Why Democrats Lost: It’s Not All About Millennials

By Joe Firestone

Carl Gibson, a writer blogging at Reader Supported News, provides an “Open Letter to the Democrats” giving his view of why they lost the Congressional Elections of 2014. He endorses the President’s view that people didn’t show up to vote because their choice of politicians didn’t motivate them. And to this view he adds that the Democrats did not get his generation’s support because they didn’t “. . . get populist.” And he goes on to say:

2014’s low voter turnout was historic. Voter turnout actually hasn’t been this low since the 1940s. As Mother Jones pointed out, voter turnout for people under 30 was dismal. In this election, people like me only made up 12 percent of those who voted, while people aged 60 and older made up almost 40 percent of total voters. In 2012, when President Obama was re-elected and Congressional Democrats made gains in the House and Senate, millennials made up almost one-fifth of all voters, and voters 60 and older made up just 25 percent of the electorate, bringing us a little closer to a tie. It isn’t hard to see the difference – this year, Republicans steamrolled you, Democrats, because most of us stayed home and let our Fox-watching uncles and grandparents decide on who was going to represent everyone else.

So how do older people pick who runs Congress? Like every other voting bloc, they pick the ones who run on issues most important to them. And as Vox reported, data consistently shows that younger people want their tax dollars spent on education and job creation. Older voters want their money spent on Social Security and war. The Republicans who swept the U.S. Senate ran largely on fear campaigns over ISIS, promising to be more hawkish than their opponents in an eagerness to pour money and troops into Iraq and Syria to snuff out America’s newest boogeyman.

Contrast the unified Republican message with the profound silence from you Democrats on addressing the trillion-dollar student debt crisis, rampant inequality and underemployment, and your collective fear of openly embracing economic populism, and you cook up what we saw on Tuesday night. Older people showed up, highly motivated to elect war hawks. Younger people mostly stayed home, disillusioned with the only alternative on the ballot who didn’t even talk about the issues affecting our lives every day.

I think this is a good amplification of the point the President made, though perhaps not exactly in the direction the President had in mind. But like the President’s explanation for what happened, it too is incomplete, and perhaps partial to the author’s very strong millennial consciousness. So, here’s a broader view.

First, of course, the Democrats offered nothing to the millennials, but even if they had and millennials increased their participation from the actual 12 to 20% of voters, I think it’s doubtful that Democrats would have won, if by winning one means, taking both Houses of Congress so that they could have delivered on any promises they might have made to millennials and others.

Second, so I think that a real victory allowing them to legislate and not just point fingers at the Republicans would have taken more than populist promises to millennials. I think it would have taken a broad-scale populist agenda sufficient to move Republican constituencies in the direction of Democrats. These constituencies include small businesspeople, married white women, blue collar workers, as well as white male voters over 60.

What would it have taken to get all of those constituencies to move towards the Democrats and greatly cut or eliminate the very large margins the Republicans received in these constituencies. You guessed it; more populism, not just for students with huge debts, though certainly for them, but also for all the other constituencies as well.

So, third, here’s what the Democrats could have run on, on the condition that the voters delivered both Houses of Congress to them, with the Republican constituencies that likely would have been impacted.

— 50% increase in Social Security benefits; (people over 60, including old white guys like this author)

— Lowering the SS retirement age for full benefits to 65; (people over 60, including old white men and old married and single women)

— Change in the SS cost of living adjustment formula to incorporate the CPI-e (CPI for the elderly);

— A Federal Job Guarantee (JG) at a living wage, adjusted for variations in the CPI across America, with good fringe benefits for all people who want to work full or part-time; (All working age adults concerned about the insecurity attached to private sector employment including married white women)

— Extension of unemployment benefits to at least 52 weeks, with automatic extensions for another 52 weeks triggered by any recession; (All working age adults concerned about the insecurity attached to private sector employment, including married white women)

— Basic Income Guarantee for every American over 18, adjusted for variations in the CPI across America, set at 50% of the JG living wage; (All adults including married white women, who would be compensated even if they chose not to work)

— Enhanced Medicare for All; no co-pays, no deductibles, with no further tax burden on small businesses to pay for it; (small businesspeople would be relieved on any health insurance burden or taxes to fund it)

— Full Debt Jubilee for all Student Loan Debt, with debts assumed by the Government; (All students and all adult parents whose children have student loan debt)

— Free college education going forward, at State Public Institutions across the country with tuition and other fees paid for by a Federal education program replacing Pell Grants and other now redundant Federal aid; (All students and all adult parents having or anticipating the burden of college costs)

— Clear promise of investigations, prosecutions, indictments, and appropriate convictions of FIRE sector executives involved in mortgage-related and other frauds from the years 2004 to the present, and a clear promise to restore one rule of law for all in the United States (Most voters would respond to this, married white women who are worried about good government especially.

— Education reform, including greatly increased Federal funding of K-12 education, through State grants, aimed at making the US public school system world class, and providing a quality education for all students facilitating equality of opportunity. (All adults with school children or involved with children, and all adults concerned with the sorry state of public school education in the United States.)

There is more they could have run on in the areas of environmental protection, reinventing energy foundations, and programs intended to counter climate change. There are also specific measures, other than those listed earlier to reduce inequality. But these issues can wait for future campaigns. For now Democrats should be trying to build their political credit and power by passing legislation producing benefits that are simple to explain to people and that they would directly experience in the short term. That’s what wins elections, and that’s the kind of performance that will maintain the position of Democrats in Congressional elections as well Presidential years.

Towards the end of Gibson’s post he begins to get at the broader populism I’ve advocated:

You Democrats, on the other hand, looked pitiful in the year leading up to the midterms. You didn’t seem to stand for anything in particular, you just pointed the finger at the other guy, told us they were bad, and that you weren’t like them. That’s not enough. Take a risk, be bold. Get behind Elizabeth Warren’s 0.75 percent interest rate for student loans. Allow student debt to be abolished with bankruptcy. Push for single-payer healthcare, or at the very least a public health insurance option. Need some catchy buzzwords? Try “affordable education,” “good jobs,” and “healthy families.”

Of course, I agree, but my proposals go a lot further. In the political debate that might have ensued over them, the main Republican counters would have been funding problems, the prospect of inflation, and the debt, apart from their usual calls for self-discipline and condemnation of lazy people and moral degenerates (unlike them and their Wall Street and big bank allies of course) who won’t stand on their own two feet and want, instead to rely on big Government. There are of course MMT answers explaining why all these supposed problems are faux problems, or can be easily be managed. These answers are in books here, here, here, and here, and in many earlier posts by MMT economists and writers at NEP, cross-posted at many places.

Also, I want to close by emphasizing the stupidity of the campaign the Democrats ran this year. That stupidity was fully reflected in the continuous e-mails I and millions of others received day-after-day in this campaign. The overwhelming majority of these e-mails called for contributions to candidates without saying anything about what those candidates had done, or were promising to do. The message content of these appeals used fear of Republican opponents and the labels “progressive” and “Democrat” to try to induce me to make a contribution to each of a huge number of candidates, usually through Act Blue.

But why in heavens name, should I contribute to any candidate who won’t tell me what they’ve done, and what they plan to do down to the level of specific commitments? Why in heavens name should I move to buy a pig-in-a-poke? And when it came to certain candidates such as Mary Landrieu, the requests for funding were completely ridiculous.

Do the Democrats think everyone has forgotten that Mary Landrieu was one of those Democrats who worked to limit the size of the ARRA stimulus bill, helping to ensure that the bill would be inadequate to get the US to full employment, and who, with others on both sides of the aisle, was responsible for costing Americans many millions of jobs since 2009? Do they think, people have forgotten that Landrieu was one of the Democratic Senators who worked to take enhanced Medicare for All off the table, first to replace it with a very weak public option proposal, and then later, and all too willingly, working to junk any thought of even the sparkle pony public option in health care reform legislation, and to replace such a bill with the current PPACA (“Obamacare”); a bailout of the insurance companies at the expense of the people’s interests, which does little to solve the financial problems that private insurance has and will visit upon the people getting insurance through the exchanges?

In short, this year’s Democratic Campaign handling of e-mail was incompetent. It could not have been better designed to generate anger and contempt from Democratic Party-inclined supporters. It was a series of no-reply harangues intermixed by messages about “your supporter record shows . . . “ (which were like dunning messages from debt collectors), and whining pleas for money from seemingly idiot candidates who, apparently, could not even say who they were and what they stood for. They had absolutely nothing to run on, a condition I predicted would result as far back as 2010 when they chained themselves to PPACA. No wonder they got blown out by the worst gaggle of Republicans ever assembled for a political campaign.

36 Responses to Why Democrats Lost: It’s Not All About Millennials

  1. Democrats lost because they had lousy candidates who did nothing and a president who has done nothing for six years except perhaps blame Republicans. If the president spent 1/10th the effort on ANY significant domestic policy as he did in getting re-elected, things would have been different.

  2. I have an off-topic comment. This site is now dominated by Bill Black and Joe Firestone, important writers to be sure but New Econ Perspectives really needs to do something about this problem or risk dying from neglect.

  3. Most dem candidates in the south and mid west wouldn’t even acknowledge they knew Obama, much less say they supported him. So lets take a look at what didn’t get played up in the dem message.
    -63 straight months of economic expansion
    -a depression averted and 1M auto jobs saved (i think romney said he would have let them fail)
    -a deficit reduced by 2/3!
    -a healthcare law that is lowering costs and covering more people! a couple of start up glitches, no big deal
    -bin ladin is dead, pulled out of iraq like everyone wanted (with monday morning revisions now)
    -stock market at record levels
    -unemployment from 10.5% to 5.9%!!!!!!!!
    -gas prices down 25% from recent highs.
    And this was with only a dem senate.

    The message should have been, imagine what could have been achieved if the house and senate were in dem hands how much more could have been accomplished!

    But no, they chose to treat the President as a Pariah. This is the exact reason Gore lost to Bush. Gore wanted nothing to do with Clinton during his race (but he failed to realize the people liked Clinton regardless of the media circus).

    • Really?
      -63 straight months of economic expansion
      Great for the 1%-not for the rest of us
      
-a depression averted and 1M auto jobs saved (i think romney said he would have let them fail)
      Define depression-there has been no improvement for the 99%
      
-a deficit reduced by 2/3!
      Otherwise known as austerity (consistent with the above)
      
-a healthcare law that is lowering costs and covering more people! a couple of start up glitches, no big deal
      That’s what the claim is at any rate but I think the jury is still out on this one
      
-bin ladin is dead, pulled out of iraq like everyone wanted (with monday morning revisions now)
      Bin Ladin died of renal failure in late 2001
      
-stock market at record levels
      So what-most of us don’t own stocks but still made possible with our money-what a deal
      
-unemployment from 10.5% to 5.9%!!!!!!!!
      Maybe you hadn’t seen the news-the participation rate has been falling
      
-gas prices down 25% from recent highs.
      Yes, and we have the Saudis to “thank” for this “miracle of the market”-this will be a disaster for the much ballyhooed fracking boom

    • Jack, this is a terrible record. That’s why they didn’t run on it!

    • Gore won the 2000 election by over one-half million votes. The counting of legally cast ballots in Florida was halted by a partisan Supreme Court, and Florida’s electoral votes were awarded to Bush, unfairly giving him the presidency.

      • I know. I’ve never understood why Gore let them get away with that without making a fuss. At the very least he should have made a big enough to ensure that they would never even contemplate doing something like that again for fear of revolution.

  4. Joe, as to your points of what they should have run on, I like them all. However as a non academic, I can tell you the challenge is trying to explain to enough people in the middle class. They still don’t understand how that could be paid for when you are supposed to live within your means…..not knowing or understanding a govt is not a household. It’s a hard concept for most people to accept without investing some time to understand.

    To that, I will say the tax system does need a massive overhaul to more fairly and appropriately ensure contribution. The current system of thousands of loopholes promotes the problem of “BURDEN SHIFTING”.
    That’s where there’s a bill to be paid, but i need to pay a lower tax rate on my capital gains so you must pay a higher rate on you “your” income.

    So, can I get your opinion about this proposed tax solution: http://thetransactiontax.org/ ?

    • I’m not an academic either, Jack. I agree that some will be concerned about the deficit and the debt, and others about inflation. So, if they question the agenda, then we’ll explain. But many won’t do that. All they’ll do is leave the details up to us, especially if we deny any solvency or inflation problems.

  5. I would add a few items:
    A strong progressive tax up to 90 or 95 % on incomes over 200k to fight inequality.
    No tax on incomes below 48k per year; ie no FICA either.
    Make FICA a flat tax on all incomes above 48K
    Payoff the national debt as it becomes due. It will then be gone after 30 years.
    Stop selling Treasuries to cover deficits. Use US Notes to cover deficit spending. Seeing those red serial number notes in the economy will show people what deficit spending does for them.
    Sell economic recovery bonds to rich folk who depended on buying treasuries and to control monetary aggregates.

    • I agree with much of this, but US notes can’t be issued by Treasury unless the ceiling on the amount of such notes is extended. On the other hand, Treasury can issue platinum coins with arbitrary face values, which when deposited at the Fed can be exchanged for reserve credits at the Fed.

  6. A Federal Job Guarantee (JG) at a living wage, adjusted for variations in the CPI across America IMHO, the adjustment is a very bad idea. One cannot say “Keep It Simple Stupid” often enough. Is there some reason that unemployed labor in high CPI areas is intrinsically more valuable than labor in low CPI areas? The proposal is partly self defeating, much / most of the extra will just go to rentiers in the high cost of living areas. The high cost of living areas will often be high-employment areas where the cost of living has already been bid up, where the JG will be less needed in the first place. A much better way would be for government to use that money (& JG labor) on things like public housing, infrastructure, anything to directly suppress the cost of living – for everyone.

    My personal preference would be for a JG wage at the high end, the highest the economy can support without causing serious price rises. If this is a bonanza for low cost of living areas, rural areas, good. There may be permanent, real world reasons areas are low-cost of living, and vice versa for high cost. Is a federal subsidy to people to live in Barrow, Alaska a sensible idea?

    This is essentially a classical mistake, and was perhaps crucial in the failure of the National Workshops/Ateliers Nationaux in 1848, which were restricted to Paris. A flat wage will aid in the “gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country”, adjustment will do the opposite, cause unintended side-effects, create divisions and tensions, as the restriction to Paris did then.

    • The argument for a guaranteed income is based solidly on the fact we all have a job by virtue of being members of species homosapians on planet earth. That job is to help others of our species. It is THE common job. Only hermits reject this job. In order to provide this help to each other in an orderly way we must use money and that is why a fixed income is needed. Another aspect of the issue is then should we be free to select how we help our fellow man or should we be told how to do it? I prefer freedom. The guaranteed income provides freedom. The notion that we “don’t have a job” invites slavery, called wage slavery in some quarters. Yes, it is a radical idea.

    • Cal, it is simple. The simple is a living wage in each area, whatever that turns out to be. People are owed no less and no more by a society whose monetary system causes unemployment. That’s equality and fairness vis-a-vis the JG. And that’s what will fulfill FDR’s economic right to a job in the workplaces of the nation.

      There are two ways to anchor the JG while providing the JG living wage for everyone. The first is to make sure that the lowest cost-of-living area has a living wage and then to cost adjust that figure for cost-of-living variations. Assuming that places like rural Kansas have a living wage of $10 per hour, that approach gives us about $24 per hour for the highest CPI area, say NYCity. It also gives everyone a job and a living wage; no more and no less.

      The other approach is the one you suggest, where NYC people get $24.00 per hour as a living wage and the people in Kansas also get that amount. But that would mean that the people in Kansas are being paid the equivalent of $57.60 per hour in New York purchasing power to live in Kansas. I dare say that the New York people won’t consider that fair.

      Of course, they could always move to Kansas if they don’t like it. But why should they have to do that to get fairness? What if they have their family in New York? Should they have to move away to get a fair deal because there’s more they can buy in Kansas for $24.00 per hour? What sense does that make? And why is it desirable to equalize costs among regions anyway? Why is that a higher good than giving everyone a living wage and no more wherever they might live? I just don’t see it!

      In addition, I think paying people living in Kansas and in areas other than NYC would be far more inflationary than my proposal would be. So, not only would it be less fair than the alternative, but also it would have far more negative impact.

      • Steven Greenberg

        There are many factors to consider on whether the minimum wage ought to be flat across the country, or it should be adjusted to reflect the cost of living in specific areas, or it should be some compromise of the two. Many of them have already been covered, so without making a judgment on what has already been mentioned, let me just add some considerations.

        The exact amount of adjustment from 0% (or even less) to 100% (or even more), will have an impact on where people will move to. Do we want to attract people to low cost of living areas, or do we want to attract them to high cost of living areas? People who move away from family support may be more vulnerable to the vagaries of the economy. People used to move more freely until that got tied to a location by an underwater mortgage.

        People are always taking many factors into consideration when they decide whether to move or not. I am always amazed that parts of California can have the most expensive costs of living, but until recently they couldn’t drive people away. However, think of how many more people would have rushed to California if it had all of its natural and man made benefits and a low cost of living. Of course, large migrations to an area have a tendency to bring their own cost of living increases as a consequence of the additional population. You can think of cost of living as a part of population control that does not bring down the ire of too many major religions.

        • I agree with all you say, Steve. However, I think we have to prioritize among our various goals. Right now inequality is a major concern of ours and I want to do something about that. To do that it’s essential that 1) everyone have a living wage and 2) that a Job Guarantee program not build in inequality of REAL wages. To fail to do the regional cost adjustment is to build in that real inequality, so I’m against that, and I don’t think the side effects of that policy compensate for it. Right now people of modest means in retirement find themselves forced to leave their homes of 30 or 40 years to move to other low cost areas. That should not be be. SS benefits should be cost adjusted depending on where people live. It’s not the money that is primary. It’s the reality of what the money buys.

    • Yes, 300M was the limit as I recall. They burned a big stockpile in ’71 after issuing US Notes was stopped.
      Correct, we need a new law…

  7. Steven Greenberg

    You have finally put into words what I felt subconsciously when I got all those fund-raising emails.

    At a conscious level, I kept wondering why the party of the middle and lower classes was expecting us to have enough money to match what the top 1% wealthy could spend.

    A party that truly understood their constituency might have tried to put together a better plan than raising money from people who don’t have it. Had they thought really hard, they might have come up with a plan such as build a policy record that would show these people which side we are really on.

    • Well,mat least they should have outlined what our contributions were buying in policies that benefit us. The rich know that what they get when they contribute to a campaign is access down the road and a likelihood that legislation giving a great ROI in return for their “investment”would be forthcoming. But what were the Ds offering us? The thrill of seeing our team win? They would not even guarantee that if they won, there would be no more cuts in the safety net. I say show me the money?

      • Steven Greenberg

        I am assuming they would have outlined what our contributions were buying in policies that benefit us if they could have. In fact Obama had all sorts of statistics about unemployment levels, GDP growth, etc. That wasn’t very convincing to the lower 90% of income earners who saw their wages fall and their wealth also fall while the income and wealth of the top 10% was doing just fine. (I am in the top 10% and my net worth has far exceeded what it was in 2009, and I am retired and living off the income from that net worth. 90% of working wage earners are probably not doing that well, to put it mildly.)

        That’s why the Democrats would have done better in the election if they had actually promoted policies that would have helped the bottom 90% instead of maybe hurting them less badly, if Democratic policies were even that good. The failure to criminally prosecute the executive fraudsters, which in turn let them keep their share of the huge transfer of wealth upward caused by the rescue of the financial system has got to be the least understood by Obama of Obama’s failures. It’s just too bad for him that the lower 90% had no trouble figuring this out.

        Maybe the Democrats didn’t understand that there are more votes with whic to win an election in the lower 90% or people than there are in the top 10%. Seems like elementary math to me.

  8. Steven Greenberg

    “There are of course MMT answers explaining why all these supposed problems are faux problems.”

    This is where you need to come up with specifics. Modern Money Theory says that a country like ours is not limited by having enough money, but it is limited by real resources. Given this real limitation, I would think your long list of benefits would have to explain what shifting real resources to all these people with suddenly more money would do to the economy. At some point real resources and unemployed people would be in short supply. Then inflation would be an issue. You can’t expect people to believe that nobody else would have to adjust so that inflation could be controlled.

    • As supposed to keeping these resources throttled by the wealthiest 10%?? Gee, like that has done wonders for th economy, hasn’t it?

      And…..what inflation, if I may ask? Inflation has been so obliterated in the past 20 years (except for the inflated profits of the ultrawealthy at the expense of everyone else) that it would actually do more good than harm as part of increasing the wages and benefits of working people and the elderly.

      MMT advocates can defend their own, but plain egalitarian common sense and morality justifies this platform on its merits alone.

      • Steven Greenberg

        You are making the classical mistake that may be what is holding back the acceptance of MMT.

        You are right that there is no inflation now. It is not in your foreseeable imagination only because your imagination doesn’t have a long enough horizon. Right now a little inflation would do more good than harm, but again you aren’t seeing all the future possibilities.

        And yes, money is now mal-distributed. However, the people who aren’t locked in the box of right now, or how can remember the past, know that inflation can become a problem – think 1970s. There is a lot of slack in the economy that should be put to good use. People with some imagination or memory can imagine a time when the mal-distribution is down to a reaonable level and the economy is reasonably at full tilt.

        So the question is, what specifics does Joe have to tell us in this article about what MMT will do when that occurs? If he ignores that problem, then he is in a way being like the Democrats he decries. He is refusing to address a problem that many others can see, and then cannot understand why those people don’t believe in what he is saying.

        If there is a simple answer, then spend a paragraph or two saying what it is. You can’t just gives us some links to references and expect people to follow those links in their hopes that they will find the answers to their doubts. People get suspicious when you won’t answer obvious questions.

        If we seriously want people to get the ideas of MMT, we have to make it easy for them. We can’t put roadblocks in the way, and then wonder why they don’t get it.

        • Can’t address everything in a blog post that is already too long, but I have addressed the inflation issue in a reply above and also in my book, at some length. I don’t mean to give the problem short shrift and when this debate gets far enough along that it’s worthwhile to do so to persuade the 15% of the population who really worry about inflation, I’ll take it up again. But for the time being I won’t be diverted from the discussion of what people could have if they supported the program I’ve outlined. All I’ll say is that MMT cares about both full employment and price stability as well as many other things. Like other MMT writers and economists I’m committed to working for zero inflation. I think this involves the Job Guarantee which can serve as a price anchor, increased taxation when and if it becomes necessary, and perhaps price controls if inflation is cost-push rather than demand-pull.

          • Steven Greenberg

            From what I have heard when I tell people about MMT, they just do not believe that MMT cares about both full employment and price stability as well as many other things when they read so much about MMT that does not mention it as well as you just did in one sentence.

            You may only know about the 15% of people who say they are worried about inflation in some survey. I am not sure they are all counted in the people who just dismiss MMT because it sounds like pie in the sky without word of the issues you just summarized in one sentence.

            Sure, writing it in a book is great for people motivated enough to want to read about MMT after they have heard a little about it. However, if they dismiss MMT out of hand because of what they read on blogs like this, they aren’t going to bother to read the book.

            Maybe someone needs to write a post and start a discussion on what it would take to get MMT more widely accepted in the general population. The people who are so sure that austerity is the way to national wealth, are so sure of themselves it is hard enough to get a word in edgewise about MMT.

    • That answer seems obvious. First, never try to buy something that isn’t there. For example, don’t pile money into health care if the doctors, facilities and infrastructure are not there to provide health care. First build the capability to provide the health care. Second, control the money supply by spending and taxing which are sledgehammers and backhoes compared with the Fed’s paltry teaspoon and fly swatter fed funds rate and buy/sell govt debt. Bottom line: You need to either put the tools where the responsibility is or put the responsibility where the tools are now. This is where the monetary system was never changed post 1933 to accommodate fiat currency.

    • I wrote about the possibility of inflation above. That said perhaps some would have to adjust to the impact of deficit spending. But for most it would be an unalloyed benefit.

  9. First, to Joe Firestone’s OP: The only issue I would have is not with the platform itself, which if anything is only a beginning and may not even be radical enough for my own Independent Leftist tastes. Rather, it’s the delivery system of using the Democratic Party as its main vehicle.

    Forgive me if I don’t see the Democats in any way adapting these radical ideas of MMT/economic populism when they can barely stand traditional progressive capitalism, and when their main donors are totally dependent on the same Wall Street corporate neoliberal austerity. If anything, the primary lessons that the Democratic “leadership” is taking from the midterms is the same message that has gotten them where they are for the past 30 years: “We need to move even more to the “center” (i.e., to the Right) and try to win back those angry White male and fundamentalist White female voters who ‘abandoned’ us because of Obama’s ‘liberalism’ Remember Bill Clinton (and War Hillary)!!!” It’s far more likely that the Democrats either slide towards a more toxic, right-wing populism by attracting the more exotic flanks of the Tea Party and combining pseudoeconomic appeals with blatant attacks on non-Whites, feminists, and immigrants, or they double down on neoliberalism with the donations from Wall Street and attempt to play the “adult conservatives” card and pick off “moderate” GOPers from the Koch/Adleson/Cruz wing of the GOTP. More than likely, we’ll get a “shared government of Obama/McConnell/Boehner with the Tea Party conservatives being the main opposition, and the “progressive” Dems rendered far more irrelevant than ever by the dominant media.

    If this agenda is ever going to come to fruition, it will have to be through an independent movement from the bottom up, outside of and opposed to both the Democrats and the GOTP.

    • Steven Greenberg

      You are giving up trying to solve one impossible problem, and have decided to solve another impossible problem. The first seemingly impossible problem is getting the Democratic party to adopy principles of MMT. The second seemingly impossible problem is to start a third party from the bottom up.

      I think both problems seem impossible to solve for the same fundamental reason. Either one of them could be solved by fixing that reason. Which one would get solved first we can only find out by solving the underlying problem.

      That underlying problem is that people do not understand nor do they have faith in the progressive prescriptions. The fact that MMT is not widely accepted is part and parcel of this problem. Even some very smart economists seem to have objections to MMT.

      The smart economists may be hopeless. They are certainly capable of understanding MMT if they weren’t blocked by the gut feeling that it just can’t possibly be so despite all the explanations they read.

      So let’s move on to the non-economists. They may not be equipped to consider anything as complicated as even the MMT Primer. They certainly won’t even be interested in reading the Primer, unless they first have some feeling it will be worth their time to read it.

      So, first we must start by spoon feeding the information to the public. We must take every opportunity to explain MMT and what we want to do with those principles in a way that won’t scare them back into their tunnels of ignorance.

      In this article, Joe missed a great opportunities. He put forth a lot of benefits that would seem to be irresistibly attractive if it weren’t for the problem of how to pay for them. We readers may either know or have some inkling that the problem is not as intractable as the uninitiated may believe. That’s not good enough. If the article itself does not address the issue more directly, then the article may have turned off potential converts at the outset.

      We aren’t going to build a large following if we alienate people right from the start. Ironically the premise of this article is that the Democrats alienated their potential voters by not addressing the obvious questions and problems that these voter have. If we cannot see the problem in ourselves that we so easily see in others, then we will fail. Failing will be a surprise to those of us who could not see our own actions as culpable. Those of us who can already peak outside the box won’t be surprised.

      • C’mon, Steve, how many times do I have to write about the platinum coin before people know that funding deficit spending is no problem. The only constraint is in the consequences of the spending that occurs, the possibility of inflation among them.

        • Steven Greenberg

          To me the platinum coin does not address the issue of getting the Democratic party to adopt MMT. As you have said, you have written a lot about it, but the party has not accepted it yet. For the platinum coin to be seen as a reasonable solution, people have to buy the fact that a sovereign government can just make money out of thin air without it causing inflation.

          So, in answer to your question about how many times you have to write about, I would estimate you have to say it about 10 times as often and to a larger audience than the number of times Boner, McConnell, Cruz, Ryan, and Paul keep insisting that austerity is the only solution and everything else is foolish and dumb. The opposition has years head start in having the people feel that their side of the story is just obvious. It takes quite an epiphany for people to get MMT. (That’s where my factor of 10 comes in.)

          Given how hard you are trying, I am pretty sure you are fully aware of the problem. I have no doubt about that. I would just like to get a discussion going on what more we can do to help you solve the problem.

  10. NO, the DEMiserepubilkan uniparty Wall $treet-theater “antagonists” simply need each other as scapegoats for not fulfilling the public’s expectations (e.g., prior Warren Piece, wherein she claims NOW “It’s Time to Work on America’s Agenda” since she can no longer do a DEM thing about it)!

  11. Steven Greenberg

    By the way, the thing that worries me about possible future inflation is the massive amounts of money that the FED has put into the hands of the wealthy through programs like quantitative easing. The facts that this has not helped stimulate the economy and has not caused inflation are both a result of the wealthy socking the money away and not investing it in anything productive except inflating the stock market.

    I think I have mentioned this before on this blog. If the day should ever come when the wealthy put all this idle cash to work, there is going to be huge inflationary pressure. Do you imagine there is the political will to put policies in place that will prevent the damage? You know the Republicans are going to tell the voters that wealthy people know how to spend their money better than the government does, even though you and I know that is not true.

    So if, for some reason, you manage to convince the majority to accept the no money limit of MMT, when that money comes rolling out, will they have enough confidence to do the right thing policy wise. Or will people jump to te conclusion that they were right all along that MMT was a crock, and their worries about inflation were well founded? Then we can put the ideas of MMT back in the closet for another 50 or more years.

    Maybe I should just take a bigger dose of prozac and stop worrying.

  12. Pingback: Political Reality | Why Democrats Lost: It’s Not All About Millennials – New Economic PerspectivesNew Economic Perspectives

  13. It seems to me MMT has one conundrum that really needs to be addressed. Their point re taxes are not needed by the govt can be accepted but if the “bean counter rule”, taxes + borrowing = spending, stays in place everyone has a very good reason to not believe the notion. The T$ coin is a back door approach and I support it but to really get the point across the bean counter rule has to go away and the national debt paid off. And that is a very big issue because if the debt goes to zero, the Fed/CB can no longer operate and the govt then must deal with money supply with their stronger and more effective tools. That would merge fiscal and monetary policy into one place, the federal govt, and again that makes the deal even bigger. But that is the central conundrum and I think those smart MMT thinkers should address it head on. I believe there is a way but I concede those MMT thinkers are a lot smarter and knowledgeable that I.