Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Time for a progressive agenda? Democrats lead Republicans in congressional district polling

Going bold

Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, asks in the NY Times Is There an Emerging Democratic Agenda?

While Donald Trump and his Congressional majority continue to push a harsh, hard-right ideology, so far they’ve been a legislative failure. And for good reason: For years, all they did was oppose Barack Obama and the Democrats, without bothering to develop an actual governing agenda of their own. Democrats must not make the same mistake. Playing defense is necessary, but it is not sufficient.

In fact, under the surface tension, a robust, highly progressive agenda has been coming together in recent months, one with the potential to unite both the Hillary and Bernie wings of the party, to go beyond both Clintonomics and Obamanomics.

These ideas come from the left wing of the party, but I’ve noticed more and more centrist Democrats, along with establishment donors, who increasingly recognize the need, in both substantive economic and electoral terms, to get outside the old boxes and go bold.

Here are some of the “go bold” ideas.

One of the boldest ideas coming down the pike is a *universal child allowance*: a monthly stipend for all families with children. … most other advanced economies, provide regular payments to families with children based on the recognition that investing in children is an essential public good …

… If we want to help places with too little labor demand, we must implement direct job creation policies, meaning either jobs created by the government or publicly subsidized private employment.

While direct job creation will help achieve the necessary job quantity, we also must boost job quality. A strong idea in that regard is an expansion of the earned-income tax credit into the working class. … one tax expert, Chuck Marr, put it: “For less than one-fifth of the cost of the Trump tax plan, we could improve the lives of millions of working-class people.”

A higher minimum wage is yet another idea drawing broad liberal support. … One new estimate finds that 41 million workers would get a boost from this policy. More of them have college degrees than are teenagers. In other words, the devolution of low-wage work in America means that families often depend on a minimum-wage earner.

Though Democrats have written bills for most of these ideas, no one expects them to go anywhere in this Congress. What’s important is that such ideas, once the domain of the party’s left wing, now face a diminished resistance from centrists, who once viewed them as too expensive and too interventionist. The bold minimum wage increase has 152 supporters in the House and 31 in the Senate.

Progressives will be playing defense for many years to come. But let’s also make sure we’re ready to roll with a true progressive agenda when our time comes.

That may be too pessimistic. The current Congress, for sure, will not pass any of these measures. But change may be on the way.

Democrats lead republicans in congressional district polling

Here is one from this morning’s FiveThirtyEight Significant Digits email.

44.1 percent
FiveThirtyEight launched a new interactive on Monday to track the national generic congressional ballot (a recurring poll question that asks people whether they would support an unnamed Democrat or an unnamed Republican in their congressional district). Democrats lead the GOP 44.1 percent to 36.9 percent, as of Monday evening. [FiveThirtyEight]

If the Congress flips, the “go bold” ideas’ time will have come sooner than later.

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