Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New Deal Democrats vs. Today's Democrats

(A National Youth Administration (NYA) trainee in Washington, D.C., 1943. New Deal policymakers offered job and training opportunities to millions of un- and under-employed Americans in programs like the NYA, CCC, and WPA. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

New Deal Democrats weren't afraid to take on the super-wealthy, and they weren't afraid to create bold policies that helped the non-wealthy. For example, they created the Securities & Exchange Commission to police fraud on the stock market and they created the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Youth Administration to hire millions of young men and women who needed jobs.

Today's Democrats? They're a different breed altogether. Collectively, they're weak and paid-off by the super-wealthy - and here's the proof:

When U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) pushed for a windfall tax on Wall Street executives a few years ago--after they received gargantuan bonuses thanks to gargantuan public money bailouts--he said, "I couldn't even get a vote. And it wasn't because of the Republicans. I mean they obviously weren't going to vote for it. But I got so much froth from Democrats saying that any vote like that was going to screw up fundraising."

Also, when U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced legislation in 2011 to create a new WPA (to address the nation's unemployment and infrastructure problems) he received little support from his fellow Democrats and the bill eventually died in committee. I think we can safely assume that a new WPA would have also "screwed up fundraising," since Corporate America relies upon a large pool of desperate and traumatized Americans to keep wages low. In other words, Corporate America would not have appreciated a new WPA program that offered jobs, training, or hope to those very same desperate and traumatized people.

There are powerful exceptions to the trend of Democrats becoming weak and subservient to Wall Street but, by and large, the party has betrayed it's New Deal legacy. As author and journalist David Paul Kuhn wrote, "Webb's one of the last FDR Democrats."

So, as the middle-class shrinks, and as older Americans face a looming poverty crisis, and as our children face record homelessness, we might want to ask ourselves, "What are the consequences of a Democratic Party that has betrayed the New Deal for campaign cash, and thus watered down its agenda to placate the super-wealthy?"

No comments:

Post a Comment