Krugman on the Democrats

Published on Selves and Others, by Thomas Riggins, November 26th, 2007, (First posted online November 8, 2007, on Thomas Riggins’ Blog).

… So, the question is, can the Democrats really push forward a progressive agenda even if they have both the presidency and a bigger majority? What will keep them from still failing to solidly push a progressive people’s agenda instead of caving in to pressures from the corporate plutocracy and the military-industrial complex [MIC]”

Krugman tries to answer this question in an article in Monday’s New York Times (11-5-07).. Krugman thinks the long right wing control of national politics is about to end. He seems to envision a big Democratic sweep in 2008.

He is on tour now, promoting his book, and he says a good question that often comes up is, How can you be so optimistic about the prospects for progressive change, when big money has so much influence on politics?

Citing the research of recent polls, Krugman says that Americans have never, in recent history, been so fed up with how the government is being run and that two of the main reason’s are the failure of the misadventure in Iraq, and the growth of a new economic populism. There is widespread resentment against the abuses of the big corporations and the declining share of wealth available to the middle class.
Longer-term studies of public opinion, Krugman writes, suggest a substantial leftward shift. Well, the Democrats have controlled Congress for a year now and Bush’s agenda is still popping along with hardly any real challenges. Why hasn’t the leftward shift manifested itself more vigorously in the halls of Congress? One of the main reasons, according to Krugman, that the Democrats are having trouble finding their voice is the influence of big money.

Krugman cites some examples. First, the failure to get rid of tax loopholes that favor the very rich, at our expense, such as hedge fund managers who only have to pay a 15% tax rate on the millions (and billions) they rake in. Industry lobbyists have so far gotten the Democrats to drag their feet and delay taking any action. Another thing worries people who think the Democrats may sell out, and that is the closeness of Hillary Clinton to the MIC and its allies … (full text).

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