elected officials will be able to escape their clutches, the less power it will wield. And the Squad members show it’s possible, even against well funded DNC candidates.

    But I’m afraid that they will go the way of Tea Party, and have even less impact on Dems politics that TP had on Republicans.

    If it will happen, they will have only themselves to blame for, as while a compromise is an important political tool, what’s playing out here is not really compromise, nowhere by far – and many people believe that in those compromises they interests are not really accounted for (cf Deere strikers).

    1. lance ringquist

      from day one they should have been saying no! there is no reforming nafta billy clintons democrat party.

      the squad was completely naive, and bernie is the type that MLK loathed, he should have known and advised them. the squad should have known for sure there is no compromise, there is no working with them, they cannot be reformed.

      it should be dissolved from within. or its slowly going to end up a small regional party allowing the GOP to rampage america even worse than what was done under nafta billy clinton.

      1. Christopher Horne

        (chuckles) woulda, shoulda, coulda. That’s not a responsible response,
        that’s a cliche.

    2. mike

      It is true that they are not dependent on the DNC for their re-elections. Their problem is that their views are not shared by most of the population outside of their own districts. They don’t have bargaining power because they don’t have real support except for twitter bots.

      1. DanB

        The same “real support” critique applies to Manchin and Sinenma (sp), if we’re talking about citizens rather than a few wealthy donors and corporations.

        And these so-called progressives have spent no time rallying the public to build movement beyond the theatre of Twitter.

        1. mike

          absolutely true. Manchin is stuck in WV which is reliant on the coal industry. It is very difficult for him to support the green new deal which will sacrifice his constants livelihoods for some theoretical reduction in carbonization…even if a bunch of billionaires fly their private jets to Scotland to scream really loudly about it.

          He and the climate changers aren’t made for a coalition

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            If a “Green New Deal” wants t attract the interested attention of , let us say , actual coal miners, it will have to specifically plan how to give each miner another job right there in place where the miner already lives, at coal wages and benefits and with a coal-mining-career retirement plan at the end of it.

            If the coal miners in question are given 100% proof that they will all be given such jobs if public policy shuts down thermal coal for power plants, job-for-job, green-for-coal, dollar-for-dollar; then they may listen.

            It they are told they will be retrained in how to say “would you like fries with that?” they will of course reject it.

            But if they were truthfully promised such jobs and they accepted it, Manchin himself would still reject it because his coal company would lose money and go out of business.
            So a split would open between Manchin and the miners.

            Working Class Combat Democrats would write that policy and open that split. But we have Upper Class Combat Democrats, so they won’t write any such policy. Could a little Squad or even a whole House DemProg Caucus write such a policy all by itself?

          2. bob

            “It is very difficult for him…”

            Que horror!

            Not nearly difficult enough. He’s still a multimillionaire senator. GTFO

      2. Mantid

        I disagree with “their views are not shared by most of the population outside of their own districts”. One example is medicare for all, very popular across the country. Some of the “squad” worked it’s popularity to their advantage promising to fight in congress for MFA. They folded on that issue and no one is talking about medicare because they’re hoping to distract the country with Roe vs Wade, identity politics, and other side issues that pull at your heart while congress pulls at your wallet and purse.

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        This is abjectly false. Keep running right wing tropes and you will not be welcome here.

        Progressive positions like government funding of health care, strengthening Medicare and Social Security, taxing the rich, getting out of our costly wars, have polled majorities or at the very worst significant pluralities when there are more than two choices for decades and still do.

  2. TroyIA

    Does anyone have a clear answer about how many times a reconciliation bill can be passed in a year? I have read sources that say 3 times but others say that an evenly split budget committee will only allow 1 per year.

    If they only get 1 shot at reconciliation this year I can see it playing out where reconciliation is used to raise the debt limit and BBB is put on the shelf until next year. The chances of BBB being passed in an election year are even less than this year so it seems like the squad were outmaneuvered.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m not really sure that is the case as much as Bill Clinton, Obama, and Trump were just lazy or didn’t support popular things wasting time on fights that don’t need to happen. 2nd years may not have been as productive because previous administrations prior to Bill Clinton often delivered, so they had less to do. Clinton spent much of his first two years in office working to pass NAFTA which he opposed in the campaign. It can be done.

      We pretend the filibuster is a real thing. We don’t even make them vote.

  3. Donald

    There is a more fundamental problem based on this article below—many swing voters really are centrists and frankly, easily manipulated by centrist cliches about excessive government spending and fear of crime. And culture war issues don’t help. After one has toppled a statue, people still have to pay the bills. I think the culture warriors and the “ race not class” people are, even when sincere, helping Republicans. The more we talk in leftist cliches, the harder it is to get people to focus on actual policies that would help them. And “ defund the police” almost seems designed to scare people. The videos of police brutality which were so striking get drowned out by a slogan that makes people think criminals will be allowed to run wild. And allowing the BBB to be discussed mainly as a big scary number and bragging about its allegedly huge ambition was a huge mistake.


    I partly blame the press, but people know what the press is like and you just have to assume that if you are going to change minds you will be working against the media.

    As for Sinema and Manchin,, I think they are just two corrupt people who don’t care that progressives hate them. If they didn’t exist, someone else would sabotage it. Too many corporate types would hate any really significant change. And Biden only cares about winning. The actual content of the BBB didn’t matter to him. The progressive talking point has been that virtually everyone except the two holdouts supported the BBB, but it is hard to believe this was really true. It all comes down to this one bill because of the Senate Parliamentarian putting limits on what can be done through reconciliation. Maybe I am ignorant ( seriously, maybe I am) but I suspect that if Mitch McConnell faced this problem he would find a way to steamroll over her.

    And in the press, there has already been a switch towards blaming progressives for the inability of Democrats to get much done and some people believe the press.

    1. Watt4Bob

      “And allowing the BBB to be discussed mainly as a big scary number and bragging about its allegedly huge ambition was a huge mistake.”

      Mistake, or perennial tactic?

      1. Beth

        Very good question. And I believe Donald (above comment) is right that McConnell would have been utterly ruthless and steamrolled the parliamentarian issue – but I’d love to see all those instances and tactics listed and outlined because I don’t recall the details and dates. I think that would make a great article right now. Because I do feel that if Manchin and Sinema didn’t exist the Dems would have to invent them.

    2. Carolinian

      As for Sinema and Manchin,, I think they are just two corrupt people

      But as Hudson points out above their colleagues are just as corrupt if not so overt. And that’s the real problem. In some ways the system is running exactly the way the founders intended with the Senate keeping the plebes in check (the founders were big students of Rome). But the founders also believed such a system had to run on virtue and human nature is, unfortunately, all too frail. The country has always had a problem with corruption and in our bank bailout 21st century we have corruption on overdrive. Maybe a renewed respect for simple honesty would be a step in the right direction. Not to make some kind of testimonial but I do think a great virtue of this blog is that it is truth seeking and allows us plebes to have our say. In the current media landscape that’s pretty rare.

    3. lance ringquist

      independents and southern conservative democrats voted FDR in not once, but four times, voted in truman, JFK, and LBJ.

      funny how so-called centrist and conservatives vote for who ever makes their lives better with universal concrete material benefits.

      its why it was so easy for trump to win, and it looks like he will again.

      its does not take much to look better than nafta billy clinton, empty suit hollowman obama, and now nafta joe biden, they set that bar so low, that a game show host/real estate barker tip toed right over it.

  4. Eric377

    After a few months coming to grips with the idea that the votes for BBB as it was structured could not be found in the Senate by holding another bill hostage, most progressives decided to stop that effort. I don’t know if the bill just passed is wise or not, but it was not a good enough hostage to pass BBB as first envisioned. “They tried and it didn’t work” is not a badge of shame really.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      They framed it as Biden promising to deliver. It’s Biden fault now. Everyone was officially on board months ago, and Manchin never cared about the Romney bill. Biden isn’t going the get a boost out of programs that take time to develop or make real improvements, especially when he restarts student loan payments. Biden still has real leverage on Manchin, not a phony bill, but OSHA. Team Blue has lost Sinema and Manchin the next time they are up anyway. Spannberger is likely gone given the results in her district. It’s Cantor’s old district. She only snuck in on the Khristians openly going after an arch conservative for being Jewish. I don’t think that was lost on anyone. Spanberger besides being near self won’t have a Senate race to cover her.

      Biden at 45% can be covered, but Harris at 28% is going to get real soon. There is nothing stopping a reconciliation bill on January 1st.

      1. mike

        The approval ratings are in the dumpster WITH the corporate media on their side. Imagine if the TV was constantly lying to make Biden look worse…

      2. Christopher Horne

        …..Which leaves Biden with a big win and trillion dollar boost to the
        economy if he eliminates the student loans by executive order.
        Let them howl ‘unfair’. If he has lost all further leverage for stimulating
        the economy anyway, what does he have to lose?
        The Republicans are going to win in the next round of elections,
        as of now, based on their obstruction and messaging. A revved up
        economy would nullify their strategy.

  5. Code Name D

    The strongest weapon the “Squad” (don’t like the name, see Yves comments elsewhere for a long form discussion) has is that it’s not dependent on DNC for election and re-election.

    But this isn’t true. All though I have seen this idea floated before. The squad is not dependent on DNC money for elections, but they go through the DNC for every thing else; campaign consultants, network access, and voter data, are just the elements outside observers could confirm. And these things are even more critical than money. This is why a third party is so badly needed.

  6. Louis Fyne

    Nancy Pelosi “won” with 13 GOP votes….that pretty much answers the headline’s question. IMO, ymmv.

    Want change? vote out Pelosi. If only Pelosi didn’t represent a ‘Blue Dog’ district. oh wait

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      One would have to defeat from office a lot of House Democrats before you ran out of Pelosi types to continue the Pelosi policy. You’d have to delete Hoyer, Clyburn, and numerous others whose names I can’t remember or never even knew.

      You would have to purge and burn the Officeholder Dem Caucus all the way down to a few Red Gingriches. Then you would have to build back from that, rigidly excluding every new Dem-wannabe who wasn’t Red enough or Gingrich enough. ( By “Red” I mean style and approach. I don’t mean Orthodox Marxist-Leninist Gulag Socialist. That would not be popular either).

  7. marym

    The “Squad” is the 6 (originally 4 in 2018) people who are the only ones who didn’t give up their leverage.

    The rest of the “Progressive” Caucus gave up the fight. Jayapal has been a more articulate proponent of progressive causes than the entrenched members of the caucus but failure of the caucus to exercise the strength of their numbers is nothing new.

    1. marym

      edit: Apologies for comments before coffee. I think it’s rude to use a phrase like “this is nothing new” to an audience that knows it’s nothing new. Just wanted to clarify the distinction between the 6 and the so-called progressive caucus, which acted as part of the establishment rather than an alternative.

      1. Ashburn

        As I understand it, a few of the six “progressives” who voted against the bill, waited until the vote count in favor reached the crucial 218–ensuring its passage (with the help of some Republicans)—before registering their “no” vote. A true profile in craven cowardice.

        1. marym

          There are 6 specific people the press calls the squad, elected in 2018 (4) and 2020 (2). Based on their stated positions on policies, how they conduct hearings, their support for community and workplace activism on behalf of their constituents, and how they raise funds, they are progressive. They appear neither to have illusions, nor to try to claim to the public that the compromises, means testing, privatization etc. that establishment Dems use to dilute benefits and transfer wealth upward are a substitute for real benefits.

          These are the six who voted no.

          The “Progressive” caucus has existed in the House since 1991 in large numbers – currently 95 House members including the 6 and Sanders in the Senate. They don’t use their numbers to influence the direction of the party or build public support and understanding of progressive policies.

          Pelosi’s main claim to fame is that she doesn’t call a vote if she doesn’t have the votes, and that she’s expert at counting and knowing exactly where she stands. Given that, by whatever means of pressuring and dealing, Pelosi had enough votes from corporate Dems, pretending-to-be-Progressive Dems, and Republicans the 6 had the choice of voting yes, no, or present, or not voting. Which of these choices would not have resulted in being punched from the supposed left as selling out, performative, cowardly, etc .

  8. CJH

    First, politicians need to learn how Congress funds its spending. Congress has little to no need for debt. Congress spends money into existence when it pays a bill. It taxes money away. Spend in, tax out. That’s the basic reality. All this blather about debt caps is Kabuki Theater.

    1. HotFlash

      CJH, rest assured that the politicians know. The ‘deficit’ is just the stuff to give the voters. It is the voters who have to learn where money comes from.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s not kabuki. It’s really insidious. What you said is true, but the national debt is a huge number, almost incomprehensible. Numbers over what people work with normally simply become incomprehensible which besides skin color is why pro athletes are often lumped with the owners, and this is why the focus know the national debt by bad actors. It causes people to get foggy because they have limited points of reference. It shuts down debate. It’s why Team Blue never received political clout from Clinton’s efforts. It’s a GOP and now “centrist” deflection. I personally think the best education on the matter is to point out who owns the debt, wealthy Americans who are effectively being paid for the privilege of not being taxed appropriately, followed by Japan, not China. How strange? One it takes the argument away from numbers and how government really works, people think Mr Smith Goes to Washington is real, and quickly exposes the people who are “concerned about the national debt” as liars.

      1. redleg

        Instead of referring to the “national debt”, call it what it is- the supply of dollars, the amount of money in circulation, etc.

      2. Pookah Harvey

        People cannot comprehend the amount of wealth the elite possess. While getting a haircut I asked the barber if it wouldn’t be nice to have $250,000 in the bank. He agreed wholeheartedly. I then mentioned that Elon Musk has $250 billion. That is 250,000 million. So Musk has a million dollars for each and every dollar the barber would hold if he was lucky enough to have $250,000. He pondered a short time and then stated “That’s too much money for anyone to have.”

    3. w d w

      as some one mentioned they do know, the debt stuff, is a kabuki, to distract voters. its only purpose and use is when one of the parties wants to slam the other. thats its entire purpose. cause if Congress really wanted to fix the ‘debt’ problem, they could, just reduce the spending they want (one side wants defense spending…the other wants health care. to make this work right, the party that wants to cut spending has cut the spending they are in favor of they could also rise taxes. but you dont see that do we?). and what we call the debt ‘crisis’ exists in the private sector (and banks and others create money out of thin air too…to use a phrase).
      and while the number are certainly bigger than before, i suspect that ww2 spending was much higher as percentage of total economic output (if we exclude war spending

  9. Susan the other

    I read it a second time – that acc’d to Stephanie Kelton the Republicans are now MMTers. Because that will change the whole political landscape in short order… because the Democrats are so completely vested in their big-racket-merry-go-round they don’t want to change the status quo. They’d rather let the Republicans go MMT than do it themselves because they’d be turning off their own spigot. So the Republicans weren’t born yesterday and they know just how to use MMT as a weapon politically. I can almost hear Mitch advising them. And it could even be synchronized because I thought it looked like BoJo and the Tories were up to the same thing in the UK. What better way to vanquish your rivals than to eliminate the need for bribes in the first place? So just to carry that thought out a bit – what follows will be a more open, top down decision process for the direction the country will take instead of each corporate interest competing for a handout. And that in turn could mean that many corporations will not survive at all, or they will survive because they will adapt to a certain amount of oversight from Congress. MMT money will go to them but not under the table. Maybe.

  10. John Steinbach

    Jack Rasmus has a good post-mortem over at Counterpunch He argues that the infrastructure bill is a corporate handout & that Manchin, Biden & Pelosi got exactly the bill they wanted.

    1. lance ringquist

      i wish rasmus would embrace MMT. also jack said vote biden, he should have known better, jack really exposed nafta billy clinton.

  11. Telee

    The NYT has been running a series of op-eds which say the problem of the democratic party is that its positions are too extreme for the American people. Todays op-ed on this subject was by Mark Penn who ran Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president. He states that Manchin and Sinema are moderates who are the heart of the democratic party. That the progressives are extremists that are making the party unelectable. That the social reforms presented in the BBB bill are unacceptable to the people and we should slow down in our response to global warming. From the tone of his comments I think he won’t be happy unless the democratic party run Manchin for president and Sinema for vice president. He will be willing to run their campaign as well as he did with Hillary.

        1. Watt4Bob

          I read every Michael Hudson post.

          Michael Hudson is describing other people’s behavior.

          Mark Penn is describing his own, and the DNC’s behavior.

          It’s much different reading an admission/confession that an accusation.

          While some might argue with MH, how can they argue with Mark Penn’s op-ed?

      1. Eureka Springs

        For the likes of Penn it’s long been working. At least since the inception of the DLC through last Fridays vote.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Mark Penn…I can’t even. I dump on the Clintons a lot, but is there anyone dumber than Penn in that group? Mook?

      1. Christopher Horne

        ….Just Hillary. “I took a million dollars for a 20 minute speech,
        because that’s what they offered.” A banana slug could come up with a better explanation.

  12. Otis B Driftwood

    Of course the NYT (Izvestia on the Hudson) ran a front page story in yesterday’s Sunday edition letting us know Biden’s infrastructure bill is in fact a “success”.

  13. PKMKII

    Largely agree with the article, but I have two minor quibbles: First, I don’t like the interchangeable use of “The Squad” and “Progressive Caucus.” It both overemphasizes the importance of whomever is in “The Squad” these days, and confuses actions by the whole caucus with the actions of the few high-profile members. Sort of a left-wing equivalent of reducing the centrist agenda to Manchin and Sinema instead of identifying them as merely the avatar for the Thatcherite branch of the party (I wholeheartedly endorse using that in place of the too-endearing Blue Dog or New Democrat labels).

    Second, is the notion that the Republicans have only just now become the MMT party. We’re just about twenty years on from Cheney declaring that Reagan proved deficits don’t matter. They’re been this way for decades, acting like this is a new turn of events just gives them a pass on their rhetorical hypocrisy on the deficit.

    1. Christopher Horne

      What strikes me most about the billionaires who so enjoy putting on shadow
      puppet shows in Congress for ordinary humans is how ignorant they are
      of any subjects other than money of perceived self-empowerment.
      Off to Wharton, where they learn how masticate red meat raw and wear
      clothes artfully copied by street-corner Somalis in Europe, and virtually nothing else. The Gilded Age plutocrats were equally sanguine about
      the credulous appetite of the masses for, say, blaming immigrants such
      as the Irish for odd-smelling cooking (a capital crime in those days)
      but these titans of industry thought of themselves as appointed by
      Higher Deities to channel their exploitation of the unwashed into a higher
      form of Civilization. Carnegie established public libraries, Vanderbilt
      and Stanford established great schools of learning, and even Fisk,
      the nastiest of the nasty, gave the world an art museum.
      These latter-day titans are remarkably uncultured, and presumably
      could care less. With them, the race to the bottom is the only race there
      is. This kind of behavior can only be the result of deep insecurity, IMHO.
      The pity is that they seem to want to take the rest of us with them.

  14. Lambert Strether

    By Betteridge’s Law, no, assuming the Squad is a cohesive faction instead of a media concoction. After Virginia, Biden needed a win. And Pelosi’s secret count included a number of Republicans, sufficient to outweigh the Squad, so-called. Live to fight another day.

  15. Sound of the Suburbs

    I have seen MMT videos where they have evidence of the different thinking that prevailed after WW2.
    We need to rediscover it and remember where it came from.

  16. Noone from Nowheresville

    Here’s what the Progressive caucus should do from now on:

    What’s interesting to me is what the Progressive Caucus didn’t do this time. SALT has been a priority since the Trump tax cuts. What’s even more interesting to me is Pelosi & Schumer’s publicly stated priority of retroactively giving back to around a very niche 50,000 households has been evident since the CARES Act. If ever there was a hostage to be taken during actual serious negotiations on behalf of the bottom 80-90 percent this was it.

    Now think of the conversations we could’ve had around housing as an asset trading commodity in the face of affordable housing and homelessness. Or how these brave 50,000 households are doing their duty to modern US local communities by “paying for” the civilization which sustains them and how the millionaires and billionaires should be willing to do the same. I know “pay for” at the federal level is a con game but either break the mythos or use the narrative.

    As far as narratives go, more was given by the Republican administration and Senate to the average person without a thousand cuts or caveats then what’s been given by a Democratic administration, Senate and House. Plus the Democrats couldn’t even hold firm on their rhetoric with unemployment insurance and they didn’t go after states or localities that used Covid monies for non-Covid purposes. etc.

    The Democrats, even the Progressive Caucus, are telling us exactly who they are by their actions regardless of their inclusive words. They have simply returned to their pre-Roosevelt pre-Depression / WWII roots.

    1. Noone from Nowheresville

      eta: If I had to judge based on the Covid pandemic, based on what was granted and achieved, the Republicans would win even if they screwed us harder. That’s saying something not so good.

  17. politicaleconomist

    The title is unfortunate. Michael never talks about the squad per se versus the rest of the progressive caucus.
    At the end he outlines what the Progressive Caucus should do. He did not discuss what The Squad should do. Obviously, The Squad should be supported as it did not cave. One would hope that it now will be even more resolved to stick to its guns and make itself increasingly irrelevant to the machinations of the ruling class as it gains strength from electorate and grows in numbers.
    In short, signal your support for it over The Squad over “the progressives.”

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