Posted on 01 November 2012.
The enduring mystery — thought perhaps it isn’t a mystery when you dig deep enough — is why liberals/progressives have never taken stock of their complete failure at taking advantage of the greatest crisis in the so-called “free market” in half a century. This comes to mind when you ponder the somewhat comical hand-wringing underway among the leaders of the progressive movement over the prospects of a “grand bargain” around government fiscal policy.
Here you go, the bedwetters:
Labor unions and liberal interest groups are going all-out for President Barack Obama’s reelection — but they’re just as ready to turn that firepower back on him if he betrays them with a grand bargain.
These groups fear a victorious Obama would ink a deal with Republicans during the fiscal cliff negotiations that slashes entitlement benefits. And that could hurt the very coalition of voters — minorities, women and low- and middle-income families — that would claim credit for his second term. Even as they turn out the vote in public to keep Obama in office, in private they’re plotting a strategy aimed at pressuring him to protect those who reelected him.
But, the problem is that most of the hand-wringers about the future deal caused the problem. That’s right: when that deal gets signed, most of the liberal-progressive “think tanks” and advocacy groups will have had a hand in a deal being made. What do I mean?
Most of these groups — Campaign for America’s Future, Center for American Progress — function day-to-day with one thing in mind: how do we guarantee our importance, our access, our funding from foundations. They are the permanent establishment that has done very little to change the power structure in the country…and if you think that’s unfair, ask yourself one question: what role did they have in igniting Occupy Wall Street? The answer: ZERO. In fact, they were dumfounded by the whole thing. Occupy Wall Street, indeed, happened because of the complete failure to act of the liberal-progressive leadership.
Rather than mount a campaign to reframe the whole debate around the phony debt and deficit “crisis”, they immediately went into a mode that they understand: if we want to get access, if we want to be quoted by the media, if we want to be invited to the White House or the Congress, well, we have to be “responsible”. We have to put forth our own proposals on how to “solve” the “crisis”.
But, once you get into that trap, game over. If you enter into the debate by accepting the frame — that there is a crisis — you’re done. Eventually, the deal will be cut by insiders of both parties, who want to satisfy the bond markets and the very financial elites…who caused the personal financial crisis — which is a real crisis — hitting the pockets of tens of millions of people around the world who lost their jobs and savings.
These groups don’t particularly care about the end result — if at the end of the day they can satisfy their funding base and keep their “credibility” intact in the media and among the political class. By the way, there are a few shining stars in this debacle — The Center for Economic and Policy Research
is a beacon of hope; if I had the power, I’d defund the whole lot of the useless ones and give the money to CEPR.
It’s pathetic. But, there it is. If the president and Republicans have to worry about this bunch turning their “firepower” against the eventual deal, well, those deal-cutters must be having a good laugh.