Alex Blaze

The Democrats will not get the message

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 03, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics

If America was sending a message to the Democrats in this election, it was "Care about the country instead of your own money." Sure, voting Republican isn't the best way to send that message, but considering how much disinformation there is in American political discourse the results are best left open to interpretation.

evan-bayh.jpgBut Democrats won't get that message. In fact, there's one retiring Democrat who's already begging his colleagues to become even more beholden to the big money boys and to trample on the rest of us some more, because, you see, it shows how mature Democrats are. Here's Evan Bayh in the NY Times this morning in a column he probably wrote several weeks ago:

And we were too deferential to our most zealous supporters. During election season, Congress sought to placate those on the extreme left and motivate the base -- but that meant that our final efforts before the election focused on trying to allow gays in the military, change our immigration system and repeal the George W. Bush-era tax cuts. These are legitimate issues but unlikely to resonate with moderate swing voters in a season of economic discontent.

I probably should have put a "don't drink while reading this quote" warning above it; sorry about all the coffee sprayed all over your computers.

According to Bayh, the Democrats' problem is that they were "too deferential" to the "extreme left," exemplified by them discussing, but not enacting, three moderate proposals. They didn't actually pass any of them! Gays aren't serving openly in the military, the DREAM Act didn't get passed, and Democrats are probably going to renew those tax breaks for the uber-wealthy, but that should have been enough to placate the "extreme left."

What should Democrats have been doing instead? In short, giving more money to rich people, since that's what we can all agree on:

We also overreached by focusing on health care rather than job creation during a severe recession. It was a noble aspiration, but $1 trillion in new spending and a major entitlement expansion are best attempted when the Treasury is flush and the economy strong, hardly our situation today.

Around 50 million Americans are uninsured, dozens of millions are underinsured, people who are insured lose their coverage when they need it, and almost everyone in America who isn't covered by the government is paying several times the amount they should be paying for their health care. So the Democrats passed as weak bill that takes a stab at those problems, problems that are fairly important to most Americans (by "most" I mean those people who live outside Bayh's bubble).

But Evan Bayh doesn't like that! He was bought and paid for by the health care industry, so for him the bill represents "new spending," and the NY Times isn't going to point out that the "new spending" was off-set by other measures in the bill, making Bayh's column in their paper factually incorrect.

So he tells his fellow Democrats that they need to move further to the right, since he knows who's buttering his bread and who's going to be hiring him come January since he's out of office now. The worst part is, some Democrats will listen to him.

Also notable in that blockquote up there is "job creation," considering how Bayh worked against the stimulus. Then again, he doesn't think jobs are created by the government investing in the economy, just by private individuals. Private individuals' money is made from unicorns and faeries and only their dollars spur growth, while government dollars spread pestilence and blight:

So, in the near term, every policy must be viewed through a single prism: does it help the economy grow?

A good place to start would be tax reform. Get rates down to make American businesses globally competitive. Reward savings and investment. Simplify the code to reduce compliance costs and broaden the base. In 1986, this approach attracted bipartisan support and fostered growth.

The stereotype of Democrats as wild-eyed spenders and taxers has been resurrected. To regain our political footing, we must prove to moderates that Democrats can make tough choices. Democrats should ban earmarks until the budget is balanced. The amount saved would be modest -- but with ordinary Americans sacrificing so much, the symbolic power of politicians cutting their own perks is huge.

Democrats should support a freeze on federal hiring and pay increases. Government isn't a privileged class and cannot be immune to the times.

The best way to create jobs is to enact a federal hiring freeze. I mean... sigh. Does he really think that Americans are that stupid?

Evan Bayh was Indiana's George W. Bush: a spoiled child of a senator who got into politics with his father's name and not much else. Neither is particularly Christian but they're both completely willing to use "traditional values" to win elections, since their main goal is to consolidate wealth in the hands of the few.

Bayh would have been a tea bagger if he didn't need the Democrat title to get him into office. And the party is full of Evan Bayhs, and people know it when they see it. No wonder people didn't vote for his anointed successor Brad Ellsworth: if you're a rightwinger, why would you vote for a rightwinger who calls himself a Democrat when you could vote for a rightwinger who calls himself a Republican?

But if you thought they would have gotten the message after this election, that they need to learn to distinguish themselves somehow from Republicans in order to get people to vote for them, well, you were wrong. They only learned that they went too far to the left and now they have to tack to the right.

Expect a revival of bipartisanship now that the Republicans are in charge, except it'll be bipartisan support for rightwing policy.

Evan Bayh thinks that Democrats went too far to the left on LGBT issues these past two years and that's why they lost yesterday. He's not the only Democrat in power who thinks so.

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Isn't it strange how the U.S. is still in 2 active wars but they are somehow forgotten? Its not like those activities help balance the budget to say nothing of the "why" question. And of course no one seems to notice that the military chews through about a million barrels of oil a day propping up world prices.

And he suggests that the budget should be balanced by cutting "ear marks," which are less than 1% of the deficit.

What a clown!

Bayh said:

"Then again, he doesn't think jobs are created by the government investing in the economy, just by private individuals."

That's the only thing he said that was true. Government can't create jobs, only demand can. Demand is created by new ideas, innovations or improved products - those never come from government.

The $1 trillion in "stimulus funds" went to buy jobs for another year. The only portion that may have created some innovation (research and development) was less than 2%.

This whole idea that government can create jobs is only trumped by the belief that the President has some control over the economy. The "economy" is a result, like the weather.

Um, I'm not going to get into the debate about whether the fundamental laws of economics were suspended or not since 2008, but the stimulus created jobs.

Demand comes from people being willing and able to spend money on stuff. People are completely willing, they're just not able.

No, the Stimulus plan only subsidized jobs. Jobs are only "created" when there is something that has a market or real demand, not subsidized demand.

When California gives tax breaks and some financing to a Texas company to relocate there, have they created jobs, or bought them?

You are simply suggesting people will spend more money if they have more money to spend, which is true. But, the truth about our Stimulus Plan is we didn't get any real value for the $1 trillion. It was intended to "prime the pump," but the pump is broken. Nobody is fixing that.

The economy isn't magic. It doesn't just grow because it feels like it. It isn't the result of free-floating demand that's tied to nothing.

What we need is more investment in the economy. That can come from the government or the private sector. The private sector is unwillling to do that right now. So the government should step in and keep the US from becoming a third-world economy.

And nobody is working to fix the economy, that's true. I posted about that yesterday. That's because they don't think it's broken. People like Evan Bayh are still seeing the millions roll in so they just don't get what's happening outside their bubble.

I agree. I think the reason nobody is trying to fix the economy is they don't know how. They have only two ideas: increase spending or cut taxes. Neither creates jobs. Both simply defer the inevitable: more problems.

Renee Thomas | November 3, 2010 2:49 PM

Hey hotshot, you ever heard of DARPA?

You know spurring innovation, inventing the Internet (apologies to Mr. Gore), creating opportunities to jumpstart application engineering in the private sector?

Yeah that DARPA

DARPA is largely a waste of money and is mostly geared towards military research.

America is 26th in the world for Research and development and has been for a long time. Oddly enough, China is number 1. Go, figure.

government actually creates--or destroys--jobs every single day, and they do it with either tax policy or direct spending.

if you create tax advantages for shipping jobs out of the country, you're killing jobs...and if you alter those tax code provisions, you very much create least in this country.

now that may not affect demand in any way--but it will most assuredly affect american employment.

same with energy policy.

just hiring people to insulate homes and install windows can create millions of jobs...and if people are spending less on that oil heat or the electric baseboard heater this year, that money creates long-term demand, all else in the economy being equal.

of course, if you're spending more and more every year on your health care costs...that's not helping long-term economic growth either...which is why health care reform is also an economic stimulus program.

and, oh, yeah...wasn't half the stimulus tax cuts for workers and employers, including a tax credit for hiring?

i mean, what do you want?

another $400 billion for infrastructure spending?

i'm ok with that, and we can pay for a lot of it with tolls or fees or local tax increases.

$500 billion for windmills and a smart grid?

i'm for that, too, and it can be made to become a revenue stream, so i like it even better.

beyond that, there's really not much left for the administration at this point, except maybe if the sba were to become the "retail lender" to small business or something.

other than buying things, you can't legislate demand, and you clearly can't tell banks to lend more and shore up their books, both at the same time.

so what do you see as the next best move to create demand that isn't being done now?

and i forgot to mention...i so will not miss bayh.

Kathy Padilla | November 3, 2010 12:26 PM

Sure - Dems really want to listen to the guy who sat on his hands when his help was needed. The guy who also sat on:

Retiring Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh is sitting on a mountain of campaign cash that could help advance his political career, even as Democratic leaders urge senators to dig deep into their pockets right now to help save their threatened congressional majority.

Bayh’s latest Federal Election Commission report shows that he still has $10.3 million in his campaign account – a staggering amount for a lame duck senator — but he has yet to transfer any of that money to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Read more:

No credibility. And he glosses over the fact that the majority of folks who lost were the blue dogs - folks just like him. You know - the guys that didn't support the base. Bayh seems to think that supporting the other sides mistaken ideas is the way to victory. It is - for the other side.

What an incredibly astute analysis and great comments across the board. But I have to agree with Bayh that you don't do healthcare in a struggling economy. You can say all you want about the morality of providing 40 million Americans more American healthcare who didn't have it, but if the other 260 million are freaking out because of the prospect of paying more, they're not going to like it. Respectfully, NOBODY knows what the market responses will be to the healthcare reform package, and you don't stack uncertainty over 1/8th of the economy on top of general anxiety and expect your law (or lawmakers) to stand. Did we learn NOTHING from 1994?

On the subject of whether the stimulus created or subsidized jobs, it subsidized them. I'd rather pay somebody to work than to sit around. In fact, were I dictator of the universe, everybody on unemployment would be volunteering with non-profits for x hours per month. Showing a work ethic while networking might actually help people land some jobs.

Perhaps we should have the military work on our electricity grid? I agree, if we do subsidize we should expect some effort in return - even if it's just learning.

I would add that I believe America has gotten lazy believing their is some political "magic" that can save us. Or that a President can actually "fix" the economy. WE have to fix it. We have to innovate and create some real solutions to problems and then export those solutions.

We've been in decline for several decades and we're now paying the price. We better get off our fat asses or it's going to get worse.

I agree. We have to fix it, we can't wait around for Wall Street to feel like sharing the wealth with the rest of us.

Why don't we organize ourselves into some sort of democratic system in order to fix the economy? Instead of everyone running around doing their own thing, we'd be much better off if everyone was working together. We could elect leaders to run this organization, this congress of people, if you will.

Oh, wait....

It has alwaysbeen "individuals" that solve problems by creating solutions. They invent or innovate. These people don't "start businesses" they create solutions. I just think we stopped inventing a long time ago. We no longer have any Thomas Edisons, Eli Whitneys or Charles Goodyears, but China does. China solves problems and then sells us the product.

I don't believe any group will solve the problems. Individuals will. To that end we should simply offer "prize money" for solutions. Not subsidies to enrich developers, but a reward for actual solutions. (For instance, instead of punishing coal with Cap and Trade, we should simply give clean energy producers a $.02-$.04 per kWh tax credit as a reward).

Reward the result and you'll get more results.

China's a great example. The vast majority of the economy is run by the government (subsidized or created jobs, take your pick), and what's private is maintained by a capital market that's regulated beyond what Americans would ever imagine implementing.

Innovation is the result of a good economy, not the other way around, to borrow your language. Thomas Edison wouldn't have existed if he were so burdened with debt he had to put 60 hours a week into a meaningless job just so that he wasn't put out in the street or if he was illiterate because he couldn't go to school.

Wait, why are we talking about this? Inventions are happening all the time (iPad, new medications, new GMO's). And there are plenty of things already invented that people want that they just can't afford. The problem isn't inventions, but I'm guessing this is the brick wall point so I'm stepping out.

We need clean affordable energy and that isn't happening. We need new schools (most are +50 years old) and that isn't happening. We need better ways to maintain our infrastructure and that isn't happening.

America has some big problems and no, WE aren't trying to solve them - China is. Even 80% of the wind turbines planted in the US were made in China. We no longer export anything of value. There is an "arms race" to make electric cars, but they'll run on coal (60% of electricity in the US is from coal). We're not very bright.

Americans are lazy. Handouts won't change that, innovation might. Prize money - results-based, may help, too.

The brick wall was back when Andrew made his first response. From what I have seen, he never reconsiders anything he believes, no matter how long the exchange gets.

You would think by now I would know that anything related to politics that had a lot of posts (making me think something interesting was going on) has to just be Andrew making the same points over and over and over. I can tell his posts and Bill Perdue's by reading about one sentence, never any new info or points, the same stuff over and over. Geez.

Is that it Carol? Don't you have something to add to this conversation?

I'm disappointed.

Nope, other than repeating what a smug, arrogant, self-righteous asshole Bayh is, I got nuthin'.

Sorries to disappoint you, Andrew. But then, disappointment seems to be your bag, anyhows.

Thanks for commenting!

If we're worried about economic uncertainty, then taking out the uncertainty that comes with losing one's health care seems like a good idea. Instead of telling people "If you quit your job to create a business that could employ other people, then you will lose your health care coverage until your company is big enough to afford it (which might never happen) and if your kid gets cancer she dies," maybe we could tell people "Don't worry about getting sick, just do what's best for all of us."

The health care bill did not increase the cost of health care. People are freaking out (the few of them that are) because people like Evan Bayh and the tea baggers are lying to them about its consequences, not because there's any need to freak out. The markets will respond however they want to respond - they've proven themselves to be completely irrational over these past couple of years that it's best to ignore them and to focus on economic growth.

As for unemployment, you've laid out the basic idea behind economic stimulus. We're not at the point where we're just letting anyone without a job starve - there's unemployment insurance, private charities, and people's families and friends that are helping people get by in difficult times.

But since that's a completely inefficient way to maintain an economy, why don't those people do some work while still getting their basic needs met? Well, mostly because there isn't the capital necessary for people to start their own businesses as lending is still way down, plus people aren't sure a business will succeed because so many people are out of work that they won't have any customers.

So the stimulus gives (jobs are subsidized, if you want) some jobs. Those people then have money to spend, more money than they'd have if they were crashing on a friend's couch. Then they can be the customers other people need, and then unemployment decreases (jobs are created).

I think the point was if people do get assistance, that maybe they could volunteer or help out in some manner. I suggested even "learning" would be a good effort.

I don't think starting a business is a solution to anything. That happens naturally when a new product or service demands it. It isn't a solution, it's a result.

Wait, your italicized "demand" isn't at all what we're talking about when we talk about aggregate "demand." People do the economic sort of demand, not things.

I'm beginning to think you have no idea what you're talking about.

No, "aggregate demand" is related to the overall economy. I'm talking about specific demand - like clean, renewable energy. There is a huge demand for that, but no solution. If there was it could help renew our economy and create jobs.

Rick Sutton | November 3, 2010 2:59 PM

Alex, you're partly right, but we paid over $800 billion (not 1 trillion, Andrew) to stimulate the economy.

The get-off-the-couch mentality works for maybe a tenth of that. But 800 Bil should've produced a lot more than it did.

Bayh's mostly right, damn it. He didn't say he LIKED those results, but politically, his argument is solid.

We needed a better sales job on the Bush stimulus, the car bailout, the bank bailout and the wars.

Lots of arm-flapping and not enough jobs. Someone got the lion's share of that money. Where did it go?

The 800 billion wasn't just for stimulus - a lot of it was for tax cuts that were needed just to get enough votes to pass it. 2.5 million to 3.6 million jobs, as the linked article above estimates, isn't that bad for that kind of money. I agree that there wasn't enough stimulus and most honest economists were flailing their arms screaming about that a year ago, but that doesn't make Bayh right. Especially since he was one of those people who demanded tax cuts and a smaller stimulus in order to get his vote.

And he loves those results. Even as economists were trying to estimate how many millions of jobs the stimulus resulted in, he was saying that not a single one was created. He got what he wanted - people lost faith in the ability of the government to invest in the economy mainly because it didn't invest enough but people like Bayh and the tea baggers were saying that the government was investing too much, contrary to all evidence.

What more could Bayh want? Less stimulus means more power for rich people and even the possibility of a tax break for the uber-wealthy. I'm thinking he's really happy with the result.

Doesn't it bother you that for $800 billion we got about (questionable) 2.5 million jobs? That's $320,000 per job. Those must be great jobs.

Too much of the stimulus was politically connected. A casino in Connecticut received $59 million to build a museum. This casino is one of the most profitable in the world. They have also made significant contributions to the Democratic party.

When Obama pushed to spend that money he should have used a filtering process to determine (honestly) the number of jobs and any multiplier effect. It is clear now that they didn't. Free money attracts a lot of bad deals. Plus, only 2% of the money was invested in research or new technology. 98% went to buying jobs for another year and some tax credits. That's dumb.

I have referred to it as "$1 trillion Stimulus" because eventually that's what it will be. I add 20-30% to any number from the government.

to measure jobs by the cost per job will make for bad analysis.

boeing, for example, spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to create certain jobs on a daily basis.

if your job is to operate a computer-controlled machine tool, you might be a million-dollar job.

same with the operator who's driving that giant dump truck, or an airline employee.

if you're building a road, then obviously you're not spending 100% of your money on payroll, and as a result jobs always cost a multiplier of payroll per job.

if you're paying someone $40,000/year, and payroll is 25% of the project...that's $160,000 per job--and if payroll is a smaller percentage of the total job cost, the cost per job goes up.

Except that the Stimulus Fund was to create JOBS, not companies. $320,000 per job is excessive. More information is trickling in and it will become clear that "giving away money" didn't accomplish much.

If Obama was smart they could have used the funds to leverage more investment - instead they simply gave it away.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | November 3, 2010 3:05 PM

58 seats lost is a drubbing, but a predictable one. The Democrats got the decisive rebuke they deserved for their betrayals of everyone but the Pentagon and Wall Street.

The people who really lost the election are working people, especially GLBT working people.

Because now we have to put up with the racism, misogyny, homohating, pro-war pro-Wall Street right wing politics of Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate and the White House.

That's are the same bipartisan crowd that gave us the Depression we're in. Clinton and his gang of economic advisors, all of whom had a financial stake in deregulation, rammed through the Republican deregulation bill, causing the current Depression. Democrats and Republicans both voted overwhelmingly for deregulation.

George Bush called the looter class his base and rammed through tax breaks for them, increasing the economic nose dive begun by Clinton.

Obama busted the UAW contract, supported and implemented TARP and other programs to make the rich richer, including the boondoggle 'stimulus' handout, handouts to insurance companies disguised as 'health care' and compensating big investors in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It all adds up to trillions in the largest criminal transfer of wealth in human history.

Obama's refusal to take back those trillions and use them to create green jobs and a rebuilt, green infrastructure means those 15 million are going to unemployed for a long, long time. Many of them are homeless and in dire poverty.
Yesterday's election doesn't indicate a hard right turn by millions of Americans. They voted Republican because Obama, Pelosi and Reid are lap dogs of the rich who pander to bigots. For most, it'll be another lesson in the utter futility of lesser evilism. Within months the Republicans polling numbers will plummet, and so will Obama's if the follows their lead, which he's done up to this point.

They'll be no more change this time around than there was from the elections of 2006 and 2008. The wars go on and on, the rich get richer with the help of both parties and young GLBT people continue to die at the hands of murderers and hate mongering bigots who oppose our agenda.

Same old, same old. It's ugly.

Here is a site that tracks the stimulus money. --->

You'll notice that only 500 billion was actually spending and 47 billion of that remains unspent. Almost 300 billion of the money was for tax cuts and about 45 billion of those are not enacted.

Kathy Padilla | November 3, 2010 4:59 PM

"Shorter Evan Bayh: “The Dems need to ‘reconnect with the center’ by ignoring any progressive legislation and focusing on deficit reduction. The way to focus on deficit reduction is through upper-class tax cuts. I mean, remember how that strategy preserved the surplus under Bush? If we do that, we’ll have the same success the Blue Dogs had last night!”

I guess Bayh’s idea for staying in the public eye is to try to be a bigger wanker than Joe Lieberman. This is certainly a good start!"

Renee Thomas | November 3, 2010 5:48 PM

. . . and with an arrogant wave of the hand you think to deftly dismiss years of innovation that have spurred peacetime-private sector applications of a wide range of technologies incubated at DARPA.

Andrew, that's such lazy dismissive bullshit and you know it. Look, dude if you going to piss all over those who call you on your facile and arrogant foolishness at least do so with a modicum of integrity and intellectual honesty. If DARPA research had ONLY given us the Internet (and nothing else) that would be more than worth the expenditure. A simple search of the archives of Wired Magazine indicates significant private-sector application and investment in the areas of:

High Speed Digital Networks
Advances in GUI Technology
CAD-CAM Software and Precision Manufacturing Hardware
High Resolution LED/LCD Display Technology
Autonomous Navigation Technology
Geosynchronous Satellite Technology for GPS, Weather and Satellite TV
Satellite Phone Technology
Space-Based Earth Imaging Technology
Self-Learning Expert System Software
Three-Dimensional Planetary Mapping and Imaging Technology
Neuro-Prosthetic Technology for Bionic Replacement Limbs
Synthetic Skin for Bionic Limbs

. . . Hell, I could go on all day. But listen, the next time you feel tempted to lead with your usual baseless condescension do a little homework first.

That's a stretch Renee. Do some research.

DARPA research lead to some discoveries and completed some beneficial research, but it was innovative private companies that turned that research into products.

None of what I said discounted research. I done business with NASA and helped them take ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

I said individuals created solutions, not government. You say they've done "research." Great. But, what has government solved? They been working on clean energy for +40 years. We have the worst schools in the developed world. Our cities are still less than livable. Our infrastructure is in terrible shape. We have millions that are homeless. Today more than 15 million are out of work. Healthcare is still a mess. Tell me, what has government done to solve any problems?

I would think the message to Democrats and all Americans is to PAY ATTENTION TO THE MONEY. IT ALWAYS WINS !!!!!

If you have lots of money you can create any lie, promote any mis-information, invent any truth and forget any fact. Americans will believe anything presented often enough on television. And lots of money makes that possible.

Ronald Reagan created the legend: "Government is bad and business is good".

Whereas in actuality big business is MUCH worse than big government. Business is only interested in profit. Government is everyday people trying to solve problems for their friends and neighbors.

The problem is you cannot defeat a legend with facts. People believe legends from

The problem is you cannot defeat a legend with facts. People believe legends from Big John Henry to American democracy. Henry did not exist and American is a Republic.

The only way to defeat a legend is to creat a stronger one that more people believe. And that is really hard work.

Mark Fischer | November 7, 2010 1:22 AM

Evan Bayh is a self-serving corporate and special interest whore. His wife got rich by being the "professional corporate director" who sat and still sits on countless boards whose interests were directly affected by dozens and dozens of votes Senator Bayh cast. Bayh is about one notch above Joe Lieberman who also profited from his wife's work for corporations and stock holdings both of which represented a clear conflict of interest with Lieberman's Senate votes and actions. The only difference between Bayh and Lieberman is that Lieberman left the Democratic Party and Bayh did not. In very many ways both men could have been quite comfortable as Republicans. So, what Bayh says is not worth the time it takes to read. He does not speak for the party or the vast majority of its members. Many of those who agree with him are Blue Dogs who think, act and vote like Republicans much of the time.