Democrats Pushing Back Against Democratic Corporate Stooges

Elizabeth WarrenOn Tuesday, I saw what might seem like a very boring article over at Reuters, Brookings Fellow Resigns After Senator Warren Accuses Him of Conflicts. Warren has been pushing a “plan by the Labor Department to try and rein in conflicts posed by brokers who offer retirement advice.” But Wall Street hates it. So Brooking Fellow Robert Litan hooked up with his colleague Hal Singer at the consulting firm Economists Incorporated. And the two of them put out a paper saying the plan would be very bad. But there was some (understandable) lack of disclosure. Not only had Litan been paid $38,800 by the investment firm Capital Group for the research, the firm also provided “feedback” before the paper was published.

In the old days, Brookings was seen as a middle of the road think tank. These days, I hear it referred to as liberal or “liberal leaning” — as if it is the left’s equivalent of the Heritage Foundation. Regardless what you think of Brookings, you would have to admit that Brookings hasn’t changed — the political landscape of this country has changed. And that’s a question of elite opinion, not what actual American voters think. Thus, it should come as no shock that Brookings would employ what I consider a conservative hack.

What bugs me is that Litan worked in the Clinton White House. But it doesn’t surprise me. This is a real divide in the Democratic Party. And how many years have I been ranting that the New Democrats destroyed the party? Again: this isn’t about the actual voters. The Democratic establishment has become far more conservative on economic issues than the base voters. This is the same thing that happened to the Labour Party in the UK. And look what happened there. The only reason I haven’t turned against Hillary Clinton is that I think she has always been a lot more liberal on economic issues than her husband.

But I do feel that there are rumblings in the party. I don’t expect any kind of revolt. But it does seem that the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” is going to start to discipline the party. Because let’s face it: the “rush to the right” has not worked out well. In addition to getting us conservative Democratic policy like ending “welfare as we know it,” we’ve ended up with a hard right Republican Party — unwilling to compromise on anything at all.

So I’m glad that Warren is pushing back against this. The truth is that we can’t just accept that someone being a Democrat means that they are anywhere near on the right side of economic issues. In fact, the Democratic Party has been — from Clinton right through Obama — in love with neoliberal policy. That seems to be changing now. Of course, it may all be too late. We really have allowed our whole political system to drift too far to the right and I’m not sure how we get back a sane system. But a precondition is for party actors like Elizabeth Warren to stand up to corporate cogs flying under the Democratic banner.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Democrats Pushing Back Against Democratic Corporate Stooges

  1. Let the system completely collapse and have someone who has no reason to give a damn about what the rich think run for President? It worked for FDR (granted there was huge amounts of misery at the start but it did work for about thirty to forty years depending on how you measure it.)

    Or find a bumper crop of Democrats who believe what Molly Ivins used to say in her columns: As they say around the Texas Legislature, if you can’t drink their whiskey, screw their women, take their money, and vote against ’em anyway, you don’t belong in office. People who are willing to take risks as a politician for their constituents.

    • I agree. And it isn’t like I expect politicians to be perfect. It is reasonable to make compromises and accept “least bad” legislation. But after a while, it seems that the power becomes the goal itself. I’m not sure it is ever anything else for a lot of them. But it is true that it all has to start with the grass roots. I know that FDR was rich, but that was a time when the rich still believed in noblesse oblige. They really don’t anymore. There has been a titanic philosophical shift in this regard. It’s basically a fascistic movement, brought to us in large part by everyone’s favorite fascistic “thinker” Ayn Rand!

      • FDR was doing it to copy his more famous cousin out of his enormous Sara created ego. There is nothing wrong with that since he also had a bit of the noblesse oblige to help him along.

        I can say you are right about the having power becomes the reason to have power. You saw it with Eric Cantor and other people on the national scene. As you go down the ticket, you get more people doing it for the love of public service since the perks are no where near nice enough to do it for any other reason.

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