Why Dems Aren’t Economically Liberal

Steve KornackiI just came upon this short segment from Up with Steve Kornacki. In it, he admits what I’ve long said: the Democratic Party (at the national level anyway) is just liberal on social issues; when it comes to economic issues, they are as conservative as Republicans were during the Reagan administration.

After this segment, there is a group discussion of the issue, although it is much too much about how great all this social progress is and not enough about why the Democratic Party has abandoned economic liberalism. Jerry Nadler mentions that the Democrats have been much more liberal socially but that they are more conservative economically than they were 30 years ago. Eliot Spitzer notes that a lot of problems stem from taking the wrong lessons from the Clinton administration and the fact that the economic constituents are not well organized. I don’t really agree about this last part. Unions are very organized. It is just that the Democratic Party has decided they can ignore them. Maya Wiley notes the recent research that shows that politicians greatly over-estimate how conservative their constituencies are. And Neera Tanden (who I really like) just acts as the Obama administration apologist.

In the sequence after this, Kornacki makes an excellent point. The reason that the Democrats are in favor of these social policies is that a large part of the donor class is socially liberal. No one on the show will come out and say it, but I will: we get policies that the rich support. The rich don’t support liberal economic policies. So the Democratic Party is only willing to work around the edges. A good example of this is the minimum wage. It doesn’t hurt the banking class. Even Walmart is for it. But other liberal policies—like raising the payroll tax cut, raising corporate taxes, and reforming intellectual property rights—can’t even be discussed.

Anyway, Kornacki is right in this clip even if I disagree with the causes he later discusses:

Afterword

In yet another segment, Neera Tanden notes that the first thing Obama did was raise taxes on the wealthy, even though he got a lot of money from wealthy donors. This is silly. Taxes were going up. Obama raised taxes about as little as he could possibly get away with. She is totally wrong to think that Obama showed any courage regarding the Fiscal Cliff deal.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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