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Now or Never: a NEW New Deal
If the Biden administration can dramatically improve the lives of all
Americans before the 2022 midterm elections, Democrats can keep (or swing)
the Senate in 2022 and keep the White House in 2024 and beyond. This
requires rolling back 40 years of neoliberal/neoconservative rule
(i.e. socialism for the top 1%, austerity for the rest of us). Biden's
playbook should be FDR's first term. In short, a New New Deal.
Anything less, and Democrats are finished and the USA will remain fractured
Frank da Cruz
10 November 2020
Most recent update:
Thu Jan 21 07:29:47 2021
Putting America back to work:
Construction of the
Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State,|
mural by William Gropper for the US Dept of the Interior, 1938.
Click image to enlarge.
I started researching the New Deal in New York City while
Obama was still president; you can see the
. The idea was to remind Americans of
a time when we all (or mostly all) came together, led by a government we
could trust, to rescue the country from disasters caused by runaway
unregulated capitalism and forces of nature:
resulting from the 1929 stock market crash and a severe
starting in 1934. Massive federal spending
by President Franklin
, carried forward through World War II, transformed a broken
and impoverished country into the world's greatest economic powerhouse and
ushered in an era of widespread stability and prosperity. Like me, fellow
War Baby Joe Biden lived through the postwar boom and remembers it well.
Unlike the 75% of the population who are too young to remember, Joe knows
what is possible
Today we have a crisis comparable in magnitude to the Great Depresssion:
Civil-War level polarization aggravated by an economy that works for only
the super-rich, plus a deadly pandemic killing (at this writing) at a rate
of about one 9/11 every two or three days for the past nine months with no
end in sight (and as of December 10th, every day), and a growing
environmental catastrophe of temperature extremes, raging wildfires,
hurricanes, tornados, floods, increasingly toxic air and water, and on and
on. And a federal government completely unconcerned with all of it.
How did we get here?
|USA income distribution 1960-2018.|
click to enlarge.
The Obama administration came on the heels of decades of growing economic
disparity, senseless wars, privatization, oustsourcing, decaying
infrastructure, and environmental degradation brought on by a decades-long
assault on New Deal programs, laws, and regulations. With his overwhelming
electoral mandate Obama could have been the next FDR, but instead he pivoted
to Wall Street, the insurance companies, and the banks, allowing millions of
good jobs to be exported[1
] and millions of families to
lose their homes, and he launched an overpriced for-profit medical
insurance program that left tens of millions without medical care and many
more tens of millions with unaffordable medical
|US household income brackets 1979-2007.
Source: Congressional Budget Office; click to enlarge
It was the last straw. Millions of Americans woke up to the fact that
establishment politicians had never done anything but squeeze them dry.
Hence Trump: the non-politician "outsider" who promised to put everything
back as it was when "America was great", circa 1950. Maybe he even believed
it himself but for whatever reason, it didn't happen.
So what have we learned from the last two presidential elections? Above
all, that a LOT OF PEOPLE are EXTREMELY ANGRY at establishment
politicians. If neither Republicans nor Democrats will do anything to
undo the damage of the past decades, then why not vote for Trump? In 2020,
a vote for Trump — who was running with no platform — was,
for many, a vote to obliterate the whole rotten system.
But Biden won after all, most likely with a hostile Senate and definitely a
hostile Supreme Court. All hopes are pinned on Biden's "humanity" and
"decency" and "compassion" and "bipartisanship" to "heal the wounds" and
gain the cooperation of Republican politicians and restore "normalcy". That
won't happen. There is, however, a way to win over
]: rather than
mouthing empty platitudes, Biden can take DECISIVE ACTION
a script based on FDR's first term
, and launch a New New Deal
Over the past 40 years, millions of people have lost their secure
comfortable lives — union jobs, health plans, retirement plans, and in
many cases even their homes — due to arrogant privileged elites of
both parties selling them out. The real way to "heal the divisions" is
to improve the lives of the angry public by restoring its long-lost
prosperity and security.
The way to do this is with massive federal spending, just like in FDR's New
Deal and World War II. First with stimulus packages so life can go on
until the pandemic is over, and then with public works programs to restore
our crumbling transportation, health-care, and education infrastructure, and
to build a new clean-energy network and everything else that badly needs
doing but that never gets done because there is no profit in it for
investors. And finally to find a way to make health care a right for
every single person in the country, regardless of ability to pay (if the
COVID-19 pandemic taught us nothing else, it is now apparent that if we
deny health care to some, we increase the risk to all).
The party that provides decent jobs with living wages and good benefits,
affordable housing, and health care for everybody before the 2022 mid-term
elections (or at least makes credible progress in that direction)
will win large majorities in both houses of Congress and prevent a Trump
resurgence in 2024. Remember, when FDR
delivered for the American people instead of Wall Street and the banks, he
won four consecutive terms.
How to pay for it
The New New Deal can be funded by some combination of taxing the rich and
large corporations as they were taxed in the prosperous postwar years,
taxing investment income and closing tax loopholes, ending subsidies for
powerful interests such as Big Oil, cutting investment in weapons and war
and repurposing most of the military as a much-needed domestic
disaster-response / reconstruction force rather than a taxpayer-funded
world-domination tool of the multinational corporations, and even (if
necessary) by "printing money" as FDR did... a concept that provoked horror
at the time but in fact works just fine if done right; read about Modern
Monetary Theory; somewhat controversial perhaps, but I'd say that if it's OK
for banks to print money for home loans, it's also OK to print money to pay
real people to do useful work — it flows directly to small businesses
and their workers, and from there it spreads throughout the real
, as opposed to the sham economy of Wall Street, the banks, big
investors, and "complex financial instruments". This is not a time to be
screaming bloody murder about the deficit; if Republicans can run up
trillions of dollars of debt in giveaways to the rich, Democrats can spend
trillions on making America functional
again, for all of us.
Consequences of not acting
Angry voters vote for Republicans
because Republicans offer them
targets — scapegoats — for their anger; it's their entire platform.
Whereas Democrats offer "hope and change" which they never deliver.
But the days are gone when parties can win with happy talk and empty
promises. If angry Trump voters (and for that matter, angry Biden voters)
don't see TANGIBLE RESULTS in the first 18 months or so, we'll have a solid
Red Senate in 2022 (like in 2010 after Obama turned his back on "Main
Street"), and this time probably a red House too. Biden will have no power
to accomplish anything and Trump or a clone will be president in 2024. So
for Democrats, it's time (as we used to say in the Army) to shit or get off
the pot. The billionaires and elites have had a nice ride for the past 40
years at our expense, but time's up.
The Roosevelt Administration lasted 12¼ years, and its domestic
afterglow lasted approximately until Reagan in 1980. But even the "good"
post-FDR years were poisoned by misbegotten wars like Korea and Vietnam, the
endless "War on Terror", and by CIA sponsored coups in countless countries
including Iran, Guatemala, Congo, the Dominican Republic, Chile,
and on. In any case, it doesn't seem fair that after just 12 years of
good government, Americans and the world suffered through 35 years of so-so
government with a very dark side, followed by 40 years of uninterrupted
looting and pillage. It can't continue, it's not sustainable, the pendulum
has to swing back. Remember: Republicans will never do anything to take the
pressure off poor, working, and middle-class people, so if Democrats don't
do it either... Next
21 January 2021...
Biden takes office
Biden's first day in office was promising. The past week or two, op-eds in
the major publications were finally saying what I said above back in
November, good. For example,
Repeat After Me: Help People Fast
by Ezra Klein in the New York
, 21 January 2021, where he examines the mechanics of "helping
people fast" and concludes that all efforts are likely to die in the Senate
unless the filibuster is eliminated. So eliminate it! And then, by simple
majority vote, make Washington DC and Puerto Rico* states to get a slight bit
more balance in the Senate, and for extra safety also the US Virgin Islands,
Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa —
twelve more Democratic senators, payback for all the small-population
red states that wield grotesquely disproportionate power in the Senate.
Fair is fair.
Commentary (from reader comments on recent articles in The Nation)
- Of course the offshoring of American jobs started before Obama, e.g.
with Clinton and NAFTA, and before that with a steady trickle of
manufacturing jobs to Asia and elsewhere. The point is, why did our
government do nothing to protect good manufacturing jobs in this country?
- Obama presents his side of the story in a 16-page New Yorker
article, Nov 2, 2020, pp.24-29: "The Health of a Nation". Yes, he met with
massive opposition from the insurance industry, the AMA, Big Pharma,
Republicans, and all the other vested interests, but it appeared to me that
he was too ready to cave; rather than "reaching across the aisle" he might
have fought harder and made his case directly to the people, perhaps
fomenting a progressive answer to the all-powerful Tea Party.
- Even if the Georgia Senate runoffs don't yield two Democrats,
there are other legal ways Biden could achieve a Senate majority.
Republicans have been playing hardball for 40 years, why should they be the
only ones? If the Biden administration allows Republicans to obstruct
all its initiatives, Democrats and democracy itself are doomed.
- Obviously that's not a comprehensive list; other items would include
funding states and cities and localities impoverished by the virus and/or
Trump; canceling college debt; helping veterans of recent wars like we did
after WWII; refunding and reforming public education so students are taught
to think, analyze, and evaluate, rather then believe every crazy thing they
hear; reopening the many hospitals that have closed during the pandemic and
hiring back the laid-off doctors and nurses... The list has no end.
Repeat After Me: Help People Fast, Ezra Klein, New York Times, 21
January 2021. The title of this article keeps changing; Nov 22 it was
"Democrats, Here's How to Lose in 2022. And Deserve It."
Income inequality in the United States, Wikipedia, accessed 15 November
economics doesn't work but build-up does – is Biden listening?,
Robert Reich, The Guardian, 20 December 2020.
Biden Can Govern in Spite of Everything, Kevin Baker,
New York Times, 10 November 2020.
- The New
Deal Worked, Living New Deal, University of California at Berkeley.
- The Green New
Deal, Lessons for a Green New Deal today,
Living New Deal, University of California at Berkeley.
the New Deal to the Green New Deal, Richard Walker, Prof. Emeritus, UC
Berkeley; Director, The Living New Deal project, July 2020.
Vice President Biden:
We must fight for a 21st Century New Deal,
An Open Letter to Vice President Biden from the children and grandchildren
of FDR and his New Dealers, 23 June 2020.
New Deal offered hope in desperate times. We can do the same now,
Eric Rauchway, The Guardian, 20 May 2020.
do we avoid future authoritarians? Winning back the working class is
key, The Guardian, 24 November 2020. Two weeks later, this is
the first article I've seen that says substantially the same as I said
above: namely that there's no point fretting about why nearly half the
country still backs Trump; the Biden administration must give working
people a reason to trust and appreciate the government, as they (mostly)
did during the Roosevelt administration. This requires action, not talk.
- Robert Borosage, Trump
Will Be Gone Soon. Now Comes the Hard Part., The Nation,
13 January 2021. A more thorough treatment of the "How did we get here"
section above, concluding with "the survival of this democracy depends not
on whether Trump is impeached or disgraced but on whether it can actually
work for working people again. If it can’t—and change won’t be easy,
because it requires challenging the elites and the entrenched interests of
both parties—then Trump is likely to be seen merely as an amateur opening
for the full horror show that is yet to come." In other words, Mad Max.