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Playing Right Into Our Hands

February 5, 2010

So Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are planning to filibuster the Jobs Bill? Really?

John Boehner and other Republicans are actively wooing Wall Street Bankers for donations? Really?

Republicans have long decried the cost of the TARP bills, but now balk at a plan to fully recover those funds from those same banks they’re wooing for donations; additionally railing against using those recovered funds to support small business? Really?

Richard Shelby is not only causing Financial Reform to come to a screeching halt in the Senate Banking Committee; but has also slapped a blanket hold on 70 of President Obama’s nominees, in the name of earmarks for his state? Really?

Michael Steele and many prominent Republicans have highly praised the SCOTUS decision in the Citizens United case allowing unlimited corporate contributions to political campaigns, corporate paid political ads of any stripe, even foreign influence in American elections? Really?

Larry Kudlow, former Reagan economic adviser considering a run against Chuck Schumer, has openly cited the Citizens United ruling as vital to his ability to compete with Schumer? Really?

Tsk, tsk, tsk…talk about hubris. They are not even bothering to feign a more populist position. And that is going to play right into the hands of the Democrats. One way or another, the Democrats will get a Health Insurance Reform bill passed, and they will do so without a stitch of GOP assistance. Score one.

The Democrats are trying to accelerate the passage of a Jobs Bill. It will be tragic if that doesn’t happen due to Republican opposition. But in the end they are clearly defining themselves as the party of Wall Street: and are clearly acting against the interests of Main street. Whether the bill is passed without GOP support, or is scuttled due to its opposition: Score two.

When the Citizens United ruling was released I predicted that the Republican’s giddy response would place them in diametric opposition to that newest phenomenon of the Right Wing: the TeaBagger contingent. It appears I called it. Many in the Tea Party movement are outraged by the decision, as they correctly understand that corporations’ freedom of speech will drown out their own small voices. Score three.

What are we scoring? Populist points, that’s what! The Democrats have to emerge from this session as the party of the people, trying (and hopefully, succeeding) to do what’s right for the vast majority of Americans, not for Wall Street and Corporate America. This is exactly what the mood in America, and the negativity toward Washington is all about. People have (rightly so) decided that Washington is looking out for corporations and the very wealthy. Democrats have the challenge of defining themselves in a populist light, and it won’t be easy.

But, it is made vastly more achievable by what the Republicans have chosen to do. They are playing right into the hands of the Democrats. (Not that I would truly credit the Dems with so savvy a plan. Still, accidental gamesmanship works, too. ;-)) A few magnificent things have happened recently to make this even more true.

First, there is the return of campaign strategist David Plouffe. I believe it is Plouffe’s influence that has pushed Obama back out into “campaign mode”, fighting for his agenda with the only tool he truly has: the bully pulpit. The greatest effect of Obama’s stirring performances (and let’s face it, ass-kicking of GOP talking points) has been to stop the bleeding with the base. Beyond that, though, he is being seen daily by all of America, pushing back against a GOP narrative that has gone far too long unanswered. It is truly a thing of beauty.

The second gift to the Democrats was handed to them on a silver platter by the ranking GOP member of the budget committee, Rep. Paul Ryan, when he unveiled the GOP alternative budget. The GOP got so sick of being called out for having no ideas, that they put some out there. Too bad it’s an awful mess of vicious, painful rationing; calling for the privatization of and slashing of benefits in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Talk about a field day for Democrats!

The House Dems have learned to play hardball and just today introduced an amendment to oppose the privatization of Social Security; and they’re going to force the GOP to vote on it. Brilliant! This sets up a very untenable vote for vulnerable GOP House members. And I, for one, want to see more.

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