These days the chattering classes often converse about how the Democrats can get their base charged up and working for the fall elections. For example, Greg Sargent at the Plum Line blog says:
”As you know, over the weekend Robert Gibbs dropped a political bomb, saying that Republicans just may take back the House. His comments are being widely interpreted as an urgent warning designed to get rank and file Dems to grasp the stakes of the midterms once and for all.
”But here’s the question: Will rank and file Democrats care? The thinking among Dem strategists appears to be that once Dems realize the midterms are a “choice” election, rather than merely a referendum on Dems, they’ll go out and vote. But what if Dems do see this as a referendum on their party’s rule, and base their enthusiasm solely on whether they are energized by the Dem performance?”
”. . . What if the only way to boost Dem enthusiasm isn’t to reveal how successful those awful Republicans were in rendering the Dems quasi-powerless, but to succeed in spite of this problem and do more to mitigate the crisis and the pain it’s caused?”
And then after saying that this is “a tall order,” and indicating what others think on both sides of the question of whether it’s too late to do anything he finishes with:
”How do you make rank and file Dems care about the midterms? It’s unclear that yelling about how mean and nasty Republicans are is going to cut it.”
No, it’s not unclear. Fear of the Republicans just won’t cut it, because the Democrats have been doing the very same things the Republicans used to do, or close enough that what they’re doing will make little difference in improving lives any time soon. Yes, the only way the Democrats in Government can get the Democrats out of Government fired up is for the Democrats in Government to do some important things for their base that it recognizes is for them. Some things whose value is obvious, and doesn’t need to be explained to them. Some things that would make the base care before the election whether or not the Democrats lost, and very, very sorry after it if they did. Some things that would make the base proud to be Democrats again. Some things that would make the base not wish that enough Democrats lost in the 2010 election that the whole Party ceased to exist, and opened up the way for a new party that would really represent working people again for the first time since the 1970s. What could those things be? Well, here are four things that could be done. But the last three things can’t be done unless the very first thing is done, because there just isn’t enough “Congress time” in an election year to do them the normal way.
— Use “the nuclear option” to get rid of the filibuster, and restore majority rule to the Senate. If this is not done, they won’t be able to get legislation through that can bring the base back by November. Harry Reid needs to come back to DC and get that done. If he doesn’t, then the only election recourse for the Democrats is fear-mongering and an implicit admission of impotence against Republican obstructionism, and that’s not going to either save the House, or leave them with enough votes in the Senate after the 2010 election, even if they do retain a majority, to be able to pass anything else that will please the base before the election of 2012. In short, if Reid doesn’t do the “nuclear option” thing, the Democratic Party’s goose is cooked. Maybe for good, because many elements in the base will do all they can to destroy this corporatist class war-enabling party before the election of 2012, so “we” can offer someone then who will work in our interest and not Wall Street’s, the Drug Companies’, the Health Insurers’ and every other vested interest that is willing to contribute to the coffers of this thoroughly corrupt political party. The Democrats are lucky that a Party organized around the Green New Deal Coalition isn’t already in existence, because if it were, all the real Democrats like me would vote for it without a second thought and leave the Democratic Party far behind.
If and when the filibuster is done, the Dems should be able to muster a majority to pass the following three measures comprising the Mosler Economic Restoration Plan:
”– Declare an Immediate ‘Payroll Tax Holiday’ — The U.S. Treasury will no longer deduct FICA, Medicare and other Federal payroll tax deductions from your paychecks, resulting in an immediate increase in take-home pay of roughly $650 per month for a couple with a combined income of $100,000 per year. That’s big money, and the extra cash will help you pay your mortgage and car payments, which helps the banks the right way, from the bottom up, and not through the top down bailouts of the recent past.
“– Give U.S. States Revenue Share Money Based on Population — Provide each State government with an immediate, unrestricted $500 per capita of revenue to spend where they decide they need it most. This will amount to approximately $1.75 billion for Connecticut to help fill the holes created by the recession.
“– Fund an $8/Hour National Service Job for Anyone Willing and Able to Work — This will provide transitional employment for the unemployed, preparing them to find new private-sector employment as businesses look to add millions of new jobs to meet the demand coming from a rise in spending due to the increased take-home pay from my first proposal.”
The Mosler plan, which also includes health insurance, holiday and vacation benefits for people in the National Service Job program, will deliver an immediate shock to the economy in the form of a continuous boost in purchasing power, and spending from State employees who have probably been reluctant to spend out of fear of pending layoffs. People will also see other people going back to work either in the private or the public sector, and they will see this happen by the Fall.
Warren Mosler thinks this program will work in 90 days. I’m not so sure about that, because I don’t know how fast the Government will be able to move in getting people onto the program and into jobs. It seems like a bureaucracy without computers and much smaller in size in the 1930s under FDR moved a lot faster than ours does today. But if he’s right, and Congress could pass it by the middle of August, it would certainly clarify the current clouded picture for incumbents in the coming Congressional elections, and probably could get us out of the recession in 12 months or maybe a little less. (My own Wild Ass Guess)
I’ve discussed Warren’s program in a bit more detail here, and suggest some modifications to the National Service Job (NSJ) program, including cost of living wage adjustments by county. But with or without these modifications, I think this simple four-part program is the plan that can get the US out of part of the fix we’re in, and get the Dems some votes in November.
But to be perfectly candid about it, I don’t think the Democratic Party has the will and courage to save itself. It won’t do anything like what I’ve suggested. It will, instead, choose to believe that it can pass some more 2000-odd page legislative half-measures, shot through with lobbyist loopholes, like the new FinReg bill, leave town to campaign, and then combine fear-mongering with happy dances about all the unprecedented legislation it has passed that no one in the base cares about except to sneer at. It will then try to excuse its defeat by saying that it was “Republican Obstructionism,” combined with the normal off-year losses to be expected by the Party in office which explains its defeat. And it will completely ignore explanations that say it lost because it passed an inadequate stimulus bill that failed to produce enough jobs for people, or help for the States, a lousy credit card reform that has no limits on the interest rates charged, a terrible health care reform that did very little to stem the flow of deaths, bankruptcies and foreclosures due to lack of health insurance, an inadequate program to help people whose mortgage loans were underwater, an inadequate FinReg bill; and in addition failed to noticeably improve the situation with respect to the two wars, torture accountability, protection of American civil liberties, pass meaningful energy legislation, pass EFCA, pass educational reform, do anything about the outrageous Citizens United decision, and undertake significant efforts to meet our growing infrastructure crisis. Too bad. It was a great Party once. Now it’s an instrument that has outlived its usefulness to the working people it claims to represent.