Pay-go Vichyism: you want Trump in 2020?


Because this is how you get Trump in 2020.

The Intercept just gave us a fabulous gift, by which I mean a gift filled with unreality and myth, that illustrates what our so-called Progressive movement is already prepared to give us: equivocation, excuses, and realpolitik.

charlie brown and lucy meme, football about to be pulled away re: pay-go waivers

Short version: right out the gate, Pelosi, Grand Marshall of the Vichy Democrat Parade, signals that she’s going to throw the Progressives under the bus, throws the Progressives under the bus, and the so-called Progressive Caucus smiles after slurping down their first rat sandwich and books reservations for their next stop at the trough. Maybe next time they’ll opt for the buffet.

The debate over the vote started Wednesday morning, when it became clear that the House rules package for the 116th Congress would include a fiscally conservative measure known as “pay-go.” A spokesperson for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called for progressives in the House to oppose it. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., was the first out of the gate, calling it “terrible economics” and promising to vote down the rules package. Ocasio-Cortez soon followed suit.

For a moment, it looked like a rebellion could brewing among the newly energized and organized left. Except it wasn’t. There was no stampede of opposition, and later that day, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., put out a statement in support of the rules package, ending any real chance at a last-minute insurrection. [emphasis added]

Only three Democrats voted against it, Khanna, Ocasio-Cortez, and Gabbard.

The narrative that emerged “is so hurtful to the progressive movement because we got so much out of this,” Jayapal said. One result, she said, has been to take the focus off the CPC’s major organizing effort to pack powerful committees full of as many progressives as possible. Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez are both angling to land some of those coveted spots, and their opposition to the rules package could make it harder for them to do so.

Apparently Jayapal is upset that the denizens of social media noticed so-called Progressive’s immediate penchant for capitulation. Looking at her complaint above, one wonders if Jayapal and her belly-rub loving cohort are capable of multi-tasking beyond talking hands-free on the phone while tying a shoe.  Perhaps the problem isn’t that Ocasio-Cortez “took the focus off,” and has more to do with the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ failure to maintain their own independent messaging. Jayapal is more concerned about capitulating to the neoliberal Blue Dog old order to secure seats on committees instead of forcing the committee issue in broad daylight. She won’t call Pelosi a hostage-taker. Instead, she helps shepherd the hostages into confinement.

“There were lots of things in the rules package that we negotiated in that were really good, and it’s not that we caved on this, it’s not that we just decided we didn’t have the power to change it — it was really a strategic question about what is most necessary to move progressive legislation,” Jayapal told The Intercept.

Hillary Clinton couldn’t have said it better, except that at least if Hillary had used the word Progressive the lie would have been easier to detect. I mentioned a rat sandwich earlier, but don’t worry. It can’t be that bad. Just look at the lettuce, pickle, and tomato on that sandwich! It was necessary if we were going to get a meal at all.

Jayapal stressed that her criticism was not directed personally at her colleagues, with whom she is in agreement on the issues, but rather at the framing on social media and press coverage of the pay-go conflict.

I’m all for media criticism, aptly applied. But criticizing the people with a vested interest, who express their views on social media, by denouncing them for not getting early boarding passes for the flight into oblivion? Ordinarily, true colors take longer than this to reveal. Maybe we can be grateful for that much.

Indeed, Pocan and Jayapal’s support for the package came after they negotiated with Pelosi and won significant concessions, including seats on powerful committees, the repeal of a rule that required a supermajority for tax increases, hardened rules around sexual harassment, and strengthened language around the War Powers Resolution, which will make it easier for the House to vote to put an end to U.S support for the war in Yemen.

Wait, these are concessions? If you need a concession from the Democrats to get representation on committees, Democrats are the political opposition. If you need concessions from Democrats to repeal a rule requiring a supermajority for much of anything, Democrats are the opposition. If you need concessions from Democrats to, what, hold on, harden rules around sexual harassment, then #metoo was for absolutely…[f-bomb narrowly averted] nothing and Democrats aren’t just “opposition,” but harassment enablers. If you need concessions from Democrats to make it easier to stop killing people in Yemen, you’re not dealing with politicians. You’re dealing with ghouls. You don’t capitulate to ghouls. You make your die roll to turn as many as you can and lay waste about you (metaphorically speaking, of course).

Pelosi has guaranteed that the House will hold a hearing on “Medicare for All,” Jayapal said, noting that critics who argued that pay-go will get in the way of that are wrong. Pelosi and Rep. Jim McGovern, chair of the House Rules Committee, have both said that pay-go can be waived in such circumstances. “The waiving we’ve been working on for a while with McGovern, but honestly we were trying to keep it kind of quiet, because not all of the conservative members know this, and now they’re saying, ‘Oh, you’re going to waive the rules? What do you mean?’” Jayapal said. “So sometimes I’m just like, come on people, let’s be strategic about some of this in terms of what we take on.”

Don’t you just love Blue Dog promises? Remember how well that worked for getting single payer considered last time the country was in a position to get it? Hearings, feh. That, or any workable version of medical care for everyone, isn’t a bargaining chip. Merely entertaining the notion is even less of one. If, by now, the GOP-lite sitting in Congress haven’t been paying attention to decades of headlines highlighting its absolute necessity to the point of making it a centerpiece for a hard legislative drive, then what the [f-bomb averted] is the point in hearings? They’ve already told us no, and any “Progressive” who sees otherwise might, at this morbidly late stage, might just be a bit daft if they think “hearings” are a step forward and not a step back.

Ah, promises. Promises like the meme above illustrates. Sure, you can have “waivers.” Trust Pelosi. That has worked so well for us in the past. Maybe Jayapal’s Clintonesque proclivities would be more obvious if she used words like triangulation. No? What would it take?

“When you look at what’s considered a loss, whether it’s the select committee or whether it’s pay-go, I see them as short-term losses, because in the long run, what we’ve accomplished is we’ve put these issues on the map.” – OC

OC occasionally gets the details wrong. As long as there’s a mechanism for correction, I can stomach that, especially in light of the current “truth is for ninnies” administration. But I think she’s correct here…if she proves herself right. So far, her messaging machine has had some impact. As we’re not seeing, apparently that isn’t enough. Here’s hoping OC finds a way to pour gas on that message, light it up, and fling it into the middle of the House floor.

For nearly two decades, Democrats have quietly grumbled that it’s just not possible to get people interested in doing something about climate change. Ocasio-Cortez sparked a national conversation about ambitious climate change legislation, which is now backed by 45 members of Congress and has become a litmus test of sorts for 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.

Is your house burning? Do you want Democrats to try putting out the fire? Because if it takes two decades that we didn’t have to merely grumble about what’s not possible to get people interested in, something tells me they’d stand around your burning home and simply grumble about not being able to get people interested in putting it out. OC might deserve a little credit here for sparking a conversation, but the bigger story by far is how the Democrats are as complicit as any other in squelching serious attempts to address the existential crisis all 7+ billion of us face.

Just keep capitulating to that. It’s like we have all the time in the world, right?

But even the squad broke with Ocasio-Cortez on the House rules package and supported Pelosi. The gap between the New York Democrat’s power outside the Capitol and the display of it on day one inside of it could hardly have been greater, and it’s an imbalance that simply can’t hold long-term. Something has to give; one side or the other will need to break or bend. It remains to be seen which one it will be.

Pro-tip: when you take one step forward and your squad takes ten steps backward, you have no squad.

Her first organizing effort in the halls of Congress began with the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats-led occupation of Pelosi’s office during orientation. Ocasio-Cortez and the activists demanded a select committee to craft legislation toward a Green New Deal. It sparked a national conversation that is still alive today, but the committee Pelosi ultimately created — unveiled in Thursday’s rules package — is weaker than one she created on the same issue in 2007.

Seriously, we do not have time for this nonsense. Either climate change is real or it isn’t. It is. Either it’s anthropogenic or it isn’t. It is. Either it’s every bit as bad as climate scientists tell us it is, or it isn’t. It’s very likely worse.

So I repeat myself. We do not have time for this nonsense. As Dr. King said, ‘this is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”

She is a walking reminder to some Democrats of the space between their ideals and how they have come to practice politics — and they don’t appreciate the reminder. Indeed, incoming Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone flat-out refused to move an unrelated bill by Khanna, citing his public support for what he saw as a rival committee.

Earth to Pallone and every last one of his ilk and every last one of his capitulating Vichy-infected so-called Progressives: get out of the damned way. People who have been paying attention and who actually care about more than petty personal political success don’t have the luxury of giving two flips about their damnable feelings. If you don’t want the space between your political practice and principle to be highlighted and reviled, there’s a fix for that. Have some principles and grow a damned spine already.

Tick. Tock. The clock is running out.

Part of what Ocasio-Cortez has been so good at since arriving in Washington is educating the public – introducing people outside of Congress to arcane but crucial levers of power at work, such as the way she exposed elements of freshman orientation as little more than corporate propaganda.

That this even needed exposure is a damning statement about the Democratic party and their so-called Progressive enablers. This should have been exposed every two years like clockwork. Tick. Tock.

But, said Jayapal, the organizing effort needs to be fully thought about at every step, and it has to be done in a way that doesn’t breed cynicism and limit progress.

Doesn’t breed cynicism? Here’s my quick and dirty guide to cynicism. It is the judgment of motives instead of the specific words and deeds so motivated. We don’t need less cynicism. We quite obviously need more of it. Jayapal’s recipe for pussy-footing around Democrat obstruction to essential advances just lets us know we can expect a great many more rat sandwiches in the days and weeks ahead. Tomorrow it’ll be on honey wheat bread with a lovely brie and rat concoction. Wednesday’s rat sandwich will be on rye with a dollop of artisanal sauerkraut.

Jayapal: “Before I came to Congress, I didn’t know what pay-go was.”

That’s a good look, Jayapal. Why not just say, “before I came to Congress, I didn’t know Congressional history going back merely a decade.” Or how about, “before I came to Congress, I was unfamiliar with a critical issue. I mean, I might have known about cut-go, but not enough to address that. Maybe I’d have gotten to pay-go eventually.” Especially profound would be a simple admission. “When I got to Congress, I really didn’t understand the political obstruction I’d be capitulating to in short order.”

And the fact that all but three people voted for this rules package — including some really progressive members — should tell people that there’s a lot more to this story than just pay-go is bad, therefore vote against the rules package.”

Would someone please tell Jayapal that whipping out the bandwagon card is a bad look here? Please? It means absolutely [f-bomb averted] nothing other than serving as a signal for the inch-deep analysis and introspection this so-called Progressive caucus brings to the table.

Jayapal again: “…to somehow believe that the entire Progressive Caucus is wrong on this and two people are right, I think is a disservice to the issue and to the strategy and frankly, to the overall movement,” she said.

You know what is also a good look? To simply dismiss the voters in their millions by summing them up as the handful of spineless rabble they elected. We should be grateful that there’s even two to call them out on it. Loudly. Frequently. “Soylent Green is people!” is not something to be whispered politely lest one disrupt the machinery.

Politics have moved awfully fast the last few years, but perhaps not fast enough yet.

Halle[f-bomb]lujah. We do NOT have time for this.

Tick. Tock.