Monday, October 21, 2013

Bad Advice Is No Treat For Democrats

While the 'Obamacare problems' stories that some members of the media had been holding onto during the near-default crisis began flooding out over the weekend, we've been keeping our attention focused on a more important story in DC - namely, the budget conference committee, that lobbyists also have their eyes on.

We'll admit that Healthcare.gov has already had it's share of problems, and many of those should have been expected. That said, the President has already called in experts to triage and solve the problems as fast and as well as possible. Furthermore, in states like Oregon that haven't been trying to sabotage the system, the ACA is working as intended - getting people without health insurance to finally get some health care coverage.

As Max Ehrenfreund stated so succinctly over the weekend at Washington Monthly, if America had just listened to liberals, who've always favored a single-payer system, the current problems with the health care signup wouldn't exist anyway. Democrats gave up that option early on, however, based on bad advice from normally wise people.

Think of it like that one bad pumpkin in the patch, that always ends up splattered all over the road.

In a similar way, Ezra Klein - an expert in many subjects, and a writer our staff generally trusts - made an incredibly amateur mistake recently. Last Thursday, Klein published a piece in the Washington Post saying that Congressional Democrats should go into the current budget negotiations admitting they won't be able to get any more tax revenue from Republicans.

Like that bad pumpkin, Klein is wrong - and Congressional Democrats should be aware of it before they slip and agree to a disastrous budget.

If Congressional Democrats would follow Klein's advice this time, their first failing would be tactical. In fact, it would be the exact tactical mistake President Obama and his advisors made in the health care battle - setting their initial negotiation point at the metaphorical midpoint, effectively assuring any settlement will be more favorable to their opposition than to your supporters. Klein himself even pointed out this strategy was a failing one back in December of 2010.

Their second failing would be to blindly accept as a fact Klein's position that Congressional Democrats can't raise taxes - which was proven false at the beginning of 2013.

As David Fahrenthold pointed out in the Washington Post this weekend, four major national crises have been caused by Republicans since 2010, and in one of them - the fiscal cliff battle at the beginning of this year, Democrats were able to force Republicans to vote to raise taxes. What's more, the tax burden on the wealthiest went up the most during that battle.

The third reason Congressional Democrats should mostly ignore Klein's advice in this case is simple: leverage for the 2014 races. As Sam Seder noted to Chris Hayes recently, there is only so much power that any one advocacy group has to effect potential change. If liberal Democrats are fighting more centrist Democrats not to give away Democratic priorities like immigration reform, universal pre-K, and climate change measures, they'll be wasting energy and resources which could be better aimed at forcing Republicans to cave - as Democrats did when they stood united and won the default battle and with the fiscal cliff at the beginning of this year.

Anyone, of any political persuasion, who also understands the policy realities America is now facing knows that - regardless of any realistic budget cuts or threats from Republicans like Mitch McConnell - our nation is simply not collecting enough revenue to handle our responsibilities.

If the Congressional Democratic caucus wants to end up with a budget that accurately reflects what Americans want from their government, they'd be wise to look at advice like that Klein provided on taxes as more trick than treat.

No comments:

Post a Comment