Reviews | Why are the Democratic centrists doing right-wing propaganda?



Anyone who paid attention during the Obama years knew that Republicans would also try to undermine the Democratic presidencies. Some of the GOP’s actions – most notably, the efforts of governors like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott to prevent an effective response to a deadly pandemic – have shocked even cynics. Still, a Republican attempt to defeat President Biden, no matter how badly it hurt the rest of the country, was predictable.

More surprising, at least to me, has been the self-defeating behavior of the Democratic centrists – a term I prefer to “moderate,” as it’s hard to see what is moderate in demanding that Biden abandon very popular policies. such as corporate taxation and lowering drug prices. . At this point, it seems too possible that a handful of recalcitrant Democrats could blow up the entire Biden agenda – and yes, it’s the centrists having a tantrum, while the progressives in the party act like adults.

So what drives the Sabotage Squad? Part of the answer, I would say, is that they have internalized decades of right-wing economic propaganda, that their knee-jerk reaction to any proposal to improve the lives of Americans is that it must be unworkable and unaffordable.

Of course, that’s not the whole story. We certainly shouldn’t underestimate the influence of money: wealthy donors and big drug companies have laid bare their weight. We also shouldn’t overlook the importance of simple numeracy: $ 3.5 trillion seems like a lot of money, and you shouldn’t assume that politicians understand (or think voters understand) that this is being proposed. spend over the course of a decade, not a single year. It would amount to just over 1 percent of gross domestic product during this period and would still leave aggregate public spending well below its current level. other rich democracies. It also ignores the fact that the real cost, after net savings and new revenue, would be well below $ 3.5 trillion.

And some politicians seem to suffer from the misconception that only spending on “hard” infrastructure, like roads and bridges, counts as an investment in the nation’s future. That is, they have failed to catch up with the growing body of evidence of high economic returns from spending on people – especially spending that lift children out of poverty.

Yet I am often surprised to hear politicians and pundits who do not see themselves as part of the conservatism of the movement peddle economic narratives that are nothing more than right-wing propaganda but have been repeated so many times. than many people who should know better how to accept them as established fact.

I often hear, for example, that the runaway spending and budget deficits caused the stagflation of the 1970s. In reality, the federal debt shrinks like a share of GDP during that decade (only to soar under President Ronald Reagan). As far as we understand the stagflation of the 1970s, it seems to have been caused by a combination of oil shocks and thoughtless monetary policy. The big government had nothing to do with it.

I also sometimes hear even centrists giving credit to Reagan’s tax cuts for turning the US economy around. The truth is that most Americans does worse in the decades following Reagan’s tax cuts than in the corresponding preceding period; the post-Reagan boom, as it was, was limited to a small number of wealthy people.

Finally, it is amazing how many people think that European economies with high social spending are badly damaged by reduced incentives to work. It is true that during the 1980s and 1990s much of the continent seemed to suffer from “eurosclerosis” – high and persistent unemployment, even in times of economic expansion. But that was a long time ago. Today’s generous welfare states often perform better in the labor market than the United States.

Take the example of Denmark, which Fox Business at one point compared to Venezuela. Indeed, if there was any truth in right-wing dogma, Denmark would have to be economic hell. He has a lot more social spending that we ; two-thirds of its workers are unionized, and these unions are so powerful that they forced McDonald’s to pay its workers $ 22 per hour.

But the reality is that Danes of working age are more likely than their American counterparts to have a job. It is true that Real GDP per capita is slightly lower than Denmark, but this is mainly because Denmark, unlike the United States, is not a country without holidays; the Danes take time off from work.

The point is, as far as I know, these troublesome Democratic centrists are blinded by an economic narrative that was deliberately created to block progress and justify vast inequalities. So they imagine that the Biden agenda – which is a fairly modest effort to solve our nation’s very real problems – is somehow irresponsible and a threat to the nation’s future.

I urge them to reconsider their premises. The spending proposed by Biden is not irresponsible and would not hurt growth. On the contrary, he would be deeply irresponsible not invest in people as well as in the concrete, and if you look at the evidence, rather than repeating the dogma of the Right, you realize that Biden’s agenda is actually growth friendly.


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