SHORT TAKES: Bank Workers Demand $25 Per Hour; The Folks Who Make Movies--And The Global Corporations Trying To Stiff Them; Another Death, Another Fine--But No Jail Time;
Truthfully, I was ready to move on to write about the global progress towards a four-day work week or child slavery or a whole host of other things. But, I know most folks who live and breathe policy are wrapped up in the tick-tock over the infrastructure bill. So, delayed by a day…
This is not a Budget Clusterf**k 101 because you’all are more sophisticated. It’s a Budget Clusterf**k 201—to consider not so much the details of a bill but why we have this sorry drama and what we should make of it. Three points here, I think, that I’ll anchor partly off of two things I was quoted on in recent days in The Hill. First:
So, as readers will know, I’ve differed with the Biden view of the world on many, many occasions, especially on economics. I think it was a significant error to promise not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000—as if people earning, for example, $300,000 shouldn’t pay higher taxes to fund climate change or child care. And within the $3.5 trillion infrastructure bill, there are very bad elements that progressives should not be thrilled with—no one interested in a good use of our money should be a fan of the constant pumping up of “public-private partnerships”, which I wrote in early August is a fraud on the public.
But, generally speaking, Biden and his team have put a lot of money on the table for lots of good things within the context of the economic system we have (I loathe the “Build Back Better” slogan—whoever came up with that should be fired). As I said in the above quote, Biden has gone further than his track record would indicate partly because the pandemic exposed the shameful state of the country when it comes to looking out for people who are not white and wealthy, and partly because of the enhanced influence of progressives which eventually led to a circle of progressive economists being recruited to the Administration (note the cautious term “enhanced influence”, not all-world, we-can-win-anything-we-want power)
Once the deal is made on a bill—and there *will* be a deal of some sort that few people will love—we can put aside the pissing match framed as one between “progressives” and “moderates” and have a much clearer vision of this as something that springs from four decades of subservience to broken economic ideas.
Today’s paralysis is built on a collection of bad ideas colliding at once: “The Era of Big Government is Over”, “Free Trade is Good”, “De-Regulation”, “Budget Deficits Are Bad” “We Have A Debt Crisis”, “Entitlement Reform”, “America Is The Greatest Country on Earth”, “Hillarycare” and, of course, it’s fine to sell off nights in the Lincoln Bedroom (a Terry McAuliffe special) to please big donors who embrace all these bad ideas.
This is really the bad hangover from the Clinton Administration—though, to be sure, plenty of these bad ideas (American Exceptionalism, for example) existed before. It’s just that Clinton gave them a newer sheen.
Here is the simple way to break this down: